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.

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