Toronto Star Interview: “British royal ‘spares’ seldom reign, but they do seem to have more fun”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry at The 2011 Sun Military Awards at Imperial War Museum in London.  (Photo by Arthur Edwards - WPA Pool/Getty Images

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry at The 2011 Sun Military Awards at Imperial War Museum in London. (Photo by Arthur Edwards – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

My interview with Katie Daubs in the Toronto Star discusses the role of “the spare” in recent royal history from the future King George V to Prince Harry today. Younger royal children are often portrayed in the press as more spontaneous and fun-loving than the eldest sibling who is destined to reign. There are times, however, when the spare becomes the heir. Both Queen Elizabeth II’s grandfather, George V, and father, George VI, were second sons who became monarchs due to unexpected circumstances.

Click here to read “British royal ‘spares’ seldom reign, but they do seem to have more fun.”

CBC Interview: A decided lack of fuss over William and Kate’s Royal Baby 2

The Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George arrive in Sydney. Photo credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

The Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George arrive in Sydney. Photo credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

My latest CBC interview compares the more subdued popular interest in the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s second baby with the media frenzy that accompanied the birth of Prince George in 2013. In 2013, journalists were camped outside the hospital for nearly a month before the arrival of the royal baby and the final weeks before the birth were known as “The Great Kate Wait.” In 2015, the second royal baby has been overshadowed by British politics: the announcement was made just before the Scottish independence referendum and the birth will take place just before the United Kingdom general election.

Click here to read “A decided lack of fuss over William and Kate’s Royal Baby 2″ at CBC.ca

 

Interview: What will royal Baby Cambridge No. 2 be named?

Prince George and the Duchess of Cambridge at the polo match. Photo credit: Splash news

Prince George and the Duchess of Cambridge at a polo match. Photo credit: Splash news

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s second child is due later this month and speculation continues regarding possible names. My most recent interview about the history of royal baby names discusses some of the possible contenders including Arthur, which is one of Prince William’s middle names and Charlotte, which has a royal pedigree and has been used by the Middleton family.  The article also mentions my forthcoming book, Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights

Click here to read What will royal Baby Cambridge No. 2 be named?

CBC Interview: Royal baby names: What’s likely for William and Kate’s 2nd child?

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their son, Prince George

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their son, Prince George

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – William and Kate – are expecting their second child this month. I discussed possible royal baby names with Janet Davison at CBC.ca. There are numerous predictions that “Alice” will be chosen for a girl. Alice was one of Queen Victoria’s favourite names for girls and the name of a number of her descendants including Prince Philip’s mother. I also discuss the impact of royalty on baby name choices in Canada, including the reason “Louise” and “Lorne” became popular Canadian baby names by the early twentieth century.

Click here to read Royal baby names: What’s likely for William and Kate’s 2nd child?

King Edward I and Magna Carta in 1300

King Edward I

King Edward I

My latest article on the Magna Carta 2015 Canada site discusses the last exemplification of the Great Charter in the thirteenth century: the 1300 Magna Carta.  King John’s grandson, King Edward I reissued Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest numerous times over the course of his reign to ensure that he had the necessary financial and military support for his wars in Scotland, Wales and France. Today, there are seven known copies of Magna Carta from 1300. The Durham Cathedral Magna Carta and Charter of the Forest from 1300 will be touring Canada this year.

Click here to read King Edward I and Magna Carta in 1300 on the Magna Carta Canada site.

My forthcoming book,Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights will be published on May 2, 2015.

Friday Royal Read: The Children of Henry VIII by John Guy

 All three of King Henry VIII’s legitimate children reigned after him as King Edward VI, Queen Mary I and Queen Elizabeth I. Nevertheless, Henry VIII’s relationship with his six wives has received more attention than his influence over his children. In The Children of Henry VIII, John Guy, one of the leading scholars of the Tudor period and author of Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart and the Penguin Monarchs biography of Henry VIII looks at how Henry VIII’s marriages, politics and personality shaped his children and the monarchs they would become.

