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The Queen’s corgis truly led a dog’s life.

While they annoyed most others in the Royal household, the Queen showed them her unstinting affection.

On Saturday, September 10, 2022, The Times had an inspired article from Kate Williams, ‘The Queen and her corgis: Love me, love my yapping, snapping, pampered dogs’.

Many envied the corgis:

Oh, to be a corgi! Princess Diana called them a “moving carpet”, they knocked her butler Paul Burrell unconscious, and they snapped at courtiers with terrifying energy. But the Queen, tough and disciplined with staff and family, was as soft as butter with her pooches.

They got the best of everything (emphases mine):

Her corgis, along with her “dorgis” (crossbreeds of dachshund and corgi), would have the run of the palace apartments, tucking into food cooked by the HM chefs, and enjoying the everlasting confidence of their mistress.

During the Queen’s seven-decade reign, many were photographed and filmed with her:

Over the years the Queen owned more than 30 dogs, and corgis firmly established themselves as a symbol of her reign; in 2012 the trio of Monty, Willow and Holly even featured alongside her and Daniel Craig in the James Bond sketch she filmed for the London Olympics.

George VI started his daughter’s love of the short-legged pooches:

The short, squat-legged, floppy-eared Welsh breed had been beloved by the Queen ever since her father bought a male named Dookie in 1933 when she was six. Many corgis have a sweet, if yappish, temperament. Not so Dookie. He snapped at everybody except Elizabeth and her mother. At least one politician left the royal presence bleeding from a bite to the hand.

The article has a 1936 photo of the then-Princess Elizabeth with Dookie and a second addition, Jane.

This film, newly revealed in 2022, was made in the late 1930s. It shows Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret in Scotland with George VI and the corgis at Loch Muick, on the Balmoral Estate. The Queen narrated it for the BBC as part of her Platinum Jubilee celebrations:

George VI gave Princess Elizabeth another corgi when she turned 18:

When the Queen turned 18, she received her own corgi — Susan, a present from her father. Susan went everywhere with her — even on honeymoon. As Philip found out, he had married the corgis as well as the girl.

Wow.

However, Prince Philip was unimpressed with his wife’s pets:

The Duke of Edinburgh complained about the “bloody dogs”.

This was a typical day for the corgis. Talk about a dog’s life:

A role as a royal corgi is probably as good as it gets, in canine terms. Their day would start with a walk with a footman. When the Queen woke, they would dash into her room, then accompany her to breakfast, where they jumped about the table as she fed them toast and marmalade. In the afternoon she put on a headscarf to take them for walks in the gardens of Buckingham Palace.

They never had tinned dog food, only the freshest ingredients, which had to be carefully prepared:

One of the most important tasks of a palace footman was to pamper the corgis. Their menu was pinned on the wall of the royal kitchens and one of the chefs prepared their evening meal — freshly cooked steak, liver, rabbit and chicken, topped off with gravy and boiled cabbage. The food always had to be fresh — there was a scandal in Balmoral a few years back when the Queen came to suspect that some of the food in the royal dog bowls might once have been frozen.

The Queen often put their dinner into their polished silver bowls, forking in the pieces of dog biscuit.

She kept a gimlet eye on the canine’s meals:

Her passion was not always shared by her family and staff. A footman was demoted for adding gin and whisky to the dogs’ food.

At nightfall:

it was time for bed in the special corgi room, their wicker baskets raised to cushion them from draughts. Very occasionally, they were allowed to sleep in the royal bedroom.

Christmas was a special time:

At Christmas, the corgis, all descended from Susan, received their own stockings, full of chocolate drops and toys.

Burials were important, too:

When they died they were buried in royal grounds with headstones.

Eventually, the Queen decided she did not want any new canines:

Holly died at Balmoral in 2016. Monty died in 2012 and in 2015 it was revealed that the Queen had decided to have no new corgis.

The two surviving corgis are in the care of Prince Andrew and his ex-wife-companion Sarah (Fergie).

It seems that the long-lived corgi tradition disappeared with the Queen.

The King has other ideas:

He much prefers Labradors.

However, what is it like for a commoner to own a corgi?

On September 27, The Telegraph‘s Nicola Shulman wrote an insider account, ‘We all want a Royal puppy — but think carefully before spending £6,000 on a corgi’.

Until I read this, I could not fathom why George VI bought one.

However, Shulman told us of their appeal as puppies:

When I decided to get a dog, I only knew one thing: I didn’t want a corgi … Nasty, yappy bitey things with short legs, that was my opinion.

This had to be made clear from the outset, because I had a son who wanted us to get a corgi. He said nothing, but unleashed a silent campaign in which he sent me photographs and videos of corgi puppies every day. Have you ever seen a corgi puppy? Their enormous paws! Their floppy ears! Their freckled tummies! After a fortnight of this, a desire to possess a corgi took hold of me like a demonic possession.

It turns out that Shulman’s son is a young man, not a little boy. She searched high and low in Britain for a corgi. They are in high demand and cost around £6,000 apiece.

Finally, she found one at a corgi show in Leicester:

I went to Leicester in the snow and threw myself on the mercy of the breeders. The more the owners told me it was impossible, the more I gabbled, handing out cards, that I was the perfect prospective owner. I had the time. I had a garden. My children were grown up. I had come all the way to Leicester. The more I was disappointed, the more I beamed, hoping to look rueful-but-undeterred in the hope that this would recommend me as the sort of person who deserved a corgi. By the time I was halfway round the room, a puppy had materialised.

“He” was Mishka. A Pembroke Welsh Corgi boy, red and white, 11 weeks old, and with ears so big that they had been taped into special rolls that stuck out on either side of his head, in an attempt to make them stand up properly, making him look like an Ewok from Star Wars. It was all in vain: only one ear went up permanently, resulting in the flag-eared appearance that we consider his particular charm.

As Shulman found out, Corgis are not for most would-be dog owners:

… I often returned to the reasons I had wanted a dog. So that someone could look pleased to see me when I came home, a companion on my travels, a loyal friend who would stay with me through the bad times and good. If these are also the reasons you want a dog, get a golden retriever.

