Joy lit up Princess Elizabeth’s face as she raced around the deck of HMS Vanguard playing tag with sailors. And no wonder – she had a glorious secret.
The 20-year-old was head-over-heels in love with a handsome prince, and secretly engaged to be married.
George VI had insisted she wait until after a tour of southern Africa at the start of 1947 before the engagement was announced.
The trip would include an important radio speech to the Commonwealth to mark her 21st birthday and coming of age, and the King did not want the romance to steal the limelight.
So, as she would always do, Elizabeth put her duty ahead of her personal life. But there was no mistaking her happiness as she and her family made their voyage towards Cape Town on a three-and-a-half-month tour. It was her first trip abroad, and her future was bright.
Elizabeth had first met the penniless Prince Philip of Greece when she was just 13. They were photographed playing croquet, his head bowed, her look challenging.
He was an 18-year-old naval cadet who had been tasked by his uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten, with entertaining Elizabeth and her eight-year-old sister Margaret while their father inspected the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth in July 1939.
Afterwards the King invited some of the officers for refreshments with his family on their yacht, the Victoria And Albert, including the “fair-haired boy” who had been so kind to his daughters.
Mountbatten noted in his diary that night: “Philip came back aboard V&A for tea and was a great success with the children.”
Indeed, Philip had impressed the young Margaret by how much he could eat. As for Elizabeth, she had been unusually silent. Mountbatten years later told Prince Charles that from the day his mother met Philip, she had never seriously looked at another man. It was true.
The third cousins began to write to one another, but they met only occasionally in the following years while Philip was away serving in World War Two.
The young midshipman was welcomed by the royals when he was on leave, and in 1943 was even invited to spend Christmas at Windsor.
Elizabeth’s governess Crawfie noted there was something different about the 17-year-old princess. She wrote: “There was a sparkle about her none of us had ever seen.”
Her father refused to accept that his Lilibet could be serious about the first man she had fallen for. Anyway, he told his mother Queen Mary, she was far too young for marriage.
Nevertheless, Elizabeth was already determined that she would one day marry Philip.
Small problems like his Greek nationality and lack of money did not put her off. And Crawfie said it was, “obvious to all of us that he was very much in love”.
The dashing officer would dine whenever he could with Elizabeth and Margaret in their old nursery.
Meanwhile, Philip’s uncle “Dickie” Mountbatten hoped for the best.
He was a great one for dynastic mergers, and to see the son of his eldest sister courting the future queen was very satisfying.
In fact, one courtier said of the romance: “Dickie seems to have planned it in his own mind.”
After the war ended, Philip took a job instructing cadets at Corsham in Wiltshire and stayed with the royals on weekends and holidays.
The pair were soon enjoying the fun of peacetime — and discovering shared hobbies. Elizabeth revealed in a letter: “We both love dancing — we’ve danced at Ciro’s and Quaglino’s as well as at parties.”
Still, when Philip came to stay at Balmoral for six weeks in the summer of 1946, Elizabeth did not allow herself to expect too much.
But it was there amid the dramatic Scottish landscape that Philip proposed beside a loch, with curlews crying overhead.
The King liked Philip and admired his determination to become the best at everything he did. But he insisted there was no announcement.
The family were busily planning their tour of southern Africa to shore up support for the fraying Empire. The young queen-to-be was to be the star attraction, the tour designed to launch her as a fully fledged royal.
The family set off from Portsmouth aboard the battleship Vanguard on February 1, 1947 — the first foreign tour for Elizabeth and Margaret.
Elizabeth’s high spirits were evident, but when it came time for the trip’s biggest moment, she showed how remarkably serious she could be.
In Cape Town on April 21, her 21st birthday, she gave an astonishing radio speech to her future subjects across the world, committing herself to a lifetime of devoted service.
Meanwhile, back in England, Mountbatten was busily smoothing the way for the young couple. Greek-born Philip became a naturalised British subject and adopted a new surname — Mountbatten. It was thought more acceptable to the British than his original: Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg.
By the time the royals steamed back into Portsmouth aboard their battleship on May 12, everything was in order. And Elizabeth seemed more in love than ever.
Crawfie recalled in her book The Little Princesses: “I noticed that suddenly she began to play her gramophone more than usual, and that her favourite tune of the moment was People Will Say We’re In Love.”
Finally, on July 9, 1947, Elizabeth’s engagement to Philip was announced. In photos, the princess proudly displayed her engagement ring.
It had been designed by her future husband and was made up of 11 diamonds including a central solitaire that had once been part of a tiara owned by his mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg.
The wedding was set for November 20, and it was to be a grand celebration at Westminster Abbey to cheer up the nation after the ravages and privations of war.
The guest list of 2,500 included the remaining royal families of Europe — complete with six kings and seven queens, some from a rag-bag of declining monarchies, most of whom were related to Philip and Elizabeth.
