Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Royal Year 2013 - Part III: Yorks, Wessexes, Princess Anne & Family, and the Gloucester's and Kent's


The Duke of York speaking at a function held at Titanic Belfast.

     Prince Andrew, Duke of York and especially his daughters Beatrice and Eugenie tend to be under the radar in terms of royal coverage, and 2013 was not much different. But this is not to say that the York’s are not doing anything at all.

     Since stepping down as an official Special Representative for UK Trade & Investment amid heated controversy, the Duke of York has continued to support British business overseas as a trade envoy. However, it does appear that he is making more of an impact at home, supporting the work of organizations devoted to causes close to him, such as entrepreneurship, education and skills for young people, and science and engineering. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, he stated that he believes in the value of a technical education, for it gives young people skills that make them employable. As a 25 year veteran of the Royal Navy, he has a passion and concern for the Armed Forces. As such, he has raised money for the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund. In this year, he has become the Patron of London Metropolitan University and University of Huffersfield. He also joined Twitter, and his office has been tweeting information on his public engagements and activities, as well as giving mentions to organizations that he supports. 

     Princess Beatrice, a 2011 graduate of Goldsmiths, University of London with a BA in History, has been trying her hand in the financial services industry, but also conducts some royal engagements on her own and on the behalf of her father and grandmother, as well as the British government. In April 2013, Beatrice became the royal Patron of the Helen Arkell Dyslexia Center, a charity that she credits with helping her to overcome academic challenges resulting from her own dyslexic issues. In October, she met the Pakistani youth activist Malala Yousafzai at a reception entitled "Youth, Education, and the Commonwealth", and said that it was an honor to meet her. 

     Princess Eugenie graduated in 2012 with a combined Honors BA in English Literature, History of Art and Politics at Newcastle University. She has an interest in art, and moved to New York City this year to become a Benefit Auctions Manager at the Paddle8 auction house.

Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice

     In early 2013, the princesses visited Germany to undertake a series of engagements. In Berlin, they promoted British business as trade envoys on behalf Her Majesty’s Government. They also represented the Queen at the reopening of Herrenhausen Palace, where their ancestor, George II was born in 1683. The Hanoverian palace was bombed by the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, and had recently gone through a massive restoration project.

     Going into the New Year, there is speculation about Princess Beatrice marrying her long-time boyfriend, Dave Clark, and the longevity of their relationship – five years – makes marriage (or at least an engagement) this year a possibility. 

     Similarly, there are rumors about Prince Andrew and his former wife Sarah, Duchess of York. Unlike the nasty and very public break-up of Charles and Diana, Andrew and Sarah parted ways on amicable terms, remained good friends, and have been committed to raising their daughters together. That commitment has included going on vacations and attending some functions together, and today they live under the same roof at Royal Lodge, Windsor, and have jokingly described themselves as the “world’s happiest unmarried couple.” 

     Following an alleged getaway along the Mediterranean over the summer, there has been guessing as to whether they will tie the knot again. The Queen reportedly has a soft spot for Sarah, and invited her to spend a few days with the royal family at Balmoral. However, Prince Philip would be opposed to such a reunion because of her indiscretions over the years, so if – and it’s a big if – it does happen again, it likely only happen after the Duke of Edinburgh has passed away, which may not be for a long time to come. 


The Earl and Countess of Wessex.

    In 2013, the world was fixated on the big names of the monarchy – the Queen, Prince Charles, Prince William, Kate, etc. However, the profile of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and his wife Sophie have been on the rise, especially during the periods when the Duchess of Cambridge was off-duty due to her pregnancy and  in the immediate weeks after Prince George’s birth. 

     Prince Edward, the Queen’s fourth and youngest child, was once a film producer before dedicating himself to life a full-time working member of the royal family. He is slated to become Duke of Edinburgh when Prince Philip passes away, and as such, has become a Trustee and key figure in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, which was founded by Prince Philip for the purpose of encouraging young men and women to participate in, or create, activities which improve their lives, as well as the greater society. In this year, he has hosted and attended several functions related to the D of E Awards, as well as other charities he supports.

     Countess of Wessex – like the Duchess of Cornwall – has come into her own as an important part of the monarchy with her brand of grace and charm. In this year, she hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Doctor Who television series, made an official visit with Edward to South Africa, and embarked on a solo tour of India and Qatar. Some of these tours included taking care of business for the D of E International Award's, and in October, she became its first Global Ambassador while in South Africa, where she was learning how the award's scheme was helping to improve the prospects of young people in a local community.

     In June, Edward and Sophie also represented the Queen at the wedding of Princess Madeleine of Sweden and Christopher O’Neill.

