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Showing posts from November, 2017

Congratulations to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on their royal engagement

Meghan Markle, Prince Harry's future wife by Genevieve, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC-BY-2.0) Just last week we were talking about the 70th wedding anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. But now there’s even more royal marriage news to celebrate. As you've probably heard by now, Prince Harry (his royal title is actually Prince Henry of Wales) and Meghan Markle are officially engaged. Markle is joining the highly select group of American women who have married into foreign royal families. Outside of Hallmark movies, where an American girl falling in love with a prince and becoming a princess is an oft-repeated and popular plot device, it rarely happens. There have been less than a dozen American women who’ve married royalty. American actress Grace Kelly, who married Prince Rainer of Monaco in 1956, and Queen Noor of Jordan, born Lisa Najeeb Halaby, who married King Hussein of Jordan in 1978, are two famous examples. Town and Count

Friday Follies: the much-married Henry VIII

King Henry VIII, painted by Hans Holbein the Younger, 1536 Earlier this week I wrote a post about the 70th wedding anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Theirs is the longest royal marriage in British history. The closest second to the Queen’s union with Prince Philip is the royal marriage of George III and his Queen Consort, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Their marriage, which started out as a dynastic necessity for the 22-year-old newly crowned George in 1761, was to all appearances a happy one, lasting over 57 years and producing 15 children.  And one of those children, George, the eldest, became Prince Regent and had a whole era named after him. In fact, good old Prinny and his Regency are the main focus of this blog, so I guess I should be grateful to George III and Queen Charlotte! A portrait, circa 1771, of Queen Charlotte with her brothers and a few of her children by Johann Zoffany. I'm pretty sure the little bo

Happy Anniversary to the Queen and Her Prince

A radiant Princess Elizabeth on her wedding day, with her groom  Philip Mountbatten.  This week marks the 7 0th wedding anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. They’ve joined a rarefied group of human beings who've been married to each other for seven decades. Their Platinum Jubilee represents a remarkable achievement and one that’s unmatched in the history of the British monarchy. The royal pair married on November 20, 1947, in the first “wedding of the century.” (Almost 34 years later their son, Prince Charles, would wed Lady Diana Spencer in a ceremony that was also dubbed “the wedding of the century.”) World War II had just ended, and Elizabeth and her sister Margaret used rationing coupons to buy the fabric for the bride’s pretty wedding gown. That was a lifetime ago, before most of the world’s current population was even born. Since those two tied the knot in Westminster Abbey, astronauts have landed on the moon, the United S

Friday Follies: Happy "Brits-giving"!

I suppose that technically the pilgrims depicted here were still British citizens! "The First Thanksgiving, 1621" by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris,  Next week here in the States we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving, a holiday I’ve always considered to be uniquely American, like the Fourth of July. But apparently I was wrong. Because next Thursday some British citizens will be sitting down to a meal much like the one their Americans cousins will be enjoying, only they’ll call it ”Brits-giving.” According to  The Independent , a British online newspaper, Thanksgiving is now being adopted by the Brits – 1 in 6 British citizens, this news source reports, now celebrate this holiday.  It's kind of ironic if you think about it, since Thanksgiving commemorates the departure from the British Isles of a bunch of British subjects in 1620. One of the first group of immigrants to America, the pilgrims who boarded the Mayflower were willing to undertake a perilous sea voyag

"There's Death in the Pot": Frederick Accum and food additives

Frederick Accum, an engraving by James Thomson for European Magazine , 1820 Ever wonder what’s actually in the food you buy at the store? Do you scour food labels, straining to understand what ingredients like maltodextrin, diglycerides, carrageenan, thiamine mononitrate, or soy lecithin could possibly be? It would take a chemist to sort out what's in the food we eat, and a chemist is exactly what Frederick Accum was. He was also one of the first people to recognize the need for regulations and standards when it came to additives in food processing. Friedrich Christian Accum was born in Germany in 1769. He came from a family of soap-makers, and the family business gave him the opportunity to get an education and train as an apothecary, a professional much like a modern-day pharmacist. In 1793 Accum emigrated to England to work with George Brande and his firm, who were apothecaries to the ailing King George III . In his new home, he Anglicized his first nam

Friday Follies: Dr. Livingstone, I presume?

Livingstone and Stanley meet in a 1940 image of a drawing, one of a series of lantern slides for the Church of Scotland Foreign Missions Committee On this day, November 10, in 1871, ace reporter Henry Morton Stanley made it to the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Africa and finally found the quarry his editor at  New York Herald  newspaper  had sent him in search of nearly a year earlier: Dr. David Livingstone.  The famous "medical missionary" and intrepid explorer had been missing from the public eye since 1864 when he'd started off on an expedition into Central Africa to search for the source of the Nile River. Curiosity around the world as to the fate of the Dr. Livingstone had reached a fever pitch, prompting the editor's decision to send Stanley, an explorer in his own right, to the sub-continent. According to Stanley's own account (which may have been altered for better effect after the event), the reporter ended his quest with this greetin

Regency controversy: The Elgin Marbles

The Acropolis  Today’s subject is marbles. No, not the kind I used to bring to school in a drawstring pouch and play with at recess. Rather, the kind that adorned the ancient Acropolis, the citadel in Athens, Greece, since roughly 400 years BCE, and which have been the subject of bitter debate for two centuries. Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin,  painted circa 1788 by Anton Graff It all started in November of 1798, when Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin, a  diplomat and a patron of the arts, was appointed as an ambassador to the Sultan of Turkey in the Ottoman Empire, of which Greece was then a part.  Elgin visited the Acropolis and became concerned about the deteriorating condition of the old buildings there. Many had been damaged during the war between Venice and the Ottomans over a hundred years earlier. Especially hard hit were the marble statues and sculptures adorning the Parthenon, the “jewel of the Acropolis.” Elgin was told by local Turks tha