Baroness Thatcher Is Dead

Britain’s formidable former Prime Minister, Baroness Margaret Thatcher, died peacefully at the age of 87 after suffering a stroke. She was Britain’s first (and, to this day, last) female Prime Minister.

Baroness Margaret Thatcher

Baroness Margaret Thatcher

Baroness Thatcher will not have a state funeral, in accordance to her wishes. However, she will be given a Ceremonial Funeral with full military honours, which will take place at St Paul’s Cathedral. It will be similar to the funerals accorded to the Queen Mother and Diana, Princess of Wales. As a tribute to Thatcher, the Union Jack flags above the Westminster, the Buckingham Palace, and 10 Downing Street have been lowered to half-mast.

The Iron Lady was a polarising figure in British politics and society, as indeed most remarkable politicians are. Some consider her one of the last eminent politicians and among the greatest Prime Ministers of the country. The others consider her decisions had a profoundly negative long-term effect on the country’s development. It is easy to see why: this was the woman who successfully led Britain at the height of the Falklands Crisis of 1982, whose unyielding policies earned the “Iron Lady” nickname. Yet Margaret is also remembered for privatising several state-owned industries and her year-long stand-off with unions during the Miners’ Strike of 1984-1985.

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Falklands Referendum: Overwhelming Majority Wants to Remain UK Overseas Territory

In a very clear expression of self-determination and loyalty to the Crown, the people of the Falkland Islands have voted overwhelmingly in favour of remaining a UK overseas territory.

The referendum had asked a simple question: “Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom?” Over 90% of the island’s population eligible to vote took part in the referendum, and of 1,517 votes cast 1,513 were in favour, with only three people voting against.

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Prince Philip becomes the longest-lived male member of the British Royal Family

The Duke of Edinburgh

The Duke of Edinburgh

On 24 February 2013, Prince Philip became the oldest-ever British male royal.

The Duke of Edinburgh was born on  10 June 1921 and will turn 92 this year. His parents were the Prince and Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark. His mother, born Princess Alice of Battenberg, was a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of the United Kingdom. His father was a grandson of Christian IX of Denmark and a great-grandson of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. He had a distinguished naval career, including active service during World War II, before marrying Princess Elizabeth (now Elizabeth II) in 1947.

Prince Philip is also the longest serving royal consort in history, as well as the oldest spouse of a reigning British Monarch in history.

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Famous Stones: Dresden Green Diamond

We continue our Famous Stones Series with another breathtaking gem – the Dresden Green Diamond.

Dresden Green Diamond

Dresden Green Diamond

The Dresden Green Diamond is one of the most famous and extraordinary stones out there. The pear-shaped stone of exceptional quality weighs 40.7 carats and is the largest and finest natural green diamond ever found. The diamond derives its name from Dresden, the capital city of Saxony in Germany. King Frederick Augustus II bought the diamond in 1741 and the stone remained in Dresden for most of its history.

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Famous Stones: The Timur Ruby

Normally, I write jewellery-related articles on my other blog, Artemisia’s Royal Jewels. However, this entry – like the one of the Cullinan Diamond – is different simply because 99% of it is pure history.

The Timur Ruby

The Timur Ruby

The Timur Ruby is one of the most historically significant jewels the Queen owns. It weighs whooping 352.5-carats and until 1851, it was regarded as the largest known ruby in the world. Then it was discovered to be a spinel, and not a ruby (not unlike another famous stone – the Black Prince’s “Ruby”) and is currently ranked as second in size behind the 398.72 carat spinel in the Imperial Russian Crown. The stone, or the necklace it is currently mounted into, has never actually been worn by any British Royal. Nevertheless, it is one of the greatest heirlooms of the Monarchy.

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Queen Beatrix’s Abdication: Changes and Traditions

With the announcement Her Majesty Queen Beatrix will formally abdicate, let’s have a look at the changed the Dutch Monarchy will undergo as an immediate result of the abdication.

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands

Her Majesty the Queen will sign the Instrument of Abdication at the Royal Palace, Amsterdam  on April 30, 2013 – the 33rd anniversary of her reign. Abdication itself is nothing new or unusual for the Dutch Royal Family; in fact, Her Majesty will be the third successive Dutch Monarch to voluntarily abdicate the Throne, following her grandmother, Queen Wilhelmina, and her mother, Queen Juliana.

The most obvious change is of course the fact the Netherlands will have a new Monarch – the first King in 122 years (Queen Beatrix had succeeded her mother, Queen Juliana, who herself had succeeded her own mother, Queen Wilhelmina). The current Prince of Orange will reign as King Willem-Alexander, and not King Willem IV as had been expected. His wife, Princess Maxima, will be his Queen– the first Dutch Queen Consort since Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont.

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Famous Stones: Cullinan – The Word’s Largest Diamond Ever

On January 26, 1905 the world’s largest diamond was found at the Premier Mine in South Africa. The uncut Cullinan weighted an amazing 3,106.75 carats (0.62135 kg)!

Replica of the original, uncut Cullinan Diamond

Replica of the original, uncut Cullinan Diamond

Late in the afternoon of January 26, Frederick Wells was making a routine inspection of the Premier Mine – part of his job as superintendent of the mine. Suddenly, something caught his attention: rays of the setting sun reflected off something shiny about 18 feet below the surface of the earth. Wells stopped to investigate.

After about half an hour of digging work, he managed to free the object and, after washing the stone, felt a bit annoyed at all the wasted time. For what he found looked like a diamond but it was so huge that he felt there was no way it could be real: surely it was made of glass and the workers were playing a trick on him! Nevertheless, Wells was a professional and automatically sent the stone to be analysed – and was astounded to find out that it was indeed a gem-quality diamond. And not just any diamond – the largest ever discovered.

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Dutch Jewels: Queen Juliana’s Aquamarine Parure

Because of a little (well, OK, major) reorganisation, I’ve moved posts about jewellery to my other blog – Artemisia’s Royal Jewels. The article on this parure can be found here: Dutch Royal Jewels: Queen Juliana’s Aquamarine Parure

You can read more about the reorganisation in this post.

Dutch Jewels: The Pearl Button Tiara

Because of a little (well, OK, major) reorganisation, I’ve moved posts about jewellery to my other blog – Artemisia’s Royal Jewels. The article on this parure can be found here: Dutch Royal Jewels: The Pearl Button Tiara.

You can read more about the reorganisation in this post.