This summer is a time for firsts: the first time in more than one hundred and thirty years that a senior member of the royal family has been cross-examined in court; the first time a British king has been to the Chelsea Flower Show since 1947, when the young Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret attended with their parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth; and the first time that a King’s Birthday Parade has taken place since 1951. Coverage of the parade, Garter Day and Royal Ascot will appear in our August issue.
The Duke of Sussex took Mirror Group Newspapers to court alleging that information about him was obtained illegally to generate newspaper stories and sales. If Prince Harry, as he was referred to in court, and the other claimants win, the judge will use it as a test case to set the level of damages MGN might pay in subsequent cases. The outcome is not expected until September.
In 1891 Queen Victoria’s eldest son Bertie, later King Edward VII, was also cross-examined in the high court. The scandal surrounding an illegal baccarat game where cheating took place resulted in a nervous Prince of Wales being called as a witness in a slander case. The jury sided with the prince, but the fact that the heir to the throne was involved did considerable damage to his reputation.
The beleaguered Duke of York received the happy news of a third grandchild when his 33-year-old daughter Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack Brooksbank announced the birth of their second son. Eugenie posted the news on Instagram to her 1.7 million followers: ‘Jack and I wanted to share the news that we had our little boy, Ernest George Ronnie Brooksbank, on 30th May 2023 at 8.49am weighing 7.1lb’.
‘He is named after his great great great grandfather George [George V – George Frederick Ernest Albert], his Grandpa George [Jack’s father George Brooksbank died in 2021] and my Grandpa Ronald [Major Ronald Ferguson died in 2003]. Little Ernest, born in London’s Portland Hospital like his brother August, is thirteenth in line to the throne but will not receive a title.
Currently the Brooksbanks divide their time between Portugal, where Jack works, and Royal Lodge, the Duke of York’s residence in Windsor Great Park. With Fergie as the only other permanent occupant, there is plenty of room for them.
At the beginning of June, the King found some precious time to travel to Romania, where he owns properties near the Transylvanian village of Viscri, for a long weekend. The monarch has a deep affection for the area and hikes through its pristine countryside. The unspoiled nature there refreshes him almost as much as the Balmoral estate, where he will have his summer sojourn with the Queen.
The castle is in the process of having a subtle interior makeover by the King’s friend Piers von Westenholz, but whether His Majesty stays there or at Birkhall remains to be seen. I suspect he will spend some of his time at Balmoral Castle to keep up the family traditions – established by his late mother – that are so important to him.