I was originally going to cover the English Reformation in the mid-1530s today, but I we’ve done a lot on the Tudors recently and I thought it might be a bit of a palate cleanser to turn instead to the 18th century and cover a lesser-known princess, a daughter of George II who married into the Danish Royal Family.
It’s fitting to acknowledge Maud of Wales this winter as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge prepare to visit Oslo for the first two days of February. The Norwegian Royal Family is an interesting one, and while we’ve acknowledged them in passing here on this site, we’ll follow up with a more in-depth look later this month in preparation of the tour. In the meantime, it’s worth taking a look at the familial ties between Norway and Britain thanks to the marriage of Edward VII’s youngest daughter.
Queen Victoria is rightfully known as the “Grandmother of Europe” thanks to how many of her descendants found themselves on European thrones by the dawn of World War I. The role of her junior male counterpart rightfully belongs to King Christian IX of Denmark. Less well-known than his British peer, four of Christian’s six children would end up crowned heads, while the remaining two played equally as important roles in the makeup of Western Europe as it careened into the 20th century.
Both this post and tomorrow’s tie in Sweden, which is very apropos in light of recent news that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are due to visit the country. It’s a coincidence since these posts have been on the books for a while now, but a happy coincidence. Today we’re taking a look at Philippa of England, daughter of Henry IV and sister of Henry V.
And so it is done. Prince Harry wrapped up his second day in Denmark today and returned (ostensibly) to the UK. This morning kicked off with a visit to a bakery where Harry met with volunteers of the mental health organization “One of Us.” He spoke about the dangers of constant social media use, noting:
“People are spending far too much time online and it’s like a mental running machine that they can’t get off. You wouldn’t put your body through such a workout. I’m the last person to say ban it but people are suffering from mental fatigue and getting burnt out. We all need to talk to each other more.”
Now, all of that is fair, but what it really does is beg the question, what is Harry doing on social media? We know he uses Instagram, and we know that he used to have Facebook at one point, but what else is he up to? Your guess is as good as mine.
Prince Harry arrived in Denmark today for the first of his two-day visit to the country, carrying out a slew of engagements in Copenhagen. This mini-tour is seen as yet another stop of the Brexit “Charm Offensive” in which members of the British Royal Family are turning up in various European countries to ensure the seamless continuity of friendly diplomatic relationships.
Not too long ago there was some furor (which we briefly covered here) when Queen Margrethe II’s husband, Prince Henrik, announced his decision to forgo burial next to his wife in the traditional resting place of the Danish Royal Family. Instead, he made it clear that his decision was directly tied to the fact he had never been made king, which he viewed as unfair given that female consorts are named queen. A few weeks later it was made clear that Henrik is suffering from dementia and perhaps those strongly-worded statements can be attributed to his health.
Well, that’s a weird title, but I think it hits the highlights. Where to begin with the last few days? Let’s start outside the UK where the Danish Royal Family has been dominating headlines. Denmark’s monarch, Queen Margrethe II has reigned for 45 years, is enormously popular and is supported by her two sons and plethora of grandchildren. That support does not, apparently, extend to her husband, Prince Henrik, a Frenchman to whom she has been married since 1967.
Henrik boldly stated that he had no desire to be buried alongside his wife at Roskilde, the traditional resting place for Danish monarchs and their spouses, because he had never been granted the title of “king.” His argument is that his prevention from receiving the title is 1) his wife’s fault and 2) sexist, because female consorts are given the title “queen.”
I said a couple months ago that the “Georges” were as brutal as their Tudor counterparts, which primarily stems from their treatment of the women in their lives. It wasn’t so much the “Georges” themselves, as the time period. The corsets and classical music and horse-drawn carriages may conjure images of “civility,” but really those are only different dressings for a society that still insisted on many of the same benchmarks from its women. Fertility, of course. Fidelity, in public at least. And the hazier expectation that family honor is housed in the “virtue” of its women.
Like Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard in the 16th century, there are a few figures from the 17th and 18th century that scream out the same legacy of near-martyrdom at the altar of family service. One of them is Princess Caroline Matilda, who would serve as queen of Denmark for six years and die disgraced, divorced and alone.
There have been comparisons made between Edward VII and Queen Alexandra of Denmark to Prince Charles and the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Like Charles, Edward, or Bertie as he was known intimately, found himself waiting for the throne far longer than anticipated. Both men are the eldest sons of monarchs with the longest-running reigns in British history, Elizabeth II only having surpassed Queen Victoria in 2015.
Both men had to create some semblance of a life for themselves from within a role that dictated and entitled them to nothing, while still constricting their movements and options. Setting aside fortune, it’s service with tepid reward. Both men caused embarrassment to the monarchy with their personal lives. And both men showed themselves quite capable of rising to the occasion, showing an astute comprehension of what skills they brought to the table and how best to wield them.