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The Tudors

A good news, near bad news and, for me, a sad news year. On 29 July 1981, the heir to the throne, Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer at St Paul's Cathedral. 600,000 people filled the streets of London, 28.4 million watched on TV in the UK and an estimated 750 million watched worldwide. By then we had video recorders so anyone who missed it could still watch later. Is there anyone in the UK who hasn't seen it? The answer is yes. Me. I was in France at the time, never wanted to watch a recording and so I have no idea how good it was, how wonderful it looked, or anything else. I do know that Princess Diana, as she became, may have married the wrong man as I read that she repeated Charles names in the wrong order calling him Philip Charles Arthur George, rather than Charles Philip Arthur George.

All was happy though, so they say, and they had two sons. Prince William who was born on 21 June 1982 and Prince Harry who was born on 15 September 1984. Prince Charles and Diana separated in 1992 and divorced four years later.

On 31 August 1997, Princess Diana, by then the ex-wife of the heir to the throne, died in a road accident in Paris. She was a passenger in a car driven by an employee of the Ritz Hotel in Paris which was, at the time, owned by the father of her friend Dodi Fayed, who also died. After many inquiries it was maintained that the accident happened because Henri Paul the driver had been drinking and also that photographers, who always followed the Princess, had been chasing the car.

Diana's funeral on 6 September 1997 was watched by a British TV audience which, at its highest, was 32.1 million. The princess had been very popular and there were many tributes laid outside Kensington Palace after her death. These remained for several months. The Queen made a televised broadcast paying tribute to the Princess the day before the funeral, and Prince Charles walked in the funeral procession along with their two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, Prince Philip and the Princess's brother, Earl Spencer. The Princess was buried in the grounds of Althorp Park, her family's ancestral home.

However, rather like her wedding in 1981, I wasn't part of that audience. I was in France again and have never watched a recording.

Going back to 1981, at the Trooping of the Colour ceremony on Horse Guards Parade, a 17 year old man fired six blank cartridges at Her Majesty the Queen as she rode past. The shots startled the Queen's horse but she brought it back under control and continued with the ceremony. The man, Marcus Serjeant, was subsequently jailed for five years under the 1842 Treason Act. He later claimed that he just wanted to be famous.

Trooping the Colour, the colour is another name for a regiment's flag, takes place each year on the monarch's official birthday. The colours were designed so that soldiers could identify their unit on the field of battle. These would be marched up and down between the lines of troops, hence, trooping the colour.

I guess your next question will be why does the Queen have an official birthday. The answer is all to do with the British weather. It started with George II in 1748 who, like Prince Charles, was born in November. George felt that November was a bad month to have your birthday celebrations, especially if you had to go outdoors and wave at your subjects. So, he combined his birthday with the ceremony of trooping the colour. The ceremony moved to a Saturday during Queen Elizabeth's reign, having previously been on a Thursday. It always happens in June and, if you want, you can go to London and watch. The actual trooping takes place on Horse Guards Parade behind Whitehall in London.

Nowadays the Queen travels from Buckingham Palace in a royal carriage but, as we said above, when she was younger, she would ride. During the ceremony soldiers of various regiments parade and Her Majesty inspects them. The flag being trooped is carried among the ranks of soldiers. It is a very British tradition. The ceremony is believed to have first been performed during the reign of Charles II. The Queen has taken the salute at every parade since she came to the throne in 1952, except in 1955 when it was cancelled because there was a national rail strike.

The sad news was that on 4 December this year my dad died. He was 75. He'd been ill for a few months. I lost not only a parent but my best friend and I still think of him every single day and this website is my monument to him. He showed me how to be inquisitive, how to want to know more and how to help others learn too.

Oh, and very loosely connecting the last story, he met the Queen. He worked as a civil servant for the various governments over a very long period of time. On 15 June 1970 he received a letter which had the stamp of Buckingham Palace upon it. He had, after 42 years of civil service service, been awarded an OBE, the first for anyone in the family. Even mother was impressed. I know there are those who will say that if you work there long enough, you will get something, but Iím not convinced. I was certainly extremely proud of him. Not everyone gets to call their father an OBE, even if we did tell him it stood for Old Bald Englishman, and certainly not everyone gets the chance to go to Buckingham Palace to see him receive it. And, if you go back here, you will see why I claimed I had driven my car into the grounds of Buckingham Palace. What a car!!! Loved it.

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