The Duchess of Cambridge undertook an engagement at RAF Wittering near Peterborough earlier today in her capacity as patron and Honorary Air Commandment of the RAF Air Cadets. Kate had the chance to try out a tutor aircraft and meet air cadets from local training corps.
The Duchess assumed the patronage in December 2015 from the Duke of Edinburgh, a role which now has her representing 42,000 air cadets and 15,000 volunteers at 1,200 units around the world.
In the midst of England’s Hundred Years’ War with France, it secured a shockingly long-lasting alliance with Portugal that would begin in the 14th century and last until the Napoleonic Wars of the 19th. At its center was the marriage of Philippa of Lancaster, granddaughter of England’s King Edward III, to Portugal’s King Juan I. Their children would become known as the “Illustrious Generation” and lead the country into one of its most profitable and historically significant eras.
It’s safe to say that Eleanor of Aquitaine’s five daughters have pretty much been over-shadowed by their legendary mother, but her youngest, Joan, gave her a solid run for her money. At the time of her October 1165 birth at Angers Castle in Anjou, the marriage of Eleanor and her second husband, King Henry II of England was on its last legs. Within a year, her father had begun what would become a flagrant and notorious affair with his mistress, Rosamund Clifford, and within two, her parents had seemingly agreed to separate, Eleanor packing up her belongings and leaving for Poitiers.
Behind every successful queen there is a man wondering what the hell his job is. Well, not Elizabeth I, mind you, but certainly our favorite 19th century monarch, Queen Victoria. The honeymoon is over and it’s back to Buckingham Palace they go to be interrupted by Baroness Lehzen in bed, separated by blood princes walking into dinner and lampooned by political cartoons depicting poor Albert as a German sausage.
While Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn loom the largest of Henry VIII’s wives, all six women have provided controversy and prompted debate centuries after their deaths. Henry’s fifth wife, Katherine Howard, is no exception. Married to the King on July 28, 1540 and executed on February 13, 1542, her reign was brief but littered with misinformation and its legacy shaped by evolving views of female sexuality and abuse.
Katherine first joined court and met Henry in 1539 when she became a lady-in-waiting to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves. At that point, Henry had been a widower for two years following the death of Jane Seymour, and his marriage was masterminded by his councilor, Thomas Cromwell, who was determined to find another queen consort who would complement the Protestant Church of England and the ongoing dissolution of the monasteries. Unfortunately for Cromwell, Anne failed to please Henry and he instead fell for the adolescent Katherine Howard, niece to Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, and cousin of his deceased second wife, Anne Boleyn.
You can accuse the Duchess of Cambridge of many things, but not having brand loyalty isn’t one of them. Kate accompanied the Duke of Cambridge, in his capacity as the organization’s president, to the annual BAFTA awards show today, held at Royal Albert Hall in London. There was much anticipation over what Kate would wear and I think all of us had our fingers crossed for a new evening gown – for a woman known for her sartorial restraint and responsible outfit recycling, true red carpet “wow” moments can be few and far between. But Kate stepped out in what appears to be a bespoke version of an off-the-shoulder gown from the 2016 resort line of Alexander McQueen, complete with a floral print, dramatic updo and larger jewelry than what she usually favors. Personally, I think she killed it.
ICYMI, England once had a queen for only nine days in the summer of 1553. Slipped between Edward VI and Mary I, Jane’s brief reign speaks to the gender, religious and dynastic issues the Tudors faced from the last years of Henry VIII to the first years of Elizabeth I. Her actions were at the direction of others and her intentions likely quite benign; still a teenager when she died, it’s not difficult to grasp why she has captured the public’s imagination and sympathy since her execution on February 12, 1554.
On February 11, 1466, Elizabeth of York was born to King Edward IV and his wife, Elizabeth Woodville, at the Palace of Westminster. Thirty-seven years later, Elizabeth would die in the residence of the Tower of London as the consort of King Henry VII. Within that time span, she would be the daughter, sister, niece and wife of four English kings, while six years after her death, she would become the mother of one when Henry VIII ascended the throne.
In sad news, it was announced on Wednesday that Tara Palmer-Tomkinson was found dead in her home. An official cause of death hasn’t been listed, but she was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2016. The Palmer-Tomkinsons are close family friends of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, while Tara has maintained a friendship with the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry since childhood. She also befriended the Duchess early on in her relationship with William, notably standing by her during the couple’s 2007 breakup when many had written Kate off as the “university girlfriend.” Tara later said that during this time she told her:
Despite having read nearly every available biography of Queen Victoria in the early aughts, I realized when watching and recapping the new series based on her airing on PBS that it had actually been a few years since I had sat down and read a biography based solely on her. So this past week, that’s what I did.
And it was pretty fun – kind of like looking at a high school yearbook. The broad strokes have stayed with you, but you’re reminded of some of the smaller personal details that you know you once knew well.
Since today, February 10th, marks the anniversary of Victoria and Prince Albert’s 1840 wedding, I thought it would be appropriate to take a look at the real events behind their story. After all, though they would become one of history’s most famous couples, with Victoria remaining in intensive mourning for nearly 40 years after he died, their early years show two people very much figuring out how to live together, how to communicate, what the power dynamic was going to be and how they would raise their family. Like any young couple, except, you know, they did it in Buckingham Palace.