Happy Saturday 🙂 Let’s catch up on some odds and ends from the week, starting with yesterday’s news that the Duke of Edinburgh is in hospital. There was some speculation earlier in the week when he was seemingly absent from the Queen’s luncheon at Buckingham Palace (given that he largely lives in Norfolk now, he, too, would have been seen arriving at some point), but now we know: he’s apparently been under the weather for a few weeks.
The Duke is currently being treated in London at the King Edward VII hospital on the advice of his doctor. He’s expected to remain there for a few days, and Buckingham Palace stressed that the trip wasn’t an emergency, but planned. In other words, he wasn’t taken by ambulance.
As catch-up, the Duke has been retired since 2017, and while he made a handful of appearances shortly after that, those have slowed since. His most recent semi-official appearance was in May when he attended Lady Gabriella Windsor’s wedding, and he was last photographed this summer at Balmoral with his youngest grandson, the Viscount Severn.
The timing of his hospitalization means that he and the Queen have just missed one another – she left London yesterday for Norfolk to settle in at Sandringham for the Christmas holiday. Presumably he will join her there before the 24th, when festivities truly kick-off. This does raise an issue I’ve been debating whether to touch on here, which is the amount of time, or lack thereof, that the Queen and the Duke now spend with one another. I hear conflicting reports, but the general consensus is that she attempts to see him at least a few days of the week at Windsor, though certainly their time together is less than it was when they were primarily splitting their time between Windsor and Buckingham Palace.
To be clear, I fully support Philip’s retirement, but I go back and forth on this arrangement. On the one hand, I can appreciate that after decades in the public eye and in public service, Philip is taking some well-deserved time to himself to live as he wishes – in the country, in privacy, and on his own schedule. I get that. But there’s something a touch sad about that time coming at the expense of his wife, who is after all still working, and now doing so alone at Buckingham Palace the majority of each week. I’m sure she’s blessed this, and I’m sure that whatever this is works for them, but it does look lonely from the outside.
It may well explain, too, why the Queen is as close as she is to the Duke of York, who is often London-based, and indeed the Countess of Wessex. Anyway, best wishes to the Duke in his recovery, and hopefully he’s well enough that we see him attending Church on Christmas Day.
Pivoting back to the Queen, sandwiched between her holiday luncheon on Wednesday and her departure from London was Friday, was her second address of Parliament in three months on Thursday. It was a “dressed down” affair in that the Queen didn’t roll in wearing the crown and robes of state, but the backdrop is hard to mistake for casual. Nor low-stakes given the current political climate and the recent rather contentious election. By her side was the Prince of Wales.
From the BBC:
The grandeur of the lower part of the Lords chamber distracts from the comparatively drab upper half, where the dark statues of those lords who signed the Magna Carta, hands resting on their swords, are just about visible through the gloom.
For the Queen, it must be a slightly strange experience to read out a speech setting out your government’s priorities beneath the stern gaze of those men who demanded the monarch of the day – King John – share more of his powers with them.
Nevertheless, Her Majesty is treated with absolute reverence as she enters the chamber. The audience rises and only sits down again when the Queen grants permission.
There is total silence as she sits awaiting the arrival of the MPs. A sign outside the Strangers’ Gallery – “all demonstrations are out of order and will be treated accordingly” – offers an ominously vague warning to would-be hecklers.
As for the content, I’d rather stay out of that, but here’s another BBC article that gets more into the nuts and bolts if you’re interested.
So moving right along to absolute frivolity, Princess Beatrice and her fiance, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, celebrated their engagement party at the trendy Chiltern Firehouse. News of this party broke weeks ago, but was thought to have been cancelled or moved in light of the scandal surrounding her father, the Duke of York. Instead, the party went ahead, but Prince Andrew stayed home. Good for Beatrice, I say.
It was quite the who’s who of Tatler’s pages (and some straight up celebs). No royals were photographed attending, but the Duchess of Cambridge’s younger sister, Pippa Matthews, was there with her husband, James, as was the Duchess’s brother, James Middleton, and his fiancee, Alizee Thevenet. Sarah, Duchess of York was photographed arriving, as was Guy Pelly, a party fixture for the Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex back in the day (now married and settled down). Also on hand was Ellie Goulding, the famous singer/songwriter who is not only friends with Harry, but performed at the Cambridges’ wedding back in 2011. You can check out the photos here.
Last but not least, Christmas cards. To be completely transparent, I am writing this on Friday and scheduling it for Saturday morning, so there’s a distinct possibility that said cards will be released before I plug into the world. In which case, how annoying. But if not, then allow me to share that good money is on the Cambridges and Sussexes releasing some sort of card/image over the weekend. I believe I’ve heard Sunday thrown about, but now I can’t find where I saw that – le sigh. In the meantime, Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall released their card on Friday and frankly I think no matter what the younger royals do, they may have been bested (see image above). That is a great Christmas card.
If and when we are blessed with images of Archie and the Cambridge kids, I’ll get a post up, but in the meantime, I have another Richard III post scheduled for Sunday morning. I might change that timing if the cards are released some time today, but who knows? I like to maintain a little mystery. Have a lovely weekend!