The House of Windsor

We never lived in Windsor, but the town, in the Royal County of Berkshire, was one of our favourite days out when we lived by Heathrow Airport. As the American tourist said ‘Why did they build a royal castle so close to the airport?’ – old joke. Along with many tourists and local families we enjoyed all it has to offer. ‘Long Walks in the Great Park’ – From the Castle gate to the foot of the statue of King George III (The Copper Horse) The Long Walk measures 2.64 miles in length. But the Windsor Great Park extends far beyond what you can see from the castle.

Walking at Windsor Great Park | Windsor Great Parkhttps://www.windsorgreatpark.co.uk/en/activities/walking

Windsor also has a theatre, a swimming pool, good shopping and the River Thames. A foot bridge takes you over the river to Eton where the famous school is spread out as part of the little town. You can also take a peaceful walk along the riverside very different from the bustle on the Windsor side.

You can go by train from Waterloo and arrive at Windsor and Eton Riverside station, or take the little line built for Queen Victoria, a one stop ride from Slough station  ( direct line from Paddington ) which takes you into the heart of the designer shopping centre and exits opposite the castle.

Tourists the weekend after the wedding of Harry and Megan!

Windsor Castle | Windsor Castle Tours and Tickets

Before the terrible castle fire in 1992 more of the castle grounds were free to the public to wander. We used to take our young children for a walk and show Australian visitors around. Under the archway, past the chapel, stroll up the hill. Our two year old once dashed into the guard room and was chased out by the guards. One side of the castle faces the town, but walk downhill to the river and the castle is high above you on a steep bank. When our daughter was a toddler she nearly gave a Japanese tourist a heart attack; he gasped in horror as she raced towards the turreted wall on the steep side of the grounds. She didn’t topple over, it was a safe height. Another time we peered through a gate and saw Princess Diana bring her two little boys out to watch the soldiers parading.

When we moved away from Heathrow we still visited Windsor on mini breaks to see our friends, usually staying at The Windsor Trooper, a great little old pub with bed and breakfast; bedrooms slightly crooked with sloping floors. 

‘In 1917, the name of the royal house was changed from the German Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the English Windsor because of anti-German sentiment in the United Kingdom during World War I. There have been four British monarchs of the House of Windsor since then: George V, Edward VIII, George VI, and Elizabeth II.’

Windsor Castle made the perfect setting for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, especially for the many of us who know Windsor well. The Duke apparently did not want a fuss and got his wish as the long miles of procession and crowd lined streets had to be scaled down to a ceremony within the castle precincts; a dignified walk down the hill with socially distanced military bands lined up with precision on the immaculate green.

The Band of the Grenadier Guards led the funeral procession and family members followed, Princess Anne in a long black coat and the men in morning suits. Following a coffin on foot seems dignified and respectful and it’s always good to see men smartly dressed. The Queen followed in her limousine.

I get nervous when I see The Queen walking unsteadily by herself, especially that day as she stepped out of her car and I wondered why she could not have formed a new bubble. Any other very elderly lady with strapping sons and grandsons would surely have been offered a strong arm to lean on. The Duke was her bubble, but she still has HMS Bubble, the loyal staff who have been on duty three weeks on three weeks off at the castle looking after the royal couple. Dog lovers will be glad to hear that The Queen, despite deciding a while ago not to breed or acquire any more dogs, has done what lots of people have in covid lockdown and acquired two puppies, a corgi and a dorgie, which she enjoys walking.

Inside the chapel were the regulation thirty guests and the emptiness perhaps enhanced the beautiful singing of the choir of four and the playing of the trumpeters. The royal family stuck by all the current funeral rules; we cannot compare their splendidly choregraphed event with bleak funerals at the local crem., livestreamed from one camera, but like other grieving widows The Queen sat by herself. After the service the family all strolled up the hill in the sunshine, ignoring the unnecessary fleet of cars lined up for them, though of course The Queen returned in her limousine. I like to think that once back in the royal apartments they all ripped off their masks and didn’t bother with social distancing!

Whether you watched the funeral avidly live on television and followed the highlights in the news later, or avoided all mention of it, there was more to the Duke of Edinburgh than most of us realised. The blanket comprehensive coverage of his life revealed a refugee from a broken home who saw real active service in the second world war. A life that did become privileged, but how many of us would want their whole life mapped out? Unlike lots of rich people he used his position to make a difference. He highlighted the plight of wildlife long before others were interested and created the Duke of Edinburgh Award to give ordinary teenagers the chance to take on all sorts of challenges. Those from a variety of countries who have spoken about meeting The Duke and how the award changed their lives will remember him and not the many politicians and world leaders who come and go.

