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Posts Tagged ‘Prince Philip’

First, please be sure you have read this post: “Princess Margaret’s Trip to America, 1979, Part One

It was August in 1979, a time when almost every Briton took a holiday to some faraway family home or destination. Queen Elizabeth II loved to go to Balmoral Castle in Scotland. This year, as in many years, she was spending the late summer with her sister, Princess Margaret, and some of the children. Princess Margaret had celebrated her 49th birthday at Balmoral on August 21. She was resting up for her October U.S. tour. The Queen Mother stayed nearby at Birkenhall. The Queen’s husband Prince Philip (the Duke of Edinburgh) was in France. Prince Charles (the Prince of Wales) was fishing in Iceland.

Every year Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom spends the summer break at Balmoral Castle, where she is joined by other members of The Royal Family. Queen Victoria bought the Castle in 1852. The original castle was built in the Fifteenth Century.

Aberdeen Press and Journal (Scotland)

Monday, August 27, 1979

Braemer’s Royal guessing game

Although Balmoral [Castle] is the holiday base for the Royal family at this time of year, individual members are constantly coming and going to attend public and private engagements. This always leads to interesting speculation on who will occupy the Royal Pavilion at the Braemar Gathering. On current information, Saturday, September 1 looks like being pretty much a ladies’ day.

At Balmoral at present are the Queen, Princess Margaret, Princess Anne, and Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones. The Queen Mother has been at Castle of Mey….On the male side at Balmoral are Prince Edward, Prince Andrew, and Viscount Linley [David Armstrong-Jones].

Royal visitors are a treasured tradition at the gathering but no one knows who will be present or when. It adds an intriguing touch to an already fascinating day.

“Uncle Dickie,” Prince Philip’s uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten, 79, was at his usual summer haunt, the family’s home in Ireland, Classiebawn Castle.

Louis Mountbatten with his daughter, Lady Patricia Brabourne, and her children, from left, Joanna, Philip, Norton and Amanda, in front of Classiebawn Castle, County Sligo, Ireland. (Getty Images)

 

Lord Louis Mountbatten, white-haired and wearing a black turtleneck, is boating with his family and friends aboard his wooden cabin cruiser, Shadow V, probably in Donegal Bay, Ireland.

Lord Mountbatten was a prominent member of Britain’s Royal Family with an impressive record as a war hero and elder statesman. In 1947, as the last Viceroy of India, he negotiated that country’s independence from the United Kingdom. On September 12, 1945, he received the Japanese surrender in Singapore, signaling the end of World War II. Since the age of 16, he saw active service in the Royal Navy rising to its highest rank—Admiral of the Fleet. He was very popular and gregarious. He is credited with having brought together his nephew Prince Philip with the then-Princess Elizabeth when she was only a teen. Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth were friends of his daughters, Pamela and Patricia.

Princess Elizabeth (Queen Elizabeth II) dances with Lord Louis Mountbatten during a fundraising dinner at the Savoy Hotel in London. July 3, 1951. Photo by Jimmy Sime/Central Press/Getty Images)

 

Charles, Prince of Wales and Lord Louis Mountbatten (Louis, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma)  cutting a ribbon to allow the public to enter Lord Mountbatten’s home, Broadlands in Romsey, Hampshire. May 22, 1979 (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

Prince Charles considered “Uncle Dickie” to be the grandfather he never had. He served as Charles’ mentor. By 1978, Mountbatten had grown concerned with Charles’ playboy behavior. He had hoped that Charles would settle down and marry his granddaughter, Amanda Knatchbull, but she turned down Charles’ proposal. Mountbatten warned Charles that he was “beginning on the downward slope that wrecked your Uncle David’s [Edward VIII, later, Duke of Windsor’s] life and led to his disgraceful abdication and futile life ever after.”

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Lord Louis Mountbatten, Earl Mountbatten of Burma

Aberdeen Press and Journal (Scotland)

Tuesday, August 28, 1979

Anger grows over killing of Lord Louis Mountbatten

Earl Mountbatten of Burma was killed yesterday when a bomb blew apart his boat as it sailed from a quiet harbor in the Irish Republic. A grandson and a teenage boatman died with him as terrorists struck at Mullaghmore, County Sligo.

Lord Mountbatten, 79, a second cousin of the Queen and uncle of the Duke of Edinburgh, was setting off on a holiday trip on his 29 ft. motor vessel Shadow V when the blast occurred.

The former Viceroy of India and wartime leader, known affectionately as “Uncle Dickie” to the Royal Family was already dead when he was brought ashore.

His 14 year-old grandson Nicholas was dead. So was 16 year-old Paul Maxwell, who was with the family as a crew member.

Lord Mountbatten’s daughter, Lady Patricia Brabourne, her husband, Lord Brabourne, and their son, Timothy, Nicholas’ twin—and the Dowager Lady Brabourne—were all badly injured.

After the blast the I.R.A. issued a statement in which they claimed responsibility for “the execution today of Lord Mountbatten.”

As fury over the latest violence mounted, the British Prime Minister [Margaret Thatcher] said, “By their actions today, the terrorists have added yet another infamous page to their catalogue of atrocity and cowardice. 

If reports of their involvement in the death of Lord Mountbatten prove true, they will earn the condemnation and contempt of people of goodwill everywhere.”

Speculation is that Mountbatten was checking the lobster traps on his boat when the fifty-pound bomb was set off by remote control by a terrorist at a distance. He did not die instantly, as was initially reported. His legs were blown off. Locals were carrying him out of the water but he died before reaching shore.

Belfast Telegraph (Northern Ireland)

Tuesday, August 28, 1979

Murder Toll Climbs

The death toll from the bomb explosion which killed Lord Mountbatten rose to four today. The latest victim was the Dowager Lady Brabourne, 82-year-old mother-in-law of Lord Mountbatten’s daughter. It was also learned today that three medical experts from Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital went to Sligo Hospital following a personal request from Buckingham Palace to give advice on the care of the survivors of the explosion.

Flags flew at half-mast throughout India today as a mark of respect for the country’s last Viceroy.

The Royal undertakers J. H Kenyon’s today flew in a chartered plane to prepare for the removal of the bodies of Earl Mountbatten and the Dowager Lady Brabourne.  A police spokesman said: “With the tides the wreckage has been scattered. There’s still quite an amount over Donegal Bay and on the shore. It’s a difficult job.” And it was also learned today that the bomb which destroyed Earl Mountbatten’s boat may have been left on the seabed in a lobster pot he [Mountbatten] checked each day.

There are reports that on Sunday holiday makers saw two skin divers emerge from the water near the line of lobster pots owned by Lord Mountbatten. This has strengthened the police theory that the bomb was in a lobster pot and not attached to the boat.

