Next up is the traditional current and future Monarch happy snap, although this is the first time a picture like this was ever taken! This picture was taken on July 16, 1894 at the Christening of Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David, or as history would call him, King Edward VIII. He is sitting on the lap of his Great Grandmother, Victoria, who was Queen from 1837-1901, on the left is his Grandfather, Edward VII, who was King from 1901-1910, and on the right is his father, George V, who was King from 1910-1936. Edward VIII was King from January 20 - December 11, 1936. He caused a constitutional crisis by wanting to marry Wallis Simpson, an American socialite who had been divorced once and was in the process of divorcing her second husband. The Prime Minister informed him that as the head of the Church of England, he could not have a Queen who had two living husbands. He abdicated the throne to his younger brother Albert, who became George VI. He was given the title Duke of Windsor, married Wallis Simpson on June 3, 1937 after her divorce became final. They retired to France and he died there in 1972, but is buried in England.
I really like this picture of The Duke and Duchess of York holding their infant daughter Elizabeth at her Christening in 1926. Of course 10 years later she became the heir to the throne when her father became King George VI. He married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon of Scotland. Their was marriage was seen as a modern gesture at the time because although she was titled, she was not royal. When his brother abdicated he was reluctant to accept the throne. He had a stammer, which caused him great embarrassment and made him shy, he also suffered from ill health due to a stomach ulcer. He chose to rule under the name "George VI" to emphasize continuity with his father and to restore confidence in the monarchy. During World War Two the Royal Family vowed to stay in London despite the German bombing raids. The first German raids on September 7, 1940 killed nearly 1000 people, mostly in the East End of London. On September 13, the King and Queen nearly escaped death themselves when a bomb exploded in the courtyard of Buckingham Palace while they were there. The Queen famously said "I am glad that we have been bombed. It makes me feel that we can look the East End in the face". King George and Queen Elizabeth (later known as the Queen Mum) are viewed as sharing the same dangers and deprivations as the rest of the country. They were subject to rationing restrictions and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt remarked on the rationed food served and limited bathwater restrictions during a stay at the unheated and boarded-up Palace. In August 1942, the King's brother, Prince George, Duke of Kent was killed on active duty. The stress of the war took its toll on King George, made worse by his heavy smoking. He developed lung cancer and hardening of the arteries. On January 31, 1952, he went to the London Airport to see off Princess Elizabeth who was going on her tour of Australia via Kenya. On February 6 King George VI was found dead in his bed. He had ruled from 1936-1952. Elizabeth flew back from Kenya as Queen Elizabeth II. She was 26 years old.
Up next is Prince Charles' Christening happy snap of 1948. Princess Elizabeth married Prince Phillip of Greece and Denmark, a member of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderberg-Glucksburg in 1947 when she was 21 years old. He was born in Greece in 1921, but was exiled as a child. He was educated in France, England, Germany and Scotland and joined the British Royal Navy in 1939 at the age of 18. He also began exchanging letters with his 13 year old third cousin (through Queen Victoria) Princess Elizabeth at this time whom he had first met in 1934 before she was the heir to the throne. King George granted Prince Phillip permission to marry Princess Elizabeth in 1947 after he gave up his Greek and Danish royal titles, converted from Greek Orthodoxy to Anglicanism, became a naturalized British citizen, and changed his name to Mountbatten, his maternal grandparents last name. As tradition dictates, just prior to the wedding King George bestowed up him the title "His Royal Highness, The Duke Edinburgh". They have four children, Charles, Prince of Wales (pictured) born in 1948 and current heir to the throne, Anne, Princess Royal, born in 1950, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, born in 1960, and Prince Edward, Earl of Essex, born in 1964. In 1957 Queen Elizabeth made him a "Prince of the United Kingdom", which officially makes him Prince Phillip, the Queen's consort. He is not called "King Phillip" because of rank. A King outranks a Queen and if he was granted the title "King", he would outrank her. In 2012, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Diamond Jubilee, 60 years on the throne as Queen of England. She is the second longest reigning British monarch, Queen Victoria was the monarch for 63 years.
Now we move on to more current history with the Christening of Prince William. We all know the sordid marriage and divorce of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Her tragic death in 1997 is one of those "I remember where I was when I heard the news" events in history because she was so loved by the British people, and people around the world including myself. I can safely say that I wouldn't care one bit about the Royal Family if wasn't for Diana. Although I will never be a fan of Charles, no one has ever suggested that he has not loved his sons every bit as much as Diana did. He has been a good father, and from what I have read he has been more than welcoming to Kate. It's rather hard to look at this picture of Charles and Diana in 1982 and realize that she would have so little time with her son. But its also clear to see by this photo that there were real feelings between these two at one time, and that they were quite proud of the handsome son that they had brought into the world together.
This is one Christening happy snap that no one ever would have ever thought would become part of Royal Family history when it was taken! Standing here on June 20, 1982 are Carole and Michael Middleton with their infant daughter Catherine Elizabeth. Can you imagine what they would have said if they had been told "Hey, guess what?? Tomorrow, (June 21, 1982), Princess Diana is going to give birth to the future King of England and little Kate is going to grow up to marry him!" At the time I'm sure they would have laughed it off. But as time went on, and Kate grew up into the beautiful young woman she is today, I'm sure there would have been little doubt in their mind that she was the perfect woman for Prince William, the perfect woman to be the mother of the future King of England, and of course the perfect woman to lead the monarchy into the new century as the future Queen of England. On this day though, they were just Carole and Mike, young parents, like thousands of other parents having their child declared a Christian in the Church of England. I love this picture because parents never know what the future will hold for their children. In this case, it was a pretty amazing future!
That leads us to Prince George's Christening happy snap! Here we a blend of royalty and commoners to create a whole new Royal Family. In back from left to right:
Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, Charles, Prince of Wales, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Harry, Pippa Middleton, James Middleton, Carole and Michael Middleton. In the front from left to right, Queen Elizabeth II, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and of course Prince George!
Many people will say the monarchy is outdated and not relevant anymore. But this is a constitutional monarchy, which means the Queen is head of state. She cannot write or enact laws, she must remain politically neutral. The main role of the monarchy is to provide stability, unity and a national focus because the Queen remains the same even as the governments change. Queen Elizabeth has stressed duty and service to the nation, something they do through their charity work and military service. Both Wills and Harry are still active in the military. They represent a continuity of a shared common culture.
And living in an hyphenated America right now, where the current political trend is to put labels on everyone to divide us as a nation, a common culture with common values is to be desired.
So says me - Tsarina1