Not So Merry England: Catherine of Braganza at the Court of Charles II

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Charles II was a bit of a man-whore – there’s not really another way to put it. He kept dozens of mistresses over the course of his life and ended up siring 20 bastard children. He was also married, so let’s take a moment to pity his poor wife, Catherine of Braganza, a convent-reared princess from Portugal who spent her life in England humiliated by her husband’s infidelities and forced to watch them give birth to his children when she could not.

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The White Princess Recap: He is a Horrible, Bad Man

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I debated whether I was going to cover this series for a couple reasons: 1) it’s based on a book I haven’t read; 2) it’s most certainly not going to even attempt accuracy; and 3) it’s all a bit much. But there’s value in considering how history is being dramatized, if for no other reason than to be aware of what false bits are going to become lodged in the public consciousness. In this case that’s not really a huge concern as I don’t think most people are watching this show, but if it’s not a worthwhile exercise it’s at least an interesting one.

As some background, the White Princess is meant to follow a 2013 series called the White Queen, which covered the life of Elizabeth Woodville, consort of Edward IV, from 1464 to 1485. If you would like to know who that is then I would direct you here, here or here. The White Princess dramatizes the life of their eldest daughter, Elizabeth of York, who married Henry VII in 1485. For more on her actual background, you can read more here.

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Pippa’s Wedding Eve

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On a frothier note than Anne Boleyn’s death, let’s discuss Pippa Middleton’s wedding eve. It’s all prep everything between London and Berkshire, apparently. The Duchess of Cambridge was spotted driving herself around the city, while Prince Harry’s girlfriend, Meghan Markle, in town from Toronto for the big event, was seen exiting a fitness studio in Soho today. She was photographed idling outside the doors before being picked up by a car and, no doubt, whisked back to Kensington Palace.

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The Death of Anne Boleyn

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If Anne Boleyn is known for one thing it is being one Henry VIII’s beheaded wives. Indeed, the rhyme goes: Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived. Her death has become so synonymous with her reputation that it’s difficult to comprehend how shocking it was when the whole tragedy unfolded in 1536.

Kings didn’t execute their queens, not even when infidelity was suspected. Certainly a queen had never been tried in a court of law, found guilty of treason and executed in English history. But for that matter, Anne was many “firsts” for the English – the first queen to oust her predecessor via divorce, the first queen whose rise was tied to religious reformation, the first queen whose sister was widely believed to have been the king’s mistress.

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All Eyes on August 4

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Rumor has it that an engagement between Prince Harry and girlfriend Meghan Markle will be announced on August 4, which just so happens to be the birthday of the deceased Queen Mother. According to a new quote that lays out why the news would come in August and not before:

“They are not engaged formally but there is an understanding. The engagement announcement is still tipped for August 4 and is unlikely to come earlier. Why so? Because the general election (June 8), the formation of a new government (June 9), the State Opening of Parliament (June 19) and the state visit of King Felipe of Spain (July 12-14) cannot be overshadowed.”

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When Eleanor of Aquitaine Left the King of France & Married the King of England

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There once was a woman who married the King of France and the King of England, and her name was Eleanor of Aquitaine. You might have heard of her. Not only did she marry her way into two of the most prestigious European dynasties, she also divorced a king on her way to doing so. Consider the outrage and disdain with which Wallis Simpson was met in the 1930s and compare that with the fact that Eleanor went through a divorce and came out on top back in the 12th century. Let’s just say there’s a reason she’s famous.

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Peter Phillips, Autumn Kelly & Hello Magazine

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As we quickly approach Pippa Middleton’s wedding this coming Saturday, let’s take a moment to appreciate yet another royal-adjacent union, one which actually celebrates its nine-year anniversary today. Back in 2008, the Queen’s eldest grandson, Peter Phillips, married a Canadian Roman Catholic named Autumn Kelly who most people had never heard about until the couple announced their engagement.

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Kate Shines (Literally) at Buckingham Palace Garden Party

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Surprise! The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made an appearance yesterday at the first Buckingham Palace garden party of the season hosted by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. Members of the Royal Family present made a formal entrance and then dispersed to mingle with guests, making what I can only imagine were several rounds of excruciating small talk with dozens of strangers who know all sorts of details about their personal lives, all while onlookers took photos on their phones.

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William IV & the FitzClarences

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The coat of arms of the FitzClarence family

In 1791 an actress by the name of “Mrs. Jordan” became acquainted with William, Duke of Clarence, third son of King George III. She was 30-years-old and the mother of four illegitimate children via two different men. Three of them were fathered by Sir Richard Ford, who she moved in with after he promised to marry her. He didn’t and once she met William she promptly jumped ship.

The great love of her life was George Inchbald, another actor, who left her brokenhearted when he failed to propose, and before him came an army lieutenant, Charles Doyne, who did propose and was roundly refused. Her first illegitimate child was fathered by Richard Daly, the manger of an Irish theatre company in Cork. Their child, a daughter named Frances, would eventually follow her mother on the stage.

Mrs. Jordan was born Dorothy Bland, a name by which she was known until she left Doyne for Inchbald and reinvented herself, taking the name from the River Jordan which she claimed to have metaphorically crossed when she left Ireland for England.

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