     Their children have also gathered more attention. Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor turned ten years old this year, and has been seen at more public functions with her parents, such as the service at Westminster Abbey  commemorating the 60th anniversary of her grandmother’s coronation and the ceremony of Trooping the Color for the Queen’s Official Birthday in June. Her little brother, James Mountbatten-Windsor, Viscount Severn turned six years old a few weeks ago, and was seen on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with his parents and sister at the end of Trooping the Color and also attended the Coronation Festival in July. 

Princess Anne and Family

     For Princess Anne, the year was largely uneventful aside from her usual engagements and day-to-day duties. She most notably spoke out in favor of Britons eating horse meat, in light of the scandal which revealed that such meat was increasingly being used in British food products.

     Her daughter Zara, an equestrian who followed in her mother’s footsteps as an Olympian last year, announced that she and her husband Mike Tindall were going to be expecting their first child in January. This child will be the Queen’s fourth great-grandchild and will be 16th in the line of succession. Zara was also named as a godmother to Prince George during his christening back in October. 

Kent’s and Gloucester’s 

     Elsewhere, the Queen’s royal cousins were also in the headlines – for good and not-so-good.

The Duke of Gloucester

     Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester and his wife Birgette attended the Inaugural Mass of Pope Francis at the Vatican in March. He is Patron of the Richard III Society, and coincidentally not only shares the name of the 15th Century king, but also his title before he became king, Duke of Gloucester. In this role, he reportedly took an interest in the discovery and eventual confirmation of Richard III’s remains, which had been found under a parking lot on the site of a demolished abbey.

The Duke of Kent

     Prince Edward, Duke of Kent suffered a mild stroke on March 18, 2013, though it was not reported until March 21st. He made a full recovery, and was back to conducting his royal duties shortly thereafter. In June, he accompanied the Queen during the Trooping the Color ceremony while the Duke of Edinburgh was recovering from abdominal surgery. 

Prince Michael of Kent

     The Duke of Kent’s brother, Prince Michael of Kent welcomed his first grandchild, Maud Windsor in August. Maud is the first child of Prince Michael’s only son, Lord Frederick Windsor and his wife, Sophie, and is currently 42nd in line to the throne. 

     Princess Alexandra (Prince Edward and Prince Michael’s sister) was forced to cancel all of her engagements after suffering from the effects of arthritis, and undergoing treatment. She returned to public life on September 16th with an engagement in Herefordshire as Patron of the Pennington‑Mellor‑Munthe Charity Trust, which operates two mansions as museums and hosts various cultural events.

Final Thoughts

     So the year of 2013 has seen much activity from the royal family, from the Queen down to her great-grandchildren and cousins. They have had a spectacular run over the past three years - the royal wedding in 2011, the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012, and the birth of Prince George in 2013. 

     However such milestones are but tiny specks in the long and illustrious history of the monarchy. Moreover, they are but a few of the activities in which the family is engaged throughout the year. We often only see what is on television, with no little or no knowledge or appreciation for what they do with virtually no public fanfare.

     In the New Year, the royal family will continue perform schedule of engagements, attend ceremonies, do charity work, and take an active part in national life. It may not be as flashy as the last couple of years, but with the Australian tour, the Commonwealth Games, and other events, it will be a year to which to look forward.

Photo Credit: Titanic Belfast via Flickr cc, Carfax2 via Wikimedia Commons cc, Carfax2 via Wikimedia Commons cc, Northern Ireland Office via Flickr cc, Mareklug via Wikimedia Commons cc, Charlie Dave via Flickr cc, Paul Reynolds via Flickr cc

Royal Year 2013 - Part II: Charles and Camilla, the Cambridges, and Prince Harry

     Here are the links for Part I: The Queen and Prince Philip and Part III: The Yorks, Wessexes, Princess Anne and her family, and the Queen's cousins - the Kent's and the Gloucester's.

Prince Charles and Camilla

Charles and Camilla visiting a synagogue in Budapest, Hungary in 2010.

     The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall continued to increase their profile as future king and queen. Their appearance alongside the Queen at the State Opening of Parliament in May was a clear sign that Charles is indeed her heir, and that there is no chance of him renouncing his right to the throne. This comes at a time when more of the Queen’s ceremonial functions, such as conducting investitures and meeting foreign dignitaries, are being carried out by the Prince in her stead – creating an unofficial co-regency of sorts.

     In the spring, Charles and Camilla represented the Queen at the inauguration of the Dutch king, Willem-Alexander, as well as at the enthronement of the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. In the fall, he and the Duchess took a nine-day tour of India, where they were warmly received by the people of the Commonwealth’s largest country which was once the jewel in the crown of the old British Empire, and it was here where Prince Charles celebrated his 65th birthday on November 14th, which means that he will be oldest person to accede to the throne whenever that day should come.

