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  • Rachel Burchfield

Royal Potpourri, Volume 2

Jumping right into questions this morning!

Question: When did the Lindo Wing tradition start?

Answer: Well, first of all, for those that may not know what that is – there is a tradition of Royal moms giving birth in the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital in London, and then introducing the baby to the public on the iconic Lindo Wing steps, where the press and the public line up to catch the first glimpse of the newborn. (Can you just see the Lindo Wing doors and steps in your mind right now, Royal Watchers?) The tradition started with Princess Anne, actually, who introduced her first-born, Peter, in 1977. Before that, all Royal babies were born in palaces. William and Harry were both introduced there in 1982 and 1984, respectively, and Kate has introduced all of her three babies there. Meghan famously said nope to the tradition when Archie was born – it is a little bit insane, really, to expect a mom who just gave birth mere hours ago to have full makeup, a full blowout, and be ready in heels to introduce their new baby six or seven hours postpartum. She and Harry instead introduced Archie to the press 48 hours later in a photo call at Windsor Castle.

Question: When did the Buckingham Palace balcony tradition start?

Answer: This tradition goes all the way back to Queen Victoria in 1851, who saw the balcony as a wonderful way to greet her subjects while still keeping a distance. Seven years later when her daughter, Princess Victoria, got married, the first post-wedding balcony call was born.

The Family heads out to the famous Buckingham Palace balcony every year for Trooping the Colour – stay tuned Friday for a post about that, as Trooping the Colour is on Saturday – and they also go out to the balcony for all major celebrations, like Royal weddings, coronations, and jubilees. Charles and Diana famously kissed on the balcony after their wedding in 1981, Andrew and Fergie did it in 1986, and William and Kate kissed twice in 2011! (Harry and Meghan married at St. George’s Chapel, so their kiss was on the chapel’s steps.)

The Family is all welcome on the balcony, but the famous Royal “no ring, no bring” rule applies here. For example, now Eugenie can bring her husband, Jack Brooksbank, on the balcony, because they’re married (“ring”); but Beatrice cannot bring her boyfriend because they are not engaged (“no bring”). The Queen usually stands in the center of the balcony, unless everyone is assembled for a wedding, during which time the couple of honor takes center stage. Other than that, there’s no specific place where people must stand.

Question: Why were Diana and Fergie stripped of their HRH (Her Royal Highness) titles after they were divorced from Charles and Andrew, respectively?

Answer: I have read that Diana fought so hard to keep her HRH title (and the Queen was okay with it because she was the mother of a future king) but Charles – jealous of the public’s affection for his now ex-wife – demanded she be stripped of it. She could still be referred to as Diana, Princess of Wales, but no more HRH in front of her name. This wasn’t just a title change, though; the stripping of the HRH meant that Diana had to now curtsy to her husband, her two sons, and everyone else in the Royal Family, even those formerly far beneath Diana in the line. It was a total, total assholish slap in the face. (Don’t get me all pissed about Charles again after yesterday’s forgiveness post.) William, being the angel son that he was, told her “Don’t worry Mummy, I will give it back to you one day when I am king.”

Tragically, had Charles allowed Diana to keep her HRH and the Royal protection that came along with it, Diana might still be alive today, as they might have protected her from the paparazzi that chased her into that Paris tunnel on that awful night in August 1997.

Fergie initially kept her HRH title after her divorce from Andrew, but, with the new precedent set in place, her HRH was also stripped after Diana’s was. Thanks, Charles! Moving on…

Question: What are some Royal Family documentaries I can check out while I wait on the next season of The Crown?

Answer: Elizabeth at 90: A Family Tribute; The Royals; Diana: In Her Own Words; The House of Windsor; and Diana: 7 Days That Shook the World are all fabulous and can be found on Netflix. I also loved Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy, which can be found on HBO.

Question: Was there a coronation ceremony for Edward VIII at any point in the 326 days he was on the throne?

Answer: Per my post this week about Royal coronations, there is usually a long waiting period between ascension and coronation. There was no coronation for Edward VIII because he simply wasn’t on the throne long enough. It was scheduled for May 12, 1937; he abdicated on December 11, 1936. To keep everything from going to waste, instead his younger brother, who became King George VI, held his coronation on that day.

Question: If Prince George were to abdicate for any reason when he is grown and have no children, would Princess Charlotte be Queen?

Answer: Thanks to the Perth Agreement, yes, if George abdicated with no heirs, the Crown would pass to Charlotte instead of the next male in line (Louis).

Question: What was Princess Margaret, the Queen’s younger sister, like?

Answer: She is portrayed brilliantly by Vanessa Kirby in The Crown. (Have you watched The Crown yet? Huh? Have you?) Margaret, as the spare (a term I hate but it gets the job done in describing Margaret’s role) was able to be more free-spirited, vivacious, and carefree; she was fashionable, irreverent, and beautiful. She and her sister had a complicated but extremely close relationship which began to fray after Elizabeth wouldn’t allow Margaret to marry the love of her life, Peter Townsend, who was divorced. She instead married Antony Armstrong-Jones; they divorced 18 years and two children into their marriage, one of the first Royals to ever divorce (the divorce wave of the 1990s hadn’t yet happened) and, subsequently, she became a controversial figure. (Many say that she laid the precedence for Royal divorce that, ahem, many have followed.) She loved men, smoking cigarettes, and the island of Mustique. She was captivating, and when she died on February 9, 2002 – just under two months before her mother, the Queen Mother, died on March 30 of that same year, leaving the Queen the only surviving member of their little family of four and the bearer of back to back losses – her sister was devastated.

Question: Referencing an earlier post, why do you see similarities between Princess Anne and Duchess Meghan?

Answer: I was going to do a full blog post on this, but it boils down to this – they’re both strong, tough women, feminists (which, for the record, being a feminist is not a bad thing – when will people realize this?), and they’re both stubborn and hell-bent on doing things their own way, the right way for their families. They’re both quite private, really, and workhorses; according to Kevin MacLeod, the Canadian secretary to the Queen, Anne’s “credo is ‘Keep me busy. I’m here to work. I’m here to do good things. I’m here to meet as many people as possible.’” Sounds like Meghan to me. I think the two must get along quite well.

Question: Why do William and Harry care so much about mental illness?

Answer: In my eyes, the reason is twofold. First, their mother suffered from deep depression and eating disorders, and, honestly, probably more severe mental illness than even that. Secondly, both boys went through bouts of mental illness after their mother’s death in 1997, when William was 15 and Harry just 12. A primary crux of both of their work as Royals is erasing the stigma around mental illness. I applaud that wholeheartedly and think it’s about time.

Question: What is the duchess slant?

Answer: It is the way women in the Family are taught to sit – they are never to cross their legs above the knee because the mere thought of anyone seeing a Royal’s lady parts is abhorrent. The duchess slant is where a lady sits, lays her leg across the other from knee to ankle and only crosses the ankles. “Typically, the duchess slant is used when a lady has to sit for an extended amount of time while keeping poise and posture,” said Myka Meier, Royal etiquette expert (how do I get this job?) and founder and director of Beaumont Etiquette. “It is the perfect pose for when a camera is shooting directly in front of you because by slightly slanting the knees to create a zig-zag effect when wearing a dress or skirt, your legs are angled so that the camera only shoots the sides of your legs and protects your modesty.”

Question: What do you think of President Donald Trump’s state visit to the U.K., specifically his interaction with the Royal Family?

Answer: I don’t think about him at all, actually. It’s more peaceful that way.

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