31 December 2019

Royal Ladies of 2019

The royal spotlight fell on a variety of royal ladies this year, mostly for lovely reasons like weddings and babies, but occasionally for sad reasons like scandal or tragedy. Let's take a look at the royal ladies who experienced important life moments in 2019.

Princess Beatrice and Eduardo
Image by Princess Eugenie of York
While we had no truly royal weddings in 2019, we did get a big engagement announcement and a few royal-adjacent weddings. Plus, we finally got some information about one 2018-announced engagement.

First, the big engagement news, Princess Beatrice of York announced her engagement to Eduardo Mapelli Mozzi on September 26. After a ten-year relationship ended in 2016, we have all been hoping for a happy ending for the spunky redhead. Some were concerned about her beau's suitability (is he just looking for notoriety?) and others worried that the relationship has been too quick (perhaps just over a year), but I prefer to be a hopeless romantic and hope for all good things for the couple. However, their bright future has already been dimmed by the cloud surrounding Beatrice's father Prince Andrew The Duke of York who "temporarily" stepped away from his royal roles in November following an ill-advised interview about his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and accusations that Epstein provided at least one underage girl for the Duke's "entertainment". We are still awaiting details for Beatrice's spring 2020 wedding with many royal experts predicting that it will be a much less grand and public event as her younger sister Princess Eugenie's wedding in 2018.

In the meantime, we still are awaiting details of the wedding for Princess Theodora of Greece, who announced her engagement to Matthew Kumar in November 2018. At the time, we were told that the wedding would take place in 2019. However, in November 2019, we finally learned that the wedding will happen some time in May 2020 but no word yet on location. Her older siblings married in Spetses, Greece in 2010; in London in 1999; and in London in 1995. So, we might expect a wedding in Greece (which was not possible for the family in the 1990s), especially now that her parents have moved from London to Greece. Of course, there is also the possibility that she might marry in Los Angeles where she and her fiance both live -- she is an actor and he is an attorney.

The British Royal Family returned to St. George's Chapel, Windsor on May 18 for the wedding of Lady Gabriella Windsor to Thomas Kingston. Lady Gabriella is the daughter of the Queen's cousin, Prince Michael of Kent. On the Continent, Prince Albert II of Monaco witnessed the marriages of a niece and a nephew. His sister Princess Caroline of Hanover's oldest daughter Charlotte Casiraghi married Dimitri Rassam in June. Dimitri is the father of Charlotte's second son, Balthazar. Then, in July, Albert's sister Princess Stephanie of Monaco's only son Louis Ducruet married Marie Chevallier.

(From left) Prince Philip, Prince Harry, the Queen, Doria
Ragland and the Duchess of Sussex holding Archie
By Chris Allerton via SussexRoyal
While the year did not bring us many new babies, we did get an exciting new British-American baby and, toward the end of the year, some very big pregnancy news that many of us have been praying for for years.

First, everyone hail the royal baby who is Master Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. Although his parents, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, decided to forego the seemingly requisite post-birth appearance on the hospital stairs, gave him a first name that sounded more like a nickname, and announced that he would not use any titles (including Earl of Dumbarton, to which he is entitled as his father's heir), Archie did not need any of that fancy stuff to capture hearts. He won us over with a fantastic photo feature his paternal great-grandparents and his maternal grandmother. Then, he charmed us again at a personal meeting with Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He wound up the year with an adorable Christmas snap. A lot of accomplishments for a lad who has only been with us for just over seven months! (For information about why Archie's name is NOT really unique, read my post.)

While Archie's birth was heralded worldwide as the first mixed-race British royal and the first to hold dual British and American citizenship, from a dynastic point of view, we received much bigger baby news from the Hereditary Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Luxembourg. On December 6, they announced that Hereditary Grand Duchess Stephanie is expecting their first child in May 2020. This will be the first child for the couple who married eight years ago. Many have speculated that the couple may have struggled with fertility issues, a personally heartbreaking situation if true. While the new baby will be the heir to the Grand Duchy after his/her father, the dynasty was in no danger of fading away if Guillaume and Stephanie had no children. Henri has several siblings and their descendants in the line of succession. Nevertheless, I am thrilled to bits that they are going to have their own child...and don't be surprised if that baby is named Jean or Jeanne following the death of Guillaume's grandfather in 2019 (see deaths below).

Tessy and Prince Louis of Luxembourg on their

wedding day with their son Gabriel Image by Schnékert via Wikimedia Commons
More news came out of Luxembourg this year when Guillaume's younger brother Prince Louis of Luxembourg's divorce was finally finalized after more than two years of negotiations, which reportedly (but typical of many divorces) were stuck on points of child custody and financial support. The couple were fairly controversial from the start: their first son was born before they married. When they married, Louis renounced succession rights for himself and his children while his bride Tessy Antony and the children were not granted titles. Two years later Tessy was made a Royal Highness and their sons were made Princes of Nassau. With the divorce, Tessy's titles have been stripped -- although many still call her Princess Tessy -- and she now uses the name Tessy Antony de Nassau for her extensive humanitarian work.

In July, we received news of the dramatic disintegration of higher profile royal marriage when Princess Haya of Jordan suddenly left her husband Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is the ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates. They have had a prominent role internationally, with Haya assuming a very public role. The couple wed in 2004, with Haya taking on the role of junior wife since the Sheikh was already married to his first cousin Hind bint Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum. Sheikha Hind, who lives her life privately, is the mother of 12 of the Sheikh's estimated 30 children. Princess Haya mothered two of his children, both of whom she took with her (along with millions of dollars) when she fled the UAE for London, claiming that her life was in danger. The chief issue seems to be "forced marriage", which the Sheikh has reportedly required of his older daughters, but which Haya does not want for her own daughter. So far, she has been granted an order of protection, normally given to people who have experienced physical abuse, for herself and forced marriage protection for her children. The custody hearings are ongoing in London with an expected divorce in the billions of dollars expected later. Haya is represented by the same divorce attorney who worked for the Prince of Wales and Sir Paul McCartney. In the meantime, the Sheikh has been posting his own poems on social media accusing his wife of treachery.