Among the omissions were Philip’s three sisters who had married Germans, two of them Nazis. On the big day, broadcast live on BBC radio, 21-year-old Elizabeth rode to the Abbey with her father in the Irish State Coach. She walked down the aisle in an ivory satin Norman Hartnell gown with a 15ft train.
Philip gave her a ring made from Welsh gold. The inside was inscribed with a secret message that only he, Elizabeth and the engraver ever knew.
But he also gave her another special gift too: That morning he had given up smoking. Elizabeth hated cigarettes because of the damage they had done to her father’s health.
After the ceremony, the newlyweds left for their honeymoon at the Mountbatten family seat of Broadlands near Romsey in Hampshire.
Three weeks later they were back home at Buckingham House and it was there, just shy of one year on, that King Charles was born. His arrival on November 14, 1948, was greeted by peals of bells at Westminster Abbey, while the fountains of Trafalgar Square were floodlit blue “for a boy”.
Elizabeth had a 30-hour labour, during which Philip was sent away to work off his nervous energy with a game of squash and a swim in the palace pool. He had driven everyone mad with his pacing up and down.
By the time Charles was 20 months old, he had a baby sister. Anne was born on August 15, 1950, in her parents’ new marital home, Clarence House.
Philip had dashed to London from his naval duties in Malta to await her arrival, but was soon back on the sun-soaked island.
He had been posted to the British colony in 1949 as second-in-command of the lead ship in the Mediterranean fleet, HMS Chequers.
And while duty and motherhood kept Elizabeth in England for much of the time, she made as many lengthy trips as she could to be with her husband.
There she could live something approaching the normal life of a Navy wife, and she loved it.
The princess was able to drive to the shops, visit the hairdresser, attend dances at the local hotel and, of course, soak up the heat.
Friend Lady Pamela Hicks recalled, “Magical days of endless picnics, sunbathing and water-skiing”.
The princess made her last visit to Malta as a naval wife in November 1950, but this time it was a short trip.
She had to step in at home to deputise for her increasingly frail father.
And by mid-1951, Philip gave up his active career in order to support Elizabeth back in England as she took on ever more responsibilities.
Later that year the couple took their first steps together on the world stage on an official visit to Canada, leaving Charles, nearly three, and one-year-old Anne at home.
A crowd of 15,000 greeted the pair’s flight at Montreal airport on October 8 for the start of a 33-day trip covering 10,000 miles and 60 cities.
They were superstars. And they were tireless.
As well as formal engagements, Elizabeth dressed in oilskins to visit Niagara Falls, attended a rodeo in Calgary — and square-danced with a cowboy-costumed Philip in Ottawa. They even managed a quick detour to US President Harry Truman in Washington.
It was there that the entranced 63-year-old Democrat likened Elizabeth to a “fairy princess”.
In just over three months’ time, that fairy princess would be a queen.
But her handsome prince would remain at her side, or two steps behind, for 73 years.
The Only Place Where Rent Hasn’t Increased in 500 Years
For most people rent is the biggest expense they have to face each month and although the prices fluctuate, it seems to have a slight increase each year that is strongly felt for those with a lower income.
The increase in rent rates is due to various reasons such as economical inflation, an increase in the housing market, and of course demand.
Many people around the world don’t own a home and the criteria for getting a mortgage are becoming more demanding, therefore in today’s economical situation, fewer people identify as homeowners.
Our world is facing major inflation when it comes to renting, one that has not been seen in many years, and experts are only estimating that prices are going to keep rising.
Despite all this, there is one place on this capitalist earth where rent hasn’t been affected by anything for exactly 500 years.
Inflation has been the main reason for the increase in all prices and this is because as time goes on, more people are strengthening their purchasing power.
1$ per year in Fuggerei
This place is located on the outskirts of Augsburg which happens to be the oldest city in Germany.
In the small Bavarian village named Fuggerei, there is a social housing complex that hasn’t changed its rent since it has been built in 1521.
This small social housing complex is also considered to be the oldest in existence.
The house has been built by Jakob Fugger the Rich as he was known in the local community during the early 16th century.
It was built specifically for citizens who were below the poverty line through no fault of their own.
The criteria to apply for housing have also stayed the same. If someone wants to apply they need to show proof of their financial status and have no debt whatsoever.
The complex is made up of 67 houses that have been split up into 147 apartments.
One of the houses hasn’t been refurbished as it is used to present what Bavarian medieval houses looked like in the 16th century. Most people that live in the complex today are seniors that have a small pension.
It is amazing to see how the price has been kept the same for so long despite the complex suffering many damages through this period of 500 years due to the various wars that had taken place.
Destroyed and Rebuilt several times
In fact, the complex was destroyed more than three times, with the worst event taking place during the Second World War where 70% of the complex was bombed.
However, every time the complex would be demolished, it had been rebuilt accordingly to the same style and traditional architecture.
With time the apartments were renovated to stay up with the times, but the outside has been kept the same.
