Welcome to the Order of the Garter! Well, here, at least – the ceremony was cancelled last year and so it’s the first time I’ve had the chance to cover it. This very prestigious order has been around since the reign of Edward III when the king started it in 1348. To give you a sense of how few and far between the appointments are, the Duke of Cambridge was the 1,000th person bestowed the honor when he was invested in 2008.
The Queen really knows how to hold a birthday party. While tonight she was the guest of honor at a concert featuring a number of British musical acts alongside members of her family, the day itself was full of festivities marking the Queen hitting the big 9-2.
Happy 92nd Birthday to Queen Elizabeth! Later today the Royal Family will all descend on Royal Albert Hall for a concert to mark the occasion and conclude the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), but in the meantime let’s take a look back at April 21, 1926 when HRH Princess Elizabeth was born to the then-Duke and Duchess of York.
Before we get into the day’s events, I want to call out that Kensington Palace has added another engagement to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s schedule next week, meaning that we are seeing them today, tomorrow, Saturday, Monday and now next Wednesday. That would be a lot even if the couple were married and Meghan was a full-time royal, but I honestly can’t recall a window that chock-full for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge save foreign tours. Between Meghan’s participation CHOGM, her full dance card and her presence at historically family-only events, this engagement really is the first of its kind for the BRF.
Anyway, let’s get back to today, which kicked off with Meghan’s first appearance at CHOGM when she accompanied Harry at the closing session of the Commonwealth Youth Forum at the QEII Centre.
I have gone out of my way to mostly ignore Sarah, Duchess of York (Prince Andrew’s ex-wife) due to the old adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say…” Indeed, it’s for this same reason that I usually only reference Andrew when he happens to have attended a large family event. The only exception to this is a post from early last year that covered memorable public statements made by Andrew pertaining to the roles of his daughters in the “slimmed down” monarchy model that the Prince of Wales is said to favor.
My reason for writing that post was that it was particularly newsworthy and it is for that same reason I find myself circling back to the York family again today. So, here we go:
It was announced today that Princess Eugenie, younger daughter of the Duke of York and his ex-wife, Sarah, Duchess of York, is engaged to her long-time boyfriend, Jack Brooksbank. The couple are due to wed this autumn at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor – the same venue at which Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will marry in May.
Oh, to be a son of George III – all of the perks, none of the restrictions. Unfortunately, there were a few other key characteristics missing and few from this batch of men particularly distinguished themselves as industrious, ambitious or responsible.
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.”
Well, well, well, I wasn’t expecting to post today in preparation for all the activity planned later this week, but here we are. Today is Commonwealth Day, held annually on the second Monday in March, on which the 52 Commonwealth countries celebrate their unity and diversity. It’s also one of the most significant events on the Queen’s calendar each year, marking her honor for the “family of nations.” Today she launched a relay race from Buckingham Palace before moving to a multi-faith ceremony at Westminster Abbey attended by various members of the Royal Family including the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke of York, the Earl of Wessex and Prince Harry.
You know who wasn’t there? The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. And that’s fine; they weren’t necessarily expected to be. But you know where they also weren’t expected? A ski holiday. Look, I really don’t want to write this post and, frankly, I’m getting 2016 flashbacks, but here we are.
Of everything that came out of the discovery of Richard III’s skeleton in the Leicester parking lot, one clear benefit was renewed debate over the reputation of the king outside of the usual cast of historians. Hearing the man’s complicated and lengthy career summed up for the purposes of pithy synopses, I was struck again by the symmetry in the stories of Richard III and his father. Both grew up with fathers deemed traitors by the English government; both had a long track record for ability; both claimed the throne when other men sat on it. You could make the argument that both men were known for loyalty up until the 11th hour, but that is a trickier argument when discussing Richard, Duke of York.
On October 10, 1460 York entered Parliament, held at Westminster, and walked directly to the empty throne where he placed his hand on it, laying claim. After more than a decade of insisting his protests against the rule of his cousin, Henry VI, were based out of a desire for reform and not ambition, this severely undermine the purity of the Yorkist cause. It is also a critical intersection of two ways of looking at the Wars of the Roses: were the wars fought over a dynastic struggle or a response to mismanagement? Likely, it began as the latter and turned into the former. But still, at what point did York begin fighting to name himself king instead of closest councilor?
Richard was born on September 21, 1411 to Richard, Earl of Cambridge and his wife, Anne Mortimer. His father was the younger brother to the childless Edward, Duke of York and both men were the grandsons of King Edward III through his fourth surviving son, Edward, Duke of York. Richard’s mother, Anne, was the granddaughter of Philippa Plantagenet, only daughter of Lionel, Duke of Clarence, second surviving son of Edward III.
Put more simply: Richard had an excellent claim to the throne, being descended from Edward III through both his parents.