Christina of the Netherlands in 2015

Image RVD, Jeroen van der Meyde
On April 23, 2019, the former Grand Duke of Luxembourg passed away at the age of 98--he was five months older than Britain's Prince Philip. (Although he is not a royal lady, the passing of a monarch certainly merits a mention.) Having served in the British Army during World War II, Grand Duke Jean ascended the throne in 1964 following the abdication of his mother Grand Duchess Charlotte. He and his wife, Princess Josephine Charlotte of Belgium (aunt of the current Belgian King), had five children. Grand Duke Jean was a proponent of European unification and he led his tiny nation to become a major financial center. He abdicated in favor of his oldest son Henri in 2000. His death has been greatly mourned by his people and his family. Even his grandson's ex-wife Tessy Antony de Nassau speaks frequently of him as her beloved grandfather.

We did lose one royal lady this year: Princess Christina of the Netherlands passed away on August 16 at age 72. The youngest daughter of Queen Juliana, she was the aunt of the current King Willem Alexander. Because Juliana had contracted rubella during the pregnancy, Christina was born nearly blind. Treatment and corrective lenses helped her be able to see more normally. Her parents also employed a controversial faith healer, who is thought by many to have had too much influence on Queen Juliana (a kind of Dutch version of the Alexandra and Rasputin story). Christina attended university and became both a professional vocalist and vocal coach, eschewing her royal titles to live like a normal person in New York City as a young woman where she fell in love with a commoner. Unfortunately for her, her Cuban-born preschool teacher sweetheart was Catholic, a no-go for a Dutch princess at the time. So, she renounced the right to the throne for herself and her offspring in order to marry Jorge Perez y Guillermo and, much later, even converted to Catholicism herself. Their marriage produced three children and lasted nearly 21 years before they divorced. Both her professional and royal work focused mainly on music, but she also supported other endeavors in the areas of dance therapy and blindness. She had been diagnosed with bone cancer in 2018.

The most devastating royal death of 2019, however, was undoubtedly the Christmas Day suicide of Princess Martha Louise of Norway's ex-husband, Ari Behn. Martha Louise had a somewhat challenging year, facing some questions over her romantic relationship and business partnership with self-proclaimed guru and shaman Durek Verrett. Accusations that she was misusing her royal titles for financial benefit (which she has faced before) led her to reorganize her marketing and social media. Nevertheless, she seemed to be thriving in her new romance and her work -- she does not carry out official duties -- when the terrible news was announced. An artist and writer, Ari had married the princess in 2002. Their 15-year marriage produced three daughters: Maud, 16; Leah, 14; and Emma, 11. Ari often had a tempestuous relationship with art critics and the media. In an interview last year promoting his latest book, he said, perhaps tellingly, "I am yesterday's news, even though the world has not yet been told. I'm a clown, at worst. At best, I am a publicist and public actor. For many I'm a fool." He even spoke publicly about whether he was capable of being a good father and said that he would just grow increasingly lonely in his life. Nevertheless, many friends and family have issued loving statements about him in the wake of his death, including his former in-laws, King Harald and Queen Sonja, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette Marit, and Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel of Sweden. Victoria even canceled all of her public and personal New Year's activities to travel to Norway to be with Martha Louise and her daughters. The tragedy is greatest for those three young girls, for whom Christmas may never again be a time of joy.

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako via Wikimedia Commons
To end this post on a happier note, we fly around the globe to Japan where a new imperial era has dawned with the retirement of Emperor Akihito and coronation of his eldest son, the new Emperor Naruhito. Japan had to change its laws to allow the aging Akihito to step down -- proving such laws can be changed (hint, hint Japan: let's update the laws that bar female succession and that require princesses to leave the family and lost their titles when they marry). The big news for this blog, however, has been the renaissance of Naruhito's wife Masako, who has struggled over the years with stress-induced illness, diagnosed as adjustment disorder, following massive pressure and scrutiny plus the personal trauma of the couple's fertility struggles, which included at least one miscarriage, before their only daughter Aiko was born nearly nine years after their wedding. Since 2002, Masako undertook few public appearances and Naruhito often traveled without her for official visits abroad. Nevertheless, he has always been supportive of her, asking the public in 2008 to "Please continue to watch over her kindly and over the long term." After so many years of suffering, it seems that Masako, now 56, is at last emerging as a strong, healthy, well-adjusted woman, much more like she was before her life as a princess. It has been gratifying to see her at Naruhito's side through all of the accession and coronation rites as well as many other public occasions in 2019. Although she still remains a bit tentative about her role, she is showing great grace and fortitude. May she continue to grow in health, in strength, in confidence and in happiness for her sake, her family's sake and for all of us who admire and support her.

23 December 2019

Christmas Princesses

Each year as Christians prepare to celebrate the Nativity of their Savior on Christmas Day, we often don't think about others who were born on Christmas Day. Throughout history, this day of worldwide rejoicing has sometimes been the cause of deeply personal rejoicing for royal families. Let's take a look at some of the royal ladies who were born on Christmas day...and give a thought to their mothers, who probably did not get to observe many other festivities that day!

Alice de Lacy (1281-1348)
daughter of Margaret Longespee 4th Countess of Salisbury and Henry de Lacy 3rd Earl of Lincoln
Through her mother, Alice was descended in an illegitimate line from King Henry II of England. Her real royal ties, however, came through her first marriage to Edmund 2nd Earl of Lancaster, a grandson of King Henry III. As the only surviving heir to her parents (one brother drowned in a well and another fell off of a castle), Alice was an extremely sought-after heiress. The right man could make his fortune by marrying her. She was just 12 years old when she married into the royal family, with a marriage contract that guaranteed her father's earldom would go to the royals even if she had no children with Lancaster, which she didn't. Thirteen years later, Alice was abducted by one of Lancaster's enemies and held for several years while the two men fought each other. Thomas rebelled against his cousin the King for which he was executed and his properties as well as most of his wife's properties, were taken by the Crown. The King also imprisoned Alice, releasing her only after she paid a huge ransom. The King kept the Earldom of Salisbury but let her have back the Earldom of Lincoln. She remarried at age 42 and took a vow of chastity when she was widowed. Nevertheless, a rich woman in those days was often a target. At age 54, she was kidnapped and raped by a baron, and per the standard of the day, wed her attacker, who then also gained control of her estates. The baron, however, lived less than a year to enjoy his "success". Soon thereafter, her castle and men were attacked and robbed by her second husband's nephew and her illegitimate half-brother, each of whom had a claim as her heirs. Alice finally found peace in death at the age of 66.