Did you watch the funeral? Have you visited Windsor? Have you met any of the royal family?

Robes and Royalty

The State Opening of Parliament was on Monday, a colourful and dignified distraction from politics and Brexit. If you like history, colourful costumes and beautiful horses watching it on television is a good way to spend a rainy morning. These royal events always present curious questions, often little to do with the ceremony.

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Television presenters must do a lot of homework to enable them to tell ( confuse ) us who all the participants are and their duties. All you need to know is that there are a lot of horses and members of the armed forces and the Palace of Westminster is packed with ‘Important People’ in uniforms, with red being a popular colour. They have to take part in the  processions; in turn they have lots of smartly dressed people looking after them, who in turn have lots of security and organisers making sure it goes smoothly… and it did.

It all starts very early in the morning; breakfast television news goes over to the Royal Mews where the horses have been groomed to perfection. I wonder if they are like children, you get them ready to go out in their best clothes, but it’s raining and they are soon muddy.

 

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In the studio a presenter has gathered some people we don’t know; people who are no longer MPs or who didn’t get a ticket to the show? They talk about politics, history and what will happen during the morning’s events. There have been a few tweaks to the ceremony in concession to Her Majesty’s age. Prince Charles is her escort as The Duke of Edinburgh has retired from royal duties. She will not wear the heavy crown, thus creating another job opportunity for a costumed person to carry it in on a cushion.

 

The Royal fairytale coach to be used is not old, but made this century in Australia and apparently warmer and more comfortable than the old coaches. The Queen’s two ladies-in-waiting arrive in the next carriage and climb out with a little difficulty, they are not young either. Off they go to the robing room to help The Queen get ready while we hear more important names reeled off. The Marquess of Chumley sounds like someone out of a children’s puppet show, but his name is not spelt how it sounds – David George Philip Cholmondeley, 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley, The Lord Great Chamberlain has charge over the Palace of Westminster.

Enough of hereditary positions; how do you get to be Black Rod? What do you want to be when you grow up? Black Rod… The current Black Rod is the first ever woman to hold the position. Black Rod is sent from the Lords Chamber to the Commons Chamber to summon MPs to hear the Queen’s Speech. Traditionally the door of the Commons is slammed in Black Rod’s face to symbolise the Commons independence. She then bangs three times on the door with the rod. The door to the Commons Chamber is opened and all MPs – talking loudly – follow Black Rod back to the Lords to hear the Queen’s Speech. This is the fun part because there is not room for them all in the House of Lords so there is jostling to the front. Boris and Jeremy, leader of the opposition, lead the way, not talking to each other. Like school the rest of the MPs shuffle along in pairs with their friends… I guess there will always be some who have no friends to walk with…

https://www.parliament.uk/about/mps-and-lords/principal/black-rod/

How do you get your sons to be Pages of Honour and carry the Queen’s train? Teenage sons of nobility who look fresh faced and do not have any piercings…

Prince Charles escorted his mother to the throne and sat down on the other throne, yet another person delivered the speech in a little bag. Alas the Queen did not write this speech which tells what Her Government will do in the coming session of Parliament. Each time I hope she will toss it onto the red carpet and from her robes produce one she wrote earlier…

https://www.parliament.uk/business/news/2019/october/state-opening-of-parliament-2019/

Silly Saturday – Queen’s Speech Leaked

An unnamed source, claiming to be close to a Buckingham Palace spokesman, says part or all of the Queen’s Christmas Message has been leaked to a little known writer and blogger.

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Queen Elizabeth the second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, broadcasts her message to the nation and The Commonwealth on television at 3pm on Christmas Day. How hard it must be to condense a year, a lifetime, the longest reign in the world, into ten minutes of wisdom interspersed with family movies.

But this year it seems the Queen is set to shake the nation out of their after lunch stupor.

