The last of the Stuart monarchs ruled England with brilliance and intrigue, likely had an affair with a Churchill ancestor, and made sure her country stayed Protestant. Finally she gets the biography her remarkable life deserves.
Nothing is more difficult than to recreate in all its complexity than a distant age and not only to get it right, but make it seem fresh and relevant. Fortunately, Anne Somerset has already done this brilliantly in her outstanding biography of Elizabeth I. In the case of Elizabeth, of course, Ms. Somerset had the advantage of writing about one of the most famous (and most compellingly interesting) of all English monarchs, the subject of so many different plays, films, and television dramas that we almost feel we know and understand her. Her new subject Queen Anne, on the contrary, does not loom large as a figure around which to build a television miniseries, and most readers, in the United States at any rate, would be hard pressed to place her exactly in time, or say anything about her reign.
Great Britain's Queen Anne. (Universal History Archive/Getty)
In fact, Anne’s relatively short reign (twelve years) was pivotal, and marked the emergence of England as a major power in the endless wars of European succession, sealed once and for all the future of England as a Protestant nation, and brought to the throne a woman of great intelligence, political skill, and determination to rule—as well as one whose strongest emotional (and perhaps sexual) attachment was to other women.
It is sometimes the fate of England to do what seems daring and difficult in politics long before the United States (which, did not of course yet exist in Queen Anne’s day) gets around to doing it. We have yet to elect a Jewish president on this side of the Atlantic, while Benjamin Disraeli was a hugely successful prime minister in the latter part of the 19th Century, and we only just tested whether a lesbian can be elected mayor of New York City, while England may very likely have had one on the throne in the 17th Century.
Reports saying that Harry and Cressida spend a private weekend at Sandringham fuel enagement rumors
Now this is a party we’d like to have been at.
Prince Harry invited his girlfriend Cressida Bonas to Sandringham, the Queen’s private estate in Norfolk, two weekends ago, along with a group of friends who were ‘given the run’ of the place for the weekend, according to a report today.
Splash News and Pictures
Neither the Queen nor Prince Philip were there at the time, reports the Daily Mail, but the news has inevitably rekindled speculation that the two may marry.
During prince’s training for South Pole journey.
Can’t stop, won’t stop. Despite a broken toe, Prince Harry says he will continue training for his trek to the South Pole next month with wounded soldiers, the Palace said Tuesday. Harry, 29, is scheduled to make the 208-mile journey in the Walking With The Wounded South Pole Allied Challenge next month. The march is 16 days long, and takes place in temperatures as low as -31 degrees Fahrenheit. Palace officials have not said how the prince injured the toe.
is Charles afraid of Kingship - or death? The Royalist investigates
I read with some confusion the Telegraph's pick-up of the Prince Charles Time story this morning, in which the paper claimed that Chaz felt kingship would be like a prison because he wouldn't be able to spend so much time with his charities.
One member of his household told Time that the Prince was worried he would not achieve enough with his various interests before “the prison shades” close, but I got the imprression this expression referred more to the vague death-fear that haunts all of us to some degree (excuse me getting a bit deep and meaningful, not usually the tenor on here; as regular readers know we aim instead for frothy levity most of the time).
Anyway, the Royalist has been in touch with the Prince's people and a courtier said that while my interpretation was valid (if a little gloomy) the main point is not the he is dreading becoming King. But nor, as they and the piece points out, is he so anxious to become King that he is planning his mother's funeral or anything like that.
Kate was back out at a charity dinner last night dresed in sweeping Jenny Packham
Kate was back out working the crowds at a gala dinner in support of Action On Addiction thrown by the 100 Women In Hedge Funds group last night, and she told guests that her son had been "such a good boy" at his Christening the day before.
Kate attends a gala dinner in aid of Action on Addiction hosted by the 100 Women in Hedge Funds Philanthropic Initiatives (Ian West/WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Kate was dressed in a floor-length Jenny Packham gown for the event, and said she had left George in the capable hands of his dad for the night.
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge poses for a photograph with Amanda Pullinger, director of 100WHF (L) and Mimi Drake, Chairman 100WHF (R) at a gala dinner in aid of Action on Addiction, hosted by the 100 Women in Hedge Funds Philanthropic Initiatives in central London (Ian West/WPA Pool/Getty Images)
A little boy got christened yesterday, and here's the snaps to prove it
Awww, 'aint he cute?
The official pictures of Prince George have just been released - and the palace say we are only allowed to keep them up on the site for 24 hours or the Royalist will be sent to the tower!
10pm GMT update: you are no longer viewing the official christening photo. As per the palace's orders, these have now been removed from the Royalist. (AFP/Getty)
Prince Charles gives interview to Time
An interesting tease on Time's website for their interview and in-depth profile of Prince Charles, which is the cover story of Time Magazine this week.
“I feel more than anything else it’s my duty to worry about everybody and their lives in this country, to try to find a way of improving things if I possibly can,” he says in the piece, by editor-at-large Catherine Mayer, who says, "Research for this piece took me to three of his official residences in England, Scotland and Wales, to Dumfries House, and trailing around with him to meetings and visits. I’ve discussed him in more than 50 interviews with his inner circle and his critics; plowed through biographies, his own writing and reams of articles and documentary footage."
No doubt he will be delighted with the cover which calls him "the forgotten Prince."
At the Christening of Prince George, The Duchess of Cambridge looked radiant in an ivory-colored Alexander McQueen ruffled suit.
