Prince George’s Intimate Christening Focuses on Family

The Duke and Duchess arrive at the Chapel Royal with Prince George.

The Duke and Duchess arrive at the Chapel Royal with Prince George.

Since their engagement, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have demonstrated time and time again that they wish to live as normally as possible within the bubble of the monarchy. The first example of this was when William and Kate scrapped the official wedding guest list, which was made up of mainly dignitaries and government officials, and instead focused on including close friends and family. A few months later, on their first official tour of Asia, they kept the fuss to a minimum by limiting the number of staff traveling with them, instead preferring to handle as much as possible themselves. Later, after the July birth of their son, Prince George, William and Kate decamped from Kensington Palace to the country home of Kate’s parents, where they spent several uninterrupted weeks bonding with their new baby. As anticipation grew over the first photographs of Prince George, instead of enlisting a famous celebrity photographer, William and Kate issued a modest photo taken by Kate’s father Michael. The homey image showed a young couple enjoying a summer day outdoors with their baby and dogs. These small breaks with tradition and protocol are quickly becoming a trademark of the young couple who will serve as King and Queen, allowing William and Kate to shape the monarchy to fit their personalities, rather than allowing the monarchy to shape them.

Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince George join the Queen for a commemorative photo of the current monarch and her three heirs, similar to a photo taken in 1894 of Queen Victoria and her three heirs.

Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince George join the Queen for a commemorative photo of the current monarch and her three heirs, similar to a photo taken in 1894 of Queen Victoria and her three heirs.

The recent christening of Prince George provides additional examples of how William and Kate are damping down royal protocol in an attempt to live life as normally as possible within the royal firm. The days leading up to the christening were full of speculation about the identities of the royal godparents, with Prince Harry and Kate’s sister Pippa reported as the odds-on favorites. As a future King, some in the media believed the pedigrees of Prince George’s godparents would equal those of his father, whose godparents include King Constantine of Greece, Princess Alexandra, the Honourable Lady Ogilvy, the Duchess of Westminster, Lady Susan Hussey, Lord Romsey and Sir Laurens van der Post. Instead, William and Kate chose a thoughtful selection of friends and family to act as godparents to their first-born son. The eight people chosen included Prince William’s cousin, Zara Tindall, the daughter of Princess Anne, Oliver Baker, a close friend from the couple’s time at St. Andrew’s University, and Emilia Jardine-Paterson, a long-time school and university friend of Kate’s. One of the most accurately predicted names on the list was Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, who worked as Prince William’s private secretary from 2005 through this year and whose son William was a pageboy at the royal wedding in 2011. Two of William’s closest friends, Earl Grosvenor and William van Custem were also named, as was Julia Samuel, a close friend of Princess Diana. Another way the choice of godparents broke with tradition is that members of the royal family traditionally have six godparents, but William and Kate chose seven for Prince George to accommodate a wide mix of friends and family.

The Duke and Duchess pose with Prince George and their immediate families in this portrait taken in The Morning Room in Clarence House.

The Duke and Duchess pose with Prince George and their immediate families in this portrait taken in The Morning Room in Clarence House.

Tradition dictates that royal christenings take place in the ornate and imposing Music Room of Buckingham Palace. Instead, William and Kate chose to hold the christening in the more modest Chapel Royal at St. James’s Palace. Many in the press speculated that the Chapel Royal was selected because this was where the body of Princess Diana rested in the hours before her 1997 funeral and that using the Chapel Royal was one more way for William to keep his mother close. In fact, the Chapel Royal holds another, more recent and much happier memory for William and Kate: It was where Kate was baptized in 2011 prior to her wedding at Westminster Abbey. It is also likely that the couple preferred the intimacy of the small chapel instead of the opulence and formality of the Music Room in Buckingham Palace.

Prince George seems in good spirits in this family portrait.

Prince George seems in good spirits in this family portrait.

While Prince William’s christening included many extended relations, the 22-person guest list for Prince George’s christening was limited to godparents, close friends and family. Senior royals, such as Princess Anne, Princes Andrew and Edward and their families, were not invited in order to preserve the intimacy of the special day. The small number of guests helped to preserve the tone of family and privacy, rather than sending a message that the christening was a full-blown royal event.  Royal author Penny Juror observed, “I think they want this to be a private, family, normal kind of event.” Juror continued, “I don’t think they want it to be overly royal, overly posh or overly formal. They just want to get their child christened.”

