Saturday, September 23, 2017

Royal Pain or Royal Pleasure?


INGRID THOFT


When the announcement was made that Princess Kate (officially the Duchess of Cambridge) was pregnant with her third child, the news was heralded around the world.  Our own Jenn McKinlay posted about it on Facebook, and I “liked” it.  But someone else wondered, who cared?  Who cared that a duchess in another country was pregnant again?

I care, for a couple of reasons.  The first is that I grew up in the age of Princess Diana.  My fascination started with the announcement of her engagement on February 24, 1981.  I got up insanely early that same July to watch her wed Prince Charles, in her dress with a 25-foot train.  Everything about Diana was captivating—from her clothes, and jewelry to her independent streak and the joy she took from her sons.

Before Diana, I had little experience with the monarchy, but I knew that Diana was different, something that was confirmed on April 9, 1987 when she shook hands with AIDS patients without wearing surgical gloves.  This seemingly simple act made waves across the globe and confirmed that Diana was endlessly empathetic and brave enough to buck the traditional tide of the monarchy.  For the rest of her life, she was beautiful and best dressed, but she was also human and seemingly always chose to make a connection with her fellow man and women. After being raised in the age of Diana, how could I not love the monarchy?

This inclination has only been reinforced by Prince William and Prince Harry (and Kate, of course) who seem committed to continuing the good works of their mother and tackling issues that are meaningful to them.  Through their royal foundation, the Duke and Duchess and Prince Harry have declared their charitable focuses as the armed forces, conservation, cyberbullying, mental health, and young people.  They’ve already made a Diana-like impact with their “Heads Together” campaign which shines a light on the stigma of mental illness and works to connect individuals with the resources needed to maintain strong mental health.


But there’s another reason I follow the royals.  At a time when the world seems out of control, and the news is often bad, I welcome good news in whatever form I can get it.  A new royal baby is a cause for celebration, just like the wedding of William and Kate provided an escape from day-to-day challenges.  I got such a kick out of their recent trip to Poland and Germany; I loved seeing Kate’s outfits and the delight on the faces of the crowds who greeted her. Is it frivolous and superficial?  Of course, but what’s wrong with that?  I dare say the world isn’t suffering from too much joy and lightness these days.

So where do you fall on the spectrum of royal watching?  Do you marvel at the jewelry the duchess wears on state visits or do you quickly move on to other news?



74 comments:

  1. Princess Diana was certainly a special person; the fact that William, Kate, and Harry seem determined to follow her example is a good thing for everyone.
    I can’t say that I necessarily notice the jewelry the duchess wears but I do pay attention when the royal family makes the news.
    And anyone’s baby news is always good news . . . .

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  2. I'm only casually interested in the British royals. I agree that Diana was special, and did a lot to shake a terribly traditional monarchy out of its very stuffy rut. I think William is what Charles should have been at that age, and will be good for his country whether he ever comes to the throne or not. Beyond that? Meh. The babies are cute. The outfits are lovely. The British Royals are certainly more interesting in their charity work than any other young celebrity might be as he or she goes in and out of rehab. More interesting than the Kansas City Royals, for that matter. But not a consuming fascination. I do enjoy reading about how the strictures of the monarchy impact characters like Rhys' Lady Georgie, but beyond that I tend to think of British nobility as a quaint relic from a distant age. With nice clothes and weird hats.

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  3. For someone who writes about England, I've never been hugely obsessed with the Royals. (Although I must note here that the flat where I'm staying is across the street from the building where Diana lived when she began going out with Charles.)

    I do, however, have a lot of admiration for Charles and for the queen, stuffy as they may be. Charles's charities do a tremendous amount of good, and I like his forward-thinking ideas on conservation and agriculture. He's a dry, funny, and intelligent man who has never come off that well in the public spotlight.

    It's a good thing for the monarchy that Wills and Harry inherited their mother's natural charm. They, and the Duchess of Cambridge and the adorable children, have given a new face to the royal family. I do love seeing William and Kate and the kids. And I hate to think what would happen to Britain without Royal tourism--especially post-Brexit, when Britain is going to need all the help it can get!

