Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Princess Elizabeth

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary. Born April 21, 1926 at 17 Bruton Street, Mayfair, to Prince Albert, Duke of York (later King George VI) and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the Dutchess of York.

The family called her Lilibet.

Princess Elizabeth was born 3rd in line to the British throne, behind her Uncle The Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, and her father.

Elizabeth had one sibling, a sister, Margaret, four years her junior.

Elizabeth's uncle became Edward VIII in 1936, when she was 10 years old. Upon his abdication 11 months later, she became heiress presumptive to the throne. Her father reigned as George VI until early 1952.

Elizabeth's mother had harbored hopes her daughter might be educated in a public school, for the social experience as well as for the education. This was not to be as her uncle, the king, decided it would not do for her to be educated with commoners. She therefore was educated entirely in private. She studied Constitutional History under the vice-provost of Eton College. She has a love of history. She also studied modern languages. Elizabeth speaks fluent French.

Princess Elizabeth at age 16

The Princess met her future husband, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, for the first time in 1934 when she was 8 years old. Later, in 1939 when she was thirteen, she fell in love with him and they began to exchange letters.

During WWII, in 1944, when she was 18, she convinced her father to let her join the Auxiliary Territorial Service to help the war effort. Second Subaltern Elizabeth Windsor was trained as a truck driver and in heavy vehicle maintenance. She later attained the rank of Second Commander. She is still a good driver today. She is, incidentally, the last surviving head of state to have served in uniform in World War II.

On VE day (the end of the war in Europe) celebratory crowds filled the streets of London. The two princesses mingled anonymously with that throng.

"We asked my parents if we could go out and see for ourselves. I remember we were terrified of being recognized... I remember lines of unknown people linking arms and walking down Whitehall, all of us just swept along on a tide of happiness and relief."

The princess changes a truck wheel.

In November of 1947, Princess Elizabeth married Philip. They are second cousins once removed on his side of the family and third cousins through Queen Victoria. The country had not yet recovered from the war and, oddly, the princess still had to present rationing coupons for the material for her wedding gown. The marriage was not universally approved in the family: Prince Philip had no financial standing, and, though a British subject, was foreign-born.

Philip renounced his Greek and Danish titles and converted to Anglicanism. He assumed the name Lt. Philip Mountbatten (his mother's family name, Anglicized) but was created the Duke of Edinburgh before the marriage.

The couple's first child, Charles, was born in 1948, and their second, Anne, in 1950. The Royal Family House is Windsor. Their descendants have the surname Mountbatten-Windsor. They were to have two more children after Princess Elizabeth became queen.

In late 1951, Elizabeth and Philip toured Canada and visited U.S. President Harry S. Truman in Washington. The king's health was failing, and the princess carried with her a draft accession declaration just in case the king died while she was outside the UK. As it happened, in February of 1952, the couple found themselves in a remote area of Kenya when news arrived that her father had died. Philip gave her the news.

Her private secretary, Martin Charteris, discreetly asked her what name she intended to use as monarch. She replied, "Elizabeth, of course."

And so it was.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Random Shakespearean Insults

Thou slanderous hell-hated slug!

Thou fawning tardy-gaited rasbane!

Thou mangled fly-bitten leprous witch!

Thou gorbellied earth-vexing whey-face!

Thou gleeking tickle-brained worms-meat!

Thou traitorous pox-marked malt-worm!

Thou rascally tallow-faced odiferous stench!

Thou base spur-galled infection!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Eddy Albert. Not the actor; and REALLY not Jack the Ripper. Really.

What to name him. What to name him. Oh, I know: Albert!

Albert Victor was born to Albert Edward (himself the son of QV's beloved Albert Albert. I mean Francis Albert) 8 January, 1864. Two months premature. His mother was, of course, the Princess of Wales, later Queen Alexandra. Wikipedia uses language that I think was designed to try to be charitable to the lad:

"Albert Victor was known to his family as "Eddy"... Albert Victor's intellect, sexuality and sanity have been the subject of much speculation. Rumours linked him with a scandal involving a homosexual brothel, though there is no firm evidence that he ever went there or was even homosexual. Some authors have argued that he was the serial killer known as Jack the Ripper. Contemporary documents indicate that Albert Victor could not have been in London at the time of the murders, and the claim is widely dismissed."

Really? "No firm evidence" - what an unfortunate choice of words when speaking of a homosexual brothel.

This young man has been one of my very favorite royal characters for a very long time, so perhaps we can "delve a little deeper" just to satisfy my own desire to further sensationalize this ever-down-spiraling blog.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Three Queens In Mourning

"The king is dead. Long live the queen."

Ron Case was a young press photographer for the now-defunct Keystone Press Agency. Ron took a lot of photographs in his life. He traveled the world; he covered the Vietnam war; but he will always be remembered for this photo he took on February 16, 1952 at the funeral of King George VI. The photo was captioned "Three Queens In Mourning" and the name stuck.

