King Richard III Reinterred at Leicester Cathedral

Over 500 years have passed since King Richard III was killed during battle at Bosworth Field in 1485. He was buried in a monastery, but it had been destroyed long ago. The rumor persisted that his bones had been tossed into the nearby river and washed away forever.

Today the mystery has been put to rest and now, in the year 2015, the king gets a second burial. Richard III has been reinterred in Leicester Cathedral in a simple oak coffin after a procession and, this Thursday, a proper funeral.

It all began in 2012 when excavation was underway in a parking lot in Leicester, England. While digging, human bones were discovered by workers. Grisly, to say the least.

When it was discovered where they were digging, archaeologists raced to the site of the excavation to determine who had been buried. After removing the bones and reassembling them, they saw that the spine had a curve that attested to the real Richard, described in life as a “hunchback”.

After tracking down descendants of Richard’s sister, Anne, scientists took DNA from cheek cells to ascertain the identity of the bones. Could it be?

The monastery in which the king had been buried was dissolved and the church was demolished in 1536. Richard’s remains were rumored to have been tossed into a nearby river, never to be seen again. Their whereabouts were one of the biggest historical mysteries in the world.

Philippa Langley, a screenwriter and researcher of Richard III, was convinced that Richard’s grave had not been desecrated during the dissolution of the monastery. She proposed that he still lay where he had been buried, and she was correct.

After the tests returned, the announcement was made: the king had been found, five centuries after his death.

Wax replicas of the king have been made to recreate his likeness. A recent figure contends that Richard III was actually blond and blue-eyed. Excitement grew over the discovery and the plans to reinter the king. Unfortunately, as excitement grew so did arguments. Where should the king be buried? The towns of Leicester and York disputed the other’s claim over the king. After judicial review, it was settled that Leicester would be the home of the remains.

Today the king was carried back to Leicester in an emotional but dignified procession, a more pleasant and modern-day recreation of the journey the king’s body originally made from the battle site.

In a wonderful and touching conclusion to the king’s reburial, it has been revealed that Michael Ibsen, a descendant of Richard’s sister, has made the king’s coffin.

Canadian-born Ibsen is a cabinet-maker by trade. After providing DNA from a cheek swab to identify Richard, Isben helped make history. For his contribution, Isben was asked to be further involved in the process of Richard’s reburial by putting his skills to work making the king’s coffin. It is a high honor, indeed.

Says Isben: “”When you’re working away you just focus on joining two bits of wood, but at the end of the day when you stand back and think ‘I’m building Richard III’s coffin,’ it’s incredible.”



Richard III Reburial Celebration – LiveScience

Car Park King Richard III Gets Reburial - Business Insider

Dutch State Visit To Denmark

maxblue The Dutch state visit to Denmark is happening, and I love it.

Like me, you probably love to see royals hanging out together. It was great seeing Marie of Denmark and Letizia of Spain chatting during the Olympics, along with Mette-Marit of Norway sitting alongside Guillaume of Luxembourg.  It’s great!

So this Dutch state visit to Denmark this week has been nothing short of spectacular. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima make their official visit to strengthen the relations between Denmark and the Netherlands, says the Danish Foreign Ministry. Following the official welcome by Queen Margrethe and Prince Consort Henrik at Copenhagen Airport, the Dutch royal couple began their visit at Fredensborg Palace. The Dutch King and Queen then met with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt at Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen.

Queen Margrethe held a State Banquet Tuesday evening for her visitors and the royal women wore their shiny finest. Maxima, however, was the best.

Impressing the heck out of all concerned, Maxima was swathed in her delicate blue lace gown and Dutch Sapphire tiara. She wore both for Willem-Alexander’s investiture as king, and I’m so glad she brought both back for this occasion. In fact, she made the tiara slightly taller by adding a diamond sprig at the top (as if it needed embellishment!).

It is fantastic to see these major royals all together. I hope for more visits like this between the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and fellow crowned heads in the future! Britain often seems far removed from their European counterparts, save for Edward and Sophie (the Earl and Countess of Wessex).  So let’s hope the Cambridges get to the Continent and then little Prince George will perhaps see his royal compatriots more often than not (George and Estelle = yes)!



Another Royal Visit For The USA

English: Full size File:Royal Visit Dundurn Ca...

Royal Visit Dundurn Castle Balcony. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s another royal visit for the USA! The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made a highly successful visit back in December. Now HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall pay a visit to the heart of our nation in Washington, DC.

Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, arrived in our capitol on Tuesday to begin their four-day tour. Reports on the trip via the British Embassy state that the royal couple will meet with President Obama as well as visit sites of historical importance.

The purpose of the trip is to boost Britain’s partnership with the United States in areas close to Charles’s heart, such as climate change.

Prior to the Prince and the Duchess arriving here Stateside, the CNN network aired an exclusive interview with the pair just a few days ago. CNN’s London correspondent Max Foster spoke to Charles and Camilla for the program back in January.

The couple celebrate ten years of marriage in April.


Book Review: 17 Carnations By Andrew Morton

By Monday, March 16, 2015 0 Permalink

17 Carnations: The Royals, the Nazis, and the Biggest Cover-Up in History By Andrew Morton
Book Review by Elizabeth K. Mahon, Author of “Scandalous Women”

When I saw the promo for Andrew Morton’s new book 17 Carnations: The Royals, the Nazis, and the Biggest Cover-Up in History, I was immediately intrigued. I have read a great deal about the Duke and Duchess of Windsor ever since I watched Edward and Mrs. Simpson on PBS in high school. Having read several of Morton’s books on Princess Diana and the royal family, I was interested to read his take on a royal couple who, in their day, were about as famous as Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

The book marks Morton’s return to royal subjects after several years writing biographies of celebrities including Angelina Jolie and Tom Cruise, apart from a book on the Spanish Royal family which, unfortunately, has yet to be published in English (I can’t tell you how much I wish I had taken Spanish in college so that I could read it!).

Unfortunately, 17 Carnations did not live up to the hype. The first two-thirds of the book retells the story the Duke of Windsor from his early days as the most eligible bachelor in the world, his relationships with older women including Freda Dudley Ward and Thelma Furness, his fascination with American culture, to his relationship with Wallis Simpson. Morton doesn’t shy away from portraying the Duke as a Nazi sympathizer and later an embarrassment for the British royal family. None of this is new information to anyone who has read any biography about either the Duke or the Duchess of Windsor.

The title of Morton’s book refers to the flowers that German ambassador Joachim von Ribbentrop apparently sent daily to Mrs. Simpson during this time, 17 referring to the number of times they had slept together. Morton provides no new evidence that the relationship between Wallis and Ribbentrop was anything more than a flirtation. He repeats the story about Wallis Simpson having an affair with a local car dealer, which again has never been proven conclusively. He paints a portrait of a prince who was more a needy boy than a man, who chafed against his responsibilities, calling it ‘princing’, who had one foot out of the door of the castle before Wallis even showed up on the scene. It is not a new revelation that Edward never really wanted to be king and that Wallis never wanted to marry him. While the Duke of Windsor comes off as indiscreet, irresponsible, petulant, and childish and naïve, the Duchess comes across more as a cipher in this book. We never get a sense from Morton about what binds the two of them together.

In fact, there are very few new revelations in the first two-thirds of the book apart from the fact that The Duchess sent someone to her French chateau to rescue her bathing suit after they fled France ahead of the Nazis. For a great deal of the book, the Duke and Duchess are off stage, while Morton details the behind the scenes maneuverings between the major players. I’m not going to lie, this book was hard for me to get through, and I often found myself falling asleep in the middle of a chapter.

The book only picks up the pace in the final third of the book when it is revealed that there was written evidence of The Duke of Windsor making statements that could be construed as treasonous. Here the book becomes more of a spy thriller, as the British and Americans try to keep the information out of Russian hands. Anthony Blunt, who was later revealed to be a communist spy, makes an appearance. Days before the end of the war, copies of communications among the Germans, Spanish and the Windsors were discovered in the Russian zone and quickly spirited away by the British. It was felt that this evidence of his clear knowledge of the plan would have done irreparable damage to the British monarchy. Morton argues that British authorities kept this evidence under wraps as part of what he calls “the Biggest Cover-Up in History.” But in the end, the information was published after all, and the sky didn’t fall.

For readers unfamiliar with the story of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Morton provides an interesting but rather dry account of their lives. A more compelling book would have either started with the couple’s wedding and an in-depth look at the trip to Germany, or with the end of the war, focusing on the damning evidence, saving readers from having to slog through information that they already know including innuendo about Simpson’s affairs.

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon is a native New Yorker and history geek. She is the author of Scandalous Women, published by Perigee Books,  and the blog of the same name.