Sixty-five years ago today, Great Britain’s King George VI died at the age of 56. The King is dead, long live the Queen.
George VI’s daughter became Queen Elizabeth II. My mother clipped and saved newspaper articles about those events. These are just a few from her scrapbooks. Click on the images for a larger view.
From George VI to Elizabeth II
In Canada, as in the UK and throughout the Commonwealth, changes had to be made.
And there were tributes to the late King. The photo below is of one in Tillsonburg ON. My grandparents, Charley and Minnie Burwell, are there – at the bottom left.
Three Queens and a King
When George VI died, Elizabeth became the only reigning monarch. But she was one of three women in England called Queen. The others were Queen Elizabeth, widow of King George VI, and Queen Mary, his mother and widow of George V.
Present also was a king of Great Britain, one who abdicated. The Duke of Windsor, formerly Edward VIII, attended the funeral of his brother and successor. (See The King and Us Feb 16, 2011)
What didn’t happen
George VI had made plans for a “health cruise” to South Africa. His daughter Elizabeth was to represent him on a planned tour to Australia and New Zealand. While they were gone, his younger brother Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester would take care of royal matters at home. But none of it happened, due to the King’s death.Another might-have-been in the Duke’s family was a Royal wedding. His niece, Princess Margaret, and his wife’s nephew were an item for a time. But it didn’t happen.
Happy anniversary, Elizabeth and Philip. November 20th marks 69 years since their wedding. Four children, 8 grandchildren, 5 great-grandchildren. Three heirs apparent to the British throne – son, grandson, great-grandson.
On November 20, 1947 a Princess married her prince. Her prince was a Royal Navy Lieutenant and somewhere in line for the shaky throne of Greece. She was heir to the British throne.
So that Philip would have British royal credentials, the bride’s father conferred HRH status on him, then titles. On his wedding day, Philip became HRH Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich. In 1957 his wife, then Queen, made him a Prince of the United Kingdom.
Their wedding was the first big royal event after World War II. Six years of war had exhausted the British people and British resources. A news clipping (CP Nov. 19, 1947) my mother kept says British china manufacturers “can’t spare the time or the materials” to make wedding collectibles. The Royals and government knew, however, that after years of privation the nation wanted to enjoy something beautiful. So lavish, but not too lavish.
Princess Elizabeth’s Wedding scrapbook
Every step of the wedding planning was reported. Everyone, I imagine, followed along as if they were in the wedding party. My mother did. She made a scrapbook called “Princess Elizabeth’s Wedding”. I took the clippings here from it.
At the time, she lived in a farmhouse north of Belmont in southwestern Ontario. Dad drove a milk truck and installed glass. Mom looked after two small children. The people who owned the farm and their animals provided her only regular company. Dad worked long hours. Mom was home alone a lot.
So in 1947 Mom spent a lot of time, I think, reading about the upcoming wedding. Dad would have been interested too. He had a soft spot for Princess Elizabeth. She had signed up for service during the war, she knew how to strip down an engine and rebuild it – that meant a lot to him. A mechanic in the RCEME, he worked on those same engines in the UK at the same time.
Elizabeth and Philip had five years of what passes as ordinary life for royals. He continued in the Navy. They had two babies. Then five years later, her father died. Everything changed for her and Philip.
She became Queen Elizabeth II. He became first and foremost the Queen’s husband. Two more children. Nearly seven decades after that wedding, Elizabeth and Philip are still cutting ribbons and unveiling plaques. They are the foundation of a Royal Family that, despite predictions of its demise and its own drama and trauma, seems to be going strong. Long may they live.
Queen Elizabeth celebrates her 90th birthday today. My mother, two years older, grew up with the Queen. From her teen years to adulthood, Mom kept scrapbooks about the Queen’s life. Clippings carefully pasted in, over-filling the large pages. There was a lot of news about the Royals. Thanks to Mom, I have a pretty good record of their lives.