Right, the king's wife, Queen Elizabeth; center, the king's mother, Queen Mary; left, the king's daughter: no longer the vivacious Princess Elizabeth but suddenly Queen Elizabeth II Regina.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

"This disease is not in our family!": Queen Victoria upon the discovery Leopold was a hemophiliac

Hemophilia is a disease in which the afflicted person has an impairment of his blood-clotting ability, so that he doesn't stop bleeding rapidly like the rest of us do. Sometimes he doesn't stop bleeding at all, and he dies. Often, this uncontrolled bleeding occurs in the person's joints, such as a knee if he falls down on it, but it can occur at whatever site the injury is located. Often, when the joint or other area finally fills up with blood and pressurizes, the bleeding will stop. This may take days of agony (if a joint) and is a living nightmare for the afflicted one. Of course, I am talking about the past - today we have coagulants that can be administered.

Women don't get hemophilia*, only males. Women, however, are the carriers of the recessive X-chromosome, which they can pass along to some of their sons. The daughters of hemophiliacs (should those hemophiliacs survive long enough to reproduce) may or may not become carriers. It is a genetic thing and therefore dependent upon the genetic odds.

Hemophilia has been called the disease of royals, due to its stubborn propensity to affect people of royal blood. This is not, I hasten to add, because they have different blood than commoners, but, rather, due to the fact that royals tend to intermarry with close relatives such as first cousins, and this makes their chances of passing on a defective (recessive) chromosome more likely. And, of course, the defect does not have to be hemophilia, but that is the one this post is about.

It would be a bit difficult to trace the incidence of hemophilia in ALL the royal houses of Europe, but since this series of posts are about Queen Victoria and her descendants, there are plenty enough incidents right there to keep us busy in this post.

*[I want to pause here and make a note, just to be technically correct. In reality it is possible for a female to have hemophilia, though ever so rare. A woman has two X chromosomes and a man has one X (female) and one Y (male). When the woman is a carrier, one of her X chromosomes is recessive but the other X chromosome compensates for her own blood clotting. So you can see that she would have to have both of her X chromosomes recessive in order for her to actually be a hemophiliac herself. Not bloody likely, if you'll forgive the unfortunate pun. And, with both chromosomes recessive, hemophilia would probably be the least of her problems. Of course, she would not have survived puberty in the old days anyway.]

In a link at the bottom of this post, I will put up a chart of Victoria's descendants which will show more clearly how the disease was spread throughout her family. When the first case of the disease showed up (in her son Leopold), the queen was shocked and was said to have protested, "This disease is simply not in our family!" Obviously it was.

Here are the cases of hemophilia in the three generations after Queen Victoria:

(Queen Victoria was a carrier)

1. Queen Victoria's daughter Alice was a carrier
2. Queen Victoria's son Leopold was a hemophiliac
3. Queen Victoria's daughter Beatrice was a carrier

4. Alice's daughter Irene was a carrier
5. Alice's son Friedrick was a hemophiliac
6. Alice's daughter Alix was a carrier

7. Leopold's daughter Alice was a carrier

8. Beatrice's daughter Eugenie was a carrier
9. Beatrice's son Leopold (Lord Mountbatten) was a hemophiliac
10. Beatrice's son Maurice was a hemophiliac

11. Irene's son Waldemar was a hemophiliac
12.Irene's son Henry was a hemophiliac

13. Alix's son Alexei was a hemophiliac

14. Alice's (daughter of Leopold) son Rupert was a hemophiliac

15. Eugenie's son Alfonso was a hemophiliac
16. Eugenie's son Gonzalo was a hemophiliac

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Top 40

Have you ever wondered if you are in line to the British throne? Over 1700 people are, you know. However, unless you are in the coveted Top 40, this post won't mention you even if you are in line. Sorry. Also, I'm guessing if you are reading this post and you ARE in the Top 40, then you probably know already and don't really need me.

For the rest of you, if your name appears below, please give me a call and I'll add you to my blog list.