     In Sri Lanka, he again stood in for his mother as Head of the Commonwealth when he opened and attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). As heading up the 53-member Commonwealth of Nations is not a hereditary position, the appearance at CHOGM may have represented the Prince’s attempt to convince Commonwealth leaders that he ought to succeed to the title held by his mother for 61 years. 

     On top of all this is the Prince carrying out his own activities and engagements, sometimes on the behalf of the charities, foundations, and trusts he has created over the years, and he has kept himself busy by attending to his wide variety of causes, including the environment, urban regeneration, architecture, and protection of the British countryside.

     As for the Duchess of Cornwall, she has been coming into her own as an integral part of the royal family. She has been conducting engagements on her own with ease, and has developed a passionate interest in causes such as literacy and arthritis research. In the time she has been married to Prince Charles, Camilla has earned the respect and affection the people through her own brand of regal warmth and openness. She is not a replacement for Diana - no one can replace her, not even the Duchess of Cambridge - but she is certainly showing that she is worthy of being the nation’s next Queen.

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George

William and Kate riding in a carriage procession during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations last year.

     It can be fair to say that the Duchess of Cambridge was probably the most-photographed woman in 2013. The media attention to her pregnancy, as well as what she wore and how she looked during the pregnancy was unrelenting and frankly nauseating. Nevertheless, Kate took it in stride and gracefully carried on with her duties and responsibilities as a member of the royal family. Among other things, she became volunteer leader with the Scout Association in North Wales, and expanded her patronages to include the Natural History Museum and SportsAid, a charity that helps to provide financial assistance for aspiring young athletes. 

     Meanwhile, Prince William continued to carry out his duties as a Royal Air Force search-and-rescue pilot in Anglesey, Wales, and also took on greater amounts of royal workload. He and Kate visited Scotland, where they teamed up with Prince Charles for a joint engagement, and took part in activities leading up to the 2014 Commonwealth Games being held in Glasgow. Along with Prince Harry, they also toured the Harry Potter film set at Leavesden Studios. In November, Prince William took part in a sing-a-long of Livin' On a Prayer with Taylor Swift and Bon Jovi.

     But of course, the highlight for William and Kate was the birth of their first child, Prince George of Cambridge on July 22, 2013, which was a joyous moment for them, the royal family, the British nation, and the world. From the time that birth was announced, 
The world's first look at Prince George.
there were expressions of celebration and happiness for the newest member of the royal family and the future king of the Commonwealth realms. Amid all of the fanfare surrounding the occasion, it is difficult to remember that George is a baby not unlike many others born that day and that William and Kate, though not ordinary parents, will face challenges in raising George like most other parents. Of course, George will grow up under an intrusive media spotlight, but then again, it is clear that his parents want him to live as normal a life as possible. This is probably why the first official photograph was taken by Michael Middleton, Kate’s father, at the Middleton family home in Bucklebury, Berkshire – as opposed to a professional photographer at the Palace. 

     In October, the little prince was baptized into the Anglican Church inside the Chapel Royal at St. James’ Palace by Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury. Wearing the replica of the christening gown worn by every royal baby since Queen Victoria’s first child, Victoria in 1840, Prince George was said to have gone through the brief ceremony without a hitch. Afterward, professional photographs were taken at Clarence House with George and members of his immediate family, including his uncles, aunt, parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Importantly, for the first time since Queen Victoria in over a century, there is a photograph featuring the reigning monarch and three generations of heirs in direct succession.

     With the birth of Prince George and the increasing royal workload resulting from the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh cutting back engagements, Prince William decided to leave active duty in the Armed Forces at the end of his commitment for the search-and-rescue job – having been involved in the rescue of 149 people. In October, he stood in for the Queen at an investiture in which he knighted two people, and made tennis player Andy Murray an Officer in the Order of the British Empire (OBE). William, Kate, and George have since taken up residence in Apartment 1A in Kensington Palace (which formerly belonged to Princess Margaret) as they begin their lives in transition to becoming full-time working members of the royal family. 

     In the coming year, it has been announced that they will be taking a tour of Australia and New Zealand in April, and they are expected to expand their charitable activities. 

Prince Harry 

Prince Harry meeting U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona

     At the beginning of the year, Prince Harry returned from his 20-week tour of duty in Afghanistan, and was criticized for comparing life on the battlefield to the war games he played on the X-Box game console and for saying that to save a life, sometimes another life has to be taken.

