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Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The other Algarve

(Silves)

It’s no secret that come summer, the alluring coastline of southern Portugal — better known as the Algarve — practically sags under the crush of holidaymakers who throng its vacation villages, resort hotels, marinas, 18-hole links, beachwear boutiques, souvenir emporiums, seaside cafes and seasonal discos.
Blame the Algarve’s good looks. Stretching from the Spanish border nearly 100 miles along the Atlantic coast to the very southwestern tip of the Continent, the seaside is blessed with windswept dunes, powdery sands, ocher cliffs and natural grottoes. The seafood can be sublime and the prices extremely modest, especially compared with summer havens like Italy’s Amalfi Coast or the French Riviera.
With such an irresistible cocktail of scenery and values, it’s no wonder that some two million foreigners — primarily from Britain — flood these expanses like the Allies storming Normandy on D-Day. Some two-thirds of the flights to Faro, the gateway to the region, arrive from London, Leeds, Liverpool, Dublin and their neighbors, transforming popular towns like Albufeira into variants of Brighton with more powerful UV rays. Menus feature fish and chips. English Premier League football matches flicker from screens in bars. No euros in your pocket? Just pay in pounds sterling.
The human density of high summer was conjured most vividly as I gazed out from the terrace of the Bela Vista Hotel & Spa, a Moorish-style mansion surrounded by charmless high-rise hotels on a cliff overlooking the enormous Praia da Rocha beach.
“In July and August, you can’t find a single space to put your towel,” said Gonçalo Narciso, the hotel’s operations manager. He shook his head. “You can’t imagine.”
Amid the sunscreen-smeared hullabaloo, the question arises: Is there an alternative Algarve? A less-trod Algarve? An Algarve where a bit of serenity and the flavor of the past have been preserved? In quest of such a place, I set off in late May to travel beyond the universe of half-board arrangements and karaoke nights. Carried by the region’s efficient EVA bus network, I traveled along rocky coasts and sun-baked hills, pleasantly surprised to find fishing villages and citadel towns where a more traditional Algarve still exists — and, in the case of one tiny hamlet, Pedralva, is being reborn. From storybook medieval castles to unmarked surfer beaches to mom-and-pop seafood joints, this unspoiled Algarve, it turned out, is available to anyone with bus fare and an urge to go against the flow.
Tavira
Following a three-hour train journey from Lisbon to Faro, and a one-hour bus ride through uninspiring back roads, I landed in Tavira, a coastal town near the Spanish border with vestiges of ancient Phoenician and Roman settlements lurking under its streets. Whitewashed buildings with wrought-iron balconies filled narrow lanes, along with numerous Renaissance and Baroque churches — testaments to the town’s wealth generated long ago from the fishing and salt trades. Even today, the shallow, shimmering tidal pools of the salt pans do their quiet work just outside the town.
On a stone bridge spanning the Gilão River, which splits the town in two and flows into the Atlantic, a three-piece band of guitar, accordion and tambourine played spirited folk songs. More music spilled out from the tile-lined interior of the Renaissance-era Church of Misericordia, where a bearded hipster schoolteacher was strumming a guitar while leading boys and girls, dressed in pink smocks, in a soaring hymn. Above, atop a hillside, the ruins of a medieval castle and the clock tower of the 18th-century Santa Maria do Castelo church lorded over a sea of orange-tile roofs.
The salt breeze suffused the town with an agreeable torpor as I strolled toward Praça da República, the town hall square, for a rendezvous with a resident. In the middle of the riverbed, men toting plastic buckets yanked mussels from small, rocky islands revealed by the low tide. A few German and French voices drifted from sidewalk cafes, though hardly enough to drown out the locals’ mellifluous Portuguese greetings of “Bom dia!” and “Tudo bem?”
“The essence of eastern Algarve is its authenticity,” said Tim Robinson, a stocky, blond Englishman as he welcomed me on the terrace of a cafe called Veneza. “This is really where the old Portuguese way of life is being retained.”
Dressed in cargo pants and a T-shirt, Mr. Robinson waxed poetic about the local architecture and unfurled a tale that began with a brush with death and concluded with a life-changing move to the eastern Algarve, where he has lived since 2008.
Several years ago, Mr. Robinson recounted, he was living in London, where he ran a storage and transportation business when he suffered a heart attack. Only 42 years old, he conferred with his wife, a public relations executive, and they decided to flee their high-pressure world and settle in Estiramantens, an eastern Algarve village next to Tavira.
