Sunday, June 17, 2018

Devon’s Beautiful Princess

Humphrey Bolton / Tiverton Castle - The south-east tower (Wikimedia Commons)



Did Princess Katherine remember fleeing to sanctuary at Westminster Abbey at the tender age of four when her uncle, Richard, claimed the throne? Was she haunted by the disappearance of her brothers, the ‘Princes of the Tower’?  It must have been a traumatic childhood for the young girl, the youngest daughter of King Edward IV. Luckily, she would have a happier life in later years.

Born in 1479, Princess Katherine Plantagenet may have married a king if her brother had taken his rightful place on the throne, but it was not to be. The family were lucky to be let out of sanctuary by her uncle, King Richard III, who promised to arrange suitable marriages for Katherine and her sisters and give them each a valuable estate if they accepted his rule and guidance. She was only five when they left the Abbey to live at court.

Edward IV had arranged for Katherine to the son of Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain, Juan, but Edward died before it could take place, and the marriage was cancelled. A later marriage was arranged by Henry VII with the son of the Scottish King, but this fell through as well.  Even though she was stunningly beautiful, according to legend, Katherine could not marry for love, but had to wait for her elders to find her a suitable marriage partner. They eventually made a good choice, although the marriage was not especially prestigious.

Marriage

When she was sixteen, Katherine married William Courtenay, a man from a powerful Lancastrian Devon family, who Polydore Vergil described as ‘intelligent and virile.’  The family owned several estates in Devon and Katherine and William probably enjoyed a luxurious country lifestyle. They had three children, Edward, Henry and Margaret. Katherine’s sister Elizabeth of York became Queen to Henry VII, so the couple also spent much time at court.

Unfortunately, trouble lay ahead.  When Henry VII discovered that William was corresponding with Edmund de la Pole, who claimed the throne, he threw him into the Tower of London. Katherine’s sister helped her during William’s time in prison, but William’s title as Earl of Devon was taken away from him.  Katherine probably feared for her husband’s life and relied heavily on her sister’s influence with the King.

There is a tale that Katherine was Henry VIII’s favourite aunt because he remembered playing with her when he was little, and she was kind to him.  He was also extremely fond of his mother.  He returned the couple to favour and began the process of formally restoring the earldom. William was so highly regarded by the King that he even carried the sword of state at his coronation. He tragically died a month after this, however, before the investiture of the title. However, he was buried with the full honours of an earl by the King’s orders.

Widowhood

Katherine was left a widow at only thirty-two, but she had no desire to marry again. Soon after William died, she took a vow of chastity before the Bishop of London. This seems an odd thing to do today, but there may have been pressure on her to marry someone unsuitable, otherwise, and thoughts of protecting the children’s inheritance probably crossed her mind as well.  She led a busy life attending to her several estates, including the castle at Tiverton and estates in Devon and Topsham, with the help of her large staff. Pious and kind, she distributed alms and she helped her servants. For example, she paid for her maid’s wedding and even her wedding dress and ring. The Devon princess owned many books, including four printed mass books, a Book of Matins, a law book and a Latin/ English dictionary.

Much loved by the Devon people, Katherine had an elaborate funeral in St Peter’s at Tiverton. Her coffin was covered in cloth of gold with a cross and coat of arms of silver tissue. Brought to the church in procession, it lay in state overnight. The next morning a requiem mass was sung for her by the Abbot of Montacute. Several dignitaries attended, including the Mayor of Exeter.
This daughter of a king, sister of a king, and aunt of a king still has a special place in the hearts of the Devon people.





Friday, May 18, 2018

Will The Real Meghan Please Stand Up?


Beautiful, strong, confident and bi-racial, Meghan Markle seems the perfect choice for Prince Harry.  She has been described as ‘big-hearted’ and a ‘great humanitarian,’ because of her focus on charitable causes. However, her half-sister called the 36-year old American  ‘pushy’ and her half-brother penned a letter telling Prince Harry that he is making a ‘big mistake’.  Who is the real Meghan Markle?

Born in 1981, she is the daughter of a lighting director and a yoga instructor. Her father was white and her mother was black. Meghan grew up in the comfortable suburb  The Valley in LA and went to an exclusive Catholic girl’s school. She experienced racism and sexism during her childhood and teenage years. For example, people often thought that her mother was the nanny, and she left a question on a form about her ethnicity blank. She didn’t want to tick ‘Caucasian’ in case she upset her mother.