Guy provides fresh insights about the intimate world of the Tudor dynasty from Henry VIII’s marriage to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon in 1509 to the accession of Elizabeth I in 1558. Henry VIII had six wives and numerous mistresses yet only four acknowledged children survived to adulthood: one child from each of his first three marriages and a single illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy. Tudor medical history is therefore at centre of The Children of Henry VIII as Guy discusses the conditions that may have shaped Henry VIII’s family and the course of English history. Guy speculates that Henry VIII’s elder brother (and Catherine of Aragon’s first husband) may have died of testicular cancer, which prevented the consummation of the marriage. Guy also discusses whether Henry VIII had a rare genetic condition that precluded fathering more than one healthy child with each of his wives and mistresses.

The question of how royal children should be raised and educated in sixteenth century England is also discussed throughout Guy’s work. Perhaps because there were so few royal children in the Tudor dynasty, Henry VIII’s wives were often eager to take an active role in childrearing that was unusual for a queen consort. Catherine of Aragon corrected her daughter Mary’s latin exercises, Anne Boleyn lavished attention and presents on her daughter Elizabeth and Henry VIII’s sixth wife, Catherine Parr, took an active interest in the upbringing and education of her younger stepchildren. While Henry VIII was an unpredictable father, alternating between lavishing attention on Mary, Elizabeth and Henry Fitzroy and ignoring them depending on the state of his marriages, their mothers took a strong interest in them.

Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy is little known today because he died in 1536 at the age of only seventeen and therefore did not play a role in the succession after Henry VIII’s death. Guy restores Henry Fitzroy to his proper place in history, discussing how he was a direct threat to the succession prospects of the future Mary I during Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Henry VIII feared that female succession would destabilize England and explored the possibility of making his illegitimate son his heir. At a time when the laws of succession were still relatively flexible Guy explains, “Who was king, constitutionally, was a question of whom Parliament would recognize as king..” Henry VIII’s marriage to Anne Boleyn did not only diminish Mary’s prospects but the place of Henry Fitzroy, who was suddenly ignored by his father and distrusted by the new queen.

Guy provides a detailed analysis of the four acknowledged children of Henry VIII: Mary I, Henry Fitzroy, Elizabeth I and Edward VI but there is no discussion of whether Henry had further children who were not publicly acknowledged beyond a dismissal of rumors surrounding his mistress Mary Boleyn’s son, Henry Carey. There were numerous other alleged illegitimate children of Henry VIII including Mary Boleyn’s daughter, Catherine Carey, Henry Fitzroy’s younger sister and an obscure young woman named Ethelreda Malte. Guy’s theories about Henry VIII’s medical history and attitudes toward his children are relevant to the question of how many children were fathered by the king and the book could have included a chapter analyzing the speculation surrounding Catherine Carey, Ethelreda Malte and others.

The Children of Henry VIII is an engaging and thought provoking account of the changing fortunes of Henry VIII’s children. Only the king’s sole legitimate son, the future Edward VI, enjoyed the consistent attention of his father. Mary, Elizabeth and Henry Fitzroy alternated between being showered with honours and almost entirely ignored.  Henry VIII’s treatment of his children shaped their relations with one another and the monarchs that three of them would become.

Next week: Killers of the King: The Men Who Dared to Execute Charles I by Charles Spencer

A Sample Chapter of Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada is Now Available Online

Magna Carta coverMy forthcoming book, Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights will be published on May 2.

A sample chapter from the book is now available online. Click here to read Part 1: The History of Kings, Barons and the Commons.

In Canada, Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights is available for pre-order from amazon.ca and Indigo. 

In the USA, Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights is available for pre-order from amazon.com

In the UK, Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights is available for pre-order from amazon.co.uk

New Canadian Encyclopedia Article: Fathers of Confederation: Jonathan McCully

Jonathan McCully

Jonathan McCully

My most recent article in the Canadian Encyclopedia discusses Jonathan McCully, one of the Fathers of Canadian Confederation from the Province of Nova Scotia.