Image by Jacques la Boucq via Wikimedia Commons
Margaret of Scotland (1424-1445)
daughter of Joan Beaufort and King James I of Scotland
Although the first child of a medieval "love match", Margaret was subjected to a political marriage at an earlier age. Her father had fallen for the lovely Joan while being held prisoner by the English. He welcomed marriage to the daughter of the Lancastrian branch of the English royal family as much from his desire for her as for the fact that it was a condition of his release. However, this attempt at brokering peace between Scotland and England did not last long and their daughter Margaret was sent to cement Scotland's alliance with England's other traditional enemy, France. The princess was only 11 years old when she met the future Louis XI on the day before their wedding. Due to her young age, the couple were separated, which only seems to have exacerbated their dislike of each other and Margaret seems to have taken her father-in-law's side against her husband's in family disputes. Things were not helped when a soldier spread unsavory lies about Margaret's fidelity. The situation stressed and depressed her so much, that she offered no will to live when she was struck by a fever at age 20, never having become Queen as Louis did not ascend the throne for another 15 years.

Image by Léonard Limousin via Wikimedia Commons
Antoinette de Bourbon (1494-1583)
daughter of Marie of Luxembourg and Francois Count of Vendome
Born into a branch of French Royal House of Bourbon, Antoinette's great claim to fame is that she was the maternal grandmother of Mary Queen of Scots. Antoinette married into the rival house of Guise, with her 12 children vying for more political influence and power in France and, after her daughter Marie of Guise married the Scots King, in Scotland. Although her famous granddaughter inherited the French throne when she was less than a week old, Antoinette did get to know her during the time that Mary was in France as the child bride of King Francis II. Since Marie of Guise had been required to remain in Scotland as Regent, Antoinette became a chief adviser and influence on the young Queen, sharing with her a strong sense of family and female authority in a man's world. Widowed at age 55, she lived another 34 years, which was long enough to see all but one of her children die, including her oldest son Francis Duke of Guise, who was assassinated in the 1563 siege of Orleans. In truth, it was not the assassin who killed him but the doctors who treated him by bleeding him to death. Nevertheless the incident led to an act of vengeance known to history as the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre.

Image by Jost vom Hoff - Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel
via Wikimedia Commons
Christine of Saxony (1505-1549)
daughter of Barbara Jagiellon of Poland and George Duke of Saxony
Just two weeks before her 18th birthday, Christine was forced into a political marriage with Philip I of Hesse to try to calm the religious conflicts between the two nations in the wake of emerging Lutheranism. Despite Philip's distaste for his sickly wife, the couple had 10 children together, including three who were born after Philip had married someone else. That's right; he was a bigamist, but Christine is believed to have approved of the second marriage his sister's teenage lady-in-waiting Margarethe van der Saale. Interestingly, church reformer Martin Luther also agreed with the bigamist marriage, encouraging Philip that having two wives was less sinful than having a mistress or divorcing Christine. Philip and Margarethe had nine children together. Christine's last three children were each born within weeks of children born by Margarethe. Even with apparent harmony at home, the bigamous marriage caused outrage across the German states, where the religious strife was already so heated and, for a time, the Lutheran Philip aligned himself with the Catholic Emperor, but that didn't last long. When Philip once again turned against the Emperor, he was captured and imprisoned him for five years, leaving Christine as regent for their young son in Hesse until her own death at age 43.

Image by Joseph Heintz the Elder - Photography made by Maciej Pokrzywa, 05-10-2012, Budapest, National
Art Gallery via Wikimedia Commons
Margaret of Austria (1584-1611)
daughter of Maria Anna of Bavaria and Archduke Charles II of Austria
The granddaughter to one Holy Roman Emperor and sister to another, Margaret married a close cousin like so many other Habsburgs. At 14, she became Queen of Spain and Portugal by marrying King Philip III, son of the much married Philip II. (She and her husband were first cousins once removed. Her parents were also first cousins once removed. His parents were a niece and her uncle.) Margaret's marriage, however, turned out to be personally and politically successful, despite a six-year wait for their first son (after two daughters). She used her considerable influence over her husband to promote Spain's leadership within Catholic Europe and to support the arts and culture. Nevertheless, some resented her "foreign" influence as so often happened with Queens but she was generally able to overcome their objections against her. Five of Margaret's eight children survived childhood, with four of them gaining great authority as King of Spain, Queen of France, Holy Roman Empress and Cardinal of Santa Maria in Portico. Margaret died at the age of 26 following the birth (and death) of her last child. The King lived another decade but never remarried.

Image by Dorothy Wilding - National Portrait Gallery
via Wikimedia Commons
Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott (1901-2004)
daughter of Lady Margaret Bridgeman and the 7th Duke of Buccleuch
The fifth of eight children of Scotland's greatest landowner, Alice grew up amidst great luxury but remained very down-to-earth and as a young girl was imbued with a sense of purpose following a near-drowning accident. She spent her young adulthood traveling the globe looking for what her purpose might be before finally "settling down" by marrying the third son of Britain's King George V. Alice was 35 when she married Prince Henry The Duke of Gloucester, and she was a fashionably unique bride -- her gown was a soft pink color! Unfortunately, the wedding was scaled way back following the death of her father two weeks earlier. Then, her father-in-law died two months later. The newlyweds faced other struggles, too, including frustrated attempts at parenthood that resulted in miscarriages and the start of World War II, which separated them as the Duke took on dangerous duties on the Continent. Following the birth of their first son Prince William of Gloucester just one week before her 40th birthday, Henry was nearly killed in a bombing as he escaped Belgium after a failed attempt to get the Belgian King to evacuate. (The King stayed; he and his young family were held captive by the Nazis.) Their second son Prince Richard of Gloucester arrived three years later just before the Gloucester were sent through enemy-infested waters to travel to Australia where Henry became Governor General. After the war, the family returned to Britain becoming important supporters of Henry's brother King George VI and then his niece Queen Elizabeth II. The 1970s, however, brought great sadness. First their son William was killed in a flying accident while performing in an airshow and then Henry died following a series of strokes. The newly married Prince Richard became Duke of Gloucester (see my post about his Danish wife Birgitte). Queen Elizabeth granted her aunt the right to be called Princess Alice, and she continued to remain publicly active well into old age. She died shortly before her 103rd birthday making her the oldest ever member of the British Royal Family, ahead of her sister-in-law Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. (Prince Philip is currently #3. He will surpass Elizabeth in December 2022 and Alice in April 2024.) See my full post about Alice.

