The Queen Stays Put While Europe Experiences Abdication Fever

With yesterday's abdication announcement, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia look to their son, Prince Felipe, to continue the Spanish monarchy.

With yesterday’s abdication announcement, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia look to their son, Prince Felipe, to continue the Spanish monarchy.

When people learn that I have a royal blog, I am often asked when the Queen will step down and Charles will become King. With yesterday’s news that Spanish King Juan Carlos is abdicating, this question has again come my way. Traditionally, reigning as a King or Queen was considered a lifetime job. The monarch’s place on the throne was usually secure until they were overthrown or died either in battle or from old age. Throughout 2013-2014 many of Europe’s monarchs have bucked this “job for life” tradition and passed their duties down to the next generation of younger royals.

With former Queen Beatrix smiling proudly, the new King of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, and his wife, Queen Maxima, celebrate their coronation day with their daughters.

With former Queen Beatrix smiling proudly, the new King of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, and his wife, Queen Maxima, celebrate their coronation day with their daughters.

The abdication trend started in the Netherlands in January 2013. After ruling for more than three decades, 75-year-old Queen Beatrix used the 200th anniversary of the current Dutch crown to step aside in favor of her 46-year-old son Willem-Alexander, who became the country’s first king since 1890. After signing a short document relinquishing her rights to the throne, Beatrix told the crowds gathered outside the royal palace, “I am happy and grateful to introduce you to your new king, Willem-Alexander.”

For the Dutch, abdication is a regular part of their royal tradition that happens with little fanfare or disruption. Beatrix’s grandmother, Queen Wilhelmina, abdicated in 1948 at the age of 68 and her mother, Queen Juliana, reigned for 32 years before passing the throne to Beatrix in 1980. Much loved by the Dutch people, Beatrix reassured them that even though she was stepping down, she would still be a part of their lives. “This doesn’t mean I’m taking leave from you,” she told a group of admirers in Dam Square outside the palace in Amsterdam.

King Philippe will need to work hard to be a unifying figure in an ethnically and politically divided Belgium.

King Philippe (right) will need to work hard to be a unifying figure in an ethnically and politically divided Belgium.

In July 2013, Belgium’s King Albert II announced he was abdicating in favor of his son, Prince Philippe, a 58-year-old fighter pilot. After ruling 20 years, 79-year-old
Albert retired due to old age. In an address to his nation, King Albert said, “I have noticed how my age and my health have not permitted me to exercise my duties the way I would like to.”

While age and health may be the main reason for Albert II’s abdication, ethnic friction between the northern and southern parts of Belgium where residents speak different languages may also have contributed to the King’s decision to let a new generation lead Belgium into the future.

2013 saw other notable abdications. While not a reigning monarch, the abdication of the 85-year-old Pope Benedict was a first in Vatican history. His decision to retire
because of his age made Benedict the first Pope in almost 600 years to renounce his post. In Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, decided to
step aside in favor of his son after ruling for 20 years. His son, Sheikh Tamim, became the youngest monarch in the region at the age of 33.

This picture of Juan Carlos with the elephant he killed while on safari in Botswana sparked outrage back home.

This picture of Juan Carlos with the elephant he killed while on safari in Botswana sparked outrage back home.

The Spanish King’s popularity suffered in 2012 after he broke his hip while on a luxury safari trip to Botswana. After the accident, Spanish news outlets ran a photo
showing the King next to an elephant he had shot, which appalled many Spaniards who were grappling with 25% unemployment. Making matters worse, during a pre-trip interview, the King said he was so distraught over Spain’s on-going economic crisis that he was having trouble sleeping. This contrast between the luxury trip and the King’s apparent insensitivity to the suffering of his people caused his popularity to plummet.

The Spanish royal family’s image was also tarnished by a scandal surrounding the King’s youngest daughter. Princess Cristina and her husband, Inaki Urdangarin, have been embroiled in a tax fraud and money laundering investigation and are accused of using funds from Urdangarin’s non-profit for lavish parties and personal expenses. The three-year investigation provided details into the privileged lifestyle of the Spanish royals at a time when 4.7 million Spaniards are unemployed.

The King’s declining health must have also been a factor in his decision. In recent years, the King appeared frail and distracted in public, partly the result of his
advancing age and a series of surgeries following sporting accidents, which have required him to walk with the aid of a cane.

Crown Prince Felipe, his wife Princess Letizia and their two daughters, Sofia and Leonor, remain popular among Spaniards. Spain's constitution will need to be changed to allow his daughter, Princess Leonor, to succeed.

Crown Prince Felipe, his wife Princess Letizia and their two daughters, Sofia and Leonor, have remained popular among Spaniards. Spain’s constitution will need to be changed to allow his oldest daughter, Princess Leonor, to succeed as Queen one day.

During his abdication announcement, King Juan Carlos said it is “time to hand over to a new generation” and remarked on the suffering the economic crisis had caused his people. “The long, deep economic crisis we are going through has left a lot of scars socially, but it is also pointed toward a future of hope,” he said.

After the announcement, the crowds gathered outside the royal palace in Madrid expressed a variety of feelings about the abdication.

“Change is good, new blood could be good, why not?” said Spaniard Natividad Andres.

Another Spaniard, Lola Garcia, expressed uncertainty about Spain’s future and what the abdication meant. “It’s a shame. I’m really sorry,” she said. “I don’t know what’s
going to become of Spain and I don’t like what I see coming.”

Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, facing declining health, hand-picked Juan Carlos to be his successor. While Franco hoped that Juan-Carlos would continue his regime's hard-line stance, after Franco's death in November 1975, the new King quickly instituted new reforms.

Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, facing declining health, hand-picked Juan Carlos to be his successor. While Franco hoped that Juan-Carlos would continue his regime’s hard-line stance, after Franco’s death in November 1975, the new King quickly instituted new reforms.

How history will judge King Juan Carlos is still to be determined. Once one of the world’s most popular monarchs, Juan Carlos was admired for his service to Spain and defense of democracy after dictator Francisco Franco‘s death in 1975. Many consider the King’s finest hour to be his decisive stand to stop a right-wing military coup in 1981 when he went on television and said that the monarchy would not tolerate attempts to interrupt democracy by force.