“For people who are interested in the historic nature of the Algarve, this is probably the crown jewel of historic cities,” he said, referring to Tavira. Today the couple operate a 10-suite boutique hotel and restaurant, Fazenda Nova, on the grounds of a formerly ruined 1836 farmhouse that they restored. Mr. Robinson fills his days with tending to the hotel grounds — which include herb gardens, fruit groves and 200-year-old olive trees that yield the restaurant’s own brand of oil — and taking his family to offshore island beaches like Ilha de Tavira (reached by a small ferry) and Praia do Barril (arrived at by a miniature train).
“You don’t get groups of guys coming here to celebrate a friend’s wedding, ” he said as the breeze fluttered the cafe’s white umbrella above us.
Later, exploring Tavira on foot, I found resurrected historic edifices scattered all over. The town’s former covered market — a lovely wrought-iron structure from the 1880s — bustled with boutiques and restaurants. Farther afield, some new white walls and oddly angled metal surfaces had elevated a former jail into a modern town library. Just around the corner, a renovation plan by the Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura, who won the Pritzker Prize two years ago, was transforming the Renaissance-era Convento das Bernardas into luxury apartments.
Entering the majestic 16th-century Palácio da Galeria, I discovered the municipal museum. This year’s big show, “Dieta Mediterrãnica,” runs into 2014 and is dedicated to the foods of the Algarve. (Though the Algarve is not on the Mediterranean, the show asserts that the region “is influenced by the Mediterranean climate.”)
Amid displays of the Algarve’s cornucopia — baskets of dried carob, sacks of sea salt, bottles of olive oil, tins of tuna, piles of figs — information stenciled on the walls imparted intriguing facts (“Portugal is the third-largest consumer of fish in the world, immediately after Japan and Iceland”). Suddenly, I was ravenous. Fortunately, my visit coincided with Tavira’s annual two-week Festival de Gastronomia do Mar, a homage to seafood. Many restaurants had assembled special menus to showcase local tuna, mackerel, octopus, mussels, clams and other briny bounty.
On the hilltop up the street from the museum, a modern white restaurant called A Ver Tavira served a lunch of plump scallops and shrimp on a bed of cucumber and strawberries followed by baked mullet drizzled in olive oil. Dessert was an unctuous fig parfait on a dark carob brownie.
By nightfall my culinary explorations had taken me to the rustic Ponto de Encontro restaurant, whose interior is lined with the region’s blue and white ceramic tiles. Tender anchovy strips in vinaigrette received Christmas colors from diced red and green peppers. A dessert of smoky carob ice cream sealed my reverence for Algarve flavors.
Eager to bring home those flavors, I ducked into Ex Libris Gourmet, a small boutique stuffed with handsomely packaged sweet tomato jams, fig liquors, tinned sardines, smoked sea salts, wines and olive oils — including a local brand called Monterosa that won gold awards this year at the New York International Olive Oil Competition. “The concept is food and design,” explained the owner, Tiago Centeno, who turned out to be another refugee from the rat race. After 10 years in the Portuguese military, he said, he and his wife moved to Tavira “because it’s more quiet and peaceful” than other parts of the region.
“When most people think of Algarve, they think of beaches and hotels, not history,” he continued, pausing to show off chocolates filled with local olive oil. But Tavira, he went on, “is not like the rest of Algarve.” One day I rented a bicycle and pedaled down the riverbank past the tidal pools of the salt pans to Quatro Águas, a finger of land pointing into the Atlantic. An old woman sold me a ticket for a ferry that sputtered across a small channel and dropped me on Ilha da Tavira, a long, slender island. A trail led between two rows of quiet outdoor bars before emerging on an expanse of powder-perfect sand extending to the vanishing point in both directions.
Scores of Polynesian-style grass umbrellas poked up from the beach in orderly rows, giving shade to nothing but scores of empty sunning beds. The lone employee of this mini-oasis ambled over and explained that true high season wouldn’t begin for another month.
“All the people are in western Algarve right now,” he said. “The east, Tavira, is still very little known.”
Praia da Rocha and Silves
I encountered mainstream Algarve in Praia da Rocha, a sprawling beach resort in western Algarve — the first spot in the region to be frequented by tourists. That was more than a century ago. Today the cradle of Algarve holidaymaking represents all of the triumphs and tragedies (mainly aesthetic) of the region’s rise from provincial backwater to international getaway.
Triumph: the sublime beauty of golden sands backed by jagged red cliffs. Tragedy: the stampede of summer vacationers who pack its beach clubs and bars. Triumph: a 17th-century fortress and century-old villas that dot the cliff-top streets. Tragedy: generic condo developments and uninspired hotels. Triumph: fresh seafood, everywhere. Tragedy: pints of Guinness, everywhere.