Although these instances show how William and Kate streamlined the royal christening ceremony, some examples of royal tradition remained. The christening gown is a replica of the one worn by Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter in 1841. Since then, this gown (or the replica created in 2008) has been worn by over 60 royals on their christening day. The christening was performed as expected by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the water used to make the sign of the cross on Prince George’s forehead was from the River Jordan, a tradition for royal infants.  On a lighter fashion note, the Queen herself also followed tradition by wearing a blue outfit to both William and George’s christenings.

Prince George shares a smile with his parents on the day of his christening.

Prince George shares a smile with his parents on the day of his christening.

After the ceremony, the royal party and their guests adjourned to a reception hosted by Prince Charles at Clarence House for refreshments and the obligatory christening portraits. Those who attended the ceremony and reception commented that Prince George was well behaved throughout the proceedings, much to his parents’ relief. With his first official royal engagement completed flawlessly, Prince George can look forward to a lifetime of future royal events. Thankfully, he has fiercely protective parents who feel that privacy and normality is a valuable commodity. It is these traits that will continue to serve William and Kate well as they shape their lives outside of tradition while living inside the very public royal bubble.

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Prince William’s Transitional Year Begins with Investiture Ceremony

Awarded an OBE for services to tennis, Wimbledon champion Andy Murray was surprised that William spent over a minute talking to him during the ceremony.

Awarded an OBE for services to tennis, Wimbledon champion Andy Murray was surprised that William spent over a minute talking with him during the ceremony.

When leaving the RAF a month ago, Prince William announced he would be undertaking a “transitional year” to learn more about the monarchy and how it works. By hosting his first investiture ceremony on Thursday, Prince William got yet another taste of his future responsibilities as a full-time senior royal.

Those honored in the hour-long ceremony included Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, who was presented with an OBE. Selected for a random drug test that morning, Murray tweeted, “In the middle of a drug test hahaha I’m goin to be late!!” Thankfully, Murray managed to make it to the ceremony on time thanks to the expertise of his talented chauffeur.

Sir Kenneth Gibson, who has worked in education for 35 years and is currently executive head of several 'challenging' schools in the north east of England became a Knight during the ceremony. "I told him that it was a huge privilege to be the first person to be knighted by him and he acknowledged it with a smile."

Sir Kenneth Gibson, awarded a knighthood for his services to education, reflected on the ceremony afterwards, “I told him that it was a huge privilege to be the first person to be knighted by him and he acknowledged it with a smile.”

Other honorees included Vicar of Dibley sitcom producer Jon Plowman who was made an OBE, while conservationist Helen Butler and broadcaster Aled Jones were awarded MBEs. In recognition of his role managing security for the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Christopher Allison was awarded a CBE.

In the days leading up to the ceremony, aides reported that a “nervous” William spent time practicing using George VI’s sword and pinning medals on a servant to ensure that he got everything right. “He obviously doesn’t want to slice anyone’s ear off or stick a pin in their chest,” said the aide. “Above all, he realizes this is the biggest day in the lives of some people who are being honored, and he wants it to go well for them.”

Around 25 investitures are held every year, mostly at Buckingham Palace, but also at Windsor Castle and Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. While the ceremonies are mainly conducted by the Queen, they are also carried out by Prince Charles, and on rare occasions, Princess Anne.

While he has previously represented the Queen on foreign tours, Thursday’s ceremony was Prince William’s most significant role undertaken for the Queen to date. This is also one duty that William will regularly perform once he becomes King.

Actress Kate Winslet was awarded a CBE in 2012 for "services rendered to drama". While the Queen asked if she enjoyed acting, Winslet said yes, but that she enjoyed motherhood more. "Yes, it is the best job," replied the Queen.

Actress Kate Winslet was awarded a CBE in 2012 for “services rendered to drama”. When the Queen asked if she enjoyed acting, Winslet said yes, but that she enjoyed motherhood more. “Yes, it is the best job,” replied the Queen.

While it is unclear why the Queen asked William to conduct the ceremony on her behalf, the BBC speculates that it may be challenging for the 87-year-old monarch to fulfill the duties of the ceremony: standing for up to an hour at a time, leaning forwards to pin on the medals and wielding the heavy sword, all of which are tiring and put a strain on the Queen’s back.