Royal watcher Richard Fitzwilliams calls the King’s abdication a tragedy and says there is a “tremendous amount of goodwill” toward Juan Carlos despite the recent scandals. “He wanted to go down in history as the king who was a symbol of national unity for a very disparate Spain,” Fitzwilliams said. “Spaniards – many of them older – are great admirers of his.”

George III suffered from a mental illness, which was possibly a symptom of the genetic disease porphyria, although a study of samples of the King's hair published in 2005 revealed high levels of arsenic, a possible trigger for the his erratic behavior. The source of the arsenic is not known, but it could have been a component of medicines or cosmetics.

George III suffered from a mental illness, which was possibly a symptom of the genetic disease porphyria, although a study of samples of the King’s hair published in 2005 revealed high levels of arsenic, a possible trigger for the his erratic behavior. The source of the arsenic is not known, but it could have been a component of medicines or cosmetics.

In contrast, Britain’s 88-year-old Queen Elizabeth II has made it clear that retirement is not for her. British monarchs reign until the end, even if it is a violent end like Charles I, who lost his head in 1649, or Richard III, who was killed in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth field. British monarchs are also allowed to go mad like George III or become a recluse like Queen Victoria after the death of her much beloved Prince Albert, as long as they remain on the throne.

One of the factors that keeps Queen Elizabeth firmly on the throne is the fact that there has been only one voluntary abdication in British history: that of her uncle
Edward VIII in 1936. While Edward VIII’s abdication sent shock waves through the country, it impacted young Elizabeth’s family even more. Her parents viewed Edward VIII’s decision to abdicate to marry Wallis Simpson as a selfish betrayal of duty. The Queen Mother always believed that becoming monarch was difficult for the gentle-spirited George VI and contributed to his early death at age 56. For the 10-year-old Princess Elizabeth, she went from being a relatively normal (albeit royal) young girl to the future heir and most famous little girl in the world.

Taken after the announcement of the abdication in December 1936, this family portrait shows the new King and Queen with their daughters Elizabeth, who is now heir to the throne, and Margaret.

Taken after the announcement of the abdication in December 1936, this family portrait shows the new King and Queen with their daughters Elizabeth (left), who is now heir to the throne, and Margaret Rose (right).

The Queen’s sacred vow is another reason that abdication is unthinkable. During a visit to South Africa in 1947, the 21-year-old Princess pledged to her country: “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and to the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.” A deeply religious woman, the Queen believes that her role as monarch is God-given, which doesn’t permit her to quit.

In a speech before both houses of parliament during her 2012 diamond jubilee, the Queen re-dedicated herself to the service of her country for the rest of her life. This
re-dedication left no doubts that the Queen’s service to her country would continue until her death.

The Queen’s cousin, the Hon Margaret Rhodes, confirmed on the Queen’s 80th birthday that retirement is not an option. “It’s not like a normal job, it’s a job for life,” she said. The vow the Queen made on coronation day was “so deep and so special” to the monarch that she “should wouldn’t consider not continuing to fulfill those vows until she dies”.

The Queen and Prince of Wales share a laugh while in Scotland. The two clearly share a bond and will work well as a team to share royal responsibilities in the years to come.

The Queen and Prince of Wales share a laugh while in Scotland. Charles and his children will be a major asset to the Queen as she cuts down the number of her engagements in the years to come.

Even with her good health, the Queen’s advanced age has required her to re-examine how she will handle her responsibilities in the years to come. A “job-sharing” program has been put in place by the Palace, with Prince Charles beginning to take on some of the Queen’s engagements. English writer Hugo Vickers confirms that the younger generation of British royals are increasingly assuming more of the sovereign’s workload. “The Queen has a royal family to support her. She doesn’t have to do long-haul flights if she doesn’t want to,” he said. “There is now a three-tier family with the Prince of Wales to support her and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry flying all around the Commonwealth.”

With the support of her family, it is possible the Queen could continue her role for another 10 years. If she’s anything like her mother, who lived to be 101, there is little doubt the Queen will overtake Queen Victoria’s long reign of 63 years and 217 days in September 2015 and become Britain’s longest reigning monarch. In the meantime, 2013 also marked a significant milestone for 65-year-old Prince Charles, who became the oldest heir to the British throne. If the Queen continues firing on all cylinders as she has been, Charles may still have a while to wait before becoming King like his European cousins.

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Author Amy Licence Examines the Life & Death of Richard III

Even 600 years after his death, controversy continues to surround Richard III. The discovery of his long-lost remains beneath a Leicester car park in 2012 seemed to provide resolution and closure, but instead the discovery raised many more questions than it answered. Variously portrayed as a pious and devoted ruler and a power-hungry schemer willing to murder his nephews to hold the throne, Richard III remains a mystery. For hundreds of years these kinds of contradictions have left historians scratching their heads and wondering about the King’s real character and why these descriptions are so confused.

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Author Amy Licence

In her book Richard III: The Road to Leicester, author Amy Licence sorts through the rumors and legends to give the reader a sense of who the real Richard III might have been. With a background in Medieval and Tudor studies, Licence transports the reader into another era, bringing to life the people and places surrounding King Richard III. What results is a thoughtful and nuanced examination of Richard’s character and why he became such a reviled figure in the centuries after his death. Finally, Licence brings the reader full circle, recounting the discovery of Richard’s remains in 2012 and the current debate surrounding his internment.

Below author Amy Licence discusses her book Richard III: The Road to Leicester and shares her thoughts on the creation and evolution of this gripping book.

What made you want to write a book about Richard III? What drew you to his story?
There’s just something about Richard! I suppose it is the level of controversy that is still generated by the unsolved mysteries of his reign, but also the nature of his motivation and personality. With so little surviving material about contemporary events and no personal record of his feelings, there are a range of possible interpretations which will probably never be satisfyingly resolved. I was also drawn in by his artistic and literary “after-life”, and the impact he has made on popular culture.

richardIIIcoverWhat kind of research did you do for this book?
My research was a mixture of primary sources and the traditional biographical interpretations for his life story, but as this book deals with the events of his burial and popular portrayals of him, I used a wider range of sources. Those included my own notes from the University of Leicester’s press releases, archaeological papers, museums, galleries, film archives and literary sources, to establish exactly what did happen to him after death, what the archaeologists found and how he has been represented since.

