The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Birmingham, taking on three different engagements around the city. Representing the Queen, members of the Royal Family turn up for these day trips (occasionally two days, depending on the location) that are akin to a mini-tour, but obviously domestic. Kate recently expressed a desire to visit more places in the UK and today certainly checked that box.
And the gloves are off, literally and figuratively, for Elizabeth and Margaret. There’s a lot going on this episode – between Elizabeth and Philip, the Queen Mother and her widowhood, Margaret and Peter – but it all comes back to the two sisters, who only share snippets of screen time at the beginning and end of the episode.
George VI used to call them his pride and joy. Elizabeth was his pride, but (a significant ‘but’ that) Margaret was his joy.
We begin with a flashback – are you sensing a pattern? It’s 1940 and World War II is in full-swing. The 14-year-old Princess Elizabeth is visiting Eton College for her regular lessons with the Vice Provost in which he teaches her about the constitution. Really, he’s teaching her the monarch’s purview, but as we later see, her “lane” is never contextualized or grounded in a holistic, comprehensive education that prepares her for the nuance or expertise of the issues and politics by which she will be surrounded as queen.
I was hoping we would get some arrival/departure shots of members of the Royal Family this evening and lo and behold we have. It was reported that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were hosting a black tie dinner party this evening for 150 guests. It was deemed a private occasion this year and there was no service held at Westminster Abbey as we’ve seen in the past.
Today marks 70 years of marriage for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Together they have evolved from a young couple supporting Elizabeth’s father, George VI, in post-war Britain to the heads of the British Royal Family as it rolls into the 21st century. From four children, born between 1948 and 1964, they’ve amassed eight grandchildren, five (soon to be six) great-grandchildren and lived through three of their children’s divorces (and two of their remarriages.) It’s hard sometimes to reconcile the images of the two of them as 20-somethings in the 1940s with the grandparent figures they’ve become – just as it’s hard to reconcile the RF of the mid-20th century with how it looks and behaves today – but they are the common denominators.
Princess Augusta bears the dubious honor of being George III’s most beautiful daughter, but that’s not exactly a high standard. She was born on November 8, 1768, the sixth child and second daughter of George and his wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Her birth is famous for the anecdote that her father was enormously eager for another daughter after four boys and when the waiting physician said, “I think, sir, whoever sees those lovely princes above stairs must be glad to have another,” the King was none too pleased.
“Dr. Hunter,” replied George, “I did not think I could have been angry with you, but I am; and I say, however see that lovely child the Princess Royal above stairs must wish to have the fellow with her.”
…But not necessarily in that order. So, there’s a few things to catch up on from this past week that didn’t make it into other blog posts. First off, let’s touch base on Meghan Markle, on whose potential move to London we covered on Wednesday. Since then, there’s only been more confirmation that Meghan is indeed leaving her hit television show, including the image above which was shared by the actress’s body double with a caption that essentially wished her well.
Gelignite, in case you are wondering, is an explosive gel. How does that fit into an episode wholly devoted to the relationship between Princess Margaret and Group Captain Peter Townsend? Well, presumably the gelignite in this case is the insertion of an “inappropriate” romantic relationship within the institution of the monarchy because, historically, those have a way of blowing everything up.
Finally, we get back to some history! The last few weeks have been a little heavy on William, Kate and Harry, I know, but I’ve decided to treat it as a balancing act for August when news was sparse and there was plenty of time for back-to-back historical posts. I prefer a balance, so before more engagements are scheduled, I’m going to try and fit in a bit more about, you know, the Plantagenets and the Tudors.
So, let’s get to it: back in July we covered the unfortunate marriage of Mary I and Philip II of Spain, which took us to Mary’s final months as a disenchanted wife and thwarted would-be mother. In April of 1558, Mary once again held out hope that she was pregnant, but unfortunately the symptoms were only signs that her health was on the decline. By the end of spring, it was widely understood that her 25-year-old half-sister, Elizabeth, was her heir, a young woman whose religion was up in the air and whose politics were untested.
Today, seven years ago, Clarence House announced that Prince William and Catherine Middleton were engaged and set to be married in the “spring or summer of 2011, in London.” By the time the news was made public, the couple had been engaged for about three weeks, the proposal having come during an October trip to Kenya the two made with friends. Shortly after the announcement, CH followed up that the couple were expected to continue to live in Anglesey, Wales until 2013 while William continued to work with the Royal Air Force.