This afternoon, Prince Louis was christened in Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace in London. He was feted by both sets of grandparents, three uncles, two aunts, five godparents and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Not too shabby for an 11-week-old. Today also marked the first time we’ve seen all five members of the Cambridge family in one place, with the Duke of Cambridge arriving with Prince George and Princess Charlotte in each hand, and the Duchess following with Louis.
It’s easy to feel sympathy for Katherine of Aragon and her daughter, Mary I, when you know how they fared during Henry VIII’s reign – and I do. Katherine, the loyal and loving wife, was discarded after 24 years of marriage and left to die alone, separated from her only child. And Mary, the helpless daughter, saw a half-sister supplant her at age 17, had her mother die at age 20 and was then forced to watch five stepmothers pass through thanks to divorce and execution.
The tricky part about the casting Katherine and Mary as “good” where, say, Anne Boleyn was “bad” is that it dehumanizes women who were in fact very human and people utterly reflective of their times. Anne was a champion for the English Reformation, learned and incredibly powerful – yet by her own admission she showed cruelty to her husband’s adolescent daughter. Katherine was the abandoned first wife, but one whose religious extremism allowed her to think the expulsion of Muslim and Jewish populations was for the greater good. And finally Mary, who was absolutely victimized – in a truly horrifying way – by her father, went on to oversee the persecution and death of hundreds of Protestants during her reign.
We didn’t get the Duchesses of Cambridge or Sussex at Wimbledon today, but we did get an update on what’s going to go down next weekend when U.S. President Donald Trump arrives in the UK for an “official” (not “state”) visit. Based on what’s been shared, while Trump will meet the Queen, it’s a safe bet he won’t be interacting with any other members of the British Royal Family. At least, that’s the way it’s looking as of today.
Today, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex attended a reception marking the culmination of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Youth Leadership Workshop. Held at Marlborough House in London, the event corresponds with Harry’s new role as the Commonwealth’s Youth Ambassador and gives the couple an opportunity to learn more about the Youth Forum and its participants.
The story of the American Revolution is integral to the psychology of today’s United States, though it has, in many respects, become just that, a story, and the foundations on which it has sprouted roots are made up of equal parts fact and, well, let’s say convenient omissions. For one, this was less a “revolution” than it was a civil war – English colonists were of course British citizens, but some 100,000 of those colonists fled the colonies for England when they saw which way the wind was blowing.
William III and Mary II, or William and Mary of Orange, mark Britain’s only pair of co-monarchs, but the five years in which they jointly reigned were hardly smooth-sailing after the quiet drama of the Glorious Revolution. For starters, the idea that they were in any way equal was a farce, though how that unfolded publicly versus privately looked quite different. Mary, the daughter of the deposed James II, was widely accepted as the true Protestant monarch, if you assumed that Catholics should not sit on the throne and that James II’s infant son was either a changeling or Catholic, or both. William, on the other hand, was a foreigner, a thing trusted less by the English than a woman ruler in the 17th century.
And that’s a wrap on the Duke of Cambridge’s Middle Eastern tour! As I noted last night, I haven’t been able to give this trip as much attention as it deserved, but the task handed to the second-in-line to the throne was a weighty one and there was ample room for him to inadvertently say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Historically, the British Royal Family’s stance on conflict between Israel and Palestine has been that they wouldn’t weigh in until a resolution had been reached – and while that’s very royal, it’s not particularly useful or reflective of reality.
William’s presence in both Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories is a marked course-correction and he took on a jam-packed schedule full of intense, high-profile meetings without breaking a sweat. He did a wonderful job this week and now that it’s come to a close, I’m actually a bit grateful that the Duchess didn’t join him, even though she was missed. Handling this solo allowed the spotlight to remain on him, not Kate’s fashion or candid remarks about their children. This week, I think even his critics will have to agree, he appeared like a future monarch.
It’s been a whirlwind two days for the Duke of Cambridge, so let’s pick up where we left off on Monday, with him touching down in Israel and marking the first official visit from a member of the British Royal Family.
I’m late (again) – my apologies. As soon as this week wraps up things will get back to normal, but unfortunately a busy work week has coincided with a lot on the royal front. Yesterday, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex accompanied the Queen at the Queen’s Young Leaders awards series at Buckingham Palace. This marks Meghan’s second public engagement with the monarch in just over one month of marriage – not too shabby a start!
Today the Duke of Cambridge made history when he became the first member of the British Royal Family to make an official visit to Israel. But before he did that, he carried out a full day of engagements in Jordan, following up on Day One of his Middle Eastern tour.