Viewpoint: Mountbatten: the glory and the grief

The murder of Lord Louis Mountbatten of Burma and the killing of 18 British soldiers by the Provisional IRA in one day marks a watershed. The horror of Irish affairs and the cold ruthlessness of Republican terrorists has been shown to the people of these islands in a starker dimension than at any time during the past ten years….

The gravity of events has been such that, internationally, the busy world has had to stop and stare….The impact in Britain is literally incalculable. Lord Mountbatten was more than a mentor to the Queen and the Royal Family. He was a father figure to the nation and an embodiment of all that was best in the British character….

The British public and the public in Northern Ireland are absolutely clear about the reality of terrorist firepower within the Irish Republic. It is a firepower that must be faced and faced down.

There is no doubt that Mr. Jack Lynch and other political leaders in the Irish Republic are deeply shocked and ashamed that such evil can spring from their midst….[W]ords are not enough, messages of condolence are not enough….Terrorists should no longer be able to hide behind the lack of extradition for so-called political crimes. Extradition must become a reality.

Prince Philip flies home

The Duke of Edinburgh is flying back to Britain tonight, arriving at London’s Heathrow Airport at 8 pm. on board an Andover of the Queen’s Flight….The aircraft will go to Iceland to bring Prince Charles home from a fishing holiday….Arrangements for Lord Mountbatten’s funeral at Westminster Abbey on September 5 are being worked out by Lord Chamberlain’s office…the Queen drove from Balmoral Castle to nearby Birkenhall to tell the Queen Mother personally of the tragedy.

Reading Evening Post (England)

Friday, August 31,1979

Round Up—100 arrests in police purge on the IRA 

POLICE CELLS were bulging today as a massive round-up of IRA sympathizers continued in the Irish Republic in the wake of the “Bloody Monday” killings. More than 100 people with terrorist links have so far been arrested. But although two men have been charged with the Mountbatten murder, another two are still eluding police.

Mourners Expected in their thousands

Earl Mountbatten is home. His body lies in the marbled Sculpture Hall at Broadlands, his estate near Romsey at Hampshire….Prince Philip and Prince Charles stood in silence…as the bodies flown home by the RAF were gently carried to the hearses.

 

The Funeral Of Lord Mountbatten of Burma following his murder by the IRA (L-R), Reverend Edward Carpenter, HM Queen, Prince Philip, the Queen Mother, Prince Andrew Prince Charles, Princess Margaret (at far right, straining to see something), Princess Anne, Captain Mark Phillips, the Dowager Duchess of Gloucester, gathered outside Westminster Abbey, London, September 5, 1979. (Photo by Central Press/Hutton Archive/Getty Images)

Click here to read:  “Princess Margaret’s Trip to America, 1979, Part Three.

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Wood Farm on the Sandringham Estate, a property of the British Royal Family

Since retiring from public service in August 2017, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, has spent most of his time at Wood Farm, a secluded cottage on the edge of the royal Sandringham Estate on the Norfolk coastline. The modest red-brick, five-bedroom property, just a few miles from the big house, allows Philip privacy and a place to indulge his many hobbies, among them, oil painting.

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Prince Philip, 1965. Credit: Rex Features

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“The Queen at Breakfast, Windsor Castle,” by H.R.H. Duke of Edinburgh. oil on canvas, 1965. This intimate view of the Queen of England, relaxing and reading the Racing Post at breakfast, is one of the pieces in Prince Philip’s private collection. Both the Queen’s reading material and the two paintings displayed on the walls of the Windsor Dining Room allude to her delight in horses.

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Prince Philip, pictured in 2006, took up carriage driving in 1971 after retiring from playing polo

In 1971, Prince Philip of England gave up polo. He was fifty years old. Not one to sit still, he cast about trying to come up with some other exciting activity that best befit his physical abilities. In a 2017 interview, Philip said,

I was looking round to see what next, I didn’t know what there was available. And I suddenly thought, well, we’ve got horses and carriages so why don’t I have a go. So I borrowed four horses from the stables in London, took them to Norfolk and practiced and thought – why not?

The Duke was instrumental in establishing carriage driving as a sport. He gathered a committee of equestrian experts to come up with a set of international rules for the fledgling sport. It involves dressage, time trials, and a challenging obstacle course. The sport involves either two or four-wheeled carriages pulled by a single horse, a tandem or four-in-hand team.

Philip took up the reins, competing on the British team at World and European Championships, touring many countries including Poland, Hungary, and the Netherlands. “It was very entertaining,” volunteered Philip.

What did Philip enjoy most about this thirty years of carriage racing?

They were all fun. I mean – it so happened, I don’t know why – but I always did rather well at dressage.* I didn’t manage the obstacles very well.

Interviewed at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, he shared that his favorite moment in carriage racing was, “Turning over here [Windsor] in the water.” Most of the carriages he raced were antiques and, in the rough and tumble of the sport, were regularly smashed up.

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Prince Philip drives the Queen’s Team of part-bred Cleveland Bays at Home Park Windsor in 1974

*Dressage is “the highest expression of horse training” where “horse and rider are expected to perform from memory a series of predetermined movements.”

Source: The Daily Mail

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pp2-750x499On January 17, Prince Philip of England, aka the Duke of Edinburgh, was involved in a two-car collision near the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk. Although he was accompanied by a female driver, Prince Philip was behind the wheel and bears the responsibility for the accident. Philip, 97, driving a black Land Rover, pulled onto the busy A149 and was T-boned by a black Kia carrying two women and a baby. The Land Rover rolled onto its side and Philip was pulled to safety through the 4 x 4’s sunroof as it lay on is side. He was shaken but conscious and unhurt. Two people in the Kia were treated for minor injuries. One witness said the Kia was smoking and looked as if it might explode. Philip explained that he was dazzled by the winter sun and, apparently, did not see the oncoming Kia.

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For photos and more, see The Daily Mail.

 

 

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Prince Philip and his wife, Queen Elizabeth II of England, are both direct blood descendants of Queen Victoria of England. They are both her great great grandchildren. Prince Philip’s mother, Princess Alice of Greece, was born at Windsor Castle with her great grandmother Queen Victoria present. Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II are related in four different ways. Through their connection to Queen Victoria, they are third cousins.

 

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Wonderful Readers: For more posts on the British Royal Family here on Lisa’s History Room, click here.

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What’s Prince Philip’s favorite drink? Check out our quiz to see how much you know about the Royal Family:

1. In which battle did George VI fight?
A. The First Battle of Ypres
B. The Battle of Loos
C. The Battle of Jutland
D. The Battle of Tumbledown

Queen Elizabeth II loves corgis.

