02 December 2017

Brides of St. George's Chapel, Part 2

Now that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have selected St. George's Chapel in Windsor for their May 2018 nuptials, I'm looking back at the other royal weddings that have taken place there since the days of Queen Victoria. It is a less well-known venue and much more intimate space (if 800 seats is intimate) than Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's Cathedral in London. Nevertheless, it has hosted 15 royal weddings in the last 150 years. This is the second of two posts. (Read the first one.) This post starts with the turn of the last century and continues through the recent wedding of one of Harry's first cousins. 


10 February 1904
Princess Alice of Albany and Prince Alexander of Teck


Alice's parents, Queen Victoria's youngest son Leopold Duke of Albany and Helena of Waldeck-Pyrmont were also married at St. George's but her dad died as a result of his hemophilia when Alice was still an infant. Alexander was a descendant of King George III and the brother of Queen Mary, the consort of King George V. The couple's youngest son died as a baby and their oldest son inherited hemophilia, which caused him never to recover from a car crash as a young man. He died two weeks later, and was buried at St. George's. Their oldest child a daughter called May, however, lived into old age and was a beloved member of the British Royal Family. In 1917, Alexander shed his father's Germanic name and titles, adopting instead his mother Mary Adelaide of Cambridge's name. His brother-in-law gave him the title Earl of Athlone. Like so many other couples married at St. George's, this couple ended up in Canada, where he was Governor General during World War II. Before that, he had served in the same capacity in South Africa. So, they lived on three continents for extended periods. They were married 53 years until his death. She survived until the age of 97, dying in 1981 as the longest lived person born into the British Royal Family. Of course, her husband's nieces-in-law  Princess Alice Duchess of Gloucester (102) and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (101) both out-survived her but they were born the daughters of Scottish peers.

15 June 1905
Princess Margaret of Connaught and Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden

Margaret and Gustaf Adolf fell in love at first site in Egypt. After wedding in England and honeymooning in Ireland, they went on to Sweden where she devoted herself to learning Swedish history and language. She became very popular and is especially remembered as a hands-on mother, an odd behavior for women of her class at the time. The couple had four sons and one daughter. In 1920, his father succeeded his grandfather as king and they became the Crown Prince and Princess. He later became king but Margaret, unfortunately, never was his queen. During her sixth pregnancy, she had a mastoid operation following an ear infection. The operation led to widespread infection, since antibiotics had not yet been developed, little could be done to save her and the baby. They had been married slightly less than 15 years. Gustav Adolf married her cousin Lady Louise Mountbatten a few years later. They had no children together but Louise was a good stepmother. He became king in 1950 and lived on until 1973. His and Margaret's descendants currently sit on the thrones of both Sweden and Denmark.


2 September 1919
The Lady Helena Cambridge and Major John Evelyn Gibbs

A descendant of King George III and niece of Queen Mary, Helena had been born Princess Helena of Teck but had her name and title changed in the great Anglicizing of the British Royal Family in 1917. Her father was Adolphus of Teck. later Marquess of Cambridge, and Lady Margaret Grosvenor, a daughter of the Duke of Westminster. Her groom was nearly 20 years her senior and was a veteran not just of the recent Great War (or World War I) but also of the Boer Wars, which happened while she was an infant. The couple had no children and were married 13 years until his death. She lived another 37 years, mainly in the home of her older sister, Mary Duchess of Beaufort.


14 December 1957
Miss Anne Abel Smith and Mr. David Liddell Grainger

Nearly four decades elapsed before another royal wedding at the chapel, and this one was only tangentially royal. Anne was a granddaughter of Princess Alice and Prince Alexander above. Far removed from the throne in the line of succession, she and her family were nevertheless close to the main branch of the British Royal Family, particularly because of their blood relationship to Queen Mary, who had died just a few years before this wedding. David was a Scottish politician, but unfortunately not a loyal husband. The couple had four sons and a daughter in the first 10 years of their marriage, but divorced after 23 years. He married his mistress and fathered more children, leaving his estate to the second family when he died in 2007. Anne became a Christian missionary in Africa for a while and now lives in London.


18 July 1992
Lady Helen Windsor and Mr. Timothy Taylor


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Several more decades passed before the next royal wedding, this time between a great-granddaughter of King George V and an art dealer. Helen is the daughter of Queen Elizabeth's first cousin Edward Duke of Kent. Like her husband, she is also an art dealer. Having had two sons together, the couple faced a a crisis early in their marriage when Tim was diagnosed with cancer. He survived and they soon added two daughters to their family. The couple is often seen at art events and charity events throughout London. You can also catch a glimpse of them on the royal balcony for the Queen's annual birthday celebrations and other major royal events.


19 June 1999
The Prince Edward and Miss Sophie Rhys-Jones
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The next truly royal wedding at the chapel joined the Queen's youngest child with his longtime love. At the time, Edward, who was given a newly created title as The Earl of Wessex, had opted for a private career as a film producer while Sophie kept her career, managing her own PR agency. Unfortunately, they both encountered controversy in their commercial careers for having misused their royal connections. They gave up their jobs to become full-time royals with income provided by the Queen. At first, they struggled to have a family. Sophie's first pregnancy was ectopic and had to be terminated when it became a severe threat to her life. Her second pregnancy delivered prematurely following a placental abruption. Their daughter Louise was delivered by emergency C-section while Edward was overseas and the baby was immediately moved to a special neonatal hospital. She and Sophie both survived. Their next and last child James was delivered without serious issues four years later. Although Louise and James are entitled to royal styles and titles, the couple has opted to have them styled as children of an earl. Sophie and Edward are full-time royals now and often represent that British Royal Family at foreign royal weddings and other royal events outside of Britain. 


