Jun 30, 2015

10 Interesting Facts About Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace is considered as the most recognizable palace in Great Britain, if not in the world. Home to generations of royals and keeper of priceless treasures, the palace saw its humble beginning as a large townhouse until it became the London residence and principal workplace of the British Monarchy. Here are 10 interesting things that you might find very interesting about Buckingham Palace.

Buckingham Palace is home to Queen Elizabeth II.

Buckingham Palace is the principal London residence of Queen Elizabeth II. However, St. James's Palace is still the official residence of the sovereign. In fact, foreign ambassadors are formally accredited to the Court of St. James'.

Buckingham Palace has so many rooms.

Buckingham Palace's Blue Drawing Room

There are 775 rooms in the palace. To wit, these include 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms.

A mulberry garden used to stand on the palace grounds.

Buckingam House, c1710.

King James I started a mulberry on the site where the palace now stands to rear silkworms. However, the king picked the wrong species, so his plan eventually failed.

The Palace was named after the Duke of Buckingham.

John Sheffield, 1st Duke of Buckingham.

John Sheffield, 3rd Earl of Mulgrave, Marquess of Normanby, and later, Duke of Buckingham was a Tory politician, who built Buckingham House as his London home.

King George III bought the Palace for Queen Charlotte.

Queen Charlotte

In 1761, George III purchased Buckingham House as a gift to his wife, Queen Charlotte, as her London home, thus, it was known that time as the Queen's House. 14 of the couple’s 15 children were born at Buckingham Palace.

It was in the 1820s that Buckingham Palace came to be.

Buckingham Palace, c1837.

In the 1820s, King George IV commissioned John Nash to remodel the house and turn it into a palace. The construction, however, became so expensive that the king fired Nash. William IV, George’s successor, hired Edward Blore to finish the work.

Queen Victoria was the first sovereign to occupy the palace.  

Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria moved to Buckingham Palace shortly after her accession in 1837 and chose it as her official residence. The previous monarch - William IV - had preferred to live at Clarence House and to use St. James's Palace for State functions.

The Palace saw major extensions until the early 20th century.

Buckingham Palace after it was remodelled to its present form, c1913.

The last major structural additions were made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including the East front, which contains the well-known balcony on which the royal family traditionally appears to greet crowds outside. During World War II, the palace chapel was destroyed by a German bomb and on its site, the Queen's Gallery was built and official opened in 1962. Exhibit works of art from the Royal Collection are now displayed there.

The Buckingham Palace Garden is the largest private garden in London.

Buckingham Palace Garden.

The garden is where the Queen's garden parties are held.

The Palace state rooms are open to the public each year.

Buckingham Palace Throne Room

The state rooms, used for official and state entertaining, are open to the public each year for most of August and September, as part of the Palace's Summer Opening.

Find out more about Buckingham Palace at the British Monarchy’s official website

Jun 29, 2015

10 Interesting Things You Need to Know About Arundel Castle

The mighty Arundel Castle.

Arundel Castle, one of the oldest inhabited castles in the United Kingdom, still remains the home of the Dukes of Norfolk. Here are the 10 things that you will find interesting about this historic castle.

The Castle is the seat of the Dukes of Norfolk

The Castle is the principal seat of the family of Dukes of Norfolk. The Duke is the premier duke in the peerage of England, and also, as Earl of Arundel, the premier earl. The Duke is also the hereditary Earl Marshal of England.  The current holder of the title is Edward Fitzalan-Howard, 18th Duke of Norfolk.

The Castle was established by Roger de Montgomercy

Arundel Castle motte.
Arundel Castle was established by Roger de Montgomery on Christmas Day 1067. He was the first earl of Arundel by the graces of William the Conqueror.

The Castle's oldest feature is the motte. 
The castle bridge.
The oldest feature is the motte, an artificial mound, over 100 feet high from the dry moat, and constructed in 1068: followed by the gatehouse in 1070.

The English Civil War severely damaged the castle.
The castle's drawing room.
The castle was heavily damaged during the English Civil War. It was not until the 18th, however, when construction started.