The Queen has suffered for many years from knee problems and sciatica, which causes lower back pain and numbness in the legs. For every investiture, she stands for up to an hour to present the awards. Two years ago, the dais at Windsor Castle was lowered a few inches so the Queen didn’t have to stoop down so far to pin on the medals. “It’s quite a strenuous exercise to hand out the medals without mistakes, engage people in conversation and keep bending down,” said a royal aide. “The Queen has done it without complaint for years but now that she is 87, she will be delighted that William is stepping up to support her by taking on some of her duties.” Last year the Queen had to withdraw from an investiture at Windsor Castle with a bad back and Prince Charles had to fly down from Scotland to hand out 90 honors.

For a young Prince assuming his first responsibilities as a senior royal, it is understandable that Prince William would want to go slowly to ensure a job well done. From the reports of the honorees after the ceremony, William handled his new duties with ease. “It was obviously a big occasion, being his first one [investiture],” said honoree Andy Murray. “He seemed pretty relaxed to me. He gave everyone a fair amount of time. I’m sure he enjoyed it.”

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“We Could Not Be Happier” – Welcome Baby Cambridge!

After an eventful 24 hours, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge left the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s hospital today with their newborn son. Describing their first day as parents as “emotional”, William and Kate confirmed that they are still working on a name for the young Prince. At 8 pounds 6 ounces, William said that the baby is “quite heavy” and has a great set of lungs.

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Before leaving the hospital, baby Cambridge was introduced to some very special visitors: Michael and Carole Middleton, who were the first visitors to arrive, and Prince Charles and Camilla, who flew in by helicopter after completing their royal engagements in Yorkshire. Prince Charles, awash in the glow of becoming a first-time grandfather, described his grandson as “marvelous”. He then teased the reporters who waited almost three weeks in the hot summer sun for this moment by saying, “You’ll see in a minute.” A short time later, William and Kate emerged to introduce their son to the world.

Welcome baby Cambridge!

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Queen Celebrates Sixty Years of Commitment

Surrounded by more than 20 members of her family in majestic Westminster Abbey, the Queen and Prince Philip today celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.

Looking pretty in an Angela Kelly dress, hat and coat, the Queen arrives for the anniversary celebration service. The Queen arrived for the anniversary celebration service looking pretty in an Angela Kelly dress, hat and coat. Many were were relieved to see she was accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, who had to cancel an engagement yesterday since he was feeling “under the weather”.

alex falk at 60th anniversaryBesides the expected royals, politicians and dignitaries, many others who were present at the Coronation joined the royal family at the service today. One of these was Alex Falk, who was a media runner for the Press Association and worked outside the Abbey during the 1953 Coronation.

St Edward's Crown, which the Queen wore during the Coronation, arrives at the Abbey earlier today. The crown has not left the Tower of London since the Coronation in 1953. It sat on the altar during today's service.St Edward’s Crown, which the Queen wore during the Coronation, arrived at the Abbey earlier today. This was the first time the crown left the Tower of London since the Coronation in 1953 and was symbolically placed on the altar during the service.

The 2,000 guests also included the Queen’s maids of honor, who remembered the day vividly. Maid of honor Lady Jane Rayne Lacey said the Coronation had been “very holy” but that today’s anniversary celebration was much more jolly. “People are so happy she’s been here for 60 years,” she said.

Lady Jane remembered a moment when four-year-old Prince Charles spotted the crown in a Buckingham Palace drawing room. “I saw this sweet, chubby little figure reaching towards it with his arms outstretched. I think he wanted to pick it up and put it on his own head. A lady in waiting got there first and raced to the rescue to put it high up.”

queen coronation philip smilingReflecting on the Queen’s many years of service, Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Rev Justin Welby explained to those gathered in the Abbey that the Coronation had a religious and spiritual aspect uncommon in today’s society. The Coronation was not just the symbolic crowning of a new monarch, it was “an ordination, a setting aside of a person for service”.

Archbishop Welby recalled that during the Coronation ceremony the Queen knelt at the Abbey’s altar and prayed. “We do not know what was prayed. Her Majesty knelt at the beginning of a path of demanding devotion and utter self-sacrifice, a path she did not choose, yet to which she was called by God. Today we celebrate 60 years since that moment, 60 years of commitment.”

60th coronation family shotFamily members attending the service included Prince Philip, Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. The royal contingent also included Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex. After the ceremony, the Queen and the members of her family made the short journey to College Hall, the 14th century medieval Abbot’s dining hall for lunch with the Dean and the Chapter of Westminster.

queen coronation processionReflecting on the 1953 ceremony, the Queen broadcast her thanks to the nation for the support she felt during the Coronation ceremony. “As this day draws to its close, I know that my abiding memory of it will be not only the solemnity and beauty of the ceremony, but the inspiration of your loyalty and affection.”