2. What was the name of the first royal corgi, which was given to the Queen on her 18th birthday in 1944?

A. Sinbad
B. Susan
C. Senator
D. Sonata 

 
 

Queen Victoria celebrates her fiftieth year on the throne in 1887 at her Golden Jubilee. Queen Victoria lived from 1819-1901.

3. Who succeeded Queen Victoria?
A. Prince Albert
B. Edward VII
C. George V
D. Edward VIII

4. Of how many countries is the Queen head of state?
A. Four
B. Eight
C. 16
D. 21

5. What title did the British monarch also have until 1947?
A. King of India
B. Imperial Sovereign
C. Monarch of Asia
D. Emperor of India

6. In which naval engagement during World War II was Prince Philip mentioned in despatches?
A. Battle of Cape Matapan
B. Battle of Cape Potsandpans
C. Battle of Cape Cod
D. Battle of Barents Sea

The Duchess and Duke of Windsor in exile in France, years after the Duke AKA King Edward VIII abdicated the British throne in 1936.

 7. What was Edward VIII’s relationship to his successor, George VI?
A. First cousin
B. Father
C. Elder brother
D. Younger brother

8. What was the Queen Mother’s maiden name?
A. Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
B. Lady Elizabeth Glamis
C. Lady Elizabeth Bows
D. The Countess of Strathmore

9. Which king reigned throughout World War I?
A. Edward VII
B. George V
C. George VI
D. George VII

 
 
 

King George VI sits with Prince Charles of Wales. Charles was just 3 when the King died of lung cancer on Feb. 6, 1952.

10. What relation is Prince Charles to George VI?
A. Maternal grandson
B. Paternal grandson
C. Maternal nephew
D. Paternal great-grandson

11. How old was the Queen when she came to the throne?
A. 55
B. 45
C. 35
D. 25

12. Who did the Duke and Duchess of Windsor meet at Berchtesgaden in 1937?
A. Adolf Hitler
B. Charlie Chaplin
C. Tsar of Russia
D. Winston Churchill

13. In which war did Prince Andrew fight as a helicopter pilot?
A. Gulf War
B. Iraq War
C. Falklands War
D. Korean War

14. What was the name of the royal yacht decommissioned in 1997?
A. Britannia
B. Queen Elizabeth
C. Elizabeth and Philip
D. Queen Mary

15. What is Prince Philip’s favorite drink?
A. Bass
B. Brandy (Greek, of course)
C. Boddingtons
D. Bacardi

16. In which war did the Royal Family change their dynastic title from Saxe-Coburg to Windsor?
A. Boer War
B. World War I
C. World War II
D. Cold War

 
 
 

Princess Diana, spring 1997, photographed by Mario Testino

17. What was the maiden name of Diana, Princess of Wales?
A. Lady Diana Spencer
B. Diana, Lady Spencer
C. The Lady Diana
D. The Lady Spencer

18. Why is Prince Michael of Kent not in the line of succession to the throne?
A. He converted to Islam
B. He married a Roman Catholic
C. He became a Zoroastrian
D. He married without the Queen’s permission

19. What was the name of the most famous of Edward VII’s mistresses when he was Prince of Wales?
A. Lily Crabtree
B. Nell Gwynn
C. Mary Robinson
D. Lillie Langtry

20. Which monarch of the House of Windsor has reigned the longest?
A. Edward VII
B. George V
C. George VI
D. Elizabeth II

 
 
 

Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, as portrayed on a commemorative stamp

21. How old was the Queen Mother when she died in 2002?
A. 90
B. 95
C. 75
D. 101

22. Where was the then Princess Elizabeth staying when she heard of the death of her father George VI in 1952?
A. Treetops Game Reserve in Kenya
B. Stardust Casino in Las Vegas
C. Government House in Auckland, New Zealand
D. Ice Station Zebra in Antarctica

23. What post does the monarch hold in the Church of England?
A. Supreme Pontiff
B. Senior Governor
C. Supreme Ruler
D. Supreme Governor 

Queen Elizabeth's little sister, Princess Margaret, enjoying her bath.

24. Who did the Queen’s sister marry?

A. Antony Armstrong-Andrews, Lord Snowdon
B. Andrew Armstrong-Jones, Lord Mountbatten
C. Andrew Armstrong-Jones, Lord Snowdon
D. Antony Armstrong-Jones, Lord Snowdon 

25. What was Prince Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick, later Edward VIII, called by his family?
A. Edward
B. Bertie
C. Albert
D. David

26. Who was prime minister at the time of the Abdication Crisis?
A Stanley Baldwin
B Neville Chamberlain
C Winston Churchill
D Ramsay Macdonald

Queen Elizabeth II is greeted by Winston and Clementine Churchill as she arrives for a dinner given at 10 Downing Street on April 4, 1955. In leading his guests in the loyal toast to Her Majesty, Churchill noted that as a young cavalry officer he had proposed similar toasts during the reign of her great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria. He resigned as Prime Minister on the following day.

27. How many prime ministers have served under the Queen?
A. 13
B. 10
C. 14
D. 12

28. Who is The Keeper of the Royal Conscience?
A. The Archbishop of Canterbury
B. Prince Philip
C. The Prince of Wales
D. Ken Clarke

ANSWERS: 1 C. 2 B. 3 B. 4 C. 5 D. 6 A. 7 C. 8 A. 9 B. 10 A. 11 D. 12 A. 13 C. 14 A. 15 C. 16 B. 17 A. 18 B. 19 D. 20 D. 21 D. 22 A. 23 D. 24 D. 25 D. 26 A. 27 A. 28 D (as Lord Chancellor).

Source: The Daily Mail, Jan. 11, 2011

Readers: For more on the British Royal Family on this blog, click here.
11th January 2011

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Prince William of Great Britain and Catherine Middleton announce their engagement on November 16, 2010, in a side room at Clarence House, London.

This is the site of Prince William's October 20 proposal to Kate Middleton: at one of Kenya's stark Rutundu Log Cabins near Lake Rutundu on Africa's second highest peak. With no electricity, the couple, both 28, celebrated their engagement by a roaring fire and a bottle of bubbly. In an interview, the prince revealed that he had been carrying around the heirloom engagement ring in his knapsack for three weeks, all the time worried he might lose the irreplaceable relic that belonged to his late mother, Princess Diana.

The interior of the rustic Kenyan cabin where William proposed to Kate on Oct. 20, 2010.

Kate Middleton attended the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where she received an Art History Degree and met her future husband, Prince William, heir to the British throne. The university claims to be "Britain's top match-making university," asserting that 10 percent of its students met the person with whom they would eventually settle down.

“Kate’s Obstacle Course” by Tina Brown:

“The future princess not only fulfilled Prince William’s requirements, she persuaded the Queen her future granddaughter-in-law is nothing like Diana. Now all the royals have to do is make the wedding of the year look thrifty.

