George, Mary & Britain’s Last Delhi Durbar

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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

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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

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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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The Royal Wedding of 1947

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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.

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A Look Back at the Engagement of Prince William & Kate Middleton

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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.

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Royal Wedding ’70s-Style: Princess Anne & Mark Phillips

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Royal wedding fever is definitely in the air thanks to the looming engagement of Prince Harry and the Queen’s 70th anniversary with the Duke of Edinburgh. Today we’re going to take a look back at the first of the Queen’s children’s weddings: Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips. Nearly eight years before the Prince of Wales married Lady Diana Spencer in St. Paul’s Cathedral and launched the wedding of the century, London was taken up with the very British romance of the Queen’s only daughter.

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The Birth of Prince Charles

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Once upon a time, Queen Elizabeth II was known as Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh. As bizarre as it sounds, it only recently occurred to me that the Queen would have been known by the feminine version of her husband’s title in the years between their marriage and her accession. You hear about her as Princess Elizabeth and you hear about her as queen, but you rarely, if ever, hear her referred to as the Duchess of Edinburgh, even in past tense to reflect the years 1947-1952.

And yet, those years are illuminating. They represent a five-year span in which the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were living as adults, but before they were weighed down by the responsibilities of the crown. If ever there was a time that provided some insight into who Elizabeth and Philip are as people, it is likely this one – when they could choose to live as they wished.

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The Real Princess Margaret & Group Captain Peter Townsend

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Group Captain Peter Townsend once wrote of Princess Margaret:

“Behind the dazzling facade, the apparent self-assurance, you would find, if you looked for it, a rare softness and sincerity. She could make you bend double with laughing; she could also touch you deeply. [She was] a girl of unusual, intense beauty, confined as it was in her short, slender figure and centred about large purple-blue eyes, generous, sensitive lips and a complexion as smooth as a peach. She was capable, in her face and her whole being, of an astonishing power of expression. It could change in an instant from saintly, almost melancholic, composure to hilarious, uncontrollable joy. She was, by nature, generous, volatile […]”

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The Three Proposals of George VI to the Queen Mother

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Fun fact: It took George VI three tries to get the Queen Mother to accept his marriage proposal. Decades before the Queen Mother became synonymous with royal duty and the House of Windsor’s matriarch, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was a 20-something and unsure about a life in the spotlight.

Elizabeth first met the future king when he was still Prince Albert, Duke of York in June 1920. They met at a dinner party in London also attended by Queen Mary, Princess Mary and Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester on Derby Night, while George V hosted a lavish celebratory supper at Buckingham Palace. Later that evening, a ball was held with the same party and Albert went up to fellow attendee James Stuart and asked, “Who was that lovely girl you were talking to? Introduce me to her.”

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Philip’s Parents: Alice of Battenberg & Prince Andrew of Greece & Denmark

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Next month marks the 70th wedding anniversary of Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh and, as such, we’ll cover all that brought about the original 1947 pairing. But ahead of that I thought it was fitting that there was a post on Prince Philip’s parents, particularly since his origin story isn’t particularly well-known. His lineage is unique in the context of the British Royal Family and his entry into the House of Windsor was perhaps the most dramatic in its history, quite a bit of which had to do with his parents and siblings.

So, who were they? His father was Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and his mother was Princess Alice of Battenberg. A couple years ago a guest at Buckingham Palace remarked that, like Philip, they were also Greek, to which he responded that he actually didn’t have a drop of Greek blood. That started a question in the papers as to whether that was true and the answer is, well yes, but you’d be forgiven for not knowing that given the styling of his father’s name.

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