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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Death of Prince Badr bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

The Saudi Royal Court announced today that Badr bin Abdulaziz Al Saud died today, April 1, at the age of 81. A statement issued by the court states funeral prayers for the late Prince will be performed after Asr prayer tomorrow, April 2, at the Imam Turkey bin Abdullah Mosque in Riyadh.

Prince Badr was born in 1932 to King Abdulaziz (the first Monarch of Saudi Arabia) and his 12th wife, Haya bint Sa’ad al- Sudairi (a member of the powerful Sudairi family). Prince Badr had well over fifty half-siblings and three full brothers, Princes Abdul Majeed and Abdul Ilah.

Badr bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

Badr bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

In his youth Prince Badr, together with his brothers Prince Talal and Prince Fawwaz, participated in the Free Princes Movement. The movement lasted from 1962 to 1964 and was aimed at political reforms and adoption of a constitution. Because of his participation in the movement, Badr had to live in exile for a while, mostly in Egypt and Syria. Badr’s brother King Faisal (King from 1964 until his assassination in 1975) later pardoned the Princes.

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Death of Princess Lilian, Duchess of Halland

The Swedish Court today announced some very sad news: Princess Lilian passed away on Sunday, March 10, at the age of 97.

She died peacefully in her home on Djurgarden in Stockholm. The Swedish Royal has been suffering from ill health for some time, and in 2010 it was announced she also had Alzheimer’s disease. Because of it, she was unable to attend the wedding of her niece, Crown Princess Victoria.

Princess Lilian, Duchess of halland

Princess Lilian, Duchess of halland

 

Following the Princess’s death, His Majesty the King released the following statement: “It is with great sorrow that I and our family announce that Princess Lilian passed away on Sunday, March 10th. Princess was much loved by our family and we all remember her as a happy, funny and witty person. She was a true joy spreader and had the ability to always create a good and warm atmosphere around her. The youngsters of our family always appreciated Princess’ happy antics and humorous manners… She was always loyal and stood up wholeheartedly for the Royal Family and for Sweden. A very dear and beloved member of the family is now gone.”

Since the Duchess of Halland was member of the Royal Family, a Royal Highness and a Princess of Sweden, she will be accorded appropriate funerals. As per established protocol, her coffin will lie in state at the Royal Chapel, followed by a funeral ceremony that is likely to be attended by representatives of foreign royal families. A procession will then progress through the city to the cemetery at Haga, where the late Princess will find her final resting place alongside her late husband, Prince Bertil.

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Leicester Now Virtually Certain to be Richard III’s Burial Place

The question on Richard III’s final resting place seems to have been resolved after York withdrew its candidacy, leaving Leicester as the only serious contender for the honour.

Although Leicester had always been the frontrunner, support for York has been steadily growing. Over 11,000 people had signed a petition to bring King Richard’s remains to York. After all, Richard III was a representative of the House of York (the branch of the House of Plantagenet) and he was extremely popular there. When news of his death reached York, the city elders recorded how the King who had “mercifully” reigned over them was “piteously slain and murdered to the great heaviness of the city”.

Many also objected to Leicester’s candidacy on the basis that it was never a “resting” place for Richard. Although he was buried there for over 500 years, it was the site where he was humiliated and buried without any honours befitting a Monarch.

Richard III

Richard III

A statement on York Minster’s website read: “The Chapter of York understands the strong feeling of some people in York and Yorkshire that Richard III is significant to the history of the county and that therefore his body ought to be returned. However, the recent verification of the identity of his remains follows a significant period in which Leicester and Leicestershire gained a sense of Richard belonging there, at least in death. It was Leicester Franciscans who gave him burial, and the cathedral has a major memorial to his memory at its heart.” (more…)

Date Announced for the State Funeral for King Peter II, Queen Alexandra, Queen Maria and Prince Andrej of Yugoslavia

The official website of the Serbian Royal Family announced today that the state funeral for King Peter II, Queen Alexandra, Queen Maria and Prince Andrej will take place on May 26 of this year.

Queen Maria (left), Peter II (second left), Prince Andrej (second right), and Queen Alexandra (right)

Queen Maria (left), Peter II (second left), Prince Andrej (second right), and Queen Alexandra (right)

The late Yugoslavian Royals are to be re-buried in the Royal Family Mausoleum in Oplenac. Before the reburial, they will lay in the Royal Chapel of the Royal Palace in Belgrade. The surprising news that the two Yugoslavian Queens and Prince Andrej are to be reburied as well was officially announced only today, along with the announcement of the date.

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Queen Alexandra, Queen Maria and Prince Andrej to be reburied in Serbia together with Peter II

It was announced today that the remains of Queen Maria and Queen Alexandra of Yugoslavia will be moved to Serbia. The State Funeral for the two Queens as well as Peter II of Yugoslavia will take place on May 26, 2013.