“No one has put in harder training to become a royal bride than the glossy-haired Kate Middleton. The eight-year wait has been fraught with tests she had to pass.

“First, discretion. Prince William’s smiling hostility toward the press is his non-negotiable core value. I am told he is so protective of his privacy he has been known to plant false tips with friends he distrusts and watch the media to see if they play out. William went ballistic at Christmas last year, when he suspected Kate might have been aware the tabloid snapper Niraj Tanna was lurking near a tennis court where she was playing on the Duchy of Cornwall estate, and that she graced the interloper with a camera-ready smile. Even her family has kept mum with no unruly relatives going rogue. The only telltale sign of possible impending nuptials has been Carole Middleton’s sudden suspicious determination to shed poundage on a prawn and cottage cheese diet.

“Second, virtue. The delicate issue of premarital experience has been managed by Kate with quiet dexterity. Her one known boyfriend before William at university, 22-year-old gifted cricketer Rupert Finch, never talked. Thirty years ago, Prince Charles had to go as young as 19 to find, in Lady Diana Spencer, something almost extinct in post-feminist times, a girl with a history and no past. But Diana’s shy virginity concealed a time bomb: her wounded, insatiable need for love.

A month after announcing their engagment, Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles attend a 1981 dinner at Goldsmith Hall. Diana was 19.

“There is nothing wounded about Kate. She’s from wholesome middle-class stock. She’s great ballast for William who, beneath his royal aplomb, is wounded too. She’s mastered the art of being what seems a contradiction in terms—appropriately edgy; the odd flash of midriff or nocturnal thigh in a too-short skirt for a nightclub excursion sexy but solid; middlebrow, not elitist. The only controversial thing she has ever done is wear sequined hot-pants and take a spill with her legs in the air at a Day-Glo Midnight Roller Disco charity event in South London, for which she did about two years’ penance.

September 2008: Kate Middleton arrives at the Day-Glo Midnight Roller Disco Charity event in South London in disco sequins, tiny shorts, and ready to roller skate.

Kate Middleton falls on the floor in a most unladylike sprawl. It was rumored that the Queen thought Kate was a show-off.

Kate Middleton has been embroiled in more than one sexy fashion faux pas. A case in point: the 2002 charity fashion event for St. Andrew's College at which she modeled this see-through "frock." Both Kate and Prince William were students at St. Andrew's at the time, and "Wills" was in the audience that night. Although he had met Kate before the $325-a-plate event, when he saw her on the catwalk, he was smitten.

“In the couple’s wedding interview, you could see the outline of their successful dynamic. William said he tried to impress Kate with his cooking, but the food would start burning, and ‘Kate would come to the rescue and take charge.’

“Third, patience. It’s taken close to a decade to reel William in. Kate has had to endure the ridicule of being Waity Katie even among the royals themselves. ‘They have been practicing long enough,’ Prince Charles said heartily at Poundbury, his model village in Devon, where he was when the news broke.

‘It’s brilliant news. It has taken them a very long time,’ commented Queen Elizabeth, who, in her business-like way had tried to get this over and done with last June before the impending calendar crush of Philip‘s 90th, her Diamond Jubilee, and the 2012 Olympics.

“In order not to fuel rumors as the perpetual princess in waiting, Kate rarely emerged with William in public of late unless it was one of those innumerable country weddings of all their mutual friends. What could she possibly have been doing all those years of trying to look busy? As she put it in the engagement interview, ‘working really hard’ at the family business that sells children’s toys and paraphernalia based in Ashampstead, near their home in Berkshire. Now that she’s engaged to be married to the second in line to the throne, her life is about to get more boring still. The palace machine will take over. The portcullis will come down.

Prince William is a RAF search-and-rescue helicopter pilot.

“William is a RAF search-and-rescue helicopter pilot at RAF Valley on the island of Anglesey, and the happy couple will live in a remote farmhouse in North Wales, where there is 33 inches of rain a year. There she can tend to the urgent priority of royal wife, the speedy manufacture of the heir and the spare.

“But that’s “appropriate” too. In the dire mood of the upcoming austerity cuts, England needs the joy of a royal wedding as badly as it did 30 years ago, when we watched enthralled as Charles and Di tied the knot. But she needs it on a budget. The fact that Kate’s a “commoner” is suddenly a PR boon for the royals. With an Old Etonian prime minister and a savage round of economic cutbacks, a pedigreed royal bride would be a hard message to sell to a grumpy press and parliament. Now all the royals have to do is make the wedding of the year look thrifty—perhaps the Guards’ Chapel, where William and Harry held a service to mark the 10th anniversary of their mother’s death, instead of Westminster Abbey?—and preferably green.

“Now that she’s engaged to be married to the second in line to the throne, her life is about to get more boring still.

“Most important still, Kate’s perseverance and resilience has persuaded the queen that her future granddaughter-in-law is nothing at all like Her, like Diana, the golden-haired Rebecca of the Royal House of Windsor. When William chose to bestow on Kate his mother’s 18-carat oval blue sapphire-and-diamond engagement ring, it was not only a token of love but a thrilling gesture of confident daring.

Kate Middleton's engagement ring belonged to Princess Diana

“After Diana’s death in 1997, the 15-year-old prince told his father he wanted the ring for his future engagement. He said Tuesday the ring represented a time his parents were happy. Now, after all the years the royal establishment have spent trying to erase that magical disruption known as Diana, England’s future king showed the world in the strongest, most personal way he knew how that he was determined to bring his mother back.”

Source: The Daily Beast

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Princess Diana and lover Dodi Al Fayed in the summer of 1997.

“The more I hear and read and think about Diana’s and Dodi’s deaths in the Pont d’Alma tunnel, in Paris, on August 31, 1997, in what is possibly the world’s most famous car crash, the more I doubt the truth of their great romance. If it was anything at all, it was a flirt, a fling…. Like the conspiracy theory surrounding their deaths, their romance, too, was orchestrated by Mohamed Al Fayed [Dodi’s father]. The shrine to the eternal love of Dodi and Diana, in Harrods, the most famous of English department stores, owned by Al Fayed [until May 2010], is a popular tourist attraction. People line up to look at it. They speak in whispers, as if they were in church…. 

“The shrine, which is tacky but curiously touching, consists of a fountain, two large portraits—one of Dodi and one of Diana—and floor-lamp-size candles, the scent of lilies in the air. Under a glass pyramid is a crystal glass from which one of them had drunk champagne in the Imperial Suite of the Ritz Hotel just before they died, and the so-called engagement ring, which Dodi had bought that afternoon at the jewelry shop down the street from the Ritz. Diana never wore it.

They had been romantically involved with each other for less than a month. 