After last year’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and today’s commemoration, it is clear that the loyalty and affection the Queen felt on the day of her Coronation endures.  Thank you, your Majesty, for your sixty years of service!

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Prince Charles Takes on More Royal Responsiblity as Planning Continues for the End of the Elizabethan Era

The Queen and the Duchess of Cambridge visit Vernon Park during a Diamond Jubilee visit to Nottingham on June 13, 2012.

The Queen and the Duchess of Cambridge visit Vernon Park during a Diamond Jubilee visit to Nottingham on June 13, 2012.

It’s never been the Queen’s style to usher in change in a big, noticeable way. Instead, she has always been a slow and steady personality who is keen enough to recognize early on any signs that indicate when an adjustment may be needed.  Almost imperceptibly over the past few years, the Queen has been steadily making changes by sharing her workload of foreign tours and domestic engagements with other members of the royal family. Last year’s Golden Jubilee was the most visible sign of this trend to date, with many of the younger royals traveling across the globe to represent the Queen during the celebrations. Another example is the increasing number of engagements where the Queen is accompanied by either the Duchess of Cornwall or the Duchess of Cambridge (or both).  Last week, Buckingham Palace sent out the clearest signal yet that the gradual transition of power from the Queen to the younger generation of royals, and especially the Prince of Wales, is starting to gain momentum.

The Duchess of Cornwall and the Prince of Wales sit beside the Queen as she reads her speech during the 2013 State Opening of Parliament.

The Duchess of Cornwall and the Prince of Wales sit beside the Queen as she reads her speech during the 2013 State Opening of Parliament.

After not attending for 17 years, the announcement that the Prince of Wales would accompany the Queen and Prince Philip to the State Opening of Parliament generated much interest. As Prince of Wales, it is not surprising that Charles would attend this type of function to help prepare for his future role. The news that Camilla would accompany him raised eyebrows since there is much ambivalence about the prospect of a Queen Camilla.  Walking beside her royal in-laws in a white silk gown, formal gloves and a tiara that originally belonged to the Queen Mother, Camilla looked very much like a future Queen-in-waiting. Granted, the Duchess’ good works for both the monarchy and her charities over the past few years has helped her win the hearts of a once hostile public. While it may be that some need more time to accept the idea of a Queen Camilla, The Guardian recognized a significant shift had taken place: “The image of Charles and Camilla, attired in full ceremonial and sitting within feet of the thrones in the House of Lords, is momentous and symbolic.”  This very public gesture was the Queen’s clearest endorsement yet of her support of the Prince of Wales as the future King, and also perhaps of the Duchess of Cornwall as the future Queen.

The Queen and Prince Philip arriving for the State Opening of Parliament.

The Queen and Prince Philip arriving for the State Opening of Parliament.

There was a very subtle second signal during the State Opening of Parliament. Typically, at the conclusion of her speech, the Queen provides specifics about upcoming engagements and foreign tours she will undertake on behalf of the government. This year’s speech did not contain these details, indicating either that the Queen’s calendar is still to be decided or that future trips will be undertaken by other members of the royal family. While Buckingham Palace insists the 87-year-old Queen and her 92-year-old spouse are healthy enough for long-haul foreign travel, it is understandable that they would want to start to slow down, especially after Philip’s three hospitalizations in 2012.

The last, and biggest, revelation last week was that the Queen would not attend this year’s meeting of the heads of the Commonwealth in Sri Lanka in November. Instead, Prince Charles will represent the Queen at the meeting.

Still not quite recovered from the gastroenteritis that hospitalized her, the Queen signs the Commonwealth Charter on March 11, 2013.

Still not quite recovered from the gastroenteritis that hospitalized her, the Queen signs the Commonwealth Charter on March 11, 2013.

The Queen’s attendance at every meeting over the past 40 years has repeatedly demonstrated her firm belief that Commonwealth-related responsibilities are some of the most important of her reign. This belief is so strong that earlier this year— during the Queen’s recovery from a bad bout of gastroenteritis — she cancelled a majority of her engagements but managed to keep her appointment to sign the new Commonwealth Charter. Since her role as head of the Commonwealth is mostly symbolic, the Queen’s relationship with the Commonwealth and its leaders is very different from her relationship with the British government. Many of the Commonwealth leaders request private meetings during the conference where they can ask the Queen’s advice on a variety of topics, which has led Prince Philip to describe the Queen as the “Commonwealth psychotherapist”.

