The Coronation of Katherine of Valois


Katherine of Valois was only queen for 26 months before Henry V died unexpectedly in France and she was suddenly tasked with the lofty job of mothering the king of England and France, staying out of the way and lending her hand as Christendom’s greatest ornament, as needed. Don’t be jealous.

Needless to say, in that short window of time, Katherine didn’t have much opportunity to play at being the king’s wife, but her coronation did provide an opportunity for her to carry out a traditional act of queen consort: Pleading for mercy on behalf of her husband’s prisoners.

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Kate Recycles Paule Ka Skirt Suit for First Action for Children Engagement


I did a double-take when I first saw Kate’s outfit today since I had thought she had recycled this very suit when I saw the initial images of her stepping out in her Oscar de la Renta ensemble two weeks ago. Granted, the color was off in the photo, but the two skirts do seem similar.

Anyway, back to today: Kate undertook two engagements in Wales on behalf of Action for Children, a patronage she inherited from the Queen this past December. At the end of last year the Queen offloaded 25 charities to various members of her family in an effort to lighten her workload. This particular organization made sense given Kate’s focus on children and child development.

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The Brief Life of Henry Tudor, Duke of Cornwall

1511 joust celebrating Prince Henry’s birth

All told, Katherine of Aragon had a pretty tragic life. She is most renowned for her last years, when she was battling it out with her husband, Henry VIII, on the European stage over the state of their marriage and the jurisdiction of the Catholic Church. Or perhaps for her widowhood when she was stranded in England in a strange limbo state, Prince Arthur having died, her virginity uncertain and her betrothal to Prince Henry up in the air. But for a few years in the beginning of her second marriage, I like to think Katherine was happy. Specifically, I like to think about the 52-day period in 1511 when she had successfully delivered her husband a son and the idea that there would be five subsequent queen consorts after her would have seemed absurd.

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Edward Despard Was a Traitor


As a gift to my roommate who is one of the worst people you’ll ever meet I am writing up a quick post on his ancestor, Edward Despard. Despard, a debtor, rabble rouser and traitor, clearly passed those underwhelming characteristics along to said roommate. To be honest, the more research I do on Despard’s failed hijinks and generally dissolute ways, the more I’m reminded of my roommate, who has demanded that I write this up to please him even though I have a cold and would rather take a nap. He is literally the worst.

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Victoria Recap: Don’t Talk Railway At Me


First of all, where is Lord Melbourne? He didn’t stop being Prime Minister when Queen Victoria married. Nor, indeed, did the Queen stop meeting with him. I will be most miffed if he doesn’t reappear for next week’s season finale.

Anyway, there’s no polite English word for it, but Victoria is pregnant. In the opening scene of “The Engine of Change” our 20-year-old monarch abruptly runs from a classical music concert because she is to be, in the words of her household, “indisposed out of her mouth.” The doctors soon confirm it: There is to be a royal baby. Prince Albert is over the moon and Victoria is afraid, the shadow of Princess Charlotte dying in labor looming large.

She announces it 1840s monarch style, which is to say not on Facebook, but in an audience chamber, from her throne, with members of her government assembled before her to clap when she has delivered her news. It’s most civilized and, frankly, has given me a lot of ideas for my future pronouncements.

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The Edwardian Princess Royal: Louise of Wales, Duchess of Fife


The title “Princess Royal” was introduced to England by Charles I’s wife, Henrietta Maria, in the 17th century, a spin-off of France’s “Madame Royale” title given to the monarch’s eldest unmarried daughter. The first Princess Royal was Henrietta Maria and Charles’s daughter, Princess Mary, and it has subsequently been handed out to the monarch’s eldest daughter at their discretion. A key point of distinction with the French title, however, was that the princess’s marital status was irrelevant to her holding the title.

In 1905 King Edward VII named his eldest daughter, Louise, the Princess Royal and also moved to style her two daughters as princesses despite the fact that as daughters of a duke, they would not have otherwise. This allowed Louise’s children to have precedence immediately after other members of the British Royal Family styled as “Royal Highness.” It was an interesting move that protected the prestige of Louise in comparison to the families of her brother, the future George V, and her younger sister, Maud, who became queen consort of Norway the same year.

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The Royal Custody Battle


Anne of Denmark is one of the forgotten queens of England. And, to a certain extent, it makes sense. The reign of her husband, James I, is sandwiched between the more eventful and historically significant reigns of Elizabeth I and Charles I – he is perhaps best remembered now for the edition of the bible that bears his name, overlapping with Shakespeare and almost being blown up by Guy Fawkes. Or, perhaps, you have heard rumors that he might have been gay.

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The Case Against George, Duke of Clarence


Let’s talk about George, Duke of Clarence. And why wouldn’t we? Talking about him gives us the first and second parts of the Wars of the Roses, Henry VI, Edward IV, Richard III, the Neville family, the Woodville family, the Princes in the Tower, a dramatic (if not suspicious) execution and the fate of his York children well into the reigns of the Tudors. Today, of course, marks the anniversary of George’s execution in 1478, a death ordered by his older brother, King Edward, when he was only 29 years old. Did he deserve it? Yes, absolutely. To be honest, it’s shocking that George lived as long as he did given his propensity for treason.

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Royal Roundup Feb. 11-17: Tea Parties, Dancing & All the Engagements


Some odds and ends:

  • In addition to three engagements scheduled over the next few weeks and March’s mini-tour of Paris, another event has been added to the Duchess of Cambridge’s calendar in the form of a tea party she will host with the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry at Buckingham Palace on May 13th. The party is for children who have lost a parent serving in the armed forces.

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Always a Princess, Never a Queen: Augusta of Saxe-Gotha


Let’s take a moment to pity poor Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, because she didn’t have an easy go of it. Married to the Prince of Wales as a teenager, she was wildly under-prepared for marriage into the British Royal Family, particularly when it was as fractured as it was in the reign of King George II. She had little way of knowing that her new husband was the black sheep of the family, or that her own growing family would become a thorn in the side of her in-laws. Even less could she have foretold that her husband would die prematurely, removing the possibility of ever becoming queen, while leaving her with the weighty responsibility of raising the future king in a foreign country.

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