But even here one can find remnants of an unspoiled Algarve. They lie beyond the gates of the Bela Vista Hotel & Spa, the extravagantly restored century-old Moorish mansion that claims to be the Algarve’s first hotel. Within I marveled at black-and-white photographs of Praia da Rocha in the early 20th century. The building’s exotic silhouette stands out starkly against a nearly empty beachfront. Stepping out of that hushed prelapsarian era into the Technicolor clamor of modern Praia da Rocha’s souvenir stands, cheap Chinese restaurants and Irish bars was like experiencing the Fall of Man and expulsion from Eden — touristically speaking.
A local bus whisked me into the backcountry, past lemon trees and orange groves. After 20 minutes a hilltop fortress came into view, its red-stone battlements hovering over a village that spilled down the hillside toward a river.
Winding my way up the cobbled streets of the town, Silves (pronounced SIL-vish), I found Maria Gonçalves, the chief municipal archaeologist, seated at a table in the castle’s lushly planted grounds. A few couples roamed the ramparts, peering through the crenelations as Ms. Gonçalves filled me in on the history of the town and the structure, the largest and best-preserved castle in the Algarve.
“They were Arabs from Yemen during the first half of the 11th century,” she said of the original settlers and rulers, who arrived at the time of the Moorish occupation of Andalusia, in neighboring Spain. Silves became the capital of Al-Gharb Al-Andalus, as the Arabs called the region: the west of Andalusia (“al-Gharb,” meaning “the West,” later became Algarve). The city was known as a cultural hub.
“There were lots of important poets from that period,” she said, most notably Al-Mutamid, who also happened to be the governor of Silves (and later the king of Seville). “He describes Silves as a town of indulgence. The palace. The ‘white gazelles’ — the women. The banks of the river.”
Dynasties from North Africa later seized the city, and Silves was eventually conquered by Christian crusaders. But the Arab influence remains omnipresent.
“There are around 3,000 Arabic words in Portuguese,” she said, including the names of numerous Algarve towns: Aljezur, Albufeira, Alvor, Alfambras. Today Silves is twinned with the Moroccan city of Marrakesh for cultural exchanges, but the ultimate Moorish experience is the annual medieval fair, which takes place this year from Aug. 2 to 11. Amid a recreated souk, hammam, mosque and other medieval edifices, ersatz and real, thousands of locals and visitors in period outfits consume food typical of the time, and cheer at elaborate re-enactments of pivotal episodes in the Arab and later Portuguese history of Silves — including the European crusaders’ bloody 15-day siege in 1189.
You can barely hurl a fez, in fact, without hitting some Moorish homage in Silves. Ceramic tiles with swirly Arabesque patterns form the facades of many of the two-story buildings, and shops on Rua Elias Garcia display Moroccan hammered brass lanterns.
Within a 16th-century house called Estudio Destra, one of many artists’ studios sprinkled around town, shelves showed off ceramic plates, jars and tiles whose geometric patterns and stylized animals, a brochure explained, were influenced partly by Moorish motifs.
“The earliest and best examples of European tiles are here in southern Portugal and Spain because of the Moorish conquest,” explained the gallery’s owner, a British expatriate named Roger Metcalfe, while carefully etching a ceramic vase.
I found the genuine articles in the municipal museum, a modern building constructed around a deep medieval cistern. Display cases showed off painted pottery — as well as finely carved bone and delicate colored glass — that had been excavated from this once-thriving Arab city.
“Send my regards to/The beautiful places of Silves/And tell me if they miss me/As much as I miss them,” read a poem by Al-Mutamid that had been painted (in Portuguese) on tiles in the entryway to a town house nearby. He had composed the verses after moving to Seville to rule as its king. But Silves remained forever in his heart.
That night, walking amid the discothèques and gaudy casino of Praia da Rocha, I was visited by the same nostalgia.
Pedralva
The final push to the western edge of the Algarve, Europe’s far southwestern corner, landed me briefly in the port town of Lagos. Along its palm-lined marina, hawkers approached with fliers for snorkeling adventures, whale-watching, sport fishing, kite-surfing and sightseeing cruises.
But I was headed to farther shores. Another bus continued westward over waves of brown hills dotted with ruined stone houses and tiny lime-washed villages. In a village called Vila do Bispo, a car from the nearby hamlet of Pedralva picked me up and deposited me amid its stone-paved streets and restored white stone houses.
The village’s existence is an Algarve miracle. Several years ago, Pedralva was on the brink of ruin. The population had dwindled to nine residents, and many of the 19th-century houses were abandoned wrecks.
“It was a complete ghost town,” said Antonio Ferreira, a former Lisbon advertising strategist who effectively saved Pedralva by transforming it into one of the most original new getaways in the Algarve.