Jonathan McCully was a strong advocate of Confederation in the Nova Scotia press from 1864 to 1867, writing pro-Confederation editorials for the Halifax Morning Chronicle and Unionist and Halifax Journal. He attended the Charlottetown Conference and the Québec Conferenceas part of the Liberal delegation from Nova Scotia. After Confederation, McCully became a senator and a judge of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

Click here to read my article on Jonathan McCully in the Canadian Encyclopedia

Friday Royal Read: Princes at War: The Bitter Battle Inside Britain’s Royal Family in the Darkest Days of WWII by Deborah Cadbury

The Abdication of King Edward VIII in 1936 and the wartime reign of his younger brother and successor, King George VI is well known. In contrast, their two youngest brothers, Henry, Duke of Gloucester and George, Duke of Kent are virtually unknown today.  Members of the public sometimes to struggle to recall how the Queen’s cousins, the current Dukes of Gloucester and Kent, are connected to the rest of the royal family. Edward VIII’s career after his abdication has also received less attention than the tumultuous events of 1936. In Princes at War: The Bitter Battle Inside Britain’s Royal Family in the Darkest Days of WWII, Deborah Cadbury, a BBC documentary producer and author of Chocolate Wars and The Lost King of France: How DNA Solved the Mystery of the Murdered Son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, tells the story of all four royal brothers and the Second World War.

Cadbury’s history of the royal family at war reads like a novel, emphasizing the uncertainty of the early years of the hostilities when the outcome was unknown. While the British press reported the impending Blitz with defiant good humour including headlines like “French sign peace treaty. We’re in the finals!,” Buckingham Palace prepared for the worst. Barbed wire was laid in the gardens and Queen Elizabeth took shooting lessons. The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and the Duke and Duchess of Kent assumed new leadership positions and traveled extensively, raising morale and welcoming commonwealth forces.

In contrast to the three dutiful younger brothers and their wives, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, the former Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, spent the early months of the war on a series of European holidays, surrounded by the intrigues of dubious financiers and Nazi informants. The Duke of Windsor was appointed Governor of the Bahamas – a position he accepted with great reluctance – to remove him from Europe for the duration of the war. Cadbury provides a page turning account of the Duke of Windsor’s last minute departure for the Bahamas as British agents persuaded him to leave while German agents implored him to remain on the continent. While George VI, his younger brothers, and their families observed wartime rationing in England, the Duchess of Windsor purchased one hundred dresses per year in the Bahamas.

Throughout the book, Cadbury places the House of Windsor in context, highlighting the harrowing experiences of Europe’s other ruling houses during the Second World War. Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands had to flee the Nazi invading force so quickly that she arrived in England in her nightdress covered by a raincoat. King Haakon VII of Norway refused to follow the example of his cousin, King Christian X of Denmark by capitulating to a Nazi occupation and declared “For my part I cannot accept the German demands. It would conflict with all that I have considered to be my duty as King of Norway since I came to this country nearly thirty-five years ago.” Haakon – King George VI’s “Uncle Charles”- spent his final wartime days in Norway in a log cabin near the Arctic Circle with only the local rifle association as a guard before going abroad to form a government in exile. Princess Mafalda of Italy died in a concentration camp. The rulers of the Balkan states found themselves squeezed between the Nazis and the Soviets on either side with devastating consequences.

Cadbury does not only look at the four royal brothers in the United Kingdom but writes about their travels around the Commonwealth including Canada. In his role as Air Commodore, the Duke of Kent toured Canada to inspect the Canadian war effort including the British Commonwealth Air Training Program. While the 1939 tour by George VI and Queen Elizabeth had been a traditional whistle-stop tour, the Duke of Kent crossed the country by air, in the manner of a modern royal visit. The Duke of Kent reported to George VI, “Canada has done a great work and they are 20% ahead of schedule.” The Second World War revitalized the relationship between the monarchy and the Commonwealth nations. Princes at War is a gripping account of a royal family at war and the lasting consequences of the conflict for the modern monarchy.

Next Week: John Guy, The Children of Henry VIII

CTV News Channel Interview: The Reburial of Richard III

The earliest surviving portrait of King Richard III

The earliest surviving portrait of King Richard III

Richard III will be reburied in Leicester Cathedral on March 26, after months of debate concerning both his final resting place and the plans for the ceremony. On the CTV news channel, I discussed Richard III’s contentious reputation from Shakespeare to modern times, the controversy surrounding the funeral plans and what Richard III himself might have thought of the arrangements.

Click here to watch the interview, “Reburial of an English King” on the CTV news channel.