Mom’s scrapbooks weren’t purpose-built for a Royalty collection. But there were those, I discovered in a second-hand shop in Sussex. Scrapbooks exactly like Mom’s but with a full-page image of the Queen on the cover. Mom wasn’t the only person with the mission of keeping a record of the Queen’s life.
Probably mainly young women, entranced by the fairy tale aspects of Elizabeth and Margaret, the two beautiful young princesses. Princesses who as children had thought they’d always be in the choir of the royal family, not among the soloists.
That changed in 1936, when their Uncle David abdicated. Their father, the next eldest son, went from Duke of York to King George VI. Princess Elizabeth, being his first born, would wear the crown after him – in time, many years down the road.
In the meantime, she could have a life a bit outside the limelight. She married at the age of 21, two years after World War II ended, and had children. Her naval officer husband was stationed in Malta, so they lived there for a time.
Her life had parallels with the lives of women like my mother. A WWII veteran husband, two baby boom children, making a new home while keeping close with parents and family. In the magazines, you saw a beautiful young woman, impish children, handsome husband, a dog or two. A privileged version of the post-war, post-Depression life shared, or aspired to, by many.
It all changed, too soon, for her. George VI died in 1952 at the age of 56. Three bereaved Queens shrouded in black – mother, wife and daughter. The daughter now the reigning monarch.
For 64 years now, she has been Queen. We still see photographs of her and her family in magazines and social media. We know quite a lot of detail about the lives of her children and grandchildren, but we actually know very little about Queen Elizabeth. Her life has been such a part of our history and our geography that she is familiar to us. We feel like we know her, much the same, I think, as my mother felt about her when they were both young girls.
From St. Thomas Dog Blog July 8, 2011. Sadly in this year’s Stampede, 2 horses died in chuckwagon race crashes.
William and Kate opened the Calgary Stampede and attended the parade. William even took part in a chuckwagon race. I’d wondered what they’d do. Before their visit, there was a furor about their endorsement-by-attendance at what some call an event about animal abuse.
But wait, doesn’t Vancouver Humane Society have abandoned and abused animals in its own city? Doesn’t it receive calls about horse starvation within its jurisdiction? Isn’t there factory farming in the Lower Mainland?
And the UK’s RSPCA and League Against Cruel Sports? Isn’t there abuse and neglect within the UK? What’s happening with fox hunting? That can pretty hard on horses let alone the fox, if there’s still hunting of live foxes. And polo. Show jumping, eventing, steeplechasing, hurdling: all involve horses as active partners under the control of a human.
The protestors made a lot about the UK having banned rodeo in 1934 and that it was William’s “great-great-grandfather George V who signed [it] into law.” Funny, I had no idea rodeo was part of British culture and history. Not like Canada and the US where the activities that comprise rodeo have been part of the national landscape since the beginning.
Stampede and all horse sports
But there are horse sports that William, his father and brother, his aunt Anne, his cousin Zara, grandfather and other members of both sides of his family actively participate in. Polo, show jumping, eventing and driving. His paternal grandmother and late great-grandmother have huge stables of Thoroughbreds and have long been active in “The Sport of Kings.” How many horses are killed yearly in Thoroughbred racing alone?
In Los Angeles, where William and Kate headed after Calgary, he is participating in a polo match. Not one peep about animal abuse in anything I read about that. Why weren’t the Vancouver and UK animal rights people all over that one?
I do not want to fuel activism against polo. It is a beautiful sport. But, like any sport involving animals, it has a lot of room for abuse in treatment of horses and in training methods. Read Jilly Cooper’s Polo. She explains the game and the training. There are good trainers and players, and bad. There are selfish, egotistical, win-at-all-costs brutes who take out their frustrations on their horse partner. Some training methods rely on infliction of pain to “teach” the horse. There can be individual and systemic abuse of half the polo team. The description of the training by the world-champion level Argentines is so horrific that I flinched at the mere word Argentina long after finishing the book. And that’s just the world of polo.