The corgi’s natural environment is on a farm. It likes to be kept busy:

Their job is to watch the farm and herd the cattle. They like to be where stuff is happening and are easily bored. A day lying in your room where you are bedridden with, say, Covid, looking adoring and occasionally giving you an encouraging lick, is not their idea of a good time.

His favourite spot in the house isn’t with us at all, but lying sentry at a window on the stairs, scanning our London street in order to save us from visitors and foxes.

Corgis are food-obsessed:

Where he is like all corgis is in being what the dog books call “food led”. He wakes in the morning thinking of food, thinks of food all day and deploys his famous corgi intelligence principally to discover who in the vicinity has food. While often deaf to exhortations such as “walkies” and “that’s enough barking”, the sound of a fridge door opening three floors away will bring him scrabbling in with a hopeful expression.

Such an obsession requires a budget to match:

In principle, they are not expensive to feed: they only need two small meals a day. But a corgi would say, with King Lear, “reason not the need”. In reality, the expense of feeding them can vary dramatically, depending on what you are eating and how much of it they can get off you.

Walks in town can take much longer than expected, because a corgi has to investigate everything:

Corgis are relaxing country dogs. As herders, they never run off: you are their herd and their job is to keep an eye on you. On a lead in town, not so much, as it is a corgi imperative to sniff pointlessly every bicycle and rubbish bin en route.

It can take 40 minutes to go three streets, and I am constantly trying to establish the difference between a walk for him and a walk actually to go somewhere. Their reputation for barking at everything and nothing is well-earned.

Other dogs, she says, can bring out a corgi’s aggression.

Shulman also points out that they shed a lot, especially in spring and autumn.

Despite this, like our late Queen, she is still smitten:

Luckily, you discover none of this until they are about two years old, and by then it is too late. You – like the late Queen and I – are enslaved.

The only caveat I would add is that good first aid skills and a nearby A&E department are recommended in case of bites, something Shulman has not experienced — fortunately — but other owners might do so.

The British royals were not always at the top of the league table when it came to pageantry.

In fact, in the 18th and 19th centuries, Britain was probably near the bottom.

The Guardian‘s 2017 article about Operation London Bridge, about which I wrote yesterday, says (emphases mine):

For a long time, the art of royal spectacle was for other, weaker peoples: Italians, Russians, and Habsburgs. British ritual occasions were a mess. At the funeral of Princess Charlotte, in 1817, the undertakers were drunk. Ten years later, St George’s Chapel was so cold during the burial of the Duke of York that George Canning, the foreign secretary, contracted rheumatic fever and the bishop of London died. “We never saw so motley, so rude, so ill-managed a body of persons,” reported the Times on the funeral of George IV, in 1830. Victoria’s coronation a few years later was nothing to write home about. The clergy got lost in the words; the singing was awful; and the royal jewellers made the coronation ring for the wrong finger. “Some nations have a gift for ceremonial,” the Marquess of Salisbury wrote in 1860. “In England the case is exactly the reverse.”

Near the end of Queen Victoria’s reign, courtiers and constitutionalists became concerned about the public perception of the monarchy during her latter years and death.

Something would have to be done:

Courtiers, politicians and constitutional theorists such as Walter Bagehot worried about the dismal sight of the Empress of India trooping around Windsor in her donkey cart. If the crown was going to give up its executive authority, it would have to inspire loyalty and awe by other means – and theatre was part of the answer. “The more democratic we get,” wrote Bagehot in 1867, “the more we shall get to like state and show.”

It was Edward VII — historians add his son George V here, too — who transformed embarrassing displays into sheer pageantry.

Victoria never trusted Edward VII to be a reliable heir. Many think she lived so long in an effort to prevent him from succeeding her. As I have mentioned before, there is a parallel between the two of them and the late Queen and Charles III.

Yet, Edward VII’s ten-year reign was considered to be a good one.

He is the one who started codifying and defining what royal pageantry should be, in life and in death:

Obsessed by death, Victoria planned her own funeral with some style. But it was her son, Edward VII, who is largely responsible for reviving royal display. One courtier praised his “curious power of visualising a pageant”. He turned the state opening of parliament and military drills, like the Trooping of the Colour, into full fancy-dress occasions, and at his own passing, resurrected the medieval ritual of lying in state. Hundreds of thousands of subjects filed past his coffin in Westminster Hall in 1910, granting a new sense of intimacy to the body of the sovereign.

That said, one German still did not think the Brits were up to scratch with military processions:

In 1909, Kaiser Wilhelm II boasted about the quality of German martial processions: “The English cannot come up to us in this sort of thing.” Now we all know that no one else quite does it like the British.

George V, whom the then-Princess Elizabeth referred to as Grandfather England, carried on his father’s vision of pageantry and brought the Royal Family closer to his subjects via the wireless:

By 1932, George V was a national father figure, giving the first royal Christmas speech to the nation – a tradition that persists today – in a radio address written for him by Rudyard Kipling.

In The Times‘s article, ‘Modern-day royal funerals trace their traditions to Victoria’, Valentine Low, the author of Courtiers, tells us about the funerals of Edward VII and George V.

Before going into her son’s and grandson’s deaths, he says that Victoria’s funeral broke two previous conventions:

For the previous 200 years the funerals of sovereigns had been held in the evening: hers was the first to be held in the daytime. It was also the first to be filmed.

Edward VII’s Highland terrier, Caesar, was the star of his funeral, much to the annoyance of those attending the service. They knew how ill-behaved the dog could be. Only the King had a fondness for him. Royal historians who spoke on GB News said that the dog was in the funeral procession in St George’s Chapel, Windsor.

Low says:

Caesar immediately captured the public imagination, and became a cult figure. His “memoirs”, entitled “Where’s Master?” were a popular Christmas present that year.

Low also says that the King’s favourite horse was in the outdoor procession in London:

At the funeral of Edward VII — who had insisted his obsequies, unlike those of his mother, were planned well in advance — his favourite charger, Kildare, walked behind the coffin in the procession from Westminster to Paddington, her master’s boots reversed in the stirrups. Behind her, led by a Highlander, trotted Caesar, the late King’s rough-haired terrier.

From Paddington Station, the Royal train transported the King’s coffin to Windsor.

George V’s death in 1936 was the first occurrence of the Vigil of the Princes at Westminster Hall. It was private:

When George V lay in state in Westminster Hall, on the evening of the fourth day King Edward VIII and his three brothers decided to pay a last tribute to their father by standing around the coffin in full-dress uniform, stationing themselves between the officers already on vigil.

