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Showing posts from August, 2013

How today gave us the Tudors

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There's little doubt that without the sudden, unexpected death of Henry V in a chateau near Paris on this day almost 700 years ago there would have been no Tudor dynasty.  English history would have missed out on Henry VIII, all six of those wives not to mention the battling sisters, Mary I and Elizabeth I and all the saucy high spirited shenanigans that went with the lot of them. Because Henry's death didn't just leave a power vacuum at the very top of government that led to the epic battles of the Wars of the Roses.  It also left a young queen a widow at a very early age.  And her high spirits and determination to find happiness after the death of her hero husband led to the creation of a family who would one day take his crown. 


Henry V as played by Tom Hiddleston in the BBC Two adaptation of Shakespeare's most famous royal play
No one expected Henry V to die.  He had been king for nine years and was just approaching his 36th birthday.  He had won famous victories i…

The man who turned down a queen and accepted a king

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Seamus Heaney once turned down the offer to be considered for the role of Poet Laureate, an office created by royalty and whose main role is still to write verse celebrating major royal occasions.  'I've nothing against the Queen personally,' he said, 'it’s just that the basis of my imagination, the basis of the cultural starting point, is off-centre.' 

Seamus Heaney, the boy from Bellaghy who became one of the most famous poets and writers in the world, has died The great poet, who has died today at the age of 74, was born in Northern Ireland and was a nationalist who made his home in the Republic of Ireland from 1972.  He did accept the title of Saoi, an equivalent to national poet in the Republic, but always maintained that his politics precluded him from being considered as Poet Laureate in the UK.

Seamus Heaney at University College, Dublin in 2009.  He was giving readings up until a fortnight before his death (photo Sean O'Connor) There were no politics to …

A right royal hen night

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When you might just end up as first lady of the most bling bling monarchy in the world then the hen night has to be good.  Tomorrow, Tatiana Santo Domingo marries Andrea Casiraghi who at the moment is in line to be sovereign prince of Monaco. Of course if uncle Albert has a legitimate heir then Tatiana will have to make do without a principality to call her own.  But at the moment she is in line to follow, one day, in the footsteps of Princess Grace.  And that means the wedding, and everything to do with it, will be scrutinized far more than your average posh do in the sun. 

The bride wore pink to the hen night.  Tatiana Santo Domingo at the heart of her hens on her farewell girlie evening out
So far, Tatiana hasn't let us down.  The hen night was on board a boat off the coast of Monte Carlo with the bride in pink and her ladies in white and every one of them with a perfect garland of flowers around their heads.  While most brides make do with a net veil and an L plate, Tatiana ha…

Kate's back with all eyes on her front

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When you're an experienced royal correspondent with decades of reporting under your belt, you know better than to say anything which might make you the news rather than the story you're covering.  So when the BBC's Nichols Witchell found himself commentating on the surprise reappearance of the Duchess of Cambridge on official duty today he confined himself to the safe and sensible.  'She's looking very well, that's all I'm going to say' he commented as he started his live broadcast from Anglesey where Kate had unexpectedly accompanied William as he opened the island's notorious Ring of Fire marathon race.

Kate on her first official public appearance since becoming a mummy last month
Knowing that all eyes would be on the state of the now famous mummy tummy, Nicholas Witchell steered the report round to the marathon being another chance for the couple to say goodbye to the island they have called home since their marriage as William prepares to move on…

The man who gave Prince William his name

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He was young and handsome.  He provided gossip, royal glamour and for a while was breathtakingly close to the English throne.  He went to Eton, studied history at university and travelled the world, spending quite a lot of time in Africa.  And he gave his name to the man who will one day be king of England.  This week marks the anniversary of the death of Prince William of Gloucester, the man after whom the Duke of Cambridge was named. 

Prince William was named after William of Gloucester who died on August 28th 1972 By now, this prince called William would be a man of 71 and a royal duke.  And who knows whether Charles and Diana would still have chosen his name for their first born had he been alive to see their son arrive in the world.  Another one of those 'what ifs' that make up history.  Prince William of Gloucester was killed in a plane crash on August 28th 1972 while participating in a competition in Wolverhampton.  He was an experienced pilot and took part in lots of a…

When royal first borns don't end up on top

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Being a first born child of a monarch or next in line to be monarch is now pretty much a guarantee of ending up king or queen of your country one day.  But being the eldest grandchild seems to offer another guarantee - that of coming nowhere near a crown of your own.  The current wave of European monarchs are all grandparents now - except Albert of Monaco and as his heir is his sister and she's a granny, they're almost there - and only one of them can expect their first born grandchild take the throne.  While there might be lots of interest in the first birth of a new generation, what happens to those babies who are shuffled out of the succession by younger cousins?


King Carl XVI Gustaf and Estelle of Sweden - he's the only one of Europe's current monarchs whose eldest grandchild is in line to take the throne
The continent's longest reigning monarch was the first to become a grandparent. Elizabeth II welcomed her first grandchild in 1977 but while Peter Phillips may…

Kate's shopping trip

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Photos have emerged of the Duchess of Cambridge doing the shopping at her local Waitrose and pushing the trolley back to the car.  Nothing new there, we've seen Kate in that car park several times before having done the weekly shop for herself and William.  Except these photos seem to show the Duchess just five weeks after the birth of her baby with a stomach so flat it's barely visible.

