Tuesday, 31 March 2015

William flies high again

He said just last week that baby number two would be a game changer but the future King of England has changed the game all by himself this week. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge has started his training to be a pilot for the East Anglian Air Ambulance Service in the last few days - the soon to be dad of two and monarch in waiting is now working in a field he loves again.

The Duke of Cambridge is now in full training mode for his new job at the East Anglian Air Ambulance

Kensington Palace confirmed that the prince is now undertaking specific job training for his new role with the service - he is expected to start work in the summer. The royal pilot recently clocked up major success in the exams required for his new role - he passed all 14 tests, probably for the best as resits with a new baby in the house might be hard work.

The Duke of Cambridge with Kate on his most recent public engagement

William is expected to cover day and night shifts when he begins his new role fully and he will be based in Norwich and Cambridge - handy for the family home at Amner Hall in Norfolk. In the meantime. he'll have the mobile on extra loud waiting for another important call - baby Cambridge number two is said to be due on April 25th 2015.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Royals on social media

There was a baby bump clad in pink, a queen in waiting meeting a famous female president and a future consort taking the lead at a big charity event. It was all about the royal women of Europe this week and the official social media accounts of the ruling houses reflected that. Here's the royal week on social media.

Moments of history

Crown Princess Victoria paid a three day visit to South Korea in the week and met with the country's president, Park Geun-hye. The two posed for an historic photograph which the Swedish Royal House shared on its official Facebook page.

King Harald V of Norway came face to face with history in the week when he unveiled new portraits of the three kings who have ruled his country since the monarchy was set up in its current form in 1905. The king was pictured smiling at the portraits of himself, Olav V and Haakon VII on a post on the official Norwegian Royal Family Facebook page.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were also staring history in the face this week when they visited Canterbury Cathedral to see two new statues of themselves unveiled. The British Monarchy Instagram page shared an image of the moment the curtain fell.

Music to their ears

Queen Maxima attended a concert given by children - some with disabilities - in the week. The Dutch Royal House shared an image of the queen with some of the performers on its official Twitter feed.

The Crown Prince and Princess of Norway attended a film project by VIBRO and Global Shapers in the week which included a showing of films and a concert. The official Facebook page of the Norwegian Royal Family shared some photos. 

The Duchess of Cambridge headed off on maternity leave this week but not after a busy day of engagements in Streatham, London where she visited several projects aimed at helping young people. And along with the Duke of Cambridge she was treated to some music and the moment was shared on the official Kensington Palace Twitter feed.

She's in fashion

Queen Mathilde of the Belgians attended a meeting of the Flanders Fashion Fuel project in the week to hear about how it's supporting fashion design in the country and how that's helping the economy. She toured an exhibition of Dries Van Noten and images were shared on the official Belgian Royal Family Twitter account.

Fashion model and campaigner Yasmin Le Bon met the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall in the week when they heard all about #TravelsToMyElephant which will see people racing in rickshaws in India to raise awareness of the plight of the Indian elephant. Yasmin Le Bon will be taking part and she showed off her rickshaw to the royals in an image shared on the official Clarence House Twitter account.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Kate's great wait begins

In days of yore it was called the royal confinement. Queens, princesses and duchesses disappeared from view a few weeks before the birth of their longed for heirs and went into seclusion in darkened rooms in palaces to wait for the arrival of a prince or princess. Now it's called maternity leave and it's more about getting a few weeks rest before the nursery expands. And today was the day that the Duchess of Cambridge clocked off the royal rota ahead of the birth of her second child.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge out and about in London on Kate's last public engagement before giving birth to their second child
(photo @KensingtonRoyal Twitter)

They began the day in Streatham with a visit to the Stephen Lawrence Centre, set  up in memory of the teenager who was murdered in 1993. Stephen Lawrence wanted to be an architect and this centre, established in 2008, helps young people achieve their dreams in a range of skills including architecture. The royal couple met Stephen's mother, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, and some of the young people helped by the centre's work.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge then headed to Gypsy Hill for a visit to the Excel Project which helps young people in London to work towards brighter futures. Around 1,800 children are seen by the charity every week.

