No. 10 Doubles Down on Trump Visit

Downing Street has rebuffed calls for the upcoming state visit from U.S. President Donald Trump to be cancelled on the grounds it would undo all the work Prime Minister Theresa May did while in Washington. Meanwhile, the petition to ban Trump has reached 1.7 million signatures and Parliament has scheduled a debate on the issue for Monday, February 20.


The Telegraph reported this morning that plans for the visit are still on and logistics being discussed. Per the article:

Diplomats have already begun preparations for a visit designed to reinvigorate the transatlantic special relationship.

Discussions are underway about the president playing a round of golf on the private nine-hole course at Balmoral while the Queen looks on.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are also set to be involved as the royal family rolls out the red carpet for the US President and his First Lady.

Mr Trump’s team want to create a photograph opportunity to rival the famous images of President Ronald Reagan horse riding with the Queen at Windsor Castle when he visited in the 1982.

Other plans include a personal tour of the Churchill War Rooms from Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, and dinner at Blenheim Palace, where Sir Winston was born.

If the Queen were to agree it would make a break in protocol because the Queen traditionally goes on holiday to her Scottish castle in August.

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England’s Most Awkward Dinner Party


On July 9, 1936 King Edward VIII hosted his second official dinner at his residence, Fort Belvedere. In attendance were his brother and sister-in-law, the Duke and Duchess of York, Winston Churchill, and his long-time “companion,” Mrs. Wallis Simpson sans her husband, Mr. Ernest Simpson. The event was published in the Court Circular, which caused a bit of a stir because it made it appear as though, by socializing with them, the Yorks were condoning Edward’s relationship with Wallis.

The summer of 1936 was the midway point of Edward’s brief reign. He was making it clear that Wallis was important to him, and that he wouldn’t be setting her aside now that he was king, but the abdication talks were not yet in full-force.

Edward VIII and the Duke of York

But the relationship between Edward and his brother was growing more and more strained, a fact that had not escaped the notice of court or members of the King’s government. One particularly awkward exchange between Churchill and the Duchess of York was overheard by another guest, Helen Hardinge.

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The UK Trump Ban & the Dignity of the Queen


In the last 24 hours a petition to ban U.S. President Donald Trump from making an official state visit to the United Kingdom, during which he would be received by the Queen, has been signed by 1.5 million Britons. I noted yesterday that to rescind the invitation to Trump, which was offered via Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday, would, in my opinion, be a mistake. It sets a risky precedent for the monarchy and for a relationship between two countries that predates and will continue after Trump.

I will, however, add the caveat that if uninviting Trump is the consensus of Parliamentary debate and the Queen’s government, then yes, of course, she should follow their advice. Part of the monarchy’s power is its symbolism and for a U.S. president, particularly one as sensitive to his own image as Trump is, to essentially be barred from the Palace because it would be beneath the dignity of the Queen is a significant rebuke. It would be a personal and professional humiliation.

State banquet at Buckingham Palace during President Obama’s 2011 visit

But would it be effective? Well, it could be argued that it means world leaders are not willing play ball with Trump, but was anyone paying attention during the 2016 election? I find it difficult to believe it would prompt much shame from the Trump team. Instead, I see them doubling down and using it as a badge of honor. I see this as playing right into the hands of an “American first” narrative that we’ve already established plays quite well in huge swathes of the country.

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Regicide: The Execution of Charles I

On January 27, the trial of Charles I, King of England concluded and the following verdict was read out:

“That the king, for the crimes contained in the charge, should be carried back to the place from whence he came, and thence to the place of execution, where his head should be severed from his body.”

Three days later, Charles walked out to a scaffold erected outside of Banqueting House in Whitehall for his execution. The scaffold was built up to a second-story window of the House, allowing for the assembled crowd to view the King’s death.

The execution of Charles I

To his people he said:

“[As for the people,] truly I desire their liberty and freedom as much as anybody whomsoever; but I must tell you that their liberty and freedom consist in having of government, those laws by which their life and their goods may be most their own.

“It is not for having share in government, sirs; that is nothing pertaining to them; a subject and a sovereign are clear different things. And therefore until they do that, I mean that you do put the people in that liberty, as I say, certainly they will never enjoy themselves.

“Sirs, it was for this that now I am come here. If I would have given way to an arbitrary way, for to have all laws changed according to the power of the sword, I needed not to have come here; and therefore I tell you (and I pray God it be not laid to your charge) that I am the martyr of the people.”

After speaking briefly with the executioner and saying a few words to himself, Charles knelt and gave the sign. His head was severed in one strike, held up to the crowds to confirm his death, and then placed with his body in a waiting black velvet-lined coffin. Eye witnesses claim that people began to try and capture his blood where it pooled as souvenir.

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Victoria Recap: I Am So Vexed I Could Scream


Same, Victoria, same. Well, it’s happened. In the span of one episode Albert went from her rude, dull first cousin to our favorite British queen’s fiance. This episode also served as a good reminder of why I really don’t like Prince Albert, so, in that sense, well done Victoria – you’ve captured his essence perfectly.

Let’s get into it, shall we? Episode 4, “The Clockwork Prince,” begins where the last one left off, in the drawing room with Prince Albert walking up to the Queen to turn the page of her piano music for her. Dash immediately starts barking to which I say, good for Dash. He is a rival for Victoria’s affection and maybe also a tyrant. Dogs are never wrong. Anyway, Victoria isn’t feeling it, so when it’s suggested that she show Albert and his brother, Ernest, around she uses Lord Melbourne to get out of it with some urgent dispatches that require her “full attention.” I like this excuse. I’m going to use it going forward.

