Royal Jubilee-Royal Pregnancyby Burlington Bertie
London's year of the Royal Jubilee and Olympics has just got even better! This remarkable year of royal superlatives has been topped off by the announcement from Clarence House that Kate, Duchess of Cambridge is now pregnant.
It is 18 months since the Royal wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William at Westminster Abbey. Their baby will be the future monarch of Britain and the eyes of the world will follow his or her every movement from the moment of birth. "Royals are only private in the womb", Queen Elizabeth's nanny once said. We can expect the confinement next July to be in the 'royals' favourite King Edward VII Hospital in central London.
If the christening takes place in London rather than at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, I expect it to be at the Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace, or possibly at the Queen's Chapel across the road, (both these royal chapels, or 'Royal Peculiars' as they are known, are open to the public for Sunday services and well worth a visit). My money is on the Chapel Royal as the chosen christening venue as this is where mother-to-be Kate was confirmed by the Bishop of London sometime last year.
The Chapel Royal was built for Henry VIII and decorated by Hans Holbein. It's history is the story of England's monarchy. Tudor Mary I' heart is buried beneath the choir stalls. Her half sister Elizabeth I prayed for deliverance from the Spanish Armada here in 1588 as she awaited news of its passage up the English Channel. A century later Stuart King Charles I received the sacrament at its altar before walking across St. James's Park to the Banqueting House to be beheaded. On a happier note, Queen Victoria was married here. It was also here that the coffin of Prince William's mother Diana , Princess of Wales, lay before her funeral in Westminster Abbey.
The Queen's Chapel, which stands across the road from the Chapel Royal, is one of London's few surviving buildings designed by Inigo Jones, (1573-1672) . Built between 1623-27, it owes much to the architect's preoccupation with Italian Renaissance ideas, which he introduced to England.
The Queen's Chapel is sadly just one of only four survivors of the twenty-one royal buildings this gifted genius designed for King James I when he was employed as King's Surveyor. The most notable of these is the Banqueting House in Whitehall and the Queen's House at Greenwich Palace. Both the latter are open to the public and can also be hired for private functions. Although little of his work remains, his classical influence on the subsequent architecture of London was immense and was to last until the Victorian era and the introduction of neo gothic. We are fortunate that the building survived the Republic days of Oliver Cromwell's interregnum after he had executed King Charles I - he used it to stable his horses.
Chapel Royal and Queen's Chapel
Queen's House, Greenwich Palace
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