Harrods shrine for Princess Diana & Dodi Fayed. Harrods' former owner, Mohamed Al Fayed, is Dodi's father. At the six-month inquest of Dodi and Diana's death (2007-2008), Al Fayed testified of his belief in a vast conspiracy by the British Royal Family under the direction of Prince Philip to murder Princess Diana. The inquest into Princess Diana's death that was carried out at the Royal Courts of Justice in London concluded she and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed were killed by gross negligence of their driver, who was speeding and was more than three times over French drunk driving limit. (Lisa's History Room)

Pakistani-born cardiologist, Hasnat Khan (b. 1960), who was purported to be the love of Princess Diana's life. They met in London in 1995 and carried on an affair until he ended the relationship. No photographs exist of the couple. (Lisa's History Room)

“All was not as it seemed in the love department of the famous Dodi-Diana romance. Several friends of Diana’s told me she was downhearted after the breakup of her romance with Hasnat Khan, the Pakistani surgeon, with whom she was still in love. They say Khan ended his serious relationship with Diana because, as a respected doctor, he could not stand the publicity that overwhelmed her life…. 

“What is rarely mentioned, although it is well known, is the existence of a beautiful American model named Kelly Fisher, who wore on her left hand an enormous and very expensive engagement ring. She says her fiancé had bought her a mansion in Malibu, where they would live after their marriage. She had tentatively set the date of August 9, 1997, for the wedding, nearly a month off. Her fiancé was Dodi Al Fayed. 

American underwear model Kelly Fisher, who claimed to be Dodi Al Fayed's fiancee. Dec. 2007 (Lisa's History Room)

“The two – Dodi and Kelly Fisher – were in Paris together on July 14, when Dodi was summoned by his father to join Princess Diana 

on the Jonikal,the yacht Mohamed Al Fayed had reportedly purchased for $20 million the day after the Princess accepted his invitation for a sailing trip with her sons, William and Harry.

Princess Diana on the Jonikal, the yacht Mohamed Al Fayed bought exclusively to entertain her. July 1997 (Lisa's History Room)

Kelly was left behind in Paris, though a few days later she was flown to St. Tropez and transported to another Al Fayed yacht. There she languished during the day while waiting for evening visits from Dodi. 

“Diana returned to the Jonikal in August. The fact that she came back for a second visit so soon really shows her loneliness more than it does a passion for Dodi. Her two sons were at Balmoral, one of the Queen’s castles, with their father, Prince Charles, and their grandparents the Queen and Prince Philip, as was their August habit. Diana wasn’t being invited around to the great English estates for long weekends. She had become too famous. It was too difficult to have her stay. Strangers gathered at the gates to get a glimpse of her. Helicopters hovered. She really had no place to go.

Charles, the Prince of Wales (center) is flanked by his two sons, Princes William or "Wills" (l) and Henry or "Harry." This photo, taken by the boys' nanny at the royal estate Balmoral in Scotland, was their 1996 Christmas card. In that year, Prince Charles and Princess Diana divorced.

“The Jonikal invitations were perfect. A splendid yacht. A helicopter. A private plane. Guards to keep the paparazzi at bay. She probably knew that she was being used by a social climber for his and his son’s advancement in London society, but in high society it was a fair deal. Each benefited.

Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed on the Jonikal July/August 1997 (Lisa's History Room)

This photo of Diana, Princess of Wales, kissing Dodi Al Fayed appeared in the Sunday Mirror on August 10, 1997, as she vacationed on Dodi's father's yacht, the Jonikal. Three weeks later, Dodi and Di would be killed in a car accident in Paris. (Lisa's History Room)

“The shrine to the eternal love of Diana and Dodi, on view at Harrods, doesn’t have quite the same impact once you hear about Kelly’s role in the story. It’s still tacky, but it’s no longer touching. It’s calculated. What Al Fayed has created is a shrine to himself: “Look at how I have suffered” is the message…. 

“Dodi loved taking movie stars to Hollywood parties and premieres and being photographed with them. He once said to his friend, former gossip columnist Jack Martin, 

‘When do you think I’ll go out with a girl so famous I’ll get my picture on the cover of People?’

“… ‘Well, he got his wish.’ said Jack. ‘A little late, though.'”

Princess Diana graces the cover of the August 25, 1997, issue of People Magazine. (Lisa's History Room)

source:  “Two Ladies, Two Yachts, and a Billionaire,” by Dominick Dunne, May 2008, Vanity Fair.

Readers: For more posts on this blog about the British Royal Family, click here.  See, in particular, “Princess Diana: Death Photos Leaked.”

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Queen Elizabeth and her consort Prince Philip visit Richmond, Virginia, May 3, 2007.

Prince Philip of England’s upbringing was far from normal. He was born June 10, 1921, on a kitchen table on the Greek island of Corfu in a house that had no electricity, hot water, or indoor plumbing. The only son and fifth and final child of Princess Alice of Battenberg and Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark was christened Prince Philippos of Greece and Denmark. The platinum blond toddler learned sign language to communicate with his deaf mother.

Prince Philip (center) with parents, ca. 1923 (Lisa’s History Room)

Prince Philip of Greece’s father was a professional soldier in the Greek Army. When Turkey invaded Greece in 1922, Prince Andrew was accused of treason; he was tried, convicted, and jailed and faced possible execution by firing squad. Princess Alice (known as Princess Andrew to English speakers) appealed to her British relative, King George V, for help. Remembering what had happened to his Russian cousin the Tsar when he had refused his cry for rescue, the King quickly dispatched the HMS Calypso to remove Andrew, his wife, their four daughters, and Baby Philip from Greece. Prince Andrew boarded the ship carrying his 18-month-old son in an orange crate. They sailed for France.

For the next eight years, Prince Philip’s family lived in exile in Paris. Philip learned to speak English, French, and German, but no Greek. His family was royal – but not rich – and depended upon the charity of relatives and friends to feed, house, clothe, and educate them while in exile from their mother country.

Prince Philip of England’s family poses for a photograph October 1928. A young Prince Philip stands to the right of his mother, Princess Alice and Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark. From left to right are Philip’s sisters, all Princesses of Greece & Denmark: Margarita, Theodora, Sophie, and Cecilie.

In 1930-31, the family fell completely apart. All four of Philip’s sisters, who were educated in Germany, married German noblemen and moved to Germany. Then Prince Andrew abandoned his wife and Philip and ran off to live with his mistress on her yacht anchored in the Mediterranean off Monte Carlo where Andrew quickly became addicted to the gaming tables.

Philip’s mother collapsed under the strain. She suffered a nervous breakdown and was institutionalized in Switzerland at the famed Bellevue Sanatorium. That left little Philip all alone in Paris, with no one to care for him. He was only nine.