Look into the spikes and sticks used by some show jumper trainers to get a horse’s feet lifted high. I’m not sure that the flank strap used to cause bucking by rodeo broncs is worse than many tools used by horse trainers unwilling to practice patience.
Should we ban show jumping and polo? No. But abuse should not be permitted in those sports any more than it should be permitted in rodeo or any sport or event that involves animals. Also maybe UK and Canadian animal rights people ought to clean up their own backyards first. Feeding and fixing ‘stray’ cats, stopping the supply of puppies on Kijiji: that’ll keep you busy right there.
Jilly Cooper’s Rutshire Chronicles are sequential so start at the beginning, with Riders.They are wonderful books, with horrible people and lovely animals and some nice people.
The first British royal Charlotte was George III’s queen. She is best known as the founder of London’s Kew Gardens and for perhaps having black ancestry. Born in Germany in 1744, fifteen generations back in her family tree is King Alfonso III of Portugal and his mistress Madragana of Faro in Algarve, described as a “Moor”.
Charlotte and George III had fifteen children. Their fourth child was Charlotte Augusta Matilda, Princess Royal. She married Prince Frederick of Württemberg and in 1806 became Queen of Württemberg.
Their eldest, and heir, was George. At age 23, he secretly married a Catholic widow, Maria Fitzherbert. The marriage was not legal. He had children with her and other women, but none could be his heir.
Princess Charlotte, heir to the throne
A “suitable” wife, Caroline of Brunswick, was chosen for him. An heir, Princess Charlotte Augusta, was born in 1796. George and Caroline separated soon after. George became Prince Regent in 1810, taking over from his father whose mental illness had incapacitated him.
Seven years later, at the age of 21, Princess Charlotte died in childbirth.* George III and Queen Charlotte had many other grandchildren but all were illegitimate. With the Prince Regent unable to divorce and unwilling to share a bed with wife Caroline, he would have no more legitimate heirs. His brothers were hurriedly married off so there might be an heir and some spares.
George, Prince Regent became George IV in 1820. Next in line was his brother William, Duke of Clarence. But William lived with an actress Dorothy Jordan and their ten children. In return for his debts being paid and the promise of the throne, however, William agreed to leave his Fitzclarence kids and their mother.
He married Adelaide of Saxe-Meingenen. Their first daughter, Charlotte Augusta, lived only one day. A second daughter lived four days. William IV reigned seven years, until 1837. His heir was Princess Victoria, daughter of the next eldest brother, the late Edward Duke of Kent, and his wife Victoria of Saxe-Coburg.
When Victoria was born in 1819, the Prince Regent said no to the names Charlotte, Augusta and Georgiana, all closely associated with the crown. He agreed to Alexandrina, after her godfather Tsar Alexander I, and Victoria, after her mother.
Victoria became queen one month after turning 18. After three kings in three decades, she reigned for 63 years. She named one of her five daughters Augusta, but none Charlotte.
Victoria’s younger cousin got all the royal names, however. Princess Augusta Caroline Charlotte Elizabeth Mary Sophia Louisa of Cambridge was the daughter of George III’s seventh son Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge. The title passed to Augusta’s brother George, the last to hold it until the present Prince William. Princess Augusta died in 1916 aged 94. During preparations for Edward VII’s coronation in 1902, she was called upon for advice. She was the only person in royal circles who could remember not only Queen Victoria’s coronation but also King William IV’s.
*Charlotte’s widower, Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, later married Louise-Marie, daughter of the future King Louis-Phillippe of France. They named their first daughter Charlotte in honour of Leopold’s first wife. She became Empress Carlota, married to Maximillian of Mexico. Her brother became Leopold II of Belgium, inheriting the throne from his father.
In the past three days, the royal baby has been born, brought home, had pictures posted on Facebook, and been named. A boy named HRH Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge.