There are many different portrayals of Richard III in history: some show him as a deformed, power-hungry schemer willing to do whatever it took to remain in power, while others showed him as a model of devoted governance and personal piety. What do you think Richard III was like?
Just like us, Richard was a real person, often acting for the best, sometimes unsure and sometimes inconsistent. We shouldn’t expect to see a unified Richard but, rather, someone who developed and changed, so the “real” Richard is hard to capture. He does seem to have been a typical Medieval aristocrat in some ways; loyal, ambitious, hard-working and pious, but he did find himself in an extraordinary situation in 1483. Events like that can lead people to act out of character. It really boils down to the question of his motivation and how we interpret his actions in becoming King, either as reactionary or some pre-planned scheme. I can’t pretend to know what Richard was like but from my research, I think he acted in accordance with the situation he found himself in but his character is elusive, in that it is masked by dramatic events.

Richard's nephews, Edward, born in 1470, and Richard, born in 1473, were confined to the Tower. It is unknown what happened to them.

Richard’s nephews, Edward, born in 1470, and Richard, born in 1473, were confined to the Tower. It is unknown what happened to them.

What are your feelings on what may have happened to Richard’s nephews (the Princes in the Tower)? Do you think he had his nephews killed to further his own political ambitions? Do you think they might have escaped?
I’m often asked this one and I can only offer my opinion based on what is known about the summer of 1483. I do this with the awareness that we probably only have the tip of the iceberg here and with an open mind to whatever new information may emerge in the future. The Princes were in Richard’s care; he lodged Edward in the Tower awaiting his coronation and took the younger boy, Richard, out of sanctuary to be with his brother. After June 1483, the Princes weren’t seen again. Their doctor records that Edward was in fear of his life. By the autumn, rebels acting against Richard were no longer citing Edward as their figurehead but had transferred allegiance to Henry Tudor, suggesting it was a commonly held belief that the boys were dead. It would be lovely to believe they had escaped and lived happy lives elsewhere but I feel that the most obvious answer here is the simplest one. My personal opinion is that Richard knew the Princes would always be the focus for uprisings against his reign, or the claim of his son, so he had them removed. That seems the most likely scenario to me, although until the urn in Westminster Abbey is opened and the bones in there subject to DNA testing, this question cannot begin to be resolved.

Why do you think Richard was so determined to marry Elizabeth of York? Were his motivations purely political?
I don’t think he was determined to marry her at all. There is no evidence that he wanted to marry her; the report made by the Croyland Chronicler of “scandalous” behaviour and the reputed letter Elizabeth wrote to John Howard, can all be interpreted in different ways. The only public statement that Richard made was to deny his intention. It has become a full-blown affair in the minds of novelists, which is entirely their prerogative. If he did harbour any secret desires, he left no record of them. It has often been stated that he would have gained politically by a marriage to Elizabeth, but this would not have strengthened his claim to the throne, it would have been to prevent her marriage to Tudor, and he could have achieved this by marrying her elsewhere. After Anne died, he opened negotiations for Portuguese marriages for them both.

King_Richard_III-small-turned-leftRichard III joined the Battle of Bosworth Field, bravely fighting alongside his fellow nobles and soldiers. At that time, was it common for Kings to join in battles instead of remaining safely in the back (as was the case by the 1600s)? Why would a King put himself at such risk?
Yes, he was following in the tradition of the Plantagenet Kings and had fought alongside his brother Edward to defend the throne. It wasn’t necessarily seen as a risk; as they believed that God was on their side, they engaged in battle with the conviction that they would lead their troops to victory. It was vital to have a King as a focal point to rally the troops. As we see with Henry VI, his absence during battle was a significant factor- when he was actually among his men at Ludford Bridge, it was enough to dispel the Yorkist army. It could win or lose the battle.

It is fascinating that by 1611 it was unknown where Richard III was buried and his bones were lost. How did this happen?
It was mostly due to the Reformation. With the literal destruction of monasteries, churches and the thousands of tombs they contained, a lot of bones were burned or misplaced. Part of the process was an irreverent recycling of church artefacts, such as altars and tomb stones being used as door steps or table tops in domestic settings. Once that generation and their children were lost, the memories started to fade and pass into legend, with all its distortive qualities. Also, it wasn’t particularly politic to recall Richard during the Sixteenth century. By the time people began to be interested in him again, records had been lost and myths replaced facts.

After his death, how was Richard III’s memory distorted (for example in the writings of Vergil, More, Shakespeare, etc.)? Why and how were these portrayals of Richard III flawed?
Every second-hand account of Richard is flawed somehow. Even those people who wrote about him who actually saw him with their own eyes have to be treated with caution, as they are only one person’s interpretation. Factor the new Tudor regime into that and you have a lot of unreliable material. However, we can’t reject it entirely as it is the only material we have and does represent cultural perceptions of Richard at different times. Vergil was employed by Henry VII to write a history of his reign and path to the throne, so there are no surprises that his account will be slanted in favour of the new regime. More was writing within a tradition of didactic literature; the Medieval mind invested firmly in the authority and intervention of God, so that if something went wrong – like a King dying in battle – there had to be a good reason for it. More’s account belongs to this kind of writing, which seeks to explain misfortune or bad events by creating a moral framework around them. His Richard is simply a medieval morality figure, an instrument, rather than the true portrayal of a real man. Shakespeare followed the same tradition, although he presents a far more attractive villain, as was the style at the time, with Iago, Macbeth and Faustus.

Based on DNA evidence, it was confirmed that the bones found under a car park in Leicester were those of Richard III.

Based on DNA evidence, it was confirmed that the bones found under a car park in Leicester were those of Richard III.

There is currently a legal battle underway disputing whether Richard III should be buried in Leicester or York. What are your thoughts on this dispute? Where do you think Richard III should be buried?
I’m not entering into the York-Leicester debate. All I want is a suitable burial, the current situation has dragged on for far too long and needs to be resolved as soon as possible so he can be laid to rest.

Once it is decided where to bury Richard, will you go to the ceremony for his reburial?
I would like to, but it all depends when it takes place. I’m a full-time mum to boys aged 4 and 20 months, so if it fits in with them, I would go.