After a health scare several years ago, while still in his 30s, Mr. Ferreira quit his high-pressure urban lifestyle to “get back to basics” in the Algarve. Rather than settle in one of the myriad resort communities, Mr. Ferreira fell under the spell of the 200-year-old backwater hamlet and, with some partners, spent years buying and restoring the old stone residences. In 2010 they opened Aldeia da Pedralva, an eco-tourism village replete with cobbled lanes, whitewashed houses, a grocery store and a traditional Algarve restaurant. “The idea here is to cut off from the life that you have in big cities, or even small cities: cars, traffic, lots of information, lots of advertising, mobile phones,” he said in the village’s reception area, where we sat drinking coffee. Outside the window, in a quiet valley of pine and cork trees, no nightclub pounded, no driving range beckoned. Occasionally a rooster crowed.
“We are the other Algarve,” Mr. Ferreira said. “This is the unspoiled Algarve.”
Keen to see the coast — the true end of the world, or at least the Continent — I hitched a ride with a villager to Praia do Amado, a few miles away at the end of an unmarked road.
Despite gray clouds, a steady procession of barefoot young men and women in identical head-to-toe black outfits marched across a crescent of soft sand bookended by jagged cliffs. Large oblong objects were tucked under their arms, and determined expressions sat stonily on their faces: surfers. Like some monastic order, they strode into the tide to worship the wave. “Kelly Slater and Mick Fanning have both come here,” said Filipe Costa, an instructor hanging around the booth of the Amado Surf Camp, invoking two revered wave-riders. He added that, several years ago, a more famous face had indulged in surf lessons here: Prince William.
That night, after lamb chops and local red wine in one of the two Pedralva restaurants, I retired to my cottage with its timber ceiling and wood furnishings in funky colors. No television, cellphone signal or Internet link distracted me from the silence and the stars. The only sounds were those of owls and crickets in the surrounding valley: the voices of the unspoiled Algarve.
IF YOU GO
TRANSPORTATION
EVA Transportes (351-289-899-700) operates an extensive network of bus routes in the Algarve; fares generally run from 3 to 10 euros, or about $3.75 to $12.50 at $1.25 to the euro. Routes and schedules can be found on the English portion of its Web site, eva-bus.com/novo/index.php?lang=uk. To reach Silves, a local bus run by Frota Azul(frotazul-algarve.pt) departs from Portimão, the small city adjacent to Praia da Rocha. The trip takes around 30 minutes and costs 3.25 euros. A regional train line also services the Algarve.
TAVIRA
Pousada de Tavira, Convento da Graça (Rua Dom Paio Peres Correia; pousadas.pt) is a former convent that now features 36 rooms, a high-end restaurant and a spa. Doubles from 136 euros. For budget travelers, Residenciais Lagoas (Rua Almirante Cândido dos Reis 24; residenciallagoa.pai.pt) has small, cheerfully decorated rooms (some with a curious Buddhist theme) in the town center starting from 20 euros per night, depending on season.
Ponto de Encontro (Praça Doutor António Padinha 39; 351-281-323-730; rest-pontoencontro.com) serves simple preparations of sole, sea bass, sea bream, anchovies and other local fish — as well as steaks — in a tile-lined dining room. A three-course meal for two, without wine, costs around 50 euros. A more refined experience awaits at A Ver Tavira (Calçada da Galeria 13; facebook.com/avertavira) atop the hill in Tavira’s center. Options include razor clams with coriander and lemon juice, and duck breast with fruit sauce. Expect to pay about 60 euros for a three-course meal for two. Go to Ex Libris Gourmet (Rua 5 de Outubro 10; exlibrisgourmet.blogspot.fr) for olive oils, jams, chocolates, wines, liqueurs, tinned fish and other delicacies.
PRAIA DA ROCHA
The 38-room Bela Vista Hotel & Spa, (Avenida Tomás Cabreira; hotelbelavista.net) is housed in an early-20th-century Moorish-style mansion overlooking the beach. One of the Algarve’s top restaurants is on the premises. Standard doubles range from 125 to 240 euros, depending on season. No Solo Água (Marina de Portimão; nosoloagua.com) has a swimming pool, a restaurant, a bar and a beach club. A three-course meal for two people at the restaurant, which serves everything from tuna tartare to tiramisù, runs about 60 euros.
SILVES
The hilltop town’s main attractions are its medieval Moorish castle (Rua do Castelo; 351-282-445-624; admission 2.50 euros) and museum, known as Museu Municipal de Arqueologia (Rua da Porta de Loulé 14; 351-282-444-832; admission 2 euros), which houses medieval Islamic artifacts. Estudio Destra (Largo Dom Jerónimo Osório;estudiodestra.blogspot.fr) is the atelier of Roger Metcalfe, a British expatriate ceramist.
PEDRALVA
Restored cobbled streets, whitewashed houses, a grocery store and a Portuguese restaurant make up Aldeia da Pedralva (351-282-639-432; www.aldeiadapedralva.com), which offers activities like hiking, biking and bird-watching. A one-bedroom house costs 62 to 133 euros, depending on the month.