Kate with two bottles of wine and a couple of pizzas and not a hint of a stomach to be seen If these pictures were snapped on Tuesday 27th August then the Duchess has lost her baby weight incredibly quickly.  Admittedly there wasn't much of it, mostly bump but given the hint of a tum that was still visible in the first official shots of George taken earlier in August, the turnaround is remarkable.  Especially if the pizza and the wine in the trolley were for her.   If this really is the duchess less than forty days after delivery then the royal family better beware.  Being that thin so soon…

How to make a royal granny feel old...

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The first born grandchild of Margrethe II of Denmark turns 14 today and some new photos have appeared on the Danish royal household's website to mark the occasion.  And very grown up he looks too.  If becoming a grandparent marks a new phase in life then seeing that little baby looking like a young man must mark another.  Suddenly that little baby that left the Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen in his mother's arms fourteen years ago looks like a young man. 

Prince Nikolai of Denmark who turns fourteen today (photo Steen Brogaard) Nikolai is also shown with little brother, Felix, who at 11 looks very far from little.  Both boys no split their time between the new homes of their parents, Joachim and Alexandra, who divorced in 2005 after a short separation.   Prince Nikolai and Prince Felix of Denmark in another photo to mark big brother's fourteenth birthday (photo Steen Brogaard) It's ben a big year for the eldest of the queen's grandchildren with his confirmation earlie…

The flat pack prince

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If you marry a princess then there's one thing you probably won't have to do unless you really want to and that's put together flat pack furniture.  While other husbands will probably spend at least one Bank Holiday trying to figure out which piece of identical looking wood is part A and which is part K and what happens if you slot them together without checking and find the thing is back to front, royal husbands have palaces full of all kinds of wardrobes ready made for them.  Dowels, Allan keys and annoying pots of glue that stick to everything except the thing they're meant to stick to are not a part of your life.  So Prince Daniel of Sweden must have been a bit perplexed when he found his royal diary for August 26th included a trip to IKEA.

Prince Daniel found himself in IKEA at the start of the week But when your wife is heir to the throne of Sweden and IKEA just happens to be one of her future realm's most successful businesses, the chances of being asked to b…

Princess Beatrix and the kindness of strangers

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Two weeks after losing her second son, the former queen of the Netherlands is resuming her public life. Her official duties for this week include an appearance at a concert in central Amsterdam on August 28th.  But she was seen in public for the first time since the death of Prince Friso at another musical event where she accompanied her third son, Constantijn, and his wife, Laurentien, who were scheduled to attend.

Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands appeared in public for the first time since the death of her so, Friso, at a concert in the Portuguese synagogue in Amsterdam
Princess Beatrix was with the couple at a concert at the Portuguese synagogue in Amsterdam given by the International Mahler Orchestra at an event organized by the European Cultural Foundation. 

The princess wore mourning for her first public appearance since losing her second son
After the loss of a loved one sometimes the hardest thing to cope with is the sympathy of others who want to help share the sadness but …

England's only official male consort

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He gave his first name to a hall, a museum, a memorial, a thousand streets and tens of thousands of babies who were all named after him when he arrived in England.  And every generation of British royals since his have had a bevy of boys with his name somewhere among theirs. He remains the only man in British history to ever officially hold the title of Prince Consort.  Today is the anniversary of the birth of Prince Albert.

Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, the only man ever to be made Prince Consort Considering how prolific the name Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha became, it's perhaps a bit of a surprise that it wasn't the name he received on his birth in Schloss Rosenau near Coburg on August 25th 1819. His first name was Francis with Albert coming in second in a five horse race that also included Augustus, Charles and Emmanuel.  And he was born a prince of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld but when he was six his great uncle died leading to a reshuffle of the German duchies that led to Alb…

Felipe needs an Olympics win

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In a few days time, Felipe of Spain will arrive in Buenos Aires to help with the final push in the bid to bring the Olympic Games to Madrid in 2020.  He's the Honorary President of the city's attempt to become the host venue and he will spend five days in meetings, at presentations and talking face to face with the members of the International Olympic Committee who will decide where the greatest sporting show on earth will take place in seven years' time.  If Madrid does win the race for the rings then it could give Felipe the boost he needs at a tricky time for the Spanish monarchy.

Crown Prince Felipe of Spain at the July IOC meeting in Lausanne in which he contributed to Madrid's technical presentation in its bid to win the 2020 Olympic Games The future king was described as the star of the show when the Madrid bid went to Lausanne earlier this summer to make a technical presentation. His passion and enthusiasm for the Games was praised and given some gravitas as he …

The royal Bridezilla?

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Reports that the Duke of York and his former wife may be about to get back together are nothing new.  Prince Andrew and the former Sarah Ferguson have a reputation as the happiest divorced couple in town and they have shared a home, on and off, since their split became legal in 1996.  Every few years rumours of another wedding for the pair surface - today's whispers mention an unnamed friend saying it will happen, eventually.  Which covers all bases for a while at least.


The wedding of Andrew, Duke of York and Sarah Ferguson on July 23rd 1986 Let's just hope that if they do go for a rematch, Fergie is a bit less wedding obsessed this time round.  Her nuptials in 1986 were bridezilla before the word was even coined.  We've come to expect a few regal signs on royal wedding garb but her dress was so heavy with symbolism it's a surprise she managed to walk up the aisle.  Never mind the obligatory Fergie bow at the back, there was a sprinkling of her personal emblem, the bee…