Half-Brother to the King: Edmund of Woodstock, Earl of Kent

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Edmund of Woodstock’s trajectory would likely have been familiar terrain to the more famous Beaufort clan of the Wars of the Roses. Brother to a king, Edmund’s fortunes were tied to his relationship with the throne and, as a younger son, he was dependent on his own performance, ability and strategic marital alliance. In many ways, Edmund had the makings of an ideal Medieval prince and his brother, Edward II, was lucky to have him. Unfortunately for Edmund, the same couldn’t be said for the King, who was mercurial, self-interested and failed to understand the enormity of his position.

Loyal to the crown for the vast majority of his life, Edmund’s eventual defection to the coup that would bring his brother down speaks less to his own personal feelings and more to what he believed necessary to maintain England. That he wavered in his last years is tragic and his eventual arrest and execution mark one of the first instances a prince of the blood was put to death on the orders of a family member – its legacy can most closely be seen by the death of George, Duke of Clarence when Edward IV was on the throne and by the arrest of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester by Henry VI.

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Carolina Herrara Gets a Recycle for Final Paris Engagement

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If there was one engagement on this trip to which the Duke of Cambridge was most looking forward it was likely this afternoon’s rugby match between France and Wales. We’ve actually had a few chances to see the couple watch sports together between appearances at Wimbledon, various horse races and other events on overseas tours. Usually William looks fairly stressed as the game unfolds, while Kate showcases just how expressive her face can be.

Today was no different, though Kate seemed slightly less emotionally invested than she usually does during some tennis matches. Both, however, appeared glum when France made a last minute score and won the game.

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Kate (Finally) Debuts Chanel

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I think this morning’s event is the one everyone was waiting for – the Eiffel Tower, the iconic shots of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in the city and, yes, Chanel. It would have been a small crime if Kate hadn’t worn at least one Chanel item during her stay in the city and when she decided she was going to go for it, she went for it.

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Kate in Ice Blue Jenny Packham for First Night in Paris

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For the day’s fourth and final engagement, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were received at a black tie dinner at the British Embassy. The 18th century ballroom was full of about 150 guests, including film and sports stars, and William made another brief speech expressing the Queen’s warm feelings towards France and its people.

One element of the entertainment was the group Kids United, who sang Pharrell’s “Happy,” one of the songs to which William was filmed dancing while in Verbier. According to the press coverage the only reaction William had was to briefly glance at Kate, and when the song was over he graciously stood up and congratulated the children on their performance.

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Kate in Alexander McQueen for Reception at the British Embassy

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For her next engagement in Paris the Duchess of Cambridge did, indeed, don a second outfit, but it wasn’t from a French brand as anticipated, but instead from the tried and true British Alexander McQueen. As I’ve said before, I do try to start these posts on Kate’s engagements with the significance of the event itself, but in this case I actually do find it notable that she donned a British designer in light of this week’s Brexit news and royal assent.

It may be a coincidence, sure, but the chances of Kate not understanding the meaning of wearing a British labels while rolling into Paris, the epicenter of fashion, is highly unlikely. A nod to the designer of her wedding dress is likely quite calculated, a showcasing of Britain’s cultural standing, if you will.

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William, Kate, Catherine Walker & the Élysée Palace

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Has a greater tragedy than having a busy workday fall on the same day the Duchess of Cambridge arrives in Paris ever befallen anyone? Probably not. I’m catching up now, so bear with me.

Kate and William apparently left straight from their engagement with the Irish Guards earlier today for the airport to fly to Paris, Kate’s hairdresser, Amanda Walker, changing Kate’s hair from the earlier updo to her signature curls on the plane. Upon landing the couple were chauffeured to the Élysée Palace, home of the French president, where they were officially welcomed by President François Hollande.

Kate was still wearing her Catherine Walker from the Irish Guards ceremony, which I think caused some disappointment (myself included). There was something about the idea of Kate landing in Paris, for the first time as duchess, wearing something that really wow’ed. However, at the same time, there was something kind of nostalgic about her continuing to wear her green Catherine Walker coat dress.

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Duke & Duchess of Cambridge Back on the Horse for the Irish Guards

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I would imagine the Duke of Cambridge wasn’t particularly looking forward to today, at least not the UK-based portion of it. It’s one things to have all eyes on you and quite another to know those eyes are ever so slightly critical. But even so, William and the Duchess of Cambridge were back to business when they visited the Irish Guards for St. Patrick’s Day and handed out shamrocks. The event, which Kate missed last year to much chagrin, could have turned into an entirely different story, one that included a fair bit of rehashing of last year’s angst; luckily her husband took care of that for her with last weekend’s Verbier trip.

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Royal Roundup March 12-16: Malawi, Chi & the Rest of Windsor on a Roll

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The Countess of Wessex in Malawi

Last week I put this out a bit late and this week I’m putting it out a bit early, but in the interest of clearing the decks for Friday & Saturday’s Paris trip, here’s a quick rundown on what the rest of the Royal Family has been up to this week.

  • I’ve not seen this reported elsewhere, but Katie Nicholl wrote an article for Vanity Fair  in the Verbier aftermath claiming that the Duchess of Cambridge was none too pleased by news coming out of the Duke of Cambridge’s recent ski trip. According to an unnamed source:

“It was William’s choice to go away, but make no mistake Kate wears the trousers in their marriage, and she won’t be happy with William’s antics. She thought his partying days and larking around with the boys was a thing of the past. I imagine she’ll find this humiliating and William will have come in for a pasting.”

So, do with that what you will. I was skeptical up until the point I saw the byline; there are about five royal reporters that would get a solid source for that quote and Nicholl is one of them.

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Between Verbier & Paris

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Forty-eight hours on from news of the Duke of Cambridge’s ski trip to Verbier hitting as Commonwealth Day festivities were unfolding, the news cycle has evolved pretty much as you’d expect. William has been raked over the coals for being, at best, wildly tone deaf and, at worst, a playboy louche who should have grown up years ago.

And I have to say, in watching the fallout, I’ve become a bit less forgiving. The thing is, there’s nothing about this reaction that is surprising and William had to have known that. He chose to go anyway and that choice doesn’t say anything good.

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The Madness of Henry VI & His Son

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In the long list of things that made Marguerite of Anjou’s life tragic is the fact that after waiting eight years for any sign of a much-needed heir, her husband, Henry VI, would go “mad” when she was seven months pregnant, turning what should have been a time of genuine celebration into a period of incredible stress and political uncertainty.

By 1453 Henry desperately needed a son. He was a weak king, controlled by a coterie of unpopular men with varying degrees of skill, and married to a Frenchwoman who many saw as a tangible symbol of England giving up its right in France. That the marriage was fruitless certainly didn’t help matters, particularly when Henry’s closest heirs were his half-brothers, Edmund and Jasper Tudor, born from his mother’s second marriage to a Welshman in her household, or his cousin, Richard, Duke of York, who was older than him by a decade and politically opposed to nearly all of his government’s policies.

But Marguerite was no traditional queen consort and it would be this period of time which mobilized her into a woman who made no pretense about actively politicking on behalf of her family’s interests.

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