The Duchess of Cambridge followed up last night’s gala at Kensington Palace with an engagement for Place2Be today, during which she delivered a speech on childhood mental health. The event and her remarks aligned with the broader Heads Together campaign, as well as Kate’s focus on early education and supporting children and their parents’ access to resources.
You know, I had a feeling we were going to see this Diane von Furstenberg gown tonight. Part of that is because the Duchess of Cambridge has what appears to be a slight obsession with lace formal wear and part of that is because she wore the exact same gown when she was pregnant with Princess Charlotte in 2014. So, you know she’s going to don lace and here you have a tried and true pregnancy-safe option. Checkmate.
Today is the 200th anniversary of the day Princess Charlotte of Wales died, changing the trajectory of British history and ushering Queen Victoria not only to the throne, but into existence. When I was younger and first becoming interested in the history of the British Royal Family, Princess Charlotte was one of my favorite figures. There’s something rather stunning about her story – from her likability in the face of her family’s unpopularity to her parents’ disastrous marriage to her own seemingly happy ending that was tragically cut short. Charlotte was born to become yet another one of the UK’s queen regnant and her death led to another. There are interesting parallels between Charlotte and Queen Victoria: both were headstrong women in leadership, both married men from Coburg and both were only children who grew up unnaturally alone. It seems fitting somehow that if history intended for Charlotte to be replaced then it was by another Hanoverian woman.
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall arrived in Malaysia on Friday, but for the three days before that they were visiting Singapore and Brunei. Unfortunately I don’t have time to cover this tour day in and day out – not to mention it’s been a little busy with UK news – but I do want to periodically check in with them on their travels as they move through southeast Asia and India. So, today we’re going to cover the first leg’s highlights and later this week we’ll wrap up Malaysia.
There are two parallel stories told here and they are both about marriage – more specifically, the necessity of the monarch having support in their consort. Naturally, one of those relationships is that of Edward VIII (“David”) and Wallis Simpson, while the other is Elizabeth and Philip. To a lesser extent, this is an episode about the precarious balancing act asked of a monarch in the tug-of-war between duty and personal happiness. The latter is universal, of course, but it’s an entirely different bag when one of the weights pulling on you in Winston Churchill and the entirety of the British government.
Of all the rather memorable personalities and (borderline) incestuous pairings during the Wars of the Roses, the one that I find the strangest is without a doubt Jasper Tudor and Katherine Woodville. They literally make zero sense to the point that I honestly sometimes forget about them. And yet! They existed.
If the first episode set the stage and gave us our characters, it is this week in which the action really begins. Princess Elizabeth becomes Queen Elizabeth and Britain, once more, is shouting, “God save the Queen.”
It is February 1952 and Elizabeth and her husband, Philip, are beginning a four continent tour of the Commonwealth that will mean months of travel – and months of separation from their home, family and children. I didn’t bring this up in my recap of the first episode, but it bears mentioning here: For all that this show underlines the split between Elizabeth as a woman and Elizabeth as a monarch, that attention is focused on her as a wife, not a mother. Charles and Anne are after thoughts, small child actors running around Malta, Buckingham Palace and Clarence House. Elizabeth isn’t worried about leaving them; she is worried about Philip wanting to undergo that lengthy of a tour. It’s too soon to tell in the series whether there is a larger point being made about her parenting, but I have a feeling there is.
You know, you think it’s safe to go offline for a few hours and when you come back the Duchess of Cambridge is hosting secret meetings. One really can’t their eye off of her for a second! Anyway, today’s forum wasn’t actually secret, but it certainly wasn’t promoted as an engagement and there’s very limited news coverage of it. Nevertheless, it’s a significant moment, so let’s talk about it!
Black screen, coughing. Then a man in a rather dingy looking mid-century bathroom coughing up blood. Yes, my dears, we’re going to cover the first season of The Crown this month as we prepare for the second’s premier. This show is of a different ilk than ITV’s Victoria which we covered earlier this year and certainly a different animal than The White Princess which I tried to cover (and then gave up, because, you know, I have my limits). I think you can safely call it prestige television and enough of its references and allusions are so subtle as to likely go over the head of viewers who don’t know much about this period of time – or this family for that matter.
But it attempts to do something that television and films haven’t yet done correctly, which is to show the humanity of Queen Elizabeth II. It’s a bold task, really, considering she is alive and well in London as we speak and this frank portrayal of her early years as monarch, her marriage and her relationship with her family is uncomfortable when you consider the possibility that she’s seen it. I’ve no idea whether or not the Queen watches this sort of thing – a part of me rather hopes that she doesn’t. And Claire Foy, the actress who currently plays her, has certainly stated as much in interviews.