By LancasterII via English Wikipedia
Alexandra of Kent (1936- )
daughter of Marina of Greece and Denmark and George The Duke of Kent
Our most recent Christmas princess is celebrating her 83rd birthday in 2019. Named for her great-grandmother, Queen Alexandra, she was the first Kent princess to be born since Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent in 1819 -- she is better known to history as Queen Victoria. A first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, Alexandra is also closely related to Prince Philip on her mother's side. Alexandra and her two brothers were raised by their mother alone following the wartime death of their handsome and popular father in 1942. They grew up primarily at the family's home in Buckinghamshire but due to their extend regal relations on both sides of their family, they were constantly involved in royal gatherings around Europe. Alexandra holds the distinction of being the first British princess to attend school; a precedent that has now been followed by Princess Anne, the York princesses, The Lady Louise Windsor and Princess Charlotte of Wales. Alexandra's first big public moment came when she served as a bridesmaid for Elizabeth and Philip when she was 10 years old. As a teenager, she began accompanying her mother on royal duties and soon became an active and independent working member of the Royal Family. In 1963, she married a the Hon. (later Sir) Angus Ogilvy, a younger son of the 12th Earl of Airlie. Angus later regretted turning down a title for himself because he felt it set a bad precedent for other men who married into the family. The couple had two untitled children, who produced four grandchildren. Since her husband's death in 2004, Alexandra has continued her royal duties although ill health has caused her to cancel some engagements in recent years. (See my full post about Alexandra.)

17 December 2019

10th Anniversary of Princess Palace

Meghan Markle on her first day as a princess, following her
wedding to Prince Harry, who was created Duke of Sussex
By Alexi Lubomirski/PA Images/Hand Out/INSTARimages.com

In 2009, I launched the Princess Palace blog to explore the lives of real princesses using the tools of creative nonfiction: facts presented in the language and literary techniques that would make it more enjoyable to read. On occasion, I have gotten caught up in the excitement of whatever current princess is capturing the headlines, but I have tried to stay true to presenting today's royal ladies within their historic contexts while also bringing forward women whose stories may not yet have been encountered by today's royal watchers.

In celebration of Princess Palace's tenth anniversary, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at the ten posts that have proven most popular among the readers. Feel free to click through to read the full posts or visit the complete lists of profiles, arranged by lady, in My Princess Posts to find your favorite royal woman. If you don't see your favorite there, leave a comment or send an email to cherylandersonbrown@gmail.com to get her added to the list for future profiles!

Thanks so much for enjoying Princess Palace!

#10 The Most Neglected Princess: Henry VIII's Favorite Wife
As one of the first posts on Princess Palace, this one about Catherine of Aragon has stood the test of time. Everyone is fascinated by the six wives of King Henry VIII -- there is even a smash new musical called Six! about them, but it was a bold assertion to name his first wife as his favorite, which some readers questioned. So, be sure to read my long comment at the end for more insight.

Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their first five children.
By Franz Xaver Winterhalter, Royal Collection, via Wikimedia Commons
#9 Victoria's Secret: 10 Things You Don't Know about the Famous Queen
Another post from Princess Palace's first few months, this one has held up despite the fact that I've published many, many more about Queen Victoria, who is literally the progenitor of nearly every royal lady today. When this was written, before the production of the Emily Blunt film Young Victoria (2009) or the Jenna Coleman television series Victoria (2016-2019), this post introduced some readers to the Queen's early, less-well-known life, which may account for some of its appeal. Of course, other Victoria-themed films have also continued to whet people's appetites to know more about the diminutive monarch, including Judi Dench's second Victoria performance in Victoria and Abdul (2017), 20 years after playing her in Mrs. Brown.

#8 Catherine: An Unhappy Queen?   
Written in the wake of the engagement of the future king, Prince William of Wales, to Catherine Middleton, this post takes a look at all of the British queens who have borne her name. Of the five historic Catherines, one was widowed at 21, three were married to King Henry VII, and one was wed to the super-philandering King Charles II, hence the "unhappy" title. Profiles of all five women are included in this single post.
Princess Charlene of Monaco
By Frankie Fouganthin via Wikimedia Commons

#7 Princesses of Monaco 
Similarly to #8 on this list, this post was written in recognition of a new princess entering our lives. This quick view of all the previous Princesses of Monaco was published after the newest princess, Charlene Wittstock, gained her title by marrying Prince Albert III of Monaco. While most people today identify the late Grace Kelly as THE Princess of Monaco, she was not the first American nor even the first actress to hold the title. The men of Monaco have often followed their hears, for better or worse, and have made some very interesting matrimonial choices over the centuries.

#6 An Affair to Remember Part 1 and Part 2
In the decade since I wrote this two-part series about Princess Margaret's ill-fated romance with Peter Townsend, fascination with the princess has only continued to grow. Thanks to Netflix's The Crown, a whole new generation is discovering Queen Elizabeth II's glamorous and high-flying younger sister. Although each of the two posts ranks in the top ten, I've included them here as one item -- technically, added together, they would come in at #3.

#5 Three Naughty Princesses and One Wicked Queen
This 2011 post focuses on one of the greatest royal scandals that you've probably never heard of: the Tour de Nesle Affair. A sordid episode when the 19-year-old French-born Queen of England discovered that her brothers' wives were not just frivolous but also unfaithful, the scandal rocked the French throne, brought the line of succession into question, and destroyed the lives of three young women while their lovers were put to death.

#4 Lady Sarah Chatto
There is a gigantic leap in readers between #5 and #4, with Lady Sarah receiving nearly double the traffic of the Three Naughty Princesses, even though it was published more than four years later. Much of the traffic for this profile of Queen Elizabeth II's only niece comes from search engines, leading me to conclude that interest in Lady Sarah is very high while little information is available. It's clear that we all would love to know more about the enigmatic artist, but it's unlikely they she is in any hurry to welcome us into her lives. Perhaps, she learned too well from the notoriety achieved by her parents, Princess Margaret and the Earl of Snowdon.