What would you like the reader to take away from your book on Richard III?
There are two things really that I hope the reader will take away from this book. Firstly, that Richard was a real man and no one source or viewpoint of him is representative. Secondly, I hope people will be interested in Richard’s cultural afterlife, in the way he has been rewritten and repackaged in art, literature, drama, film and popular culture. All these are important representations of Richard’s changing status and reflect just how subtly subjective culture can be. If anything, I hope it will encourage the reader to be a more active interpreter of fiction and non-fiction sources, seeing that both contribute to the cultural construct of Richard III.

Amy Licence’s new book Richard III: The Road to Leicester is available from Amberley Publishing, amazon.com and amazon.co.uk.

You may also enjoy Amy’s latest book, Cecily Neville: Mother of Kings, the first full-length biography of Richard III’s mother, as well as her other books, Elizabeth of York: The Forgotten Tudor Queen, Anne Neville: Richard III’s Tragic Queen, In Bed with the Tudors and Royal Babies: A History 1066-2013. For more information on the Tudor period, please also consult Amy Licence’s personal website.

Amberley Publishing is offering a free copy of Richard III: The Road to Leicester – Please leave a comment to enter the drawing! – Thanks everyone for the wonderful comments, the contest is now closed.

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Best Wishes to Her Majesty on Her 88th Birthday

The Royal Firm raises a glass to Her Majesty on her 88th birthday! Lovely picture for celebrating!

Queen_88th_birthday

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Royals Engage in Island Diplomacy

From the arrival of the Cambridge family yesterday in New Zealand to the Queen welcoming the Irish Prime Minister today, this week is all about island diplomacy for the British royals.

On arrival in New Zealand at the start of their tour, adorable eight-month-old Prince George stole the spotlight from his parents.

On arrival in New Zealand at the start of their tour, adorable eight-month-old Prince George stole the spotlight from his parents.

William and Kate’s touchdown in New Zealand yesterday with eight-month-old baby George launched what will surely be a visit overflowing attention from the world’s press. While it was only Prince George’s second official appearance, he handled the attention like a seasoned pro. With a head full of blond hair similar to his father’s, chubby cheeks and a few healthy teeth, George seemed to take the press photographer’s interest in stride.

In this official photo released prior to their trip, George and family pet Lupo gaze adoringly at each other. Undoubtedly George will miss his best friend during his time away.

In this official photo released prior to their trip, George and family pet Lupo gaze adoringly at each other. Undoubtedly George will miss his best friend during his time away.

After an official welcome at the airport, William and Kate traveled to the official residence of the governor general, where they were treated to a traditional Maori welcome.

The traditional Maori welcome ceremony included meeting dancers in native dress.

The traditional Maori welcome ceremony included meeting dancers in native dress.

This welcome will be the first of many on their three-week journey of New Zealand and Australia, where they will visit Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Queensland, Adelaide and Canberra. While in New Zealand, the royal couple will visit a Maori tribe, a rugby stadium, a vineyard and take part in a yacht race.

Prince Charles escorted Irish President Michael Higgins to Windsor, where he was introduced to the Queen and Prince Philip.

Prince Charles escorted Irish President Michael Higgins to Windsor, where he was introduced to the Queen and Prince Philip.

Meanwhile, back in London, the Queen was marking a truly historic day. Following her groundbreaking visit to the Republic of Ireland three years ago, the Queen welcomed Irish President Michael D Higgins to the United Kingdom. Speaking at a banquet held in his honor at Windsor Castle, President Higgins called the UK and Ireland as “neighbors and friends” who should “no longer allow our past to ensnare our future”. Mr. Higgins has had a full day of ceremonial visits to mark his visit. This morning he was met at the Irish embassy in London by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall before heading to Windsor to meet up with the Queen and Prince Philip. The ceremonial welcome at Windsor was marked by a 21-gun salute, military bands and marching troops.

After paying their respects to Earl Mountbatten's memorial, President Higgins lays a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey.

After paying their respects at Earl Mountbatten’s memorial, President Higgins and his wife Sabine lay a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey.

President Higgins then went to Westminster Abbey, where he laid a wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior – a tomb of a British soldier of World War One – which is a customary part of all state visits. While in the Abbey, President Higgins and his wife Sabina stopped to look at a memorial to the Queen’s cousin, Earl Mountbatten, who was killed by an IRA bomb in 1979. It is these types of small, seemingly insignificant acknowledgements that are groundbreaking to both the British and Irish peoples.

At tonight's state dinner, guests enjoyed tournedos of Windsor Estate beef with wild mushrooms and watercress purée, various wines and a vanilla ice cream bombe for dessert.

At tonight’s state dinner, guests enjoyed tournedos of Windsor Estate beef with wild mushrooms and watercress purée, various wines and a vanilla ice cream bombe for dessert.

Remarking on the warming relationship between the two countries in a speech to both Houses of Parliament, President Higgins said, “I stand here at a time when the relationship between our two islands has, as I have said, achieved a closeness and warmth that once seemed unachievable.”  After recognizing the “pain and sacrifice” both countries had suffered in the years since Irish independence in 1922, Higgins continued, “We acknowledge that past but, even more, we wholeheartedly welcome the considerable achievement of today’s reality – the mutual respect, friendship and co-operation which exists between our two countries.” During his visit, which ends Friday, President Higgins is also scheduled to meet Prime Minister David Cameron at Downing Street, pay tribute to the work of Irish health professionals, and meet with business leaders and London Mayor Boris Johnson.

In her toast to the health of the Irish nation at tonight’s state banquet, the Queen said she had loved her Irish visit and found it “even more pleasing since then that we, Irish and British, are becoming good and dependable neighbors and better friends, finally shedding our inhibitions about seeing the best in each other.”  These visits, whether at home in London or down under in New Zealand, show that the British royals remain powerful diplomatic allies in creating new bonds and friendships among the people of the world and the United Kingdom.

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Exploring the Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn

As evidenced by the many books, movies and television programs about her, Anne Boleyn remains an intriguing figure in our popular imagination. Shortly after her arrival at the court of King Henry VIII in 1526, Anne became the focus of the King’s amorous attentions just when he was ready to discard his first wife for not producing a male heir. Anne managed to keep the infatuated Henry at bay until he demonstrated he was willing to challenge the might of the Catholic Church to divorce Catherine of Aragon, marry Anne and make her his Queen.

At court, Anne Boleyn was described as quick-witted, stylish and graceful. It was said she had a good singing voice and danced well, though opinions differed on her attractiveness.

