Saturday, June 21, 2014

32 Facts About Prince William, Duke of Cambridge

Prince William as Colonel of the Irish Guards during Trooping the Colour in June 2013.
Image Credit:
Carfax2 via Wikimedia Commons cc

     Today, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge celebrates his 32nd birthday, and this 32 facts about the future King of the United Kingdom and the overseas Commonwealth realms. 

1. HRH The Duke of Cambridge was born as William Arthur Philip Louis on June 21, 1982 at St. Mary's Hospital in London, England, United Kingdom.

2. He is the eldest son of Charles, Prince of Wales and the late Diana, Princess of Wales, as well as the third grandchild of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

3. He was christened on August 4, 1982 - the 82nd birthday of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother - as Prince William of Wales in the Music Room of Buckingham Palace by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie.

4. William was the first child to be born to a Prince and Princess of Wales since Prince John was born to the future George V and Queen Mary in 1905. 

5. He has a younger brother, Prince Harry of Wales.

6. William traveled for his first overseas tour at the age of eight months when he joined is parents for a visit to Australia and New Zealand.

7. Prince William attended Ludgrove School near Wokingham, Berkshire for his primary education.

8. For his secondary education, he went against the royal tradition of going to Gordonstoun School in Moray, Scotland, and instead attended Eton College in Windsor, England, and obtained an A-grade in geography, a C-grade in biology, and a B-grade in history of art for his A-Levels.

9. Whilst at Eton, William played football - becoming captain of his house team - and took up water polo. 

10. On August 31, 1997, the 15 year old Prince lost his mother Diana to a tragic car accident in Paris. On the day of her funeral, he walked behind her funeral cortege to Westminster Abbey, alongside Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Prince Harry, and his uncle, Charles Spencer, Earl Spencer.

11. Following Eton, the Prince took a gap year, during which he took part in British Army training exercises in Belize, worked in dairy farms in the UK, and visited Africa. He also spent ten weeks in the Raleigh International program as a teacher in the south Chilean town of Tortel, where he shared a household with other teachers and volunteered as a radio jockey for a local radio station. 

12. He enrolled at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland in 2001 under the name William Wales, where he met Catherine Middleton.

13. At St. Andrews, William studied geography, and earned a Scottish Master of Arts degree with upper second class honors. He also represented the Scottish national universities water polo team at the Celtic Nations tournament in 2004. 

14. Upon graduation from St. Andrews in 2005, Prince William attended the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, and "passed out" in December 2006 as a lieutenant.

15. William served as a member of the British Armed Forces for seven-and-half years and finished his service as a Flight Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force, Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, and Captain in the British Army.

Coat of Arms of the Duke of Cambridge.
Image Source:
Sodacan via Wikimedia Commons cc

16. From April 2010 through September 2013, William served as an RAF search-and-rescue helicopter pilot based in Anglesey, Wales, making him the first member of the Royal Family to live in Wales since Henry VII of England.

17. Prince William and Kate Middleton had been an a relationship for seven years, and he proposed to her in October 2010 while they were on holiday in Kenya. He used the engagement ring that his father had given to his mother nearly 30 years previously. 

18. On April 29, 2011, William married Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey in a ceremony that was watched by over 2 billion people around the world.

19. On the day of his wedding, Prince William was made Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn, and Baron Carrickfergus

20. In July 2011, William and Kate made their first royal overseas visit as a married couple when they toured Canada and California in the United States. 

21. Along with Prince Harry and Kate, William was an official ambassador for Team GB leading up to and during the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics. 

22. As part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, he traveled with Kate to represent the Queen in the Commonwealth countries of Singapore, Malaysia, Tuvalu, and the Solomon Islands in September 2012. 

23. On July 22, 2013, the Duke of Cambridge became a father upon the birth of Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, who is third in line to the thrones of the Commonwealth realms. 

24. William's interests include sports, conservation, the armed forces, as well as the empowerment of young people, and his charitable works reflect this.

25. Among his patronages include the Tusk Trust, a wildlife conservation and community development charity working in Africa, and Centrepoint - a homeless charity once supported by his mother.

26. Prince William is an avid polo player, and usually plays to raise funds for charitable causes.

27. He is President of the Football Association in England, President of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), and Vice Royal Patron of the Welsh Rugby Union.

28. The Duke of Cambridge is a member of the two highest orders of British chivalry - the Order of the Garter in England and the Order of the Thistle in Scotland, with William becoming the Garter's 1,000th member in June 2008.

29. Prince William is a Counsellor of State - along with Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Prince Harry, and Prince Andrew. Counsellor's of State may temporarily carry out some of the official duties of the Queen in her absence when she is out of the United Kingdom or is temporarily ill. 

30. In the United Kingdom, William currently holds numerous honorary military titles and appointments, including Commodore-in-Chief of Her Majesty's Naval Base (HMNB), Clyde and Colonel of the Irish Guards (whose red tunic he wore at his wedding in 2011). In Canada, he is an honorary Canadian Ranger.

31. The Duke of Cambridge is second in line to the throne, following his father, Prince Charles.

32. At present, William's full title and style is His Royal Highness Prince William Arthur Philip Louis, Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn, Baron Carrickfergus, Royal Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Personal Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty The Queen

     Here's to wishing the Duke of Cambridge a Happy 32nd Birthday! May there be many more yet to come.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Prince Philip: Still Getting On After 93 Years

     What can one say about Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh?

     Well, he has certainly led an unusual and quite interesting life, even as a member of the British Royal Family.