Philip was then sent to England to be cared for by his maternal grandmother.  But then she died. Next he moved in with his Uncle George, who, by 1938, was dead also. Philip was 17 at the time.

Then another of his maternal uncles, Lord Louis Mountbatten, British sea lord and the last Viceroy of India stepped in and took Philip under his wing. “Uncle Dickie” took an intense interest in his promising nephew. He made grand plans for him.

Prince Philip as a young midshipman in the Royal Navy, ca. late 1930s

Even though Philip was a Greek citizen, Uncle Dickie pulled a few strings so that Philip could join the Royal Navy as a midshipman. Then Uncle Dickie began to pave the way for Philip to marry the future Queen of England. In 1939, he arranged for Philip to entertain King George VI‘s two daughters, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, while the King and Queen Elizabeth toured Dartmouth Naval College.

When Princess Elizabeth met Philip, she was only 13. She fell head-over-heels in love with the tall, handsome, and athletic young man. The two became pen pals and wrote constantly to one another during the next six years of world war. He celebrated the Christmas of 1943 with her and her family at their Scottish estate, Balmoral. The press hailed the romance as the love match of the century.

I

In this July, 1951 photo (a year before King George VI’s death and Princess Elizabeth’s ascension to the British throne), Princess Elizabeth and her mother, Queen Elizabeth, arrive at Westminster Abbey to attend the wedding of Lady Caroline Montagu-Douglas-Scott to Mr. Ian Hedworth Gilmour. Princess Elizabeth’s mother – who styled herself “Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother,” after her daughter became Queen Elizabeth II – had a fussy, overdressed sense of fashion. Her hats were generally broadbrimmed, trimmed in lace or swaths of chiffon, or piled high with feathers. Her neckline was often V-shaped and adorned with her trademark triple strand of pearls. Her dresses were feminine, flirty, and accented by enormous brooches and rings. As she aged, she dressed in fruity colors like pink, lime, and yellow. Her dresses and hats always matched in color. Her girlish style, peaches-and-cream complexion, pudginess, and sunny smile suggested a sweetness and wholesomeness that made her extremely popular at home and abroad. The Queen Mother, nee Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, died in her sleep in 2002 at the age of 101. (Lisa’s History Room)

It was no surprise when, on July 9, 1947, the Palace announced that Prince Philip of Greece and Princess Elizabeth of Great Britain were officially engaged. Philip was 26; Elizabeth, 21. The wedding was set for November 20, 1947, at Westminster Abbey. The King and Queen were not wild about the idea of Elizabeth marrying before the age of 25, but it didn’t matter what they wanted. Elizabeth wanted Philip and she was going to have him.

Princess Elizabeth of Great Britain and Prince Philip of Greece announce their engagement, July 9, 1947. (Lisa’s History Room)

Buckingham Palace shifted into high gear planning the royal wedding:

“This was not simple a marriage ceremony, but an affair of state that would focus world attention on the British monarchy. Consequently the King and Queen told him [Prince Philip] that his sisters and their German husbands, some of whom had supported Hitler’s Third Reich, could not possibly be included. So they remained in Germany and listened to the service on the radio.” (1)

Still focused on the guest list, the Queen addressed the issue of Philip’s mother, Princess Andrew, whom she considered “pleasant but odd.” Although Philip’s mother had had nothing to do with Philip since he was 9, Princess Andrew had nevertheless been quite busy while others raised her son. After several years of Swiss therapy in the early 1930s, she had rejoined society and taken up charitable works. During WWII, she saved a Jewish family named Cohen from being sent to the death camp by sheltering them in her Greek home.

After the war, Princess Andrew founded a religious order called the Christian Sisterhood of Martha and Mary dedicated to helping the sick and the needy in Greece. Princess Andrew became a nun, taking a vow of celibacy, although she had born 5 children. She had a habit – a nun’s habit – that she wore all the time. It consisted of a drab gray robe, white wimple, cord, and rosary beads. She was commonly referred to as “Sister Andrew.”

Queen Elizabeth was understandably terrified that Princess Andrew would show up at the wedding at Westminster Abbey wearing her nun’s habit and embarrassing the family in a large way. The Queen pressed the issue with Philip. As a result, Princess Andrew appeared at her son’s wedding wearing a demure hat and a simple silk dress, which the Queen later described as “very pretty and most appropriate.”

Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip marry on November 20, 1947

Six years later King George VI was dead. Elizabeth and Philip returned to Westminster Abbey for Elizabeth to be crowned Queen.

The coronation was held on June 2, 1953 and televised, at Elizabeth’s request, so that all her subjects could see her crowned. Twenty million viewers watched the seven-hour BBC-TV marathon. The ceremony began as the guests began their stately procession down the long aisle of Westminster Abbey, ahead of the Queen, to take their seats.

Prince Philip’s mother was among the guests. She turned heads as she processed up the aisle wearing a long grey dress and a flowing head-dress that looked remarkably like a nun’s habit! She had had it especially made for the coronation.

Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark, Prince Philip’s mother (bottom left) processes down the aisle of Westminster Abbey for her daughter-in-law Elizabeth’s coronation as Queen Regnant of Great Britain. June 1953. Princess Andrew is dressed in an outfit resembling her usual attire – a nun’s habit. (Lisa’s History Room)

Princess Andrew, 1965

Princess Andrew died at Buckingham Palace in 1969. According to her wishes, she was buried in Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. On October 31, 1994, Princess Andrew’s two surviving children, Prince Philip and Sophie, Princess George of Hanover, went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial, in Jerusalem to witness a ceremony honouring their mother. Princess Andrew was called “Righteous among the Nations” for having hidden a Jewish family in her home in Athens during WWII.

(1) Kelley, Kitty. The Royals. New York: Warner Books, Inc., 1997.

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TIME magazine's 1952 Woman of the Year: Queen Elizabeth II of England (Jan. 5, 1953 cover)

TIME magazine's 1952 Woman of the Year: Queen Elizabeth II of England (Jan. 5, 1953 cover)

In February 1952, Princess Elizabeth was touring Kenya with her husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh when she received the bad news that her father, King George VI of Great Britain, had passed away. Thus, at the tender age of 25, Elizabeth ascended the throne to become Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon. She took the title Queen Elizabeth II although she was not a descendant of Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603), who was the last Tudor queen. Queen Elizabeth II belongs to the Royal House of Windsor, formerly known as Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

During the Queen’s reign, there have been 11 U.S. presidents. Queen Elizabeth II has met every one of them except Lyndon B. Johnson. She met Harry Truman before she became queen and Herbert Hoover when he was a former president.