He wrote later: “I doubt whether many recognised the King’s four sons among the motionless uniformed figures bent over swords reversed. We stood there for 20 minutes in the dim candlelight and the great silence. I felt close to my father and all that he stood for.”

On the day of his funeral, radio listeners were able to hear the funeral procession as it happened:

For all the expressions of public grief, and the growing involvement of the media — the funeral of George V was the first to have radio microphones placed along the processional route so that the world could listen to the tramp of feet and the thump of muffled drums — it should not be forgotten that royal funerals are also moments of private grief for the families themselves.

George VI never expected to become king. However, his older brother Edward VIII abdicated, and he had to step up. Continuing his father’s Christmas broadcasts proved to be difficult, and he had to get the help of a speech therapist, the Australian Lionel Logue, in order to overcome his stammer. The film, The King’s Speech, is a moving account of that story.

George VI and the Queen Mother never left England, even at the height of the Second World War. The princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret, lived in Windsor Castle for much of the war.

When he died in 1952, the whole country mourned:

Immense crowds lined the streets for the funeral procession of George VI, the shy, simple, devoted king who had seen the country through the Second World War. As two minutes’ silence was observed around the country, miners in South Wales knelt at the coalface, heads bowed, their helmets on their knees.

Not many Britons had television sets at that time, yet his funeral was the first to be televised, setting a new marker for the visibility of the Royal Family:

Of all the modern royal funerals it was that of George VI that saw one of the most poignant moments of private royal grief. His funeral was the first to be televised, but what the cameras were unable to capture was how, too frail to attend the funeral of her son, Queen Mary watched the procession from the window of Marlborough House.

Her friend and lady-in-waiting Lady Airlie, who sat with her, wrote: “As the cortège wound slowly along the Queen whispered in a broken voice, ‘Here he is,’ and I knew that her dry eyes were seeing beyond the coffin a little boy in a sailor suit. She was past weeping, wrapped in the effable solitude of grief. I could not speak to comfort her. My tears choked me.

“The words I wanted to say would not come. We held each other’s hand in silence.”

Another relatively recent development in monarchs’ deaths is the known role of their personal physicians in their final hours.

In the case of George V, his doctor’s role was revealed long after his death:

Half a century after George V’s death it emerged that his life had been ended prematurely by his doctor, Lord Dawson, who hastened his journey to the next world so that it could meet the deadlines of the respectable morning newspapers, in particular The Times.

“The King’s life is moving peacefully towards its close,” was the final notice issued by Dawson at 9.30pm on the night of January 20, 1936. Not long afterwards he injected the king with 750mg of morphine and a gram of cocaine — enough to kill him twice over — in order to ease the monarch’s suffering. However he had another motive, too, as revealed in a 1986 biography by the historian Francis Watson. Dawson wrote in his notes: “The determination of the time of death of the King’s body had another object in view, viz, of the importance of the death receiving its first announcement in the morning papers rather than the less appropriate field of the evening journals.”

In the case of Elizabeth II, we knew that her physician was Professor Sir Huw Thomas, 64, and read of her final hours.

The Guardian‘s 2017 article stated:

In these last hours, the Queen’s senior doctor, a gastroenterologist named Professor Huw Thomas, will be in charge. He will look after his patient, control access to her room and consider what information should be made public.

On Friday, September 9, 2022, the day after her death, The Times reported:

The doctor overseeing the Queen’s medical care had been in charge of her health for the past eight years, during which time she became increasingly frail but insisted on continuing with her royal duties.

Professor Sir Huw Thomas, 64, is head of the medical household and was physician to the Queen. He was appointed a physician to the royal household in 2005 and promoted to the most senior role in July 2014.

The details about the Queen’s health provided by Buckingham Palace yesterday were sparse, but the language hinted at the severity of the situation. Doctors were “concerned” and the Queen remained “under medical supervision”. The latter phrase was likely to mean that her health problems were serious enough that they required active monitoring by doctors.

Thomas oversaw the Queen’s care during the coronavirus pandemic and advised her to reduce her workload after she underwent preliminary tests and spent a night at King Edward VII’s Hospital in west London last October.

He said during an interview about being knighted for his royal duties: “It’s been a busy couple of years in this role . . . You very much become part of that organisation and become the personal doctor to the principal people in it, who are patients just like other patients.”

The royal doctors at Balmoral might have needed to be involved in anything from interpreting vital signs to prescribing medication that could ensure, as the palace statement added, that the Queen “remained comfortable”.

Those of us who admire the  British royals have much for which to thank Edward VII and George V. They gave us the transparency and majesty we have come to expect today.

To commemorate Queen Elizabeth’s Accession Day on Sunday, February 6, The Telegraph republished its front page of Thursday, February 7, 1952:

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The text of the lead article in the left hand column reads as follows:

HIS MAJESTY KING GEORGE VI DIED IN HIS SLEEP AT SANDRINGHAM HOUSE IN THE EARLY HOURS OF YESTERDAY MORNING. A SERVANT FOUND HIM DEAD IN BED AT 7:30 A.M. AN ANNOUNCEMENT FROM SANDRINGHAM REPEATED IN A SPECIAL EDITION OF THE LONDON GAZETTE LAST NIGHT, SAID:

The King, who retired last night in his usual health, passed peacefully away in his sleep early this morning.

Princess Elizabeth, who immediately became Queen, was informed of her father’s death while she was at the Royal hunting lodge near Nyeri in Kenya. A thunderstorm delayed for two hours the departure of the plane which is to bring her to London, where she is expected at 4:30 p.m. to-day.

The Accession Council, which consists of members of the Privy Council summoned with others, “notables of the Realm” such as the Lord Mayor of London, to act on the demise of the Crown, met at 5 p.m. yesterday to decide on the accession proclamation. This will be read at 11 a.m. tomorrow at St. James’s Palace, at Temple Bar and on the steps of the Royal Exchange in the City.

The Queen, who is 25, is expected to take the Royal oath before a second meeting of the Council to-day. She was proclaimed Queen Elizabeth II in Ottawa yesterday. Prince Charles automatically becomes Duke of Cornwall.