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“It was with great joy that I and my family celebrated two weddings this year, plus the birth of a new prince, reminding us all how important families are. We take comfort in the love of our families while all around us the world seems to face so many problems. The Christmas message of peace and goodwill can sometimes seem so far away and the World so hard to change, but we can all play our part. We must hold on to hope, at the same time taking every opportunity to offer help in practical ways. When my family and I took an AncestoryDNA test earlier this year we looked forward eagerly to the result, wondering what surprises lay in store. When the Duke of Edinburgh and I received our results we were reminded just how close we are to European Royalty, to mainland Europe itself; 33% Europe West, 33% Europe East 33% Europe Central were our precise results. It is for this reason, among others, that in 2019, the Royal House of Mountbatten-Windsor will be relocating to mainland Europe before the finalising of Brexit in March. The House of Liechtenstein have already offered us sanctuary, as has King Felipe VI of Spain.

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But though Europe has been occupying our thoughts this year, so too has the Commonwealth and the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia were a great showcase. By the time of the next games in 2022 the Commonwealth of Nations will be larger. Last month a delegation from the United States of America visited Buckingham Palace to request closer ties between our two nations. As a result of very positive discussions my government will confirm that the monarchy is to be restored in the north american colonies. They will henceforth be called the United Kingdom of North America and the coronation of King Harry will take place on May Day 2019. Spring will also bring the arrival of the baby expected by King Harry and Queen Megan, this baby will be heir to the throne of the UKNA. It will be a great blessing for Megan to be reunited with her family and for her subjects to be united with their neighbours Canada in the Commonwealth of Nations.

May all our countries, ancient and modern know peace in 2019, I wish God’s blessing for you and all your families.”

Wonderful Windsor Wedding

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The Japanese tourist gasped as the toddler hurtled towards the castle wall, beyond lay a steep drop down the grassy bank.

Before the Windsor Castle fire of 1992, the public were free to wander round most of the castle grounds. The Royal family still had their private gardens. You could pay to just see Queen Mary’s dolls house, or to go in parts of the castle. The free wander round made a pleasant outing for children or Australian visitors on a sunny day.

I don’t think anyone’s child has ever fallen over the wall, but ‘bad parents’ also had another child wander into the guard room in an unguarded moment, he was quickly ejected.

The town of Windsor in Royal Berkshire is still a great place to visit, a playground for those who live near or work at Heathrow airport. Why did the Queen have her castle built right under the flight path? The streets around the castle are thronged with tourists all year round, though not as crowded as today for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Though we often visit Windsor, we weren’t there today. I don’t like crowds, but I do admire the spirit of the stalwarts who camp out for days for royal events. Like millions of others we stayed at home and had an excellent view on television. Billions around the world?  How do they know how many people are watching in their own homes? My sister in Australia was and my daughter-in-law in the USA was up at 2am ready to switch on.

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You may have thought from news coverage that everybody in the country was avidly interested, but this is not so. In Britain, royalists and republicans are as sharply divided as Remainers and Brexiteers, but we chopped our king’s head off long ago, did not like the alternative and welcomed back the monarchy. Ten European countries still have a king or queen. Through many ups and downs The Windsors are still with us and Queen Elizabeth the Second is the only monarch most of us have lived under, seeing off many prime ministers and far wiser than most of them no doubt. Truly a spiritual head of the country, above politics; whatever anybody else believes I am sure the Queen truly believes in the holy vows she took on her coronation. She is head of the Church of England, it is our state religion and a Christian wedding is what took place today. Most of us don’t bother to go to church, but we do expect the church to be there in all its glory for special occasions.

The happy atmosphere and the vast crowds showed plenty of people still love monarchy and tradition. Humans love colour, pageantry, romance and drama. We enjoyed all of that today with sunny weather making it perfect.

I know nothing about Meghan or her acting career, but she seems a graceful and warm person who has slipped easily into her fairy tale princess role.

The wedding went perfectly; nine o’clock seemed early for full coverage to start, but guests were arriving and there were outfits to admire and the guessing game of who was who. People from all walks of life, no politicians, just the occasional prince from afar such as Prince Seeiso of Lesotho.

The bride had ten delightful little bridesmaids and page boys. Inside the church there was beautiful music. Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopal church livened up the Cof E with his rousing sermon on love.

The sun was still shining as the bride and groom emerged from Saint George’s chapel and it was time for the beautiful horses to play their starring role. The Windsor Greys pulled the carriage, the Household Cavalry escorted them on their shiny black steeds, through the streets then back up the Long Walk in Windsor Great Park and the return to the castle for the Queen to host lunch, our part in the wedding was over.

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