Here is a photo gallery of Queen Elizabeth II and 12 U.S. Presidents:

The Queen with President Barack Obama in 2009

The Queen with President Barack Obama in 2009

The Queen with President George W. Bush in 2003

The Queen with President George W. Bush in 2003

The Queen with President Bill Clinton in 2000

The Queen with President Bill Clinton in 2000

The Queen with President George H. Bush in 1991

The Queen with President George H. Bush in 1991

The Queen with President Ronald Reagan in 1982

The Queen with President Ronald Reagan in 1982

The Queen with President Jimmy Carter in 1977

The Queen with President Jimmy Carter in 1977

The Queen with President Gerald Ford in 1976

The Queen with President Gerald Ford in 1976

The Queen with President Nixon 1970

The Queen with President Richard Nixon in 1970

The Queen and Prince Philip with President John and Jackie Kennedy (early 1960s)

The Queen with President John F. Kennedy in 1961

The Queen with former President Herbert Hoover in 1957

The Queen with former President Herbert Hoover in 1957

The Queen with Presidents Dwight Eisenhower (top) and Harry Truman (1950s)

The Queen with Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower (top) in 1957 and Harry Truman (bottom) in 1951

Readers, for more on the Queen, scroll down the right sidebar to “Categories” – “People” – “Queen Elizabeth II”

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the newly-crowned Queen Elizabeth II

the newly-crowned Queen Elizabeth II

Here is a typical weekday morning for Queen Elizabeth II while in residence at  Buckingham Palace in London:

7:30  The maid enters her bedroom with a tray of  morning tea: 2 silver pots of Earl Grey, milk, and a few biscuits. The cup and saucer are bone china. The linen napkin bears the royal cypher “EIIR” (Elizabeth II Regent). The maid sets down the tray on a bedside table and crosses the room to open the bedroom curtains. She then turns on the radio which is tuned to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. The Queen listens to the day’s news as she sips her tea. Outside her window the traffic on Constitution Hill is building and people are strolling through Green Park. The maid draws a bath.

While the Queen is bathing, the maid lays out the first of perhaps many outfits the Queen will wear that day, depending upon the royal schedule. Once the Queen is dressed, the Queen’s hairdresser styles her hair.

8:30  The Queen joins her husband Prince Philip for breakfast which is served in the first floor dining room that overlooks the Palace garden. Prince Philip has had a shower and coffee. During their breakfast together, the Prince may place little morsels of food on the bird feeder outside the window. A tail-coated footman brings the breakfast – whole wheat toast with marmalade and more tea and coffee. The Queen reads her papers: The Daily Telegraph and The Racing Post.

9:00  The Piper to the Sovereign – referred to as the “Queen’s Piper” – steps into the Palace garden. He is wearing a kilt of Royal Stewart tartan and two eagle feathers in his headwear.  The Queen and Prince Philip listen as he tunes his bagpipes. For the next fifteen minutes, the Queen’s Piper plays a selection of bagpipe tunes below the dining room window.

9:30  The Queen is seated at her Chippendale desk in her office to begin reviewing her correspondence. A footman comes in with her corgis, who have just had their morning walk in the garden. She works all morning. After lunch, she may take the dogs for a walk herself.

This 1994 People magazine photograph shows Queen Elizabeth II at Balmoral, her Scottish Highland hideaway every August. Whether at Balmoral, Windsor Castle, or Buckingham Palace, the Queen's weekdays start with a fifteen-minute bagpipe serenade. When at Balmoral, the pipers wear the Balmoral tartan.

Above, a 1994 People magazine photograph shows Queen Elizabeth II at Balmoral, her Scottish Highland hideaway she retreats to every August. Whether at Balmoral, Windsor Castle, or Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s weekdays start with a fifteen-minute bagpipe serenade at 9 a.m. When at Balmoral, though, the pipers wear the Balmoral tartan.

For more on Queen Elizabeth II, look in the left column “Categories-People-Queen Elizabeth II.” I’ve written many posts on the Queen; I hope you enjoy them!

 

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Queen Elizabeth's Launer handbag (4/1/09 Buckingham Palace with Obamas)

Queen Elizabeth's Launer handbag (4/1/09 Buckingham Palace with Obamas)

Since I’ve been blogging about Queen Elizabeth in general and her purse-carrying habit in particular, I’ve looked at a lot of of images of the Queen carrying purses. She seems to prefer small, unfussy black leather handbags, though she has carried a white purse before, I know. At first, the black leather handbags looked as if they could be just one bag. Closer inspection revealed slight differences in straps, patinas, and shapes. In all the bags I scrutinized, though, one theme was a constant. The clasp on the different bags was always the same. The clasp was distinctive  – covered with a gold rope emblem. The clasp looked like a string you tie on your finger to remember something. Was it a logo, perhaps? I sensed a designer lurking about.

 I was slow to catch on. Of course. The Queen doesn’t buy her purses off the rack at Macy’s; she has a royal pursemaker. That’s why the purses looked so similar. They were made by the same company.

Queen Elizabeth in Jamestown (5/4/2007) with handbag

Queen Elizabeth in Jamestown (5/4/2007) with handbag

A little further digging for the name of the designer turned up a lot of information. Evidently, not only does Her Royal Highness have a royal pursemaker to make her purses – Launer’s of London – but also a royal milliner to make her hats and a royal dressmaker to make her dresses. Currently, three British royals, The Queen, her husband Prince Philip ( AKA the Duke of Edinburgh) and their son Prince Charles (AKA the Prince of Wales) may grant “Royal Warrants of Appointment” to tradespeople who supply goods or services to a royal court or certain royal personages. The warrant allows the supplier to advertise the fact that they supply to the royal family. The Royal Warrant does not mean that these specially-honored companies must then give the Royals their goods and services for free. Rather, suppliers both continue to charge their royal customers as well as reap incredible bonuses in the marketplace courtesy of the royal endorsement.

Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth's coat-of-arms

Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth's coat-of-arms

Launer's "Royale" handbag

Launer's "Royale" handbag

Launer of London holds the Royal Warrant for supplying the Queen with her leather goods and purses. On the “About Us” page on the Launer company website, the Queen’s coat-of-arms is displayed boldly at the top left and right of the page. Under the company’s history, we read that:

photo of Queen Elizabeth II on the Launer company website

photo of Queen Elizabeth II on the Launer company website

In 1991, Her Majesty the Queen visited the factory on 4th March, spending virtually the whole afternoon with all the employees and seeing all the various stages of making both handbags and personal leather goods. This was a great honour for the company, and in the following year Launer was also given the right to add leather goods to the warrant.

