Tuesday, October 31, 2023

The Princess of Asturias reaches majority


@Casa Real

On October 31, 2005, Letizia, Princess of Asturias gave birth to a daughter at the Ruber International Hospital in Madrid. This was the first child for Letizia and her husband, Felipe, Prince of Asturias, then heir apparent to the Spanish throne.    The new infanta was baptized on January 14, 2006, and given the name Leonor des Todos los Santos.

@Casa Real

Spain remains the only European kingdom that has not changed its succession law to the eldest child.  Succession is still male primogeniture, which meant that a younger brother would have pushed Leonor down a notch in the line of succession.  There have been discussions to change the law, but successive Parliaments have not promulgated legislation to change the succession to the firstborn child.    Queen Letizia gave birth to a second daughter, Infanta Sofia, in April 2007.

@Casa Real

Following the abdication of her grandfather, King Juan Carlos in June 2014 and the succession of her father King Felipe VI, Leonor was styled as Princess of Asturias, as the heiress presumptive.   She also inherited other titles when she became heiress presumptive: Princess of Girona, Princess of Viana, Duchess of Montblanc, Countess of Cervera, and Lady of Balaguer.

@Casa Real

The Princess of Asturias celebrated her eighteenth birthday today.  This morning, Leonor carried out an engagement required of the heir to the throne when she swore an oath, upholding the Spanish Constitution.  She pledged to "faithfully carry out my duties, to keep and uphold the Constitution and the laws and respect the rights of citizens and the autonomous communities and loyalty to the king."

Her father swore allegiance to the Spanish Constitution on his eighteenth birthday.

@Casa Real

The ceremony was carried live on Spanish television.  Media outlets noted that Leonormania has taken over the country.  The princess recently graduated from the AWC Atlantic College in Wales.  Currently, she is in the first of a three-year military program and is based at the General Military Academy in Zaragoza.

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

This evening the Princess of Asturias celebrated her coming of age with a private party, which was attended by her family, including her grandparents, King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia.

The Princess of Asturias will be the first Queen Regnant in Spain since Queen Isabel (1830-1904).  She reigned from 1833, following the death of her father, King Ferdinando VII.  She was one month short of her third birthday when she became queen.  Isabel's mother, Maria Cristina of Bourbon-Two Sicilies was regent until Isabel reached her majority in 1843.  Queen Isabel was neither popular nor successful as Queen.  A naval mutiny in September l868 led to the defeat of Isabel's troops.  She went into exile.  In 1870, she abdicated in favor of her son, Alfonso XII (1857-1885).  In November 1870, Prince Amedeo of Savoy was elected king of Spain, but his reign ended three years later with the establishment of the First Spanish Republic.    

In 1874, a military coup overthrew the republican government. The Borbon monarchy was restored with Isabel's son, Alfonso XII.

Isabel - Alfonso XII - Alfonso XIII - Infante Juan, Count of Barcelona - Juan Carlo I - Felipe VI - Leonor


Friday, October 27, 2023

Day 3 (and 4) -- it's time for the Palace


@Royal Collection

September 14 was another warm day, sunny, and a wonderful day to visit Buckingham Palace.  No posh breakfast for me today.  I caught a bus and headed to Walthamstow Central, where I could catch the Overground to Liverpool Street or the Victoria Line.   First things first: find a place to have breakfast. 


I walked up to a policeman and asked for a breakfast recommendation.  He suggested the Copperfield Cafe, just around the corner from Walthamstow Central, so that is where I went.  I chose the English breakfast minus the mushrooms and coffee.  Excellent.   I asked the waitress if there was a bank nearby as I had dodgy pound notes to exchange for the new money.  Several banks were close by, so I said thank you and went off to exchange the dodgy money, as I called it. British notes are now made from plastic so the older pound notes no longer are accepted in stores, etc., but banks will exchange them for the new currency!

I walked back to the tube station and got on the Victoria line to Victoria.  I am glad I stopped and bought a bottle of water as it was getting warmer.   There was a huge amount of people in line for the Palace tour.  My ticket was for noon, but I did not get admitted until 30 minutes later.

There were several NO NOs!   No photographs were allowed inside the Palace or in most places outside once we left the palace to shop, eat, and, for me -- and others-- the Garden Tour.  No eating.  No food, but you were permitted to drink water.  So glad I bought that bottle!  It was very warm and crowded inside the Palace.