9 April 2005
The Prince of Wales and Mrs. Camilla Parker Bowles

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St. George's Chapel hosted a special religious service of blessing for the marriage of Charles Prince of Wales and his very longtime love Camilla, which had taken place earlier in the day at the local town hall. The couple were not able to marry in a Church of England ceremony because Camilla's ex-husband was still living. Charles and Camilla's romance, however, had started  before either of their first marriages. In their youth, they allowed duty and other obligations to end their affair. She married and had two children and then he did the same. Once they had reconnected, their affair helped contribute to the very public breakdown of his marriage to Lady Diana Spencer. Camilla divorced in 1995 and Charles did the same in 1996. The death of his ex-wife in 1997 likely delayed their marriage while they continued to deal with public outrage over their affair and Diana's tragic, though unrelated, demise. At the time of their wedding, it was announced that Camilla would not use her husband's primary Wales title out of respect for the late Diana and would use only his secondary titles (Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Rothesay, etc.) and that she would be called Princess Consort rather than Queen upon his accession. Public feeling has been softening toward Camilla since then as she has proven herself to be a solid asset to the family and the people. We may yet raise a toast to Queen Camilla one day, if Charles has his way.


17 May 2018
Mr. Peter Philips and Miss Autumn Kelly


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At first glance, the names of this bride and groom don't sound royal at all. However, Peter is the oldest grandchild of Queen Elizabeth II and the first of her grandchildren to marry. Peter's mother, Anne The Princess Royal refused royal titles for her children. Born Catholic in Canada, Autumn met Peter through their shared interest in Grand Prix auto racing and married two years later. Their wedding sparked a bit of controversy. Firstly, Autumn chose to convert from Catholicism because, at that time, heirs to the throne could not keep their place if they married Catholics. (This has since been changed.) Secondly, they were highly criticized for making a deal to have their wedding photographed by Hello! The fact that they used the money to pay for the wedding, instead of relying on public money, did little to ease concerns. When his sister Zara wished to make a similar arrangement for her own wedding, she was not allowed to do so. Peter and Autumn provided Her Majesty with her first two great-grandchildren, little girls named Savannah and Isla, who are often seen on the sidelines of polo fields and horse shows with their horse-mad relatives. 


28 November 2017

The Brides of St. George's Chapel, Part 1

With the announcement that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will wed in May 2018 at St. George's Chapel in Windsor, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the other royal ladies who have married there. St. George's is over 600 years old and it serves as the chapel of the Order of the Garter. It is part of the Windsor Castle complex and therefore is one of the "home" churches of the British Royal Family.

Since Queen Victoria's time, 15 royal weddings have been held there. In fact, five of Victoria's nine children were married at St. George's. In Part 1, we look at the royal weddings of the 19th century. (Read Part 2)

28 November 1863
The Prince of Wales (future King Edward VIII) and Alexandra of Denmark
Bertie and Alix had six children. The youngest, Prince Alexander died as an infant and the oldest, Prince Albert Victor, died in his 20s. Their second son became King George V and one of their daughters became Queen Maud of Norway. They were married 46 years until his death. She survived another 15 years.

5 July 1866
The Princess Helena and Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg
Lenchen and Christian also had six children although one was stillborn and another died as an infant. Only one of their children married, Princess Marie Louise. Helena and Christian were frequently called upon to support Queen Victoria, who kept them housed close at hand, although they did not live with her like Lenchen's sister Beatrice and her husband. When the extended royal family changed their names in 1917, this branch of the family simply dropped the long name of its house and were just called by their first names. The couple was married 51 years until his death. She lived another six years.

21 March 1871
The Princess Louise and the Marquess of Lorne (later the 9th Duke of Argyll)
Louise and John had no children. He was named Governor General of Canada, so they lived in that country for five years. Louise was active as an artist, particularly working in clay sculpture. They were married for 43 years until his death. His nephew succeeded to the title. Louise lived for 25 years as a widow, dying just months after the start of World War II.

13 March 1879
The Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia
Arthur and Louise had three children, all of whom were very popular among their royal cousins. The eldest, Princess Margaret married the Crown Prince of Sweden, but died before he became king. Their youngest, Princess Patricia, lived in Canada while her father was Governor General there and was a public favorite. Their son Arthur married his cousin Princess Alexandra. Young Arthur predeceased his father, but the title passed on to his son Alistair. Louise and Arthur were married 38 years until her death. Arthur died 25 years later, in 1942, as the last surviving son of Queen Victoria.

24 April 1880
Princess Frederica of Hanover and Baron Alfons von Pawel-Rammingen
Frederica was the daughter of Queen Victoria's cousin, King George V of Hanover, who had been deposed. She was close to her British cousins. In fact, Victoria's youngest son was infatuated with her, but her heart was set on Alfons, a German nobleman. Victoria welcomed the couple to Britain and gave them an apartment at Hampton Court Palace. There they raised their only child, a daughter called Victoria (of course). They were married 46 years until her death. He outlived her by about six years. They and their daughter are buried in St. George's Chapel.

27 April 1882
The Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany and Helena of Waldeck-Pyrmont

Determined to live a normal life despite his mother Queen Victoria's protectiveness, the hemophiliac Prince Leopold was probably more earnest to marry than most other young princes. He pursued several prospects before landing Helena. Their daughter Princess Alice was born 10 months after their wedding. Helena was expecting their second child, a son, when Leopold died at the age of 30. They had been married less than two years. Helena was separated from her son when he was 16 because he was sent to Germany to be the heir to his uncle, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. The family was further splintered by World War I. Helena passed away in 1922 after 38 years as a widower.

6 July 1891
Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein and Prince Aribert of Anhalt
As mentioned above, Marie Louise was the only one of Princess Helena and Prince Christian's children to marry. However, it was a very unhappy experience perhaps because her husband was likely homosexual. As ruler of his own territory, Marie Louise's father annulled the marriage nine years later while she was overseas in Canada. She returned to the UK and never remarried. She and her sister Helena Victoria were very popular members of the extended British Royal Family until their deaths in 1957 (Marie Louise) and 1948 (Helena Victoria). Marie Louise's ex also did not remarry. He died in 1933.











27 November 2017

An American Princess for Harry

The Prince of Wales has announced the much-anticipated engagement of his youngest son Prince Harry to his American girlfriend, Megan Markle. Born on the late Queen Mother's 81st birthday (Aug. 4, 1981) in Los Angeles, Meghan comes from a family of divorce like her future husband. She is three years older than Harry.


