William & Kate Get Competitive in Heidelberg

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At this point, enough hints have been dropped by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge over the years that the two can get pretty competitive that it should come as no surprise that today’s boat race in Heidelberg, Germany got heated. Both are athletic, both grew up playing sports and both appear to take genuine delight in engagements that pit them against one another – a dynamic of which I heartily approve, particularly the trash talk. And for those new to this side of the couple, take a look at this video The Telegraph compiled (in fact, take a look no matter what, it’s pretty funny).

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Kate’s on Fire in Alexander McQueen for Berlin Reception

427EA6C800000578-4711124-image-m-66_1500489626074.jpgWhen one has sat on the throne for 65 years, you get multiple birthday parties in several plum international hot spots and sometimes you’re too busy to attend yourself. Such is life. Such is the life of Queen Elizabeth II, at the very least, and tonight the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge represented her in Berlin at a reception held in honor of her birthday at the British Ambassador’s residence.

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So Far, Charlotte is Winning Berlin

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Another day, another country for the Cambridge clan. We have officially segued into the next leg of the trip, which entails three days in Germany, including stops in Berlin, Heidelburg and Hamburg. I have to say, I was particularly excited for today when I first saw the itinerary a few weeks ago. Berlin is one of my favorite cities and it’s always a little extra fun when you see places and sites featured that you’ve been to, if for no other reason than you get a better sense of the atmosphere.

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The Flanders Mare: Anne of Cleves

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Poor Anne of Cleves, relegated to history as “the ugly one.” Her marriage to Henry VIII is now viewed as a short blip in-between the domestic dramas of Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour and the scandal of Katherine Howard’s (presumed) adultery and execution. In fact, this fourth marriage of the King’s was important for what it signified – a foreign alliance arranged in the midst of frightening religious factionalism in the English government. The demise of their union – it would last roughly six months – also saw the downfall of the infamous Thomas Cromwell, risen up by the Boleyn family a decade before.

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Vicky, Fritz & the Fate of the German Empire

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Vicky and Fritz at Windsor Castle on their wedding day in 1858

For those that saw the finale of the ITV series “Victoria,” you saw the birth of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s first child. That infant would grow up to be one of the most accomplished princesses that the UK ever turned out, one groomed to take on the role of bridge between Britain and Germany and hopefully facilitate an understanding between the two growing empires.

That she failed was through no fault of her own, but rather a series of developments neither she nor her parents foresaw before her arrival at the Prussian court in 1858. Remarkably intelligent, painstakingly well-educated and thoughtful, it remains a tragedy that Vicky and her husband, Emperor Frederick III, “Fritz,” would only sit on the German throne for 99 days after a 30-year wait. Even more so when one looks back with hindsight, knowing that the crown would be inherited by their son, Kaiser Wilhelm II, who would shove the empire into World War I and eventually bring about the monarchy’s abolishment.

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Kaiser Wilhelm II’s Britishness (And Left Arm)

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On January 27, 1859 Queen’s Victoria’s eldest daughter, Victoria, gave birth to her first child at the Crown Prince’s Palace in Berlin. The birth was difficult: There was a delay in alerting doctors that the princess was in labor, doctors were hesitant to physically examine her and the baby was in breach. After a long and complicated labor, during which the lives of both mother and child were in danger, a son was delivered.

Unfortunately, it soon became clear that the baby’s left arm had been badly injured at birth due to Erb’s palsy, a condition that causes paralysis from nerve  damage. Victoria, known as “Vicky” to her family, and her husband, Prince Frederick of Prussia, “Fritz,” were horrified – delivering a less than physically perfect heir to the Prussian throne was viewed as a personal failure by Vicky and raised concerns about the ability of their son to thrive in a masculine, militant court atmosphere.

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