Three of Victoria's Edinburgh granddaughters (from left)
Marie, Victoria Melita and Alexandra
From the Royal Collection via Wikimedia Commons
#3 Gorgeous Granddaughters of Victoria
Published in 2014, this post includes a photo and mini bio for every one of Queen Victoria's granddaughters. That's 22 ladies, all of whom were born within a 17-year time period. Four of them became queens, one became a Crown Princess, one surrendered her titles, one died as a young child,  two others never married, two married first cousins, two were divorced, four passed the gene for hemophilia on to their offspring, one died while pregnant, and two were assassinated and are now considered saints by the Russian Orthodox Church. They were an amazing group of women bound by the love of family but often separated by the politics of rival nations. Usually raised by English nannies, most identified with their grandmother's nation, even when their lives required them to live in Germany or Greece or Norway or Romania or Russia or Spain or Sweden.

#2 Kate Middleton's First Baby
Written BEFORE Prince William and Catherine Middleton were married, this post asked Royal Fans, who were already predicting when the soon-to-be-bride would get pregnant, to not be too hasty. This piece traces the pregnancy histories of some other recent royal brides, including several who struggled to conceive or carry their children to term. Here is a clue: most of the "top" contemporary princesses had their first child a year and a half to two and a half years after their marriage. ("Kate's first baby" came near the end of that time frame: Prince George arrived 27 months after his parents married and has since been joined by a little sister and a little brother.)

#1 How to Become a Princess
This post has been the #1 post nearly every week since it was first published in December 2009. Periodically updated, it traces how today's royal brides met their princely husbands. It also explores whether you have to be a certain "type" to marry a 21st Century prince. Gone are the old stereotypes of aristocratic virgin brides that helped lead to the disastrous marriage of Charles and Diana. Now, royal gents marry for love -- which hasn't necessarily prevented divorces.

07 October 2019

The Shrinking Royal Family

Prince Alexander
Josefine Persson, The Royal Court of Sweden
On 7 October 2019, the King of Sweden announced that five of his seven grandchildren are no longer members of the Royal House. They retain their personal titles but will no longer use "Her Royal Highness" or "His Royal Highness." They also will not be expected to carry out official duties nor receive monetary support from the state. The announcement comes after much public and governmental grumbling about how large the family could eventually become. The five children, all age five and under, are the offspring of the King's two younger children, Prince Carl Philip and Princess Madeleine.

King Carl XVI Gustav has three children and seven grandchildren, each of whom received royal status and personal titles at the time each was born. The King also has four older sisters, three of whom lost their royal status decades ago when they made "unequal marriages", a standard that is no longer used. The other sister, Princess Birgitta, is not impacted by today's announcement. Because her children have never had royal status they also are not impacted.

Prince Gabriel
Photo: HRH Princess Sofia,
The Royal Court of Sweden
Over the last several decades most of the remaining European monarchies have made official moves to limit the size of their Royal Houses. The Royal House is distinguished as members of the Royal Family who have official roles and responsibilities. In Norway, the Royal House is defined as only the King, the heir, the heir's heir and their respective spouses. Other members of the Norwegian household, like the Crown Prince's younger son, have princely styles but are simply Highnesses, not Royal Highnesses. In the Netherlands, the children of the monarch's younger children are no longer given princely titles. In Spain, the Royal House is currently limited to the King, his wife, his daughters and his parents. Even in Britain, we have seen informal decisions like the lack of royal responsibilities for the adult children of Prince Andrew and no of royal titles or styles for the young children of Prince Edward and Prince Harry.

Sweden bucked that downsizing trend in 2014 when the King's second grandchild was born to his youngest child. The new baby was proclaimed Her Royal Highness Princess Leonore, Duchess of Gotland. Each of his subsequent grandchildren was likewise entitled.

Princess Madeleine with her children:
Leonore (standing), Nicolas & Adrienne
Photo by Emily Dahl
With this announcement, only the King's grandchildren by his eldest child Crown Princess Victoria remain in the Royal House. This makes Princess Estelle and Prince Oscar the only child members of the House with eight adults: the King, the Queen, Crown Princess Victoria and her husband Prince Daniel, Prince Carl Philip and his wife Princess Sofia, Princess Madeleine (whose husband Christopher O'Neill declined a royal title so he could maintain his business pursuits), and Princess Birgitta. The announcement does not change the Line of Succession.

On her social media accounts, Princess Madeleine wrote, "This change has been planned for a long time. Chris and I think it is appropriate that our children will now have a greater opportunity to shape their own lives as private individuals.

We were honoured when my parents bestowed upon Leonore a royal title when she joined Estelle as the 2nd grandchild of our Swedish Royal Family. We have always believed in giving our children the freedom to choose their future, that’s why we welcome this decision wholeheartedly. I will continue with my royal responsibilities by supporting my parents and my sister."

22 May 2019

Victoria's Guide

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert with their first five children
By Franz Xaver Winterhalter from the Royal Collection
via Wikimedia Commons
May 24, 2019 marks 200 years since the birth of Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent, known to us today as Queen Victoria. At the time she was born, everyone knew that she might rise to the throne, but the odds were still against her. Her father, Edward Duke of Kent, had three older brothers who might have fathered children ahead of her in the line of succession. Also, if her father had a son, Victoria would lose her place in line to that little brother due to male-preference primogeniture of the day.

Even for those who could imagine her eventual ascension, how well might they have imagined her iconic status as Queen and Empress and as the person for whom an entire age is named? What is the 19th Century if not Victorian? Around the world, lakes, towns, territories, mountains, etc. etc. Her descendants sit on five European thrones (Denmark, Norway, Spain, Sweden & the United Kingdom). At least 27 of her descendants have born her name, including the next Queen Regnant of Sweden.

In celebration of her anniversary, here is an index to all of the Princess Palace posts that have been published about her, her daughters and granddaughters over the years:

Queen Victoria
Long May She Reign (Queen Victoria et al)
Losing Her Prince (Queen Victoria et al)
The Mother of the Bride (QueenVictoria)
Queen Victoria (Queen Victoria)
Victoria's Secrets: 10 Things You Don't Know About the Famous Queen (Queen Victoria)
Young Royal Widows (Queen Victoria et al)

Victoria's Daughters
Darling Vicky's Birthday (Victoria Princess Royal)
Darling Baby: Beatrice's Brief Childhood (Princess Beatrice)
50 Years Ago: Death of Princess Beatrice (Princess Beatrice)
10 Centuries of Royal Moms (Princess Alice et al)
Amiable and Affectionate Alice's Birthday (Princess Alice)
The Kiss of Death (Princess Alice)

Victoria's Granddaughters
Gorgeous Granddaughters of Victoria (all of the granddaughters)
The Princesses & The Soldiers (many of the granddaughters and great-granddaughters)
Death to the Queen: One Night at the Palacio Real (Queen Victoria Eugenie)
Fire at the Palace (Queen Sophie)
The Royal Lady Who Passed Her Name Down (Queen Sophie)
The Last Romanov Ladies Part 1 (Empress Alexandra)
The Last Romanov Ladies Part 3 (Grand Duchess Elizabeth et al)
Victoria of the United Kingdom (Victoria of the UK)

18 May 2019

A Windsor Wedding: Lady Gabriella

On May 18, 2019, St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle hosted its third royal wedding in a year. The first was the internationally celebrated marriage of Prince Harry of Wales and American Meghan Markle, now known as The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, on May 19, 2018. On October 12, 2018, the chapel hosted the nuptials of Princess Eugenie of York to Jack Brooksbank. The latest union to be celebrated is that of Lady Gabriella Windsor to Thomas Kingston.