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    1. I think you're right, Debs, that Charles' charity work is fantastic, and he doesn't seem to get lots of credit for it. I think he's doomed to be defined in relation to Diana, in which case he'll never shine.

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  4. I'm a total junkie. When I went to my first Malice, I stayed the night before and the night after with Sherry Harris in Virginia. The Sunday of Malice was the Kate and William wedding, and her husband had gotten up early to DVR it. When we returned from Bethesda, we sat on the couch with her daughter and wine and gorged ourself on royalty while Sherry's husband cooked dinner!

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    1. I watched it, too, Edith. I watched it live on the west coast, which was very, very early!

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  5. Oh, I missed this bit of news Ingrid! I loved Diana too--she captivated so many of us right from the start. Can you imagine being 18 and dropped into that world? I'm also waiting eagerly for the second season of THE CROWN.

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    1. Doesn't Claire Foy do a great job? I've also been enjoying The Crown!

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  6. I suppose I'm a casual watcher. I guess people can make the argument that the monarchy is an anachronism, but I think these are people who do a great deal of good, and Will and Kate (and their kids) are such a charming family to watch.

    But I did thoroughly enjoy first season of "The Crown" and I'm looking forward to season two.

    Mary/Liz

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  7. I've been a Anglophile and Royal watcher since I was a teenager. Diana's marriage to Charles seemed like a fairy tale to me (and boy was I wrong about that). I truly admire Wills, Harry, and Kate for their charity work and the Queen for her war service and a lifetime devoted to her duty (and her love of dogs and horses). I can hardly wait for season two of The Crown.

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  8. I am interested, more in the queen than in the rest, although children are always adorable. I watched the coronation on black and white TV as a child, and I became entranced with the QEII and her life. However I might feel about monarchy in the present, I can't deny my fascination with the history. Last summer, and as of yesterday, that term is accurate, I read PRINCE CHARLES, and many of my assumptions changed, both about him and about Diana. About halfway through the book it got "royally" boring, and I'm not sure I finished it tho.

    "The Crown" was spectacular, and like Mary above, I'm looking forward to it. Since half my ancestry is English, I feel this is my history too. (I pretty much ignore the German half.)

    PS, Lost six pounds while on vacation. Anyone want to hate me? LOL

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    1. That should not be possible, Ann! I saw that lovely spread on the lawn. I don't hate you, but envy was already riding high because of all the cool va-cay pictures, so . . . grrrrr! I get to spend my morning at the car repair place, waiting on work they should have done on Wednesday. NOT a slimming week away from home in beautiful, cool climes. Glad you're back, though!

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    2. Good for you, Ann, on the weight loss. I have lost five pounds, thanks to the jaw/tooth infection.

      Good times.

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    3. My way was more fun than yours, Karen!

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    4. I'm sure! But after all you've been through this year, you deserved some kind of positive outcome.

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  9. My heritage is British, I am Canadian, and Queen Elizabeth is the head of my country. I lived in England when Princess Anne married her first husband and I still have the tea towel that celebrates that occasion. The mug, alas, is long gone. The Royal family is part of the world I watch and care about. As Ingrid says, with so much ghastly news around, I take pleasure in seeing the members of this family fulfil their duties and obligations with grace and, often, beauty.

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    1. I have a mug celebrating Prince George's birth, Amanda. I use it as my pencil/pen holder on my desk!

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    2. Nice!! See you at Bouchercon, I hope!

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  10. I love the clothes and the babies. Love the pomp. And Diana's sons seem to have turned out well. I agree, Ingrid, those British royals are lovely. So little drama these days, and I am well and truly sick of drama and bombast.

    I started The Crown but have not finished watching it. My favorite Royal thing was The Queen with Helen Mirren... we saw the London stage show, supposedly livestreamed at a movie theater. When we were in London in Kensington Gardens, all I could think of were those acres of flowers people brought there after Diana died.

