The Poorly-Kept Secrets of Princess Amelia

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Princess Amelia was born at Windsor Castle on August 7, 1783, the youngest and 15th child of King George III and his wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Reportedly her father’s favorite child, who called her “Emily,” she came on the heels of the deaths of two older siblings, Princes Octavius and Alfred, both of which hit her parents hard. She also ushered in what was believed to be a “reset” for the Royal Family and the British public, which had recently seen the humiliating defeat of the American Revolution.

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When the Princess of Wales Left England

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On August 8, 1814, the Princess of Wales left England and didn’t return until June 5, 1820 as the queen of the United Kingdom and Hanover. It was an extraordinary set of circumstances that made it both tenable and palatable for the heir to the throne’s wife to live abroad. Indeed, it was a set up so appealing to her husband that he took measures to block her from ever returning.

As laid out in more detail here, the marriage of George IV and Caroline of Brunswick was a disaster through and through. Sometimes comical, other times tragic, it remains a particularly damning example of arranged marriages gone wrong and an indictment of the bumper lanes put on royal unions per the Royal Marriages Act of 1772. Today, however, we’re going to zoom in on this nearly six-year period of Caroline’s exile the best we can because it was an unprecedented set of circumstances and one that has never been repeated.

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The Royal Marriages Act, the Succession & Meghan Markle

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Image via Emily Andrews at The Sun (link below)

Happy Friday, Friends. Today happens to be the 36th birthday of Prince Harry’s girlfriend, Meghan Markle. It also happens to be the date once put forth on which the Palace would announce their engagement. So far, all quiet on the [central London] front, so let’s agree to move on, shall we? The idea of their marriage is an interesting one, even putting aside for a moment their actual relationship. Weighing this match purely in terms of its hypothetical historical significance is worth considering because it underlines so many weird nuances to how the British monarchy has evolved and where it’s seemingly headed.

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The End of an Era: Prince Philip’s Last Engagement & Palace “Shakeups”

Yesterday the Duke of Edinburgh carried out his final engagement as a full-time working royal, ending a 70-year career and beginning a very well-deserved retirement. In his capacity as Captain General of the Royal Marines, Philip attended a parade outside Buckingham Palace on Wednesday marking the finale of the 1664 Global Challenge, a series of physical challenges raising money for charity.

With grey skies and steady rain, the sight of Philip smoothly carrying out his work in a bowler hat and rain coat felt old school – a hallmark of a very particular generation of the House of Windsor and the end of an era.

And quite the era it was – Philip has carried out 22,219 solo engagements (not counting occasions during which he accompanied the Queen), gave 5,496 speeches and served as patron to 785 organizations.

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Was William II Murdered?

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On August 2, 1100 England’s King William II was shot with an arrow while hunting in the New Forest. His party scattered and his body was eventually carted away unceremoniously. Since then, the question has lingered, was this an accident or an act of political assassination? No one was ever tried for a crime and hunting was certainly a dangerous sport, but the fact remained, there were many who stood to gain from William’s death, some of whom were in the forest with him that day.

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Charles Joins William & Kate in Belgium

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The Prince of Wales joined the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for a second day of engagements acknowledging the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele in Belgium. Today’s event was held at the Tyne Cot cemetery located just outside of Ypres, the largest Commonwealth burial ground in the world. The site contains the graves of 11,971 servicemen and is an important stop in remembering Passchendaele given the sheer volume of casualties from the summer of 1917.

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[UPDATED]: William & Kate in Ypres + a Bit of Royal News

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived in Ypres, Belgium today to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendale. Accompanied by Prime Minister Theresa May, they joined King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of the Belgians to honor those who lost their lives during one of the bloodiest battles of World War I.

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Charles, Diana & the 1981 Royal Wedding

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This really is “the” royal wedding, isn’t it? Despite not being around for it and thinking the Cambridges’ 2011 version was absolutely gorgeous, I have a feeling the 1981 wedding of the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer will go down as the one to beat in the modern era. I’m not giving those marks based on style, splash or pomp, necessarily, but it’s a searing moment in time that defined a certain generation – and in that way, it was very much its bride’s day.

I don’t have the ability to separate out to what extent my perception of the day is influenced by hindsight, but to be honest, I don’t feel like it is. When I look at photos from that wedding I don’t see the unhappy years we know now were coming, or the divorce, or the late Princess of Wales’ tragic early death. I just see a captured moment of complete joy, optimism, relief and, yes, perhaps some naiveté.

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His Rose Without a Thorn: Henry VIII & Katherine Howard

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In February I wrote a post laying out the case for why some believe Henry VIII’s fifth wife, Katherine Howard, might not have been guilty of every charge leveled at her in 1542. It included detail on her upbringing, her inclusion in Anne of Cleves’s household and her relationships with the men with whom she was believed to have had relationships with, save one. Notably lacking in the post was any real information on the actual royal marriage that brought Katherine infamy.

Perhaps that’s because I find it a bit repugnant – it’s hard to lend much earnest analysis to a marriage between an old man (by Tudor standards, at least) and a teenage girl. And while not uncommon back in the day, there’s a bit of difference between a foreign alliance and one in which a man like Henry VIII took a girl younger than his eldest daughter, with no education or life experience, and put a crown on her head.

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The Catholic Alliance: Mary I & Philip II

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Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard may have lost their heads to Henry VIII, but a part of me has always had the most sympathy for his daughter, Mary I. After all, she truly didn’t have a say in her association with the Tudors and it’s a particular kind of heartbreaking that her adversary was her father.

The question comes up now and again as to when England would have broken from Catholicism had Henry VIII not forced the issue in the 1530s and the answer usually landed on is that while it might have been delayed, the Reformation would still have swept the country in the 16th century. But it’s a tricky scenario to tackle, because it’s impossible to separate out the English brand of religious reform from Henry’s marital history, if for no other reason than it dictated both the succession and those with political power. Without Anne Boleyn it’s hard to accept Thomas Cromwell and Thomas Cranmer would have held the same sway, and without Anne there is no Elizabeth I and possibly no Edward VI.

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