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Lady Gabriella Marina Alexandra Ophelia is the youngest grandchild of the late Prince George of the United Kingdom and Princess Marina of Greece, better known as The Duke and Duchess of Kent. Gabriella is first cousin once removed to Queen Elizabeth II. She is a great-grandchild of King George V of the UK, a great-great-grandchild of King George I of Greece, and a great-great-great grandchild (twice over) of King Christian IX of Denmark and of Tsar Alexander II of Russia.

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Born in April 1981, she is the only daughter of Prince Michael of Kent and his wife Baroness Marie Christine von Reibnitz, better known as Princess Michael of Kent. (Read my post about Princess Michael.) She grew up at their former country home in Gloucestershire and in London at Kensington Palace, where they were neighbors of Princes William and Harry of Wales, who are just a bit younger than she is.

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The Michaels earn their own living. The Prince is a business consultant with many interests in Russia. The Princess is an interior designer and author. Ella, as their daughter is nicknamed, also writes professionally. Her work has appeared in several prominent publications like Country Life, Hola!, The Spectator and The London Magazine. She completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in comparative literature at Brown University in the United States in 2004. Seven years ago, she earned a Master of Philosophy degree in social anthropology Linacre College at the University of Oxford. (Her older brother Lord Frederick Windsor is a financial analyst and is married to actress Sophie Winkleman -- read my post about her.)

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The groom, Thomas Kingston, completed his education at Bristol University, taking a bachelor of degree in economic history. He initially worked for the Foreign Office, including several years as a project officer at the Iraqi Institute of Peace in Baghdad. He currently is a director at Davenport Capital working in frontier market investment. Thomas previously dated The Duchess of Cambridge's sister, Pippa Middleton Matthews, who attended the wedding along with their parents, Carol and Michael Middleton and her husband, James Matthews. (Thomas and Gabriella were are James and Pippa's wedding two years ago.)

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Several members of the British Royal Family attended the wedding. These included The Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, Duke (and former Duchess) of York, Earl of Wessex, Duke of Sussex, Princess Beatrice of York and, of course, the extended Kent branch of the family. The former King and Queen of Greece as well as members of other former royal families, particularly Brazil and Yugoslavia were also present.

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Among Gabriella's five little bridesmaids and three pageboys were her nieces, Maud and Isabella Windsor. This was five-year-old Maud's second gig as royal bridesmaid as she filled the same role for her godmother, Princess Eugenie, in October. 

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15 May 2019

Strange Royal Baby Names

By Chris Allerton via SussexRoyal
When The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced that their son's name would be Archie Harrison, many people around the world scratched their heads. With no precedent in the British Royal Family, Archie just did not sound royal to people. Of course, Archie himself is not royal -- he is a great grandson of the monarch outside of the direct line of succession. His daddy is not destined to be King and neither is he. He is also in welcome company of Queen Elizabeth II's great grandchildren who have unusual, or at least non-royal, given names. Like Archie, the names Savannah, Isla, Mia and Lena have also never appeared in the Royal Family tree before. And, let's not forget that Princess Anne's son Peter was the first Peter to be born near the throne in Britain when he arrived in 1977 and his sister was certainly the first Zara in 1981.

While giving unprecedented names to royal descendants may seem extraordinarily modern, it is actually a tradition that dates back to the beginning of this stem of the British Royal Family, beginning with the Georgians/Hanoverians three centuries ago. At that time, Princess Anne Stuart was about to succeed her childless brother-in-law (who had been co-monarch with her sister Mary) to the throne. However, Anne's 14 children had all died young. Parliment wished to settle the succession question to ensure that none of Anne's Catholic cousins acceded to the throne. So, they drew up the 1701 Act of Settlement declaring that only Anne's second cousin Electress Sophia of Hanover, a Stuart descendant but in the female line, and her descendants were eligible to the throne. As the mother of three living adult sons at the time, Sophia seemed a great choice. Sophia died just weeks before Anne, leaving the throne to her oldest son, who became King George I in 1714.

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In the 300 years since then, nearly 100 royal youngsters have been added to the British Royal Family. More than a quarter of them have been given names that never before appeared in the family. Among the most recent "new" names is one of Queen Elizabeth II's children, one of her grandchildren and one of her cousins. For all that we view Queen Victoria as being "old fashioned", her own name was unique at the time and, more incredibly, she gave "new" names to five of her nine children.

Of course, at the beginning of the Hanoverian dynasty, unusual names would be expected. They were German not British, after all, and when the first dynasts were born (prior to 1701), they did not have any idea that they would one day rule "this scepter'd isle." The first King George only had two children: a son named George and a daughter named Sophia Dorothea. George certainly became a common name for the dynasty, but it was not new for royals. In the Wars of the Roses, Yorkist Kings Edward IV and Richard III had a brother named George Duke of Clarence, who aligned himself with the enemy Lancastrians for a time.

Queen EmeritaSofia of Spain was named for her
grandmother Queen Sophia of Greece.
By Ricardo Stuckert/PR via Wikimedia Commons
George I's daughter Sophia Dorothea did not come to Britain with him, as she was already married to Prussian King Frederick William I, but her name certainly did. Several princesses after her bore the name Sophia and the name was eventually used for one of Queen Victoria's Prussian granddaughters, who married a King of Greece and had a granddaughter named for herself who is now Queen Emerita of Spain (and who, by the way, has a Spanish royal granddaughter named Sofia, keeping the name alive and well within the extended family).

