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.
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.
For four years the people of the Wiltshire town of Wootton Bassett came out to line the High Street and pay their respects as the bodies of repatriated military personnel from Iraq and Afghanistan were driven from RAF Lyneham to a hospital in Oxford. In contrast to the secrecy of American repatriations, the community came together to mourn the loss of these young lives and show support to the bereaved families.
George Henry Hubert Lascelles, seventh Earl of Harewood, died on 11 July 2011 at the age of 88. He was the eldest grandchild of George V and Queen Mary, and a first cousin of Elizabeth II. His parents were Henry Lascelles, the sixth Earl, and Mary, Princess Royal, daughter of George V. At his birth, he was sixth in line to the throne (at the time of his death, he had dropped to 46th).
This year marked one of the biggest occasions in British history in over 30 years. Prince William announced back in November of 2010 that he would marry his long time girlfriend Catherine Middleton. For the royal family this secured the line of succession and signaled the beginning of 6 months of endless media coverage. But with this engagement, the media dug up the memory of his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, and dragged the question of her death back into the spotlight.
“He is someone who doesn’t take easily to compliments. He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim or we shall ever know.”
These words were spoken by Elizabeth II about her husband Prince Philip during the celebration of their golden wedding anniversary in 1997.