On this day in history….9th April 1483

On this day in history : 9th April 1483 – A young Edward V accedes to the throne upon the death of his father, King Edward IV…. Edward and his brother mysteriously disappear whilst housed at the Tower of London….

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King Edward V – Public domain

It was on Monday the 14th of April 1483 at Ludlow that the 12-year-old Edward learned of his father’s sudden death five days before…. King Edward IV had in his Will nominated his brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, to serve as Protector of the Realm during his son’s minority….

Edward had been living at Ludlow Castle as the Prince of Wales – a role he was assisted in by his uncle, Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers…. The Earl accompanied the boy to London to take the throne; however, the Duke of Gloucester had the Earl and other members of his party arrested and subsequently executed…. The Duke now had control of the young king and also that of his younger brother, Richard, the Duke of York….

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Edward V as Prince of Wales – From Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers, Lambeth Palace – Public domain

The Tower of London at the time was a royal residence as well as a prison – and it was here that Edward was brought to live whilst awaiting his coronation…. He was soon to be joined by his brother….

Edward’s reign came to an abrupt end just a few weeks later, on June the 26th…. His uncle, the Duke, claimed that Edward IV’s marriage to Queen Elizabeth (Woodville) was invalid and so their children were illegitimate…. His claim was accepted and Gloucester was proclaimed King Richard III….

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King Edward V and the Duke of York in the Tower of London by Paul Delaroche – Public domain

It was not long after that the two young princes disappeared from the Tower of London; there are no recorded sightings of them after the summer of 1483…. Many historians believe that Richard III had them murdered – but the finger of blame has also been pointed at Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, or even at Richard III’s successor, Henry VII….

In 1674 some workmen at the Tower dug up a wooden box buried 10ft under the staircase leading to the chapel of the White Tower…. The box revealed two small skeletons; the remains were interred in Westminster Abbey and are believed to belong to the ‘Princes in the Tower’….

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Krischnig – Public domain

On this day in history….20th March 1974

On this day in history : 20th March 1974 – An attempt is made to kidnap Princess Anne as she and her husband Captain Mark Phillips are being driven down Pall Mall….

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Princess Anne 1974 – Photo credit: Tyne & Wear Archives and Museum via Flickr

The 23-year-old Princess and her husband were being chauffeur-driven back to Buckingham Palace after attending a charity event…. It was around 8pm when a white Ford Escort blocked their way, forcing the Rolls Royce to stop…. A man got out of the Ford, brandishing two handguns…. The Princess’s body-guard, Inspector James Beaton and the chauffeur, Alex Callender attempted to apprehend the man – but both were shot…. Despite his injuries Inspector Beaton got to his feet to try and stop the gunman again – and again….in total he was shot three times…. Also shot was a passer-by who tried to help – tabloid journalist, Brian McConnell….

The gunman then forced his way into the Rolls Royce…. He ordered Princess Anne out – to which she replied….“not bloody likely”…. She did eventually get out though and as the gunman followed after her another passer-by, former boxer Ron Russell, who had positioned his car to stop the Ford from escaping, struck the gunman on the back of the head…. Russell was then able to lead the Princess to safety….

Meanwhile, after hearing gun shots PC Michael Hills had rushed to the scene – he tried to detain the gunman – but was himself to be shot in the stomach…. The gunman attempted to run but was pursued by Detective Constable Peter Edmonds, who brought him to the ground and managed to disarm him….

The gunman was Ian Ball, a 26-year-old unemployed labourer, who suffered from a mental illness…. When his car was searched handcuffs, tranquillisers and a ransom note were found…. The note was addressed to the Queen and demanded that £2 million be paid to the National Health Service…. Ball later claimed he did it to highlight the lack of mental health care available…. He was prosecuted for attempted murder and received a sentence of life imprisonment – and was placed in a psychiatric hospital…. His remains the closest attempt anyone has ever made on abducting a member of the royal family….

All four men who were shot thankfully recovered…. Inspector James Beaton later received the George Cross….whilst PC Michael Hills and Ron Russell were given the George Medal…. Chauffeur Alex Callender, journalist Brian McConnell and Detective Constable Peter Edmonds were all awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for their bravery….

Russell later revealed that the Queen had said to him as he received his award….“The medal is from the Queen, the thank you is from Anne’s mother”….

 

On this day in history….10th March 1988

On this day in history….10th March 1988 – Prince Charles narrowly escapes death when an avalanche hits the royal ski party at Klosters, Switzerland….one of his close friends is killed….

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Prince Charles via Wikimedia – Public domain

The royal party consisted of the Prince of Wales, Major Hugh Lindsay, Mr and Mrs Palmer-Tomkinson, a Swiss policeman and Bruno Sprecher, one of the best local guides…. The Princess of Wales and Duchess of York were also on the holiday but were back at the royal party’s chalet in Davos….

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Klosters – image credit: Florian343 via Wikipedia CC BY-SA 4.0

Prince Charles and his friends were skiing ‘off piste’ – on one of the most difficult runs in the area – the Wang Run….on the steep slopes of Mount Gotschnagrat – which are among some of the steepest in Switzerland. This particular day was the first time the run had been opened that season….as it was rarely opened and considered to be suitable only for the most experienced of skiers…. Prince Charles being such a skier – having started to ski at the age of 14….