The next King, George II, had eight children and gave "new" royal names to two of the them: Amelia and Caroline. The choice of Caroline was fairly obvious, however, as the name of George's wife, Caroline of Ansbach. It continued to occur in future generations and was carried into the Nordic royal families when their granddaughter Princess Caroline Matilda married a Danish King. The name Amelia occurred again when King George III gave it to his youngest (and favorite) daughter before it fell into disuse in the family. It was revived in the 1990s for Lady Amelia Windsor, granddaughter of the Queen's royal cousin, Prince Edward Duke of Kent.

George II's eldest son Frederick Prince of Wales predeceased him. He did not inherit the throne, but he did introduce the name Augusta for one of his nine royal children. Once again, the little princess was named for her mother, this time Augusta of Saxe-Gotha. It proved to be a popular name, occurring as recently as the Queen's grandmother's aunt Princess Augusta of Cambridge, who passed away in 1916.

Charlotte of Wales
By Sir Thomas Lawrence via Wikimedia Commons
Since Frederick was gone, George II was succeeded by his grandson George III, who went on to have 15 children, 13 of whom lived to adulthood and six of whom received unprecedented royal names: Charlotte, Ernest, Augustus, Adolphus, Octavius and Alfred. The name Charlotte once again came from the mother's name, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, and has been used rather regularly since then. It almost became the name a reigning queen when the future King George IV gave it to his only child in 1796. Unfortunately, that Princess Charlotte of Wales died in childbirth and never inherited the throne. By the time Prince William chose the name for his daughter in 2015, it seemed very traditional indeed.

The names Ernest and Augustus passed quickly out of the British Royal Family when the Hanoverian and British thrones were separated at Queen Victoria's accession. As a female, she has barred from inheriting that crown, so it went to her next uncle Prince Ernest Augustus (she also had an Uncle Augustus), who had one child named George, who named his son Ernst August (the German version) and the heir of every generation since has borne the double name. The current heir is married to Princess Caroline of Monaco, from whom he is separated. He is also not on terms with his heir, another Ernst August, who opted to name his baby son Welf instead.

Having already had seven sons, King George III and Queen Charlotte were running out of ideas when an eighth baby boy arrived. Cleverly they drew upon their knowledge of Latin to give him the name Octavius, indicated his status as the eighth. No other royal child has been given the name since then. Perhaps because the little fellow died at the age of four or more likely because no one else has had an eighth son. However, George and Charlotte did not stop at eight boys. For their ninth, they drew back upon English history to use the name of England's only great king: Alfred the Great. Baby Alfred passed away shortly before his second birthday, but Queen Victoria used the name for her second son in 1844.

Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent
the future Queen Victoria
By Stephen Poyntz Denning via Wikimedia Commons
After the sudden tragic death of Princess Charlotte of Wales, mentioned above, King George III's many unmarried sons rushed into approved marriages and raced to father an heir for the throne. When the fourth son Prince Edward Duke of Kent's wife gave birth to a daughter, it didn't seem terribly likely that she would be Queen. After all, one of the older brothers might yet have a child or Kent himself might have a son who would take her place due to the male-preference succession of the time. Nevertheless Kent's oldest brother, George Prince of Wales, who was serving as Prince Regent for their "mad" father, was irritated when Kent proposed a grandiose name for the baby: Georgiana Charlotte Augusta Alexandrina Victoria. An argument over the baby's name took place at the baptismal font. The Regent finally agreed to let her be called Alexandrina, after the Russian Emperor who had so recently helped them defeat Napoleon. Not only was the name unprecedented in the British Royal Family, but Kent insisted she must have a second name at least. "Very well" big brother allowed, "call her after her mother" -- and she just happened to be Victoria of Saxe-Coburg. And, this is the story of how one of the most iconic royal names of the modern era entered into the British Royal Family and spread through her descendants to nearly every other European monarchy. This also explains why Queen Victoria was called Drina during her childhood. Perhaps even more than Archie, Alexandrina Victoria, was a rather odd a choice for a royal prince's child.

It is not surprising perhaps that the unprecedented Victoria did not pause to give unprecedented names to her own children, as mentioned above. She added Albert, Alice, Helena, Leopold and Beatrice to the list of suitable royal names. Drawing upon the names of her husband, Albert of Saxe-Coburg, and her father, she named her first son, Albert Edward, expecting that one day he would be the first King Albert. Although her chose the much more traditional King Edward as his regnal name, Alberts and Edwards have proliferated throughout the extended family. Even the Queen's father was named Prince Albert -- though he chose to be King George when the time came.

The name Alice largely stayed within their second daughter's own line: she gave a version of it to one of her daughters, Alix, who became the murdered Empress Alexandra of Russia. Alice's first daughter, Victoria of Hesse, gave the name Alice to her own first daughter. That little Alice married a Greek prince and became the mother of a boy named Prince Philip, who has been married to Queen Elizabeth II since 1947. Nevertheless, there have been no other Alices born into the British Royal Family. Likewise the name Helena, which Victoria gave to her third daughter, stayed in that line, but didn't get far. Princess Helena named one of her daughters Helena Victoria, who never had children. She and her childless sister Marie Louise were considered official members of the British Royal Family, even though they had born into a German princely house.

Queen Victoria named her youngest son Leopold after her uncle, who had been selected as the first King of Belgium. Before gaining his own throne, Uncle Leopold has been married to that tragic cousin Charlotte, who should have been Queen, if she had not died so tragically and young. Unfortunately Victoria's baby Leopold also died tragically and too young. He was the first member of the family to be diagnosed with hemophilia, a disease that would be passed on through two of Victoria's daughters into other royal, imperial and princely families. Leopold also passed it to his daughter, Princess Alice of Albany, named for his older sister who had at least one son and three grandsons afflicted with the condition. Leopold's name has yet to be employed again in the British Royal family although the Belgians have used it several times.

The three oldest Edinburgh princesses: (from left) Marie,
Victoria Melita and Alexandra
From the Royal Collection via Wikimedia Commons
The tradition of "new" royal name didn't end with Queen Victoria. Her heir King Edward VII added the male version of his mother's name to call his first child Prince Albert Victor. Victoria's second son Prince Alfred Duke of Edinburgh added another new name to the Queen's to name his second daughter Princess Victoria Melita. For his third daughter, he introduced the name Alexandra. By that time, the Princess of Wales was a Danish princess named Alexandra, but the name was more likely derived from the baby's maternal grandfather Tsar Alexander II of Russia. Meanwhile her third son Prince Arthur Duke of Connaught named his youngest daughter Princess Patricia of Connaught when the little girl was born on St. Patrick's Day.

