The Sussex Circus

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I said a couple times during the mourning period for Queen Elizabeth that I would circle back on the full scope of the Sussex drama that played out over the last month. So, here we are. I’m going to attempt to take this piece by piece, so this is somewhat digestible.

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The Waleses in Wales

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The dust is starting to somewhat settle. The official mourning period for Queen Elizabeth ended on Monday night, which means that engagements are beginning to be added back to the calendar – some are related to the new normal and some are traditional commitments. I don’t generally cover one-off engagements anymore; however, I do want to chime in on The Prince and Princess of Wales’s visit to Wales yesterday and take a moment to zoom in on this couple and family in light of this month’s rather seismic events.

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UK Engagements, Odds & Ends

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Today is a “day of rest” for Charles III and Queen Camilla after a whirlwind six days overseeing the accession and the beginning of Queen Elizabeth’s funeral procession. After yesterday’s service, the King retired to Highgrove in Gloucestershire, while the Queen went to the estate in Wiltshire she’s owned since prior to her marriage into the Royal Family.

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The Royal Family & the BBC

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Nearly a year ago now, the British Broadcasting Cooperation (BBC) admitted that the famous 1995 interview that the late Diana, Princess of Wales gave to Panorama correspondent Martin Bashir was the result of falsified documents and lies. A inquiry led by Lord Dyson uncovered – and confirmed – that Bashir fed information to the Spencer family that Diana’s staff was leaking information to the press, her security team was spying on her, her ex-husband was having an affair with their sons’ nanny, and – bizarrely – that The Earl of Wessex was HIV positive.

For those unaware, this interview is famously when Diana openly discussed The Prince of Wales’s infidelity with the now-Duchess of Cornwall, her infidelity, and – most importantly – cast doubt on Charles’s ability or desire to succeed his mother to the throne. Following this interview, the Queen “recommended” that Charles and Diana divorce. In other words, this interview had long-lasting consequences for its players, as well as The Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex.

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When Anne Neville Was Lancastrian

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Anne Neville is a curious figure in history because she is essentially a blank canvas who happened to be at the epicenter of intrigue during the Wars of the Roses. She was a queen consort of England, but one who wore the crown for less than two years and is understandably overshadowed by her more famous peers: Marguerite of Anjou, Elizabeth Woodville and Elizabeth of York. She is dynastically insignificant – her only son died during childhood. She was not born into royalty, but rather married into a conquering family. And she did not hold power long enough to have any lasting impact on England.

And yet, she is an intriguing figure. For nearly 12 years she was married to one of England’s most famous (and infamous) monarchs: Richard III. She was in the eye of the mysterious storm that surrounded the disappearance of Edward V and Richard, Duke of York (aka the Princes in the Tower). And she was the only figure to have married into both royal houses at war: Lancaster and York. Anne was born a Yorkist and died a Yorkist, but from December 1470 until May 1471 she was the Lancastrian Princess of Wales.

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The First Princess of Wales

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If there ever was a case study for a Medieval woman’s life taking the shape of a romance novel plot, it would be Joan of Kent, England’s first Princess of Wales. Born “royal adjacent,” she grew up close to the throne, married three times (though not all of them were legal), delivered seven children and constantly found herself going up against the power brokers of court and the Vatican.

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The 20th Anniversary of the Death of Diana, Princess of Wales

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Today officially marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. There isn’t a lot left to say that hasn’t already been said this summer, but I thought I would cover off on the question of where Diana fits into the historical record at this point. Last month, her sons, the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, spearheaded a documentary on her charity work and her role as their mother, indicating part of their efforts were meant to address the fact that younger generations didn’t really know her.

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The Implications of Charles & Diana’s Divorce

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We’re not going to get too in the weeds here on the actual divorce, because good God, I am starting to get burnt out by the ceaseless tabloid coverage of the late Princess of Wales. To be clear, I am all for commemorating her life as we approach the 20th anniversary of her death, but the dredging up of her marriage to the Prince of Wales and the constant speculation about her personal life – none of which is new – is a bit much. Nor can I imagine any of this is particularly helpful to her remaining family.

But the fact of the matter is, the attention Diana received stemmed from her marriage to Charles and that marriage ended 21 years ago today. Not all divorces are made equal and this one was certainly one of the most controversial of the last century. Simply put, it was unprecedented and you know how much I love unprecedented royal events, so here we go.

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Charles, Diana & the 1981 Royal Wedding

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This really is “the” royal wedding, isn’t it? Despite not being around for it and thinking the Cambridges’ 2011 version was absolutely gorgeous, I have a feeling the 1981 wedding of the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer will go down as the one to beat in the modern era. I’m not giving those marks based on style, splash or pomp, necessarily, but it’s a searing moment in time that defined a certain generation – and in that way, it was very much its bride’s day.

I don’t have the ability to separate out to what extent my perception of the day is influenced by hindsight, but to be honest, I don’t feel like it is. When I look at photos from that wedding I don’t see the unhappy years we know now were coming, or the divorce, or the late Princess of Wales’ tragic early death. I just see a captured moment of complete joy, optimism, relief and, yes, perhaps some naiveté.

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The Afterlife of Diana, Princess of Wales

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If you’re wondering what the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry are up to today, they’re at Althorp in Northamptonshire, the burial site and childhood home of their late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. On what would have been her 56th birthday, the Archbishop of Canterbury is conducting a private re-dedication of her grave for her family, including her two sons, the Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George and Princess Charlotte. Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, is apparently also in attendance, as are, presumably, other members of the Spencer family.

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