Charles in Romania: Days Two & Three

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As we speak, the Prince of Wales has safely arrived in Florence where he was met by the Duchess of Cornwall for the next leg of his European tour. All told and unsurprisingly, Charles was a smash hit in Romania and his engagements picked up a fair bit of media coverage in the last 36 hours.

After introductions and meeting with President Iohannis in Bucharest, he sat down with Crown Princess Margareta yesterday for an afternoon tea. As some very quick background, Margareta is the eldest daughter of King Michael I, who was named heir presumptive to the abolished Romanian throne in 1997. The Royal Family has been without their crown, so to speak, since 1947, however the King’s move was a symbolic gesture that offered up a candidate should Romania ever reinstate its monarchy – one which also proposed the removal of Salic Law, which prohibits a woman from inheriting the throne.

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The Death of Queens

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Queen Elizabeth famously called 1992 her “annus horribilis,” but that was before she lived through 2002 which saw the passing of both her mother and her sister in short order. Fifteen years ago today the Palace announced the death of Queen Elizabeth (née Bowes-Lyon), wife of King George VI, known more commonly as the Queen Mother.

The official statement read:

“The Queen, with the greatest sadness, has asked for the following announcement to be made immediately: her beloved mother, Queen Elizabeth, died peacefully in her sleep this afternoon at Royal Lodge, Windsor. Members of the royal family have been informed.

“Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother had become increasingly frail in recent weeks following her bad cough and chest infection over Christmas.

“Her condition deteriorated this morning and her doctors were called. Queen Elizabeth died peacefully in her sleep at 3.15 this afternoon at Royal Lodge. The Queen was at her mother’s bedside.”

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Charles in Romania: Day One

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Image via Clarence House

I’m going to make this quick because it’s well past midnight my time, but I do want to capture as much of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall’s European tour over the next several days as possible. The first leg of it is being carried out solo by Charles as he undertakes a series of engagements in Romania between Wednesday and Friday of this week, before meeting Camilla in Florence on Saturday.

Already I’ve learned something new just from lightly tracking the press coverage: Who knew Charles was such a big fan of Romania? I didn’t, but it’s interesting (to me) since I recently did a post on Missy of Edinburgh, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria who married into the Romanian Royal Family and became its queen consort. The post was just a brief anecdote from her later life I found amusing, but it highlights the extensive ties the Windsors maintained with Eastern Europe, Romania in particular, in mid-20th century. It’s nice to see those continued to be honored today with Charles.

For example, he apparently owns two properties there, one in Valea Zalanului and another in Viscri, and apparently regularly visits the country privately. Seriously, who knew?

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Kate in Green Lace Temperley for National Portrait Gallery Gala

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If you’re wondering how many lace dresses the Duchess of Cambridge can possibly own you’re not alone and the answer is many. We were expecting a gown tonight and on that front Kate didn’t disappoint. Personally, I had been wondering if we would get a repeat given the two formal dresses she debuted in Paris and, weirdly, I thought it was going to be the long black lace she wore in New York City in 2014. I was almost right, except it was a new (for us) gown and a fresh color…but otherwise, yes, I’m sorry, this is a bizarrely similar look.

Tonight Kate attended the National Portrait Gallery’s annual gala in London, which is one of my very favorite spots in the city. She has patronized the museum since the early days of her marriage and it’s proven itself to be one of her favorites as she has frequented events on their behalf several times over the years. It makes sense given Kate’s art history degree and, indeed, her very own portrait hangs on the gallery’s ground floor – the controversial image that drew so much ire from fans when it was unveiled back in 2013.

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Kensington Palace Is All the Rage

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Inside William and Kate’s sitting room in Kensington Palace

Rumor has it that Prince Harry is trying to move into a new apartment in Kensington Palace with, you guessed it, his girlfriend of several months, Meghan Markle. Harry currently lives in Nottingham Cottage, a two-bedroom residence on Palace grounds on the small-side (relatively speaking). Naturally, this has added fuel to fire that an engagement will be announced later this year, with most speculative dates falling  in July and August.

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So Where Does William Go From Here?