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Queen Elizabeth and Michelle Obama at Buckingham Palace

Queen Elizabeth and Michelle Obama at Buckingham Palace

 As I mentioned in my recent post, “President Barack and Michelle Obama Give Queen Elizabeth an IPod,” the Obamas have visited Buckingham Palace and met with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. As the two couples mingled with other diplomats in London for the Group of 20 Meeting, First Lady Michelle Obama reached out and touched the Queen on her back. The Queen responded warmly, wrapping her right arm around Michelle’s waist. Those listening to the two women say that the Queen remarked on how tall Michelle is. They also were looking down and talking about their shoes.

Everyone’s buzzing about this historic moment: Michelle Obama touched the Queen! Royal protocol demands that no one touch the Queen. Even her royal consort, Prince Philip, must walk several paces behind her when the two are in public.

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and General Charles DeGaulle at a dinner at Versailles, France, June 1, 1961.

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and General Charles DeGaulle at a dinner at Versailles, France, June 1, 1961.

All this attention to the Obamas and their first visit to  Europe as the First Couple takes me back to 1961 when President John Fitzgerald and Jacqueline (pronounced JAK LEEN’) Bouvier Kennedy made a state visit to France. Jackie Kennedy mesmerized the French with her style and elegance. She spoke fluent French and boasted a paternal French bloodline (Bouvier). Jackie was so charming that she even won the heart of President Charles DeGaulle, a man not easily conquered. At a dinner at the Elysee Palace, DeGaulle talked extensively to Jackie, then turned to President Kennedy and said,  “Your wife knows more French history than any French woman.”

Jackie Kennedy so upstaged John on their trip overseas that the President joked, “I am the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris.” Upon the Kennedys’ return to America, their popularity soared. The American public – and the rest of the world – had fallen in love with Jackie. To this day, she remains an American idol.

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The Obamas met Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday, April 1. The two couples exchanged gifts. The Obamas gave the queen an engraved iPod. The Queen’s new music player came already loaded with some Broadway show tunes and videos of her 2007 visit to Washington and Virginia.  The Obamas also gave the Queen a rare songbook signed by the composer Richard Rodgers. The British royals gave signed silver-framed portraits of themselves to the Obamas, their standard gift for visiting dignitaries.

The Obamas Visit Buckingham Palace. Note that the Queen has that purse in her arm although she is at home!

The Obamas Visit Buckingham Palace. Note that the Queen has that purse on her arm although she is at home!

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like the following:

“Queen Elizabeth’s Grandmother Had the Gimmies”
“What’s in Queen Elizabeth’s Purse?”
“What’s Playing on Queen Elizabeth’s iPod?”

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Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926) is the queen regnant of sixteen independent states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis. All together, these countries have a combined population, including dependencies, of over 129 million.

Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926) is the queen regnant of sixteen independent states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis. All together, these countries have a combined population, including dependencies, of over 129 million.

It was June 24, 1953. Queen Elizabeth II was traveling to Scotland for the first time as Queen. In her coronation at Westminster Abbey 22 days earlier, Elizabeth had worshiped as an Anglican in the Church of England in her coronation robes. As Queen she was now the head of two churches, the Church of England and the Church of Scotland, which was Presbyterian. Having already been crowned in England, she now traveled to St. Giles Cathedral, the Mother Church of Presbyterianism, in Edinburgh, Scotland, to receive the ancient crown of Scotland.

When she arrived at the cathedral, the Queen was surrounded by the Scottish peerage in their velvet coats and coronets. Her husband, Prince Philip, was resplendently-dressed in a gold-braided uniform topped off by a plumed helmet. But when the crowd gathered at the ceremony got a look at Elizabeth, their new queen, they were shocked at how ordinary she looked. They had expected her to appear in her coronation robes. Instead she wore a simple gray blue coat, black leather shoes, and a gray blue felt hat. She looked just like a commoner! The most jarring part of her outfit was the big black purse she carried in the crook of her arm.

At the altar she stepped forward while the Duke of Hamilton and Brandon knelt before her in his coronation robes to proffer the crown of Scotland on a velvet cushion with gold tassels. As she (the Queen) reached toward him, her leather handbag, which was as large as a breadbox, almost hit him in the face. He quickly moved his head to avoid getting smacked by the royal purse. (1)

Since then, the Queen is rarely photographed without her purse tucked in the crook of her arm. She carries it with her throughout the day as she moves from room to room in Buckingham Palace. All tables and her desk at the palace are equipped with special hooks on which the Queen may hang her purse so that it may never be set on the floor. She never uses a clutch or a shoulderbag. Those bags would make it awkward in official duties of shaking hands and accepting flowers.

Queen Elizabeth (with black leather purse) and Prince Philip arrive at the Casino Royale World Premiere - Red Carpet - Nov. 14, 2006, London

Queen Elizabeth (with black leather purse) and Prince Philip arrive at the Casino Royale World Premiere – Red Carpet – Nov. 14, 2006, London

Enquiring minds want to know: just what does Queen Elizabeth carry in that purse? As it turns out, there is more to the royal purse than its meager contents. It doubles as a signal device. When the Queen is carrying out her royal duties at some function, she uses her purse to communicate with her servants. When she shifts the bag from one arm to another, for instance, it means she’s ready to leave. When at a banquet, if the Queen sets her purse on the floor, it’s another bad sign. She finds the conversation boring and wants to escape. However, if the royal bag dangles happily from the crook of her left arm, she is happy and relaxed. (2)

One thing that can always be found inside the Queen’s purse is an S-shaped metal meat hook that she can place on the edge of a piece of furniture and hang her purse on it. She always carries a metal make-up case given to her by Prince Philip as a wedding gift. She carries a collection of good luck charms, most of them gifts from her children, including dogs, horses, saddles, and horsewhips, reports the Daily Express, and photos of her children. She is never without her mints, chocolate drops for her corgi dogs, and a crossword or two snipped from the papers by her attendants.

Majesty magazine reports that the Queen carries a comb, a handkerchief, a small gold compact and a tube of lipstick in her handbag. On Sundays, she carries paper money to place in the collection plate at church.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (R) receives flowers from children as she departs St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh, Northern Ireland, March 20, 2008. The Queen handed out Maundy Thursday alms purses to 82 men and 82 women, the presentations are in recognition of their services to both church and community.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II (R) receives flowers from children as she departs St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh, Northern Ireland, March 20, 2008. The Queen handed out Maundy Thursday alms purses to 82 men and 82 women, the presentations are in recognition of their services to both church and community.

(1) Kelley, Kitty. The Royals. (New York: Warner Books, 1997)
(2) Dampier, Phil and Walton, Ashley. What’s In The Queen’s Handbag: And Other Royal Secrets. (Brighton, England: Book Guild, 2007)

For more on Queen Elizabeth, look in the left column under “Categories-People-Queen Elizabeth II.” I’ve written many posts on the Queen; I hope you enjoy them!

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