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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Prince George’s Intimate Christening Focuses on Family

The Duke and Duchess arrive at the Chapel Royal with Prince George.

The Duke and Duchess arrive at the Chapel Royal with Prince George.

Since their engagement, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have demonstrated time and time again that they wish to live as normally as possible within the bubble of the monarchy. The first example of this was when William and Kate scrapped the official wedding guest list, which was made up of mainly dignitaries and government officials, and instead focused on including close friends and family. A few months later, on their first official tour of Asia, they kept the fuss to a minimum by limiting the number of staff traveling with them, instead preferring to handle as much as possible themselves. Later, after the July birth of their son, Prince George, William and Kate decamped from Kensington Palace to the country home of Kate’s parents, where they spent several uninterrupted weeks bonding with their new baby. As anticipation grew over the first photographs of Prince George, instead of enlisting a famous celebrity photographer, William and Kate issued a modest photo taken by Kate’s father Michael. The homey image showed a young couple enjoying a summer day outdoors with their baby and dogs. These small breaks with tradition and protocol are quickly becoming a trademark of the young couple who will serve as King and Queen, allowing William and Kate to shape the monarchy to fit their personalities, rather than allowing the monarchy to shape them.

Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince George join the Queen for a commemorative photo of the current monarch and her three heirs, similar to a photo taken in 1894 of Queen Victoria and her three heirs.

Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince George join the Queen for a commemorative photo of the current monarch and her three heirs, similar to a photo taken in 1894 of Queen Victoria and her three heirs.

The recent christening of Prince George provides additional examples of how William and Kate are damping down royal protocol in an attempt to live life as normally as possible within the royal firm. The days leading up to the christening were full of speculation about the identities of the royal godparents, with Prince Harry and Kate’s sister Pippa reported as the odds-on favorites. As a future King, some in the media believed the pedigrees of Prince George’s godparents would equal those of his father, whose godparents include King Constantine of Greece, Princess Alexandra, the Honourable Lady Ogilvy, the Duchess of Westminster, Lady Susan Hussey, Lord Romsey and Sir Laurens van der Post. Instead, William and Kate chose a thoughtful selection of friends and family to act as godparents to their first-born son. The eight people chosen included Prince William’s cousin, Zara Tindall, the daughter of Princess Anne, Oliver Baker, a close friend from the couple’s time at St. Andrew’s University, and Emilia Jardine-Paterson, a long-time school and university friend of Kate’s. One of the most accurately predicted names on the list was Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, who worked as Prince William’s private secretary from 2005 through this year and whose son William was a pageboy at the royal wedding in 2011. Two of William’s closest friends, Earl Grosvenor and William van Custem were also named, as was Julia Samuel, a close friend of Princess Diana. Another way the choice of godparents broke with tradition is that members of the royal family traditionally have six godparents, but William and Kate chose seven for Prince George to accommodate a wide mix of friends and family.

The Duke and Duchess pose with Prince George and their immediate families in this portrait taken in The Morning Room in Clarence House.

The Duke and Duchess pose with Prince George and their immediate families in this portrait taken in The Morning Room in Clarence House.

Tradition dictates that royal christenings take place in the ornate and imposing Music Room of Buckingham Palace. Instead, William and Kate chose to hold the christening in the more modest Chapel Royal at St. James’s Palace. Many in the press speculated that the Chapel Royal was selected because this was where the body of Princess Diana rested in the hours before her 1997 funeral and that using the Chapel Royal was one more way for William to keep his mother close. In fact, the Chapel Royal holds another, more recent and much happier memory for William and Kate: It was where Kate was baptized in 2011 prior to her wedding at Westminster Abbey. It is also likely that the couple preferred the intimacy of the small chapel instead of the opulence and formality of the Music Room in Buckingham Palace.

Prince George seems in good spirits in this family portrait.

Prince George seems in good spirits in this family portrait.

While Prince William’s christening included many extended relations, the 22-person guest list for Prince George’s christening was limited to godparents, close friends and family. Senior royals, such as Princess Anne, Princes Andrew and Edward and their families, were not invited in order to preserve the intimacy of the special day. The small number of guests helped to preserve the tone of family and privacy, rather than sending a message that the christening was a full-blown royal event.  Royal author Penny Juror observed, “I think they want this to be a private, family, normal kind of event.” Juror continued, “I don’t think they want it to be overly royal, overly posh or overly formal. They just want to get their child christened.”

Although these instances show how William and Kate streamlined the royal christening ceremony, some examples of royal tradition remained. The christening gown is a replica of the one worn by Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter in 1841. Since then, this gown (or the replica created in 2008) has been worn by over 60 royals on their christening day. The christening was performed as expected by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the water used to make the sign of the cross on Prince George’s forehead was from the River Jordan, a tradition for royal infants.  On a lighter fashion note, the Queen herself also followed tradition by wearing a blue outfit to both William and George’s christenings.

Prince George shares a smile with his parents on the day of his christening.

Prince George shares a smile with his parents on the day of his christening.

After the ceremony, the royal party and their guests adjourned to a reception hosted by Prince Charles at Clarence House for refreshments and the obligatory christening portraits. Those who attended the ceremony and reception commented that Prince George was well behaved throughout the proceedings, much to his parents’ relief. With his first official royal engagement completed flawlessly, Prince George can look forward to a lifetime of future royal events. Thankfully, he has fiercely protective parents who feel that privacy and normality is a valuable commodity. It is these traits that will continue to serve William and Kate well as they shape their lives outside of tradition while living inside the very public royal bubble.