Many Commonwealth leaders are already voicing their support for Prince Charles to become head of the Commonwealth once he becomes King. During the Charter signing ceremony, Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma offered his support to Prince Charles when he spoke of a “foundation of friendship and continuity” in the association between the Commonwealth and the royal family. The Queen responded: “I am grateful to you, Mr. Secretary-General, for your kind and generous sentiments, and for your thoughtful words about the link between the Crown and the Commonwealth and its enduring value.”  Later in March, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard offered her support during a tribute to the Queen: “For Australia’s part, I am sure the Queen’s successor as monarch will one day serve as head of Commonwealth with the same distinction as Her Majesty has done.”

The future of the monarchy: Prince Charles, the Queen and Prince William on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

The future of the monarchy: Prince Charles, the Queen and Prince William on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

Since the Queen would never consider abdication like her Dutch counterpart, this temporary “job sharing” arrangement with the Prince of Wales may be a good solution for her and the monarchy.  With a gradual shifting of duties from the sovereign to the Prince of Wales and other younger royals, especially the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Queen can slowly reduce her public duties. By the time the rest of us figure out what has happened, the transition will appear to have been seamless, and as Time magazine put it, Charles’ “feet will already be under the desk”.

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Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation

The Queen's coronation was the Big News of the Day. The front page of the Liverpool Echo on June 2, 1953.

The Queen’s coronation was the Big News of the Day. The front page of the Liverpool Echo on June 2, 1953.

It is possible that many people were under the impression that last year’s Golden Jubilee celebrations marked the high point of the Queen’s anniversary celebrations. These same people may be surprised to learn this year also holds an important milestone for her Majesty: June 2 marks the 60th anniversary of her coronation at Westminster Abbey.

Among the people of Great Britain, the anticipation of once again having a Queen, especially one so young and vibrant, generated a flurry of excitement. At that time, Britain was a nation still recovering from the deprivations of war. In a country still subjected to the restrictions of rationing, the coronation was viewed as the victory celebration that austerity had spoiled and as an opportunity to strengthen the bonds between the public and the monarchy.

One of the people who held this view was Winston Churchill. During the war, Churchill personified the fighting spirit of the country. As a Prime Minister making arrangements for the coronation, he brought his eloquence, sentimentality and deep sense of history to an event that would be Britain’s long-delayed reward for the country’s wartime endeavors. Overcome with emotion, Churchill welcomed the new monarch in a radio address. “I, whose youth was passed in the august, unchallenged and tranquil glories of the Victorian era, may well feel a thrill in invoking once more the prayer and anthem, God Save the Queen.”

The coronation gave regular Britons a chance to celebrate after years of austerity. Some street parties were very elaborate!

The coronation gave regular Britons a chance to celebrate after years of austerity. Some street parties were very elaborate!

Under the thrall of his leadership, the country enthusiastically followed Churchill’s lead into the celebrations. In school, the coronation became a country-wide civics lesion with children learning about the symbolism of the crown, orb and scepter and how the constitution evolved. A sort of “Coronation fever” emerged, with towns and villages organizing street parties. Displays of patriotic bunting and union jack flags began to appear in shop windows and outside houses. In a rare show of solidarity, the press seemed to be equally enthralled and did not utter any criticism or words of cynicism about the mounting hysteria.

Unprecedented newsreel, radio and television viewership of the coronation was expected by all media outlets. Four newsreel companies, who between them shared an audience of 350 million cinema-goers, filmed the coronation in color. Radio reached approximately 11 million British licensed wireless sets, with a live international audience of several hundred million. Daunted by the scope of attention, feeling shy and worried about making a mistake, her Majesty initially forbade the live broadcast of the coronation via the newest form of media, television. After some controversy, the Queen agreed to allow the ceremony to be broadcast on the newest form of media, television, which reached an additional 1.5 million viewers and helped to boost sales of this fledgling technology.

St Edward's Crown is set with 444 precious stones. The stones were formerly hired for each coronation and then detached, leaving only the frame. However, in 1911 the jewels were set permanently.

St Edward’s Crown is set with 444 precious stones. The stones were formerly hired for each coronation and then detached, leaving only the frame. However, in 1911 the jewels were set permanently.