@Royal Collection

After you enter the Palace. you up a flight of stairs. where you are handed the recorded tour.   The first thing you see is the Diamond Jubilee State Coach at the Ambassador's Entrance.  This is the carriage that conveyed King Charles III and Queen Camilla to Westminster Abbey.  

The carriage was in front of me. I moved around so I could see all the different angles, and peek inside.  It was right in front of us.  The Gold State Coach is on display in the Royal Mews.  

The Carriage was in full view during the Coronation, but it was raining and all those policemen and soldiers standing in front of us. Now it was right in front of me sans the horses (and the King and Queen.)  No photos.  (We were allowed to text.)

From the Ambassadors' Entrance, the tour moves through the Grand Entrance, the Grand Hall, up the Grand Staircase, and into the Guard Room, where there are fabulous portraits of Prince George of Cumberland, King Leopold I of the Belgians, Queen Charlotte, the Duke of Kent (Victoria's father,) I was muttering the name of each person as I walked up the stairs.  A Buckingham Palace staffer said to me: "Well done."  Thanks.

The next two rooms on the tour were the Green Drawing Room and the Throne Room.  Okay, I must admit that I curtseyed to the thrones, even though no one was sitting on them.  Just practicing!

It took time to go through The Picture Gallery.  I did one side and then the other.  [The Buckingham Palace Official Guide includes a list of the artwork (paintings, sculptures) in the rooms included in the tour.

One of the statues that I wanted to see again was the marble statue of Mrs. Jordan and two of her children.   And there it was in the Picture Gallery Lobby.  No photos!   The Guidebook has a photograph of the statue.   Mrs. Jordan, an actress, was the Duke of Clarence's mistress from 1790 until 1816.  She bore him ten illegitimate children.

The Guidebook states that two paintings by Sir George Hayter (the Christening of the Prince of Wales and Queen Victoria) are on display in the Silk Tapestry Room.   This was correct at the time of publication - and before the death of Queen Elizabeth II.  The two paintings are now on display in the East Gallery -- the following room on the tour -- with a third Sir George Hayter painting - Victoria's Coronation.   Seeing all three paintings in the same room was a delight.  I walked around the room several times, focusing on each painting.

@Royal Collection.   You can see the embroidered dogs near the bottom of the Queen's gown

The Coronation exhibit was in the Ballroom, which is not included in the Guidebook, as it is not usually included in the Palace tour.   The Robes of Estates, the Queen's gown, and the king and queen's shoes were on display in the main cabinet.  I walked around this cabinet three times to take it all in.  When I approached Queen Camilla's gown, I crouched to the ground as I tried to find the embroidered names of her two children and grandchildren and her two Jack Russell terriers. I found one grandchild (Gus) and both dogs, Beth and Bluebell.  The details are amazing.  

The exhibition also features two of the pages' uniforms, the Throne Chairs used "by Their Majesties for the Enthroning and Homage," which were next to the Anointing Screen.   Sketches of the official invitation and the Stoll and gloves that the King wore were also included in the display.

I did not want to leave the room.  I wanted to walk around the display one more time, but it was crowded, and I needed to move to the next room. 

@Royal Collection   Throne chairs and Anointing Screen

@Royal Collection

@Royal Collection

@Royal Collection

the detailed embroidery.  You can see Gus and the two dogs. @Royal Collection

@Royal Collection

@Royal Collection

@Royal Collection

The final rooms on the tour were the State Dining Room, the Blue Drawing Room, with the fabulous portraits of King George V and Queen Mary, the White Drawing Room (a portrait of Queen Alexandra dominates the room), the Ante Room and Ministers' Staircase. the Marble Hall and the Bow Room where there are portraits of the Cambridge family: King Georg V of Hanover, Princess Augusta, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Grand Duke Friedrich of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Prince George, Duke of Cambridge, and Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge (mother of Queen Mary).  

The exit to the Garden is through the Bow Room.  It was a few minutes after two, which meant I missed my scheduled garden tour at 2 p.m.   I was able to join the 4 p.m. tour.

@Royal Collection

This allowed me to get something to eat and use the loo.  Best Portaloo I have ever seen.  The lines were long, so I chose something quick and easy.  An English cheddar and ham sandwich, ice cream, and water, as I had already finished the bottle of water I brought into the palace. 