Mr. Churchill will broadcast on all B.B.C. wavelengths at 9 o’clock to-night for 15 minutes.

OUT SHOOTING ON PREVIOUS DAY

The King, who was 56 and in the 14th year of his reign, was born at Sandringham. During what proved to be his last stay there he was out shooting on Tuesday morning and afternoon, and appeared to be in good health. In the evening, he walked in the grounds.

The Queen-Mother and Princess Margaret accompanied him when he went to Sandringham last Friday. On the previous day he had gone to London Airport to see his elder daughter and the Duke of Edinburgh leave for Nairobi.

Queen Mary was informed at Marlborough House of her son’s death. The Duke of Gloucester, who was at his home in Barnwell Manor, Northants, went to Sandringham on hearing the news. The Princess Royal was told at St. James’s Palace. The Duchess of Kent returned from Germany last night and the Duke of Windsor leaves New York in the Queen Mary to-day.

The Prime Minister and Sir David Maxwell Fyfe, Home Secretary, were given the news by telephone. A Cabinet meeting was held. The House of Commons and the House of Lords met formally for two minutes and adjourned until after the Accession Council, when M.P.s and Peers began to take the Oath of Allegiance to the new monarch. The two Chambers are expected to meet on Monday for addresses of condolence and then adjourn until Feb. 19.

Subject to the wishes of the new Queen, the body of King George will lie in state in Westminster Hall from Monday until the funeral, the date for which has not been fixed. Carpenters at Sandringham finished midday the coffin of oak from the estate last night. 

CINEMAS AND THEATRES CLOSED

The effect of the news from Sandringham was felt immediately throughout the nation. All cinemas were closed and the Lord Chamberlain directed that theatres should be shut for the day and also on the day of the funeral of the King. B.B.C. programmes were cancelled except for news bulletins. There will be a restricted programme from to-day until after the funeral. The Stock Exchange and Lloyd’s closed, courts adjourned and a number of public dinners and other functions were postponed. Flags in every town were at half-mast.

All sport stopped except for the four Football Association Cup ties. Saturday’s Rugby Union International between England and Ireland at Twickenham has been postponed. Football League and Rugby League fixtures will be played as arranged. National Hunt racing was suspended.

As soon as the news became known a crowd began to gather outside Buckingham Palace and was there until late at night. Ambassadors were calling throughout the day to sign the visitors’ book as an official expression of their sorrow, and messages of sympathy flowed in from every quarter.

Mr. Churchill issued a statement from 10, Downing Street last night, asking that there should be no public gathering at London Airport when the Queen arrives from Kenya.

A few historical notes follow:

London Airport became Heathrow Airport in 1966.

– The Lord Chamberlain is the most senior officer of the Royal Household.

– The Duke of Gloucester at the time was Prince Henry, the King’s brother; he, too, was born at Sandringham.

– The BBC programmes at the time were exclusively on the radio — or wireless, as the British say.

The Telegraph‘s article about their front page from 1952 has a lot of photos and more news items from the days before and after the King’s death. History lovers will find them fascinating.

Prince Charles and Princess Anne were young children at the time; the family lived at Clarence House:

On 31 January 1952, 25-year-old Princess Elizabeth bid farewell to her children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne, at Clarence House as she departed for a tour of the Commonwealth that was planned to include visits to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Princess Elizabeth and her consort were standing in for her father, who had been in poor health from lung cancer:

The couple were standing in for the King, who had been battling illness for some time as they aimed to strengthen the relationship between the Commonwealth. Little did they know that they would not meet him again …

Final farewell: Against medical advice King George VI – along with Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother – sees off the young princess on her first royal tour of the Commonwealth. The Telegraph reports that the “King looks well.”

The Commonwealth tour began in Nairobi and ended in Kenya:

Greetings from England: The young Princess – in a mauve, blue and pink calf-length frock – greets citizens of Nairobi alongside the Duke of Edinburgh at a garden party on the first afternoon of the Commonwealth tour.

Calm Before the Storm: The couple explores the grounds of the lodge, gifted to them from the people of Kenya. The day’s highlights include seeing a herd of 30 elephants.

Winston Churchill said that the Queen was ‘just a child’:

A face that reflects the nation: Churchill in top hat returns from the Accession Council at St James’ Palace, summoned automatically on the death of the monarch. The Prime Minister was brought to tears upon the news of the King’s passing, remarking that the new Queen was “just a child”.

I read elsewhere that he was sceptical about meeting regularly with her to discuss affairs of state but was pleasantly surprised at her mastery of the subject matter.

Churchill, his deputy Prime Minister (and eventual successor) Anthony Eden and the previous Prime Minister Clement Attlee met the Queen at London Airport:

Left a Princess, returns a Queen: Queen Elizabeth II lands at London (Heathrow) airport at 4:30pm, greeted by Churchill, Eden and Attlee, among others. The Queen was brought suitable mourning clothes by an aide before alighting from the plane.

The Royal couple returned briefly to Clarence House before leaving for Sandringham:

Returning to Clarence House: The Queen is met by silent crowds as she travels from the Mall to her residence with her husband. The royal standard is unfurled for the first time over Clarence House as she approaches her home …

Through the gates: The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh are saluted by a policeman as they arrive at the Jubilee Gate of Sandringham House, two days after the King’s death. After greeting her mother and sister, she and the Duke head to the room where her father lay.

This is how the King’s coffin was transported to London:

Taken to the church: George VI’s body, guarded by keepers from his estate, lies in the Church of St Mary Magdalene in the grounds of Sandringham. He was taken from the House at dusk with his family following in procession.

Final journey begins: Five days after arriving in Sandringham, Elizabeth makes her way to Wolferton Station to take the King’s body to London. Crowds gather to watch the new Queen and her sister pass by.

Last stop: People line the streets in the rain to see the coffin in the capital. George’s body is carried from the train at King’s Cross Station and taken on a three-mile journey to Westminster Hall. On the coffin rests the Imperial State Crown and a wreath from the Queen Mother …

Lying in state: George VI lies in Westminster Hall. Over the next few days, 300,000 people would come to pay their respects, braving the February snow and a queue that backed up to Vauxhall Bridge.

Westminster Hall is the oldest part of the Palace of Westminster and is attached to the main building which houses both chambers of Parliament.