Strawberry pie

(click on the picture for better viewing)

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Legoland builds royal baby story

TRANSCRIPT

REPORTER: A miniature palace for a baby prince. Legoland Windsor has created a royal scene to celebrate the birth of Prince George. The stately topic is not new to the theme park says director Sue Kemp. 

SUE KEMP: "Last year we did The Queen's golden jubilee, the year before we did the royal wedding so we thought it only right, proper and a fantastic opportunity for our guests to come and see the new royal baby for themselves." 
REPORTER: The model of Prince George comprises just 8 blue Lego bricks and his royal stroller took 55 pieces. Legoland Windsor is situated close to one of the Queen's residences, providing the perfect location from which to watch and construct its version of the little prince's development.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Friday, 26 July 2013

Royal baby: George Alexander Louis destined to be King George VII, but who were the first six?


The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have opted for a historical name steeped in Royal tradition for the new prince. The lad will likely become King George VII at some point in the late 21th century if all goes to plan.
Who were the first six King Georges he’ll have to live up to?
George VI (Reigned: 1936-1952)
The Queen’s father (portrayed in the 2010 film The King’s Speech) didn’t expect to take the throne until his older brother abdicated. George VI will be remembered for his leadership in World War II. When it was suggested that the Royal Family might go to Canada for safety from the blitz, his wife, the future Queen Mum said: ‘The children won’t go without me. I won’t leave the King. And the King will never leave.’

George V (Reigned: 1910-1936)
Tradition, discipline and duty were George V’s watchwords. He rebelled against his own father’s lasciviousness by being a dutiful husband but he was a distant father. He also took pleasure in founding the royal stamp collection. In many ways he modelled our current royal family. Not least by changing their name to Windsor at the height of anti-German fervour in 1917.


George IV (1820 – 1830)
Lavish and indulgent, you probably know George IV best from Blackadder and the epic debts he ran up. But he was cultured and forward-looking too and patron to many artists and architects: Regent’s Street, Regent’s Park, the Royal Pavilion in Brighton and much more exists thanks to his vision. He also collapsed drunk on his wedding night because he couldn’t bear the sight of his new wife, Caroline of Brunswick.

George III (Reigned: 1760 – 1820)
Well known to us all from the film as the mad one, George III is so much more. A devoted father with 15 children with his wife Queen Charlotte, he was diligent at his best and never took a mistress. Beloved by subjects for his simple tastes and dubbed ‘farmer George’, his long reign of 60 years is marked by the loss of the American colonies. That may have been the spur for his madness.
George II (Reigned: 1727 – 1760)
All pub quizzers know that George II was the last King to go into battle at Dettingen in 1743. He was very much the womaniser but assured the Hanoverian protestant monarchy in the UK. He was also the last sovereign to be born abroad.
George I (Reigned: 1714 – 1727)
When Queen Anne died childless in 1714, Britain needed a protestant monarch. The Act of Settlement in 1701 meant the monarch couldn’t be catholic and so Duke George Ludwig of Brunswick-Lüneburg leapfrogged over nearly 50 closer relatives to secure the British throne. George I reportedly couldn’t speak English and was unpopular with the people. But as the song goes: he was born to rule.
in http://metro.co.uk

02 Family - Magic English - Disney

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Royal baby name: The history behind George Alexander Louis

Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate have chosen three traditional royal names by calling their newborn baby boy George Alexander Louis, William's office said. Katharine Jackson reports.


