18 February 1516 – The birth of a fair princess

In the early hours of 18th February 1516, at Greenwich Palace, “was borne a fayre prynces and christened with great solempnitie, and named Mary.” This little girl was the future Queen Mary I.

Mary was baptised on 20th February 1516 in the Church of the Observant Friars at Greenwich. The little princess was carried to the font by the Countess of Surrey and her godparents were Catherine Courtenay, Countess of Devon and daughter of Edward IV; Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury and daughter of George, Duke of Clarence; the Duchess of Norfolk, and Cardinal Thomas Wolsey.

She was the only surviving child of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon and the first queen to rule England in her own right. Mary was crowned on October 1553 and reigned until her death in 1558 at St. James Palace in London

I was a part of Queen's Guard in England. (Part II)

Please forgive me for splitting this account in parts- it couldn’t all fit in one post. First write-up is here.

I was hesitant to call the police after that crazy whatever-she-was left my apartment, but my girlfriend wouldn’t have it. Police were at our place in about 20 minutes. Took our statements, woman’s description, and told us to immediately call should anything else happen.
But my mind was set on something else. My commander. He told me not to talk to her. And I did. And now I’m waking up in bed with her, and how the fuck did she even get into my flat, shit man, too many thoughts.
The next day I went to my commander’s office.
“Sir,” I said very carefully – you need to understand that losing this job, no matter how shitty it was, definitely wasn’t on my to-do list - “Sir, we need to talk.”
He looked up at me from his desk and I swear to you, I swear he already knew. His face lost all the emotion. He didn’t even ask what was happening. “Sit,” he said as he leaned back in his chair.
“Sir, I…” I was having a hard time confessing to breaking the rules of the Guard.
“You spoke to her. You responded.” He said as he leaned towards me. “Didn’t you.”
“Well, I just asked her to move, that’s all.”
“No, not the Queen’s Guard command. Did you say anything else to her?” “I did.” ** If you remember, besides me yelling “MAKE WAY FOR THE QUEEN’S GUARD”, I did say “Ma’m, will you please…”**
“God damn it, son. God fucking damn it.”
This was the first time I heard my commander curse.
“Sir, who is this woman?”
“I’m going to file for your immediate removal from the guard,” he brushed me off as he opened his desk to look for something.
“Sir?” I asked, not believing I was about to lose my job.
“Don’t worry, I’ll find you something else to do. But your days in the Guard are over. Expect the transfer within a week.”
“Sir, but I was just…” “That is all, son, you can leave now.” He said, not even looking at me.
I was pissed. But then again, if I was going to keep the paycheck without having to stand in the street and deal with tourists/crazy fucking creatures, I was fine.
The new schedule came out and, what do you know, I was only scheduled to work one shift that week. That was really handy because I was supposed to babysit my 7 year old niece visiting from Birmingham, and I had already planned out the whole weekend with her.
Thursday came with no further incidents with the mouth-wide-open bitch. My girlfriend had finally calmed down. She left back to Amsterdam that morning and in a good mood. Life was getting back on track.
My shift that day was 6-10pm in front of St. James Palace. There are usually two of us working there, but for some reason, I was scheduled to work alone from 9-10. Here’s how the spot where I worked looks. The little wooden post is where we’d stand in case of a storm. “Ok, buddy, hang in there, almost done,” my fellow guard said at 9:02 pm, as he marched back inside.
“One more hour. One last hour of this damn job and I am free. God, it feels good…” I thought as I stood still in front of my post. Night was unusually quiet, but it was starting to rain, so I guess it was to be expected. 9:30pm. Still light rain, still boring as fuck. Almost there. 9:45pm. Rain was picking up, so I decided to spend my last few minutes in the post.
I turned around.
I shouldn’t have.
There she was.
If I were a writer, I’d use all these descriptive tools to paint a picture of how horrifying that woman looked that night. Let me tell you, this was the single most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a child getting killed by a land mine.