If we look at the price of something very common from 500 years ago such as bread, a loaf would have cost you around 2 cents.
500 years ahead and applying inflation the average price for bread is around 1$. If you want to visit the complex you have to pay an entrance fee that sums up to five years of rent, so around 5$.
Although many people have not heard about this place, it used to be quite popular in its contemporary era.
The most famous person that stayed here was actually Mozart’s great grandfather, making it special.
What is really special is the community within the complex that helps one another and is very welcoming to the tourists who want to visit the complex as long as they respect the laws and rules.
Breaking: Coup In China As Xi Jinping Is Under House Arrest
Rumours of a coup against Chinese President Xi Jinping are going around on social media, but experts have highlighted that there is no concrete evidence of coup or any disturbance in China so far.
The internet is abuzz with reports saying ‘something is up’ in China, with people’s guesses ranging from a political or military coup against President Xi Jinping to potential military activity in Western China.
The evidence cited for such guesses includes reports of cancelled passenger flights in parts of China, Xi not being seen in public for some time, and footage allegedly of military vehicles moving towards the capital Beijing.
However, there is neither any official comment on these guesses nor any confirmed report on military movement towards the capital.
Here we share what’s being said on social media, particularly in India, and what are the facts that we know for sure.
Is Xi Jinping facing a coup?
Twitter accounts with several thousands followers have shared that there has been a coup against Xi. Photographs of a successor have also appeared.
However, none of these updates are from verified or credible accounts and most of these accounts are of anonymous users.
Videos of alleged military movement have also surfaced.
“This video of military vehicles moving to Beijing comes immediately after the grounding of 59 per cent of the flights in the country and the jailings of senior officials.
There’s a lot of smoke, which means there is a fire somewhere inside the CCP. China is unstable,” said author Gordon G Chang.
Defence affairs writer Saurav Jha shared on Twitter that there were no flights over Tibet Autonomous Region of Cihna earlier on Saturday.
“Of direct concern to us here in India. Many Flights to Lhasa Gonggar are also being cancelled. We have to see if there is an uptick in military air traffic over the Tibetan plateau or not,“ said Jha, hinting at possible military activity in Western China that borders China, where India and China are engaged in a military stand-off for over two years.
What experts have said?
Most of the China experts have highlighted that there are no signs of the coup beyond commentary on social media, particularly in Indian circles.
China expert Aadil Brar noted that Xi is likely in quarantine after returning from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit, which would explain his absence from public affairs at the moment.
Brar also shared flight data showing there is no disruption of flights. He further shared visuals of public briefings by senior Chinese officials, suggesting that government is functioning normally.
Journalist Zakka Jacob higlighted that Xi has a powerful institutional hold over China which makes a coup unlikely.
“Lots of rumours this morning about a military coup in China. Nothing credible so far. Military coups are unlikely in China because the People’s Liberation Army comes under the Central Military Commission.
Xi, as General Secretary of the Communist Party heads the CMC. The Army is that of the party, not government,” said Jacob in a tweet.
Journalist and author Ananth Krishnan also said there is no evidence so far of a coup.
“While Chinese politics is the blackest of black boxes, I’ve come across zero evidence in Beijing today to substantiate any of the social media rumours,” said Krishnan on Twitter, noting that the rumours have surfaced in the run up to the crucial Chinese Communist Party in which Xi is expected to secure an unprecedented third term.
The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post has not reported about any coup or political upheaval in China at all.
It has posted dozens of tweets in the last 24 hours about various issues concerning China and the world, but not even a remote hint about the alleged development in Beijing.
15 dead, 24 wounded in school shooting in Russia
A gunman opened fire in a school in central Russia on Monday, killing 15 people and wounding 24 others before shooting himself dead, authorities said.
The shooting took place in School No. 88 in Izhevsk, a city 960 kilometers (600 miles) east of Moscow in the Udmurtia region.
Russia’s Investigative Committee identified the gunman as 34-year-old Artyom Kazantsev, a graduate of the same school, and said he was wearing a black t-shirt bearing “Nazi symbols.” No details about his motives have been released.
The Committee said 15 people, including 11 children, were killed in the shooting, and 24 other people, including 22 children, were wounded in the attack.
The governor of Udmurtia, Alexander Brechalov, said the gunman, who he said was registered as a patient at a psychiatric facility, killed himself after the attack.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the shooting as “a terrorist act” and said Russian President Vladimir Putin has given all the necessary orders to the relevant authorities.
“President Putin deeply mourns deaths of people and children in the school, where a terrorist act took place,” Peskov told reporters Monday.
The school educates children between grades one and 11. It has been evacuated and the area around it has been cordoned off, the governor said.
Russia’s National Guard said Kazantsev used two non-lethal handguns adapted to fire real bullets. The guns were not registered with the authorities.
A criminal probe into the incident has been launched on charges of multiple murder and illegal possession of firearms.
Izhevsk, a city of 640,000, is located west of the Ural mountains in central Russia.
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