TRANSCRIPT

REPORTER: Britain's royal baby has a name: Prince William and his wife Kate will call him George Alexander Louis, William's office announced on Wednesday (July 24). Born on Monday to global media frenzy, the newborn who is third in line to the British throne will be known as His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge. The world waited just two days to hear the name...a relatively short time by royal standards, but one that still prompted a global guessing game. 
DASHA, NEW YORK CITY TOURIST FROM ENGLAND: "I think it should be a royal, regal name, just for the tradition." 
DREW LAUFFER, NEW JERSEY RESIDENT: "Why not have like a common first name and a royal middle name?" 
SUSAN, NEW YORK CITY TOURIST FROM OHIO: "It's kingly and it was our first president too, so a lot of leaders of businesses are named George." 
REPORTER: George has been the name of six British Kings. The last, George VI, was the father of Queen Elizabeth.


George
"George" was the name of Queen Elizabeth's father, King George VI, who reigned from 1936 until his death in 1952. He assumed the throne on the abdication of his brother, Edward VIII. His life was depicted in the Oscar-winning movie "The King's Speech."
George I, born in Germany, became king in 1714. He was followed by a line of kings with the same name, including George III, who was known for his bouts of insanity.
The name is also a patriotic choice for many in the UK: Saint George, patron saint of England, is known for his legendary defeat of a dragon in the third century. His feast day is celebrated on April 23, (the date also associated with the birth of William Shakespeare, England's most revered writer).
Despite its royal connections, George has humble origins, derived as it is from the Greek name "georgios" meaning "earth worker" or "farmer."
Other historical Georges: composer George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), first president of the United States George Washington (1732-1799), and the Pacific explorer George Vancouver (1757-1798). Authors Mary Anne Evans and Eric Arthur Blair also chose George as their pen names: George Eliot (1819-1880) and George Orwell (1903-1950) respectively.


Alexander
This gallant title means "defender of men," from the Latin form of the Greek name "Alexandros." Alexander III of Macedon (356-323 B.C.), better known as Alexander the Great, courageously ruled and conquered many parts of the world before his untimely death at age 32.
The name "Alexander" is a feature of the Dutch royal family: Willem-Alexander ascended to the throne after the abdication of his mother Queen Beatrix earlier this year.
Other historical Alexanders: English poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744), American statesman Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), Scottish-Canadian explorer Alexander MacKenzie (1764-1820), Russian poet Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) and Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922), the Scottish-born inventor of the telephone.


Louis
The name "Louis" originates from the English and French interpretations of the German name Ludwig, which can be interpreted as "renowned warrior."
Louis was the first name of Lord Mountbatten, uncle of George's great-grandfather Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and mentor to Prince Charles. He was killed by the IRA while holidaying in Ireland in 1979.
No British monarch has been named Louis, but it is very popular across the English Channel in France, where 18 kings have taken the name from 814 onward. Louis XIV, the Sun King, reigned from 1643 until 1715 and was hailed by many as the greatest monarch of his age because of the growth in French power and the opulence of his court, which included the Palace of Versailles.
Louis XVI was the king of France from 1774 until 1792, when he was found guilty of treason after the revolution and executed in 1793.
Other historical figures named Louis: French scientist Louis Pasteur (1822-1895); Métis leader Louis Riel (1844-1885), who led a rebellion against Canada; and Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894), who wrote "Treasure Island" and "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."




