Reigning Wisdom

There is a lot of talk happening at the moment about Queen Elizabeth II, her life, her reign, her greatest moments, and of course, how it all stacks up against Queen Victoria, whom she will surpass as Britain’s longest reigning monarch on Wednesday. Yes, there are quite a lot of similarities and much room for comparison – both not destined to be monarch at birth yet taking on the title at a young age, both have been a steady presence through trying times, both have faced tragedy and most of all, both have inspired despite all of the difficult moments and questionable times throughout their respective reigns.

Monarchs are a beacon of hope, and both longest reigning queens have had their fair share of  inspirational moments. By now you should all know that I’m a sucker for a good quote and I couldn’t think of a better way to demonstrate just how inspirational both Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II have been.

Queen Victoria

“The important thing is not what they think of me, but what I think of them.”
“We are not interested in the possibilities of defeat; they do not exist.”
 
 Do not let your feelings of momentary irritation and discomfort be seen by others. Don’t let every little feeling be seen on your face or read in your manner.”
“I never imagined that I should find so much love on Earth…” – Queen Victoria on Prince Albert… GOALS.

Queen Elizabeth II

“I have to be seen to be believed.”  – on wearing bright colors – STYLE icon.

“Grief is the price we pay for love.”  

“It has always been easy to hate and destroy. To build and to cherish is much more difficult.”

 “Peace and goodwill have lasting power in the hearts of men and women.”

Let’s be honest, I could go on for 63 years about the ways these two women have inspired not only their realm, but the world. But, it’s Friday of a holiday weekend here (better known as a bank holiday to my British friends), and it’s time for a gin and tonic.. just as The Queen would command!

Beloved Royal Residences from Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth II

In case you’ve been living under a rock (a very large rock), you will know that next Wednesday, one week from today, marks the date Queen Elizabeth II will surpass Queen Victoria as Britain’s longest reigning monarch. And unless you’ve been living under an even bigger rock (the biggest one that’s ever existed), you will know that a lot has changed in Britain since Queen Victoria reigned. Something that has remained a constant, however, are the majestic residences the royals call “home.” With the help of VisitBritain, what better time to take drool over some of these iconic residences?

If you have ever been to Britain, chances are you have popped by to say hello at one of the famous royal residences across England and Scotland (okay, not really, you can’t actually go inside and talk to The Queen when you visit). In fact, forty-eight percent of all holiday visitors to Britain visit a castle or stately home during their visit.

The Evolution of Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace, via VisitBritain Images

Buckingham Palace, via VisitBritain Images

It was recently announced that Buckingham Palace, The Queen’s official residence in London, would be undergoing some much needed renovations. Makes sense given that Buckingham Palace was originally the home of the Duke of Buckingham in 1703 and Queen Victoria moved in when she took the throne more than a century later. Wouldn’t it be amazing if HGTV could get the rights to this for an episode of House Hunters International? Hello, the monarchy? This needs to happen.

As the first resident of Buckingham Palace, Queen Victoria made several renovations that transformed the palace into the icon the world knows today. Perhaps the largest of which being the addition of the balcony that has seen countless appearances by the Royal Family – from weddings to jubilees and everything in between –  since the first one took place in 1851. Us royal watchers LOVE a good balcony appearance.

Balmoral Castle – AKA, Heaven in The Highlands

Balmoral Castle - VisitBritain Blog

Balmoral Castle – VisitBritain Blog

Balmoral Castle, which Queen Victoria once dubbed, “my dear paradise in the highlands,”  and it is so easy to say why. Beautiful castle in one of the most serene areas of the UK? Sign me up please! Which is exactly what The Queen did, as she and her family use it as their summer retreat. Balmoral Castle has been the Scottish home of the Royal Family since it was purchased for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852 (the best thing a guy ever bought for me was pizza). The  grounds, gardens and Castle Ballroom are open for visitors April through the end of July annually. Get up there, it’ll be worth it!