The woman was standing at the door of the post. She wore a white dress that was nearly shining in the dark. But her face, fuck man, her face. She wasn’t looking at me, which somehow made it even fucking worst. She was looking at the sky or whatever the hell was up there, and her eyes went so far up I could only see bottom of her pupils. Her mouth was so wide open, I was now nearly sure it wasn’t possible for a human to do this.
There is something surreal about standing in front of someone who doesn’t act rationally. Like, if you’re getting mugged, you know they want your money. Shit, if you’re getting shot at, you know they want to kill you. But the true mental horror is in not knowing what in the fuck she wanted from me.
9:49. Ok, 11 minutes of this and I can finally…
She took a step towards me. Then another one. At about two feet from me, she stopped.
She started leaning. That fucking lean. Her face stopped just short of mine. At first her head started shaking slowly, but started to move increasingly fast. It was a small kind of shaking, as I said before, kinda like when you get out of the shower into an air-conditioned room and start shaking. The pupils were so high up, I could barely see them. Her head was now trembling so fast I was wondering how it was possible. And that mouth, man, that mouth was so unnaturally, un-fucking-humanly open. I swear I saw corners of her lips starting to bleed because her skin wasn’t able to support the opening.
No sound.
The street was silent, probably the most silent I’ve ever seen it. And the worst part is, it was night time. I know I do this a lot, but just imagine it one more time – you’re standing motionlessly in the middle of the street, and there is this bleeding-wide-open mouth woman an inch from your face, doing whatever the fuck she’s doing, and not a soul in sight. And no sound, whatsoever.
Come the fuck on.
And then, as if she heard my thought, her pupils dropped back and looked straight at me. I nearly jumped back. She closed her mouth, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’d rather she kept it open. Her jaw started rapidly opening and closing, as if she were biting something invisible. Her teeth were hitting each other so hard, I was sure they’d break.
That was it for me, I couldn’t take it anymore.
I took a step back and screamed “JUST FUCKING STOP ALREADY!”
And she did. Teeth stopped clenching, mouth closed, and she stood back up from the leaning. She took a step towards me and, for the first time ever, smiled.
“4, 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1, 4 ,3 ,2 ,1” she started whispering, never losing the smile.
“What is that, what the fuck is that?” I begged. I was ready to grab her, shake, her, anything, just for an answer. What the fuck did she want from me, right?
“What the fuck!” came from behind me.
My commander.
He ran up to me, disregarding the crazy bitch in front.
“Did you talk to her?”
“DID YOU FUCKING TALK TO HER?” he yelled, louder and while grabbing my uniform. He didn’t even pay attention to the woman.
“Jesus Christ… What number?” he said while finally letting me out of his fists.
“Sir?” I answered confused as you can imagine.
“What was the last number she said? What was it? Was it a zero?”
“No, I think she stopped at a 1… But why…?”
All this time, the woman just stood still and looked at us with a smile. Then, she took a step towards us. She slowly walked in between my commander and me.
“Don’t say a thing to her, not a fucking thing,” the commander said with obvious fear on his face.
The woman turned from me and towards him. She got into his face, and even from behind, I could see her mouth being wide open.
“Go, just go,” the commander said as he looked at me. He was avoiding acknowledging her. I heard her teeth clenching.
“I can’t just leave you,” I said.
“Go, and don’t come back here. I’ll take care of this.”
You know, I like to think of myself as brave, but at that moment, all I wanted to do is leave. I hope you can’t blame me for that. So I started running away.
“And never talk to her again!” the commander yelled as I got away.
Now, I know a lot this stuff sounds like bullshit, and you’re right, it really does. Sure, looking back at it now, I could’ve arrested her, hell I could’ve even killed the bitch, and so could’ve the commander. But you know what? When you find yourself in a situation as impossible and as unreal as that one, you don’t act rationally, you don’t think logically as you would in a normal situation. I went home, took a cold shower (after making sure my doors were locked) and I collapsed on the bed.
In the morning I texted my shift buddy to see if commander was ok and his “Yeah, why wouldn’t he be?” text back meant he made it. That’s all I needed to know, I was out of that life.