The Queen Mother lay in state there; I was one of 200,000 Britons who paid their respects in 2002.

The Queen, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret went to Buckingham Palace:

Day of mourning: The Queen, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret, clad in veils, travel down from Sandringham. They watch the procession at King’s Cross Station, before ending their journey at Buckingham Palace.

London’s streets were lined with mourners:

Packed London streets: Members of the public pay their respects as the procession bearing George VI’s coffin enters New Palace Yard from Parliament Square. The coffin was carried on a gun-carriage by the Royal Horse Artillery.

Three hundred thousand people paid their respects at Westminster Hall:

Lying in state: George VI lies in Westminster Hall. Over the next few days, 300,000 people would come to pay their respects, braving the February snow and a queue that backed up to Vauxhall Bridge.

The King’s funeral was held in Windsor. The funeral train left from Paddington Station.

The funeral service was brief:

Three Queens in mourning: Wearing black veils, Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Mary and The Queen Mother at the King’s funeral. The service took place at St George’s Chapel in the walls of Windsor Castle, lasting less than half an hour.

George VI lies buried beneath St George’s Chapel:

Homecoming: The funeral procession arrives at Windsor Castle. Around 1,400 people were present to watch George’s coffin descend into the Royal Vaults beneath St George’s Chapel.

That concludes the story of the death of the Queen’s father, much loved by his subjects.

I am grateful to The Telegraph for that walk through history.

Sadly, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, died on Friday, April 9, 2021, exactly two months short of his 100th birthday:

The Queen has lost her best friend. My deepest sympathies to her for the unimaginable loss of her long-time husband and daily confidant. My condolences also go to the Royal Family in their grief.

Young love

The couple first met in 1934, and began corresponding when the Prince was 18 and a cadet in the Royal Navy. Princess Elizabeth was 13 at the time.

She was smitten with him from the start.

Prince Philip served with distinction during the Second World War in the Mediterranean and Pacific fleets.

After the war ended, he could have had a stellar career in the Royal Navy. His superiors praised his clear leadership skills.

However, love intervened and the rest was history.

Born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, he renounced his foreign titles and took British citizenship before he and Princess Elizabeth were engaged. He took the surname of his maternal grandparents: Mountbatten.

He and Princess Elizabeth were engaged in July 1947. They married on November 20 that year. Shortly before the wedding, George VI gave him the titles of Duke of Edinburgh (created for him), Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich.

Prince Philip remained in the Royal Navy until July 1951. He retired with the rank of Commander.

Royal succession — and surname

In January 1952, he and the Queen began a tour of the Commonwealth countries. They were in Kenya when news reached them that the Queen’s father, George VI, died on February 6 that year.

Although she became Queen immediately upon her father’s death, her coronation took place in 1953, as it had to be planned meticulously.

On Coronation Day, he knelt before her, clasped her hands and swore an oath of allegiance to her:

He also had to touch her crown and kiss her on the cheek.

He never had a constitutional role, nor was he ever formally given the title of Royal Consort. The courtiers did not like him, nor did they trust him. They believed his personality to be brash and unbecoming of the Royal household. They shut him out of as much decision making as possible.

When Elizabeth became Queen, the question about her family name arose. Prince Philip suggested that the Royal Family be known as the House of Edinburgh. Upon discovering that suggestion, Queen Mary, Elizabeth’s grandmother, wrote to Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who advised the young monarch to issue a royal proclamation saying that the Royal Family would continue to be known as the House of Windsor.

In his inimitable style, Prince Philip complained privately:

I am nothing but a bloody amoeba. I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children. [57]

The Queen did nothing until eight years later, in 1960, 11 days before she gave birth to Prince Andrew. She issued an Order in Council declaring that the surname of her and her husband’s male-line descendants who are not styled as Royal Highness or titled as prince or princess would be Mountbatten-Windsor.

Pater familias

Prince Philip had to carve a role out for himself. He became the pater familias and, through the years, his role expanded to cover not only his four children but his grandchildren. He listened to their concerns, shared their joys and gave them advice. He knew everything that went on in their lives.

Although the public knew him for speaking as he saw — rather bluntly, on occasion — behind closed doors Prince Philip was known to be a warm, loving man.

He also favoured a more transparent Royal Family. According to the BBC, it was he who encouraged the Queen to make a multi-episode documentary on their daily lives, including those of their four children. It was broadcast in the late 1960s. I remember seeing it in the United States.

When Princess Diana died on August 31, 1997, Prince Philip was the one who kept an eye on the public mood that fateful week. He, the Queen and Princes William and Harry were at Balmoral in Scotland for their summer holiday. When the young princes wanted to attend church, their grandparents took them to the Sunday service on the day of their mother’s death. Later in the week, it was Prince Philip who encouraged the boys to walk behind the funeral procession the following Saturday. He said:

If you don’t walk, I think you’ll regret it later. If I walk, will you walk with me? [93]

One cannot imagine what he thought of Prince Harry’s departure for the United States to live a life separate from his closely knit family. I did read that the Royal Family shielded information about the Oprah interview from him.

John F Kennedy’s funeral

Prince Philip was in Washington for John F Kennedy’s funeral in 1963.

He had a friendly encounter with John Jr, who was still a toddler and known as John-John at the time. The child wondered where his father was, as he had no one with whom to play. The Prince stepped in to fill that gap. In 1965, the British government gave an acre of land at Runnymede to the United States for use as a memorial to JFK:

Funeral arrangements

Prince Philip was self-effacing and did not like a fuss to be made over him.

Therefore, the funeral arrangements will respect his wishes, which is rather convenient, as coronavirus restrictions are still in place. Up to 30 people will be allowed at his funeral, in line with legislation across the nation:

The funeral is scheduled to take place on Saturday, April 17:

It is interesting that Prince Harry will be able to attend when we have a 10-day quarantine in place for arrivals into the UK under coronavirus regulations.

The Sunday Mirror reported on Prince Harry’s return to the UK:

He could also be released from quarantine if he gets a negative private test on day five, under the Test to Release scheme.

Given his status as a member of the Royal Family travelling to support the Queen, Harry might be considered exempt from travel restrictions.

Wow. It’s nice to know we have a two-tiered quarantine system in place /sarc.

