Today, we honor the man who was our dad, Allen Spencer. If a daughter is always a Daddy’s girl, then my dad was very blessed to say that he had five Daddy’s girls. I’m sure that five daughters didn’t seem so much like a big blessing while waiting to get into the bathroom to shave in the morning, but Dad never let that bother him. While he truly was more of a night person, he faithfully dragged himself out of bed early every morning so he could get ready for work, before his five daughters descended upon the single bathroom in our home. I truly think that, for our dad, it never mattered that he had just daughters. He loved all his girls, including Mom, Collene Spencer, of course, more than anything in the world. We were all the princesses of his castle and Mom was the queen. Of course, we thought Dad was the greatest too, so it made for a very happy castle. It as home and it was the happiest home in the world, because we had the best parents.
Dad was always able to see the solution to a problem, rather that getting caught up in the problem itself. I remember countless times, in my school days, before things somehow clicked in my brain, when I was struggling, and Mom would get very upset about it. She wanted us to do good in school, and to her it seemed that we weren’t trying. Her threat was always, “Wait until your dad gets home!!” Now, that was the one thing that would put fear in us. Not that my mom couldn’t spank, but it always seemed worse when it was Dad…or maybe it was the fear of the unknown…wondering if I had crossed a line that would be my doom!! Then, when Dad got home, he was told about the grade we had or the class we weren’t doing well in, and invariably, he would say, “Well, I guess we are going to have to work on this.” What?? That was it?? Yes, that was it, and I would live to mess up another day. We never failed a class. Dad could always somehow make us understand the subject that was giving us the problem, and we would at least get a C in the class. I wonder where I would have been in school, had it not been for him. Suddenly in 9th grade, it all clicked in my brain, and my Dad got a break from the struggle, unless my younger sisters had the same issues I did. As I said, Dad was a problem solver, and I’m pretty sure that my mom greatly depended on him to solve any of the problems they had in life. He handled every problem with great ease, and that is why they were such a good team. Mom focused more on the little things, and Dad saw the big picture.
There have been so many times in the years since his passing that I have wished that I could go to him for advise. He would have always known just what to do, and it saddens me to know that I can’t go to him, as I know that it does my sisters. Dad always knew how to put the humor back in a situation, and bring the sunshine to a cloudy day. I know that he and Mom, and the other family members are having a great celebration today for his birthday, but then again, there is always a celebration going on in Heaven, so maybe it is just another day. Nevertheless, for us, Daddy’s Girls, today is a very special day…our dad’s 94th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Daddy. We love and miss you very much.
Wars always bring changes…especially in how nations feel about other nations. Sometimes, the whole world seems to be against one nation that has proven itself to be particularly evil. Germany was one of those nations that the entire world was against during World War I, as well as during World War II. It was during World War I that Britain’s King George V was quite concerned about the anti-German sentiment that existed in the world and in Britain. His family was of German descent, and the family name was very much a German name…Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, to be exact.
George was born on June 3, 1865, the second son of Prince Edward of Wales, who later became King Edward VII and Alexandra of Denmark, and the grandson of Queen Victoria. He embarked on a naval career before becoming heir to the throne in 1892 when his older brother, Edward, died of pneumonia. The following year, George married the German princess Mary of Teck, who was his cousin, a granddaughter of King George III, and who had previously been intended for Edward. The couple had six children, including the future Edward VIII and George VI, who took the throne in 1936 after his brother abdicated to marry the American divorcee Wallis Simpson. As the new Duke of York, George had to abandon his career in the navy. He became a member of the House of Lords and received a political education. When his father died in 1910, George ascended to the British throne as King George V.
With the outbreak of World War I in the summer of 1914, strong anti-German feeling within Britain caused sensitivity among the royal family about its German roots. Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, also a grandson of Queen Victoria, was the king’s cousin; the queen herself was German. Public respect for the king increased during World War One, when he made many visits to the front line, hospitals, factories and dockyards. Still, because of anti-German feeling George V felt led to adopt the family name of Windsor, so on June 19, 1917, the king decreed that the royal surname was thereby changed from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor, which it has remain since that day.
After the World War II, the current Prince Philip was granted permission by King George VI to marry the future Queen Elizabeth. Before the official announcement of their engagement, Philip abandoned his Greek and Danish royal titles and became a naturalized British subject, adopting the surname Mountbatten from his maternal grandparents. After an engagement of five months, he married Elizabeth on November 20, 1947. Just before the wedding, Philip was made the Duke of Edinburgh. He left active military service when Elizabeth became monarch in 1952, having reached the rank of commander. He was formally made a British prince in 1957. Mountbatten-Windsor is the personal surname used by the male-line descendants of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Under a declaration made in Privy Council in 1960, the name Mountbatten-Windsor applies to male-line descendants of the Queen without royal styles and titles. Individuals with royal styles do not usually use a surname, but some descendants of the Queen with royal styles have used Mountbatten-Windsor when a surname was required.