Three more "new" royal names were added in the 20th Century. Edward VII's grandson, another Prince Edward Duke of Kent, was the first to name a British prince Michael in 1942. The Queen herself was the first to introduce the name Prince Andrew in 1960, when she named her third child for her husband's father, Greek Prince Andrew. Finally, today's Prince Andrew used another name without British precedent with his youngest child, Princess Eugenie. While Queen Victoria's granddaughter Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg was born in Balmoral Castle and grew up in the Queen's household, she was not officially a British royal. She had received the name in honor of her godmother, Empress Eugenie of France, who had been born into the Spanish nobility. The name returned to Spain, when Victoria Eugenie later married the Spanish king.

So, while the name Archie may never have been given to the son of a British prince before, its uniqueness has its own deep historical roots.

11 May 2019

Ancestress of the Aristocracy

By Peter Lely via Wikimedia Commons
The wife of Roger Palmer had six children, but Roger had none.

When you've got it, you've got it. And, Barbara Villiers definitely had it. Although she was born among the lower rungs of the English aristocracy, she rose to the very top by using the assets that had been granted her: stunning good looks and an even more stunning sensuality.

Soon after the teenage Barbara married the future Member of Parliament Roger Palmer, she met a man with an even brighter future: the exiled King Charles II. Charles has been living on the Continent since the English Civil War had ended the monarchy and executed his father, but he was preparing to return one day. Fortunately for Barbara, his libido was as big as his ambition. The two became lovers less than a year after her marriage. Despite this, Roger and Barbara remained together even when she bore a daughter, whom Charles later recognized as his own. Roger believed the little girl was his own and showed her favor throughout his life, even making her his heir. However, when another child arrived a year later, Roger apparently started to to figure out what was happening. He and Barbara separated but still remained married.

Always one with an eye for the ladies, the 32-year-old King already had three other children by two other women when Barbara gave birth to their second child together. He also had a brand new royal bride, the Portuguese Princess Catherine of Braganza. However, Charles was completely besotted with Barbara. When the already well-informed Catherine struck Barbara's name off a list of women intended to serve her, Barbara complained to the King, who publicly brought her to the Queen's presence. The convent-raised Catherine developed a bloody nose and fainted. This dramatic encounter clearly showed all and sundry that it was Barbara, not the new Queen, whom the King most wished to please. In fact, the King even dismissed all of Catherine's Portuguese ladies in a display of disgust at her behavior.

The two women remained bitter rivals, but neither managed to hold the King's undivided attention. In fact it's said that Barbara prayed fervently for Catherine's recovery from a deathly illness because she worried that a new Queen might not only replace her in the King's affections but might actually deliver an heir. You see, while Barbara continued to pop out royal bastards for Charles, Catherine never carried any of her few pregnancies to term. Barbara's fecundity was awarded by Charles after the very first child, when Charles gave her husband the title Earl of Castlemaine, thereby making her a Countess. Nine years later, he gave her her own titles as Duchess of Cleveland, Countess of Southampton and Baroness Nonsuch. This he did despite the fact that she was never sexually loyal to him. In fact, it was strongly believed that her last child didn't belong to the King. When Charles refused to acknowledge the expected baby, Barbara threatened to kill it. Always more ready for a party than a fight, Charles gave this new child the same royal surname as Barbara's other children, Fitzroy, which means "child of the King."

By Peter Lely via Wikimedia Commons
Known as the "Merry Monarch", Charles preferred to laugh at Barbara's sexual foibles. When he happened upon one of her poor, young lovers sneaking out the window, he hollered after him, "I forgive you, for I know you only do it for your bread." Of course, the "bread" that Barbara so generously gave to her lovers came largely from the King, who greatly enriched her. This combined with Barbara's strong political influence over Charles -- and it was well-known that her influence could be purchased by favor-seekers for the right price.

Many men found her incredibly alluring. Portrait artist Peter Lely, who once painted her as the Virgin Mary, said that her personal beauty was "beyond the power of art" to capture. Bishop Burnet, who found her "enormously vicious and ravenous, foolish but imperious", thought her a "woman of great beauty." Diarist Samuel Pepys wrote about how inspiring it was just to see her underclothes drying on the line. Nevertheless, she was widely considered "the curse of the nation" as diarist John Evelyn wrote, as famous for her greed, temper and promiscuity as she was for her beauty and figure.

As she grew older, the King's attraction to her began to wane. (He had many other ladies to sate his desires, any way.) In 1673, Barbara even lost her place in court, not because the Queen had finally triumphed, but because the Test Act prevented Catholics (as she was) from holding office, including as Lady of the Bedchamber. (Of course, Charles said he was interested in women's bodies not their souls.) By the time Charles added the luscious Frenchwoman Louise de Kerouaille to his collection of mistresses, Barbara's ongoing angry fits drove him to send her away.

She moved to Paris for a few years but was briefly reconciled with Charles after her return. They were even seen together shortly before his death in 1685. His death did not slow her as she continued her rowdy lifestyle. After her husband, the unfortunate Roger, finally died, the 65-year-old Barbara briefly married a fortune hunter, until she found out that he was already married. She died just a few years later in 1709.

All three of her sons by Charles became dukes during her lifetime. Her two older daughters married earls while the youngest daughter (who most likely did not belong to Charles) became a Benedictine nun. Today, much of the British aristocracy is descended from her. In fact, seven current Royal Highnesses (William, George, Charlotte, Louis, Harry, Beatrice and Eugenie) count her as an ancestor because both the late Diana Princess of Wales and Sarah Duchess of York were descended from her.

For more about Lady Castlemaine:

Barbara Palmer on English Monarchs
Barbara Palmer (Countess of Castlemaine) on The Diary of Samuel Pepys
Barbara Villiers on Historic UK
"The Curse of Nation" on Erin Lawless
The King's Whore on Scandalous Women
Lady Castlemaine on The Honest Courtesan
Like a Virgin on Pippa Rathbone's SCRATCH POST
Mistress of the Bedchamber on The Diary Review
Mistresses of King Charles II: Barbara Villiers on Stuarts Weekly
My Lady Castlemaine by Philip IV Sergeant, B.J.
The Story of Barbara Palmer on Author, Jane Lark's Stories