The Castle was restored in the late 1700s.
The Arundel Castle library

Charles Howard, 11th Duke of Norfolk, was known for his restoration work and improvements to the castle beginning in 1787. Known as the Drunk Duke, he was a close friend of the Prince Regent (later George IV) and wanted to make the castle his principal residence and place of entertainments. The Duke brought about many improvements to the castle. To this day, castle’s library remains as he had it designed and built.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert stayed at the Castle.
One of the Arundel Castle's Victorian bedrooms
In 1846, Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, visited Arundel Castle for a few days. Henry Charles Howard, 13th Duke of Norfolk, had remodelled the castle ahead of the royal visit. The delighted queen wrote at the end of her visit about how she enjoyed her stay there, commenting on the "beautiful" castle and the friendliness of her reception. The suite of rooms in which Victoria stayed are now part of the family's private apartments but the suite of bedroom furniture made for her is on display. Among other things to see are the Queen's bed, the guest book bearing her and her Consort's signature, and her toilet.

The Castle was one of the first medieval fortresses to be modernized.
The Collector Garden. A lovely tribute to the 14th Earl of Arundel.

Henry,the 15th Duke of Norfolk (1847-1917) did an extensive restoration project completed in 1900. The castle was one of the first English country houses to have electric lights, integral fire fighting equipment, service lifts and central heating.

A trust was established for the benefit of the Castle.
The gardens at Arundel Castle are well maintained.
The 16th Duke had planned to give the castle to the National Trust but after his death in 1975, his successor, the 17th Duke, instead, established an independent charitable trust to oversee the castle  and manage the restoration works.

For more information about Arundel Castle,  visit its official website.

Jun 25, 2015

Queen Elizabeth II meets Angela Merkel on Day 1 State Visit to Germany

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip started their first full day of state visit to Germany with a ceremonial welcome at the Schloss Bellevue. The official website of the British Monarchy detailed:

“…they were greeted by President Gauck and Ms Schadt, before travelling down the River Spree to the Chancellery to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel."

Hundreds of school children packed the bridges along the route, holding British and German flags as they gleefully caught glimpse of Her Majesty. The Queen returned their well-wishes with a warm wave.

At the Chancellery, Merkel offered the Queen a cup of then and then showed Her Majesty the Berlin skyline from her office, pointing out landmarks including where the Berlin Wall used to run through the center of the city, Telegraph reports.  The two then talked in private.

Her Majesty then laid wreath at Germany's Central memorial for the victims of war and dictatorship, before visiting Berlin's Technical University to hear The Queen's Lecture being delivered.
A State Banquet was held in honor of Queen Elizabeth II, who “spoke of the strength of the ties between the United Kingdom and Germany, saying, 'Our work together includes every part of life, from politics to commerce, from industry to every aspect of the arts.'”

Jun 24, 2015

Queen Elizabeth II begins state visit to Germany

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip is welcomed by German officials as the
royal couple kicks off their state visit in Germany. 

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip have arrived in Berlin to kick off a four-day state visit to Germany.

The Queen’s aircraft was shadowed by three Eurofighters, a welcoming respect accorded to visiting dignitaries the moment they enter the German airspace.

The official website of the British Monarchy provides the details of the Queen’s state visit:

Wednesday 24th June
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will be ceremonially welcomed with military honours at Bellevue Palace, the official residence of President Gauck. They will then travel by boat along the River Spree, to the Chancellery where The Queen will meet Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Queen will then lay a wreath at Germany’s Central Memorial for the victims of war and dictatorship. In the afternoon, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will attend the 50th anniversary of the Queen’s Lecture at Berlin's University of Technology, to be delivered by Neil MacGregor. That evening The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will return to Bellevue Palace for a State Banquet hosted by President Gauck.

Thursday 25th June
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will travel with President Gauck and Ms Schadt to Frankfurt. There they will visit St Paul’s Church, where they will meet representatives of the local community and hear about the significance of the building as the birthplace of parliamentary democracy in Germany. The Minister-President of Hesse will then host a lunch in honour of The Queen at the Römer, which has been Frankfurt’s City Hall for more than six centuries. After leaving the Römer, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will greet members of the public in the central square. On returning to Berlin that evening, they will attend a Garden Party hosted by the British Ambassador.

Friday 26th June
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will greet members of the public in Pariser Platz and view the Brandenburg Gate with the Mayor of Berlin. They will then fly from Berlin to Celle Military Airport in Lower Saxony, and will visit the Bergen-Belsen memorial site. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will lay a wreath at the inscription wall. They will then return to Celle Military Airport for a farewell with the local community, before departing for the UK.