To end the day,  Kate and William headed off to a couple of community projects run by the Excel Project, or XLP. They spent time on a community bus and at a mobile recording studio where they met young people helped by the organisation. There were also presents for Prince George who got a T-shirt and a reminder that from now on he is going to have to share - his sibling got exactly the same gift.

Kate and William pose for a photo before the end of the duchess' engagements ahead of baby number two arriving

The duke made reference to the fact that it 'wasn't long now' before three become four while he told another wellwisher that he can't wait for the new baby to be born. And he was in the mood for baby talk, telling someone else that a second child would be a 'game-changer'.  And just to get everyone really thinking, the duke wore a pink tie. It might not have been so noticeable as the bright fuchsia coat worn by Kate but it was there in all its rosy glory nonetheless.  But perhaps the most obvious thing about William was the care he took of Kate as she heads towards the end of her pregnancy. With a careful hand on her shoulder whenever he could and lots of loving looks, this was a daddy to be in full flow. And at the end of a spring day, the couple headed home. The next time we see Kate will be outside St Mary's in Paddington with a baby in her arms. Good luck and good health to that duchess.

And see the best photos from Kate's last day out before baby number two by clicking the link here.

Kate's last outing before baby number two - in photos

The Duchess of Cambridge has carried out her last public engagements before the birth of royal baby number two. Kate, along with William, was in London visiting charities that help young people.

It was a busy day for the duchess with three different engagements but she smiled throughout even if the bump looked big and the mummy to be looked a little bit tired. Kate will now rest at home in preparation for the arrival of their new prince or princess. Here are some of the highlights of Kate's last public appearance before baby - in pictures.

See you at St Mary's!

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Richard III, reburied

Richard III, King of England, has been reburied in Leicester Cathedral in a solemn ceremony attended by the Countess of Wessex and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. The king's remains, found beneath a car park in Leicester in 2012, were reinterred in an oak coffin and will lie beneath a marble tomb. Almost 530 years after his death at the Battle of Bosworth, this king has been given a monarch's burial at last.

The coffin of Richard III ahead of its reburial at Leicester Cathedral on March 26th 2015

The king's remains were identified through DNA testing led by the University of Leicester. On March 22nd his coffin was taken from the college to Bosworth Field and other places of significance to the king before it was handed into the care of Leicester Cathedral. Tens of thousands queued to file past the casket and today the king was reinterred in the presence of royalty.

Richard III is laid to rest in Leicester Cathedral on March 26th 2015
(photo King Richard III in Leicester)

The Duke of Gloucester placed Richard III's Prayer Book on his coffin at the start of the ceremony and gave a reading as well. There was music from the choir of Leicester Cathedral, a eulogy from the university on Richard the man and a sermon from the Bishop of Leicester. And the Order of Service began with words from the Queen who described the reburial as an event of national and international significance. And at the end of the service, actor Benedict Cumberbatch read a poem especially written by the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy.

Benedict Cumberbatch reads at the reburial service of Richard III at Leicester Cathedral
(photo @KRIII Twitter)

Richard's tomb will be revealed tomorrow and after that his final resting place will be open to the public to pay their respects on a regular basis. Those who organised his reinterrment said they wanted to give him the honour and dignity he had been denied in death. And today's solemn ceremony only underlined, that. The last of the Plantagenets has finally had a ceremony fit for a king.

Flowers in Leicester Cathedral for the reburial of Richard III
(photo @KRIII Twitter)

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Royals in mourning

King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain left Paris in the late afternoon of March 24th 2015 mourning with their fellow countrymen and women. The royals had arrived just hours earlier at the start of what was to be a three day State Visit. But within minutes of their arrival they learned of the plane crash in the Alps which had claimed 150 lives. King Felipe announced not long afterwards that the State Visit had been cancelled.

The King and Queen of Spain with the President of France 
(photo Casa Real)

Flight MU 9525, operated by Germanwings, had been travelling between Barcelona and Dusseldorf. It came down in the Alps around 11am local time. Felipe and Letizia had left Madrid just hours earlier with a full ceremonial farewell but by the time they touched down in the French capital news of the disaster was coming through. Soon afterwards, the king expressed his condolences to those affected.