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Mount Gotschnagrat via Twitter

The previous day had seen a fresh snowfall and snow had built up on the mountain….but there had been no avalanche warnings issued…. At 2.45pm the avalanche started some 100 feet above where the party were skiing…. Prince Charles and most of the others managed to ski to safety – but Major Lindsay and Patti Palmer-Tomkinson were caught in it….and plunged 400m down the mountainside….

Once the avalanche had passed the party including the Prince of Wales desperately tried to help them – digging at the snow with their hands frantically trying to free them…. Both were airlifted by helicopter to Davos hospital….where Major Lindsay was pronounced dead…. Patti Palmer-Tomkinson suffered severe leg injuries….

Price Charles had lost one of his close friends…. Major Hugh Lindsay was 34-years-old and former equerry to the Queen…. Having accompanied Her Majesty on many official engagements he was one of her favourites…. He had been married only two years and his wife was expecting their child in May…. Prince Charles, the Princess of Wales and Duchess of York flew back to RAF Northolt with Major Lindsay’s coffin…. The Queen sent a private message of sympathy to his widow….

 

On this day in history….2nd March 1882

On this day in history : 2nd March 1882 – Scotsman Roderick Maclean attempts to assassinate Queen Victoria as she waits to board her train at Windsor railway station….

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Photograph by Alexander Bassano 1882. Public domain

Queen Victoria had just walked across the platform to the waiting carriage with her daughter, Princess Beatrice and other members of her court, when a shot rang out…. Roderick Maclean had stepped from a crowd of cheering onlookers, raised a gun and fired…. Before he could do so again the crowd, including a group of Eton schoolboys who hit him with umbrellas, managed to overcome him…. Maclean was then arrested by a Superintendent Hayes….

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Queen Victoria with Princess Beatrice. Public domain via Wikimedia

Maclean had not been quite right in the head since a childhood accident. His father was the proprietor of  ‘Fun’ magazine – a rival to ‘Punch’ – and so the family would have been comfortable and Roderick Maclean depended upon them financially…. When his parents died he had no means of an income and had to rely on handouts from his three brothers and sister….

As time passed by this help became less frequent, which frustrated Maclean – as a republican he directed his anger at the Monarchy…. He took to wandering from town to town and was becoming more and more like a tramp….

Maclean was also a ‘would-be’ poet and he sent some of his verse to Queen Victoria – but was angered by the response he received from the Palace….his work was returned to him accompanied by a curt note from a lady-in-waiting…. This appears to have finally tipped him over the edge…. Maclean sold his meagre possessions, bought himself a cheap and cheerful revolver….and then walked to Windsor….

In fact Maclean had already been certified as insane two years previously in June 1880….and had spent some time in a lunatic asylum. He had complained of headaches and thought that everybody in England was plotting against him…. He even had a problem with the colour blue and thought people who wore it did so to deliberately provoke him…. He had also sent some disturbing letters to his sister Caroline, in which he discussed murder….

Maclean went on trial in Reading on April the 20th 1882 on the charge of high treason….a crime then punishable by death…. However he was found ‘not guilty but insane’ – the jury took just five minutes to deliver their verdict…. Roderick Maclean spent the rest of his days in Broadmoor Asylum….he died of apoplexy in 1921….

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Asylum for Criminal Lunatics, Broadmoor. Image credit : Wellcome Collection CC BY

On this day in history….24th February 1981

On this day in history : 24th February 1981 – After months of speculation the engagement of the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer is officially announced by Buckingham Palace….

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Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer – Joe Haupt via Flickr

The couple had first met in 1977 – when Prince Charles was dating Lady Diana’s elder sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale. In 1980 Charles and Diana met again at a country weekend – where she watched him play polo…. He then invited her for a weekend of sailing at Cowes, on board the Royal Yacht Britannia – and this was followed by an invitation to Balmoral Castle, to ‘meet the family’…. Lady Diana was received by the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen Mother….

It was six months later, on the 3rd of February 1981, that Prince Charles proposed – at a private dinner at Windsor Castle…. Diana was about to go on a holiday to Australia and Charles suggested that she use that time to consider his proposal – but she didn’t need to – she accepted straight away…. The couple kept their engagement secret for three weeks….

The announcement came at 11 am on the 24th of February…. “It is with great pleasure that the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh announce the betrothal of their beloved son the Prince of Wales to the Lady Diana Spencer, daughter of the Earl Spencer and the Honourable Mrs Shand Kidd” – Lord Maclean, Lord Chancellor….

Lady Diana’s £30,000 engagement ring, set in 18-carat gold, held a 12-carat, oval, blue Ceylon sapphire surrounded by 14 diamonds…. Prince Charles said of his fiancée that he was “delighted and frankly amazed that Diana is prepared to take me on”….

 

19-year-old Diana moved out of her shared flat in Kensington to live at Clarence House until the wedding…. She also gave up her job as a kindergarten teacher….

They married on the 29th of July 1981….it was declared a national holiday. Two nights before the wedding a gala ball was held at Buckingham Palace, with dinner for 90 hosted by the Queen and a reception with dancing for 1,500 guests – including royal household members and staff…. On the eve of the wedding 150 heads of state and government were invited to dine with the Queen….

The wedding took place in St. Paul’s Cathedral…. 3,500 guests watched Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer – in a dress of ivory silk-taffeta and antique lace with a 25m train, designed by David and Elizabeth Emmanuel- exchange their vows…. It is estimated 750 million people around the World watched on TV….

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Princess Diana and Prince Charles – Joe Haupt via Flickr
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The Wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana – Joe Haupt via Flickr