Forever Victoria’s Home

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Kensington Palace, via Keep Calm and Harry On

Kensington Palace – where does one begin? I LOVE this place. Queen Victoria was born at Kensington Palace on May 24, 1819 and it has remained a treasured royal residence since. The State Rooms opened to the public on The Queen’s birthday in 1899 – what a good queen, giving unto others on her special day! Many years and many visitors have passed since then, yet Kensington Palace has remained in the spotlight as a home for the royal family. Among many other royals, Prince William and Prince Harry were raised within the palace walls and still live there to this day, with The Duke of Cambridge and The Duchess of Cambridge calling it their official London residence with their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte.  Can’t wait to call it home when I marry Prince Harry.

If you are lucky enough to be visiting Britain in the coming weeks, be sure to stop by Windsor Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse and to the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace to see a special exhibition put on by The Royal Collection Trust, ‘Long To Reign Over Us’, showcasing official photographs capturing Her Majesty undertaking visits in the UK and across the Commonwealth and informal family moments from 1952 to present day.

 

Prince Harry is Hitting the Road! (HI, AMERICA!)

After months of Prince Harry hiding away (and saving the wildlife world NBD) in Afirca, Kensington Palace took pity on us Harry fans and announced today that the young royal will be hitting the road this fall. On the docket is another trip to Africa (sensing a theme here, H), but up first – that other red, white and blue… AMERICA!

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Prince Harry will visit Washington D.C. at the end of October (exact dates to be confirmed), for events leading up to his 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando, Florida. That’s right, two US announcements in two months. And yes, Harry has visited Washington D.C. recently as well – 2013 Harry mania tour ring a bell? Harry, you should really just move here already.. we get it, you like us, we have said we like you too, just make it official already. Wait, am I talking about a visit or a relationship? Either way, we’re ready for you.

During his visit to Africa, which will take place November 26 – December 4, Prince Harry will visit South Africa and Lesotho. The visit to South Africa comes as a request from the FCO on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government, while the visit to Lesotho will be on behalf of his charity, Sentebale. We all know what happens when Harry visits Lesotho for his charity. HRH is seriously making up for leaving us in the dark for this entire summer with America and babies in Africa.

The full announcement can be read here. Stay tuned for more details. In the meantime, please call the cardiac care units at your local hospitals to have your bed pre-made in preparation for the above activity.

Prince George Turns 2!

Happy second birthday to HRH Prince George of Cambridge!

Honestly, I feel like a gushing parent when I say this, but I can’t even believe it has been two years since we all had our eyes glued to a hospital door? I totally said the same thing last year, but whatever, I have zero chill when it comes to royal babies.

Looking back on what I hoped we would see from Prince George in his second year, none of it happened. Okay, kidding – his cheeks are still chubby so that’s all good. And he definitely has said his first word, we just didn’t hear it. No photo with Harry. NO PHOTO WITH HARRY. C’mon William and Kate give the people what they want!

However, despite that one tiny thing I am clearly very bitter about, we had some incredible moments from our favorite toddler this year. So many cute pictures. and videos. Playing outside at dad’s polo matches. MEETING HIS NEW LITTLE SISTER. His first balcony appearance. So many matching outfits with dad. So many. George has certainly developed a full blown personality this year; dare I say, a little reminiscent of a certain uncle he has yet to be publicly photographed with?

As expected, the Cambridge clan, aka the “lovely little family,” will be celebrating George’s birthday in private at Anmer Hall in Norfolk.

Happiest of birthdays to our dearest Cheeks!

Prince Harry’s Invictus Games Coming to America!

Before I even start this post, yes, I know I have been absent for two months and I feel TERRIBLY about this. Please forgive me.

Now, onto HAPPY news – Prince Harry’s Invictus Games are coming to the USA in 2016! After an incredibly successful first go in London in September 2014 (we’re talking Prince Harry’s 30th birthday), the games for service men and women are coming to Orlando, Florida. GET READY AMERICA. .

Announcing the winning host city in a video message (clearly recorded before he left for Africa), Prince Harry speaks proudly of last year’s inaugural games and his hopes for the games to come. Saying,  “I have no doubt that the USA will set the bar even higher than London did and put on a great show.” YES, HAZZA, YES. GO USA. GOD BLESS AMERICA. and all that stuff…

Over four hundred competitors from thirteen nations across the world competed in London last September over four days. This year, the event will take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, May 8 – 12. Please tell me this means live broadcasts on ESPN….