Still living a remarkable life.
Image Credit: University of Salford Press Office via Flickr cc

     Born into a Greek Royal Family on the run from revolutionaries, Philip's childhood was chaotic and full of uncertainty. Eventually, the family became impoverished and broke up as Philip's older sister's were married off in quick succession, his father took to a mistress in the South of France, and his mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and committed to a sanatorium. Philip himself shifted around to live in France, Britain, and Germany. He was educated at several schools, and was reliant on his royal/noble connections for shelter, food, and some sense of security.

     If this sounds like the type of upbringing that produces a child with developmental and social issues, it certainly did not manifest itself in Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark. If it did have a negative effect, he certainly did not show it and just got on with his life.

     Now at the age of 93, it can certainly be said getting on with life and not making a fuss about things is central to how Philip has conducted himself over the years.

     From that difficult childhood, he made his way into the Royal Navy, where he excelled as a cadet at the Britannia Royal Naval College at Dartmouth. Soon after that, he served as an officer during World War II. He saw action in the Mediterranean and Pacific theaters, was mentioned in despatches, and was present in Tokyo Bay for the unconditional surrender of Japan.

The Royal Naval College at Dartmouth, where
Philip began a career in the Navy and met his future wife.
Image Credit:
Andrew Yong via Wikimedia Commons cc

     The sailor prince then got married to Princess Elizabeth, the heiress presumptive of George VI, after a courtship that had lasted for nearly eight years, and they soon began to have a family of their own. Prince Charles was born in 1948 and Princess Anne followed in 1950. It was expected that the young couple would not have to worry about Elizabeth's succession, allowing them to raise their children and for Philip to have a full career in the Royal Navy - rising through its ranks and eventually becoming First Sea Lord.

     But it was not to be. Within five years of their marriage, George VI passed away and his daughter was now Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. This effectively ended Philip's naval career because he was now a consort and expected to be at his wife's side to support her in carrying out her duties and responsibilities as Sovereign.

     Once again however, Philip put his personal feelings and desires aside. He looked forward to that naval career, but as ever, he simply got on with life - not only supporting the Queen, but also carving out his own existence. In the last 62 years, he has become patron of several hundred organizations, and has also created new ones - most notably and successfully, the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, which now has an international scope in helping young people to unlock and achieve their full potential.

In the shadow of the Queen.
Image Credit: West Midlands Police via Flickr cc

     But day in and day out, he has been an unflinching supporter of the Queen, dutifully walking two paces behind her.

     Over time, he was developed a reputation for speaking his mind - sometimes making what are referred to as gaffe's which at times have caused headaches for the Palace staff because of the perceived insensitivity and outright bluntness of some comments, such as appearing to complain on television (Meet the Press) that he might have to give up polo if the Royal finances went into the red during the 1960's and telling a President of Nigeria who was wearing traditional robes: "You look like you're ready for bed!"

     But Philip's risque tongue has endeared him with sections of public who see him as being himself and not always sticking to what his politically correct, and the Duke himself has taken criticism in stride - joking that the Queen has "tolerance in abundance" with regard to his statements over the years.

The Duke and the Queen preparing to attend the State Opening of Parliament in 2009.
Image Credit:
Grahamedown (Public Domain)

     Again perhaps, this is an example of the Duke shrugging off problems and just getting on with life. 

     He certainly appears to be well these days and looks sprightly for a man of 93, but there are concerns that his age and health have been catching up with him over the last couple of years. 

     Philip was hospitalized during the Christmas holiday of 2011 at the family's winter estate of Sandringham in Norfolk, England after suffering from chest pains, and underwent a successful coronary angioplasty and stenting.

     During the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend, he was hospitalized for a bladder infection, which may have resulted from him standing on the royal barge during the Thames River Pageant for over four straight hours in the cold and rain. The infection reoccurred during the summer holiday at Balmoral in Scotland, and he was hospitalized again as a precautionary measure.

     In June of last year, after having attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace and just days after commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Queen's coronation, 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. During that period, his third great-grandchild (and first great-grandson) Prince George was born.

66 years of marriage, and they are still going strong.
Image Credit: Carfax2 via Wikimedia Commons cc

     Given these recent health issues at his age, there have been suggestions that perhaps Philip should reduce his public activities and engagements. 

     But at 93, 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.

Last year, Prince Philip, as Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Canadian Regiment, Prince Philip, visited Toronto to present the 3rd Battalion with their Regimental Colors.
Image Credit:
Ninian Reid via Flickr cc

     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. His number of engagements predictably fell last year because of the “exploratory surgery”, which knocked him out of commission through much of the summer and early fall. 

     But in this year, he has made overseas journeys with the Queen to Italy (where they met Pope Francis for the first time) and more recently to France for a state visit that included commemorations for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

     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. 

Six decades of being on duty. An inspiration to us all.
Image Credit: Titanic Belfast via Flickr cc

     He is, in my opinion, one of the monarchy’s most invaluable assets, and is the Queen’s essential partner and companion. In an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr for the Diamond Jubilee, Prince Harry said that he did not believe that the Queen could have carried on through the last six decades without Philip. His absence from the Diamond Jubilee Service of Thanksgiving was especially felt, as the Queen walked down the aisle of St. Paul’s Cathedral alone.

     If anything, they now need each other more than ever. Hopefully, the Duke will have many more years ahead of him with good health, so that he may remain the “strength and stay” of the Queen. 

     No wonder he is the Iron Duke.