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Prince William’s Transitional Year Begins with Investiture Ceremony

Awarded an OBE for services to tennis, Wimbledon champion Andy Murray was surprised that William spent over a minute talking to him during the ceremony.

Awarded an OBE for services to tennis, Wimbledon champion Andy Murray was surprised that William spent over a minute talking with him during the ceremony.

When leaving the RAF a month ago, Prince William announced he would be undertaking a “transitional year” to learn more about the monarchy and how it works. By hosting his first investiture ceremony on Thursday, Prince William got yet another taste of his future responsibilities as a full-time senior royal.

Those honored in the hour-long ceremony included Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, who was presented with an OBE. Selected for a random drug test that morning, Murray tweeted, “In the middle of a drug test hahaha I’m goin to be late!!” Thankfully, Murray managed to make it to the ceremony on time thanks to the expertise of his talented chauffeur.

Sir Kenneth Gibson, who has worked in education for 35 years and is currently executive head of several 'challenging' schools in the north east of England became a Knight during the ceremony. "I told him that it was a huge privilege to be the first person to be knighted by him and he acknowledged it with a smile."

Sir Kenneth Gibson, awarded a knighthood for his services to education, reflected on the ceremony afterwards, “I told him that it was a huge privilege to be the first person to be knighted by him and he acknowledged it with a smile.”

Other honorees included Vicar of Dibley sitcom producer Jon Plowman who was made an OBE, while conservationist Helen Butler and broadcaster Aled Jones were awarded MBEs. In recognition of his role managing security for the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Christopher Allison was awarded a CBE.

In the days leading up to the ceremony, aides reported that a “nervous” William spent time practicing using George VI’s sword and pinning medals on a servant to ensure that he got everything right. “He obviously doesn’t want to slice anyone’s ear off or stick a pin in their chest,” said the aide. “Above all, he realizes this is the biggest day in the lives of some people who are being honored, and he wants it to go well for them.”

Around 25 investitures are held every year, mostly at Buckingham Palace, but also at Windsor Castle and Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. While the ceremonies are mainly conducted by the Queen, they are also carried out by Prince Charles, and on rare occasions, Princess Anne.

While he has previously represented the Queen on foreign tours, Thursday’s ceremony was Prince William’s most significant role undertaken for the Queen to date. This is also one duty that William will regularly perform once he becomes King.

Actress Kate Winslet was awarded a CBE in 2012 for "services rendered to drama". While the Queen asked if she enjoyed acting, Winslet said yes, but that she enjoyed motherhood more. "Yes, it is the best job," replied the Queen.

Actress Kate Winslet was awarded a CBE in 2012 for “services rendered to drama”. When the Queen asked if she enjoyed acting, Winslet said yes, but that she enjoyed motherhood more. “Yes, it is the best job,” replied the Queen.

While it is unclear why the Queen asked William to conduct the ceremony on her behalf, the BBC speculates that it may be challenging for the 87-year-old monarch to fulfill the duties of the ceremony: standing for up to an hour at a time, leaning forwards to pin on the medals and wielding the heavy sword, all of which are tiring and put a strain on the Queen’s back.

The Queen has suffered for many years from knee problems and sciatica, which causes lower back pain and numbness in the legs. For every investiture, she stands for up to an hour to present the awards. Two years ago, the dais at Windsor Castle was lowered a few inches so the Queen didn’t have to stoop down so far to pin on the medals. “It’s quite a strenuous exercise to hand out the medals without mistakes, engage people in conversation and keep bending down,” said a royal aide. “The Queen has done it without complaint for years but now that she is 87, she will be delighted that William is stepping up to support her by taking on some of her duties.” Last year the Queen had to withdraw from an investiture at Windsor Castle with a bad back and Prince Charles had to fly down from Scotland to hand out 90 honors.

For a young Prince assuming his first responsibilities as a senior royal, it is understandable that Prince William would want to go slowly to ensure a job well done. From the reports of the honorees after the ceremony, William handled his new duties with ease. “It was obviously a big occasion, being his first one [investiture],” said honoree Andy Murray. “He seemed pretty relaxed to me. He gave everyone a fair amount of time. I’m sure he enjoyed it.”

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“We Could Not Be Happier” – Welcome Baby Cambridge!

After an eventful 24 hours, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge left the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s hospital today with their newborn son. Describing their first day as parents as “emotional”, William and Kate confirmed that they are still working on a name for the young Prince. At 8 pounds 6 ounces, William said that the baby is “quite heavy” and has a great set of lungs.

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Before leaving the hospital, baby Cambridge was introduced to some very special visitors: Michael and Carole Middleton, who were the first visitors to arrive, and Prince Charles and Camilla, who flew in by helicopter after completing their royal engagements in Yorkshire. Prince Charles, awash in the glow of becoming a first-time grandfather, described his grandson as “marvelous”. He then teased the reporters who waited almost three weeks in the hot summer sun for this moment by saying, “You’ll see in a minute.” A short time later, William and Kate emerged to introduce their son to the world.

Welcome baby Cambridge!

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