Friday, May 25, 2018

Friday Video: The Uniforms of the Household Cavalry

Friday, May 25, 2018

Susan reporting,

Since the post earlier this week featuring the frock coat worn by the newly married and newly minted Duke of Sussex was so popular, I thought I'd share a video with more royal uniforms and history. In addition to a discussion of the various kits of the Household Cavalry (the Life Guards and The Blues and Royals), there's information about the Cavalry's musicians and their splendidly gaudy gold uniforms that date back to Charles II, as well as the Cavalry horses - including the very large horses who support the double kettle drums during parade.

Another thanks to historian, author, and historic paint consultant Patrick Baty for suggesting this video.

If you receive this post by email, you may be seeing a blank space or black box where the video should be. Click here to view the video.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Duke of Sussex, Then and Now

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex
Loretta reports:

As everybody who follows royal doings now knows, the Queen has made Prince Harry the Duke of Sussex. This may puzzle some people who watched the video I posted not long ago, The Last of the Dukes. There we were told that we could not look forward to any new dukes.

However, a royal duke is a different article. He’s a member of the royal family who happens to be a prince, upon whom the sovereign has bestowed the title—as the Queen did in the cases of her sons as well as her grandsons. For further details, such as how long the title remains royal and where these royal dukes stand in precedence, I recommend this Wikipedia article. It offers a fairly easy-to-understand and, I think, fascinatingly nerdy account.

As a nerdy history girl, what I found interesting, was this particular choice of title. The last Duke of Sussex was a gentleman I wrote about last October, where I quoted a description of him as “the most consistently Liberal-minded person of the first half of the nineteenth century.” You can read more about him here at the Georgian Era blog.
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex

Of course I have no idea why the Queen chose the Sussex title for Prince Charles’s second son. However, in light of the choice of bride; the wedding celebration, including the clergy and guests; and the causes the gentleman has espoused, I like to think of it as a nod to her progressive ancestor as well as to the new duke and the future we hope for him (excluding the problematic relationships with women, of course).

Images: Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, by Guy Head, National Portrait Gallery NPG 648.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, speaks during the opening ceremonies of the 2017 Invictus Games (edited), Creative Commons License, Author DoD News.

Clicking on the image will enlarge it.  Clicking on the caption will take you to the source, where you can learn more and enlarge images as needed.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

What the Groom Wore: Prince Harry's Frock Coat

Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Susan reporting,

Like millions of other people willing to get up extra early on a Saturday morning, Loretta and I have been enthralled by this week's royal wedding of Ms. Meghan Markle and His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales. One thing that fascinated us the most was the dashing dark uniform that Prince Harry chose to wear to his wedding.

The long coat is described as a frock coat, and is particular to the Household Cavalry, which is formed of two regiments - The Life Guards and The Blues and Royals - while another version with slightly different cuffs is also worn by the Foot Guards. (The style of the knee-length frock coat evolved from men's 19thc fashion, with additional inspiration from the Ottomans.) It was worn in "Undress" instead of Full Dress, most likely because the choice of Windsor Castle made the wedding a less formal affair. This was not a state occasion, nor will Harry be king. Harry's brother William, Duke of Cambridge, wore the same uniform for the ceremony, and miniature adaptations were created for the bride's page boys.

Both brothers' uniforms were created by traditional military tailors Dege & Skinner on Savile Row, and were said to have taken over 100 hours to stitch and tailor by hand. Details are everything, even in a seemingly monochrome coat: the intricate interwoven braid on the sleeves (which was barely visible on television) took a single skilled craftsman over a week to create. The frock coat's primary fabric is doeskin, a fine satin-weave woolen cloth, and the lining is silk.

The frock coat is closed with hidden hooks instead of buttons. Many Americans were perplexed by what they saw as "ribbon bows" on the front of the jacket. This is instead a braiding made of black mohair, and is unique to the Household Cavalry and the Life Guards. While the braid loops appear to fasten to the olivets (the toggle-style buttons on the far sides of the chest), they are purely decorative.

The illustrations, right, are from Dress Regulations for Officers of the Army 1900, and show the approved pattern of the Frock Coat of the Household Cavalry. The illustrations show the details of the frock coat that weren't visible in the wedding broadcast (click on the image to enlarge.)

While the very dark navy color made for a striking contrast to Meghan's bright white gown, it's not simply a style choice, but a uniform that Harry has earned the right to wear. He served as a Captain in The Blues and Royals, and after retiring from active duty in 2015, he received the honorary military title of Major from the Queen, as signified by the crown on his shoulder. According to Kensington Palace, he also requested and received express permission from the Queen to wear the uniform on his wedding day.