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Windsor v. Trump


Well, this has taken a turn. On Friday, Prime Minister Theresa May, currently in Washington, D.C. meeting with President Donald Trump, revealed that, “I have today been able to convey Her Majesty the Queen’s hope that President Trump would pay a state visit to the UK later this year and I am delighted the President has accepted.”

Trump, obviously, is a bit of a controversial figure both at home and abroad – in the nine days since he was sworn into office there has been the largest single-day demonstration in U.S. history (the Women’s March), multiple calls for his impeachment and the preliminary steps set in motion to develop the “wall” he promised on the campaign trail. Most relevantly, on Friday afternoon he signed an executive order restricting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries that has caused widespread outrage.

So where does this leave the British? Well, as of Sunday evening, over 800,000 people (and climbing) have signed a petition calling for Trump be barred from meeting Queen Elizabeth due to his “well-documented misogyny and vulgarity” – once a petition reaches 100,000 signatures, it is automatically considered for debate in Parliament. Crucially, the petition does not call for Trump to be prevented from entering the country, but is specifically targeting his ability to make an official state visit and be received at Buckingham Palace (or Windsor Castle or Balmoral Castle, other options for receiving guests during state visits). The reasoning is that it “would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen.”

The Queen on January 2nd of this year

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William & the Press: A Bad Romance

It’s become part of Prince William’s narrative that he hates the press. Now, William has never publicly said, “I hate the press,” so this is not a statement of fact. It is, however, a fairly safe assumption based on, you know, his behavior and that of his office. But from where does it stem?

The obvious answer, of course, is the death of his mother in 1997 and the role that paparazzi are believed to have played in that fatal car accident. Then there is the blatant intrusion that they have caused in his life – speculating about his parents’ marriage in the ’90s, his and his brother’s antics throughout their respective teens and 20s and his own relationship with Kate Middleton.


But the crux of the answer, I believe, is the press’s ability to put pressure on his and his family’s behavior one way or another. William isn’t stupid, and he would have to be to not understand how important the media is to keeping relevant the institution of the British monarchy. But he also wants to be able to use them like a tool in the broader agenda of his work within the family, and that’s the rub – the press are not a toy that you pick up and put down when it suits you. They’re running a parallel operation here.

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Statue of Diana, Princess of Wales to Be Erected at Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace announced today that a statue of the late Diana, Princess of Wales will be erected on the Palace grounds at the request of her sons, the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry. The statue will commemorate the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death, which occurred on August 31, 1997.

The following statement was released on William and Harry’s behalf:

“It has been twenty years since our mother’s death and the time is right to recognise her positive impact in the UK and around the world with a permanent statue.”

It is hoped it will be completed and unveiled by the end of 2017.

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Margaret Beaufort & the Birth of Henry Tudor

Margaret Beaufort later in life

On January 28, 1457 the future King Henry VII was born at Pembroke Castle in Wales, but the real star of the show was his mother, the Countess of Richmond. In fact, at the time of his birth it couldn’t have seemed less likely that the infant would one day ascend the English throne and it certainly wasn’t seen as an event of national importance. His father was Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond, the younger half-brother of King Henry VI, through the second marriage of their mother, Katherine of Valois.

But unlike Henry VI, who was fathered by the celebrated Henry V, Edmund and his siblings were fathered by a Welshman attached to Queen Katherine’s household, Owen Tudor. For political reasons, the relationship was conducted under the radar and it wouldn’t be until the early 1450s that Edmund and his younger brother, Jasper, were transitioned from a legally grey area to members of the peerage as the Earls of Richmond and Pembroke, respectively.

Because of these circumstances, the infant Henry Tudor born in 1457 had a better claim to the French crown than the English, if you disregard the Salic Law, barring inheritance of the throne through a woman (a pesky byproduct of the Hundred Years’ War).

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Style Transformation Part One: From Kate Middleton to Duchess of Cambridge (2002 – 2011)

One thing that should really be appreciated about the Duchess of Cambridge is that she’s been in the public consciousness since she was 20 years old and, 15 years later, she’s remarkably light on having put a foot wrong. All things considered, she’s been discreet, good-natured and respectful of not only William, but his family and her own. To be honest, of all of her traits, that’s the one I find the most impressive. I cannot emphasize enough how glad I am that there’s not an extensive digital footprint of my own college or early 20s phase (untagged Facebook photos aside).

Particularly as the early aughts weren’t a great time for fashion, a fact I’ve been reminded of as I put together this post. The early photos are giving me uncomfortable flashbacks to some of the sartorial choices made in middle and high school.

William and Kate in June 2011

Since marrying William, Kate has been included on dozens of “best dressed” lists, credited with sky-rocketing the profiles of countless brands and selling out items of clothing within  hours of being photographed in them. She is best-known for having flawless hair and generally always looking perfect. This look back isn’t meant to undermine that, but rather examine the transformation she took in the span of a decade from a pretty typical undergraduate to suddenly being splashed across every front page as the future queen of England. The hair, the teeth, the makeup, the skin and, oh yes, the clothing have all changed dramatically. It’s also a nice walk down memory lane.

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