In 1533, Henry’s first marriage was declared null and he quickly married Anne, who was crowned Queen later that year. In response, the Catholic Church excommunicated Henry, leading to England’s break from the Catholic Church, the formation of the Church of England and the start of the English Reformation. By September 1533, Anne gave birth to a baby girl, who later became Queen Elizabeth I. Following three subsequent miscarriages, Henry’s roving eye turned to young Jane Seymour, which set Anne’s downfall in motion.  In 1536, Henry accused Anne of treason and she was arrested.  During the short two weeks she spent in the Tower, Anne faced a jury of her peers, was found guilty, and was beheaded — England’s only Queen to be executed.

Victorian author Paul Friedmann’s two volume biography of Anne Boleyn charts Anne Boleyn’s spectacular rise and fall. Written in 1884, Friedmann’s biography was meticulously researched using original documentation and remains a mainstay for historians interested in Anne Boleyn and her world. After publishing her own book on Anne Boleyn, author Josephine Wilkinson was offered a unique opportunity to edit Friedmann’s original work for re-issue. In an extensive interview here, she shares her experience working as an editor on this landmark biography and her thoughts on Anne Boleyn.

Paul Friedmann wrote his two-volume biography of Anne Boleyn in the 1884 and the book is still used as a standard of reference by historians today. After over 100 years, why do you think this book remains relevant?

I think any work that is well researched and written in such an accessible and commanding way will always be an important reference for researchers, whatever era they live in and whether or not they agree with the author’s conclusions. Paul Friedmann, of course, worked extensively with original documents — not those printed in Letters and Papers, but the actual documents themselves, which are held in various archives and libraries across Europe, so his work will always stand as a valuable source.

You are credited as an editor of the new edition of Friedmann’s book. What kinds of edits or revisions did you contribute to the latest edition of the book?

My work as an editor of this work was purely technical — I transcribed the document from PDF into Word and ensured that everything came out correctly. This meant removing the marginal notes, checking that the text had come out correctly in each language and ironing out the funny characters that can crop up when software misreads certain letters and numbers. I also redid the index to match the new pagination. I did not revise Friedmann’s work in any way, but that was not the object.

An artist’s rendition of King Henry VIII romancing Anne Boleyn at court.

My commissioning editor had looked through the annotated bibliography that I included with my Anne Boleyn book and found the Friedmann title listed. He asked me if I thought it was worth publishing it in a new volume. I agreed that it was a very good idea, especially since no new addition had been done at the time and the original work was difficult to get hold of. I have always admired Friedmann’s work and thought it deserved a wider readership.

One of the reasons Henry VIII remains so famous is his six wives, of whom Anne Boleyn is perhaps the most well-known. Why do you think Anne Boleyn endures as a historical figure? What is it about her that contemporary people find so interesting?

Anne’s primary interest is that she is the only anointed and crowned queen of England to be executed (so far!). The story of how that happened is still, to some extent, shrouded in mystery. Although scholars are now more aware of the machinations of the Tudor court, there remain several theories about why Anne fell.

Then there is Anne herself. She was clearly a woman of great character, self-aware, self-assured and determined to live according to her personal codes of honour and right. She was a very intelligent woman, intellectual and artistically talented. She appeals to people today for all these reasons, but also because she held her own against a predatory and difficult authority figure, she won her man on her own terms and she exemplifies the female struggle against the ’glass ceiling’. It was only in the last few weeks that it all became unstuck; until then, she almost had it all.

King Henry VIII in all of his magnificent glory.

I’m not sure Friedmann’s book is unique in that respect — Elizabeth Benger wrote a lovely biography of Anne which went into detail about the Tudor world, and Agnes Strickland included a biography of Anne in her Queens of England series. Friedmann’s particular strength lies in his extensive use of original sources and his careful analysis of them. He also delved more deeply into the politics of the period, showing the importance of Anne’s story in Europe as a whole. Certainly such details help readers understand Anne’s world, and this is essential for assessing Anne, her actions and her ultimate fate.

Does Friedmann’s book contain any ideas or theories that have been proven outdated by contemporary scholars? If so, did your edits revise these ideas or theories?

As I mentioned above, I made no revisions, but simply produced a Word copy of the biography. My publisher then decided what he would do with it. Friedmann work is a classic and his theories stand alongside those of modern historians, especially as there is still disagreement regarding the causes of Anne’s fall.

Is there anything about this Friedmann’s book that you’d like to bring to the reader’s attention?

If readers can get hold of the original two-volume work, they might find Friedmann’s own introduction very interesting. Unfortunately me editor did not think it necessary to print it. Volume one also contains a full and very useful chronology of events.

It always makes me smile when I read Friedmann’s words (pp.250-1):  ‘After a time their [the people’s] interest in Anne’s fate died out’ – if only he could have seen into the future! I also admire his modesty when he states (p.255): ‘My object has been to show that very little is known of the events of those times, and that the history of Henry’s first divorce and of the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn has still to  be written.’ Certainly, historians have had new things to contribute, but Friedmann produced a wonderful piece of scholarship, a classic study.

Stay tuned for more details on Josephine Wilkinson’s next project via her blog and Anne Boleyn, written by Paul Friedmann and edited by Josephine Wilkinson, can be ordered from Amberley Publishing.

 

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Now Available in Paperback: Amy Licence’s “In Bed with the Tudors”

 Even now, 500 years after their deaths, imaginations are stirred just by hearing their names: Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, and Elizabeth I. Rife with adultery, illegitimacy, divorce, religious controversy, political scheming and powerful monarchs, fascination with the Tudor period endures. While television attempts to recreate what life was like during this era, author Amy Licence is much more successful reconstructing the public and private lives of the Tudors in her book In Bed with the Tudors. Taking the reader into the private world of both royal and common women, Licence shows the precarious nature of life for these women, including the experience of marriage, sexuality, childbirth, infant mortality and death, all of which could determine a woman’s ultimate fate.

With a Master of Arts in Medieval and Tudor studies, Licence’s exhaustive research embraces both historical figures and lesser known women of the era. Especially intriguing are the individual chapters focusing on Henry VIII’s six wives, detailing Henry’s obsession for an heir, his sexual appetites and intimate relationships with his spouses and mistresses.

