For 800 years the city of London has been careful to make sure it pays its annual rent for two pieces of land it leases from the Crown. In its determination not to fall delinquent in payments, it unfortunately overlooked one thing: the location of these properties. It continues to pay the rent, even though... Continue Reading →
Egyptian Pharaoh Pepi II (2284 BC - c. 2216 BC) had an extreme dislike of flies and an ingenious way of dealing with the problem. He would cover servants with honey and use them to lure the flies away from his presence.
On the surface, it seems too incredible to actually be a fraud. There is the barest hint of the possibility of truth, that you find yourself thinking, "Maybe I really am a distant relative to a Nigerian prince, and this is my big chance to strike it rich." If you start to follow that line... Continue Reading →
Who hasn't heard of some unpopular government action and entertained a stray thought about slapping the person who was responsible? In ancient Babylon, that stray thought was actually encouraged to be acted upon. The Babylonian New Year was celebrated each year with elaborate rituals. The ceremonies lasted for several days, with a special program prepared... Continue Reading →
Under the law of the United Kingdom, the monarch owns all sturgeon and whales as part of the royal prerogative. The law was enacted in the 13th century under Edward II. It was decreed that the king owns the head and the queen owns the tail of every such sea creature. The Receiver of Wreck... Continue Reading →
History records that Scots won their freedom at the Battle of Bannockburn on June 24, 1314. The battle raged for two days before the heavily outnumbered Scots defeated the professional military of England's Edward II. The battle could easily have been over before it started. On June 23, as the two armies caught sight of... Continue Reading →
Scotland is known for its passionate football (American soccer) fans, and it is recognized as the birthplace of golf and home to the most famous golf courses in the world. Did you know that both sports were once illegal throughout the land? King James I outlawed football with the Football Act of 1424. It was... Continue Reading →
To be a monarch means that you have a throne. Most traditional concepts of kings and queens are indelibly connected to the throne, the ultimate seat of power. Queen Elizabeth II has a Throne Room in Buckingham Palace. Appropriately enough, the focal point of the room is her throne. Right beside it is the throne... Continue Reading →
They say home is wherever you hang your hat. If you are the Sultan of Brunei, your home has enough space to hang the hats of a sizeable percentage of the human race. Completed in 1984 at a cost of $1.4 billion USD, the Istana Nurul Iman (translated: Palace of the Light of Faith) is... Continue Reading →
Robert the Bruce (1274-1329) reigned as King of Scots from 1306 to 1329. He led a ragtag bunch of Scottish farmers to defeat England's Edward II's professional army that was four times the size of Scotland's. He unified the Scots and secured their freedom from England and is remembered as the greatest of Scotland's monarchs. Such... Continue Reading →
The winter of 1306 found Scotland's Robert the Bruce on the verge of giving up. Having just been crowned King of Scots on March 25 (and again on March 27) of that year, his fortunes had turned. Instead of sitting on a throne in a castle, he was hiding in a cave on the Island... Continue Reading →
Queen Victoria (1819-1901) took her responsibilities as Empress of India quite seriously. On her 70th birthday she undertook lessons in Hindustani and got to the point where she wrote in Hindustani in her diaries.
If you have ever been a renter, you know the value of finding good, low-rent property, especially when you can be confident the rent won't increase any time soon. Perhaps the best testimony to such an arrangement could come from the Seigneur of Sark, who cornered the market in low-rent property. The Isle of Sark,... Continue Reading →
According to often-repeated legend Lord Kingsale retains a royal privilege that allows him to keep his hat on in the presence of the sovereign. This right allegedly was granted by King John in the 13th century. The problem with the story is that it doesn't appear to be based on any historical fact. Another who is supposed... Continue Reading →
While serving as U.S. minister to France, Benjamin Franklin attended a dinner in Paris shortly after the British surrendered at Yorktown in 1781. The French foreign minister, Vergennes, began the toasts, saluting his King: "To His Majesty, Louis XVI, who, like the moon, fills the earth with a soft, benevolent glow." The British ambassador rose: "To... Continue Reading →