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    1. We were in Paris right after. Huge flower shrines at le pont d'Alma. So sad

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  11. As an avid reader of U.K. History, I've always been interested in the Monarchy and its role in shaping history. I, too, recall being up at 4 AM to watch the royal wedding in 1981. I think the young royals today understand their roles and are setting excellent examples of how their influence can benefit the people of their countries.

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  12. Being a Yank, I'm not sure I'm entitled to an opinion about whether the British monarchy is an anachronism or not, but I was dumbfounded that Charles let himself be railroaded into marriage with a teenager--still, I rooted for Diana--it was easy to see that she adored her sons and wanted them prepared for what life was like outside the palace gates.

    And I so crave any bits of joy and beauty in the news these days--and you can tell from the way the family interacts that love and joy abounds between them--William & Kate & kids, Harry, the Queen,....Cheers!

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    1. Flora, I never really thought about Charles' "agreement" to the marriage and all that came after. Without it, we wouldn't have had Diana, but he and Camilla would probably have been happier!

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  13. Keeping an eye on the royal family is watching history. I don't go out of my way to find news about them, but I read anything in the news that pops up. I am impressed with the William and Harry generation. The royal family history is like a soap opera; it ranges from the heights of heroism to the depths of an emotional trainwreck. I'd still like to know about one of Queen Elizabeth's uncles who was so out of control the family never talked about him after his death.

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    1. Pat D, do you mean Prince John? His life was dramatized in a BBC drama called The Lost Prince. It was very sad, but an excellent production.

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    2. I'm not familiar with this bit of history, Pat. Wasn't Princess Margaret up to no good throughout her life?

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    3. I'm thinking it was George, Duke of Kent. It wasn't poor little John; I saw that drama and it was really sad. George was a playboy, even after he married. He had affairs with men and women, and dabbled with drugs. He had at least one illegitimate child.

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  14. Poor Kate, she suffers so badly from that hideously awful form of morning sickness when she's pregnant. It's a very serious condition. A friend lost her first child with it, reminding me of the roommate I had with one of my hospital deliveries, who was bedridden and on constant IV for nutrition. (How awful for her to be put in a room with someone who just delivered! I hope they stopped doing such a thing by now.) Even being a royal with a clearly devoted prince of a husband can't make up for that level of agony.

    My best friend at the time also got married (for the second time) the day of Diana's wedding to Charles, and in a similar (ahem) gown, minus the train or veil. My daughter and I came close to missing her wedding because I was so muzzyheaded from getting up so early that morning to peer at my 10" black and white TV with my eleven-year old daughter.

    The jewels are lovely, but I love seeing the couture clothing, especially the daywear. Kate has upended the fashion part of the monarchy, thank goodness, and taken it to a new level of attractiveness. Her stodgy mother-in-law, Camilla, was bringing the whole enterprise down, if you ask me.

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    1. I agree with you on the clothes, Karen. I love seeing which designers she chooses, particularly from host countries when traveling abroad. Such an interesting little bit of diplomacy!

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  15. Ingrid, I remember the person who posted "Who cares?" It took everything I had to let the comment go as I realize not everyone thinks like I do (always a shock - LOL). Like you, I was a kid when Diana and Charles were married and I got up ridiculously early to watch. I still smile when I remember how she mixed up his names and I dreaded doing the same at my own wedding (I didn't), but she was such a force for good and I admired her so much. And I love Wills and Harry and that they carry on her legacy with such grace. She would be so proud of them, don't you think? And I absolutely agree that in a world drowning in bad news, it's wonderful to watch people give so much back, to exemplify good manners, empathy, compassion, and kindness. And they're snappy dressers, too! I remember when I was in London and our tour guide was talking about the Queen. He knew I was from the States and he said, "I don't know how you Americans sleep at night without Elizabeth to take care of you." Still cracks me up!

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    1. I wrote this post for you, Jenn! ;) I knew you were too polite to respond to that FB comment, but I couldn't let it go!

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    2. Thank you, Ingrid. We monarchists have to stick together :) even if it's just nostalgia making us loyal!