All three will be reburied in St George’s Church in Oplenac. It’s a somewhat surprising development because although the reburial of King Peter has been known for quite some time now, there were only unconfirmed reports about the reuburial for the other members of the Royal Family: back in January, adviser to President Nikolic confirmed that the delay with Peter II’s reburial was in connection with the expected transfer of the remains of of three more family members, all to be buried with the King.   (more…)

Richard III’s Facial Reconstruction Unveiled

Today, the Richard III Society officially unveiled the facial reconstruction of Richard III by the University of Dundee craniofacial identification team. The finished result is perhaps most amazing in one aspect – just how much it looks like the portraits of the late King.

The facial reconstruction (left) and a non-contemporary portrait of Richard III (right)

The facial reconstruction (left) and a non-contemporary portrait of Richard III (right)

The facial reconstruction is highly significant because there are no surviving contemporary portraits of Richard III. The reconstructed face has a slightly arched nose and prominent chin, quite similar to the portraits that were appeared years and centuries after Richard III’s death. According to Dr Ashdown-Hill, the fact most of the surviving portraits of the King are so alike in every detail (not to mention resemble the reconstructions), suggests all of them were based on a single contemporary portrait painted in the King’s lifetime.

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Richard III: A Villain or a Victim of a Successful Propaganda?

On Monday, scientists from the University of Leicester are to finally reveal the results of DNA that will tell us whether the bones discovered in a Leicester car park last year belong to Richard III. But while we are waiting for the results, perhaps we could have another look at the King and reassess his reign and personality.

And indeed, what do we know about the last Plantagenet Monarch? And what of we know is accurate or just a plain character assassination? Was he a monster depicted in Shakespeare’s famous play? Did he kill his young nephews and usurp the Throne? Why did he lose the Battle of Bosworth Field and how did he die? Unfortunately, none of those questions could actually be answered conclusively but I will try to draw as unbiased a portrait as possible.

Richard III and his wife, Anne Neville

Richard III and his wife, Anne Neville

Richard was born as the eighth and youngest child of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York and Cecily Neville both of whom had strong claims to the Throne of England. From an early age, Richard was a staunch supporter of his brother’s quest to claim the Crown. After Edward finally ascended to the English Throne (for the first time) in 1461, Richard was named the Duke of Gloucester.

Of all their siblings, it is indisputable Edward IV had the most trust in his youngest sibling, and the latter never disappointed him; throughout Edward’s reign, he was a loyal, caring and dedicated brother. Perhaps even more importantly, he proved to be an able commander; Richard played crucial roles in the battles of Tewkesbury and Barnet that resulted in Edward reclaiming the Throne from Henry VI.

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Day in History – January 23: James Stewart is Murderd in the First Recorded Assassination by a Firearm

James Stewart, Earl of Moray

James Stewart, Earl of Moray

On January 23, 1570 the first recorded assassination by a firearm took place. The victim was James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray – the Regent for the infant James VI of Scotland.

James Moray was born in 1531 as the illegitimate son of James V of Scotland and his favourite mistress, Lady Margaret Erskine. Acknowledging out-of-wedlock children and granting them peerage titles was pretty common in the Scottish court of the time; indeed, one of James V’s half-brothers (the illegitimate son of James IV and Janet Kennedy) had held the title Earl of Moray in its 1st creation until his death in 1544. It wasn’t James V who granted his son titles though; Moray was created Earl of Moray and Earl of Mar in 1562 by his half-sister Mary, Queen of Scots.

Moray’s relationship with Mary was a complicated one. At first, they were reasonably close; James was fond of his sister and held a prominent place in the court. He also attended Mary’s first wedding to the Dauphin of France in 1559. However, James was a keen supporter of the Scottish Reformation while Mary was a devoted Catholic. At first, they managed to overcome those difficulties and Moray even became Mary’s chief advisor after her return from France in 1561. (more…)

Day in History – January 18: 800 Years Since The Death of Queen Tamar of Georgia

Queen Tamar and King George III of Georgia

Queen Tamar and King George III of Georgia

One of the greatest and most beloved Monarchs in Georgian history died on January 18, 1213.  Her reign saw the Golden Age of Georgia when the Kingdom prospered and became the foremost power in the Caucasus, successfully repelling many foreign attacks. Tamar’s titles during her lifetime were “By the will of God, King of the Abkhazians, Kartvelians, Arranians, Kakhetians and Armenians, King of Kings and Queen of Queens of all the East and West, Glory of the World and Faith, Champion of the Messiah”.

Tamar was born in 1160 to George III and his wife, Queen Burdukhan (daughter of the King Khuddan of Alania). The couple had only two daughters, Tamar and Rusudan (who married Manuel Komnenos and whose sons founded the Empire of Trebizond). Tamar’s name is of Hebrew origin; the House of Bagrationi claimed direct descent from the biblical King David and Hebrew names were often used. (more…)