My niece came in town on Friday and I had her for the weekend. Running around a seven year old will make you lose your mind, let alone leave time to think about some crazy woman harassing you. Besides, I was done with that job – that morning I got transfer papers.
I spent the whole day taking the kid different places she liked. Shit was exhausting. Saturday morning I made us some breakfast as we watched cartoons for the good part of it. Then we put in a Catwoman movie and my niece dressed as her – she loved her for some reason (movie was a complete trash). I guess I wasn’t used to having to take care of the kids because I fell asleep on the couch, already exhausted.
My niece woke me up.
“Uki,” she said, that’s what she calls me, “Uki, let’s play.” She was holding my old pair of walkie-talkies. I used to love those as a kid, so I couldn’t say no to her.
“Sure, let’s see if these old things work. Go outside of the house, I want to check the range on these babies.”
Her face lit up as she ran out.
I turned the walkie-talkie on and started playing with it. Static noise was there, meaning the batteries worked, it was only a matter of finding the right frequency.
“Ashley? Ashley, do you copy, over?” I tried a few times.
I finally heard something.
“Ashley, do you copy, I repeat, do you copy, over?”
“Hero” was all I heard at a low volume.
“Ashely, you punk, you need to say over when you’re done.”
“H…” I heard again.
“This damn thing,” I thought. Too lazy to go out, I took the batteries out, blew at them, as if that ever does anything, and put them back in.
“Ok, Catwoman hero, do you copy now, over?”
I dropped the walkie-talkie.
That wasn’t Ashley’s voice. That wasn’t “Hero” I thought I heard.
I ran outside and immediately started fucking hating myself for letting the child go out on its own. Ashley stood in the yard, holding a radio, squeezing it hard. In front of her stood that same woman, bent over and all the way down to my kid’s face.
“Zero, zero, zero, zero, zero” was what woman frantically repeated in Ashley’s traumatized face.
Yeah, when some freak harasses me, I can control myself. But a child, my cousin?
I lost it. I ran towards the woman and tackled her with enough force I was sure I’d hurt her. As soon as I hit the ground, I got up and grabbed Ashley. “Are you alright?” I yelled, “Did she touch you?!” I didn’t even realize how hard I was shaking her, probably scaring her even more.
Ashely was now crying so hard, she couldn’t even answer.
“Let’s go in,” I said as I turned towards the woman. She was still lying on the ground, facing down.
As soon as we got into the house, we went to the window. The woman started standing up. She turned towards us.
“I’m calling the police,” I told terrified Ashely as I picked up my cell. “Don’t worry baby, it’s going to be alright.”
The woman took a step towards the window. Then another one. Her nose was bleeding and she was visibly hurt as she was limping, but it didn’t seem to matter to her.
I’ll admit, I was nearly frozen from the rush of adrenaline I had. We just stood there at the window, watching this freak approaching us.
“Police are on the way,” I told my niece who was still crying.
The woman walked up to the window.
She… She wasn’t looking at me anymore. She leaned towards Ashley’s face. Poor little thing grabbed my hand and was squeezing it way too hard for a 7 year old. That fucking thing, bitch, woman, whatever she was, leaned all the way to the window. Only a piece of glass was separating her from Ashley. As I was about to take my niece into another room, far from this thing, the woman opened her mouth, but immediately closed it into a smile. Then again. It was fucking impossibly strange. As she’d open her mouth, her pupils would shoot up towards the back of her head, only to immediately come back followed with a smile. She was now alternating inhumanely fast in between a smile and a gaping mouth paired with nearly pupil-less eyes.
“Let’s get out of here,” I told Ashley as I picked her up and took her to my room.
Police arrived about 15 minutes later. They started scanning the neighborhood and actually caught a woman who matched my description. I was due at the police station for identification, but first I had to drop Ashley off at the train station. Her mum wanted her back immediately after what happened, and I couldn’t blame her. I took her to the station, where I arranged for the staff to watch her until her destination.
A very pleasant conductor promised he’d watch her whole trip. He took Ashley’s hand and promised to show her all the cool parts of the train. Finally, the kid smiled.
As train was getting ready to leave, conductor put my niece on the stairs. “Say bye to your uncle,” he said, “we’re about to leave.”
“Bye Ashley, tell your mum to call me when you arrive, ok?”
She didn’t respond to me, which was understandable. The kid was probably still fucking terrified, hell, I was still terrified.
As the announcer said all boarding was complete, conductor opened the door for them to get inside the train.
Ashley didn’t move, though. She looked up at the conductor.
“Let’s go now,” he said.
Ashley opened her mouth, looking up at the man.
“We have to get in now, we’re about to start moving honey,” he said again. “Let’s go.”
As he entered the train and Ashely followed, I heard her say “10 9 8.”