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    3. Well said, Jenn! I hate watching the news (it's all bad) so I think you're correct: part of the attraction of the Royal Family is their exemplification of good manners, empathy, compassion, and kindness. I could watch THAT every day!

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  17. As a very young child I saw a picture of the new Queen, soon after she had been crowned. She and my mother were about the same age and looked so much alike I thought we must be related. And her first 2 children were close in age to me and my brother so I expected we would eventually marry the prince and princess! I said I was very young! When I finally heard Queen Elizabeth speak with that very flutey British accent I accepted that it probably would never happen.

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    1. I had the same fantasy as a girl

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    2. I too had that fantasy as a child! Then as I grew up, the Royal Family meant little to me until Diana came along. I adored Diana and the freshness she brought to the monarchy...and I'm so happy the boys are looking at life through the values their mother taught them. They, Kate and the children bring joy whenever they appear...so guess I am again obsessed!

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  18. Dedicated Anglophile here. I give both Kate and William full marks for having another child given the difficulty Kate has with pregnancy. It had to be a difficult choice born solely of love. Good for them!

    Like Ingrid, in the crazy world of dark and doom, I tend to gravitate toward whatever good news I can find. The royals provide a healthy dose of it. Diana would be proud, Charles should be proud.

    Does anyone else think that Charlotte looks exactly like Elisabeth II?

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    1. Yes, Kait! I'm amazed at the resemblance!

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    2. Yes! She's a tiny clone of her her great-grandma and utterly adorable!

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  19. I totally agree with the writer here! I became glued to the UK as soon and Diana came on the scene. Through the years, I could see the difference she made in the UK. She brought it publicity, tourism, and respect. The way she raised her sons proved what a down-to-earth woman she was. The causes that were dear to her heart opened the doors that gave great attention to the needs of so many people. There is nothing that Prince Charles can ever do or say to be forgiven for his treatment of this wonderful woman who loved him so much and simply wanted to have a happy family. Charles is a selfish, arrogant jerk and I sincerely hope he never serves as king. William, Harry, and Kate have stepped up to lead the UK in the modernity. The children that William and Kate have only serve to make the monarchy stronger. If they have three or ten children, that is their business. They are a wonderful couple and more than ready to rule over the UK. God bless them.

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  20. I was in 7th grade when I also got up early early for the wedding of Diana and Charles and the night Diana died was heartbreaking. I do keep an eye the British royals. There are some I like/admire and there are some I don't. I do like to see the clothes and jewelry, hits and misses. I also admire that they always show their best and are so involved in charities -- we have no idea for the most part if they're having a bad day. That must be difficult some days. And the pressure of being a part of "the Firm" we cannot even understand without experiencing it ourselves. So as of today, I'm looking forward to the new baby and when Harry finally gets engaged/married (to Meghan Markle).

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    1. PK, It will be so interesting to see if Harry actually marries a commoner who is an American! I wonder what kind of protocol issues that will present?

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  21. I've always preferred reading about the historical royals such as Eleanor of Aquitaine or Richard III, but since I also was married in 1981 and have two sons, and am a huge Anglophile, I admit I fell for Diana and her sons. I have never been a Charles fan although I have sympathy for how he was railroaded into marrying Diana by his father. Diana's sons are a credit to her and the Queen, I feel. I do think the Queen was a better grandmother than mother, but that is due to experience. We all make mistakes and Diana and Charles paid a heavy price for that one mistake of the Queen's. I think she tried to make up for it by her weekly meetings with William when he was younger, grooming him for taking over her job.

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  22. Count me in as a royal watcher. I was caught by the bug in the library where, in the 8th grade, I found a book about Ann Boleyn. Then I read about the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, and I have never stopped. I have gone back into history, and follow the current royal family. I have really enjoyed films and the recent TV serieses (how do you plural that word?} The Crown and Victoria. I've been to England several times, and I love my cuppa tea. Anglophile here, hashtag royal.

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  23. Obviously I write about royals so I am always interested in news but I also admire the queen tremendously and think the young royals are doing a splendid job. To those who think they do nothing for public money, the queen did over 300 engagements last year. That's almost one a day I do a couple of weeks on book tour and I'm exhausted! And to the person who wrote "who cares?" Rather royals than Kardashians!