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Meghan graduated from a Catholic high school in LA before completing a bachelor's degree in theater and international studies. She launched a career as a model and actress appearing in several small parts before landing a role as a series regular on the show Suits, which films in Toronto, in 2011. For the last seven years, she has lived in Canada for work while moving back home to Los Angeles during hiatus.

Never a member of tabloid celebrity set, she instead focused her energy on the kinds of charitable activities that have helped prepare her well for her future job as a member of the British Royal Family. She has championed causes from safe drinking water in Africa to gender equality to antislavery issues.

Previously, Meghan was in a nine-year relationship with film producer Trevor Engelson, including two years of marriage, which ended in 2013. She and Harry met through a mutual friend in the summer of 2016. They were able to keep their rapidly developing romance a secret for several months before the news broke about a year ago. At that time, Harry responded with a strongly worded statement against the harassment that she, her family and friends began receiving from the media and others. Some of the nastiness she endured was due to people's objections to prince dating a "black" woman. Meghan is of mixed Caucasian and African American heritage. She actually will be the second person of color to marry into the British Royal Family: Harry's cousin Lady Davina Windsor has been married to Gary Lewis, a New Zealander of Maori ancestry for 13 years. In the engagement interview, Meghan commented that it is a shame that people would focus on ethnicity or wish to discriminate. She said, "I'm really just proud of who I am and where I come from."

The ring was designed by Prince Harry in yellow gold, which he said was her favorite. It features a large cushion-cut diamond sourced from Botswana, where they camped under the stars early in their relationship. The smaller diamond on either side comes from Diana Princess of Wales' personal collection. Harry wanted to the ring to help ensure that Diana was part of the celebration.

No wedding details have been released yet except that the wedding will take place in spring 2018. If Meghan is in the UK on a fiancee visa, as many speculate, they must wed within six months of her visa. It is hard to know when she officially moved to London (certainly within the last two weeks) because she has been living with Harry at Nottingham Cottage of Kensington Palace for many months, whenever she was not working on her television program.

In the engagement interview, Meghan confirmed that she has ended her acting career, but doesn't look at it as losing anything. Instead, she looks forward to be able to work more intently on the causes that are important to her. (Harry also revealed that although the Queen's corgis have been barking at him all of his life that they just love Meghan.)

For more about her possible future, view my post FAQs about Prince Harry's Future Wife.
For other royal engagement announcements, view my post Royal Engagements.


24 November 2017

Royal Engagements

Goodness! The royal watchers of the world are certainly excited about the possibility of a royal engagement between Prince Harry of Wales and his American girlfriend, Meghan Markle. With news of an impending 'royal announcement' on BBC at 5 p.m. (London time), the Twitter-sphere almost literally exploded this morning. So, it seemed like a good time to look at Britain's previous royal engagement announcements.

UPDATE: The engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was announced on Nov. 27, 2017. Here is my post: An American Princess for Harry

HRH The Prince of Wales and the Lady Diana Spencer
February 24, 1981
After a somewhat brief courtship and unprecedented media attention, the 32-year-old heir to the throne announced his engagement to a 19-year-old kindergarten teacher, who also happened to be the daughter of an earl. She selected her now famous sapphire engagement ring from a tray of options because it was the largest one. The couple posed for photographers at Buckingham Palace with him standing on a higher step so that he appeared taller than she was. In truth, they were practically the same height. In their television interview, Diana giggled and replied, "of course," when asked if they were in love. Charles' response of "whatever love means" subsequently became infamous when the marriage broke down in a very spectacular and very public fashion. The couple wed in St. Paul's Cathedral on July 29, 1981. The last royal wedding to be held there was that of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon--another not-so-great omen for marital bliss. They had two sons, William and Henry (aka Harry) before separating in 1992. Their divorce was finalized in 1997 just months before her horrific death in a car crash.


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HRH The Prince Andrew and Miss Sarah Ferguson
March 19, 1986
Andrew and Sarah had known each other since childhood because her father was polo manager for his father and then for his older brother. Romance didn't spark, however, until Diana Princess of Wales invited her pal Sarah to keep her company at Balmoral so she could do a little matchmaking. The boisterous red-head was very different from his usual model (ahem, soft porn actress) exes, but her playful nature won Andrew over. Less than six months later, they were announcing their engagement with a ruby ring that he personally designed to match her hair. The pair laughed and joked their way through the engagement photo shoot and interview with her declaring that she was attracted to his wit, charm and good looks while he seemed confused about the phrase 'settling down' -- "seems rather unsettling to me." They married at the more traditional royal venue of Westminster Abbey on July 23, 1986, the same day that he was created The Duke of York. They later welcomed two daughters, Beatrice and Eugenie. Long separations due to his naval career and Fergie's over-the-top behavior provided many opportunities for misadventure. The marriage officially broke down after photographic evidence of her alleged infidelities emerged in 1992. The couple divorced but have remained very close friends, co-parents and even, at times, roommates.


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HRH The Prince Edward and Miss Sophie Rhys-Jones
January 6, 1999
Edward and Sophie, who the media insisted was just a Diana lookalike, dated for years and even lived together before finally announcing their engagement. For the occasion, he gave her a large oval diamond with two substantial diamonds on either side. For their photocall, they seemed relaxed and happy in each other's company. They opted for a much less formal wedding on June 19, 1999, choosing to marry at St. George's Chapel at Windsor rather than the large venues in London. They also opted for a "lower" title with Edward being created the Earl of Wessex (a title never used before) rather than a royal duke, although it was announced that we would eventually be created Duke of Edinburgh following his father (the current Duke's death). Following a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy that had to be terminated, Sophie delivered their daughter Louise prematurely and then rounded out their family with son James. Instead of royal titles to which they are entitled, the Wessex children are styled as children of an earl: The Lady Louise Windsor and The Viscount Severn instead of Princess Louise and Prince James. After 18 years, the marriage appears strong and Sophie is a clear favorite of her mother-in-law The Queen, who is said to pop in for visits and who often asks Sophie to ride with her while other members of the family walk to church.