Three-month-old Prince George, plump-cheeked and with tufts of brown hair, was awake as he was escorted into his Christening at St. James’s Palace in London on Wednesday afternoon. He also was entirely oblivious of the commotion he caused—the flooded streets, the hoards of photographers, the live telecasts.
His escorts, Kate and William, appeared up beat and camera-ready for their big photo op. And, of course, the occasion brought out crazed fans all over London—including one guy in a full Union Jack suit and hat--which called to mind the frenzy over George’s birth last summer.
Pool photo by John Stillwell
Kate looked radiant in an ivory Alexander McQueen ruffled jacket and skirt, paired with a jaunty British Jane Taylor fascinator and nude heels. It appeared to strike the perfect note: formal yet fashion-forward, while simultaneously referential to her wedding dress (also designed for Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen). The choice also nicely played off the color of George’s Honiton christening gown, a replica of the dress that has been in the family for centuries. William, ever-dapper, wore a navy suit with a blue tie.
Prince George has arrived for his christening. A cake made from a tier of wedding cake specially saved from the royal wedding, will be served to guests after the small, private ceremony.
Prince George has arrived for his christening wearing a replica of the traditional royal baptism gown designed in 1841. Tradition will be upheld throughout the ceremony which will be followed by guests being served a tier that was saved from William and Kate’s wedding cake.
Pool photo by John Stillwell
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have chosen two hymns, two lessons and two anthems for the christening of their son, Prince George. The Hymns are Breathe on Me, Breath of God and Be Thou My Vision.
Prince Harry and Pippa Middleton will read passages from the Bible (St. John ch. 15, verses 1-5 and St. Luke ch. 18, verses 15-17.)
Snaps will not be released till Thursday
William and Kate have asked Jason Bell to be the official photographer at the christening of their son, Prince George. Mr. Bell will take the official photographs at Clarence House following the service in the Chapel Royal, a spokesperson for the young royals said today.
The first official post-natal pic, taken by Kate's dad (Michael Middleton)
Jason Bell is a well-established portrait photographer. Many of his photos have been acquired for the National Portrait Gallery for their permanent collection. He has received a number of awards, including The Royal Photographic Society’s Terrence Donovan Award for outstanding contribution to photography and the Best British Black and White Photographer at the British Picture Editor’s Awards.
He was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in September 2011.
The christening of their firstborn Wednesday is a chance for William and Kate to honor and reward their most loyal buddies. Tom Sykes on the 60 who made the cut—perhaps including Cressida Bonas.
On Wednesday afternoon, at a small London chapel within the confines of one of the London palaces, the world will be given its first snapshot of who really is who in the lives of Prince William and Kate Middleton, as they gather their friends together for the rather radical christening of their son, Prince George.
Kensington Palace is refusing to reveal the guest list on the orders of William and Kate, who are, as usual, determined to preserve as much privacy as possible for them, their son, and their guests. The couple is trying not to give out an ounce of information to the media about an occasion they view as totally unrelated to their public roles.
But what is clear is that the intimate gathering, at the Chapel Royal within the confines of St. James’s Palace, will feature only William and Kate’s most loyal friends. They will include the posh London nightclub promoter Guy Pelly; Alicia Fox-Pitt, the flame-haired old pal of Kate’s from school; Emilia d’Erlanger, another schoolfriend of Kate’s and a society interior decorator who helped Kate redecorate Kensington Palace; and Fergus Boyd and his wife, Sandrine, whose loyalty to William and Kate is unquestioned, as he shared the university house where Kate and William’s friendship developed into romance. Thomas Van Straubenzee, the Old Harrovian who this summer wed Lady Melissa “Missy” Percy, seems set to be there, as does James Meade, Wiliam’s best man, and at least one member of the Van Cutsem family—probably Hugh, whose daughter Grace was the flower girl who covered her ears on the Buckingham Palace balcony after the royal wedding.
Most Rev Justin Welby Says Baptism is For Everyone
The Church of England has scented a PR opportunity with their latest high-profile member, Prince George, and the Archbishop of Canterbury has today released a video on Youtube encouraging other parents to follow Kate and William's example and baptise their children.
In the short film the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are also warned that there will be “tough times” ahead as parents.
Churchman Justin Welby, who will christen George in the Chapel Royal of St James’s Palace at 3pm tomorrow, said: “One of the things I’m sure about is that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George’s parents, have had so much advice that they could probably fill a house with it. My message to them would be, what a treat, what an amazing gift, what wonderful times that you will have. There will be great times and tough times, as there always are with children.”
The Archbishop continues: “All babies are unbelievably special, not only royal babies. As a nation we are celebrating the birth of someone who will in due course be the head of State. That’s extraordinary. It gives you the sense of the forwardness of history as well as the backwardness.
“All through Christian history, for 2,000 years, being baptised meant to join the family of the church and that’s what it means today...I will mark Prince George with the sign of the cross on his forehead and that’s exactly what every priest does at every single baptism. That is the sign by which we understand that this person belongs to God."
Malala was honored in a ceremony at Buckingham palace today
Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot in the head by the Taliban, met the Queen today and spoke to her about about the importance of education.
The 16-year-old schoolgirl was shot in Pakistan last October after campaigning for the right of girls to go to school in a part of the country where Islamic fundamentalists were trying to impose a strict form of sharia law.
Prince Philip on his usual form reduced her to giggles when he commented that in this country people wanted children to go to school to get them out of the house. Malala covered her face while she laughed.
Prince Harry’s girlfriend is the opposite of Kate Middleton in every way. Tom Sykes examines the evidence: a pair of Doc Martens, some dungarees, and that infamous scrunchie.