A championship boxer remembers the Prince

Former WBC Heavyweight Champion Frank Bruno MBE posted his memories of meeting Prince Philip. He is at the top left in the following photo:

An Anglican priest remembers the Prince

The Revd Peter Mullen, an Anglican priest, recalled his encounters with Prince Philip for Conservative Woman on April 10 in ‘A personal recollection’.

He first met the Prince during his schooldays:

The first time I met the Prince was in connection with his Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme which gave a leg up to youngsters from what would now be called the less privileged parts of the country. He paid a visit to the Leeds branch of the Church Lads’ Brigade of which, aged fourteen, I was a member. We were in the church hall making things. My task was to make a table lamp. I was hopeless at it.

The Duke got hold of my half-finished creation, held it up to one eye and said, ‘I suppose this hole is where the flex goes?’

‘I think so, Sir.’

‘You think so? I was never any good at this sort of thing either!’

And he was off . . . 

As an adult, Mullen met him on more than one occasion thanks to the Honourable Company of Air Pilots. The Prince was its Grand Master. Mullen served as chaplain.

He recalls:

The Company gave a lunch for him to mark his 80th birthday and I recall how jovial he was, making light of his years: ‘I believe I have lasted so long because you people are always toasting my good health, but I don’t want to live to be a hundred. Things are dropping off already!’

At another luncheon one of our Liverymen who had his own port wine business presented the prince with Bottle Number One, the first fruits, so to speak. As he left, the duke handed the bottle to me: ‘You have this, Peter. Our house floats on the bloody stuff.’

‘Well, Sir, now I don’t know whether to drink it or frame it.’

‘Gerrit down ya neck!’

Prince Philip on MPs

Guido Fawkes came up with a good quote from one of the Prince’s trips to Ghana. It concerns MPs. His Ghanaian hosts told him the country had 200 MPs. Prince Philip replied:

That’s about the right number. We have 650 and most of them are a complete bloody waste of time.

Incidentally, Parliament will be recalled one day early from Easter recess. On Monday, April 12, MPs and Lords paid tribute to the Prince in their respective Houses:

That afternoon, the House of Commons reconvened to pay their tribute — from 2:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. (good grief).

Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle spoke first:

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had this to say:

Boris Johnson, who was invited to the funeral but declined so that another member of the Royal Family can attend, said that he would forego a pint when pub gardens reopen on April 12, out of respect for the Prince. Guido Fawkes, however, thinks that the Duke of Edinburgh would have wanted us to toast his memory, especially at a pub that bears his title in Brixton, south London:

Guido had a second tweet on the subject with another quote from the Prince:

Agreed.

Prince Philip on Australia

This is too funny. For those who are unaware, Australia was established as a place where Britain could send convicts. That was a long time ago, but the nation’s original purpose was to serve as a prison:

https://image.vuukle.com/afdabdfb-de55-452b-b000-43e4d45f1094-dd97fb07-388d-4ddb-91b8-ccf8a88d5905

Prince Philip on civil liberties

On a serious note, the 12-minute interview below from 1984 is well worth watching, especially in the coronavirus era.

Prince Philip firmly supported the rights of the individual and believed that the state should serve the individual, not, as in our times, the other way around.

This is from a Thames Television programme originally broadcast on ITV:

I have posted the video below in case the tweets are deleted:

The Prince also said that certain subjects are out of bounds, such as the media and the NHS.

He said that the media are incapable of taking a joke about themselves and, as for the NHS, well, one cannot say anything against it. He didn’t necessarily dislike the NHS but thought it was held in too high a regard. Nothing is perfect in this world.

We have been travelling a long road towards the point where we are at present: ruled by the media (they clamoured for coronavirus restrictions) and worship of the NHS. This is how Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and SAGE have been able to rule our lives. It’s been at least 40 years in the making.

BBC coverage on Friday

I was watching BBC Parliament early Friday afternoon, around 1:15, when the programme was interrupted by a broadcast from the BBC News Channel.

I checked the schedule an hour later, which said that the programme would last until 4 p.m. It was still going when I was preparing dinner at 5 p.m.

The final of MasterChef was to have been broadcast that night on BBC1. This was a clip from Thursday’s programme:

Pictured are the hosts and judges, chef/restaurateur John Torode on the left and former greengrocer, now television presenter, Gregg Wallace on the right:

BUT:

The BBC News channel was simulcast all afternoon and all night long, not only on BBC Parliament but also on BBC1, to the dismay of MasterChef fans (myself included), and BBC2. BBC4 was suspended for the evening.

I read on social media that the BBC also broadcast continuous coverage of Prince Philip on their radio stations, including Radio 2, knocking out Steve Wright’s drive-time show on Friday afternoon.

A friend of mine said that most of the BBC’s employees were probably rubbing their hands with glee because it meant an early weekend for them. It’s a cynical perspective that could well turn out to be true. We’ll find out when someone writes his or her memoirs.

Everyone with a television set receives the BBC News channel. It comes into our homes at no extra charge. There was no need for the BBC to take over every channel for hours on end. By the way, if one had watched two hours of the Prince Philip coverage, as I did, one would have seen and heard everything in its entirety.

The BBC braced themselves for a plethora of complaints; they took the relevant page down on Sunday. Good. I am sure Prince Philip would have objected, too.

As much as I love the Queen, I hope they do not try this when her day comes. God willing, may it be long into the future.

Record-beating prince

Prince Philip established two records as consort to the Queen. He was the longest-serving royal consort in British history. He was also the longest-lived male member of the British royal family.

May he rest in eternal peace with his Maker.

May our gracious Lord grant the Queen, Defender of the Faith, His infinite peace and comfort in the months ahead. May He also bless the Royal Family during this difficult time.

Being a member of Britain’s Royal Family requires special personal characteristics which, when combined, are as rare as hen’s teeth:

– intestinal fortitude;
– a stiff upper lip;
– a perpetual sense of duty;
– the ability to keep one’s mouth shut;
– control over one’s personal life.

Many are called, but few are chosen — and even fewer succeed.

In recent memory, Sarah Ferguson didn’t make the mark. Nor did Princess Diana. Nor has the Duchess of Sussex. Nor has her husband, Prince Harry.

It is not easy, and it is a constant obligation.