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HRH The Prince of Wales and Mrs. Camilla Parker-Bowles
February 10, 2005
In the most controversial royal engagement since King Edward VIII surrendered the throne in 1936, The Prince of Wales announced his engagement to the divorced Camilla Parker-Bowles with a simple statement from his household. They had a romance in their 20s before she married. Then, they renewed their relationship after his marriage to Diana, who famously declared that there were three people in her marriage. The love affair between Charles and Camilla became mind-blowingly public after secret (and illegal) tapes of their private phone conversations were revealed. They both divorced and kept their relationship going for nearly another decade before finally becoming engaged. There was no formal photocall or interview for his second engagement. Instead, the couple posed briefly for pictures with the ring (which had belonged to his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother) following a formal event that they attended together. Because Camilla's former husband is still living, they were not married in the Church of England but at the Registry Office in Windsor on April 9, 2005 (delayed yet one more day because of the funeral of Pope John Paul II, which Charles attended). A blessing service was held immediately afterward at St. George's Chapel. Throughout their 12-year marriage, whispers have persisted that it has become a sham marriage, but I think innumerable moments of them laughing and smiling and enjoying each other's company testify against that. They are clearly happy with each other, and Prince Harry has declared that he and Prince William love their stepmother to bits.

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HRH Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton
November 16, 2010
Following years of speculation and waiting (anyone remember 'Waity Katie'), the world's most famous college romance finally became a royal engagement. William met Catherine while they were both in their first year as students at the University of St. Andrews. Within a year, they (and some friends) were rooming together. Their tight-lipped on-again, off-again relationship kept royal watchers in a constant state of anticipation, especially after she moved into his home in Wales where he was stationed with the Royal Air Force. While the world criticized for not launching a "real career", her every move, including her trips to the local market, were scrutinized. When their engagement was finally announced, there were so many flashbulbs at the photocall that it looked like something was wrong with the newsreel coverage. He famously gave her his later mother's sapphire engagement ring, which reportedly had been given to Prince Harry. They were married at Westminster Abbey on April 29, which is also St. Catherine's Day. On that day, he was given the title of Duke of Cambridge, which formerly belonged to the family of The Queen's paternal grandmother, Queen Mary. Two years later, they welcomed Prince George and about two years after that Princess Charlotte. They are expecting their third child in the spring--that is if today's big announcement isn't that they are expecting twins as the supermarket tabloids have already announced.


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20 November 2017

70th Anniversary Celebration

Photo: Matt Holyoak/CameraPress
All around the world today, people are celebrating the 70th wedding anniversary of the history's most famous nonagenarians: Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and her husband The Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh. Every royal blog, newspaper and magazine is covering every aspect of their relationship, their wedding, their life together, their impact on the world, etc. etc. Here on Princess Palace, I have spent the last week tracing their marriage decade by decade. (You can start with The First Decade.)

With so much coverage, I've been hard-pressed to come up with a topic that isn't already being dissected EVERYWHERE else. I think perhaps I have found a unique angle for my readers:

Prince Philip is MORE ROYAL than Queen Elizabeth.

Back during World War II, a teenaged Princess Elizabeth set her sights on marrying the gorgeous Greek Prince Philip. (Check out my two-part series, The Moonstruck Princess and Her Greek God.) Her parents were less than thrilled and they tried to dissuade her and distract her. They even took her on a four-month royal tour on the other side of the planet in hopes that she would change her mind. Philip was brash, his family was full of "upstarts" and he had no real home or money. In short, he just wasn't good enough for her. The Greek throne, to which he was third in line, was in a constant state of uncertainty. Within the previous four decades, its kings (his uncles and cousins) had been assassinated, deposed and killed by a monkey. (No kidding.) His own father came very near being executed when he was an infant.

Ironically, however, the "lowly" Prince Philip had more royal relatives than his bride, who was heiress to what was likely the world's most illustrious throne. But, how could this be?

They were both great-great grandchildren of Queen Victoria. They were also both descended from Denmark's King Christian IX. He was a great-grandson while she was a great-great granddaughter. Wouldn't that make them equally royal? Well, that depends on how you look at it.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the continental royal families grew increasingly stringent about "equal" marriages. (See my post, Unequal Marriage Equals Happy Marriage?) This meant that a prince could only marry a princess and vice versa. Otherwise, their marriages were not considered in dynastic. In Britain, however, Queen Victoria made her own rules. Fancying herself the highest and most important of all monarchs, she determined that she herself could determine who was worthy enough to marry her children and grandchildren. Once she had allowed her fourth daughter Louise to marry a British peer, the British nobility became "good enough" for her descendants. Soon, they were even better options than lowly continental princelings, especially after World War I turned so many of them into enemies.

This meant that it was perfectly acceptable, even highly celebrated when three of King George V's children married into the British peerage. When a Scottish earl's daughter became his son George VI's Queen Consort, there was absolutely no question about her suitability for the role. In most of the continental royal houses, he would have been excluded from the line of succession for marrying someone like Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. So, when their daughter Princess Elizabeth wished to marry, they really though the Earl of Whatsit or the Duke of Suchandsuch would make a very fine match.

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Instead, she choose Prince Philip, whose paternal grandparents were King George I of Greece and Grand Duchess Olga of Russia, a granddaughter of Czar Nicholas I. His maternal great-aunt was Empress Alexandra of Russia--making the martyred Romanov children his cousins. His maternal aunt Louise was Queen of Sweden. His paternal uncle Constantine and three first cousins were kings of Greece. His first cousin Helen was Queen Mother of Romania. Among his second cousins are Queen Sofia of Greece, King Michael of Romania, Christian X of Denmark, Haakon VII of Norway, Nicholas II of Russia, Queen Alexandra of Yugoslavia, Constantine II of Greece, Queen Maud of Norway, Alexander I of Bulgaria, and Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain. If you count the Swedish step-grandchildren of his Aunt Louise, you can add in Carl XVI Gustav of Sweden, Margrethe II of Denmark and her sister, Queen Anne Marie of Greece.