In Bed with the Tudors transports the reader beyond the dry facts and reveals amusing and intimate anecdotes about the lives of these people, both royal and common, who lived so long ago. Below Author Amy Licence shares her thoughts about her enlightening book and the on-going allure of the Tudors.

You have a MA in Medieval and Tudor Studies. How did you become interested in this time period and the Tudors?
It began early; even as a little girl I enjoyed going to museums and visiting historical sites, then I began to read the novels of Jean Plaidy. I loved all the details about everyday life and the characters she brought to life so powerfully, which inspired me to go and get the actual biographies out of my local library: the first figure I really got interested in was Anne Boleyn. I was also lucky enough to grow up in an area that has lots of medieval and Tudor history. Near my parents’ house was an old castle which we used to visit and we were only a short distance from London, with all its royal connections. The thought that I was walking in the footsteps of people from the past really fired my imagination. When I moved to Canterbury to do my MA, I had some lessons based in Canterbury Cathedral and one of my homeworks was to research the iconography of the stained glass windows and the shrine of Thomas Becket. It made me realise that people from the past understood the world in different ways to us and that it could be misleading to apply twenty-first century reasoning when trying to understand them.

Elizabeth of York and Henry VII, parents of Henry VIII

Your book covers all of the members of the Tudor dynasty, beginning with Henry VII and his wife Elizabeth of York. While their marriage started as a political union, it eventually became an actual love match. How was this unique during this period?
Yes, it is a bit of a controversial marriage. There is still considerable debate today about how Elizabeth and Henry really felt about each other; some historians claim he disliked her because of her Yorkist family connections and recently it has been suggested that she was in love with Richard III, who Henry defeated at Bosworth Field. A few observations made by foreign ambassadors suggest they thought Elizabeth was oppressed by Henry but I really don’t think there is enough evidence to support this. On the contrary, we do have some insight into their marriage when Henry summoned Elizabeth to be with him before battle, the way they comforted each other over the loss of their son and the way Henry appears to have genuinely grieved for her after her death.

Just as with any marriage – past or present – the true nature of their union can’t be judged from the outside and emotions can change subtly over years with the shared experiences of parenting and loss. While it did start as a dynastic arrangement, they do seem to have developed a lasting affection, even if it wasn’t full blown passion. I suspect most Kings and their consorts settled into a working arrangement. However, there was a precedent with Elizabeth’s parents, who married for love, as did their son Henry VIII, so perhaps it wasn’t quite as unusual as it had been in earlier centuries.

An unconventional portrait by Hans Holbein, where Henry VIII’s stare directly confronts the viewer

Henry VII is notorious for his many wives and desperation for a male successor. In your opinion, why was Henry VIII so reluctant to leave his throne to his daughters? What factors drove his quest for a son and heir?
For Henry VIII, a female heir was unthinkable! Tudor perceptions of women meant that they were always subject to the control of their menfolk so to have a woman on the throne, dictating to her male subjects upset their sense of the order of the world. Also a woman ruler was likely to marry a foreign Prince, as there was no one in her own country of equal status but this made people fear that England would become controlled and manipulated to serve the needs of France or Spain. As it happened, Mary I did marry a Spaniard, Philip, although she was very careful to arrange matters so that she always took precedence. Mary’s gynaecological history also illustrates how the domestic nature of women’s lives- issues of fertility and childbearing- could come to eclipse the detachment they needed in order to run the country. Mary’s obsession with her husband and the need to have a child, along with her two phantom pregnancies played to misogynistic fears about the weaknesses of women.

In what ways did Henry VIII’s split from the Roman Catholic Church in 1534 affect the lives of the Tudors and everyday people in England?
This is a difficult one to answer and I don’t think there is one consistent theory that could be applied to all people and all places. Initially, it must have been alarming for many people to have centuries-old beliefs and ways banned overnight, such as pilgrimage and the cults of saints, the use of certain talismen, rites and charms, which provided emotional support at many stages of their lives. Such items allowed people to find meaning in situations they could not otherwise explain. The closure of the monasteries had a huge impact on landownership and the way that the infirm, poor and weak were provided for in society.

Amy Licence is also the author of Elizabeth of York, which was published in February, 2013 

In terms of the Tudors, it had a significant effect on Mary I, whose devout Catholicism brought her into direct conflict with her father’s and brother’s reforms; more lasting changes were brought in under Edward than Henry, who died still considering himself a Catholic. When she came to the throne, Mary was keen to reverse the changes and saw her failure to conceive as God’s punishment for not having done so, which I believe spurred her campaign of burnings.

In the long term, the changes and swings back and forth between practices must have been confusing. Personal faith was strong in Tudor times and I am convinced that people would not just have abandoned centuries old beliefs in order to please the Monarch: I think it boiled down to who they were more afraid of; their ruler or their God and for the Tudors, it would always be their God. People didn’t just abandon their beliefs without question and many would have continued to practise in private but there was a slow move towards Protestantism which occurred in the 1530s and 40s so that those of Mary’s generation were more likely to be Catholic but her half siblings were educated under different influences. Another big change was the accessibility of the Bible, which was made available in English, so that more people, especially women, could read it and make up their own minds. Court records show that many hidden Catholic items re-emerged into use in the 1550s and that under Elizabeth, a good number of people were punished for refusing to attend church, so I don’t think the everyday Tudors simply accepted these momentous changes without question.

Your book examines the intimate lives of royalty and regular people during the Tudor period. How did women’s lives change from the time of Elizabeth of York to Elizabeth I in the realms of marriage, childbirth and sex? Did their lot improve during this time?
Actually, I don’t think they really did. Some things changed for women, such as increased female literacy and the advent of the first female monarchs but this would have affected a small group of upper class women. When it came to issues of health and birth, medical knowledge did not significantly advance; more manuals were published on it and probably a few more women were able to read them but women’s rights and the dangerous nature of childbirth were just as limited in 1600 as they were in 1500.

The experience of being ruled by two women may even have increased misogynistic attitudes; I would even go as far to say that women may have been less respected as the sixteenth century progressed. The proliferation of ballads and broadsheets mocking women contrasts with more chivalric respectful depictions at the advent of the Tudor dynasty. In terms of marriage and sex, women were just as much men’s possessions as they ever were and the evidence in Court records of the way they were poorly treated by men is consistent throughout this period. Women would have to wait many more years before their lot improved.