1. HRH The Prince of Wales (The Prince Charles; b. 1948), son of Queen Elizabeth II

2. HRH Prince William of Wales (b. 1982) son of The Prince of Wales

3. HRH Prince Henry of Wales (b. 1984) son of The Prince of Wales

4. HRH The Duke of York (The Prince Andrew; b. 1960), son of Queen Elizabeth II

5. HRH Princess Beatrice of York (b. 1988) daughter of The Duke of York

6. HRH Princess Eugenie of York (b. 1990) daughter of The Duke of York

7. HRH The Earl of Wessex (The Prince Edward; b. 1964), son of Queen Elizabeth II

8. James, Viscount Severn (b. 2007) son of The Earl of Wessex

9. Lady Louise Windsor (b. 2003) daughter of The Earl of Wessex

10. HRH The Princess Royal (The Princess Anne; b. 1950), daughter of Queen Elizabeth II

11. Peter Phillips (b. 1977), son of The Princess Royal

12. Zara Phillips (b. 1981), daughter of The Princess Royal
The above are the descendants of Elizabeth II.
The below are descendants of Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowden
13. David Armstrong-Jones, Viscount Linley (b. 1961), son of Princess Margaret
14. The Honorable Charles Armstrong-Jones (b. 1999), son of Viscount Linley
15. The Honorable Margarita Armstrong-Jones (b. 2002), daughter of Viscount Linley
16. Lady Sarah Chatto (b. 1964), daughter of Princess Margaret
17. Samuel Chatto (b. 1996), son of Lady Sarah Chatto
18. Arthur Chatto (b. 1999), son of Lady Sarah Chatto
19 - 40: are the descendants of George V's children other than George VI.
Source: The Official website of the British Monarchy

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Partial list of job requirements to be in line to the British throne

In the old days (the old OLD days) all you had to do to be king was get together an army, kill the current king, and just move into the castle. I suppose you can still do that, but if you want to go by the actual rules, here are a few of those rules

1. First, you have to be a descendant of the lady pictured above, Electress Sophia of Hanover. If you aren't, then you can just scratch your ass off the list right away.

2. You must be a protestant at the time of your accession. You must enter into communion with the Church of England after your accession.

3. Just in case you didn't get number 2, anyone who is a Roman Catholic, becomes a Roman Catholic, or marries a Roman Catholic (or maybe even just touches a Roman Catholic) is permanently excluded from the succession.

4. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. Wait. That doesn't apply to British Monarchs. You must be a protestant. I can't repeat that too often, but I won't again.

5. A person who is born to parents who are not married to each other at the time of birth (a bastard) may not be included in the line of succession. ::Coff coff:: Subsequent marriage of the parents does not alter this. A child born to a married woman is assumed to be the child of her husband. ::Coff coff::

6. A monarch is always succeeded immediately by his or her legitimate descendants. Birth order matters. Gender matters: boys first, girls second.

7. Once you start, you can't go back: until you run out of children and grandchildren, your siblings are just out of luck.
"British throne" today means the throne of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Before Queen Victoria

King George III, beloved of the American Colonies, and his Queen Consort Charlotte, after whom the state of Georgia and a city in Virginia are named, had 15 children. They didn’t meet until their wedding day, but got right down to business.

George III had a pronounced stutter and was more than a little hard to understand, as John Adams would later discover after the revolution, as he presented the credentials of the new country to the Court of St. James's, but talking in bed wasn't required, apparently. 15. Count 'em - 15.

George’s eldest son, the Prince of Wales, (later King George IV for 10 years) only had one child, a daughter, and she died rather unexpectedly in 1817. Suddenly all the remaining unmarried sons of George III scrambled to get married and start having children to secure the House of Hanover’s meal ticket.

So it happened, at the ripe age of fifty, the Duke of Kent (fourth son of George III) married Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-saalfeld, and they begat an only child, and they called the child Alexandrina Victoria, and she became the Queen Mother of all Europe. Or so it sometimes seems.

This bit of information will take you up to the first post of this series.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom

"I was amply rewarded and forgot all I had gone through when I heard dearest Albert say, 'It's a fine child, and a girl'"

Beatrice Mary Victoria Feodore, 1857-1944. The last of the litter.

The youngest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, she is the connection to the royal family of Spain. The current Spanish monarch is Beatrice's great-grandson.

Queen Victoria didn't want her youngest daughter to get married at all and refused to even discuss it at first. The widower of Beatrice's sister Alice was advanced as a candidate, but nothing came of it. (Beatrice was groomed to be the constant companion of the queen, and seemed to be resigned to that kind of life, at least at first.)

Beatrice fell in love with Prince Henry of Battenburg (another of the Hessian royal folk of Darmstadt) and her mother finally consented to the marriage a year later on the condition the couple live with her. Upon the loss of her husband 10 years later (I mean "death", not "loss" - Beatrice didn't actually misplace him), Beatrice continued to be her mother's unofficial secretary and edited the queen's diaries over the next 30 years. Beatrice lived to be 87 and outlived all her siblings.

The name Battenburg was later anglicized to Mountbatten following the anti-German sentiment of World War One. Admiral of the Fleet, the Right Honorable Louis Mountbatten, First Earl Mountbatten of Burma, who was killed in 1979 by Irish terrorists, was the uncle of the current British monarch's consort. I acknowledge that the word terrorist is relative to one's political beliefs.

One of Beatrice's children was Queen Eugenie of Spain, the grandmother of the current king Juan Carlos.


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