The royal relatives of Queen Elizabeth II comprise a much smaller list: her parents, uncle King Edward VIII, her paternal grandparents King George V and Queen Mary, great aunt Queen Maud of Norway, and one second cousin, King Olav V of Norway.

Nevertheless, Philip and Elizabeth managed to make their equal (unequal?) marriage work and it has lasted for seven decades. Congratulations to them both for lives well lived and years of service to each other, to their family, to their nation, and to the world. I think we are all blessed to have them in our world.

19 November 2017

Countdown to the 70th: The Queen & Prince Philip's 7th Decade

In this daily series, we will countdown the last week until the 70th wedding anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh (formerly a Prince of Greece). Each day, we will offer just a few snaps from each decade of their marriage.

Today, we celebrate the seventh 10 years. This is the decade that I like to call the "era of the smiling Queen." Never before have so many photos of Elizabeth smiling and laughing been taken. Overall, the royal couple, now in their 90s seem far more relaxed, especially in public. In this decade, they experienced the great public celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and experienced public adoration for the Queen's "arrival" at the London Olympics with James Bond. This decade also brought the marriage of their three eldest granchildren and the birth of their first five great-grandchildren. Indeed, their 70th anniversary, which they have decided to mark privately, is a bit overshadowed by the rumored engagement of their fourth grandchild, Prince Harry, and the certain expectation of their sixth great-grandchild. In the past few months, Prince Philip has formally retired at the unusual age of 95 and the Queen has begun to be escorted by her children and grandchildren. Together, they have weathered many personal and public storms, but their marriage and the monarchy seem even stronger than when they started. Congratulations to them both!



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18 November 2017

Countdown to the 70th: The Queen & Prince Philip's 6th Decade

In this daily series, we will countdown the last week until the 70th wedding anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh (formerly a Prince of Greece). Each day, we will offer just a few snaps from each decade of their marriage.

Today, we celebrate the sixth 10 years. With the Queen's direct and apparently heartfelt address to the nation and Prince Philip's long walk behind Diana's coffin, the couple recovered quickly from the nadir that followed Diana's death in late August. By the time of their 50th anniversary celebration in November, the crowds were back in the streets cheering wildly for them. This launched them into a decade filled with personal joys and personal grief. Their youngest son married at long last a woman that they both adored--although the couple would be caught up in some scandal regarding their for-profit careers, which they then abandoned for public service. The couple brought the final two grandchildren into the family. Prince Charles remarried and his new wife, the long-despised Camilla became a steady and beneficial member of "The Firm." But, this decade also saw the loss of Philip's last surviving sister. The Queen also lost her only sister just week's before the death of her 101-year-old mother, the beloved Queen Mother. The death of siblings undoubtedly makes one think of their own mortality, but Elizabeth and Philip soldiered on into another decade of life and marriage.


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17 November 2017

Countdown to the 70th: The Queen & Prince Philip's 5th Decade

In this daily series, we will countdown the last week until the 70th wedding anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh (formerly a Prince of Greece). Each day, we will offer just a few snaps from each decade of their marriage.

Today, we celebrate the fifth 10 years. This decade started off well enough with the arrival of two more grandchildren in 1988 and 1990, but soon it became clear that life behind palace walls was not ideal. Elizabeth and Philip's relationship seemed rock steady, but all three of their married children's lives became tabloid fodder. First, it was revealed that no-nonsense Princess Anne had been sending love letters to a member of the royal staff. Her divorce and remarriage to her admirer soon followed. Their second son's wife was alleged to be having too much fun with too many men who were not her husband. When intimate holiday snaps of her with two different men were published, the trip to divorce court was inevitable. Most shockingly and most potentially harmfully, the Prince and Princess of Wales became each other's public enemies, with both of them participating in revealing television interviews and assisting author's with books that painted the others in unflattering ways. In the midst of all of this, the Queen's favorite home, Windsor Castle, caught fire and a public controversy erupted over whether she personally or the public should pay for it. The family was deeply damaged already when the greatest tragedy struck just two months before Philip and Elizabeth's 50th anniversary. The now-divorced Princess of Wales was killed in a car crash. The Royal Family was lambasted for staying out of the public eye for too long while it mourned with her sons at their Scottish home. It was the lowest point of the Queen's entire reign.


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16 November 2017

Countdown to the 70th: The Queen & Prince Philip's 4th Decade

In this daily series, we will countdown the last week until the 70th wedding anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh (formerly a Prince of Greece). Each day, we will offer just a few snaps from each decade of their marriage.

Today, we celebrate the fourth 10 years. Throughout this decade, the family continued to grow with the addition of two new daughters-in-law and three more grandchildren. Unfortunately, the marriage of Elizabeth's sister, Princess Margaret, imploded in scandal, a foretaste of what was to come later. The Queen was at the height of her fame as a monarch, having become a icon who could hold her own standing next to the most respected and well-known world leaders. Philip seems to have grown more comfortable in his own role of walking behind his wife, supporting British technology, sport and young people, while acting as the very clear paterfamilias. Neither of them was prepared for what the next 10 years would bring.


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15 November 2017

Countdown to the 70th: The Queen & Prince Philip's 3rd Decade

In this daily series, we will countdown the last week until the 70th wedding anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh (formerly a Prince of Greece). Each day, we will offer just a few snaps from each decade of their marriage.