Queens of England + Caroline of Brunswick (1768-1821)

Caroline was born in 1768, the daughter of Charles William, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, and Princess Augusta of Great Britain. She was taught to understand to English and French but otherwise her education was lacking. According to her mother, Princess Augusta, all German princesses learned English in the hope that they would be chosen to marry George, Prince of Wales. The Prince of Wales was Caroline’s first cousin as Augusta was the eldest sister of George III.

Caroline was engaged to the Prince of Wales in 1794, never having met him. He only agreed to marry her because he was heavily in debt and Parliament would increase his allowance if he married an eligible princess. The couple was unimpressed with each other from their first meeting. They were married in April 1795 at the Chapel Royal, St. James’ Palace. He was drunk at the ceremony, and hypocritically claimed she was not a virgin when they married, even though he had already been secretly married to Maria Fitzherbert.

Less than a year after the wedding in January 1796, Caroline gave birth to Princess Charlotte Augusta, who would be George’s only legitimate child. Days after Charlotte’s birth, George made a new will in which he left everything to Maria Fitzherbert and left one shilling to Caroline. Gossip was rampant about the troubled marriage and George was vilified while Caroline was portrayed as a wronged wife. She was openly cheered in public and gained plaudits for her charming familiarity and easy nature. He desired a separation and by August 1797, Caroline was living in her own private residence.

In 1806, a commission known as the “Delicate Investigation” was set up to examine Caroline on claims of infidelity and an illegitimate child. In the end it was determined that there was no foundation for the allegations but during the investigation Caroline was not allowed to see her daughter. George increased restrictions on seeing Charlotte when he became Regent in 1811, and Caroline fought back with a propaganda campaign supported by most of the public and her daughter. Jane Austen wrote of Caroline, “Poor woman, I shall support her as long as I can, because she is a Woman and because I hate her Husband.“

Unhappy with her situation in Britain, Caroline left in 1814 and moved to Italy. It was there in 1817 that she found out that her daughter had died in childbirth. She only found out from a passing courier because George refused to write to her. She became Queen of Great Britain in January 1820 when her husband succeeded his father as George IV. After another failed investigation into Caroline’s alleged adultery, George tried to divorce her through a bill in Parliament. However, he was so unpopular that the bill was withdrawn by the Tory government.

Caroline remained immensely popular with the public until her death in August 1821. Her popularity was such that it was decided her funeral procession should avoid London so it wouldn’t spark public unrest. This plain failed when the crowd accompanying the procession rebelled against this changed route and forced the procession through the city. She was eventually buried in Brunswick Cathedral. (x)

Chapter Twenty-Seven

On the last day of March, Emmy, joined by Taylor, Claire, Kate and Beatrice, met at St James’ Palace for a meeting about her wedding dress. After looking through dozens of designs which had been sent to her from large designer labels and even smaller, local bridal shops, she decided on the one name, whose dress caught her attention – Ellis. Ellis Bridals – set up in London, so she knew that she wouldn’t be scolded for choosing something foreign – had sent her a few images, one of which was of a beautiful a-line dress, adorned with lace and stunning, intricate designs. They also promised to make the dress her own, allowing her to add her own little alterations, while also changing the dress to suit her enormous wedding venue.

It was a highly enjoyable day, and Emmy returned home – with Taylor in tow – in a really good mood. Harry, who was sat at the kitchen table sorting through some paperwork for his departure for Australia in a few days, looked up at the sound of the front door opening.

