The Accession of Richard III

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I’ve been waiting to do a post on Richard III for a few reasons. For one, he’s a controversial figure, as most recently evidenced by the furor over where his long-lost body would be buried. For another, he is one of the figures for whom you must do justice – there is little about him that can be referenced without context or further explanation and the Wars of the Roses was a complicated period, particularly for the uninitiated. And so, it’s taken time to get to him, but summer is as good a time as any to do so – it’s the season during which he assumed the throne and the season in which in he lost it.

We’ll return to him a few more times over the next few months, but today I want to discuss his accession – its legality and logistics, and the motivation behind it.

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Trooping the Colour 2017

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Where to begin – the children, the dress or the Queen? I guess the Queen since she’s the one running the show here. For those unfamiliar with the ceremony, Trooping the Colour is an annual military ceremony that also officially commemorates the sovereign’s birthday. Each year the Queen and members of the Royal Family travel down the Mall and the Queen inspects her troops. Generally framed as a joyful celebration of national pride, this year’s was a bit more solemn.

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Kate is Wearing Pants, We’re on the Razor’s Edge

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Stop everything, because our favorite duchess debuted a pair of nautical-themed trousers today. This is “important,” because Kate almost exclusively sticks to dresses and skirts and when she does wear pants, they are usually for an athletic-themed engagement and are her favorite J. Brand skinnies. Once in a blue moon we’ll see some J. Crew black jeans. There was quite the furor when she was spotted wearing a trendy print a while back. But pants suitable for professional settings (i.e. her engagements) are generally not a part of the routine.

I’ll admit that I had never  noticed this until it started getting called out a couple years ago and once you see it, you can’t really “unsee” it. So, here we are: Kate wore a pair of navy cropped pants from J. Crew featuring gold buttons. Oh em gee.

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The Willful Isabella of England, Countess of Bedford

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Edward III and his wife, Philippa of Hainaut are best-remembered for their plethora of sons, but between them they also produced five daughters, the eldest of whom was Isabella of England. Believed to be her father’s favorite, Isabella was born at Woodstock Castle on June 16, 1332 and named for her paternal grandmother, Isabelle of France.

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Sophie of Prussia: The German Queen of the Hellenes

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Today, in 1870, Victoria, Crown Princess of Prussia gave birth to her sixth child, Sophie, at the New Palace in Potsdam. Victoria, or “Vicky,” was the eldest daughter of Queen Victoria and wife of Crown Prince Frederick “Fritz.” The new baby joined three older brothers and two older sisters – a fourth brother, Sigismund, had died from meningitis at the age of two.

More importantly, Sophie was born as the Franco-Prussian war broke out. Her christening was attended by Prussia’s highest-ranking men in full military dress, including her father and the political thorn in his side, Otto von Bismarck. By the next year, the war was over and Prussia reigned supreme – her grandfather, Wilhelm I, was duly anointed Emperor of a unified Germany and Europe was never the same.

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Kate Makes a Surprise Visit to King’s College Hospital

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The Duchess of Cambridge made an unannounced trip to King’s College Hospital in Denmark Hill to meet and visit the staff who treated victims of the recent terror attack in London. The hospital cared for 14 victims, most of whom were suffering from stab wounds and some of whom are still receiving round-the-clock care.

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Trump’s State Visit to the UK on Hold

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There’s been little news about the planned trip of U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to the UK since Parliament debated it back in February. Originally slated for June, it was pushed back to October, the spring slot filled by Spain’s King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia (which was in turn delayed until July). Apparently this is because Trump has told Prime Minister Theresa May that he doesn’t wish to visit until it will have the support of the British public – an unlikely scenario given the protests that broke out in London over the winter and the million+ Britons who signed a petition to downgrade the visit from “state” to just “official.”

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Victoria Eugenie: The English Queen of Spain

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In honor of King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia’s upcoming trip to the UK for an official state visit at the invitation of the Queen. In preparation we’re taking a beat to take a look at the ties between the two royal families, of which there are a few. While French and German blood have permeated the English line far and above everything else, there have been a few notable Anglo-Spanish alliances over the course of history.

The first was that of Eleanor of Castile to Edward I in 1254. Then there was the famous union of Katherine of Aragon and Henry VIII, cemented in 1509. Finally, there was the inauspicious marriage of their daughter, Mary I, to Philip II of Spain in 1554. These were supplemented by the reverse, too – English princess who became Castilian or Spanish queen consorts. Henry II’s daughter, Eleanor, married Alfonso VIII in 1177. And Edward III’s granddaughter, Katherine of Lancaster, ended a civil war by marrying  Henry III in 1388.

The last of these matches worth noting was not between an “English princess,” per se, but she was an Englishwoman all the same, and one with deep-rooted familial ties to the Houses of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and Windsor. Her name was Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg and she was the only daughter of Princess Beatrice, youngest daughter of Queen Victoria. She was born on October 24, 1887 at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, the same year her grandmother was celebrating 50 years on the throne. Victoria referred to her as “my little Jubilee grandchild.”

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A Legacy of Destruction: King John & Isabella of Angouleme

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Fun fact: Henry VIII was not the first monarch to divorce their spouse from the throne. That auspicious honor goes to none other than King John, who, upon ascending the throne in 1199, divorced his wife, Isabel of Gloucester, and married the young Isabella of Angouleme. There are a few reasons why this divorce is of less fame, though it was its own 13th century scandal at the time. For one, this would be John’s only divorce and he stopped at two wives. Secondly, there was no religious component – the annulment, for all its detractors, was approved. And finally, instead of casting aside a princess and marrying an Englishwoman, John did the reverse. Isabel of Gloucester was no Katherine of Aragon and she didn’t have the familial ties of claiming relation to the Holy Roman Emperor. For that matter, we don’t know whether Isabel had any desire to stay married to John in the first place.

Which brings us to Isabella of Angouleme, who had one notable characteristic in common with Anne Boleyn – they were both wildly detested by the public.

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The Duke & Duchess of Windsor’s Wedding 80 Years Later

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It was a modest affair. The bride, for her third trip down the aisle, wore blue crepe. The only note of ostentation was a large diamond and sapphire brooch. Though perhaps the other note was the groom himself, the Duke of Windsor, eldest son of King George V and Mary of Teck, the former King Edward VIII.

The couple were wed at the Chateau De Cande in Monts, France, a glamorous setting by anyone’s standards except, perhaps, their own. It was a far cry from the pomp and ceremony of Westminster Abbey, the setting they would likely have chosen were they any other royal pair. But Edward was less than six months away from having abdicated the throne, an unprecedented act to have undertaken by choice, and one to which he was driven by the simple fact that Britain would never have accepted Wallis Simpson as queen.

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