Elizabeth I in her coronation robes

There are many theories about why Elizabeth I decided never to marry and instead remained the “Virgin Queen”. What do you think is the real reason she refused marry?
I think there is a lot of speculation over this, when actually the answer is quite straightforward. Elizabeth was very intelligent. She was also a pragmatist. Apart from the dangers of childbirth, she knew that to marry would mean a form of submission and she had seen in her childhood that only those with absolute power were safe. To marry would be to subject herself to the rule of a husband whose will and intentions may differ from hers and she was not prepared to be relegated to the position of wife.

Her court also evolved into what Edith Sitwell aptly described as the “Queen Bee and Hive” scenario; she was able to keep her Lords loyal through flirtation and emotional manipulation, which was very clever as it allowed them all to entertain hopes regarding her on a personal level. Once one of them had claimed her, that would end. She drew out the matrimonial game in order to keep them in submission to her and until she was relatively old, it worked.

Her self-invention as the Virgin Queen co-opted the previous Catholic cult of devotion to the Virgin Mary and allowed her to present herself as a semi-divine figure, a myth in her own life time. She had seen from her sister that for a Queen to adopt the traditional role of wife created a conflict of loyalties and could potentially divide the kingdom. I don’t think she was a man or had any sort of physical impediments that prevented her from marrying. I suspect these were the invention of those unable to accept her alternative definition of femininity: women were not supposed to be able to rule, yet here was a woman doing so successfully, ergo, she could not be a woman.

To illustrate what everyday life was like for women of all classes, In Bed with the Tudors contains many personal narratives from women who lived during this period. While researching the book, how did you find such intimate details about these people’s lives?
I really enjoyed researching this aspect of the book. Reading biographies and history books as I grew up, I often wondered about the everyday Tudors and wanted to know their names and experiences, so I set out to make this a priority. One problem is that far fewer records survive about those who were never in power, particularly women, but there is material out there. I found some evidence in Parish records of births, marriages and deaths. Some simply record facts but in others, the scribes add little notes and it is possible to work out things like illegitimacy, infant and maternal mortality and conception dates.

Then, there are the Court records that I spent a long time working with. There were local and County-based court sessions held every three months to address any transgressions, such as illegitimate births, arguments, accidents, property and marriage details. Sadly, most women only appeared in them when they had fallen foul of the law; it was easier to find details about poor women and servants than the well behaved middle class who conformed to social expectations.

Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, wearing her famous necklace with her initial “B”

Even now, hundreds of years later, the names of the Tudor figures can still create a sensation: Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I. Why do you think these historical figures continue to capture the public interest?
At this historical remove, such figures have a glamour that is both accessible but distant. They are the grown-up version of the fairy tales we read as children, of knights and princesses, except these people really lived and their stories are more fascinating than any make-believe. It is both escapism and an alternative realism at the same time. We know just enough about them to be able to empathise but not enough for them to shed their sense of mystery. Henry and his wives will always fascinate us because of the passion and opulence of their lives; Anne’s rise to power is a strikingly modern story and her rapid fall continues to evoke shock and sympathy. Elizabeth’s incredible strength and intelligence also makes her atypical of her times. Their lives were full of twists and turns; we can experience their danger at one remove because ultimately, hindsight makes their suffering “safe” in the same way that it is when we read about fictional characters. But I think it is ultimately about romance; people will always love to read about love affairs and the triangle of Henry-Catherine-Anne and the passion between Elizabeth and Dudley will never fade.

Who is your favorite Tudor historical figure and why?
It’s difficult to choose just one as there are so many fascinating figures around during this time. I think what interests me as a historian is the element of mystery, of unanswered questions which provides a bit of a challenge.

At various times, I’ve been interested in different people, starting with Anne Boleyn, who still interests me, although there is now a lot more material being published about her life.

Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon

As I’ve researched more, I have found Catherine of Aragon to be an impressive woman, who stuck to her principles, although I sometimes wonder if she was too stubborn and perhaps she and her daughter suffered as a result: did she prioritise her queenship over motherhood?

Most of all, I’m interested at the moment in Elizabeth of York. I’ve just finished writing a biography of her and yet she still feels like an enigmatic character to me. Her personal feelings were not recorded in the way that those of Henry’s wives were, so we are left to imagine whether or not she really was in love with her uncle, Richard III, or how she felt about the imposter Perkin Warbeck who tried to impersonate her dead brother. On paper she appears the ideal Tudor queen, yet as a person, she remains mysterious.

The title of your book In Bed with the Tudors is quite provocative. How did you come up with this title?
I needed something that would grab people’s attention and I wanted a title that wasn’t just a usual variant of the usual Tudor titles. It also needed to highlight the intimate nature of the subject I was studying, suggesting that this book would get readers up close and personal with those domestic details that normally get overlooked. This isn’t a book about politics, it gets in between the bed sheets to talk about adultery, fertility, hygiene and bed lice; all the dirty laundry of history. As I was writing, it just occurred to me.

What do you want readers to take away from your book?
I think I came round to this when I wrote the introduction, which was the last thing I did. I wanted women in particular to realise how lucky we are today, with all the medical and social advances of the twenty-first century. One thing I think is tricky about studying the past is trying to get inside the late medieval mindset and I hoped that by explaining the limits of contemporary understanding, that readers would be able to appreciate why people of the past made the decisions they did. Most of all, I wanted it to be accessible, especially for those who might not enjoy a more formal, traditional approach to the subject: I wanted my readers to enjoy it and feel they understood a little more about what it was like to live in those times.

Amy Licence’s book In Bed with the Tudors is now available in paperback on amazon.co.uk and amazon.com. For more information on the Tudor period, please also consult Amy Licence’s personal website.

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Prince Charles Celebrates Lifetime of Achievement on His 65th Birthday

Prince Charles and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall visit Akshardham Temple on November 8th during their nine day tour of India.

Prince Charles and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall visit Akshardham Temple during their nine day tour of India.

As Prince Charles marks his 65th birthday this Thursday, November 14th, he reaches an age when most people prefer to focus on drawing a pension, blissful days of retirement and slowing down. Instead, Prince Charles has steadily increased his royal duties, including this week’s tour of India and Sri Lanka where he will be representing the Queen at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, Prince Charles is proving that he’s just getting started.