For two days my television was tuned to the Royal Baby Channel – whichever one had “live coverage”. It’s been worth it, waiting to see that little bundle in the arms of both his parents. Also worth it have been the hours and hours of filler patter by hosts and guests on the broadcast specials. I find you always learn something new about British and Royal history and protocol when guests have to fill airtime.
There is a photograph, I learned, from the last time there were four generations in the direct royal line. It is of Queen Victoria, her son who would be Edward VII, her grandson the future George V and her infant great-grandson the future, and fleeting, Edward VIII. Let’s hope it works out better for this newborn when it is his time to be king.
Something struck me as very interesting in the analyst chat on CNN yesterday. It was the question of when this future king’s time will come. Repeatedly, people said with amazement that it might well be 70 years before it was his time. Amazing indeed considering that, in 70 years, his father William will be 101 years old. Even with the good genes of the Windsors, still being a reigning monarch at that age would be remarkable.
I think having three generations already in line for succession actually means is that there may not be a reign as long as that of Elizabeth II, or Victoria, in this century. That is, of course, assuming that these future kings live out their assigned ‘three score and ten’ or more years.
Looking at the number of direct heirs doesn’t determine how long it will take for them to reach the throne anymore than only counting heads in a grocery store check-out line tells you how long you have to wait to reach the cashier. You also have to look at how full their shopping carts are. With succession, you have to look at the age of the heirs as well as the number of them. The best estimate you can make is how long their reigns might be.
Queen Victoria’s heirs
Queen Victoria also had three heirs lined up. She came to the throne at the age of eighteen and lived a very long life. Her son’s reign was only 9 years. His son came to the throne already a grandfather. He reigned for 26 years. His son, the present Queen’s father, died when only 56 so Elizabeth came to the throne at the age of 25, much younger than she or anyone else expected.
What is significant about these four generations is that, all things being equal, it is likely that people alive today will never again see a young monarch or such a long reign. The last generation to see the fairy-tale story of a young princess, or prince, being crowned will have been the age cohort of Queen Elizabeth. That being said, Long Live the Queen – and the future King and King and King.
Last week I saw a book called The Queen’s Secret by Charles Templeton. Curious to see if it was by the late Canadian journalist of that name, I pulled it off the shelf. Yes and even better, due to my being in a Royal mood with the expected arrival of HRH Baby, the plot hinges on the line of succession to the throne.
It was published in 1986. Its queen is a fictitious Mary III who has one heir, a daughter. References are made to previous monarchs, including Elizabeth II and her father and uncle, and to periods in their reigns when conflict between personal life and duty to country caused crises for the individuals, the monarchy and the nation.
The book is set in an unspecified future, one in which scientific discoveries and technologies now commonplace clearly have not been invented. Problems that have beset the monarchy in past and present times move the story along. Those include the political and religious aspects of marital choice for Royals, especially those who are heir presumptive or apparent, and the intrusion of media attention into the private lives of Royals and the governance of the country.
According to the book jacket, Templeton got the idea for the book after news broke in 1982 about a man breaking into Buckingham Palace and succeeding in getting into Queen Elizabeth’s bedroom. When The Queen’s Secret was published, media attention on the Royals, particularly on the wives of Charles and Andrew, was high. It was before the apex of attention, and tragedy, was reached. A 1987 review of Templeton’s novel considered the plot outdated. “[T]he glory days of royalty are clearly waning,” the reviewer said, calling stories about mésalliances of Royals “quaint and archaic to a generation weaned on People magazine and prime-time soap operas. The British nobility itself is now in decline…” Little did the reviewer know in 1987 that the Royal soap opera had barely begun.
The solution to the problem of reconciling the personal and political given in the story would not be possible now due to a change in succession protocol made by the Queen in anticipation of William and Kate’s baby. As the firstborn, their child, whether female or male, will in time be the heir apparent. Prior to that change, a firstborn daughter of the monarch would be called “heir presumptive” because the birth of a younger brother would displace her in the line of the succession.