     This came on the heels of the Prince’s nude romp in Las Vegas during the previous summer, and raised questions about his judgement (with Harry admitting that he was probably being "too much army, and not enough prince"). It also sparked some debate over the issue of royal finances, and whether the taxpayer should continue to fund the activities of the monarchy.

     However, the rest of the year was bright for Prince Harry as he proved his worth as a member of the royal family and as an individual. 

     In May, he visited the United States for a week to conduct engagements on the behalf of his charities and of the UK government.

     It was a packed week in which Prince Harry toured an exhibition on landmine clearance - a cause championed by his mother, Diana - in the U.S. Capitol Building with fellow military veteran, Senator John McCain and visited the White House, where First Lady Michelle Obama was hosting a Joining Forces Mother's Day Tea to honor military mothers. He also paid his respects to the military dead at Arlington National Cemetery and visited the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to meet wounded veterans going under recovery and rehabilitation.

     He then traveled to Colorado Springs, where he opened the 2013 Warrior Games at the US Air Force Academy. The Games were created as a way help injured service members recover and to introduce them to Paralympic sports and one of its partners is the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. In addition to opening the games, the Prince took part in a volleyball match with the British team.

In Colorado, the Prince played sit-down volleyball with wounded veterans.
     Flying back to the East Coast, he teamed up with UK Prime Minister David Cameron in New York City at an event to promote the GREAT campaign, which aims to boost trade and investment in the United Kingdom. Harry then visited Harlem, where he played baseball (at hit a home run) with a local community sports program that is in partnership with the Royal Foundation.

     In New Jersey, he toured the hard-hit areas of the Jersey Shore that had been affected by Hurricane Sandy in the previous year, and commented on the rebuilding projects by saying: “It’s the American spirit, isn’t it? Everyone getting together and making things right. It’s fantastic.” Accompanied by Governor Chris Christie, Prince Harry walked along the Atlantic City Boardwalk and tried his hand at a few carnival games.

     At the end of the US tour, he played a game of polo in Greenwich, Connecticut to raise funds for his charity Sentebale, and expressed his appreciation for “a wonderful week” and “the extraordinary generosity of the people of this great nation.”

     In October, he attended the International Fleet Review during his first official visit to Australia. There, he represented the Queen of Australia and took the salute of the fleet review, which consisted of 40 warships from 17 countries, and which was held to commemorate 100 years since the arrival of the Royal Australian Navy's first modern warships in Sydney. During the two-visit, he was greeted by enthusiastic crowds, but also faced a joke about republicanism from Australia’s pro-monarchy prime minister, Tony Abbot, who regretted that “not every Australian is a monarchist. But today everyone feels like a monarchist.” He also said: “You grace us as your family has graced our nation from its beginning, as the crown is a symbol of our stability, continuity and decency in public life.”

     Toward the end of the year, Harry took part in Walking with the Wounded, an event in which four teams of wounded and disabled veterans would race to the South Pole in Antarctica. Prince Harry was Patron of the expedition and joined one of those teams on the 125 mile trek, which ceased to be a race as weather conditions deteriorated. Nonetheless, the journey continued as a joint effort among the teams, and they reached the South Pole after four weeks on Friday, December 13th, with Harry becoming the first member of the royal family to reach that location.

     Throughout the year, speculation was rife about Prince Harry’s relationship with Cressida Bonas, a granddaughter of Edward Curzon, 8th Earl Howe. The couple are said to be “serious”, and the gossip hounds and newspaper editors are looking forward to another royal wedding, or at least an engagement in 2014. Personally, I do not believe either will happen for a simple reason: they have not been together for long time. The royal family has already witnessed what can happen when a marriage takes place in the modern age when the couple does not have firm foundations, so Harry and Cressida will probably be wise to wait it out for at least another year to firmly establish their roots, and to give Cressida time to contemplate the realities of being royal.


Photo Credit: M3peti via Wikimedia Commons cc, Christopher Neve via Photopin cc, John Pannell via photopin cc, GlynLowe via Flickr cc, DVIDSHUB via Flickr cc

Royal Year 2013 - Part I: The Queen and Prince Philip

Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
     2013 will be hugely remembered for the birth of Prince George of Cambridge, but there were also other developments within the monarchy and the royal family. This posting will review the royal highlights of 2013, and give some insight on what may or will happen in the New Year.

     It will be broken into three parts: Part I (this article) concerns the Queen and Prince Philip; Part II discusses the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry; Part III delves into the Yorks, Wessexes, Princess Anne and her family, and the Queen's cousins - the Kent's and the Gloucester's. 