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    1. Amen to that, Rhys! At least the Royals don't seem 'fake' celebrities--for better or worse, they were born to it--and look what they do with their position--help other people!

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    2. Her schedule is nuts, Rhys! She deserves more credit than she gets, and I agree on the Kardashian front. Better to be famous for being born into the monarchy than for a sex tape!

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    3. I'm with you, Rhys! I adore the Royals and not just from the UK, although I am partial. I also enjoy the Swedish and Japanese Royals as well.

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    4. What a wonderful topic! I feel the same way as you do. I almost met Princess Diana, though I missed her by a day. She was speaking at a British Association in Brighton and I arrived there the day after. I found out about it the day after! I still remember the hilarious photo in the British newspaper of a toddler telling the Princess that she got grown up pants. I think they were called nappies? The Princess laughed.

      And I agree with you that in this age of scary times that we need happy news like the Royal family.

      Happy that your shy husband gave you a chance. I have had no luck getting shy men to ask me out. Oh well. I am happy for you that you found the One :-) .

      Rhys, love that last line! I heard a story. Not sure if it was true. When Prince George was born, one of the Kardashians tried to give the Duchess and the Duke a baby gift for Prince George. I cannot recall what happened after that. I think they also had never met the Kardashians either!

      Diana

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  24. I read everything that I can find on them. I'm lost in royalty..lol. I went to see Diana's display at the museum and I think I cried at every corner. Anything that can make me smile is worth it.

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    1. I would have loved to have seen that, Roxie. I'm very jealous!

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  25. Two things. No, three.
    One, I interviewed Prince Charles once, in maybe 1983? And he was charming. And incredibly funny interesting. I didn't tell him that as a little girl, I'd had a crush on him.
    Two: I adored Diana. She was a, well, to be shallow about it, fashion example to me. And when she was so troubled, she was very sympathetic, and I loved that she wound up with a backbone. SO tragic, in every way.
    Three: They have a job, and it must be exhaustingly stressful. Yes, they are wealthy and gorgeous and privileged --but they didn't choose to do this, and those who are able to do their jobs and still be compassionate and honest and role-model opinion-leaders (in a good way) deserve some credit.
    Four: Royalty is just a strange concept.
    (Ooops, that's four.)

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    1. I remember when Charles was a young adult. He was in the tabloids a lot since people were wondering who he was going to marry. I thought his brother Andrew was cute. I think the royals get judged a lot for things they have no control over, as you say they didn't ask for this, they were born into it.

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    2. You interviewed Prince Charles! Whoa. And I know you almost. That's way less than six degrees!

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    3. You interviewed Prince Charles? How cool is that, Hank! I do feel sorry for him, as I think he tried to do what was expected of him and it all went terribly wrong, in part due to his inability to put aside his personal happiness for the "good of the country." I'm not necessarily criticizing him, but there were so many victims of his reassertion to personal happiness. And, I do think that Diana loved him and was heartbroken when he couldn't break with Camilla in the end. Of course, it's easy to look at him as a tragic figure, too, with his less than close relationship to his mother and his long wait to be King.

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    4. Perfectly said, Hank. And I love, love, love that you interviewed Charles.

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    5. Yes, he had that "you're the only other person in the room" skill. And told me a story about he insignia on his ring--about the Blind Duke of..ah. Bohemia. Can that be right? I am taller than he is. I was completely smitten.

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  26. I also watched Diana, who didn't back then? I remember where I was when I heard of her death. I recently got interested in QE2 because of her 90th birthday and her long reign, then the tv show The Crown and it is so wonderful. The home movies that came out a few years ago shows the royals are real people. I think Phillip is a very interesting person as well. I feel proud of William and Harry and the next generation, even though I am an American through and through I do have some family heritage. My brother is named Earl Spencer ... we get a lot of fun out of his name, we called him The Earl of Sandwich when we were kids.