Today, we celebrate the third 10 years. This decade witnessed a kind of "opening up" of the Royal Family through the modernizing leadership of Prince Philip and with assistance from The Queen's brother-in-law, the Earl of Snowdon, who planned a rather space-age-influenced investiture for the Prince Charles as the Prince of Wales. Philip had campaigned for his cousin-in-law to produce a behind-the-scenes documentary about the "real" Royal Family, which has only been shown once in its entirety. While this film was very popular and helped people see the family as a family, many experts credit it for letting too much daylight in upon the magic (to paraphrase Walter Bagehot). It is also seen as tempting the media to come in too closely and leading to the view of the royals as celebrities in the celebrity culture that would develop in the coming decades. Nevertheless, Elizabeth and Philip's marriage and family remained strong. Daughter Anne married a commoner who refused to take a title. On Nov. 15, 1977, just days before their 30th anniversary, she presented them with their first grandchild, the title-free and rather plainly named Peter Phillips. No pomp there.




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14 November 2017

Countdown to the 70th: The Queen & Prince Philip's 2nd Decade

In this daily series, we will countdown the last week until the 70th wedding anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh (formerly a Prince of Greece). Each day, we will offer just a few snaps from each decade of their marriage.


Today, we celebrate the second 10 years. After what appears to be a rough and uncertain patch following the Queen's accession, the couple seems have strengthened and renewed their relationship in the late 1950s and into the 1960s. Shortly before the birth of their third child, it was announced that the Queen had relented a bit on the subject of Philip's surname: their nonroyal, male-line descendants would use the hyphenated name Mountbatten-Windsor. During this decade, they rounded out their family with the arrival of a fourth child. (P.S. Today is the 69th birthday of their firstborn, Charles Prince of Wales.)


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13 November 2017

Countdown to the 70th: The Queen & Prince Philip's 1st Decade

In this daily series, we will countdown the last week until the 70th wedding anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh (formerly a Prince of Greece). Each day, we will offer just a few snaps from each decade of their marriage.


Today, we celebrate the first 10 years. In this time, Philip renounced his original royal titles and gained new British ones, the couple married and had their first two children. They were enjoying a quiet life as a Navy couple living primarily in Malta when Elizabeth was suddenly called to the throne upon the death of her 56-year-old father. She was only 25. Growing their family was delayed as she learned how to be a queen and he learned how to cope with playing second fiddle to his wife after giving up his military career. Philip even faced the indignity of being denied the right to give his chosen surname, Mountbatten, to his children. Instead the Royal Family's name and the Royal House would continue to be Windsor.


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11 November 2017

Farewell to Thee, Liliuokalani

via Wikimedia Commons
The last Queen of Hawaii wrote the famous Hawaiian song, "Aloha 'Oe." The lyrics mirror her own experience as the last monarch of the island nation that became the 50th of the United States. The translation reads:

Farewell to thee, farewell to thee
The charming one who dwells in the shaded boweres
One fond embrace,
Ere I depart
Until we meet again
Sweet memories come back to me 
Bringing fresh remembrances
Of the past
Dearest one, yes, you are mine own
From you, true love shall never part.

Although a descendant of King Kamaehameha, Liliuokalani did not become a princess until her brother David was elected King Kalakaua in 1874. She was already 35 years old. A few years later, she was declared his heir and would ascend the throne without election.

She and all of her siblings had been raised by other noble families, following the Hawaiian adoption tradition called "hanai." She began her education at the Royal School along with her royally descended cousins and siblings. Their lead teachers were American Christian missionaries.

via Wikimedia Commons
Like many members of the extended royal family and Hawaiian nobility, she married an American. At this point in history, American merchants were becoming increasingly influential in the islands, which was a gateway to the riches of Asian trade. This influence would ultimately lead to her downfall. She had an unhappy marriage with John Dominis, whose racist mother disapproved of the match. The couple also never had any children of their own and her insistence on adopting hanai children, one of whom was his own illegitimate son.

Liliuokalani was active in charitable causes, including health care and the elderly. However, she was perhaps happiest as a musician and composer. When she was not yet 30, one of her songs was adopted as the Hawaiian national anthem.

Liliuokalani became history's only reigning Queen of Hawaii on January 20, 1891 but she did not know it until the 29th. Her brother, who was en route back to Hawaii from a diplomatic trip died in California. Due to the communication standards of the day, the news did not reach his homeland until his body arrived with this ship. Her husband's death later that year hit her hard: she felt that she could have used his political insight and experience.

via Wikimedia Commons
Her reign was dedicated to restoring some of the power and authority of native Hawaiians. She and two legislators drafted a new constitution to replace the so-called Bayonet Constitution that had been forced upon King Kalakua by the Americans in 1887, who threatened military action. The forces opposing her were too strong. Barely two years after her accession, a coup began brewing and the American government send its marines and sailors to support those who opposed her reforms. Liluokalani relented without a shot being fired. She was deposed, the monarchy was disbanded and the government was handed over to American Sanford B. Dole, who held the position of president until the Hawaiian islands were formally annexed by the United States in 1898.

In 1895, an attempted restoration landed Liliuokalani in prison. In return for her life, she abdicated all claim to the throne. She later earned a full pardon, although she did seek indemnity from the United States. She and her family boycotted the annexation ceremonies in 1898. In 1900, the U.S. seized control of all Crown Lands. She filed suit for their return, but she was unsuccessful.

She passed away on November 11, 1917 at the age of 79. She was given a state funeral and was buried at the Royal Mausoleum.

06 November 2017

Double Royal Tragedy: The Death of Charlotte

By Sir Thomas Lawrence
via Wikimedia Commons
Princess Charlotte was exhausted. For two days, she had labored to deliver her child and now here he was at last. Dead. She could barely think, her mind blinded by pain and by hunger. "It is God's will," she murmured.

Her beloved husband, Prince Leopold, slowly released her hand. Convinced at last to leave Charlotte's side and try to sleep after their 48-hour ordeal. It was over, he must have told himself. His own thoughts were numb to his loss, but they were young and healthy. He took a draught of an opiate and drifted into slumber. Tomorrow would be different.

In Charlotte's room, the babe was taken away and the princess was finally allowed to eat a little something. Completely overwhelmed, she too drifted to sleep while the caregivers and the officials bemoaned the loss of the child. Everyone second guessing everyone else. If only.

Why didn't they use forceps when the child wouldn't come? Too risky for a royal birth. Mortality rates were high.