Prior to the service, the Queen devoted a considerable amount of time to practicing with the enormous five-pound Crown of St. Edward. Prince Charles recalled his mother wearing the Crown while working in Buckingham Palace to get used to the weight. Later, after the ceremony, the Queen admitted to well-known portrait photographer Cecil Beaton that the Crown did get “rather heavy”. Beaton observed that although she wore the Crown for over three hours, the Queen was patient and uncomplaining.

The Queen’s maids of honour (left-right): Lady Moyra Campbell, Lady Anne Glenconner, Lady Rayne, Lady Mary Russell, Baroness Willoughby de Eresby and Lady Rosemary Muir

Attending to the Queen during the ceremony were her six maids of honor, Lady Rosemary Muir, Lady Anne Glenconner, Lady Moyra Campbell, Lady Mary Russell, Lady Jane Rayne and Baroness Willoughby de Eresby, all of whom were intensely scrutinized by the press and became celebrities in their own right. Lady Anne Glenconner said that they were so popular, they were “the Spice Girls of their era”. Ranging from 19-23 years old, the young ladies faced extreme pressure in the days leading to the coronation. Perhaps in an effort to help reduce everyone’s anxiety just moments before the ceremony, Lady Anne cheekily recalled the moment when the Archbishop of Canterbury brought out a hip flask and asked the maids if they wanted a sip of brandy.

All of the ladies retain incredible memories about their day with the Queen. The women agree that one of the most memorable moments happened just before entering the Abbey. Faced with the long procession to the altar in front of more than 8,000 guests and dignitaries, and perhaps reflecting on the enormous change taking place in her own life, the Queen paused for a moment to ask, “Ready girls?”

Prince Charles views the coronation with his grandmother, the Queen Mother, and his Aunt, Princess Margaret.

Prince Charles views the coronation with his grandmother, the Queen Mother, and his Aunt, Princess Margaret.

Lady Moyra Campbell remembered that four-year-old Prince Charles shared his excitement with the ladies. So proud and grown-up that he had been permitted to use his father’s hair lotion, Prince Charles asked each of the ladies to smell his hair. Prince Charles also created history that day by being the first child to witness his mother’s coronation as Sovereign.

Following a tradition set by Queen Victoria, Elizabeth preferred to have ladies in waiting carry her train during the ceremony rather than page boys. Part of the responsibilities of the maids was to carefully lift and unfold the Queen’s 21 foot train as she descended from George III’s Gold State Coach. Made of heavy embroidered velvet with a fur trim, the stunning train was by no means light, and had to be held using six specially designed silk handles discreetly sewn into the underside of the train. The youngest maid of honor, Lady Mary Russell, who was just 19 years old at the time, agreed that it was an incredible day, but all she could think about at the time was how heavy the embroidery felt.

No detail was too small when planning for the ceremony. In case they felt faint during the service, all of the women had a small vial of smelling salts discreetly sewn into their gloves. Lady Jane Rayne said she was forced to use hers to prevent Lady Anne from collapsing. Lady Rosemary Muir remembered that the Archbishop shook her hand so hard in greeting that he accidentally crushed the vial, releasing the most terrible smell for the rest of the ceremony.

Cecil Beaton's famous coronation portrait of the Queen. Well known for portraits of many members of the royal family, Beaton always considered the Queen Mother his favorite subject.

Cecil Beaton’s famous coronation portrait of the Queen. Well known for portraits of many members of the royal family, Beaton always considered the Queen Mother his favorite subject.

Despite the jubilation of the day, photographer Cecil Beaton observed that everyone – the crowds and even the rest of the royal family – seemed to be having a better time than the monarch. He described the Queen Mother as “in rollicking spirits…dimpled and chuckling, with eyes as bright as any of her jewels”, happy to assist Beaton to gather everyone together for the obligatory portraits to mark the occasion. While taking the final portraits of the day of the Queen in her robes and Crown, Beaton thought the Queen possessed “a certain humility and slow shyness, but at the same time innate dignity and a quality of kindness”.

It is these qualities—and more—that have served the Queen so well during her sixty (and counting) years on the throne.  By historic coincidence, on that same day, the news broke that Everest had been conquered by Hunt, Hillary and Tensing, which seemed like a symbolic gift for the sovereign. The combination of two joyous events on one day seemed overwhelming for the jubilant crowd, who cheered “Long Live the Queen!” outside Buckingham Palace long into the night.