Felipe and Letizia held meetings with President Francois Hollande and Prime Minsiter, Manuel Valls, and everyone looked shocked and devastated by what had happened. It was the king himself who announced that the visit was cancelled and the royal couple then attended an emergency meeting of France's cabinet as more news came in. King Felipe also called the President of Germany, Joachim Gauck, to express his condolences.
King Felipe and Queen Letizia headed back to Madrid in the late afternoon. Three days of mourning have now been declared in Spain.

The crowd pleasing king

He's a star.  Richard III might have spent half a millennium as a pantomime villain with no tomb but suddenly everyone loves him. Around 70,000 people turned out to see his funeral procession in Leicestershire on Sunday and on the first day that Leicester Cathedral allowed people in to see his coffin over 5000 queued - some for up to four hours. Doors open soon for day two and already hundreds are waiting in Leicester for a glimpse.

Thousands have already queued to pay their respects to Richard III
(photo King Richard III in Leicester Instagram feed)

The king, who was killed at the Battle of Bosworth on August 22nd 1485 and was buried in Grey Friars in Leicester soon afterwards, has been without a tomb for over 500 years. Now, before his new one is even revealed, he is pulling crowds that many a modern celeb can only dream of.  There were people waiting before dawn broke for a chance to file past his coffin. Leicester Cathedral extended its opening hours and tweeted that it was sending tea and coffee out to those who stood patiently for so long on Monday.

Richard III, King of England 1483 - 1485 and royal star of 2015

There are three viewing periods today- 0900 to 1230, 1400 to 1700 and 1915 to 2100.  Thousands more are expected at the cathedral to pay their respects. And on Thursday even bigger crowds are due for the actual reinterrment which will be led by the Archbishop of Canterbury and attended by the Countess of Wessex and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.  Richard III, villain and vilified, is now the royal star of the year.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Royals on social media

It's been a busy week for the royals with state visits and traditional trips all dominating the regal headlines. And there were lots of great images too.

A twitpic of the King and Queen of the Netherlands shared on the official Dutch Royal Household Twitter account as they headed to Denmark for a three day State Visit

To round the week up, here are some of the highlights from the images and messages shared on the official social media accounts of Europe's royal houses - it's royals on social media time.

A helping hand

The Duke of Cambridge attended one of the Queen's audiences for the first time in the week. The duke wanted to learn first hand some of the tricks of the trade and his granny was only too pleased to lend a helping hand. Images were shared on the British Monarchy Twitter account and retweeted by Kensington Palace.

The Queen of the Netherlands joined millions of others in watching the solar eclipse that took place on March 20th and the official Twitter account shared an image of her getting a bit of help in doing it safely with the aid of her special glasses.

Later in the week, the same Twitter account showed the Dutch royals joining in on the annual Volunteers Day which raises money for charity.

Just visiting

There were plenty of state visits going on in the week. The King and Queen of the Netherlands hopped over to Denmark for a three day tour. Images of all the events were shared on the Dutch Royal House's official Twitter feed including a photo from the gala dinner held on the first evening.

The King and Queen of Norway welcomed the President of Latvia, Anders Berzins, on a state visit to their country and images of the visit were shared on the official Facebook page. 

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall spent several days in America during the week where they carried out a string of engagements. Dozens of photos were shared on the Clarence House Instagram page including one of Prince Charles meeting President Barack Obama.

Four legged friends
The royals are known for their love of animals and there was plenty of evidence of that on official social media accounts in the week. The Queen paid a visit to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in London and the images shared on the official British Monarchy Instagram account were of the animals at the centre and an archive shot of the Queen with a pet, Dookie, taken in 1936.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were in Aldershot on March 17th for the traditional St Patrick's Day parade where Kate handed over shamrocks to the Irish Guards and their mascot, Irish wolfhound Domhall. He starred in a close up on the Kensington Palace Instagram account and in photos shared on the official Twitter account as well.

The Crown Princess of Norway visited a home for people with dementia in Asker in the week and took along her pet dog, Muffin. She heard about the beneficial effects that pets can have for people with dementia and an image of Mette-Marit during her trip was shared on the official Norwegian Royal Family Facebook page.

Getting arty

The Queen of Spain opened a major exhibition of modern art in Madrid in the week and the official Twitter account shared photos of Letizia looking at some of the works on display.

