Another royal wedding — but not so much pomp

There was a wedding in Windsor on Saturday, but there wasn't the pomp and pageantry — or controversy — to rival the other royal nuptials that have played out in the same place over the past year.

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Newlyweds Thomas Kingston and Lady Gabriella Windsor on the steps of the chapel after their wedding at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, near London, on Saturday. (Victoria Jones/Associated Press)

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There was a wedding in Windsor on Saturday, but there wasn't the pomp and pageantry — or controversy — to rival the other royal nuptials that have played out in the same place over the past year.

Lady Gabriella Windsor, daughter of the Queen's cousin Prince Michael of Kent, married financier Thomas Kingston at St. George's Chapel, the elegant and ornate backdrop to the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle a year ago today. Seven months ago, Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank were also married there.

Given the same locale, comparisons among the weddings are inevitable. But Saturday's celebration was largely a private family affair — there was no televised ceremony and no carriage ride through the Windsor streets to draw the eyes of the world's media. And there was no whiff of controversy like that surrounding Eugenie's wedding, when security costs in particular raised some ire

Perhaps the best parallel to the wedding Saturday is actually one that took place in St. George's Chapel nearly 27 years ago, says Toronto-based royal historian and author Carolyn Harris.

Gabriella's cousin Lady Helen Windsor married Tim Taylor on July 18, 1992. Gabriella was a bridesmaid at that wedding, which was attended by the Queen. She doesn't go to all the weddings of her cousins' children, but she was at that one, and she was at Saturday's ceremony, too.

As 52nd in line to the throne, Gabriella doesn't come close to rivalling Harry (sixth) or Eugenie (now 10th), but she still had a wedding in one of the more prominent royal locales.

"There are some sentimental connections," said Harris. Gabriella has spent Christmases at Windsor, and her grandparents, Prince George and Princess Marina, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, are buried nearby at Frogmore.

Princess Michael of Kent, left, Prince Michael of Kent, Lady Gabriella Windsor, Lord Frederick Windsor, his wife Sophie Winkleman, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward look out from the balcony of Buckingham Palace during the Trooping the Colour parade on June 17, 2017, in London. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Gabriella, 38, has degrees in comparative literature and social anthropology from Brown University in Rhode Island and the University of Oxford in the U.K.

"She's carved out quite a successful career as a freelance journalist," said Harris. "She's devoted time to pursuing an independent career, and while she's closely related to the Royal Family, she does not undertake royal duties."

She's also arts and travel director for Branding Latin America, a London-based company that works with Latin American governments, brands and individuals who are, according to its website, "looking to position themselves overseas." (On the website, there is only a slim hint of her royal heritage — she goes by "Ella Windsor.") 

While Gabriella has had a relatively low public profile, there was some — likely unwanted — notoriety last year when a former boyfriend authored an account of their time together that served up some rather salacious details.

Her mother, Princess Michael of Kent, has had her own share of controversy, and eyes were likely on her, too, on Saturday.

"Certainly there will be scrutiny of Princess Michael of Kent, as she's not a particularly popular member of the Royal Family, and has been known for making racially insensitive comments in the past," Harris said in a recent interview.

How secret can a royal birth be?

Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor made his public debut in St. George's Hall at Windsor Castle on May 8, but there's no official word yet on where he was actually born. (Dominic Lipinski/Getty Images)

Nearly two weeks after Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor's arrival, official word finally came Friday regarding where Prince Harry and Meghan's first child was born. 

When his birth was announced, the location was noticeably absent. Reports had indicated the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who have made much of trying to carve out a private world for their son, wouldn't be making his birth certificate public through the palace, as was done after the births of Prince William and Kate's three children.

Prior to Archie's birth, there was much speculation Meghan was hoping to give birth at their new home of Frogmore Cottage, near Windsor Castle. But the birth certificate that became public record Friday afternoon confirmed Archie was born at the private Portland Hospital in London, the same place Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie were born.

It's not the first time there has been some secrecy around a royal baby, although the reasons were quite different.

Prince Michael of Kent (see above) was, coincidentally, also seventh in line to the throne at the time of his birth on July 4, 1942. When it came time for his christening, however, the location was kept secret.

"He was born during the Second World War, and for reasons of security, the location of his christening was not announced, as it was thought to be unsafe during a time of German bombing to announce where members of the Royal Family would be gathering," said royal historian Harris.

  • What do you think? Should the location of a royal birth be made known at the time? Email us and we'll share some responses in a future Fascinator.

Kate goes green

Kate's interest in children and the outdoors was on display when she visited a community garden in north London on Jan. 15. (Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images)

The Duchess of Cambridge has been carefully and strategically carving out her causes and bolstering her public profile of late, and there'll be another step in that evolution on Monday.

A garden co-designed by Kate will be unveiled at the Chelsea Flower Show in London.

The Royal Horticultural Society Back to Nature Garden was designed with children and families — a high priority for Kate — top of mind. The woodland garden features a tree house, a swing, a waterfall, a stream and a hollow log where kids can learn to balance and climb.

The garden will build on Kate's "passion for the outdoors and the proven benefits that nature has on physical and mental health," the palace said when the project was announced. "The Duchess is a strong advocate for the positive impact that nature and the environment can have on childhood development." 

The garden may also have a positive impact on the bottom line for the Chelsea Flower Show. Reports suggest "the Kate effect" could be behind a surge in ticket sales for the annual event after her involvement was announced.

Royally quotable

Prince William, president of the Football Association, speaks with stakeholders from the grassroots of football at the launch of a new mental health campaign, at Wembley Stadium in London on Wednesday. (Chris Jackson/AFP/Getty Images)

"Just like physical health, we all have mental health. Every one of us will face setbacks in our lives. And every one of us will face challenges with our mental health as a result."

Prince William launched a mental health campaign that will use football to encourage more men to talk about issues such as depression.

Royals in Canada

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth arrive in front of the grandstand at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa on May 19, 1939. (National Archives of Canada/The Canadian Press)

Eighty years ago, a royal visit to Canada widely considered among the most — if not the most — successful got underway in Quebec City. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth arrived on May 17, 1939, embarking on a month-long tour that saw them draw huge crowds and make a whistle-stop train trip across the country.

It was the first time a reigning monarch had visited Canada, and came at a pivotal moment in world history, just months before the outbreak of the Second World War.

"It was … significant for Canada because it was at a time when the world was at the brink," said John Fraser, author of The Secret of the Crown — Canada's Affair with Royalty.

As such, the visit "cemented Canada to the mother country with the looming war," Fraser said, and provided "hugely important bonding" for the country.

The trip held great personal significance for the royal couple, too.

"For King George and Queen Elizabeth themselves, the Queen Mother always said that Canada made them, made them as a couple, as a royal couple, and it cemented their image," said Fraser.

Canadians flocked to see them. In Toronto, one crowd was estimated at 100,000, a number that seems rather unfathomable today. The response to the royal couple also reflected a different time.

"Quebec was among the most rapturous places," said Fraser. "The whole of the old Quebec establishment, the church and the government, were fervent royalists. It's something that for some people is shocking to see today, but Quebecers were very pro the crown, because they were very anti-republican France. It's an interesting bit of history that's often forgotten."

  • CBC had a crew of 100 covering the 1939 tour. Our friends at CBC Archives have taken a closer look, delving into the radio broadcasts of the day to offer insight into the tour at the time. 

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Janet Davison is a CBC senior writer and editor based in Toronto.