Archive November 2010
The engagement of Prince William to Kate Middleton has given a new lease of life to the perennial question of the succession. Should Prince Charles be king? Should Camilla become queen if Charles does become king? Ever since the Prince and Princess of Wales split up, and especially since Diana’s death, and most especially since Charles’s second marriage, there have been articles and polls in certain newspapers showing that the British public would like William to follow the Queen on the throne, even in Charles’s lifetime. Other polls over the last five years have shown that a majority of Britons don’t wan’t the Duchess of Cornwall to be queen consort even if Charles does become king.
The groom, the 40-year-old Prince Carlos Xavier of Bourbon-Parma, is the titular Duke of Parma and Piacenza, the eldest son of the late Duke Carlos Hugo (best known as the Carlist claimant to the Spanish throne and Head of Carlism in the 1960s and 1970s) and Princess Irene of the Netherlands, daughter of Queen Juliana and sister of the present Queen Beatrix.
Over the years we’ve been used to Prince Charles airing his opinions on topics as diverse as organic farming, education, medical science, architecture, religion, and philosophy. In “Harmony” he weaves all these together into an integrated overview of the past, present, and future of humanity and our relationship with nature.
Today is the 105th birthday of Queen Astrid of Belgium. In honour of this day, I have written a book review about one of the biographies written about her: Vännen Min (My Friend) by Anna Sparre. In this touching and warm biography and autobiography, Anna Sparre talks of her friendship with Queen Astrid, the fourth Queen of the Belgians.
It was announced from Clarence House this morning that Prince William has become engaged to his long-time girlfriend Catherine (Kate) Middleton. The press has been in a frenzy for several weeks predicting that an engagement was in the works, especially after a report in mid-October that the Royal Mint was preparing a commemorative wedding coin and after the couple were seen together at a friend’s wedding later in October.
Every year on 15 November, Belgium celebrates its King and - as a matter of course – also the monarchy. Although it may not be all that self-evident in a country torn apart by republican and separatist tendencies, it is, especially these days, a matter of respect for the sovereign. It is therefore meaningful that not only did the three children of King Albert attend the usual ceremony, but so did the entire government and numerous politicians from different political backgrounds.
November is a time when we see leaves change and take on warm-toned autumn hues with gold undertones. It is only appropriate that the official birthstones for November would be the golden topaz and citrine, with their variety of autumnal hues. Although citrine is just a semiprecious stone it still figures in some royal collections; topaz, on the other hand, is one of the most sought-after precious stones.
The First World War officially ended at 11 a.m. on 11 November 1918 after the signing of the armistice by representatives of the Allied forces and the German government in the railway carriage of Marshal Foch in the Compiègne Forest, France. This war had been grinding on since August 1914 and there had been massive loss of life on all sides.
I have to admit, when I read the title of this book I blinked not once but twice. For a moment I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Reading the back, however, my initial curiosity – yes, I admit, I was expecting some sleazy “I slept with King X and now I want my 15 minutes of fame” book – changed into interest. The book claimed to describe the history of the royal mistress, a woman scorned and at the same time admired by society. So I started reading.
There has been tension between Protestants and Catholics in Britain ever since Henry VIII split the Church of England away from the Roman Catholic Church in 1534 and declared himself Supreme Governor. Throughout the reigns of the Tudors and Stuarts, maintaining the Protestant succession was a priority, to the extent that on two occasions foreign rulers (William of Orange in 1688 and George I in 1714) were invited to take the throne to avoid succession by Catholic heirs.