Prince Charles doesn't really eat lunch. He sometimes has a sandwich but nothing else. If he is out working he may just have a drink of orange juice. This is probably why he is the exact weight as 30 years ago and still wears all of his old suits and uniforms.

Prince Charles doesn’t really eat lunch. He will sometimes have a sandwich but nothing else. If he is out working he may just have a drink of orange juice. This is probably why he is the exact weight as 30 years ago and can still wear all of his old suits and uniforms.

To mark the occasion, many publications are paying tribute and reflecting on Charles’s life as the oldest monarch-in-waiting in British history, surpassing William IV, who was 64 when he ascended to the throne in June 1830. An interesting quote from a tribute in Time magazine describes Charles as “a royal activist, deploying his influence to move the dial on everything from climate change to community architecture, integrated medicine to interfaith relations”. The article continues, “His supporters hail him as a visionary; his detractors dismiss him as a privileged crank. Inside the bubble of his strange existence that notion of privilege is undercut by a sense of lifelong isolation, a childhood short on parental warmth, a sinew-toughening education that separated him from his three siblings, a culture that still sees many of those close to him bending the knee and calling him ‘Sir’.”

In Switzerland in 1980, Charles tries a disguise to fool waiting photographers (it didn't work).

In Switzerland in 1980, Charles tries a disguise to fool waiting photographers (it didn’t work).

In the Time article, Britain’s former chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks describes Prince Charles as “both ahead and behind his time. He is not of his time.”  In the 1980s-1990s Prince Charles was ridiculed for his strong belief in organic farming, for protecting the environment by banning his then-wife Princess Diana from using hairspray that contained environmentally unfriendly chemicals and for preferring homeopathy and natural medicine instead of conventional medicine. Today, one could credit Charles as a visionary since many of these beliefs have now penetrated our mainstream culture.

During a speech when he was only 29 years old, Charles reflected on the many years before he would become King. “My great problem in life is that I do not really know what my role in life is,” he told an audience at Cambridge University, viewing the idea of a life with nothing to do as a form of torture.

Charles, William and Harry pose for their 2004 Christmas card. Charles turned down a cameo role in Doctor Who despite having been a fan of the show since he was 15. But he did make a guest appearance as himself in Coronation Street's 40th year anniversary episode.

Charles, William and Harry pose for their 2004 Christmas card. Charles turned down a cameo role in Doctor Who despite having been a fan of the show since he was 15. But he did make a guest appearance as himself in Coronation Street’s 40th year anniversary episode.

In search of a role, Charles solicited advice from many people including his grandmother, the Queen Mother, his beloved great uncle Lord Mountbatten, and even Richard Nixon, who recommended Charles just be a “presence” (Charles rejected this advice). Finally, politician and diplomat Christopher Soames shared a life-changing secret with the young prince. Soames explained that few people would turn down an invitation to meet the heir to the throne, especially if a fancy dinner and high-profile guests were part of the mix.

Despite this friendly moment, Charles and his sister Princess Anne fought as children so Prince Philip gave each of them a pair of boxing gloves. They had to be taken away after Anne consistently beat her brother up.

Despite this friendly moment, Charles and his sister Princess Anne fought as children so Prince Philip gave each of them a pair of boxing gloves. They had to be taken away after Anne consistently beat her brother up.

Through these dinners, Charles lured many of the world’s most affluent guests to his table, extracting some of their wealth to fund his charitable endeavors. One example is a 2009 meeting where Charles brought to St. James’s Palace eight of the world’s elected leaders from Australia, France, Germany, Guyana, Indonesia, Italy, Japan and Norway, as well as then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, four British cabinet members, some non-elected leaders and heads of international institutes to discuss his idea for an emergency fund to protect the world’s rainforests. The meeting triggered an intergovernmental process that in 2010 created a $6.4 billion fund to help rain forest countries. World Bank head Bob Zoellick, who attended the meeting, said that any American witnessing this event would have voted at once for the restoration of the monarchy.

Charles on a surprise visit to the troops in Afghanistan in 2010. Charles holds the highest rank in all three military services as an honorary Field Marshal, Admiral of the Fleet and Marshal of the Royal Air Force.

Charles on a surprise visit to Afghanistan in 2010. Charles holds the highest rank in all three military services as an honorary Field Marshal, Admiral of the Fleet and Marshal of the Royal Air Force.

Charles has emerged into possibly the most productive period of his life. His work is meaningful, makes a difference and can be measured through some eye-opening statistics: From April 2012-March 2012, Charles raised $224 million for the 25 charities he founded. These same charities now employ 1,800 people. Since its founding in 1976, Charles’s flagship Prince’s Trust charity has helped over 650,000 young people. In addition to the 657 engagements he completed in 2012, Charles is now taking on some of the Queen and Prince Philip’s engagements, making him one of the busiest members of the royal family.

Prince Philip, the Queen, Prince Charles and Camilla share a laugh at the Braemar Games in 2006.

Prince Philip, the Queen, Prince Charles and Camilla share a laugh at the Braemar Games in 2006.

Charles’s personal life is thriving too. After the unhappy scandals and public fights with Princess Diana, he has found happiness in his second marriage to Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall. According to Time, Charles and Camilla share the same “sense of the ridiculous” that can make them lose their regal composure.  This summer, during a display of clog dancing at Llwynywermod, their home in Wales, she laughed until her mascara ran, and he laughed with her, their affection palpable. In addition to his happy marriage, Charles is enjoying watching his sons become men. Overflowing with happiness at William and Catherine’s wedding, Charles has made no secret of his joy of becoming a grandfather. As son Harry prepares to trek across Antarctica with charity Walking With the Wounded, Charles has taken great pride in Harry’s efforts to balance his distinguished military career with his dedication to his charities.

Following the example of his mother, Queen Elizabeth, Charles’s strongest legacy to date may well be his dogged and determined efforts to make the world a better place. With shining eyes, he says, “I’ve had this extraordinary feeling, for years and years, ever since I can remember really, of wanting to heal and make things better.” When reviewing his long apprenticeship as Prince of Wales and the work he’s completed to date, Charles is proving that he can carve out a unique and meaningful role while also creating lasting change for the people he serves.

Happy 65th birthday, Sir!

The official 60th birthday portrait of Prince Charles.

Prince Charles 60th birthday portrait.

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