Posts Tagged ‘Edward VII’

This Week’s Question:

Arbella Stuart, who was once considered a successor to Queen Elizabeth I, was buried in the vault of what other famous queen?

Last Week’s Question:

Who was the first heir to the British throne to tour North America?

Answer: Edward, Prince of Wales, later Edward VII. The charismatic eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert set off for a tour of Canada and the United States in summer 1860, when he was 18 years old. His mother was almost violently opposed—especially to the idea of him visiting the States, but her advisors and Prince Albert wore her down and convinced her it would be great PR. Edward set out on 10 July, toured Canada, and crossed into the United States on 20 September.

Edward was a runaway success. 50,000 people cheered him through the streets of Chicago, and he was feted at the White House and treated to a 6,000-man parade of firefighters in New York City. While in New York, the prince attended a ball with some 3,000 invited guests. Another 2,000 people somehow managed to gatecrash and collapsed the dance floor. Luckily, nobody was hurt.

Southern politicians trying to bolster the case for slavery tried to get him to tour some model plantations, but he refused, instead confining his time in the south to a church service and tour in Richmond, Virginia.

Edward hopped up the Atlantic seaboard, meeting Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Henry Wordsworth Longfellow before boarding a ship in Portland, Maine for the trip home. He celebrated his 19th birthday on the return journey and reached England just a few days later, on 15th November. And even his mother had to agree that he’d managed to do something right this time.

Read Full Post »

This Week’s Question:

What two leaders inaugurated the first Transatlantic cable?

Last Week’s Question:

Edward VII was crowned on 9 August 1902, more than a month after his coronation was originally scheduled. What caused the delay?

Answer: Edward was diagnosed with appendicitis only two days before his original coronation date. Although medicine had come along in recent years, this was still not a diagnosis you wanted to hear. It typically wasn’t treated surgically and had a high mortality rate. But this was the king we were talking about, so he got, shall we say, the royal treatment. Sir Frederick Treves and Lord Lister carried out the operation and by the next day, Edward was sitting up in bed, smoking his usual cigar (probably against doctors’ orders). For managing to not kill the monarch, Treves was given a baronetcy, adn appendix surgery became medically mainstream.

Read Full Post »

This Week’s Question:

Edward VII was crowned on 9 August 1902, more than a month after his coronation was originally scheduled. What caused the delay?

Last Week’s Question:

The annual Edinburgh Fringe Festival kicks off this week! How did it get its name?

Answer: The Fringe was named in 1948, a year after it started, when a Scottish playwright and journalist named Robert Kemp referred to the festival that had grown up ‘Round the fringe of official [International] Festival drama’. The Fringe got its start when eight alternative theatre companies decided to perform in Edinburgh during the annual International Festival in 1947. The Fringe remained an unofficial, fairly loose conglomerate until 1951, when some University of Edinburgh students took it upon themselves to try and organize it, setting up a drop-in centre at the local YMCA so artists could have a cheap place to stay. In 1955, a central booking service was established, and the Festival Fringe Society was set up in 1959. As the Fringe grew, it became too much for students and volunteers to handle, so the Society became a constituted body in 1969 and acquired its first administrator, John Milligan, the following year. Today, the Fringe is one of the biggest and most highly acclaimed arts festivals in the world, drawing thousands of visitors to the city to see more than 2500 shows (according to 2011 statistics) in over 200 venues throughout the city that range from traditional theatres to quirky spots, like the back of a taxi (I myself will be heading to the allotments at Inverleith Park for a show tomorrow). Famous plays and actors, including Derek Jacobi and Rachel Weisz, have debuted or first found acclaim here and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has served as inspiration for similar festivals around the world.

Read Full Post »

Photo: 2010foodproject.wordpress.com

My dear readers, I can’t believe, with my love of cooking and Downton Abbey, that it didn’t occur to me until now to put the two together. As we all settle down for another episode, it’s nice to have something to snack on, and let’s face it—regular old popcorn simply won’t do (what would Violet say?!) Instead, perhaps we should turn to this classic, elegant dessert, which also happens to be one of the few dishes actually referred to by name on the show: the Crêpe Suzette that Ethel so wanted to try.

Since this is also a bit of a history blog, here’s some background on this particular dish: it was allegedly created accidentally in 1895 by a fourteen-year-old assistant waiter named Henri Charpentier, who was preparing a dessert for the future King Edward VII and his companion. According to Charpentier himself (who is not a reliable narrator), the cordials near the chafing dish caught fire while he was preparing dessert, and he served it anyway. Edward loved it and even sent Charpentier gifts of a ring, panama hat, and cane as thanks. Other sources dispute the story (for one thing, it’s incredibly unlikely that such a young lad would be tasked with serving a VIP like the Prince.) and claim that Crêpe Suzette was named in honor of French actress Suzanne Reichenberg, who served crêpes on stage in one of her roles. The owner of Restaurant Marivaux, Monsieur Joseph, provided the crêpes and chose to flambe them in order to attract the audience’s attention and keep the food warm. The recipe was first published in 1896 by Oscar Tschirky, who only left out the flambeeing part.

So, there you are. A little history, and now, a little dessert (no Ethels allowed!)

Crêpes Suzette

(Recipe by Bobby Flay)


1 ½ c flour

Pinch salt

3 eggs

½ c sugar

2 c milk

1T orange liqueur (Grand Marnier is traditional)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 T orange zest

½ c clarified butter


1 ½ c freshly squeezed orange juice

2 T sugar

2 tsp grated orange zest

2 T orange liqueur

3 oranges, peeled and sectioned

Vanilla ice cream

Whisk flour and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs and sugar in a large bowl until pale. Whisk in 1 1/2 cups of the milk, orange liqueur, vanilla, orange zest and flour until combined. If the mixture is too thick, add the remaining milk until a thin consistency is achieved. Cover and refrigerate batter for 30 minutes.