Templeton’s heir presumptive is named Victoria, something that pleased me because that’s the name I’m betting on if William and Kate’s baby is a girl.
With the expected Royal baby, there will be a kinship situation that hasn’t existed since Queen Victoria reigned.
There will be 3 generations of direct heirs apparent to the throne: the Prince of Wales, Prince William and Prince William’s child. Like Victoria, Queen Elizabeth’s children have become grandparents while she is still on the throne.
In December 2012 the line of succession was changed in law to simply the firstborn of the heir. It had previously been the eldest son. If the first child was a girl, she was heir only if she never had a brother. That is easy enough to grasp. It’s a second change made by the Queen to titles that’s less well known. When I saw headlines that William and Kate’s baby, if a girl, would be a Princess, I didn’t understand why she wouldn’t be already.
Until now, only the eldest son of the Prince of Wales’ eldest son had the title Prince. His sisters and younger brothers were known as Lady or Lord. William and Kate’s baby will be in that position, great-grandchild of the Queen, from the Prince of Wale’s eldest son. By the change in succession rules made in December, that child, whether a boy or girl, will be in line for the throne after William. The title change means she will be HRH Princess Baby, not The Lady Baby. So too will her siblings, for this applies to all the children of the Prince of Wales’ direct heir.
All children of a monarch are Prince or Princess. The children of the monarch’s sons are also Prince or Princess, but daughters’ children take their titles from their fathers. For the great-grandchildren, only the eldest son of the 3rd in line for the throne was called Prince. Titles follow the male line, with the exception of the children of a regnant Queen. I made this simplified chart (above) of who would have what title. The chart below shows the current Royal Family with their primary titles (click on charts to enlarge).
The good thing about being Queen is you can give people titles. So, for example, the Queen made Antony Armstrong-Jones an Earl before he married her sister Princess Margaret. Margaret’s children inherited their titles from him. Mark Phillips, when he married Princess Anne, chose not to receive a title. Therefore their children, while in the line of succession, have no titles. Also, if you have several titles, you can choose which you wish to use and pass on. So the Queen and her son Prince Edward decided on Earl of Wessex for him when he married, instead of the customary dukedom. He then chose that lesser title to use in giving his children titles. So, although technically they are prince and princess, they are known as Lord and Lady.
A Princess born into the royal family continues to be called Princess and takes her husband’s titles. A Prince’s wife, if a commoner, becomes princess but the title is not put before her own name. Diana was never ‘Princess Diana’, she was ‘Diana, Princess of Wales’ for example. She can also go by another title of his, as Kate did with Duchess of Cambridge. If her husband has no other titles, she is known as Princess his name, as with Princess Michael of Kent (the Queen’s cousin by marriage).
Down the road, another matter will need to be addressed if the child is a girl. The monarch’s eldest daughter may be named Princess Royal. Unlike Prince of Wales that is a temporary title, Princess Royal is given for life. Anne is the Princess Royal, and will remain so until her death. The previous Princess Royal was Mary, daughter of George V. As it stands, William’s heir eventually could be both Prince of Wales and Princess Royal.
I hope the baby is a girl. I’d like to see these historic changes play out. I read that they may include Elizabeth and Diana as middle names for a girl, but nothing on her first name. My money is on Victoria. It’s a “queenly” name and it would give us a Victoria II.
Trying to watch the Olympics Equestrian Eventing of the past three days, I’ve performed in my own Eventing competition. It includes the Stair Dash, Pet Hurdles and Speed Remote Handling.
It’s due to television reception, or lack of. We now have satellite tv and I’m sure when the bugs get worked out, it will be fine. But that hasn’t happened in time for Olympics watching. A new box is on a truck on its way here from somewhere. I don’t watch sports much; World Cup, Triple Crown races, show jumping, equestrian games and the Olympics. But those events alone are reason to have a big screen high definition tv.