The Palace did offer a photo op with the King and Queen. Unless otherwise noted, the following photographs were taken by me.

The photo opportunity: join the king and queen on the balcony

The Garden Tour took about 45 minutes.  The tour started near the entrance to the Gardens that members of the Royal Family use.  If you are standing on the gravel facing the back of the palace, the entrance is around the corner on the left.

Our tour guide was informative as she led us down the path, stopping at different spots.  She talked about the different mulberry trees and other plants in the garden that are used to make the Gin that is sold in the Buckingham Palace shops.


We also learned about the Victoria and Albert trees, which were planted by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert more than 150 years ago and continue to thrive.  The first building we saw was a teahouse that Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret often used for classes.  We then approached the rose gardens, which provided flowers for the late Queen's funeral wreath.    The gargantuan Waterloo Vase is a featured part of the Rose Gardens, but the 25 different varieties of roses are the real stars.  

You can also see the summerhouse that was built for Queen Alexandra.

@Royal Collection/ Joseph Campell   The Victoria and Albert trees

@Royal Collection/Joseph Campbell


We were also told about the bee hives and the bee hospital that is in the palace garden, but not accessible to us.  Our guide mentioned the beekeepers covering the hives in black material and telling the bees about Queen Elizabeth's death.  The honey is given as gifts and is not sold in the Palace shops.

We also learned about how the grass is mowed, the unique watering system, and how saplings are quarantined for a period before being planted.  

The tour ended at the gate where you can exit or you can walk back to the palace, which is what I did.  This part of the path was the only place where you could take photos.   I stopped in the shop for a bit of retail therapy, and another visit to the loo before walking back down the path to the exit.

I took the following photos.  This was the only area where people were permitted to take photos on the path coming from the garden tour or leaving the palace.  I had two opportunities to take photos on this path.

This was on display in the shop at the Palace -- a pop-up shop

Time to say goodbye and walk back down the path to the exit

 If I had a few nuts with me, I would have tried to bribe the squirrel

A pigeon in a tree

I wonder if the magpie has found any royal jewels!

Was it worth it?  Oh, yes.  Seeing the robes and other items from the Coronation brought it full circle.  

I headed back to Victoria Station to find out the best way to get to Leytonstone, where I was having dinner at Homies on Donkeys, a Mexican restaurant on High Street.  I took the District line to Mile End and transferred to the Central Line to Leytonstone.   The restaurant got its start in Walthamstow but did not have a permanent home. I wanted to visit it in June 2022, but it was not open on the nights I was free.  In May the restaurant closed and needed a larger space.  The owners/chef found the space in Leytonstone, which is not too far from Walthamstow.

So good

Homies on Donkeys is fantastic.  Highly recommended.   I had guacamole with Pico de Gallo, coriander & totopos (which are homemade), and Bavette Steak with Jalapeño relish, coriander, and sweet onions. The tacos are served in pairs and there is no cutlery.  "Get messy" is stated on the menu!   I also had one margarita.  Just one because I did need to catch a bus back to Walthamstow.   Thankfully, the bus stop was across the street from the restaurant.  


Unfortunately, the restaurant does not have dessert (not yet) so I walked back down High Street to the Red Lion Pub and had an ice cream.    I caught the bus back to where I needed to get off and walked to the cottage.  My last night in London.

On Friday morning, I got up early as I wanted to get breakfast and visit Hollow Ponds, a fifteen-minute walk from where I was staying.  The ponds are in a sliver of Epping Forest.  En route, there were a few places where I could have breakfast.  I chose Lamb's Cafe because I could sit outside.  Another gorgeous day. 

Bye  Lady with a Camera

War Memorial

I like both doors

Just before leaving. I glanced out the window -- this sweet cat was walking on the wall on the other side of the path.

After breakfast, I walked to the Hollow Ponds and spent about 30 minutes taking photos before heading back to Eugene Cottage, closing the suitcase, and heading to Heathrow.   I caught the bus to Walthamstow Overground, which I took to Liverpool Street.  I had to buy a Lola's cupcake (chocolate) to eat on the Heathrow Express.  I took the Elizabeth Line to Paddington, where I got on the Heathrow Express to Heathrow Airport.  

Bond Street was called Burberry Street the day I left  - marketing

Paddington Station

I checked in my carry-on suitcase because it was the only way I could get the bottle of wine back home -- the one the BA flight attendant gave me on the Monday evening flight.