One of the biggest news stories this week was of course the royal engagement of Prince William Arthur Louis Phillip of Wales to his longtime girlfriend Catherine Elizabeth Middleton of Bucklebury, Berkshire. (Sidenote: don't British people and towns have the best names?!) I mean, the announcement was even big enough of a deal where my the priest at mass this morning talked about it during his homily. Last time I checked, Catholics and the British Royal Family weren't exactly BFFs seeing as Henry VIII founded his own church when the Pope wouldn't grant him a divorce. Wedding news will be everywhere for the next year discussing churches and the dress and of course, the guest list.
As family, I'd like to think I'd be invited, but I'm not going to hold my breath. I mean, we're not even exchanging Christmas cards with the House of Windsor these days.
Don't believe me? Allow me to explain.
A few years ago, my mom traced back part of her family tree and things get especially interesting when we get to a woman named Joan Beaufort (wife of Sir Robert Lawrence). Her father was Edmund Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset.
Edmund's father was John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset.
John Beaufort's father was a fairly well known man in his time: John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster.
Now John of Gaunt had a number of legitimate heirs with his first two wives, but he also had four children with his mistress turned third wife, Katherine Swynford. John Beaufort was one of these children. Not to be considered complete bastard children for long, these four were eventually legitimized by the royal family and church when Katherine and Gaunt got married, but with the special proviso that they were specifically barred from inheriting the throne.
Did I forget to mention that John of Gaunt was the 3rd son of King Edward III? Because he was. So of course, while the royals were eventually okay with calling Katherine and Gaunt's four children family, there was no way that they wanted children that came from an affair to ever be rulers.
Considering all this history and the proviso dates back to the early 1300s, it's not really a surprise that the Windsors and I aren't on each other's speed-dials.
Still, it's pretty cool when you're looking at your family tree and hit royalty because then you can turn to the encyclopedia and history books.