The Marriage of James II & Mary Beatrice of Modena

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Mary Beatrice of Modena was only queen for a brief and volatile three years, but she bears the notable moniker of being the last Catholic to wear the crown, her husband, James II, serving as the last Catholic monarch. Born in Italy, her career in England was marred by growing religious paranoia and hysteria, accusations of her son being a “changeling” and exile. She would live through the reigns of her two stepdaughters – Mary II and Queen Anne – and in fact outlive them both, surviving to see the first four years of the German House of Hanover in England despite her son biding his time in exile. Today we’re going to take a look at her time as Duchess of York and queen.

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The Other Tour of Italy

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Last week the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall undertook a brief tour of Italy, covering primarily Florence with brief stops in Rome and the Holy See. While there, Charles as able to delve into several of his passion projects, sustainable agriculture and support for vulnerable youths to name two. He was also able to tour programs that highlighted his long-held interest in the arts, classical music and history, three pursuits that he has not only always cultivated, but that he has seen as overlapping.

Charles is the definition of a “big picture” thinker, as we might put it today. He thinks unbelievably broadly and seeks to make connections between what others might consider disparate thoughts or fields. To him, there is always a point of intersection; there is always a broader purpose. Some of us (myself included) like to be able to see the forest through the trees; Charles likes to put everything in the context of nothing short of the world.

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Charles, Camilla, the Vatican & Relaxing Formality

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Yesterday, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall departed Florence for Rome and the Holy See where they met with Pope Francis. Before their visit they were given a private tour of the Vatican’s archives, which house manuscripts not accessible to the public. The secrecy makes sense given the thousands of extremely personal documents Rome was made privy to over the centuries, particularly when it was a more political entity going head-to-head with monarchs across Europe.

One such example referenced earlier this week by way of the papal dispensation sought by Henry VII and Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain for approval to marry their children, the future Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon – the document essentially haggled over the terms of Katherine’s virginity following her marriage to Arthur Tudor. But this was indicative of the personal nature of so many of the issues the Vatican weighed in on, from dispensations to divorces to legal issues, any number of which were related to the Royal Families ruling Europe.

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Charles & Camilla in Italy: Day Two

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A month ago I wrote a post about Edward VII and Alexandra of Denmark where I pointed out similarities between the two of them and the current Prince of Wales and his late ex-wife, Diana. There was one bizarre coincidence, however, which I forgot to highlight: one of Edward VII’s best-known mistresses was Alice Keppel, who happens to be the great-grandmother of none other than Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Given the similarities between Diana and Queen Alexandra, and Camilla’s direct descent from Mrs. Keppel, the whole thing does feel a bit like a historical wink.

This is surprisingly apropos of the ongoing royal visit to Italy because today Camilla brought up her regret that her mother sold a villa in Florence once owned by Alice and Camilla has girlhood memories of playing there. She revealed to reporters covering the tour that she hoped to buy it back someday and leave it to her grandchildren.

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Charles & Camilla in Italy: Day One

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The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall arrived in Florence yesterday, reuniting for the next leg of their European tour after Charles spent three days carrying out engagements in Romania. First up was a photo-op at the Ponte Vecchio bridge.

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