Anytime a nation’s leader is killed, it’s a disaster, no matter how they died, but it is not so common for the disaster to still be felt when their child is killed, although the nation naturally feels a degree of collective sadness. In a monarchy, however, things are different. The child of the current king stands to be the next leader. These days, having a girl be the next in line for the throne is not a problem, in most nations, but that was not the case in England in 1120. At the time, the king of England was King Henry I. The Norman dynasty had not been in power very long, and the King Henry I was very eager to have the line continue on. His problem was solved with the birth of his only legitimate son, William the Aethling, who was called by the Saxon princely title to stress that his parents had united both Saxon and Norman Royal Houses. William was a warrior prince who, even at the age of seventeen, fought alongside his father to reassert their rights in their Norman lands on the Continent. As was common with kings, especially in that era, and maybe not so unusual in this era, the king had multiple concubines, and so several illegitimate children too. He did have a legitimate daughter named Matilda, but the throne belonged to his son. His illegitimate children were Richard, and oddly, a second Matilda. All seemed right in his world.
King Henry I was king from August 2, 1100, until his death on December 1, 1135, and expected that his son, Prince William would take his place as king upon his death. Then disaster struck on the November 25, 1120. This was a disaster that would have a dramatic effect, not only on the families of those involved, but on the very fabric of English Government. After a successful battle in 1119, which brought the defeat of King Louis IV of France, and the humiliation at the Battle of Brémule, the King and his entourage were headed home to celebrate. The king was offered a fine ship, the White Ship to travel home in, but he declined because he had already made other arrangements. He suggested that his son and some of the other men could talk the journey on the White Ship.
As the heir to the throne, Prince William attracted the cream of society to surround him. His entourage was to include some three hundred fellow passengers…140 knights and 18 noblewomen, his half-brother, Richard, his half-sister, Matilda the Countess of Perche; his cousins, Stephen and Matilda of Blois, the nephew of the German Emperor Henry V, the young Earl of Chester and most of the heirs to the great estates of England and Normandy. The passengers were all in a mood to celebrate, and asked the Prince for drinks. The prince had brought wine aboard the ship by the barrel-load to help with the festivities. Before long the both passengers and crew became highly intoxicated. Some even left the shop when things started getting abusive.
The people who remained were drunk, and decided that it would be a great idea to try to catch the ship the king was on. The king’s ship had already sailed out into the English Channel. The people kept pushing the captain to accept the challenge. The captain was sure that his ship could catch the king’s ship, so they set out that evening, and immediately struck a rock in the channel as they left. The ship began to sink, and Prince William was safely in a boat, but he heard his half-sister, Matilda screaming for help. So he left the boat to rescue her. The boat he was in was hit by a group of desparate passengers, and swamped. Prince William was lost and drown. The nation was devastated, and when King Henry I tried to get them to accept his legitimate daughter, Matilda, but they didn’t want to and when the king died, Matilda and her husband found themselves fighting for the throne in a war known as The Anarchy.
It’s always fun to find out that you are related to someone who is famous, and for me, it has been common knowledge for all of my life. The Spencer side of my family is full of aristocracy. Some are princes and princesses, and even future kings, and others were great strategists, like Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, who is my 15th cousin once removed. You will notice the hyphen, and while it isn’t in his name, it is nevertheless, correct. He was a product of grandparents who merged two wealthy family names, when his 4th great grandfather, Charles Spencer married Ann Churchill and they hyphenated the names. Later, family members either used the traditional Spencer name, such as Diana Spencer’s line, or they used the Churchill name, as Winston Churchill’s line did, even though they continued the Spencer part of the name in his line. People have often thought it was his middle name, but that is not so. I don’t know if they used the hyphen back then, but the names were both last names.
Churchill was born to Lord Randolph Spencer and his wife Jennie Jerome, on November 30, 1874. They were members of a prestigious family with a long history of military service and upon his father’s death in 1895, Winston joined the British Fourth Hussars. During the next five years, Winston Churchill enjoyed an illustrious military career, serving in India, the Sudan, and South Africa, and distinguishing himself several times in battle. In 1899, he resigned his commission to concentrate on his literary and political career and in 1900 was elected to Parliament as a Conservative MP from Oldham. In 1904, he began serving in a number of important posts before being appointed Britain’s First Lord of the Admiralty in 1911. Churchill foresaw a war that would bring with it a need for a navy that was ready, and well thought out strategies that would bring victory, and he worked to bring such a British Navy into existence. Churchill was a born strategist.