We have one in the living room, with its fancy box for transmitting the signal to the tv. Upstairs is a smaller tv with a “standard” box. The upstairs one has worked fine, but the living room one? Sometimes it’s fine but it often cuts out or there’s no signal at all when you turn it on. We were told weather affects satellite reception so at first thought there must be a storm somewhere. No problem, see how it goes, there’s other things to do anyway. But when it didn’t work more often than it did, I called the company. “It’s the box,” the lady said after taking me through diagnostic unplugging and resetting, “we’ll send out another one – 3 to 5 days.”
But last Friday was the opening ceremony for the Olympics. No life in the big screen box at all. So I watched upstairs. It was impressive but I knew how much more so it would be if I could only watch it downstairs on high def big tv. Dogs’ dinner was late because the commercial breaks weren’t long enough to run downstairs and feed them. Midway through Paul McCartney’s Hey Jude, a cat fight downstairs couldn’t be ignored, so I missed the end of the show.
It was during the Eventing that I perfected my own eventing. Running up and down the stairs, leaping over animals, simultaneous coordination of remote and tv buttons. I kept fiddling with the big screen box, unplugging cords I hadn’t unplugged before. Yesterday, it worked. I watched swimming and it was glorious. I left the tv on and went out, came back and there was still a picture. Settled in to watch the show jumping part of Eventing. Even without high definition on OLN, it was fabulous. You could see every detail of the horse and the jumps. I could easily do other things during commercials. Maybe this box is fine, it must have been that last cable I reconnected.
Zara Phillips and High Kingdom started their ride in the individual competition – and the signal went out. Even surpassing the gold medal standard in simultaneous performance of my personal eventing elements, I didn’t get the upstairs tv on in time to see the end of their ride.
Dressage starts tomorrow. The new box had better be here.
It was a splendid week on Corrie Street. The Jubilee festivities were just grand, with the bunting and flags and pictures of Queen Elizabeth. The Street party was wonderful, as were the costumes of 60 years of pop singers. I’m glad Steve told us he was dressed as John Lennon. My guess was Elton John or John Denver. Eva and Sunita – I guess if you’ve got it, flaunt it! And they did, I say, they did.
Dennis and Rita’s wedding lead-up was great. Exciting. Was she going to get to the church on time or at all? But she did and the bad guys were caught and Kirsty and Tina reached an understanding if not friendship. The wedding itself was lovely. I got a tear in my eye when they said their vows.
It was a week of great scenes in storylines and visuals. But the showstopper for me was this shot of Tyrone’s living room. How could anyone spend time in that room and keep their sanity! It was bad enough when Vera and Jack put that nightmarish dark wallpaper up. The only good thing I could see about Kirsty moving in was that she would replace it. But no, they’ve added “elements” to it. I wished they’d just pan the camera around slowly so I could see it all, but I was afraid it would burn my retinas if they had.
As a MINI person, I did love the Jubilee commemorative flag with a shiny MINI in the middle of it. I don’t understand it. 2012 is Mini’s 55th anniversary. I want one. Maybe it’s just part of what all British or British-connected companies did this year in issuing Jubilee editions or commemorative stuff. I really want one. I just wouldn’t put it on an already overloaded living room wall.
The history of tacky décor is a long and honourable one on Corrie Street, starting with Hilda Ogden’s wallpaper “muriel” and the plaster ducks. And the Duckworths climbed new heights of tackiness with the stone cladding followed by “The Old Rectory” name plaque. Then, presumably wanting to surround themselves fully in the experience of hideousness, they put up the wallpaper.
Vera would be proud of what Tyrone and Kirsty have done. And I guess I can take solace in the thought that, as long as that wallpaper stays up, a bit of Vera and Jack will always be with us.
In real life sad news, actor Geoffrey Hughes passed away last Friday. He played Eddie Yeats, the Ogden’s lodger and the source for the ‘muriel’, on Coronation Street and Onslow, the bane of Hyacinthe’s existence, on Keeping Up Appearances.
Newfoundland Mi'kmaq, family history, Coronation Street, etc.