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William and Harry: Dedicated to Serving Queen and Country

Military parades and troop reviews were all part of growing up for William and Harry

Military parades and troop reviews were all part of growing up for William and Harry.

Given their family’s long tradition of military service, it’s not surprising that William and Harry decided to pursue military careers before taking on full-time royal duties. Their father, Prince Charles, served in the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force and their uncle, Prince Andrew, served as a Royal Navy helicopter pilot during the 1980s Falklands War. From a young age, both boys grew up attending military functions with their parents, so the military was always a strong influence in their lives. While William and Harry’s military roles are quite different, both brothers share a strong dedication to duty and pride in their service.

William (known in the Royal Air Force as Flight Lieutenant Wales) serves as a search and rescue (SAR) helicopter pilot based in Anglesey, Wales. Working 24-hour shifts in a state of constant readiness, William must remain no more than 60 seconds from his Sea King helicopter at any time.  After short stints with the Royal Marines and Royal Navy, William returned to the RAF and graduated as a fully operational search and rescue pilot (SAR) in September 2010. After extensive training and a deployment to the Falkland Islands for six months in 2012, William qualified to be the pilot in charge of a Sea King Mark 3 helicopter. According to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s website, “SAR aircrews expect to fly into conditions from which others are fleeing, meaning they often find themselves flying in high gales or through clouds, driving rain and poor visibility”.

Flight Lt. Wales is part of a four man SAR crew. Each crew member is required to keep their training current, which may include taking computer-based courses.

Flight Lt. Wales is part of a four man SAR crew. Each crew member is required to keep their training current, which may include taking computer-based courses.

During his time in Anglesey, news about William’s involvement in many dramatic rescues has been leaked to the press. One of the rescues William’s RAF crew participated in was the rescue of a 16-year old girl who had been swept out to sea in August 2012. The paramedic on William’s crew, Master Aircrew “Harry” Harrison, said, “We never know what we’ll face when we’re called out. Sometimes it’s just a twisted ankle or a broken bone, but this was one rescue where we truly did arrive in the nick of time and managed to save this young girl’s life.”  It took William and his crew only 38 seconds to reach the girl after receiving the call.

Not all of the rescues in end as happily. On New Year’s Day 2013, William and the crew were called to help locate a 41-year old Blackpool man who was swept to sea while out walking his dog. The RAF team provided the lighting necessary for the search teams to search the waters off the coast for over 90 minutes, but sadly the missing man was not found.

William gives his grandparents, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, a tour during their Royal visit to RAF Valley in April 2011.

William gives his grandparents, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, a tour during their Royal visit to RAF Valley in April 2011.

As the stories about William’s SAR team emerge, the press has admiringly dubbed William “the U.K.’s number one action man”. Other comparisons point to the centuries-old myth of the hero king, an adventurer of royal lineage who performs legendary feats on perilous quests, such as King Arthur.

For his part, William doesn’t seem to take such comparisons seriously. “The skills the guys employ, the flying aspects, the general airmanship you need to have around you, and all the others you need to survive the weather and whatever sort of situation you are thrown into…it’s definitely advanced flying and it’s rewarding, so put the two together and it’s a fantastic job,” William said in an April 2012 interview.

He continued, “It’s rewarding because every day you come in to work and you don’t quite know what’s going to happen. It’s quite exciting in that sense, it’s unpredictable. But at the same time it’s great that you get to go out and actually save someone’s life hopefully or at least make a difference to somebody. When you know that they are in trouble, you do everything you can to get there.”

A young Prince Harry at the helm of a tank in 1993.

A young Prince Harry at the helm of a tank in 1993.

While the press has been quick to reveal the details of William’s involvement in rescues, elements of Harry’s two tours of service with the British Army in Afghanistan are only beginning to emerge.

During Harry’s first tour of Afghanistan in 2008, he served as part of the ground forces, calling in airstrikes against enemy positions. In preparation for his second tour, Harry (or Captain Wales) had completed extensive specialized training to return as a gunner for Apache attack helicopters. This training allowed Harry to participate in regular missions during his 20-week tour with the 662 Squadron, 3 Regiment Army Air Corps unit. Harry’s role during these missions over Helmand Province was to control the helicopter’s arsenal of deadly rockets, missiles and a 30mm cannon.