Winston Churchill’s military leadership took quite a blow during World War I, when he was held responsible for the disastrous Dardanelles and Gallipoli campaigns in 1915, and he was excluded from the war coalition government. He resigned his commission, and volunteered to command an infantry battalion in France. In 1917, Churchill returned to politics. He became a cabinet member of the Liberal government of Lloyd George, a move that I suspect he would regret. From 1919 to 1921, he was secretary of state for war. Then, in 1924 he returned to the Conservative Party, where two years later he played a leading role in the defeat of the General Strike of 1926. Out of office from 1929 to 1939, Churchill issued unheeded warnings of the threat of German and Japanese attacks. After the outbreak of World War II in Europe, Churchill was called back to his post as First Lord of the Admiralty and eight months later replaced Neville Chamberlain, an ineffective military leader, as prime minister of a new coalition government. In the first year of his administration, Britain stood alone against Nazi Germany, but Churchill promised his country and the world that the British people would “never surrender.” He rallied the British people to a strong resistance and expertly orchestrated Franklin D Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin into an alliance that eventually crushed the Axis. Churchill proved himself to be the best military leader Britain could possibly have had at a time when he was desperately needed. Today would have been Winston Spencer Churchill’s 142nd birthday.
As I was looking through my Uncle Bill Spencer’s family history account, I can across a Princess named, Joan of Acre. I wondered if this was a mistake on my uncle’s part or within some of the research that was out there, I wondered if they had indeed meant Joan of Arc. Joan of Arc, however, was a completely different person. The name was close enough that I thought maybe it was an error, but it wasn’t. Joan of Arc was born in 1412, and died on May 30, 1431, while Joan of Acre was born on April 1272 and died on April 23, 1307. Joan of Acre was an English princess, a daughter of King Edward I of England and Queen Eleanor of Castile. The name “Acre” comes from her birthplace in the Holy Land while her parents were on a crusade. Joan had sixteen full siblings, only five of which survived to adulthood, and at least three half siblings.
The Princess was married twice. Her first husband was Gilbert de Clare who was the 7th Earl of Gloucester, was one of the most powerful nobles in her father’s kingdom. They married on April 30, 1290, and their short marriage produced four children…Gilbert de Clare, Eleanor de Clare, Margaret de Clare, Elizabeth de Clare. He passed away just about five years after their marriage, leaving her to raise the young children…a totally different thing than these days, given her stature and all the help she would have had. Her second husband was Sir Ralph de Monthermer who a squire in her household. She married him in secret in 1297, probably due to the fact that he would not have been a suitable match in those days…sad to think about really. I never could understand the whole purpose behind stature or other arranged marriages, but times were different, and I can’t say that our current divorce rate speaks well for making our own choices either. The marriage didn’t remain a secret for long however, because they had four children as well…Mary de Monthermer, Joan de Monthermer, Thomas de Monthermer, Edward de Monthermer. After the marriage, her father, who was not happy about the marriage, nevertheless, gave in and her husband was given the same titles that her first husband had held.
History does not record the cause of Joan’s death on April 23, 1307, but many suspect that it was in childbirth. She was best known for her rebellious second marriage, as it was pretty much an unheard of event at that time. Joan’s father died just four months after she did, Joan’s widower, Ralph de Monthermer, lost the title of Earl of Gloucester soon after the deaths of his wife and father-in-law. The earldom of Gloucester was given to Joan’s son from her first marriage, Gilbert, who was its rightful holder. Monthermer continued to hold a nominal earldom in Scotland, which had been conferred on him by Edward I, until his death. While that may have stung a little, I have to think that her second husband loved her more than the titles.
Every so often in the royal family, someone enters the royal scene, who single handedly manages to breathe new life into an otherwise stale lineage that has been filled with people who have been in the family so long that they possess little or no…well, zing!! Kate Middleton is this generation’s breath of fresh air. Don’t get me wrong, because I very much like Prince William and Prince Harry, and I feel that both of them have gone a long way toward making the British Royal Family popular and accessible to a large degree, but they were, nevertheless caught up in the humdrum, and even a little bit tired, feel that the Royal Family has exhibited in recent years. Kate on the other hand, has a smile that lights up the room when she appears. She is vibrant and full of life, and she is not shy or afraid of the camera, so she has captured our imaginations and our hearts for a while now. From the time they started dating, we hoped that she would be the one Prince William would choose, because when they were together, he changed into a vibrant, smiling man too. She had that affect on him, and I’m sure that feeling of being alive again was the main reason Prince William could look no further for his bride. Yes, he was concerned for her emotional wellbeing, after the terrible time his mother had as a member of the Royal family, and so he gave her some space, but they could not stay apart, and the British Monarchy is far better because of their marriage.
Now that their little family has grown with the addition of precious little Prince George, there is even more life being breathed into the family. While we haven’t been treated to a lot of pictures of Prince George yet, it is hard to get that cute little face out of your memory. He is such a handsome little man, and I am so happy for the royal couple. While I don’t expect it to be very long before we find out that another royal baby is on the way, for now, we will just have to wait patiently for more views of the current royal little one.
I think the main reason Princess Kate was able to bring about such a royal transformation is that she was not raised in all the stuffiness of the British Hierarchy, but rather was a commoner, and so the best choice to bring a much needed change. She may be a commoner, but it is in standing only, because she has style and flair, beauty and brains, and definitely grace. She is in every way…a princess. I think the Queen would do very well to pass up Charles in favor of Prince William and his bride, Kate for King and Queen of England…and that is my opinion on the matter. Today is my cousin, Princess Kate’s birthday!! Happy birthday Princess Kate!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!