Although only black sets and white sets of Barbie doll families were sold, her father combined figures from a set to make Meghan her own ‘Heart’ family.  Meghan remembered this later and wrote about what a comforting gesture it was. She was very close to her father. Although, she has now been criticised for not helping him with money.

The  intelligent girl complained to First Lady Hillary Clinton about a sexist ad at only 11.  The advertisement stated that ‘women’ all over America were fighting greasy pots and pans. Meghan managed to change the word ‘women’ to ‘people!’ After this, she joined the National Organization for Women.

During her high-school years, Meghan became interested in charity work and helped out at soup \kitchens. She continued this during her studies at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois. There she joined the sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma which concentrated on philanthropy. She helped the Glass Slipper Project which provided prom dresses for under-privileged girls. She also did a 30-hour charity dance for a cancer project.

Meghan got several parts after her studies but couldn’t find one which was right for her. She found her dream role in Suits as a bright and idealistic para-legal. She also started a lifestyle brand, The Tig, which was extremely popular.

She married producer Trevor Engelson in 2011 and they got divorced two years later. There isn’t much information about this marriage. They obviously decided that it wouldn’t work out very quickly.

Meghan’s charity work became even more impressive while she acted in Suits. She became a Women’s Advocate and Global Ambassador to the UN and travelled to India and Rwanda for the organisation. She helped the Clean Water campaign in Rwanda and the UN thanked her for assisting the provision of clean water to almost 60,000 Rwandans.

Prince Harry met Meghan on a blind date at London’s Soho House in the middle 2016 and fell for her quickly. Soon afterwards, he took her to Botswana where they camped out under the stars.  The Queen was supportive, even though Meghan was a divorced American, according to U.S. Weekly as soon as December. Rumours soon began that the couple were living together. By November of 2017 the couple, obviously very much in love, were engaged.

Some of the people who will be happiest to see the couple marry are the children who Meghan helped in Rwanda. 10-year old Chanceline said to UN Uk that: “I was so happy to meet Meghan when she came to our school. I really like her. I wish that she can have many children and a happy wedding’. Samantha said that she hoped that she will enjoy her beautiful wedding with the Prince and a happy future together’.


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Royal Baby Born on St George's Day!

The new Royal baby boy was born on St George's Day while we were travelling on the train from
Darlington to Greenwich! So exciting! Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Prince Charles Remembers Christians

Prince Charles pleads for Christians in his Easter speech.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Order of the Elephant

By Sodacan - Own work: Based on: File:Order of the Elephant (heraldry).svg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9711613

Crown Princess Mary recently looked beautiful at a royal New Year's reception, wearing the Order of the Elephant.  This is Denmark's oldest and most distinguished Order of chivalry, which dates back to the fifteenth century.  This unusual Order always looks attractive. This badge has a white-enamelled gold elephant with a castle on its back and a cross to one side with the reigning Sovereign's monogram on the other.

Originally, the Order was called the 'Fellowship of the Mother of God', which King Christian 1 founded in about 1470. The medal of the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus was worn on a chain of tower-bearing elephants. An elephant seems a strange symbol for such a cold northern kingdom. However, elephants carrying towers were apparently associated with the Virgin Mary, and battle elephants were also a Christian symbol representing purity and chastity. Denmark also had a close relationship with the Thai royal family, whose most sacred sytmbol was the elephant.

After the Reformation, the Order's association with Catholicism was not in favour, but it was revived in the sixteenth century and new rules were made for the presentation of the insignias in 1693 by King Christian V.  These rules are still in existence. However, the statutes were amended by a Royal Ordinance in 1958, allowing both men and women to wear the order.

On New Year's Eve, the Order is worn on the chest on a chain-link collar, but on other occasions, it is worn on a blue sash. The monarch is the head of the Order.


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Queen's Christmas Message 2017

I know that this is very late but better late than never! I found our Queen's speech very moving, especially after seeing the flowers and tributes to the victims of the terrorist attack at Westminster Bridge earlier in the year.



Monday, November 27, 2017

Engagment!

Buckingham Palace has announced the engagement of Prince Harry and actress Meghan Markle! We wish them every happiness.

I will be writing about Meghan Markle here soon!
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