Why hadn't Prince Leopold's own physician, Christian Stockmar, intervened? As a foreigner, he would have been blamed for anything that went wrong.

The minutes ticked slowly into the early hours of November 6. Suddenly, a scream from Charlotte's room. They rushed in to find her vomiting. Clutching her stomach, she shrieked in pain. Stockmar ran through the house to wake Leopold, but his drug-induced sleep was too deep. Stockmar flew back to the princess, who clung to his hand. She was hemorrhaging. Nothing her physicians tried could stop it. Her skin was already cold.

Stockmar pulled himself away, desperate to bring Leopold to her side. As the drowsy prince entered the chamber, the screaming had subsided. The troubled breathing had ceased. Charlotte was no more.

Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales had been the only legitimate grandchild of King George III. She and her infant were the hope of the nation. Without her, the monarchy had no future. Her death was mourned throughout the country. Shops sold out of black cloth. Poets wrote tributes. Her mother's attorney, Henry Brougham declared that it was as if "every household throughout Great Britain had lost a favorite child."

With her death and the death of her infant son, Britain was left with only middle-aged royals as heirs to George III. The youngest of these was Charlotte's unmarried Aunt Sophia who had turned 40 just three days earlier. There was little chance then of new royal offspring from the aunties due to their ages. So, Charlotte's disreputable uncles married women half their age and began popping out royal heirs in their forties and fifties. The new little cousin who ultimately won the royal sweepstakes was a baby girl named Alexandrina Victoria, better known to us as Queen Victoria.

Charlotte, who had been the Princess Diana of her time up until that fateful date 200 years ago today, faded from historical recollection. Today, she serves primarily as a footnote in biographies of Victoria, who may not have been born had Charlotte survived, and of Leopold, who went on to become King of Belgium, a title he would not have been offered had he still been Charlotte's consort.

The much-anticipated reign of Queen Charlotte died in agony, as a young girl gave her very life to perpetuating her family and serving her country. It was a fate shared by so many women in history.

03 November 2017

Royal Baby #3: The Brits

Following up on my early post about today's third-born royal children, and in celebration of the expected third child of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the third-born children of Britain's kings and queens since the Hanoverians took over in 1714.

Copyright Hertford Town Council;
via Wikimedia Commons
The Princess Amelia (1711-1786)
King George I had only two children, so we will start with the offspring of his son, King George II, who had eight children with his wife Caroline (not including miscarriages and stillbirths). Their first-born Frederick Prince of Wales lived long enough to father a large family of his own but not long enough to inherit the throne. Second-born Anne was made Princess Royal and married the Prince of Orange. Today's King of the Netherlands is descended from her.  But third-born Princess Amelia never married although at least one marriage was considered that would have made her Queen of Prussia. She was just a toddler when her grandfather became King and she moved with her parents from Germany to Britain. She was a sickly child who cause her mother great anxiety. So much so that Caroline had her and younger sister Caroline immunized against smallpox, a very controversial action at that time, but one that seems to have been effective. She grew into a healthy woman who enjoyed riding and hunting. She was admired for her simple honesty and her lack of royal vanity. She eventually gained her own property at Gunnersbury Estate in Middlesex as well as Cavendish Square in London. Rumors exist that she had an illegitimate child and this may have partly inspired her generous support of orphans. However, she was generally lauded for her charitable endeavors.

Edward Duke of York (1738-1767)
Although his father Frederick Prince of Wales never became king, third-born Prince Edward of Wales was given the title Duke of York, usually reserved for the second son of the monarch. His older brother became King George III and his older sister Augusta married the Duke of Brunswick. He had six younger siblings. Just nine months younger than brother George, Edward and he were raised and educated together closely. But Edward did not inherit George's quiet, steady character. He was the bon vivant that everyone wanted at their party. He served in the navy and was made a vice admiral by the time he was 23. Just our years later, he became ill while traveling in the Mediterranean. The Prince of Monaco offered him a place to recuperate but he did not recover. He was only 28 when he died. Today, 250 years later, his death chamber in Monaco's princely palace is still called the York Room in his memory.

King William IV (1765-1837)
The third of King George III's 15 children, William was styled as the Duke of Clarence for most of his life. Like his Uncle Edward above, he built a career in the navy and eventually earned the nickname, "Sailor King." Like most of his brothers, he had no interest in respectable marriage, but he did build a home with 10 children with his mistress, actress Dorothy Jordan (see my post about her). All that changed when his oldest brother's only child died in 1817. All of the sudden, the 52-year-old prince needed a legitimate family to carry on the dynasty. He married 25-year-old Adelaide of Saxe-Meinengen, who surprisingly welcomed his illegitimate brood into her home. The couple had two daughters, but sadly they both died as infants. William's second brother Frederick Duke of York predeceased their oldest brother King George IV, so William became king upon his death in 1830. His seven-year reign was brief but jam-packed with many social reforms. He was succeeded by his niece Queen Victoria, daughter of the fourth brother (and fifth child) Edward Duke of Kent.

By John Jabez Edwin Mayal
via Wikimedia Commons
Alice Grand Duchess of Hesse Darmstadt (1843-1878)
Queen Victoria's third child Princess Alice had a sweet and loving nature. It was she who nursed her father Prince Albert on his deathbed. After marrying Louis IV of Hesse Darmstadt, she nursed the poor and wounded soldiers and became a kind of disciple of Florence Nightingale. Unfortunately, she passed on the hemophilia gene to several of her seven offspring. Her son Friedrich died from the disease at age two after falling from a window. Her daughter Empress Alexandra of Russia famously passed it in to the Russian Tsarevich Alexis and her daughter Irene gave it to two of her three sons. Her daughter Victoria is the grandmother of Britain's Prince Philip. Besides baby Friedrich three more of her children died tragically: the youngest Marie died of diptheria at age four, while Alexandra and Elizabeth, who had both married Romanovs, were martyred in the Russian Revolution. Alice herself died at age 35, on the anniversary of her father's death, as a result of nursing little Marie and her other children through diptheria. You can read that story in my post, The Kiss of Death.