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Almost two weeks out from #skigate (a thing only I am calling it), let’s catch up. First, if you live under a rock missed the original incident, you can catch up here and here. We are re-hashing this whole thing only because, as expected, there’s been a second wave to the news cycle. First came the scandal, then the criticism and then, finally, the defenses. Yes, the Duke of Cambridge did receive some backing up from the press – less rationalizations of his behavior itself, and more “perspective” pieces, if you will.

But the thing is, most people weren’t upset that he went skiing, or that he drank, or that he did either without his wife. This was an issue of timing and the judgment that led him to believe that timing was acceptable or “worth it.” It shouldn’t have been. It was, at best, a dumb move and, at worst, a careless one.

It’s the latter that’s the more troubling scenario because less ideal than being labelled “work shy” – a thing that time will likely fix – is being labelled out of touch or reluctant. The public doesn’t want a 35-year-old reluctant royal, not when the Queen is getting older and the Prince of Wales still has some reputational issues despite a huge image makeover in the last two decades.

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The Lost Childhood of Marguerite of Anjou

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This past Wednesday (March 23rd) marked the anniversary of Marguerite of Anjou’s birthday. Wife of Henry VI and pivotal figure in the so-called Wars of the Roses, Marguerite enjoyed a fair amount of notoriety in life, and has seen her reputation molded to reflect the ethos of the time. Today, when there is greater room, and perhaps almost a demand for stronger women, one version of Marguerite has been allowed to emerge: the politico, the matriarch, the leader asserting herself in the masculine world of a Medieval court.

We know more about Marguerite than we do about many of her peers, including her predecessor and successor, Katherine of Valois and Elizabeth Woodville, respectively. Her activity was well-documented and she was active enough that there was enough to record. You can glean a great deal from those actions – what she chose to do speaks to her thought process, but it doesn’t tell the complete story. And, indeed, what’s missing from the story of Marguerite is that we have no idea how much she wanted to take on the role that she did. We know only that when push came to shove, she chose to protect her son’s birthright, and before that she chose to stand up for her husband in the best way she knew how.

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Royal Roundup March 17-26: George, London & GMOs

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A few things that have happened since Paris:

  • Perhaps first and foremost, Kensington Palace announced that in September, Prince George will start school at Thomas’s Battersea School in London. His matriculation will coincide with when the Cambridges are expected to move back to London full time, allowing the Duke to begin duties as a full time Royal after stepping down from his job as a pilot. Interestingly, the school is co-ed, which will mark a change as compared to William and the Prince of Wales. Likely the move has to do with the practicality of Princess Charlotte following suit in a few years and wanting the siblings to attend school together (or only having to do one school run in the mornings), but the switch to a primary education inclusive of girls feels like a fresh and positive change of pace for the next generation.

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Kate Makes Important Speech on Parenting in London-Based Brand

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I’ve been a bit absent this week thanks to a hectic work schedule, but I wanted to make sure I got up this post about the Duchess of Cambridge’s latest engagement sooner rather than later. Of all Kate’s sightings, I wish this hadn’t been the one I had to delay, because it was an important engagement on a number of different levels. 1) It took place less than 24 hours after the tragic events in London on Wednesday; 2) Kate gave yet another speech; and 3) the content of that speech was her most personal yet, touching on postpartum depression, parenting and her own experience as a mother.

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The Beat of Her Own Drum: Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll

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Louise has always been my second-favorite of Queen Victoria’s daughter (the first being Vicky) and all of her daughters hold a special place in my heart since they’re some of the first figures in British history in which I became interested. I still distinctly remember reading Jerrold M. Packard’s book on all of them for first time when I was about 10 and it’s been re-read many times since. The length of their mother’s reign and the unprecedented change that Western Europe went through over the second half of the 19th century and early 20th century put them at the epicenter of the dramatically changing role that Europe’s Royal Families held (if they made it through without being abolished). Indeed, many of Queen Victoria’s daughters would make dynastically significant marriages, their own children ruling or taking places of prominence at courts around the globe.

Louise wouldn’t be one of them, but her uniqueness in shying away from that fate, frankly, makes her interesting.

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