“Hi,” Emmy called.

“Hey,” he said.

“Hi Harry.” Taylor announced her presence, then giggled. The two girls continued down the corridor, before they found him.

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Queens of England + Mary II of England (1662-1694)

Mary was born in April 1662, the eldest daughter of James, Duke of York, and his first wife, Anne Hyde. Though her father later converted to Catholicism, she and her sister Anne were still raised as Anglicans at the command of their uncle Charles II. The sisters had their own establishment and were largely raised by their governess with only occasional visits to their parents. Her mother died in 1671 and her father remarried a few years later to a woman only four years older than she, Mary of Modena. As her father was Charles’ heir, Mary was second in the line to the throne for most of her childhood.

At the age of fifteen, Mary was betrothed to her cousin, the Protestant Stadtholder of Holland, William of Orange. Charles thought the match would improve James’ popularity among Protestants and pressured him to agree to it. Mary wept when she was told who she was to marry. She married William in St. James’ Palace in November 1677 and with him made a formal entry into The Hague in December.

Mary’s outgoing nature made her popular with the Dutch and her marriage to a Protestant was popular in England. William was often out on campaign but Mary became devoted to him. Within months of the marriage she was pregnant but suffered a miscarriage that may have permanently affected her ability to have children. She would suffer illnesses over the next few years that may also have been miscarriages. Her childlessness was the greatest source of unhappiness in her life.

Mary became heir presumptive when her father succeeded the throne as James II & VII. She and William were dismayed when James enacted a controversial religious policy that attempted to grant freedom of religion to non-Anglicans; Mary considered this action illegal. She was more disappointed when the Catholic King of France, Louis XIV, invaded Orange and her father refused to help. James also attempted to damage his daughter’s marriage by encouraging her staff to inform her that William was having an affair. Mary acted on the information but William denied it and she believed him. She dismissed her staff and sent them back to England.

When Mary of Modena gave birth to a son, James, in June 1688, rumors flew that it was not truly hers. Mary questioned Anne on the circumstances of the birth and her sister’s reply confirmed her suspicions that the child was not her brother. She believed it was a conspiracy by her father to secure a Catholic succession. In the same month, William received an invitation from the “Immortal Seven” to come to England with an army and depose James. He was reluctant at first because of Mary’s position but she convinced him that she didn’t care for political power and that she would do all that she could to make him king. William and his army invaded in November and the defeated James fled to France to live the rest of his life in exile.

Although she believed her husband’s actions necessary, Mary was upset by the circumstances of father’s deposition. William ordered her to appear cheerful on their arrival in London and as a result was viewed as being uncaring to her father’s plight. She was hurt more when James wrote a diatribe against her that criticized her disloyalty. Parliament offered the Crown to William and Mary as joint sovereigns with William taking precedence. They were crowned at Westminster Abbey in April 1689 as William III and Mary II.

From 1690 onward, William was frequently absent from England on campaigns. In his absence, Mary administered the government of the realm but she was still not keen to assume power. She was a firm ruler and even ordered the arrest of her own uncle, Henry Hyde, for plotting to restore her father. She was also extremely devout and many of her proclamations focused on combatting vice. She participated in matters of the Church as well—all matters of ecclesiastical patronage went through her. She promoted learning by endowing the College of William and Mary in present day Williamsburg, Virginia in 1693.

When Mary contracted smallpox in 1694, she sent away everyone who had not previously had the disease. She died on December 28 of that year and William, who had increasingly come to rely on her, was devastated. Jacobites considered her death divine retribution for breaking the fifth commandment (“honor thy father”) but she was widely mourned in England. Her funeral service was the first of any royal to be attended by all members of both of Houses of Parliament and she was buried in Westminster Abbey. (x)


St James’s Park

St James’s Park stretches all the way to Whitehall in a long green avenue of trees, parkland and the glittering expanse of St James’s Park Lake. It’s surrounded by a host of famous locations, from Horse Guards Parade to Buckingham Palace. Don’t miss its resident pelicans, herons and inquisitive squirrels. Find out more