And I can’t *not* bring up the obvious fact that the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex is part of Walt Disney World. Ltierally all I want to see is Prince Harry drinking around the world in Epcot and posing with Mickey Mouse in front of Cinderella Castle. Suddenly yearning hard for my former life working and living at Walt Disney World…

You can read the Invictus Games’ full announcement here.

Hey Harry, How Are You Still Single?

Over the weekend, Prince Harry began a week-long tour of New Zealand and in typical Harry fashion, he is charming the pants off everyone in his royal wake. While my favorite Prince Harry tour will always be the USA two years ago to date (for obvious reasons), this one is already coming in close second. Everyone who already knew that Harry was the *ultimate* is just even more impressed with him, and the bandwagon Hazza fans are jumping on board so hard the wagon wheels have broken.

After looking at the evidence presented thus far from #RoyalVisitNZ, I have to ask – Harry, how on earth are you still single?

Exhibit A: #HarryWithKids

As I said in December, this is sooo a thing. And it’s seriously catching on. #HarryWithKids is the new black. Was that lame? Whatever, I don’t care. Everybody who is anybody knows that Harry absolutely kills it with the wee ones. He loves them. They love him. It is the cutest. THE CUTEST. And it has been out in full force in New Zealand. Sticking his tongue out at trouble making little rascals? Check. Bending down and taking a young girl’s hand? Check. Posing for photos with children? Check. Letting a group of school kids interview you? Check. Sidebar – Harry revealed to the kids that his favorite food is spaghetti bolognese soooo BRB excuse me while I learn how to cook that.

via Emily Nash, The Sun Newspaper, @emynash

via Emily Nash, The Sun Newspaper, @emynash

Exhibit B: #HarryWithPuppies

Because Harry with one adorable thing (see exhibit a) isn’t enough, he decided to cuddle some puppies in New Zealand. Cool, thanks for that H… just gonna go in the corner and melt into a puddle of mush. Something that will not be a thing? #HarryWithTuataras..

via Emily Nash, The Sun Newspaper, @emynash

via Emily Nash, The Sun Newspaper, @emynash

Exhibit C: Harry wants to be in love and have lots and lots of babies

Okay, I may be putting words in his mouth a little. BUT, Prince Charming did tell Sky News’ Rhiannon Mills that he wants someone to “share the pressure” of these royal tours with and he “wants kids now” but understands there is a “process you have to go through.” The internet then freaked out, seemingly every woman on Twitter volunteered as tribute to take on the role as Harry’s “special someone” and I’m over here all..

kateOh hey, hi Harry I thrive under pressure. Seriously, it’s part of my real life job description. Just saying…

Exhibit D: #HarryWithSnacks

We last left Harry handing out cupcakes to crowds at University of Canterbury. CUPCAKES. They are only like, in my top three favorite foods of all time. Coming in third only to pizza and french fries (oh and now spaghetti bolognese, of course).

So, there you have it – Prince Harry, making it impossible for every guy in the world to impress a girl since 1984.

We have a name! HRH Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge!

Was I actually 100% accurate in my prediction? I cannot believe it!

Two days after her birth, Britain’s beautiful baby princess has a name – HRH Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge. What a gorgeous name for a gorgeous little girl.

baby

Charlotte, who is the first Princess of Cambridge in 180 years, is also the first senior royal princess to be born in 65 years; it was only fitting that her name also have a truly significant family meaning.

via Emily Nash, @emynash, The Sun

via Emily Nash, @emynash, The Sun

So, what’s in a name?

Charlotte – a family name; George III was married to Charlotte, whom he had 15 children with. In fact, he bought Buckingham Palace for his wife. In a touching sentiment, it is also the female form of Charles, William’s father’s name, and Pippa Middleton’s middle name.

Elizabeth – this one is quite obvious and not a surprise at all for royal watchers. In addition to being Her Majesty’s first name, it is also the middle name of Kate and her mother Carole.

Diana – some thought this would be the child’s first name, others were betting a sure thing as a middle name and some thought they might stay away completely. I never thought it had a shot at a first name, but this beautiful tribute to William’s late mother, Princess Diana, is absolutely perfect.

A stunning name for a stunning little girl. Congratulations once again to the new Cambridge family of four!