In an interview prior to returning to the U.K. in January 2013, this question asked by one journalist raised a furor: “You are the man with the trigger in your hand, and if called upon, you will fire, and presumably you have and you will kill the enemy?”

Prince Harry on patrol during his first tour in Afghanistan in 2008. Harry's performance during the deployment earned him praise from the head of the British Army and (then) Prime Minister Gordon Brown as "exemplary".

Prince Harry on patrol during his first tour in Afghanistan in 2008. Harry’s performance during the deployment earned him praise from the head of the British Army and (then) Prime Minister Gordon Brown as “exemplary”.

Answering with the confidence of an experienced combat veteran, Harry responded, “Yeah, so lots of people have. The squadron’s been out here. Everyone’s fired a certain amount. Probably a little bit more than this time last year, to a certain extent, but that’s just the way that it’s balanced out.” After a moment of reflection, Harry continued, “We fire when we have to, take a life to save a life, but essentially we’re more of a deterrent than anything else.”

He continued to say that killing insurgents was not what motivated him to become an attack helicopter pilot. Instead, Harry’s ambition was to return to combat duty in Afghanistan and “carry on with a job”.  In his role as a helicopter pilot, his job was to defend escorts traveling through the countryside, destroy known Taliban strongholds and rescue wounded soldiers. “If guys get injured, we come straight into the overhead, box off any possibility of an insurgent attack because they look at us and go, ‘Right, that’s an unfair fight, we’re not going to go near them’.”  Using the helicopter as an instrument of intimidation, Harry said his job was to make an impact on the enemy, which is not always about pulling the trigger.

Prince Harry is joined by his father Prince Charles upon his graduation in February 2012 as an Apache helicopter pilot. Harry won a prize for “best co-pilot gunner” out of the graduating pool of 20 other pilots.

Prince Harry is joined by his father Prince Charles upon his graduation in February 2012 as an Apache helicopter pilot. Harry won a prize for “best co-pilot gunner” out of the graduating pool of 20 other pilots.

As second in line to throne, William has been told he will not serve in active duty combat because it is viewed by many in the government as too dangerous. But Harry feels that William could do a similar job in Afghanistan, flying Chinook helicopters with emergency medical crews on board to pick up casualties. “Yes, you get shot at. But if the guys who are doing the same job as us are being shot at on the ground, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with us being shot at as well. People back home will have issues with that, but we’re not special. The guys out there are.  Simple as that.”

While Harry says William is jealous of his combat experience, Harry admits to feelings of envy over William’s role. “It’s operational flying back home. You get all the luxuries of operational flying – the pride, as you call it – and the reward of basically in his case saving people’s lives, which is exactly what we try to do as well. And back home he gets to go home to his wife and dog, whereas out here we don’t. We’re stuck playing PlayStation in a tent full of men.”

Prince Harry enjoys some down time playing video games with his fellow Apache helicopter crew members.

Prince Harry enjoys some down time playing video games with his fellow Apache helicopter crew members.

Indeed, while on duty, the royal brothers receive no special treatment from their colleagues. In fact, it seems that William and Harry relish that their work colleagues treat them like everyone else. Both live in simple accommodations alongside the other members of their units and are responsible for everyday tasks like making their own beds and fetching tea. Both servicemen spend downtime on the job playing computer games, usually with a military theme, such as Call of Duty. Meals are taken with their work colleagues in the base mess hall. Harry describes the atmosphere as “as normal as it’s going to get” for him since he’s treated as “one of the guys”.

While their experiences in the armed services are very different, both brothers obviously take immense pride in serving their country and especially their Queen, even more so since their Queen is their beloved grandmother. Reflecting on his and William’s military service, Harry said, “Our service towards our country in the military will always come first”.

Harry relishes the freedom of being a helicopter pilot. "Probably the fact that you an only fit a certain amount of people in a helicopter, therefore no one can follow us - like you guys," he joked with the press. "Our father flew, our uncle's flown, all sorts of people have flown in my family. And I wouldn't suggest that's where it's come from, but it is great fun, and I was given the opportunity and in the end, I couldn't say no to it."

Harry relishes the freedom of being a helicopter pilot. “Probably the fact that you an only fit a certain amount of people in a helicopter, therefore no one can follow us – like you guys,” he joked with the press. “Our father flew, our uncle’s flown, all sorts of people have flown in my family. And I wouldn’t suggest that’s where it’s come from, but it is great fun, and I was given the opportunity, and, in the end, I couldn’t say no to it.”

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