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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 […]”