Saturday, 14 May 2011

ROYAL RESIDENCES, part 2

Hello Everyone,

Another week has gone, never to return! The new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have, according to the news, gone on their honeymoon by private jet (well, they wouldn't travel in economy class, would they!) to an island in the Seychelles. In the UK football fever is around again, the Cup Final between Stoke and Manchester City is this weekend. To add to our pleasure, Saturday evening is time for that annual event, the Eurovision song contest. Just in case you're wondering . . .it's 32 weeks until next Christmas!

As promised for those people interested in our British Royalty, particularly our American friends across the pond, I am going to give you a little information about 3 more Royal residences this week.

1. Hampton Court
   It was first built by Thomas Wolsey, Lord Chancellor during the reign of Henry VIII. It was admired by many foreign kings and princes and considered to be the loveliest palace in Europe. Thomas gave the palace to Henry VIII when he was trying to obtain a divorce from from Catherine of Aragon who was unable to give him a male heir. Henry moved into the palace with his new love Anne Boleyn. All of Henry's  future marriages took place against the background of Hampton Court. Jane Seymour and Catherine Howard both suffered in their relationships with Henry in this palace. It is said that they both still haunt the Queen's apartments. The last two years of Henry's life were spent here. His successor, Edward VI, was young and weak; the palace saw scenes of great turbulence while his protectors plotted and quarrelled.
Mary Tudor spent her honeymoon with Philip II of Spain at Hampton Court. Her sister, Elizabeth was imprisoned  by her in this palace. On Mary's death in 1558, Elizabeth succeeded her to the throne; despite the unhappy memories Elizabeth frequently visited this palace for festivities and hunts in the park. The atmosphere changed when James I ascended to the throne in 1603. As James VI of Scotland, he had his court filled with Scotsmen; but perhaps the most important event at Hampton Court was the commissioning of the new Authorised Version of the Bible which became known as the King James edition of the Bible. Charles 1 lived in this palace. In the late 1600's it was sold to Oliver Cromwell who lived in it. Later monarchs had much influences on the restoration of this palace. It was William III and Mary II who decided it was the ideal place to live and commissioned Sir Christopher Wren to make it into a grand palace rather like Versailles. William was killed at Hampton Court in a riding accident. George I and George II were the last monarchs to live there. Now, it is just a grand palace with priceless paintings, tapestries and furniture, set in beautiful gardens and steeped in history.

2. Windsor Castle
    The Queen thinks of this castle as 'home' away from the 'office' at Buckingham Palace. During World War II the Queen, (then Princess Elizabeth) spent her time here with Princess Margaret. Her father, George VI was buried here in St George's Chapel and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother was buried beside him with the Princess Margaret, who died only weeks before her. In 1999, Prince Edward was married here. Sadly, in 1992 part of it was destroyed by fire.
  There has been a castle on this site, since the time of William the Conqueror (1066-1087), when Windsor presented the perfect site for protection of the west side of London. The earliest surviving parts of today's castle date from the time of Henry II (1154-1189). It has been besieged, damaged and restored numerous times throughout its long history.
  It has occupied an important place in the lives of the British monarchs from William I through to our Queen today. William I would rest here after a day's hunting in the local forests. King John spent his humiliating days here when he had to seal the Magna Carta at Runnymede. Henry VIII commemorated Catherine of Aragon here. During the Civil War, Windsor was a parliamentarian stronghold. Charles I was imprisoned here for his last days prior to his execution in London; he is buried in St George's Chapel. It was in Queen Victoria's reign that the castle acquired its central place in the monarchy; Edward VII, George V and Queen Mary carried out many improvements. Today, it is the weekend retreat for our Royal family.

3.Palace of Holyrood House
  This is in Edinburgh, at the opposite end of the Royal Mile, from the castle. It is the Queen's official residence in Scotland. It originates from the guesthouse of Holyrood Abbey. The abbey was dedicated by David I in 1128 to Christ's Rood or Cross because of what he believed to be a miraculous escape while hunting in the area. The ruins of the abbey lie to the north of the palace.
 James II was crowned at this abbey, thus breaking the tradition, of monarchs being crowned at Scone. It was in James IV's reign that the official palace was built beside the abbey. In 1543 the palace and abbey were burned during an English invasion; only the north west tower and church survived. Mary, Queen of Scots and her son James lived in the partly restored palace. Charles II was crowned here and largely responsible for the building of the new palace.

Thought for the week: An Englishman's home is his castle!

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