Friday, April 29, 2011

British Royal Family

 With all the flurry surrounding the marriage today of Prince William of Wales and Kate Middleton, I’ve been checking out the royal family. (I did not get up at 4:30 a.m. to watch it!)

Some interesting facts that I have read before and forgotten:

The royal family name used to be Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, a Germanic name, because of the marriage of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert in 1840.  In 1917, King George V (grandfather of the present Queen Elizabeth) changed the family name to Windsor; he apparently wanted to get rid of Germanic connections because of Germany’s part in World War I.  

The present Queen Elizabeth’s uncle was Edward VIII, who abdicated his year-long monarchy in 1936. He wanted to marry Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced American woman who would have been unacceptable as the wife of a king. My 94-year-old mother remembers hearing that he said, “What kind of monarch would I be without the woman I love?” So he gave it up, and Queen Elizabeth’s father Prince Albert became King George VI. How romantic!

Just for fun, here is Edward’s abdication speech:

HISTORIC ROYAL SPEECHES AND WRITINGS
The British Monarchy web site [http://www.royal.gov.uk]

EDWARD VIII (r. Jan – December 1936)
Broadcast after his abdication, 11 December 1936

At long last I am able to say a few words of my own. I have never wanted to
withhold anything, but until now it has not been constitutionally possible for
me to speak.

A few hours ago I discharged my last duty as King and Emperor, and now that
I have been succeeded by my brother, The Duke of York, my first words must
be to declare my allegiance to him. This I do with all my heart.

You all know the reasons which have impelled me to renounce the Throne.
But I want you to understand that in making up my mind I did not forget the
country or the Empire which as Prince of Wales, and lately as King, I have for
twenty-five years tried to serve. But you must believe me when I tell you that I
have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to
discharge my duties as King as I would wish to do without the help and
support of the woman I love.

And I want you to know that the decision I have made has been mine and
mine alone. This was a thing I had to judge entirely for myself. The other
person most nearly concerned has tried up to the last to persuade me to take
a different course. I have made this, the most serious decision of my life, only
upon the single thought of what would in the end be best for all.

This decision has been made less difficult to me by the sure knowledge that
my brother, with his long training in the public affairs of this country and with
his fine qualities, will be able to take my place forthwith, without interruption or
injury to the life and progress of the Empire. And he has one matchless
blessing, enjoyed by so many of you and not bestowed on me - a happy home
with his wife and children.

During these hard days I have been comforted by Her Majesty my mother and
by my family. The Ministers of the Crown, and in particular Mr Baldwin, the
Prime Minister, have always treated me with full consideration. There has
never been any constitutional difference between me and them and between
me and Parliament. Bred in the constitutional tradition by my father, I should
never have allowed any such issue to arise.

Ever since I was Prince of Wales, and later on when I occupied the Throne, I
have been treated with the greatest kindness by all classes of the people,
wherever I have lived or journeyed throughout the Empire. For that I am very
grateful.

I now quit altogether public affairs, and I lay down my burden. It may be some
time before I return to my native land, but I shall always follow the fortunes of
the British race and Empire with profound interest, and if at any time in the
future I can be found of service to His Majesty in a private station I shall not
fail.

II
HISTORIC ROYAL SPEECHES AND WRITINGS
The British Monarchy web site [http://www.royal.gov.uk]
And now we all have a new King. I wish him, and you, his people, happiness
and prosperity with all my heart. God bless you all. God Save The King.

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