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Archive for the ‘English Royalty’ Category

This blog is devoted to Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, and other ideas related to women’s empowerment and women in history. So, there have been some Jane Eyre/Charlotte Bronte threads, and some Jane Austen threads.

Overall, I am not a great fan of the monarchy and royalty. I enjoy meditating on more democratic, egalitarian, and feminist ways to shape society. Though, I felt like the news about Jane Austen and Kate Middleton gave me entree to post a few pieces of royal watching interest. See more below the Jezebel story…

(excerpt from)Jezebel

Kate Middleton and Jane Austen Are Related

Ancestry.com has discovered that Kate Middleton, Duchess Of Cambridge…and Jane Austen are are eleventh cousins, six times removed… “Finding this connection between the Duchess of Cambridge and Jane Austen is very exciting since, in many ways, Catherine is the modern Jane Austen heroine: a middle-class girl marrying the future King of England.”

More Royal Watching News:

My husband and I have started a new project. It is a website called
Peace Couple. The first project on Peace Couple is a royal tour by The Duke and Duchess of Peace. Their tour of America happens to coincide with the North American tour of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Duchess Catherine. The Duke and Duchess of Peace have very different ideas of what it means to be royal.

More Royal Watching (and a Georgiana mention):

With all that dismissing of royalty aside, I have to confess something. I love Princess Diana. And, while I was Princess Diana watching, I became interested in the life of Sarah, Duchess of York (Sarah Ferguson). And, Sarah Ferguson is related to Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire — Sarah Ferguson is a descendent of Georgiana’s love child, Eliza.

So, my mom asked me to take her to meet Sarah Ferguson at a local book signing, and I couldn’t say no. Below are some fun photos of Sarah, Duchess of York, who was on Long Island yesterday, June 28th:

June 28, 2011: Sarah, Duchess of York and fans

Sign at Book Revue announcing Sarah Ferguson

Sarah, Duchess of York signing her new book

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Georgiana's Feathers

Princess Beatrice’s Famous Royal Wedding Hat
(see video at bottom of this post)

If you are a fan of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire — born 1757, died 1806, glorified in the movie “The Duchess” — then you probably know that Sarah Ferguson and her daughters are descendents of Georgiana. Their family tree extends from Eliza, the love child of Georgiana and Sir Charles Grey.

Georgiana was known for known for her trend-setting fashions, and also, for her ability to use fashion to send a message and garnish attention. So, it is not surprising that Princess Beatrice’s daring wedding hat has inspired a FaceBook page which is at 115,000 hits (As of Sunday evening, 5/1/2011) and climbing. Georgiana’s hat choices were often shocking or problematic. So, it is not out of the family tradition for Princess Beatrice’s hat’s most popular page to be a critique. In fact, it is called, “Princess-Beatrices-Ridiculous-Royal-Wedding-Hat FaceBook Page”.

If you would like to defend Princess Beatrice, and the artistic leap of faith she took, you might consider joining, “Royal Wedding Hats – In Defense of Princess Beatrice and Her Lovely Hat FaceBook Page”. Which, I am sorry to say, stands at only 407 members. (more…)

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KW writes: The wedding is over. The vows are made. The world is reviewing the hoopla and eye-candy. I, personally, have many concerns with the purpose of royalty. I was waiting to dive in with analysis and critique while two real-live people were contemplating such an important step. But, now that Kate and Will have taken their leap of faith, maybe it is time to reflect on what monarchy (and empire) mean?

One of my friends has dived in on FaceBook. She noted (quite emphactically) that a lot of England’s wealth and tradition are related to colonizing and exploiting other parts of the world. And, having lots of wars. Seeing all the military uniforms as part of a religious ceremony was one of the things that didn’t sit well with me. Also, the fact that so many people are distracted by the hoopla, when they have their own lives, responsibilities, and countries to take care of.

Hope you might make your own comments — good and bad — in the comments. And, here is a poem I had written reflecting on Princess Diana’s wedding. It was written after she died…

The Bluish Light, 1997 (more…)

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Emma, Lady Hamilton. By Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun

Emma, Lady Hamilton, was a contemporary of Georgiana, The Duchess of Devonshire. Georgiana knew and liked Lady Hamilton.

If you like Lady Hamilton, or want to learn more about her, there is currently an exhibit at a book club in New York city. More info about “The Enchantress: Emma, Lady Hamilton”, at the Grolier Club until April 30, 2011, can be found at their link, and at the “read more” below.

I have become fascinated with Lady Hamilton party because of the movie “That Hamilton Woman”, with Vivien Leigh as Lady Hamilton, and with Leigh’s then husband, Laurence Olivier, as Lord Horatio Nelson. The movie is exquisite.

My favorite part of the movie is the way it explores the relationships between men and women, caught in a sexist society, where divorce is more of a shame than affairs, courtesans, or cruelty. And, I love the line uttered by the character of Lord Nelson, “That’s the way people look at these things. They do not believe in a friendship between a man and a woman.” I think that the tension that occurs — partly by nature, partly by a skeptical, sexist society — when a man and a woman try to be friends or colleagues is a large part of the energy that keeps women from succeeding in business, or fairly taking part in governing.

For an excellent review of the Grolier Club exhibit, see the Scandalous Women article: here. A quick biography of Emma, Lady Hamilton can be found at one of my favorite history blogs, The Duchess of Devonshire’s Gossip Guide to the 18th Century: here.

Info on the exhibit: (more…)

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Update: Deborah Cavendish, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, passed away on September 24, 2014, at age 94.

My commentary on the monarchy, circa 2010:

As an American activist for peace and justice, I am surprised to find myself consumed of late with stories of the English elite — the life of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire; Jane Austen novels; and the story of Lord Byron, Lady Caroline Lamb, Lord Melbourne and their circle. I have been wondering what fascinates me about these stories, and how I can be so excited about the lives of people who, in real life, I would find to be elitist, over-privileged, and ultimately knowing or unknowing cogs in an oppressive system of unfair hierarchy.

Well, I was gratified to find an article in the Guardian that at least toys with these conundrums. Finally, someone else who admires a Duchess, at least took the time to examine the role of a Duchess. (more…)

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Did the movie “The Duchess” (2008) have a happy ending?

More, importantly, did the life of Georgiana the Duchess of Devonshire (nee Lady Georgiana Spencer, born 1757) have a happy ending?

Here are the answers to nearly every question about what happened to Georgiana:

Note: Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire is an ancestor of Prince George of Cambridge and Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. 

Did Georgiana ever “produce a male heir”? Yes. She had a child with her husband, the 5th Duke. Her son was William Hartington Spencer and he became the 6th Duke.  So, both Georgiana and the 5th Duke felt like they had an heir who would carry on. (Though, “Hart” never had children.)

Did the male heir save the Devonshire name and riches for Georgiana and The Duke’s family? No…but it was saved. (more…)

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Please share your thoughts on this topic at the comments section. Hearing what you think is a lot of the reason I created this blog.

What are the life lessons that you have learned (as a woman, as a person, as a feminist) which might have helped Georgiana the Duchess of Devonshire to have a happier life, and reached more of her potential? (more…)

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