The Alternate Choice of Arabella Stuart

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If you’re not familiar with the story of Arabella Stuart (or “Arbella Stewart,” if you are so inclined) that’s quite alright. During the majority of her lifetime, few outside of royal circles were even aware of her existence and, in my opinion, her status as a true rival claimant to the throne have been a bit overblown. Nevertheless, her relatively brief life played out just as England was passing from Tudor to Stuart hands and it draws on the dynastic sensitivities that came from a childless queen and a foreign-born king.

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Prince Harry’s Newsweek Profile

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Oh my, we have another live one. American magazine Newsweek has been given access to Prince Harry over the course of the “best part of the past year” and yesterday published a lengthy profile on him, covering topics from the death of his mother, his “transformation” and the future of the monarchy. Harry has had a bit of a turnaround over the last few years, most dramatically in the last 12 to 18 months. The three things that jump to my mind as particularly pivotal are the press release Kensington Palace issued on his behalf regarding his relationship with American actress Meghan Markle, his incredibly candid interview with The Telegraph podcast released in April and the nature of his charity work, which I believe can be viewed as picking up the mantle of the late Princess of Wales.

This year started off in an uncertain place for the Royal Family. Or, more specifically, it wasn’t clear what exactly they were all doing. The KP press release was a complete 180 from the frigid and terse statements usually released when commenting (or rather, not commenting) on the personal lives of members of the family. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had spent the second half of 2015 and 2016 receiving their first wave of serious criticism about their lack of accessibility and relatively low engagement numbers. Meanwhile, the Queen had just celebrated her 90th birthday and there seemed to be a complete disconnect between the older and younger generations.

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The Queen’s Speech 2017

The Queen’s speech at the State Opening of Parliament earlier today is being referred to as “somber” by the media . The tone isn’t surprising given recent events in the UK, from the terror attacks in London and Manchester to the Grenfell Tower fire to the recent election that only increased political uncertainty. Consideration of the public mood was apparent even in a purely Royal celebration at Trooping the Colour on Saturday via the Palace’s statement beforehand.

So, there was little chance this speech was going to strike a tone of overt optimism, but it was critically important this year, not least of which is because it was announced a few days ago this session of Parliament will last two years instead of one. The move is meant to ensure there is no disruption to a successful Brexit, but it also highlights the actual weight of the crown in the midst of chaos.

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The Good Parliament & The Death of Edward III

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One of the most pivotal Plantagenet reigns was that of Edward III between 1327 and 1377. Part of that is due to its sheer length – 50 years would be a remarkable reign today, so imagine how that felt in the 14th century. Another facet is everything that was accomplished during that time, not least of which were strategic victories against the French at Crecy and Poitiers. But its greatest legacy was the dynasty that Edward left behind, one which in some respects was night and day from the England which he inherited as an adolescent, and in others was an eerie mirror image of it.

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The White Princess Recap: Character Assassination

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It’s almost been a month since I covered one of the White Princess episodes and I’ve had it on my “to-do” list to finish off the rest of the series. Despite not particularly enjoying it, once you start something, etc. etc. But after watching the fifth episode in the series I’m actually going to stop because I think this show crosses a line. I don’t know how many of these issues are  unique to the TV version of this story, or if they are following the lead of the books on which they are based, but there is a fine line between historical fiction and character assassination and this is the latter.

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Ascot 2017 & the Tangled Windsor Web (Updated)

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Observing a moment of silence for the victims of recent terror attacks

Surprise! The Duchess of Cambridge made an appearance at Ascot today alongside her husband, the Duke of Cambridge, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie and Zara Tindall, among others. It was such a family affair that even Michael and Carole Middleton were seen in the Royal enclosure. But the true star of the show was the Queen herself, who has been attending the event annually alongside her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, since the ’50s. True to form, she was there today, rocking a lime green coat and hat, handbag and gloves properly in place.

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Edward, Sophie & the Wessex Family

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With the exception of one post when the Countess of Wessex attended a royal birthday party in Norway and a handful of mentions, I’ve rarely discussed the Wessex family, but their stock is rising within the Royal Family and today actually marks the couple’s 18th wedding anniversary. That their star, Sophie’s in particular, is waxing and not waning as the Queen grows older may be a bit counterintuitive; after all, while the Earl of Wessex is now the monarch’s son, he’ll eventually be the monarch’s brother and then his uncle – his profile, significance and responsibility will likely decrease over the years.

But the Wessexes are a unique example within the House of Windsor, perhaps because they are the most traditional family unit within it – indeed, it could be argued Prince Edward was the only one of Queen Elizabeth’s children who followed the model she would have expected all of her children to have done.

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The Accession of Richard III

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I’ve been waiting to do a post on Richard III for a few reasons. For one, he’s a controversial figure, as most recently evidenced by the furor over where his long-lost body would be buried. For another, he is one of the figures for whom you must do justice – there is little about him that can be referenced without context or further explanation and the Wars of the Roses was a complicated period, particularly for the uninitiated. And so, it’s taken time to get to him, but summer is as good a time as any to do so – it’s the season during which he assumed the throne and the season in which in he lost it.

We’ll return to him a few more times over the next few months, but today I want to discuss his accession – its legality and logistics, and the motivation behind it.

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Trooping the Colour 2017

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Where to begin – the children, the dress or the Queen? I guess the Queen since she’s the one running the show here. For those unfamiliar with the ceremony, Trooping the Colour is an annual military ceremony that also officially commemorates the sovereign’s birthday. Each year the Queen and members of the Royal Family travel down the Mall and the Queen inspects her troops. Generally framed as a joyful celebration of national pride, this year’s was a bit more solemn.

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