The King and Queen of the Belgians spent some time discovering another art form, journalism, on a visit to TV and radio station RTBF with images of their visit shared on the official Belgian Monarchy Twitter account.

The art of research was being celebrated by Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden in the week when she presented the prizes at the annual celebration for the Royal Academy in Stockholm. Pictures were shared on the Swedish Royal Family's Facebook page. 

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Richard III, a funeral fit for a king

He died in 1485 and was buried hastily after his body was humiliatingly trailed from the site of the battle where he had been killed. His tomb was lost for over 500 years. And when he was finally found, there was much talk about his bones being discovered beneath a car park. But today Richard III, King of England, began his final journey and it was a funeral procession fit for a king.

The funeral cortege of Richard III reaches Leicester Cathedral on March 22nd 2015
(photo RIII Project)

Richard III now lies in state in Leicester Cathedral where, for the next two days, people from around the world will have the chance to file past his coffin and pay their respects to a man better known for hundreds of years as the villain created by Shakespeare. But even before his remains left the University of Leicester this morning his whole reputation has been reappraised and refined. Richard III isn't just being reburied, he is being rethought.

The coffin of Richard III is brought into public view just after 10.30 on March 22nd 2015
(photo University of Leicester)

And that is due, in large part, to researchers at the University of Leicester, who used radiocarbon and DNA to prove that the bones found in Leicester city centre in 2012 are those of the last Plantagent king of England. His oak coffin, made by a descendant of the House of York, left the university at 10.30 this morning in a simple ceremony which saw the modern bearers of the white rose place that famous emblem on his coffin in the company of some of those who have brought his story back to life. 

The university remained responsible for the remains for the whole of this exceptional day. A local funeral directors helped oversee their transportation through an elaborate procession that visited many of the places in Leicestershire which are linked to Richard's story. The first stop was Fenn Lane Farm, the spot where the king is believed to have been killed. A private ceremony was held there.
The funeral procession then moved to Dadlington and Sutton Cheney before it arrived at the Bosworth Battle Heritage Centre where it was borne in on a funeral bier by young people. There was a 21 gun salute for the king and BBC Leicester reported that as his coffin arrived back at the battlefield for the final time, the crowd was silent with some people in tears.

Richard III arrives at Bosworth for the last time
(photo BBC Leicester Twitter)

With guards of honour and crowds of thousands all watching on, Richard III was carried away from Bosworth once more - 529 years after he lost his crown and his life at the battle that took place there. It was a moving, solemn and breathtaking moment.

The procession then went on to Market Bosworth, Newbold Vernon and Desford before entering Leicester and a service at St Nicholas'Church in the city. His coffin was also taken to Bow Bridge before it was received into Leicester Cathedral and the university handed over responsibility for the king's remains.  Thousands lined the route, throwing white roses as the coffin passed.

The Duke of Gloucester, a modern royal Richard, was there as the solemn ceremony got underway and once the coffin rested near the baptismal font the duke stood in front of it as the service to receive the remains got underway. It was a poignant and moving sight. The plain oak coffin was cloaked in black velvet born by peers from the House of Lancaster and the House of York before a young brownie, Emma, placed a specially designed crown commissioned by historian John Ashdown-Hill on the casket. A bible, printed in the lifetime of the king and part of the University of Leicester's special collection, was also placed on his coffin.

The coffin of Richard III in Leicester Cathedral
(photo Leicester City Council)

The king now lies in state and will be reburied in a special ceremony on March 26th 2015. His name was lit up on the cathedral as the ceremony came to an end, dominating the Leicester skyline. But then Richard III is dominating everything right now. The monarch turned villain whose last resting place was forgotten for half a millennium is now being reburied under the world's gaze. Richard III is finally getting a funeral fit for a king.

And there are more photos of the funeral procession at the photo gallery - just click on the link.

Richard III's funeral, in pictures

It's been a truly historic day as the funeral cortege of Richard III, King of England passed through Leicestershire on his final journey. The king's remains were found in Leicester city centre in 2012 and confirmed as his in 2013. He will be reburied in Leicester Cathedral on March 26th.