via Wikimedia Commons
Louise Princess Royal, Duchess of Fife (1867-1931)
The third child of King Edward VII was his first daughter, Louise, who therefore was granted the first-daughter title of Princess Royal. Her grandmother Queen Victoria has relaxed the rules about her royal descendants marrying only royals, so Louise was allowed to marry the British peer Alexander Earl of Fife, but he was given a bump up to become the 1st Duke of Fife. As a princess, however, she could not pass her royal status on to her two children. That changed when her father became king in 1901; his two Fife granddaughters were both raised to the status of Princess. Louise little family of four met with tragedy in late 1911 when they were shipwrecked in Egypt. Her husband died soon thereafter, having contracted pleurisy following the accident. Both of their girls were still in their teens. Louise led a relatively quiet widowhood, serving in the usual royal charitable roles and honorary military colonelcies. (Read about her daughter, Princess Maud of Fife.)

By Ernest Brooks
via Wikimedia Commons
Mary Princess Royal, Countess of Harewood (1897-1965)
The only daughter of King George V's six children, Mary arrived third. She never went to school. When World War I broke out, she was a teen at home alone with her older brothers away in the navy and the younger ones at school. (The youngest Prince John, lived in a secluded house at Sandringham due to his health.) Mary decided that she wanted to do something useful and came up with the idea of sending Christmas gifts to the servicemen and nurses. (Read more about that in my post, The Teenaged Princess & the Soldiers.) After the war, Mary married the nobleman George 7th Earl of Harewood and had two sons. She was a great supporter of the Girl Guides, the British Red Cross, and the Leeds Triennial Musical Festival.


Andrew Duke of York (1960-  )
Queen Elizabeth II's third-born is Prince Andrew, named for his paternal grandfather, Prince Andrew of Greece. He served a full career in the navy, including combat service in the Falklands War, and now serves as the United Kingdom's Representative for International Trade and Investment. Considered quite handsome, he has had a string of love affairs, sometimes notorious, but married at age 26 to Sarah Ferguson. Theyproduced two daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, before they divorced in 1996. However, the couple continued to co-parent and remain close today more than 20 years after their divorce. Andrew has attracted many controversies, including unsavory friendships, sex abuse allegations, and accusations of misuse of his official roles. He is also semi-professional photographer, avid golfer, and equally enthusiastic skier.










25 October 2017

Princess Elisabeth: Sweet Sixteen

It's hard to believe that Princess Elisabeth of Belgium is already 16 years old. She is the first female heir in Belgian history, born after the laws were changed to allow female succession for the first time and to allow succession to follow birth order rather than putting brothers in line ahead of sisters.

Elisabeth Therese Marie Helene was born on October 25, 2001 as the first child of the current King Philippe and his Belgian-born wife Mathilde. Two brothers and a sister followed at regular intervals. The princess is currently attending a Dutch-speaking school, but she also speaks French and English and is now learning German.

Elisabeth, who was given the heir's title of Duchess of Brabant when her father became king in 2013, has already taken on several official functions and is involved with numerous charitable activities. Her top areas of interest are children with learning difficulties, the elderly, the homeless, and people with handicaps. The Princess Elisabeth Children's Hospital at Ghent University Hospital is named in her honor as is the Princess Elisabeth Antarctica Research Station. She gave her first public speech in 2014 at a World War I commemoration.

Like most royals, Elisabeth enjoys a variety of sport and cultural interests. Tennis, snow skiing, hiking and scuba diving top her list of athletics. She has been studying piano for many years and also enjoys cooking.

What does the future hold for Elisabeth? As the future queen, she will likely pursue a university education like her cousins Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden. She may also spend some time in the military and/or diplomatic service.

Happy birthday, Your Royal Highness!



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Previously at the Palace: Princesses, Babies & Soldiers

In this series, we capture the biographical and major news posts from this date in previous years so that you can "catch up" on your favorites or reflect on some topics you might have missed. One paragraph is included here; click the title to see the full post.


Photo by Ernest Brooks/Bain News Service
via Wikimedia Commons
2009: The Teenaged Princess & The Soldier
"Princess Mary was only 17 when the war started. Naturally shy, her isolation became complete with the declaration of war. Raised entirely at home, never having attended a school of any sort, Mary’s only friends were her brothers and her maid. But, her older brothers (the future Kings Edward VIII and George VI) were away in the military and her younger brothers were away at school. She worried desperately about all of them, particularly Bertie (later George VI)—on the first night of the war, she had a nightmare that he was killed in a naval battle. With both of her parents overwhelmingly busy, Mary had only her maid, Else Korsukawitz, to confide her fears. Then, Else was sent away. As a German national, she was given the choice of returning to Germany or entering an internment camp—she chose Germany. A heartbroken Mary was alone and had nothing to occupy her." READ MORE


The Swedish Royal Family at Solliden Castle, July 2017
Photo credit: 
Jonas Ekströmer, The Royal Court, Sweden
"Last week, the Swedish Court announced the pregnancy of Princess Sofia. The birth of her child in April will mark the fourth royal baby for the Swedish royal family in just over two years: Princess Madeleine's daughter Leonore was born in February 2014 and her son Nicolas in June 2015; meanwhile, Crown Princess Victoria is expecting her second child in March 2016. Of course, this is not the first royal baby boom in history. Back when royal families were larger and more plentiful, they were fairly common.READ MORE  [10/25/17 Princess Sofia recently delivered her second child, while her sister-in-law Princess Madeleine is expecting her third.]

Beatrice and Eugenie of York
By Carfax2 via Wikimedia Commons
"In the last two decades, there has been ongoing debate about who should be officially royal and who should carry out official royal duties on behalf the monarch. In all of this time, nothing has been resolved. According to recent reports, the central tension in the discussion is between a desire for a smaller monarchy (favored by the future king, The Prince of Wales) and the rights due to the York princesses (championed by their father, the future king's younger brother, The Duke of York). So, who is right? Other royal houses have handled this very modern question in different ways. READ MORE