Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Happy Birthday Your Royal Highness

One would think that writing about royalty would be easy; given that royal lives - whether they be English, Dutch, or Danish - are so similar, so prescribed, so much the property of the state that despite world travel and easy access to the best and brightest of their respective nations the only differences between them would be in their scandals.

PhotobucketThis is where I am thwarted; the eldest son and heir of Denmark's Queen Margrethe II and her consort Prince Henrik is a conscientious, shy man without so much as a speeding ticket to his name, at least as far as my research can uncover. I actually typed 'Crown Prince Frederik scandal' into Google while conducting my research into this piece and it laughed at me; if you've never been laughed at by Google, let me tell you it's a humiliating experience. Just to see what it's like try typing in 'michael sean morris dating' and wait for hilarity to ensue!

A n y w a y... About the only untoward thing the Prince has ever done is to court and then wed an Australian named Mary Donaldson, whom he married at Copenhagen Cathedral in May 2004 (as previously reported by the Pop Culture Institute). In the commission of said courtship he wrote her some rather florid poetry - and that is the extent of it. Despite what could have been a really ripping scandal - even knowing what little I do about sheilas* - Ms. Donaldson has proven to be an exemplary princess-in-training, giving birth to Prince Christian in October 2005 and Princess Isabella in April 2007.

Today is His Royal Highness' 42nd birthday, and a biography of him (cleverly entitled Frederik – kronprins af Danmark) was recently published which relates the whole completely seemly and utterly unlurid story. Written by Gitte Redder and Karin Palshøj, whose previous work was a similarly unauthorized look at the life of Crown Princess Mary, as far as I can tell there are no plans to publish it in English, and since I have no plans to learn Danish the situation remains at an impasse...

*Australian slang for women.

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"Leaning On A Lamppost" by George Formby

One of the most popular figures of British entertainment during the middle years of the 20th Century was George Formby - who was born in Wigan on this day in 1904...

Often found strumming on his ukelele singing the slightly racy songs associated with the British music hall, Formby excelled in films as well as on records*. His death in March 1961 came before the current plague of cynicism afflicted England, and as such he was sorely missed (rather than mocked as an anachronism, say, which he would have been only a few years later).

*Cumbersome forerunners of the CD, made of black vinyl, and much favoured as collector's items by neo-Luddites today for the space they take up and the ease with which they are damaged.

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Pop History Moment: Europe Gets Its Own Flag

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On this day in 1986 the European Union adopted its flag.

On a more personal note, I think the EU is great; after a thousand years of Germany and France killing all their young men and laying waste to the countryside in an effort to control each other, they've finally agreed on a formula to own Europe that keeps people snug in their beds and all those lovely castles and cathedrals standing in beautifully landscaped settings, instead of in piles of rubble.

Plus, England gets to keep its place as the fulcrum of power between the two. Win-win-win...
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"Mr. Cab Driver" by Lenny Kravitz

Birthday wishes go out today to Lenny Kravitz, whose 1990 album Let Love Rule yielded the funky anti-racist screed Mr. Cab Driver; the song's video, directed by Geoff Barish, offers an obvious homage to Lou Reed and features images which are easily as gritty as its subject matter.
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POPnews - May 26th

[Currently housed in the cathedral at Monza, the Iron Crown of Lombardy was already ancient when it was used in the coronation of Charlemagne on Christmas Day 800 CE; not merely regalia but a reliquary as well, it is reputed to have been fashioned in part out of one of the nails from the cross upon which Christ was crucified.]

451 CE - The Battle of Avarayr took place near Vaspurakan between Armenian rebels led by Vartan Mamikonian against their overlords the Sassanid Empire of Yazdegerd II; while the Armenians were defeated militarily they were subsequently guaranteed the freedom to openly practice Christianity.

1637 - During the Pequot War a combined force of English colonists and Mohegan led by German Captain John Mason attacked the Pequot village of Misistuck in Connecticut, massacring approximately 500 Native Americans.

1647 - Alse Young became the first person executed as a witch in the American colonies when she was hanged in Hartford, Connecticut.

1736 - At the Battle of Ackia British and Chickasaw soldiers repelled a French and Choctaw attack on the Chickasaw village of Ackia, near present-day Tupelo, Mississippi; the French, under Louisiana governor Jean Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, had been seeking to link Louisiana with Acadia and the other northern colonies of New France.

1805 - Napoléon I assumed the title of King of Italy and was crowned with the Iron Crown of Lombardy in the Duomo di Milano.

1828 - Mysterious feral child Kaspar Hauser was discovered wandering the streets of Nuremberg.

1857 - Dred Scott was emancipated by his owners, the Blow family.

1868 - The impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson ended, with Johnson being found not guilty by one vote.

1879 - Russia and the United Kingdom signed the Treaty of Gandamak, establishing an Afghan state.

1896 - James Dunham murdered six people in Campbell, California; following the slayings of his wife, her family and their servants Dunham disappeared, and was never seen again. Only his infant son and a farmhand survived the massacre.

1906 - London's Vauxhall Bridge was opened by The Prince of Wales, the future George V.

1913 - Emily Duncan became Britain's first woman magistrate.

1917 - A powerful F4 tornado blew through Mattoon, Illinois, killing 101 people and injuring 689; for the record books, it was the world's longest tornado, lasting for over 7 hours and traveling 293 miles, spreading death and destruction along its path.

1927 - The Ford Motor Company ceased manufacturing the Ford Model T and began to retool their plants to increase production of the Ford Model A.

1966 - British Guiana gained its independence from the United Kingdom, becoming Guyana; representing The Queen (who had visited the country the previous February aboard the HMY Britannia) at the ceremony were the Duke and Duchess of Kent.

1972 - Australia's Willandra National Park was established.

1977 - George Willig climbed the South Tower of New York City's World Trade Center.

1992 - Charles Geschke, co-founder of Adobe Systems, Inc., was kidnapped at gunpoint from the company's parking lot in Mountain View, California, and held hostage for $650,000 at a rented house in Hollister, an hour's drive away; the FBI rescued him four days later.

2004 - US Army veteran Terry Nichols was found guilty of 161 state murder charges for helping carry out the Oklahoma City bombing.
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