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Château de Chenonceau: Loire Valley’s Most Popular Chateau

Château de Chenonceau transports you to the Renaissance-era France with this charming setting and the romantic appeal that both the gardens and the magnificent Cher River have to offer.
Aside from being the second most visited chateau in France, next to Versailles, Chenonceau was dubbed as the “ladies chateau,” thanks to the many powerful women who played their role, not only in French history, but also influenced the design and its destiny of Chenonceau.
Built by Katherine Briçonnet from 1515-1521, the chateau was later given by Henri II to his mistress, the famous Diane de Poitiers. She worked towards the creation of the extensive flower and vegetable gardens and orchard. The area along the Cher was usually prone to flooding and so she had stone terraces erected to protect her exquisite gardens of four triangles.
With the death of Henri II, his widow, Catherine de Medici forced Diane to exchange it with Chateau Chaumont. Catherine de Medici spent a fortune expanding the chateau, …
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The Life of Augusta Princess of Wales, King George III's Mother

Augusta of Saxe-Gotha almost never became Princess of Wales had the marriage prospects for Frederick Prince of Wales with Princess Louisa Ulrika of Prussia materialized. However, King George II and Frederick William I had a disagreement and the plan was eventually halted.
The Prince of Wales, anyway, freed himself from the burden of choosing his own bride. Whoever his parents chose for him was good enough for him. He just wanted to get married as soon as he can so he could ask for additional income from Parliament and break free from financial dependence from the father with whom he was never in good terms for the rest of his life.
And so, when King George II decided that he should marry Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, there wasno protestation from his part.
Born in Gotha in 1719, the German princess' father was Frederick II, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. Her mother wasMagdalena Augusta of Anhalt-Zerbst (1676–1740). She barely spoke English, her mother did not hesitate to give her any …

Hampton Court Palace: From Tudor Residence to a Royal Abode that Rivaled Versailles

Hampton Palace has the distinction of being the oldest remaining Tudor palace in England. It was originally built in 1515 for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, King Henry VIII’s chief adviser. However, he fell from favor after his failure to obtain an annulment on the king’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. The palace was quickly seized by the King only to enlarge it and make it one of his abodes.

Throughout the reign of the Tudors, the palace has seen numerous historic events. It was here where the king’s heir, the future Edward VI was born in 1537. Here also was were Jane Seymour died after delivering the baby. The King was attending a mass in the palace's chapel when he was informed that his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, was having an affair.  Henry’s daughter and Edward VI’s successor, Queen Mary I, spent his honeymoon at Hampton Court after marrying King Philip II of Spain.

The palace has seen extensive rebuilding and expansive in the next 100 years. Seeing how outdated the palace wa…

The Homes of the Duke of Buccleuch, Scotland's Largest Landowner

The Dukes of Buccluech have long been regarded as among the largest landowners in Scotland. The family estates extend to over 240,000 acres. Convert this into cash and Their Graces get a tidy 1 billion pounds as of this writing. But acres upon acres of land are not the only possessions they own. Aside from their pedigreed heritage (the First Duke of Buccleuch, the Duke of Monmouth, was the oldest illegitimate child of King Charles II), the Montagu-Douglas-Scotts also own some of the grandest houses in Great Britain: Bowhill House, Drumlanrig Castle, Boughton House, and Dalkeith House. The last is currently on lease to an American university.
Boughton House
Set amidst an 11,000-acre ground,  Boughton House evokes an 18th century French chateau thanks to its imposing façade which earns it the moniker “The English Versailles”. The house contains a rich collection of furniture, tapestries, china, carpets and paintings. El Greco’s The Adoration of the Shepherds, Thomas Gainsborough’s port…

Kew Palace: A Queen's Beloved Home

The year was 1728. King George II and his wife, Queen Caroline, both very much German, were just crowned as British sovereigns. With six children in the family, their cramped summer residence in Richmonde Park was just too much for such as a huge family! The Queen had laid her eyes on the Dutch House, the red-orange structure sitting on a spacious lot by the Thames in London. There, she installed three of her daughters,  Anne, Amelia and Caroline. For the next 100 years, Kew housed several members of the House of Hanover.
Here, King George II and Queen Caroline spent many carefree days, living normal lives unencumbered by the trappings of pomp and the strictures of court. The gardens were cultivated as an idyllic pleasure ground.
Frederick, Prince of Wales, leased Capel House at Kew, remodelled, refurbished, and expanded itto add a kitchen block now known as the 'the Royal Kitchens'. Because of its plastered exterior, the house became known as the White House.  Kew became his f…

Queen Mary and the Delhi Durbar Tiara

In 1911, King George V and Queen Mary were to be proclaimed Emperor and Empress of India. That was the first and only time that a British sovereign attended the durbar, which was hailed as the largest gathering of princes, noblemen and landed gentry in India to pay homage to their sovereigns. The King and Queen should never be outdone by the petty rulers. They were sure these local princes would come garbed with all the gold and diamonds in their treasure chest. It was decided that they should showcase the crown jewels with them. But British law prohibits anyone from taking these treasures outside Great Britain. A new set of coronation regalia  had to be made! Thus, the India Office commissioned Garrard and Co. to make the Imperial Crown of India for King George V. It has eight arches, with 6170 exquisitely cut diamonds, and covered with sapphires, emeralds and rubies, with a velvet and miniver cap all weighing 34.05 ounces (965 g).

However, Queen Mary was without the empress' cr…

In Pictures: Blenheim Palace, a grateful nation's gift to a war hero

Blenheim Palace is a monumental English country house located in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom. This is the seat of the Dukes of Marlborough. Built from 1705 until probably in the 1730s, Blenheim Palace is the only non-royal, non-episcopal palace in the United Kingdom. One of the biggest houses in the country, it is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The palace was built for John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough by grateful nation for the duke's military triumphs against the French and Bavarians during the War of the Spanish Succession, culminating in the 1704 Battle of Blenheim.  Shortly after construction started, political struggles hampered progress. The duke of Marlborough’s wife, Sarah, who served as Queen Anne’s mistress, had eventually fallen off from grace. With no funds available, for the palace’s construction ceased.
Political struggles forced the Marlboroughs to go to Europe, where they lived in exile until Queen Anne’s death in 1714.  The duke died…
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