Something very new has happened to the royal family of England. As you all know by now, Prince William and his wife Catherine “Kate” now have a second baby…a girl named Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. In times prior, this child would have been passed over for succession to the throne, but this is a new time, and she is currently fourth in line to the throne. It used to be that if William and Kate were to have a third child, and it was a boy, he would pass up his sister in the line to the throne. That kind of left the girls as a showpiece really, so I think it is a great move to abolish that old tradition. And when we look at the years that Queen Elizabeth has ruled in the United Kingdom, I would have to say that she has done a pretty good job.
I am so excited that William and Kate had a baby girl this time, because they have been able to add a tribute to William’s mother, my 18th cousin, Princess Diana. I wish they had named this baby Diana for her first name, but I can certainly understand the reasons not to. As one person commented, this baby should have her own identity. Nevertheless, I think it is important that she have a tie to the grandmother she will never get to know…at least not in this life. I also think it would be wonderful if this baby bore a slight resemblance to Diana, who was quite beautiful.
Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana Windsor was born on May 2, 2015 at 8:34am, weighing 8 pounds 3 ounces, which was just 3 ounces less than her brother, Prince George when he arrived on July 22, 2013. Her name has several possibilities as to where it came from. Of course, the previous Princess Charlotte of Wales, was beloved by the people, but she died in childbirth in 1817 at the age of 21. Charlotte is the feminine form of Charles, and I suppose she could be named after Prince Charles. The name means petite. Charlotte is also Kate’s sister, Pippa’s middle name, so it is quite possible the name came from there, as the girls are very close. Of course, I’m sure that Elizabeth is after both Queen Elizabeth, and Kate herself, as her name is Catherine Elizabeth, and as we all know, Diana is after her grandmother, Princess Diana.
I’m sure this baby will feel a responsibility to be as loving as her grandmother was, and I think that is a good thing. Diana was the “People’s Princess” and I’m sure her granddaughter will be just as beloved as Diana was. While it will be a while before we see many more pictures, I look forward to watching this, my 18th cousin twice removed, grow into the beautiful princess that I’m sure she will become. Her parents have done a wonderful job raising her brother, Prince George, and I know they will do the same with her. I look forward to having the princess dazzle us in the very near future. Congratulations Will and Kate on your beautiful baby girl!!
Most people know that Princess Diana married Prince Charles, and for a lot of people that is the extent of the Spencer ties to the British Aristocracy. That assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. The Spencer family is one of Britain’s preeminent aristocratic families. In the family line, there have been knights, baronets, and members of the royal family. Hereditary titles include dukedom of Marlborough, earldom of Sunderland, as well as Spencer and Churchill viscountcy. Of course, the two most well known members were Sir Winston Churchill and Princess Diana, with the current addition of Princes William and Henry, and now George.
So the question remains, how did this family rise to wealth, or were they born into it? The answer is that the Spencer family rose to wealth from humble beginnings. A close relative of Henry Spencer who died in 1478, was John Spencer who in 1469 had become a feudal lord of Wormleighton in Warwickshire and a tenant of the now famous to most people, Altrop in Northamptonshire in 1486. His nephew, Sir John Spencer, who died in 1522, first made a living trading in livestock and other commodities. He was able to save enough money to purchase both the Wormleighton and Altrop lands, and the estate of Altrop with its moated house and several hundred acres of farmland. The family grazed sheep on the land. As time went on, he purchased more and more land. He then rebuilt the Altrop house in 1508 and it became the family home for the next nineteen generations. By the 16th century the Spencer family had entered Parliament in the person of Sir Robert Spencer (1570 – 1627) who represented Brackley in Parliament. He was made a Knight of the Garter and created Baron Spencer of Wormleighton in 1601. During the reign of King James I, Sir Robert Spencer was reputed to be the richest man in England.
There were those in the British aristocracy, such as the more established Howard and FitzAlan ancestors, who didn’t approve of the Spencer’s rise to wealth through sheep herding, and who tried to act more officially aristocratic, but they were shot down in a heated debate when Lord Spencer replied, “When my ancestors, as you say, were keeping sheep, your ancestors were plotting treason.” I’m sure this did not go over well, but apparently, they were not able to dispute that accusation, and so the subject was dropped. There have been countless other Spencers in the British Parliament, as well as the House of Commons. The Spencer family has been influential in much of the lawmaking in England, as well as in the area of British economics.
I guess I don’t quite understand why the other aristocratic families didn’t like the way that the Spencer family rose to wealth, but I think that in the area of wealth and politics, the old money and old political families often don’t like having new upstarts invading their supposed territory. I don’t think it is much different in any country. The wealthy families tend to like their power and prestige, and really don’t want to share those things much. I seriously doubt that they ever gave any thought to where their own wealth came from. Later, after the upstart families are established, they simply have to accept it. It reminds me of the unsinkable Molly Brown on the Titanic. The established money didn’t like her marrying into her money. They didn’t feel like she belonged, but she didn’t care, and she was nevertheless a force to be reckoned with, so they had to treat her with respect. That is what has had to happen with the Spencer family, and now, their aristocracy is no longer questioned by any of the British aristocratic families.
As very young girls, my sisters and I were well aware of our Spencer roots. We are among the descendants of Michael Spencer, who is one of the four Spencer brothers who, along with their sister, came to America together, leaving behind all they knew in England. Michael was our 8th great grandfather. The information about our English heritage was passed down from generation to generation. We knew that we were related to Winston Spencer Churchill. We knew that we were related to Princess Diana, who is our 18th cousin, and her children, William and Harry, and now William’s son George. We always knew about all of the things that tied our family to the Spencer line in England.
Mom and Dad were always very proud of our Spencer background…of anything Spencer, really. I remember as a little girl, being allowed to stay up late, even on a school night, to watch the movie “Spencer’s Mountain” whenever it came on. It always felt like it was a story written about our family, even though the number of children didn’t match, and there were no boys in our family. Our family values, and the closeness we all shared, just meshed so well with the family in the movie, that it really was like they were a part of our family. We watched the movie many times, and it was almost like they were our alter egos.
“Spencer’s Mountain” was not the only late night viewing, that occurred in my life, that had to do with the Spencer family, however. When Diana Spencer married Prince Charles, I stayed up late to watch the ceremony, and when Prince William married Kate Middleton, I stayed up late to watch the ceremony, which took place on my birthday…something I really liked. Could I have recorded these events for viewing at a more normal time of day? Yes, and I did record them, but that would never be the same as watching the event live. Maybe other people would think I was crazy, but to me, that’s what growing up Spencer was all about. These people are my family, and this was an important event in their lives. I wanted to watch…first hand. When it was announced that Princess Kate was in labor with George, I was glued to the television set. I couldn’t wait to hear the happy news. I know many people aren’t interested in the English Royals, and I wasn’t really either…until Princess Diana married into the family. That connected my family to the royal family…in modern times at least…the Spencer family has royal ties centuries back too, but I didn’t know of those and wasn’t around then anyway, so Princess Diana was the first royal I knew of.
Every time the name Spencer showed up in a product, movie, or even the phone book, we felt an immediate connection. In reality, for the people in the phone books at least, there is a real likelihood that we are related. I have run into many people over the years that bear the name Spencer, and I only wish that there had been a way to find out for sure what our relationship is. I know it would be something that would be of interest to all of us, because everyone becomes intrigued by the possibility of being related to someone they didn’t know about before. There are a number of Spencers in Casper, and I’m sure we are related, but it would take time to trace the ties and find the connection that I have no doubt exists. It is another aspect of growing up Spencer, that will have to wait for another day.