The Royal Family is not called The Firm for nothing.

In fact, in reality, it carries with it more obligations than a corporation.

People see formal dress, tiaras and crowns in sumptuous palaces and castles. The flip side is that one’s life is never one’s own. One serves Queen and country under the unsparing eye of the media and the British public.

Being a British Royal is one of the world’s most difficult jobs imaginable.

For the most part, with the exception of those conferred at birth, one’s titles are on loan.

It is important not to assign oneself a title one does not possess. Case in point, with reference to the Duchess of Sussex:

To be clear, she is NOT a Princess (unless you consider a future Disney voiceover role as one). She is a Duchess, and that can just as easily be taken from her as it was given.

Another important point is not to show disloyalty. It’s bad enough offending the Queen, without casting shadows on the British public and expecting to get all the glory for no guts.

If you get a ‘sensitive content’ message about the second tweet, please ignore it and open it up. It’s a parody letter:

The publicity surrounding the Sussexes was positive for at least two years. Note the 2018 headlines from their engagement and wedding in the second tweet below. They reflected the national mood:

Many of the Sussexes’ pronouncements since then, including the secrecy surrounding their young son, made many members of the public feel as if they no longer wanted to be part of our nation.

It turns out we were not wrong.

An opinion piece on Spiked, a free-thinking, quasi-libertarian website, pulls no punches. This is from ‘A woke Wallis Simpson’ by Brendan O’Neill, a republican — not a monarchist. Yet, even he sees a problem with the Sussexes (emphases mine):

H&M, the most right-on royals in history, are breaking off so that they can foist even more woke bollocks on the plebs without having to worry about receiving a tutting phone-call from Her Maj’s press secretary reminding them that they’re royalty and not virtue-signalling Hollywood celebs.

Megxit, as this royal bombshell is wittily being called, is a striking sign of the times. What Harry and Meghan are doing is virtually unprecedented in the history of the royals. They are jacking in their jobs (I say jobs) as senior royals and pursuing a more ‘financially independent’ path that will allow them to earn, travel and – this is important – jabber on about their pet concerns and causes as much as they like.

This is also a major sticking point:

Even leaving aside the fact that they won’t actually be financially independent – they’ll still get wads of cash from the Duchy of Cornwall and will still stay in that Frogmore Cottage us British taxpayers just splashed 2.4million quid on – still their move is a startling and concerning one.

This is the difference between Meghan Markle and, say, Prince Charles:

What it fundamentally reveals is the incompatibility of the modern culture of narcissism with the values of duty, loyalty and self-negation traditionally associated with royal life. To someone like Meghan, who sprang from celebville, who sees herself as the embodiment of right-on goodness, and who loves nothing more than advertising her eco-virtue and performing her PC credentials, life in the British monarchy was never going to be a good fit.

Yes, the woke agenda Meghan expresses so well shares much in common with the old-world elitism of the monarchical system. Both obsess over inherited characteristics (the woke bang on about race and gender, the monarchy is all about bloodline). Both have a penchant for looking down their noses at the little people. And both have an instinctive loathing for modernity, from Charles’ longstanding conservationism to H&M’s humanity-bashing eco-hysteria.

But there’s one big, irreconcilable difference: where the woke value the self over everything else, senior royals are meant, ostensibly at least, to be selfless, to submerge the self into the crown. It looks like this is a deal-breaker for the younger, more celebrity-oriented royals, especially newcomer Meghan but also Harry, too. Their unprecedented ‘stepping back’, and the fury this has allegedly caused in the Palace, suggests the cult of the self that Meghan and other showily virtuous celebs embody and promote, does not work within an institution whose ideal is the Queen: opinion-free, emotions hidden, dutiful, unquestioning and in it for the long haul.

Correct!

But wait, there’s more. Their way of speaking about the Queen is also unprecedented:

Even more startling is the way they talk about the queen. They say they will ‘continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen’. Collaborate with? They sound more like Kendall Jenner talking about her adverts with Pepsi than individuals who are meant to devote themselves for life to royal duty and the preservation of the crown. I’m about as republican as it gets (abolish the monarchy is my view), but even I recognise that treating the queen as a kind of big business one temporarily ‘collaborates with’ is out of order. Meghan comes off like a woke Wallis Simpson, taking away a senior royal into a new life of PC globetrotting.

One of the readers’ comments (second one, no hyperlink available) describes the contrast between the Sussexes and the Queen’s parents during the Second World War:

The current situation should remind us all of the remarkable differences between generations. Winston Churchill was desperate to move the Royal family to Canada when hostilities commenced in WW2. The King refused and said that he wanted to stay with his people. In fact the Queen Mum said she was relieved when Buckingham Palace took a direct hit during the Blitz as she could then look the Eastenders in face thereafter. Princess Elizabeth herself served in the military as a mechanic and truck driver. The King, in fact, wanted to be part of the advanced landing parties on D-Day, fortunately he was talked out of it. The Royal family’s sense of duty inspired the British people to see the crisis through even though at the beginning of hostilities it was touch and go for Britain. Running away to safety was not an option for them.

Harry and Meghan find Royal duties tedious and boring. It’s not for them and they want to make lots of money instead. The Press have given them a hard time and some gutter types have written some nasty things about them. They would, it seems, prefer deference rather than criticism. The only option available to them is to escape to Canada.

Is it no small wonder that older people view the Millennials as mere snowflakes.

The first readers’ comment is about personal dynamics between the Sussexes. This is another danger, namely for the Duke:

I have the feeling it is Meghan manipulating Harry as I think she is quite narcissistic. And she knows Harry has a problem with British press re: his mother. She may be exploiting that. I also think their marriage will therefore be in shambles in the not too far future

There is a good article on narcissism relating to this, ‘A Very Royal Narcissist — Part 9’, excerpts from which follow.

Is it possible that this is what has been going on behind the scenes for the past several months? Emphasis in the original:

    • Smearing the family members (“They are trying to control you, I am just trying to help you see that.”)
    • Exaggeration of Threat (“They do not want you to be happy, I do, that is why they see me as a threat.”)
    • Projection (see the above comment).
    • Pity Play (“Your family do not like me.” “This country has it in for me and I have tried so hard, you know, tried the stiff upper lip, but they just do not like me.”)
    • Guilt (“If you loved me, you would move for me.”)
    • Triangulation (“If we stay, it will end up the same for me as it was for your mother and you do not want that to happen do you?”)
    • Use of The Victim´s Weaknesses Against Them …
    • Promised Gain (“If we live there, we can do our own thing and both be happy, you want that for us don’t you?”)