The coffin of Richard III in Leicester Cathedral

The day was emotional, exciting and extraordinary. From the departure from the University of Leicester to the moving moment when his coffin was brought to Bosworth Field, the place where he lost his crown and his life, to the last journey through the city centre where his cortege was showered in white roses it was dignified and very regal. Here are some of the highlights - in photos.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

A lesser spotted Kate

It may well be the last time we see her before she has baby number two and for one of her final outings as a mama in waiting, queen in waiting Kate of Cambridge went for spots. The duchess visited Brookhill Children's Centre in Woolwich to learn more about the work of Homestart. And as she settled down to chat to mums and babies, the soon to be double mummy looked in her element.

The Duchess grabs a seat on a visit to Brookhill Children's Centre in London
(photo @KensingtonRoyal Instagram)

The Duchess of Cambridge chose a black and white spotty dress from ASOS for her latest appearance. It costs £35 and, after ten days of maternity recycling, shows that Kate is making like a lot of mummies and just making do with what was already in the wardrobe or buying frugally when the second bump made its appearance.  She spent several hours at the centre hearing about the charity's work to build confidence and improve the lives of children.

There was a chance to Kate to see some volunteers with Homestart learning the ropes and the duchess also attended a coffee morning where she met mummies, daddies and babies and answered a question that's been asked many times since the announcement of her second pregnancy - when her baby is actually due. Confirming that Cambridge number two is expected in mid to late April, Kate added 'not long now'.

And then the duchess, in her High Street dress, headed home equipped with presents for Prince George and lots more warm wishes for baby number two. The spotty frock, similar to a white and black Top Shop number that she wore several times while expecting George, could be the final chapter of this pregnancy's public appearances. From now on, until the duchess appears on the steps of St Mary's in Paddington, she is a lesser spotted Kate.

Kate in Woolwich - the photos

The Duchess of Cambridge headed to Woolwich on March 18th 2015 for what could be one of her last public appearances before the birth of her second child. Kate, making her sixth appearance in ten days, spent several hours at Brookhill Children's Centre learning about the work of Homestart.

The Duchess of Cambridge is given a card on her visit to Brookhill
(photo @KensingtonRoyal Instagram)

The duchess met parents, volunteers, charity workers and children during her visit to Brookhill.  It may well be the last time we see Kate before she has baby number two - here are some of the best pictures.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

In perfect harmony

The start of the Dutch State Visit to Denmark began with lots of smiles and hugs. And it didn't take the sharpest eye to see that the kings, queen, princes and princesses involved in the event were rather in tune when it came to selecting outfits. From the muted greys and beiges on display at the official welcome to the symphony of blues and whites that made the gala dinner truly glitter, everyone matched. But today things went one step further. As Queen Maxima and Crown Princess Mary stepped out for a visit to Samso, these two royal women were rocking one regal look.

Spot the difference - Mary and Maxima match on a day out on Samso

The Queen of the Netherlands chose a fitted beige coat with snakeskin shoes and a rather fetching trilby hat. Meanwhile, the Crown Princess of Denmark chose a pale grey coat with beige boots and a rather matching trilby hat. It was a shame that Princess Marie wasn't able to come along - she'd already got the trilby trend going by donning one at the airport for the official welcome for the Dutch royals on day one of the State Visit. But then hers was very dark whereas the royal ladies today both went for pale brown or beige. And the effect was striking.

Hat snap for Mary and Maxima on the Dutch State Visit to Denmark

The royals were on Samso to learn more about green energy and sustainability - themes that the two couples have shown a deep interest in over the years. Samso is a carbon neutral island and its royal visitors were shown the Energy Academy and enjoyed a lunch made form local ingredients.

The King and Queen of the Netherlands and the Crown Prince and Princess of Denmark learn about how Samso uses straw to produce energy on day two of the Dutch State Visit

The colour co-ordination continued in the evening when King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima held a reception for their royal hosts. The event included a display of contemporary dance. And the two queens, Margrethe and Maxima, were perfectly co-ordinated in orange and peach while the two princess, Mary and Marie, went for black to complete the matching theme of the visit.

 There's one last chance for the royals to mix and match on the final day of the visit when Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik will officially bid farewell to their guests.
 And there's little doubt that this state visit will be remembered for its harmony, on many levels.