Rumor has it that the Queen also bestowed a certain leniency to Harry in another way. Officers in the Army are required to be clean-shaven, and there was speculation that Harry would shave away his now-familiar beard for the wedding. The fact that he didn't suggests that the Queen gave him special permission to keep the whiskers.

One more detail: did you notice that both brothers wore silver spurs as members of the cavalry?

Many thanks to historian, author, and historic paint consultant Patrick Baty for his always-excellent assistance with this blog post. 

Upper left: Neil Hall/Pool/Reuters
Lower left: PA/UK Images

Monday, May 21, 2018

From the Archives: Queen Victoria's Wedding Drew a Crowd, Too.

Monday, May 21, 2018
Queen Victoria in her wedding dress painted 1847
Loretta reports:

The recent marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex sent me back into the archives to look at the excitement that accompanied Queen Victoria's wedding on 10 February 1840, in rotten weather.  Researching for the short story I wrote at the time, I learned, among other things, that royal wedding frenzy is nothing new.
~~~
All ranks of the people in the metropolis, and for many miles around, began to rise before the appearance of the dawn, some to prepare to take their stations in the progress of the approaching great ceremony; but the great multitude, of course, thinking that their exertions would be well repaid, if they could get only a moment's glimpse of the Queen and her husband, or even a glance at the procession going and returning. Notwithstanding the discouraging weather, the streets were crowded at an early hour with thousands, coming from every point of the compass, and making the best of their way, with emulous and unceremonious haste, to St. James's Park, as one common centre. The concourse of females was prodigious. It seemed as if every one of her Majesty's sex, from the infant in arms to the decrepit matron, now far advanced in second childhood, had made a vow not to stay at home. Women, who could not see their way without spectacles, nor walk it without crutches, were to be seen anxiously struggling for precedence at every point of the park, whence a glance at the Queen and Prince might be obtained; and, having once obtained an eligible spot, they held fast by it, heedless of the too frequent probabilities of being crushed or trodden to death. The trees, the lamp-posts, and the spikes of the railings, were contended for with as much eagerness as if the summit of every one's ambition was at the top of one or other of these elevations; and the wonder was, how many, who had climbed up to certain dangerous eminences, could ever get down in safety again. However, these adventurous folks justly thought, that that question was their own " look out," and no one's else's. About ten o'clock St. James's Park was completely filled with a vast, miscellaneous, curious multitude, not a tithe of whom, unfortunately, could see even the carriage of the Queen when it did at length pass.
The Mirror of literature, amusement, and instruction, Volume 35, 1840
Marriage of Queen Victoria

Illustrations:  Franz Xaver Winterhalter  (1805–1873) Queen Victoria, in her wedding dress and veil from 1840, painted in 1847 as an anniversary gift for her husband, Prince Albert.
Source/Photographer. Original painting owned by the Royal Collection. Source of photograph unknown.

The Marriage of Queen Victoria, 10 February 1840, painted by George Hayter 1840-1842. Royal Collection RCIN 407165, via Wikipedia.
Clicking on the image will enlarge it.  Clicking on the caption will take you to the source, where you can learn more and enlarge images as needed.


Saturday, May 19, 2018

Breakfast Links: Week of May 14, 2018

Saturday, May 19, 2018
Breakfast Links are served! Our weekly round-up of fav links to other web sites, articles, blogs, and images via Twitter.
• The art and mystery of 18thc mantua-makers.
• The poet John Keats, and cats.
• Whitewashing ancient statues.
• The fast and the feminine: women, cars, and advertising.
• Eighteenth century ships unearthed in Alexandria, VA offer glimpse of colonial era.
Image: A rare and possibly unique 17thc document stating that a Dorset woman, Joan Guppy, is not a witch.
Isaac Henry Robert Mott, piano-forte maker in Victorian London.
• When literary classics are packaged as pulp fiction.
• The Bohemian heiress who shattered 19thc taboos.
• A trove of "letter locking," or vintage strategies to deter snoops.
• The curious history of mommy-and-me fashion.
• "The scourge of evil": the persecution of witches at Edinburgh Castle.
• The rare, surviving sento, or bathhouse inside Seattle's Panama Hotel, an important relic of Japanese-American history.
Ann Roberts, foster mother to a king - at a terrible sacrifice, 1910.
National Geographic's digital archive has every map ever published in the magazine since 1888.
• The legend of Pope Joan, who reputedly gave birth during a papal procession.
• When King George VI broke the lock to the New Bodleian library.
• This trunk filled with unread letters from the 17thc is an historian's dream.
Hungry for more? Follow us on Twitter @2nerdyhistgirls for fresh updates daily.
Above: At Breakfast by Laurits Andersen Ring. Private collection.
 
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