Remember, the narcissist will do this through unconscious manipulations. The narcissist genuinely believes that they are doing the right thing and cannot see, because of their narcissism, that they are actually being manipulative.

Such manipulations will have been used in isolating Prince Harry from his father, brother, grandparents, friends and extended family (save those who are viewed as supportive and therefore no threat to the control) and thus choosing water over blood.

The article on narcissism goes on to speculate as to what possibly happened at Sandringham on Monday, January 13, and the aftermath.

Whatever the outcome, the article concludes:

In the short term, Miss Markle will exert control in some form and in her “world” she will be winning. Of course, there is much more that is yet to happen with this ongoing saga of a Very Royal Narcissist.

I hope that means that this awful saga comes to an end, in favour of the Royal Family.

Tomorrow I will close a week of disroyalty with two more views about the Royal Family and the Sussexes.

The Queen’s Chrismas Day message to the nation was as thought-provoking as ever:

The Express has a transcript. Note that the Queen says that 2020 is the start of a new decade — not 2021, as pedants say (emphases mine):

as we all look forward to the start of a new decade, it’s worth remembering that it is often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most lasting change.

The new decade, beginning in a few days’ time, is further confirmed on Twitter:

Contrary to what the media has reported this month, she kept family issues out of the speech.

On Christmas Eve, the Mail‘s Richard Kay wrote:

After so many broadcasts the Queen, of course, is comfortably familiar in front of the camera, but even so this year she will quite possibly deliver her most difficult, her most painful and perhaps, from the monarchy’s point of view, her most crucial Christmas message ever.

Sure.

In reality, the Queen focussed on the notable anniversaries in 2019:

As a child, I never imagined that one day a man would walk on the moon. Yet this year we marked the 50th anniversary of the famous Apollo 11 mission.

As those historic pictures were beamed back to Earth, millions of us sat transfixed to our television screens, as we watched Neil Armstrong taking a small step for man and a giant leap for mankind – and, indeed, for womankind. It’s a reminder for us all that giant leaps often start with small steps.

This year we marked another important anniversary: D-Day. On 6th June 1944, some 156,000 British, Canadian and American forces landed in northern France. It was the largest ever seaborne invasion and was delayed due to bad weather …

Since the end of the Second World War, many charities, groups and organisations have worked to promote peace and unity around the world, bringing together those who have been on opposing sides.

On that subject, The Express reported her words and what lay behind them:

“It was the largest ever seabourne invasion and was delayed due to bad weather.

“I well remember the look of concern on my father’s face.

“He knew the secret D-Day plans but could of course share that burden with no one.”

This subtle nod to her father also seems to reflect on the burden of loneliness which wearing the crown can entail at times.

Mentions of family were happy ones:

Two hundred years on from the birth of my great, great grandmother, Queen Victoria, Prince Philip and I have been delighted to welcome our eighth great-grandchild into our family.

The broadcast included a clip of Prince George stirring up Christmas pudding:

As Defender of the Faith in the United Kingdom, the Queen always mentions the Reason for the Season, dispensing pragmatic wisdom when speaking of our Lord:

Of course, at the heart of the Christmas story lies the birth of a child: a seemingly small and insignificant step overlooked by many in Bethlehem.

But in time, through his teaching and by his example, Jesus Christ would show the world how small steps taken in faith and in hope can overcome long-held differences and deep-seated divisions to bring harmony and understanding.

Many of us already try to follow in his footsteps. The path, of course, is not always smooth, and may at times this year have felt quite bumpy, but small steps can make a world of difference.

As Christmas dawned, church congregations around the world joined in singing It Came Upon The Midnight Clear. Like many timeless carols, it speaks not just of the coming of Jesus Christ into a divided world, many years ago, but also of the relevance, even today, of the angel’s message of peace and goodwill.

It’s a timely reminder of what positive things can be achieved when people set aside past differences and come together in the spirit of friendship and reconciliation. And, as we all look forward to the start of a new decade, it’s worth remembering that it is often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most lasting change.

And so, I wish you all a very happy Christmas.

The broadcast, which airs at 3 p.m. GMT every year, closed with the choir at Windsor Castle singing the famous carol, accompanied by a military band.

I wonder if outgoing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn saw the speech, which he said was broadcast in the morning:

On Christmas Day at Sandringham in Norfolk, the Royal Family look forward to a church service and family lunch.

Normally, the Royal children do not attend the service. However, Princess Charlotte and Prince George made their first appearance this year (top photo on the left in the second tweet):

I hope that the Queen’s cousin, Princess Alexandra, had a very happy birthday:

This year’s Christmas speech by the Queen proved the media wrong once again. Why do we lean on their every word?

Instead, let us heed her words about small steps being significant in creating great transformation.

On Tuesday, July 10, 2018, Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) celebrated 100 years of defending the United Kingdom.

The most important part of the day was the RAF’s receiving a new colour from the Queen at Buckingham Palace. The colour was consecrated at Westminster Abbey:

A Service of Thanksgiving, open to the public, was also held that morning at St Clement Danes in the Strand, the Central Church of the Royal Air Force. The church is unusual as it sits in the middle of the Strand.

Afterwards, the Presentation of the Colours was made at Buckingham Palace, where the RAF gathered in the forecourt. The centenary ceremony attracted a large number of spectators around the Palace and along the Mall, suitably decorated with Union flags and RAF flags:

The Presentation of Colours ended with a magnificent flypast of RAF planes from the Second World War to the present day. They flew in from various RAF bases around the country. It took months of work behind the scenes logistically to ensure that the planes — numbering 100 in total — arrived for the flypast on time and in position.

This is the Queen’s relationship to the RAF:

Below are a series of tweets of the ceremony:

Afterwards:

Another reception took place on Horse Guards parade:

It was yet another occasion to make one feel proud to be British!

Profound thanks go to the RAF for all they have done — and continue to do — in defence of the nation!

May God continue to guide and bless the RAF over the next 100 years!

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