The Prince of Wales joined the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for a second day of engagements acknowledging the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele in Belgium. Today’s event was held at the Tyne Cot cemetery located just outside of Ypres, the largest Commonwealth burial ground in the world. The site contains the graves of 11,971 servicemen and is an important stop in remembering Passchendaele given the sheer volume of casualties from the summer of 1917.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived in Ypres, Belgium today to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendale. Accompanied by Prime Minister Theresa May, they joined King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of the Belgians to honor those who lost their lives during one of the bloodiest battles of World War I.
This really is “the” royal wedding, isn’t it? Despite not being around for it and thinking the Cambridges’ 2011 version was absolutely gorgeous, I have a feeling the 1981 wedding of the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer will go down as the one to beat in the modern era. I’m not giving those marks based on style, splash or pomp, necessarily, but it’s a searing moment in time that defined a certain generation – and in that way, it was very much its bride’s day.
I don’t have the ability to separate out to what extent my perception of the day is influenced by hindsight, but to be honest, I don’t feel like it is. When I look at photos from that wedding I don’t see the unhappy years we know now were coming, or the divorce, or the late Princess of Wales’ tragic early death. I just see a captured moment of complete joy, optimism, relief and, yes, perhaps some naiveté.
In February I wrote a post laying out the case for why some believe Henry VIII’s fifth wife, Katherine Howard, might not have been guilty of every charge leveled at her in 1542. It included detail on her upbringing, her inclusion in Anne of Cleves’s household and her relationships with the men with whom she was believed to have had relationships with, save one. Notably lacking in the post was any real information on the actual royal marriage that brought Katherine infamy.
Perhaps that’s because I find it a bit repugnant – it’s hard to lend much earnest analysis to a marriage between an old man (by Tudor standards, at least) and a teenage girl. And while not uncommon back in the day, there’s a bit of difference between a foreign alliance and one in which a man like Henry VIII took a girl younger than his eldest daughter, with no education or life experience, and put a crown on her head.
Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard may have lost their heads to Henry VIII, but a part of me has always had the most sympathy for his daughter, Mary I. After all, she truly didn’t have a say in her association with the Tudors and it’s a particular kind of heartbreaking that her adversary was her father.
The question comes up now and again as to when England would have broken from Catholicism had Henry VIII not forced the issue in the 1530s and the answer usually landed on is that while it might have been delayed, the Reformation would still have swept the country in the 16th century. But it’s a tricky scenario to tackle, because it’s impossible to separate out the English brand of religious reform from Henry’s marital history, if for no other reason than it dictated both the succession and those with political power. Without Anne Boleyn it’s hard to accept Thomas Cromwell and Thomas Cranmer would have held the same sway, and without Anne there is no Elizabeth I and possibly no Edward VI.
I’m scheduling this to go up early tomorrow morning, but I’m writing this on Monday night, having just finished watching ITV’s documentary on Diana, Princess of Wales. I wasn’t sure that I was going to watch when I first heard about it, nor was I sure whether or not I would cover it, but the sheer amount of press it has received pretty much dictates I should. And, of course, there was the fact that Kensington Palace itself was promoting it, the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry having been the driving force behind its release.
I have a feeling this documentary will actually become pretty important to the royal canon – if not for the House of Windsor, then certainly for how we look back on William and Harry.
Queen Victoria’s youngest child, Princess Beatrice, essentially grew up as a parental afterthought. The last of nine children, she was both the beneficiary and victim of a mother who had more pressing issues on her mind than paying close attention to a young child, particularly when her eldest were approaching marriageable age and causing so many more problems.
This morning Kensington Palace released a new photo of Prince George to mark his fourth birthday. Similarly to how a single shot of Princess Charlotte was released to mark her second birthday when she was expected to be seen at Pippa Middleton’s wedding weeks later, it’s not surprising only one photo of George was issued after three sightings this past week in Poland and Germany.
After a whirlwind five days, the final day is upon us. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge left Berlin this morning for their last few engagements in Hamburg and then they head back to the UK. Considering this trip has been on the horizon since the early spring, it’s hard to realize that it’s already behind us, but here we are. In the last few days we’ve seen nine outfits from Kate, five cities, three sights of Prince George and Princess Charlotte at airports and one meeting with Chancellor Angela Markel where she wanted to know how much German Kate spoke (hint: none).