Wednesday, 13 February 2013

My conversation with the future Edward II

Yes, you read that right!  Over the weekend, I managed to have  a small conversation with Prince Edward, the future Edward II, at the Tower of London.  As a member of the Historic  Royal Palaces group, you pay a one-off fee for a year and can visit 5 royal palaces as many times as you like.  It comes in handy whenever I'm in London because even if I have just a couple of hours to spare, I'll pop to the Tower. I  headed there for a couple of hours this weekend, and decided to head for the Medieval Palace Exhibition.  It focuses on Henry III and Edward Ist.  The Tower has several 'characters' who frequent parts of the Tower at different times.  They are not advertised as such, and you can never be sure who you will come across.  They are not always 'popular' characters either - no Anne Boleyn, Guy Fawkes or lady Jane Grey.  I've 'met' James, Duke of Monmouth's wife and Judge Jeffries in the past.  So I was very surprised to meet Prince Edward and his sister playing a board game in St Thomas' Tower.  The great thing about these characters is that they don't perform as such, they just stay in character, and I'm always amused by the public reaction - especially children, who either are fascinated or frightened!

Anyway, this day, 3 young children and some adults were mesmerised by Edward and his sister playing a board game.  I wasn't sure who these characters were meant to be - possibly Edward Ist and Eleanor of Castile crossed my mind, but I soon made out from listening to the conversation they were brother and sister.  So I decided to ask them, and enquired if they were royalty (you HAVE to play along, as it's so much fun!), and possibly a king.  The prince replied that he was only a prince and this was his sister and they were waiting for their father, King Edward, and I got rather excited and said 'So you're Edward II?'  'Well, not yet, but I hope to be'.  I couldn't believe the Tower was choosing Edward II - yes, a so-called 'unpopular,' 'bad', king, to use as a character!  And no mention of a red, hot poker either!  Both characters clearly understood their roles and knew the history.  Needless to say, some fun was to be had here, so I engaged in a conversation with them.  Having found out Edward was still  prince, it went like this -

'So where's your friend Piers today?  has he been banished?'

Prince - 'No, he's not here'.

Princess - 'no, shhh! not yet!  That's still a year or 2 off.  Although this might be the time to tell him what we're planning'.

Prince - 'every time I try and carry on with my duties, someone has to keep mentioning him'.

Me - 'I'm completely on your side, your Grace'.

Prince, beaming - 'are you?  What think you sister of those who speak against him?'.

Princess - 'well, dear brother, there are those who think you favour him too much when they themselves are loyal and have wise words for you'.

Prince - 'they are merely jealous of him and seek to separate us with lies'.

Me - 'yes, they are jealous because you are such special friends, and they are greedy and want honours from you themselves.  They just don't understand you'.

Prince - 'I am glad of your support'.

Princess - 'but they are wise and loyal men to our father who have your best interests at heart....'

Prince - 'Silence! I am the Prince and will hear no more against him'.

Princess - 'then let us continue with our game'.

I wished the Prince well, and told him I didn't think he had long to wait for the throne, that he should trust Piers but beware his future wife, and left them to their game. 

A fed-up Prince Edward wonders how he can get of of this boring game and go for a dip in the Thames with Piers!
'I may as well just let her win and get back to Piers'.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

How about the hunt for the remains of Piers Gaveston?

Now that it has been proved that the remains found in the car park in Leicester are indeed the remains of Richard III, I've been thinking archaeologists need a new challenge.  The hunt for the remains of Richard III was aided by the Richard III society - and I was shocked there are only 4,000 members.  I thought there were so many more than that!  If they could raise over £10,000 pounds to foot the bill for the dig in Leicester, then why doesn't the Piers Gaveston Society seek to do the same?  Of course, the Piers Gaveston society was not formed to defend the reputation of Piers Gaveston - rather it's an elitest, secret society at Oxford University alledgedly dedicated to hedonism - something I'm sure Piers would approve of.  Members alledgedly include Boris Johnson, current mayor of London, actor Hugh Grant and Camilla Parker Bowles son, Tom.  This is what Wikipedia has to say about them -

Piers Gaveston society

I find the burial of Piers extremely moving.  Having died excommunicated, Edward II would not bury him until this had been revoked.  It was almost 2 years before Edward could secure a papal dispensation.  The body was cared for by the Dominican Friars at Oxford.  An elaborate funeral was held at the Dominican Friary at Kings Langley, where Edward and Piers had spent many happy times.

Check out this link to find out more about the priory - Kings Langley History Society.   I actually contacted the society to find out if there was any new information about the site of Piers tomb - which I'm sure was magnificent, knowing Edward II!  It seems the tomb is lost, and that a private school has been built on the site.  A friend of mine living in St Albans actually went on a visit to the school to find any information she could - alas, there was none.  Either Piers lies beneath the school, or he may have been reinterred in a local church.

Between them, surely Hugh Grant etc could find some money to launch an investigation?  And just think, the discovery of a skeleton could result in the reconstruction of Piers' face, just like Richard III's - now wouldn't that be something?  Of course, Piers doesn't hold the same 'romantic' fascinatio Richard III does - but you never know.  If I win the lottery, the search for Piers' resting place will be on my list to do.