The Queen 

     The year of 2013 was a successful one for Queen Elizabeth II. In addition to her usual duties, such as attending the State Opening of Parliament, the Maundy Service, Trooping the Color, presiding over investitures, and attending official engagements throughout the UK, she marked the 60th anniversary of her coronation during a special service at Westminster Abbey in June. It was there that she was formally crowned Queen of the United Kingdom and the overseas Commonwealth realms in a colorful ceremony whose roots date back to the coronation of Edgar the Peaceful at Bath Abbey in 973. Unlike the Diamond Jubilee celebrations last year, this was a more low-key affair, though it nonetheless underscored how important the coronation was to Elizabeth II and the nation at large – so important that St. Edward’s Crown, which was used to crown her, was brought out of the Tower of London for the first time since 1953 and placed on the altar of the Abbey.

     The coronation was also commemorated at a festival at Buckingham Palace in July, and the Queen visited the new headquarters of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), which had been responsible for televising the coronation live.

     2013 was also a year in which the Queen was showcased in her role as Head of the Commonwealth. On Commonwealth Day in March, she signed the new Charter of the Commonwealth, which among other things, committed the organization and its members to 16 core beliefs, including democracy, the rule of law, gender equality, and sustainable development. With this charter, the Commonwealth hopes to move from being a legacy of Empire to being an active and vibrant force for positive development in the 21st Century.

     The Queen also met the Pakistani youth activist Malala Yousafzai at a reception entitled "Youth, Education, and the Commonwealth", and presided over the beginning of the Queen’s Baton Relay in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace where the Baton began its journey across the Commonwealth before it ends up in Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games in July 2014. There, it will be opened to reveal the Queen’s message to the participating athletes, which will be read by her at the opening ceremony.

     However the Queen, for all of her commitment to her duties and responsibilities, cannot escape the effects of time and aging. She was hospitalized with gastroenteritis in March and had to cancel a number of engagements – including a trip to Rome, and could not attend the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey. She has since recovered, and has gone on as usual, but there is a recognition that the Queen is going to have to scale back on some things, particularly long-haul travel. This means that Prince Charles and other members of her family will be increasingly seen performing some of her ceremonial responsibilities, which will aid a steady transition to Charles for when the day comes that he accedes the throne.

     That being said, the Queen is in otherwise good – or as they say in the UK, “rude” – health. She will continue to perform her duties to the best of her abilities until she draws her last breath. There is no talk of abdication, and thank God for that. 

Prince Philip 

     The Duke of Edinburgh carried on as usual with his royal duties, which included a visit to Canada. But following a garden party on June 6th, he admitted himself to the London Clinic for what Buckingham Palace called a pre-planned “exploratory surgery” in his abdominal region. He spent eleven days there, celebrating his 92nd birthday and missing the Trooping the Colour ceremony for the Queen’s Official Birthday. Philip was then discharged from the clinic to recuperate, first at Windsor Castle and then at Sandringham. Given these recent health issues at his age, there have been suggestions that perhaps Philip should reduce his public activities and engagements. 

     In a 2011 interview commemorating his 90th birthday, the Duke of Edinburgh stated that he was going to begin to slow down and cut back on royal obligations, saying that he felt he done his bit. Nevertheless, he carried out 347 engagements during the Diamond Jubilee year in 2012 – up from 330 in 2011. If nothing else, this demonstrates his commitment and determination to being at his wife’s side as much as possible, to fulfill his duty as her consort, and pursue his own interests and passions. He is now the longest-serving and oldest-ever spouse of a reigning British monarch and it is expected that Philip will continue to do what he can to support the work of the monarchy. 

     He may have health issues to deal with, but at 92, he his getting around as good – if not better – as anybody at that age, and he would probably be the first to say that nobody ought to be making a fuss over his health. Like most things in his life – such as being constantly moved around Europe throughout his childhood and not having a permanent home life – Philip shrugs off such concerns in part because he realizes that life is life and that there are certain things that are out of one’s hands. Therefore, one ought not to worry about it and carry on as usual, which is what Philip has done after his recent health scares. 

     Since his return to public engagements, it does appear that the Duke has recovered and that it is business as usual for him. Back in October, while visiting a care center in Norfolk, he spotted the great-granddaughter of a resident on a large inflatable ball and jokingly asked, “Do you get bonus points if you knock her off?” In many ways, this showed that Philip is not only back to his usual routine of attending engagements, but also displaying the dry humor which has become somewhat legendary over the 61 years he has been the Queen’s consort.

     In this New Year, the Duke will continue to move forward as his wife’s “strength and stay” – providing a level of support and encouragement that cannot be repaid.

Photo Credit: Sodacan via Wikimedia Commons cc, Lzur via Wikimedia Commons cc