Heat an 8-inch crêpe pan or skillet over medium heat for about 1 minute. Cover the surface of the pan with clarified butter until it gets sizzling hot. Ladle some batter onto the middle of the crêpe pan and immediately start swirling the pan to distribute the batter over the surface. Cook for 45 to 60 seconds or until lightly golden brown. Flip over and cook the other side for 20 seconds. Remove to a plate and repeat with the remaining batter.


In a large skillet over high heat, bring the orange juice to a boil. Add the sugar and zest, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until the sugar has melted and the mixture is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the orange liqueur and orange sections. Set aside.

Working in batches, gently place a crêpe into the pan holding the orange juice and orange sections. Leave for 1 minute to absorb some juice. Using a narrow spatula, remove the crêpe to a warm serving plate. Repeat with remaining crêpes. Roll the crêpes into a cylinder. Spoon on some of the orange sections. Serve 2 crêpes per person. Top with vanilla ice cream and serve immediately

Read Full Post »

How’s this for a tough gift to beat: on November 9, 1907, King Edward VII received the Cullinan diamond, the largest rough gem-quality diamond ever found, as a present for his 66th birthday.

The diamond was found by a miner named Thomas Evan Powell in Cullinan, South Africa in January 1905. It was purchased by the Transvaal government, which presented it to King Edward. He, in turn, sent it off to Asscher Brothers in Amsterdam, who cut it first into three large parts, and then into nine large gem-quality stones and a number of smaller fragments. The largest of the gems, Cullinan I, was dubbed the Great Star of Africa and was the largest polished diamond in the world until the Golden Jubilee Diamond was discovered in 1985. Cullinan I was mounted in the Sceptre with the Cross. The second largest diamond, Cullinan II, found its way onto the Imperial State Crown, which is worn ever year by the Queen during the State Opening of Parliament.

Read Full Post »

On August 9, 1902, Edward VII was crowned King of the United Kingdom in Westminster Abbey. Finally.

Poor Edward had a hellish wait for the throne. His mother, Queen Victoria, loved wallowing in misery so much she refused to die and wound up with the longest reign of any British monarch in history. Subsequently, her son, Edward, had the longest wait for the throne of any Prince of Wales in history. Although he wanted to do something useful during his incredibly long tenure, like, say, learn how to be king someday, his mother refused to allow him access to important papers or meetings, partially due to the fact that she unreasonably held her eldest son responsible for the death of Prince Albert, his father, in 1861. Her refusal to give him anything useful to do didn’t prevent Victoria from bitching at him when all he did was party, just to fill the days. It seems Edward just couldn’t ever please his mummy.

When Queen Victoria finally died in 1901, Edward ascended the throne he’d waited so long for and began planning his coronation, which was scheduled for 26 June, 1902. But then Edward was diagnosed with appendicitis on the 24. Despite being in huge amounts of pain, Edward kept insisting the coronation go forward as planned, until his doctors told him he’d very well die if he did so, and then he allowed them to postpone the ceremony and perform the necessary operation. Thanks to Edward and his two able doctors, Frederick Treves and Dr. Lister, appendectomies, which had previously been rare operations, entered the medical mainstream.

As king, Edward was highly popular and went about making the monarchy more visible. He pioneered the notion of royal public appearances even before he inherited, opening landmarks that included Tower Bridge and the Thames Embankment. He also resurrected traditional ceremonies such as the State Opening of Parliament.

Despite the fact that his training in such matters had been sorely neglected, Edward turned out to be a fairly able politician and diplomat. He managed to win over the traditionally Anglo-hating French, and as a senior male relative of just about every monarch in Europe, he worked hard to make sure everyone got along and the balance of power wasn’t shifting too far one way or the other (though he was smart enough to be wary of his unstable German nephew, Wilhelm).

Unfortunately, Edward’s lifetime of smoking and overeating caught up with him quickly, and he enjoyed only about a decade on the throne before dying in May 1910. Still, like his mother, he left his indelible mark on an era, and he’s generally fondly remembered today as the man who created the modern British monarchy.


Read Full Post »

On January 26, 1905 the Cullinan diamond was discovered by Frederick Wells, the surface manager of the Premier Diamond Mining Company in Cullinan, South Africa. The Transvaal government bought the stone for £150,000 and presented it to King Edward VII on his 66th birthday in 1907.

As a rough diamond crystal, the Cullinan weighed more than 3,000 carats. It was eventually cut into nine large gem-quality stones and several smaller fragments by Abraham and Joseph Asscher, who owned the Royal Asscher Diamond Copany in Amsterdam. The Asscher brothers studied the stone for three months before deciding where it should be cut.

The largest stone, the Cullinan I (also known as the Great Star of Africa) was cut into a 530-carat pear shape and set into the Royal Sceptre. The Cullinan II, a cushion-cut that weighs 317 carats, was mounted in the center front of the Imperial State Crown of Great Britain. Cullinan III was cut into a pear shape weighing 94.4 carats and mounted in the finial of Queen Mary’s crown (it can also be worn as a pendant-brooch). Cullinan IV was set in the band of Queen Mary’s crown after being cut into a 63.6 carat cushion. The heart-shaped Cullinan V started out as a brooch but is now used as a replacement for the Koh-i-Noor diamond, which was used in the crown made for Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) in 1937. Cullinan VII, weighing in at 8.8 carats, is a pendant drop on a diamond brooch that also includes the 6.8 carat cushion-cut Cullinan VIII. Finally, Cullinan IX was cut into a 4.4-carat pear shape and set on a ring.

As Crown Jewels, many of these pieces make appearances at coronations and other state occasions. If you want to see them up close, they’re on permanent display in the Tower of London.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »