Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Prince William, Kate and the Catherines of Henry VIII


The media are absolutely buzzing about the announcement yesterday of the engagement of Prince William and Kate (soon to be known as Catherine) Middleton. The British press is salivating at the thought of covering this extravaganza. With Prime Minister David Cameron imposing his own brand of harsh Thatcherism, the British are sorely in need of some diversion. What better time for the pomp and ceremony of the impeding royal nuptials. The House of Windsor will put on a splendid show, although in this age of austerity, it will be necessary to tone it down somewhat.  They’d better pray the outcome of this fairytale wedding will turn out far better than the disastrous outcome of the 1981 marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer.

Diana never became queen consort and Kate may have to wait quite a long time before she assumes the title of Queen Catherine. Prince Charles recently turned 62 years old. Queen Elizabeth is 84 and appears to be in good health.  There is definitely longevity in her genes and If she lives as long as her mother, she will be 101 when she passes away. If that should happen, Charles will be about 78 or 79 years old when he finally ascends to the throne. His son, William, will be about 45 at that time.

Women named Catherine have played a prominent role in the history of the British monarchy. King Henry VIII must have really been partial to Catherines because three of his six wives shared that name – Catherine of Aragon, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr. Henry, of course, fought to have his marriage to Catherine of Aragon dissolved so he could marry his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Catherine Howard (Wife Number 5) was Anne Boleyn’s first cousin. The two cousins shared a similar fate. They were both beheaded. Henry’s sixth and final wife, Catherine Parr, survived him. After the death of Henry VIII in 1547, Catherine Parr married Thomas Seymour, the brother of Henry’s second wife, Jane Seymour.

For those interested in Henry VIII and his wives, there is a far better television series than The Tudors. It is The Six Wives of Henry VIII, produced by the BBC. The Six Wives of Henry VIII consists of an episode for each wife. Keith Michell plays Henry in the series and his portrayal is superb. He was born to play the role. He looks and acts and laughs like Henry VIII. Jonathan Rhys Meyers, the actor who plays Henry in The Tudors, isn’t anywhere near as convincing. He doesn’t show Henry’s fun-loving side enough. His Henry is far too serious. Furthermore, Jonathan Rhys Meyers does not bear a physical resemblance to Henry in the least.


Mary Tudor (Queen Mary I of England) died on November 17, 1558 at the age of 42. The Catholic Mary, daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, reigned from 1553 until 1558. If you discount the unfortunate Lady Jane Grey who reigned for a mere nine days in July of 1553, Mary I was really the first woman to rule as Queen of England. She earned the sobriquet of “Bloody Mary” because, during her reign, almost 300 religious dissenters were burned at the stake. On this day in 1558, Mary’s half-sister Elizabeth, the daughter of Henry and Anne Boleyn, ascended to the throne of England.


On November 17, 1987, George Bell became the first member of the Toronto Blue Jays to win the American League’s Most Valuable Player award. Will Jose Bautista do the same this year? Bell slugged 47 home runs during the 1987 season and drove in 134 RBIs. Bautista hit 54 homers this season and he had 124 RBIs. However, the conventional wisdom is that Bautista will not be named MVP because the Jays did not have a contending team this year. In 1987, the Blue Jays finished in second place in the American League East with 96 wins. In 2010, the Jays finished fourth in the AL East with 85 wins.



The Toronto Maple Leafs ended an ugly eight-game losing streak yesterday by defeating the Nashville Predators by a score of 5-4 at the Air Canada Centre. The Leafs showed some grit by coming back to win the game after being down by a three-goal deficit in the first period.


The woeful Toronto Raptors lost again yesterday. They were defeated 109-94 by the Washington Wizards. The Raptors have dropped two games in a row and eight of their last nine games. They play the Philadelphia 76ers tonight in The City of Brotherly Love.


Congratulations to former Blue Jay Roy Halladay for winning the National League Cy Young Award yesterday.  Halladay is only the fifth player to win a Cy Young in both the National and American leagues.  Although Roy did not receive a World Series ring this year, he had a dream season in which he recorded 21 wins (including a perfect game) and an ERA of 2.44.  He pitched in postseason play for the first time in his formidable major league career and threw a no-hitter in his first-ever playoff game.  Now he adds another Cy Young to his list of achievements. Not too shabby, Doc.  Not too shabby at all.

- Joanne

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