George
The name George is synonymous with British kings. 
It has come to represent the continuity of the monarchy and remained the bookmakers' favourite in the name-guessing stakes from the moment Kate's pregnancy was announced.
Six King Georges have worn the crown throughout history since the German-born George I, the first Hanoverian king of Great Britain, acceded to the throne in 1714.
The first name of the last King George - George VI - was actually Albert and he was known to his family as 'Bertie' but he selected George - his fourth name - to use as Sovereign. 
Looking back: The German-born George I, the first Hanoverian king of Great Britain, acceded to the throne in 1714
King George II
Historic: The German-born George I, left, the first Hanoverian king of Great Britain, acceded to the throne in 1714 . King George II is pictured right
He was the much-loved father of the present Queen and the new Prince George of Cambridge's great-great grandfather. George VI chose George in honour of his father George V and to create the impression of stability after the scandal caused by the abdication of his brother Edward VIII.
George is also the fourth name of the Prince of Wales - the baby's grandfather. Even Edward VIII had George among his seven names.
The name means farmer or earth worker. It was the 12th most popular name for boys born in England and Wales in 2011.
St George, a fourth-century Christian martyr, is the patron Saint of England and represents honour, bravery and gallantry. The legend of George slaying a dragon and rescuing an innocent maiden is medieval.
There has only been one other Prince of Cambridge and he was also called George. 
Tradition: The first Prince George of Cambridge was a grandson of George III, pictured in this portrait
Relations: George IV, pictured, was the eldest son of George III
Tradition: The first Prince George of Cambridge was a grandson of George III, pictured left in this portrait . George IV, right, was the eldest son of George III
The first Prince George of Cambridge was a grandson of George III and the only son of Prince Adolphus Frederick, the 1st Duke of Cambridge.
Prince George of Cambridge was born in 1819 and refused to have an arranged marriage. He wed a commoner for love after falling for the actress Sarah Louisa Fairbrother, who was said to be a classic beauty and a graceful dancer.
They married in 1847 when she was already the mother of two of his children and pregnant with his third.But the Duke did not seek the sovereign's approval and the marriage was never recognised, hence his children were not eligible to inherit royal titles.
Miss Fairbrother, who generated much scandal including having a portrait painted in which she showed off her bare legs, was ostracised by the royal family and never given a title.
 King George V
Regal: Six King Georges have worn the crown throughout history. King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth, known later as the Queen Mother, are pictured in 1950
Distinguished:  King George V is pictured left while King George VI  right, married Queen Elizabeth, known later as the Queen Mother

Instead, she became known by the nickname Mrs FitzGeorge and this surname was taken by George's offspring.

Despite his marriage, George had a wandering eye and soon after he wed he took up with mistress Louisa Beauclerk, who remained his lover for more than 30 years.
He went on to become the 2nd Duke of Cambridge after his father's death.
The Duke was in the Army and served in the Crimean War. He was promoted to Commander-in-Chief in 1887 and an equestrian statue of him stands in the middle of London's Whitehall.
He was said to have been a disciplinarian, who believed Army promotions should be based on social connections rather than ability. He died in 1904.
His father, the 1st Duke of Cambridge - who lived from 1774 to 1850 - was never a Prince of Cambridge, but was given the title the Duke of Cambridge by his father George III in 1801 when he was 27.
Lord Louis Mountbatten
Lord Louis Mountbatten was murdered by the IRA with a bomb on his fishing boat off the west coast of Ireland
Meaning: The name Louis has deep significance in the Windsor family after Lord Louis Mountbatten was murdered by the IRA with a bomb on his fishing boat off the west coast of Ireland
Alexander
This is popular in Scotland, where Alexander III was regarded as one of the country's greatest rulers.
In April this year, Willem-Alexander was sworn in as King of the Netherlands after the abdication of his mother, Queen Beatrix.

Louis

This name has deep significance in the Windsor family in honour of the Prince of Wales's favourite uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten, who was killed by the IRA in 1979.
Louis is the last of William’s three middle names.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Prince of Cambridge's parents present him to the world at first photocall

(click on the picture to see the slideshow)

A future king has attended his first photocall aged one day old as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge presented their newborn son to the world.
The infant prince made his debut on the steps of the Lindo wing at St Mary's hospital, Paddington, a little over 24 hours after his birth, as the duchess was discharged at 7.15pm.
Cradling the third in line to the throne on the same spot where he himself was introduced to the public 31 years ago, Prince William said they were "still working on a name".
The couple posed for pictures before massed ranks of photographers with hundreds of lenses trained on the tiny yawning bundle to capture the historic moment, with the duchess holding their son before passing him to her husband.
"He's got a good pair of lungs on him, that's for sure," said William. "He's a big boy, he's quite heavy. We are still working on a name so we will have that as soon as we can." What about George, someone asked. "Wait and see," the duke replied.
He added: "It's the first time we have seen him really so we are having a proper chance to catch up."
Kate, who chose a bespoke cornflower blue crepe de chine Jenny Packham dress for the occasion, said: "It's very emotional. It's such a special time. I think any parent will know what this feeling feels like." Her husband agreed: "It's very special."
Joking about the long wait for the media, the duke said: "I will remind him of his tardiness when he's a bit older because I know how long you guys have been standing out here. So hopefully the hospital and you guys can all get back to normal now and we can go and look after him."
The two disagreed over whom he most resembled: "He's got her looks, thankfully," said William. But Kate demurred: "No, I am not sure about that."
And yes. He had changed his first nappy. "Done that," he said, triumphantly.
"Yes, he was very good," said Kate.
Asked about the baby's hair, William said: "He's got way more than me, thank God."


