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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What the Waleses Tell Us About the Cambridges

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As I mentioned last week, I have been making my way through Sally Bedell Smith’s latest biography on the Prince of Wales. I haven’t gotten too far, but far enough that I’ve come through the other side of the 1980s and all that that entails. Not too much about the Waleses’ marriage could possibly be new to us at this point, but it’s been a few years since I’ve sat down and waded my way through a biography of one of them and it was interesting to do so, particularly the early years in light of how the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are currently perceived.

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Camelot & the Virginity of Katherine of Aragon

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Between Henry VII ascending the throne in 1485 and his death in 1509, England evolved from a country that had been in or on the verge of civil war for decades to a country that was beginning to re-emerge as an actual power broker in Europe. It’s an interesting concept to consider in the wake of all the Brexit news as members of today’s Royal Family undertake diplomatic tours of European countries to underline Britain’s continued friendship.

By establishing the House of Tudor, Henry essentially put an end to the viability of continued Plantagenet infighting. As the last Lancastrian claimant (sort of, his lineage wasn’t much to boast of) he strategically married Elizabeth of York, fusing the two warring houses in one union. Thus, their children were meant to appease both sides, and their position was bolstered by a father who ruthlessly kept the peace, filled the coffers and eliminated dynastic threats.

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Always a Princess, Never a Queen: Augusta of Saxe-Gotha

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Let’s take a moment to pity poor Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, because she didn’t have an easy go of it. Married to the Prince of Wales as a teenager, she was wildly under-prepared for marriage into the British Royal Family, particularly when it was as fractured as it was in the reign of King George II. She had little way of knowing that her new husband was the black sheep of the family, or that her own growing family would become a thorn in the side of her in-laws. Even less could she have foretold that her husband would die prematurely, removing the possibility of ever becoming queen, while leaving her with the weighty responsibility of raising the future king in a foreign country.

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