A Look Back at Kate as a Royal Fiancée

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Since announcing their engagement on November 27, 2017, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have undertaken a series of public engagements to introduce the bride-to-be to the UK. So far, they’ve turned up in Nottingham, Cardiff and Edinburgh, as well as two engagements in London. Averaging around two to three appearances per month, it’s likely that the two will continue at the same pace until the big day in May.

But the excitement of the events, the newness of Meghan and the breathless media coverage made me both nostalgic and curious about this time seven years ago when it was the Duchess of Cambridge – then Kate Middleton – who was preparing for her future role. It’s been just long enough that I wanted to take a look back and see what’s changed and what hasn’t.

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The York Children


We’ve discussed before the strange tradition of strife between sovereign and heir that George I brought with him to Britain when the House of Hanover was established in 1714. It’s a pattern that has carried through subsequent generations in some form or another, though mercifully today it looks quite different than it did in centuries past. As of when the future George V began his family with Mary of Teck in the 1890s, family dynamics were certainly not as political or dire as they were when George II was waging war against his father as Prince of Wales or his son as king, but they also weren’t particularly warm and fuzzy. Indeed, George and Mary were tough parents and the patterns set out in the formative years of their children, two of whom would become kings, dictated how the monarchy unfolded through the 20th century.

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George, Marina & the 1934 Royal Wedding


Back in August we covered the premature death of Prince George, the Duke of Kent in 1942 while flying an airplane during World War II, but today we’re going to cover a slightly happier time in his life: his marriage to Princess Marina of Greece. Marina’s introduction to the House of Windsor in 1934 and her continued residence in England with her children during her widowhood meant that when Prince Philip married the future Queen Elizabeth in 1947, there was yet another senior member of the Royal Family with strong ties to the Greek Royal Family.

Glamorous, strong-willed and loyal, Marina was a popular figure in her day, residing in Kensington Palace and carrying out engagements on behalf of the monarch. In her time, she saw four reigns and represented one of the last matches between two “royals” the Windsors saw.

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Charles at Gordonstoun

Prince Charles

Perhaps The Crown’s second season’s most memorable episode was that which showed the drama surrounding Prince Charles beginning boarding school in Scotland in 1962. The show doesn’t offer a merry depiction of Gordonstoun, instead offering Charles’s attendance there as a paternal failure stemming from Prince Philip’s own psychological wounds. The question as to whether the episode is “true” has prompted many a headline in the weeks since it aired, but strictly in regards to the issue of Prince Charles at the school, I think that’s more difficult to answer than a simple “yes” or “no.” There were inaccuracies in the episode. There was also some over-dramatization. But it did strike on something real.

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A Year in Review: The BRF in 2017


This was certainly a pivotal year for the House of Windsor, from retirements to anniversaries to new babies to engagements. It’s also yet another year in a pretty interesting time period because we’re certainly towards the end of Queen Elizabeth’s reign and there is more and more focus on the transition of the future and shifting responsibilities. In light of this, here on this site I pretty much focus only on the members of the Royal Family who will continue to play important roles. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the big moments from the past year.

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A Year in Review: Kate in 2017


Today we’re going to review the Duchess of Cambridge’s past year. Month by month we’re going to walk through the most memorable moments of 2017, review the fashion and discuss the highs and lows of Kate’s engagements, foreign tours and public appearances. Ideally what we’d like to see each year is growth as Kate evolves within her role as a member of the Royal Family and personalizes her position. In order to gauge that, we’re going to (briefly) cover where we ended in 2016 and then work our way through the highlights of the past 12 months.

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What to Expect at the Queen’s Christmas


As we all know by now, Meghan Markle is due to join her first holiday with the Royal Family tomorrow. We don’t know for sure whether she’ll be staying at Sandringham House with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh or at Anmer Hall with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, but the best guesses are for the latter. Regardless, we’ll see her on Christmas Day alongside the rest of the Royal Family.

So, what exactly is she in for? Luckily, thanks to holidays traditions not having changed too much in the last several decades, we have a pretty good sense.

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George, Mary & Britain’s Last Delhi Durbar


George V ascended the throne following the death of his father, Edward VII, on May 6, 1910. Though the royal house was still branded “Saxe-Coburg-Gotha” and not yet Windsor, his reign was a remarkable step towards modernity and away from the stifling Victorian atmosphere that had so defined his grandmother’s reign. George and his wife, Mary of Teck, had long established themselves as not only reliable members of the Royal Family, but two who didn’t put much stock in formality or ceremony. While Edward VII had never allowed guests to sit while he was standing or retire to bed before he and his wife, Alexandra, George quickly did away with such practices, instilling a more “country home” environment into his residences.

And while his father had always kept a close eye on the machinations of Western Europe, tied so tightly to the family thanks to the intermarrying of cousins, George was more concerned with the longevity and health of the British Empire. It was from these instincts that he hashed out a plan to follow up his coronation in Westminster Abbey with one in Delhi and a royal tour to each of his dominions. As Prince of Wales, he had conducted a successful tour of India in 1904, while his father had made a similar trek in the 19th century. Indeed, it was only Queen Victoria, the first British Empress of India, who never made the journey.

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The Abdication Crisis of 1936


Eighty-one years ago today King Edward VIII signed an instrument of abdication to step down from the throne, an act witnessed by his three younger brothers. On December 10, 1936, Edward had been on the throne for less than 11 months following the death of his father, George V, and his time in the top job had been a series of actions that lost him the trust of much of his government, horrified his family and broken any number of traditions that had once been taken for granted. His last task would come the next day when he issued royal assent for the declaration of abdication.

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When the Kennedys Met the Windsors


The visit of U.S. President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline, to London in 1961 has been picking up some headlines recently thanks to it being featured in the trailers for The Crown’s second season. Most of the stories are framed around the question of how the Queen and Jackie got on, particularly in light of Kennedy’s famous womanizing and rumors swirling around ’60s about Philip, so today I thought it would be worth taking a look at what really went down – at least, according to the Queen’s biographers.

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