Congratulations & Condolences: Princess Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse

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And so we pick up with yet another of Queen Victoria’s children: Princess Alice, her third child and second daughter. Alice is less famous than her two elder siblings, Vicky and Bertie (aka Empress Frederick of Germany and Edward VII), but that fact doesn’t necessarily align with her dynastic importance.

Have you ever heard it said the Queen and Prince Philip are cousins? Well, they are, albeit distantly. Queen Elizabeth is descended from Queen Victoria through her son, Edward VII, while Philip is descended from her via Alice. Alice’s eldest daughter, Victoria of Hesse, married Prince Louis of Battenberg and her eldest daughter, Princess Alice of Battenberg, is Philip’s mother. So, there you go.

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William, Kate & Harry at the London Marathon

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Today was the big day: 50,000 runners participated in the London marathon and were cheered on by none other than the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. The three started the event by offering some last minute words of encouragement and sounding “go” by pressing a large, red buzzer.

They then set up camp at a cheering point in Greenwich where they were visible to runners as they went by and proved something of a distraction. At various points people stopped to give them hugs, wave, shake their hands and pose for selfies, sometimes prompting a “keep going” gesture from William and Harry so that they wouldn’t lose too much time. I mean, yes running times are important, but it’s not hard to see why people were doing double-takes…particularly when the three Royals were trading a large, Heads Together-themed foam finger back and forth. You just don’t see that everyday.

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Before Woodville: John, Duke of Bedford & Jacquetta of Luxembourg

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John of Bedford, kneeling

The pairing of John, Duke of Bedford and Jacquetta of Luxembourg is one which never fails to jar me in hindsight. What are the odds that the Duke’s second wife would go on to become the mother of a queen of England via her own second marriage, particularly given the outrageousness of each match? Well, they’re nil. Much like how it can still be difficult to fathom that the marriage of Katherine of Valois’s that became most dynastically significant was hers to Owen Tudor and not Henry V.

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William, Kate & Harry Chat at Kensington Palace (Updated)

Earlier today, Kensington Palace tweeted out a nearly seven-minute long video of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry talking about Heads Together, mental health and their own experiences with both. Kate briefly spoke about the “steep learning curve” that went along with caring for Prince George with William, while William and Harry talked about how the experience of losing their mother at a young age has made them particularly cognizant of certain issues as they now engage on mental health issues.

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William, Kate & Harry Open the Global Academy

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Today, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry opened the Global Academy, a school focused on media and entertainment industry preparation, which builds mental health awareness and support into its curriculum. Thus, it fit in well with this week’s theme – all Heads Together everything.

The three learned about how the school attempts to incorporate mental well-being into its courses for a variety of ages, and to present it not always a serious or problematic situation, but rather a positive and normal aspect of day-to-day-life.

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All Heads Together Everything

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WELL, I hope you’re ready for Sunday’s London marathon because the British Royal Family certainly is. Following the airing of Prince Harry’s watershed interview on mental health on Sunday, he and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are continuing to pop up in support of their charitable initiative, Heads Together, which has a team running this weekend.

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The Other Matilda

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A non-contemporary depiction of Matilda of Boulogne

The Anarchy is best remembered (assuming it’s known to you at all) as a civil war between the unfortunate King Stephen and Empress Matilda. There was, however, another Matilda in the mix which does very little to keep things straightforward. There were also two Henrys, but isn’t there always?

Anyway, the second Matilda wasn’t Stephen’s rival, but his wife, and she went a long way in positioning him as able to claim the throne when the Empress Matilda’s father, Henry I, died in 1135.

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The Third Daughter of James II

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James II’s first two daughters are rightfully famous and they grew up to be queen regnants of Great Britain who collectively reigned from 1688 to 1714 as the last Stuart monarchs. They are perhaps best known, however, for benefiting from their father’s dethronement during the Glorious Revolution which saw him forced into exile while his daughter, Mary, and son-in-law, William of Orange, were asked to rule instead. His problem was one of faith, for James had converted to Catholicism as an adult. Had his second marriage to yet another Catholic remained infertile it’s possible he could have kept his crown, but the 1688 birth of a son made his rule intolerable to the Protestant English.

He and his wife, Mary of Modena, ended up in France at Louis XIV’s court at Versailles. The French king gave his royal guests use of the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, not too far outside of Paris. It was there, on the 28th of June 1692 that Mary gave birth to a daughter, Louisa Maria Stuart.

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The Phantom Pregnancies of Mary I

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Mary I’s brief reign is best remembered for the burning of Protestants, acts which earned her the lasting moniker, “Bloody Mary.” But her five years on the throne were also marked by personal, as well as public, loss. When Mary claimed her throne in 1553 and put down the rebellion of Lady Jane Grey and the Dudley family, she quickly moved forward with marriage. She was 37, her childbearing years were numbered and it was her primary duty to not only re-connect England to Rome, but ensure a Catholic succession.

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Prince Harry’s Interview on Mental Health

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Sunday was a big day for the British Royal Family. And not because it was Easter and not because the Duchess of Cambridge wore a coat. The Telegraph posted a podcast in which Prince Harry was interviewed about mental health – more specifically, about his experience dealing with his own mental health issues. It was one of the most candid interviews in which a member of the RF has participated and is the perfect example of marrying one’s public duties with the personal appeal of monarchy. Basically this interview is exactly what I was gunning for when I wrote this, and what I think Kate came close to do doing when she made this speech.

Essentially, Harry spoke about his struggles to process the death of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997. He said that he repressed most of his emotion about the event, but that it eventually caught up to him in his 20s. He found himself behaving aggressively, feeling angry and not coping well with his role as a public figure and all that that entailed. He came forth and discussed that he has availed himself of counseling and that his brother, the Duke of Cambridge, was one person in his corner urging him to seek help.

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