Jun 23, 2015

Newly unearthed letter reveals future Edward VIII was relieved of the death of epileptic brother Prince John

Edward VIII, then Prince of Wales

A recently-unearthed letter written by Edward VIII, then Prince of Wales, to her mistress, Freda Dudly Ward, shows that he felt 'relieved' of knowing that his epileptic brother, Prince John died.

Prince John was the youngest child of King George V and Queen Mary. He was kept away from public because of severe epilepsy and autism. He was eventually known as “Lost Prince.” He spent the rest of his life at a house on the family’s Sandringham estate until his death in 1919 at the age of 13 following relentless seizure.

Here is excerpt of the Prince’s letter to his mistress:

'I arrived yesterday to find a wire from HM [His Majesty] to say that my youngest brother had died. I wired back to say that I was returning to England at once for a few days which I thought was a good move.

'I had great and wonderful hopes of seeing toi tomorrow if the goddess of fortune had been kind to us. I'm so miserable darling as I've just got another wire from HM telling me not to return to England and just to carry on... Isn't it all too heartbreaking.

'Of course my little brother's death plunges me into mourning; don't think me very cold hearted sweethearted [sic] but I've told you all about that little brother darling and how he was an epileptic + might have gone West any day!!

'He's been practically shut up for the last 2 years anyhow no one has even seen him except the family + then only once or twice a year + his death is the greatest relief imaginable or what we've always silently prayed for.

'I was so, so happy last night at the thought of seeing toi tomorrow, just a teeny glimpse of toi.

'What does all the mourning in the world matter to toi et moi? I'm terribly sorry for my sister who was going to a lot of parties in Feb.

'Somehow I don't think this mourning will last very long as I think the funeral was to-day; it looks to me as if as little was being made of it all as possible.

'No one wld. be more cut up if any of other 3 brothers were to die than I shld be, but this poor boy had become more of an animal than anything else + was only a brother in the flesh and nothing else.'

Read the complete detail of the story here.

Queen Elizabeth hosts reception for the first winners of Young Leaders program

Queen Elizabeth II threw a reception for first winners of her Young Leaders program at Buckingham Palace. The event  was a feat to 60 young people from the Commonwealth countries  for their outstanding works in their respective communities . The awards were part of a five year program established by The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust together with Comic Relief and the Royal Commonwealth Society as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Other members of the Royal Family, including the Duke of York, Princess Beatrice, the Duke of Gloucester and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent joined the Queen in the event.

Sir John Major, David Beckham, John Bishop, Fearne Cotton also graced the occasion to congratulate young people for their remarkable work to improve lives of their fellowmen.

Jun 22, 2015

Prince Harry leaves the armed forces

Prince Harry at Trooping the Colour 2013
After a decade of serving the armed forces, Prince Harry finally decided it is time to go. In a statement, the prince said:

"After a decade of service, moving on from the Army has been a really tough decision.  I consider myself incredibly lucky to have had the chance to do some very challenging jobs and have met many fantastic people in the process. From learning the hard way to stay onside with my Colour Sergeant at Sandhurst, to the incredible people I served with during two tours in Afghanistan - the experiences I have had over the last 10 years will stay with me for the rest of my life. For that I will always be hugely grateful.

Inevitably most good things come to an end and I am at a crossroads in my military career. Luckily for me, I will continue to wear the uniform and mix with fellow servicemen and women for the rest of my life, helping where I can, and making sure the next few Invictus Games are as amazing as the last.
I am considering the options for the future and I am really excited about the possibilities. Spending time with the Australian Defence Force will be incredible and I know I will learn a lot. I am also looking forward to coming back to London this summer to continue working at the Personnel Recovery Unit.

So while I am finishing one part of my life, I am getting straight into a new chapter. I am really looking forward to it."

Following his education at Eton and a gap year in Australia and Lesotho, Prince Harry decided to enter the military, undergoing officer training at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 2005. He was commissioned as a Cornet into the Blues and Royals of the Household Cavalry Regiment, serving temporarily with his brother, and completed his training as a troop leader. In 2007–2008 he served for 77 days in Helmand, Afghanistan, but had to be pulled out after an Australian magazine leaked his service there. He returned to Afghanistan for a 20-week deployment in 2012–2013 with the Army Air Corps.
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