On 9 January, the 31st birthday of the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge, it was announced from Buckingham Palace that the Queen had issued Letters Patent on 31 December 2012, extending the number of members of the royal family entitled to the style of Royal Highness and the prefix Prince or Princess. This change is very specific, affecting only the children of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and is consistent with the new legislation introducing equal primogeniture.
The tradition of the Christmas broadcast by the British sovereign started 80 years ago in 1932, when John Reith, Director General of the BBC, persuaded George V to make a Christmas Day broadcast to the people of the Empire via the new BBC Empire Service (precursor to the BBC World Service). Although George V was famously conservative and suspicious of anything new, he saw the advantage of being able to speak directly to his people around the world.
Speculation in the press about the Duchess of Cambridge being pregnant has increased in recent weeks, and on 3 December that speculation was finally laid to rest by an announcement from Clarence House that she was pregnant but suffering from severe morning sickness and was being hospitalised for a few days. According to the announcement, Kate is in the very early stages of pregnancy, meaning that the baby is probably due to be born next summer. Although many people were hoping for a Jubilee Year baby, we did at least get a Jubilee Year announcement!
Two seemingly unrelated events took place at the end of May 1660. On 29 May, his 30th birthday, Charles II arrived in London after nearly a decade in exile to begin (or resume) his reign after the restoration of the monarchy. On the previous day in Hanover, Sophia, wife of Ernst August, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Elector of Hanover, gave birth to her first son, George Louis. Sophia was the youngest of the 12 children of Frederick V, Elector Palatinate, and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of James I of England/VI of Scotland and aunt of Charles II.
The Queen Mother was such a well-known member of the royal family for so much of her daughter’s reign that it’s hard to believe it’s already the tenth anniversary of her death. It seems only yesterday that she was appearing on the Buckingham Palace balcony or at a royal engagement, dressed in pale blue with one of her enormous hats, and happily occupying the limelight.
King George Tupou V of Tonga died today in a hospital in Hong Kong after a short illness. He was reported to have been in intensive care for the last 10 days. The cause of death was not specified, but the king had been suffering from cancer and had undergone renal surgery last year. He was 63 years old.
Crown Princess Victoria gave birth to a daughter early this morning. She was taken to Karolinska University Hospital shortly after midnight, accompanied by Prince Daniel. Although the birth was not expected until next month, and the Princess was still carrying out engagements on Tuesday, Palace spokesman Bertil Ternert said that everything was going normally and that there were no problems.
Royal marriages in the past have tended to be arranged for dynastic or financial advantage. The feelings of the individuals for each other were considered pretty irrelevant, and indeed royal history is full of stories of mismatches, with indifferent or hostile spouses and extramarital affairs ranging from the decorous to the disastrous. However, there have also been some supremely happy marriages where dynastic convenience went hand in hand with true love. When a beloved spouse died, some grieving monarchs commemorated their loved ones with fabulous buildings and monuments. This Valentine’s Day blog takes a look at some of these.
In the early morning of 6 February 1952 George VI died in his sleep at the age of only 56 after several years of poor health, and his elder daughter Elizabeth, in Kenya en route to Australia and New Zealand, became queen. She had to abandon the Commonwealth tour that had just started and return home to Britain to face a lifetime of duty and service to her country. Today marks the 60th anniversary of her accession.