The couple then drove off to Kensington Palace, with William at the wheel after he had successfully secured the child car seat into which his tiny son was securely strapped, a feat he executed with skill and a relieved mop of his brow once accomplished.
The as-yet-unnamed baby prince was born at 4.24pm on Monday weighing 8lbs 6oz after the duchess was admitted in the early stages of labour shortly before 6am that day.


He met his grandparents for the first time on Tuesday as celebrations for the royal birth were staged across the capital and around the Commonwealth for the infant.
The Duchess of Cambridge's parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, travelling in a black cab, were first to visit the hospital where the royal couple had spent their first day as parents.
The beaming Middletons emerged after one hour, Carole telling TV cameras the baby was "absolutely beautiful … They are both doing really well, and we are so thrilled." Asked what the first cuddle with her grandson was like, she said: "Amazing. It's all coming back." Had she suggested any names? "Absolutely not."
The Prince of Wales, returning from a two-day official visit to Yorkshire, was next to roll up, in a chauffeur-driven limousine, leaving after 30 minutes and describing his grandson as "marvellous, thank you very much, absolutely marvellous – you wait and see, you'll see in a minute".
Earlier, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had issued a statement saying: "We would like to thank the staff at the Lindo wing and the whole hospital for the tremendous care the three of us have received. We know it has been a very busy period for the hospital and we would like to thank everyone – staff, patients and visitors – for their understanding during this time."
The bookies' favourites for the name are George and James. The couple have drawn up a shortlist but, given their son's destiny, will be consulting members of the royal family. It took one week for William's name to be made public, and a month for Charles's.


Crowds gathered throughout the day at Buckingham Palace, where the queue to photograph the official birth bulletin mounted on an easel in the forecourt was still half an hour long on Tuesday evening. As is traditional, the birth announcement also appeared in the Court Circular, the published diary of royal engagements which was started by George III in 1803. It read: "KENSINGTON PALACE 22nd July, 2013. The Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a son at 4.24 p.m. today. Her Royal Highness and her child are both well. Signed: Marcus Setchell, Guy Thorpe-Beeston, Sunnit Godambe, John Cunningham." The signatories are the medical team who attended the duchess during the birth.


In keeping with the festivities, the Changing of the Guard saw the Band of the Scots Guard strike up Congratulations, and, appropriately, The Duke of Cambridge March. Though a couple of miles from the Lindo wing, it is a sound the baby royal will become extremely accustomed to throughout his royal life.


Elsewhere the capital was a riot of colour and sound. Central London shuddered as a 41-gun royal salute by the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery pounded Green Park and a 62-gun salute by the Honourable Artillery Company was fired from Gun Wharf at the Tower of London.


The bells of Westminster Abbey pealed for a solid three hours. Trafalgar Square's fountains, those at Marble Arch, the Golden Jubilee bridge, and several other landmarks were illuminated by bright blue lights to mark the birth of the future king.
Niagara Falls in Canada took on the same spectacular blue hue, as did the parliament buildings in Ottawa and the CN tower in Toronto. In New Zealand, which because of the time difference had the honour of staging the first 21-gun salute outside its Wellington parliament, 37 landmark buildings were lit blue in celebration.
In Westminster, the leader of the house of Lords, Lord Hill of Oareford, moved a humble address on behalf of parliament. "May it please your royal highnesses to accept the loyal congratulations of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in parliament assembled on the birth of a son to Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge; and to assure Your Royal Highnesses of our great satisfaction and pleasure at this news." It was passed unopposed by peers.
Messages of congratulation continued to flood in from across the globe for the boy who, as things stand, is destined to be king not just of Britain, but of 15 other Commonwealth realms.
Australia's prime minister, Kevin Rudd, announced the country's gift to the newborn would be a toy bilby, a desert-dwelling Australian marsupial, and a research project dedicated to its survival. New Zealand was sending a fine lace shawl which took more than 280 hours to weave by hand.
In India the dabbawalas of Mumbai were celebrating the birth with the Indian tradition of passing out sweets.
The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, "extended his felicitations" to the Queen, the newborn and the couple.
Even in Iran, where diplomatic relations have been suspended since the British embassy in Tehran was ransacked by a mob in November 2011, there was a measured statement from the foreign ministry spokesman, Abbas Araghchi.
Quoted on the semi-official ISNA news agency it said: "I congratulate the esteemed Queen and the heir to the throne. Apparently this baby is the third in line to the throne."
It added: "Obviously the relations between UK and Iran are too complex to be affected by the birth of a baby."
in "The Guardian"