The Court Circular - a Diary of Royal Endeavour

By O'Donovan, Tim | Contemporary Review, June 1995 | Go to article overview

The Court Circular - a Diary of Royal Endeavour


O'Donovan, Tim, Contemporary Review


The Court Circular has been appearing in The Times ever since it began publishing in 1785. In those far off days the information contained in the Court Circular was very different compared with today. The Royal Family's work has changed out of all recognition, with many more visits in the United Kingdom and abroad. In addition they have a much greater involvement with charities and in community affairs. Fast methods of transport enable members of the Royal Family to carry out many more engagements each day.

In Queen Victoria's time the Court Circular recorded more private activities and domestic arrangements, such as the Queen's afternoon drive and who accompanied her, followed by a list of those who had the honour of being invited to dinner with Her Majesty.

On 20th November 1860, whilst at Windsor Castle, 'The Queen, accompanied by Princess Alice, Princess Helena, Princess Louise and Princess Beatrice, walked in the Home Park, and visited the Duchess of Kent (the Queen's mother) and the Princess Leiningen (the Queen's half-sister) at Frogmore. The Prince Consort, attended by Major General the Hon. C. Grey and his Equerry in Waiting, went to London by special train of tho South-Western Railway. The Prince drove from the private station at Vauxhall to the Palace of Westminster, where His Royal Highness arrived at eleven o'clock, and presided at a meeting of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1861. His Royal Highness returned to Windsor in the afternoon. The Prince of Wales went out hunting, attended by Lieutenant Colonel Keppel. The Duchess of Kent and the Prince and Princess of Leiningen visited the Queen at the Castle, and took luncheon'.

Nowadays the Court Circular is prepared each day by the Private Secretary's Office and submitted to the Queen for approval. It is then sent by fax to The Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Scotsman. Late amendments are telephoned or faxed through up until 8.00 p.m., which ensures a thoroughly up-to-date and accurate list of the day's events are recorded. Apart from being a factual account of the day's engagements, it is guaranteed as much space as it may need. Sometimes just a few lines during holiday periods or weekends, or up to two or three columns when the Royal Family have been particularly busy or there is a state visit by a foreign monarch or president. A recent and thoroughly sensible innovation has occurred with the inclusion of foreign engagements carried out by members of the Royal Family whilst on official visits abroad.

The table below shows the number and type of engagements carried out last year:

                             (a)   (b)   (c)   (d)   (e)   total

The Queen                    147    64   275   486   187     673
Duke of Edinburgh            158   119    26   303   359     662
Queen Mother                  34    13    16    63    -       63
Prince of Wales              194    82    99   375   152     527
Princess of Wales             13     7    14    34     8      42
Duke of York                  50    15    11    76    93     169
Prince Edward                 49    50    23   122   157     279
Princess Royal               277    99    72   448   229     677
Princess Margaret             96    35     5   136     7     143
Duke of Gloucester           134    35    20   189    64     253
Duchess of Gloucester        122    30     7   159    23     182
Duke of Kent                 127    39    33   199    96     295
Duchess of Kent              154    22    10   186    74     260
Princess Alexandra            85    25    13   123    65     188

(a) - Official visits, opening ceremonies and other engagements.

(b) - Receptions, lunches, dinners and banquets.

(c) - Other engagements including investitures, meetings attended and audiences
given.

(d) - Total number of engagements in UK.

(e) - Total number of engagements on official overseas tours. … 

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