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  27. I'm at the other end: I don't get interested in the royals, for the most part. When I saw in the supermarket (almost the only place I read about them) that Kate was pregnant again, my first thought was, how many are they going to have? But that's not really my business. As others have noted, they have tremendous privilege, very stressful jobs, and apparently do a lot of good. I would like to see them do more to recognize the privilege that they have, and the fact that so many people don't have anything similar, and work to reduce the grotesque inequality that exists between people's resources and opportunities.

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  28. What I can't avoid, I quickly move on from.

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  29. I am fascinated by the Royals for sure. Not sure why. For some reason I like to follow the Queen. I think that Harry and William are great young people, especially with the restraints put on them. Opening up about mental health? How wonderful. They call William dull, but he's exactly what they need. Diana was a wonderful mom to them and so very personable. I'm sorry she had such demons. Anyway, they fun to follow.

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  30. Ingrid,

    I have been an Anglophile since I was a little kid. I devoured any book that had to do with England. I'm a devoted Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery fan. Consequently,anything having to do with the Royal Family fascinates me. I agree with you there was something special about Princess Diana and this quality has been transmitted to Prince William and Prince Harry. I adore Kate and the children. I agree with you about celebrating good news, especially such delightful news.

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  31. Being a transplanted English woman, I DO follow the royals, not fanatically, but with great interest. I was never a Diana fan, as I felt she was totally unsuited and ill prepared for the job for which she was recruited. I felt sorry that Charles was being saddled with someone with whom he had nothing in common. Having said that, I believe he behaved shamefully and I cannot condone such behaviour. Eventually, Diana behaved rather badly too. The Princes have good memories of their mother and appear to have inherited her virtues.
    I greatly respect the Queen and the love she has for her country. The Duke of Edinburgh has always brought some levity to the Royal Family, ensuring they don't take themselves too seriously.
    A new baby is always a joyous occasion, and I wish them all the very best.

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  32. I am absolutely fascinated by the English monarchy, but it's more of an historical interest than a glamour one. I am a Richard III supporter, as who couldn't be after reading Josephine Tey's A Daughter in Time? In fact, fiction reading has influenced my interests in the different monarchs of England. Ariana Franklin (aka Diana Norman, unfortunately passed away now) wrote a series, the medieval heroine Adelia Aguilar series, in which Adelia is a forensics doctor that Henry II has brought in from Milan to solve some strange deaths. Then, we have the Reds' own Rhys, with her Lady Georgie series and how intriguing those stories are with their royal connections.

    Starting with the present monarch, Elizabeth II, I enjoy following that reign back to its origins in the whole Wallace and David fiasco. Being born to a role in life is a thing so outside of our own experiences that it captivates me in a sense of other worldliness. I had not been married long when Princess Diana and Prince Charles wed, and I was up early in the morning to watch it, as I was up late to watch news of her death. Diana made the monarchy accessible in ways it had never been, and it was a delight to watch her with her sons and inspiring to watch her with Aids patients and others in need. And, now we watch her sons, wishing them well and a happiness that eluded their mother.

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    1. Exactly, Kathy. I hope that despite Diana's too-young death, her sons are able to be happy and find peace in ways she never could.

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    2. Kathy - I love Tey's A Daughter in Time, truly one of the best mysteries ever. I even worked it into my Library Lover's series.

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    3. Ingrid, I'm pleased that Harry now seems to have found his love. Jenn, thanks for the heads-up on your Library Lover's series, as I am starting that series soon.

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  33. I have limited interest in the British royal family, but I am very happy for any good news. And I am more interested in them than most of our "celebrity" gossip here. Much, much more interested. After all, we are talking about a future Queen here, this isn't someone who is famous for being famous.

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  34. I've always read English history so am interested in the royal family. I like Charles as he is a gardener and feel that he and Camilla were the real love story. He didn't commit and she married someone else. Charles married Diana to get the heir and the spare but the feelings didn't go away. I admire Diana but this is in a whole line of unhappy royal marriages. The whole royal family seems to care for William, Kate, and the children and Harry. They deserve some happiness.

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