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Prince George, first child of Prince William and Kate Middleton, is born

July 3, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

Weighing in at a healthy 8 pounds, 6 ounces, the first child of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (more informally known as Prince William and Kate Middleton), is born on this day in 2013, at St. Mary’s Hospital in London, England.

The new prince’s birth had been a highly anticipated event, with reporters camping out outside the hospital to get the first glimpse of the new arrival. Though the official birth announcement came, according to tradition, via a statement posted on a gilded easel outside Buckingham Palace, the Duke and Duchess put a more modern spin on things by appearing outside the hospital to introduce their baby to the world.

Two days later, the royal family announced his full name: His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge. His first name paid tribute to his great-great-great grandfather, King George V, as well as his great-great grandfather, King George VI. Alexander was seen as a possible nod to his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II (who was christened Elizabeth Alexandra Mary), or to Queen Victoria, whose full name was Alexandrina Victoria. Louis was thought to honor his great-great-uncle, Louis Mountbatten, who played matchmaker to the queen and her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and was very close to Prince Charles.

Prince George entered the world as third in the line of succession to the British throne. His paternal grandfather, Prince Charles of Wales, stands to inherit the crown from his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, while Prince William, Charles’s elder son with Princess Diana, is second in line. George’s birth marked the first time in more than 100 years—since Queen Victoria’s reign—that three generations of direct heirs were alive at the same time.

According to one estimate, between royal baby-themed goods and party supplies, Brits likely spent some £240 million (roughly $300 million) celebrating Prince George’s arrival. His birth kicked off a royal baby boom: His younger sister, Princess Charlotte, arrived in 2015, followed by a younger brother, Prince Louis, in 2018. In 2019, George’s uncle, Prince Harry, and his wife, Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, welcomed their first child, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.

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Source: HISTORY

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Catherine the Great assumes power

July 3, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

On this day in 1762, the wife of Russia’s new emperor, Peter III, rallies the army regiments of St. Petersburg against her husband and is proclaimed Empress Catherine II, the sole ruler of Russia.

More commonly known as Catherine the Great, she would stay on the throne for the next 34 years, longer than any other female ruler in Russian history.

The former Sophie von Anhalt-Zerbst was born in 1729 in what is now Poland. Her father was a minor Prussian prince; her mother was a member of the house of Holstein-Gottorp, one of Germany’s most celebrated families. At 15, Sophie scored an invitation to Russia from Empress Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great, who was searching for a bride for her nephew and chosen heir to the throne, the Grand Duke Peter, who was also Sophie’s cousin on her mother’s side. They were married the following year, and Sophie converted to Orthodox Christianity, adopting the name Catherine.

Peter and Catherine’s marriage was unhappy from the beginning, and neither one was faithful. Catherine later hinted in her memoirs that her husband hadn’t fathered any of her four children, but most historians believe he did father her first son, Paul, born in 1754.

Soon after the Empress Elizabeth died and Peter ascended to the throne in early 1762, his many enemies plotted to overthrow Peter and replace him with 7-year-old Paul. Instead, the ambitious Catherine acted quickly to seize the advantage for herself. With the help of her lover, Gregory Orlov, she won the military’s support and had herself proclaimed Russia’s sole ruler in July 1762, forcing her husband to abdicate his throne. Peter was assassinated just eight days later by Catherine’s supporters, casting some doubt on her legitimacy as ruler.

Despite this turbulent beginning, Catherine’s reign would be remembered as a time of significant progress and achievement for Russia. Like Peter the Great, she worked to Westernize the nation and make it strong enough to hold its own against the great powers of Europe. Under Catherine, Russia’s borders expanded to the west and south, encompassing Crimea as well as much of Poland.

Notorious for her many lovers, Catherine showed less affection for her son, Paul, whom she supposedly considered passing over as heir in favor of his son, Alexander. But before she could do so, Catherine died of a stroke in 1796, leaving Paul to …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Why Do We Celebrate July 4 With Fireworks?

July 3, 2019 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

The Independence Day tradition dates nearly as far back as the country’s beginning and was proposed by one of the Founding Fathers.

It’s hard to imagine Independence Day without fireworks. But how did this tradition get started?

As it turns out, setting off mini-explosions of all shapes and colors (but particularly red, white and blue) on July 4 goes back almost as far as American independence itself.

Fireworks have a long and colorful history, but the story of how they became ubiquitous on July 4 dates to the summer of 1776, during the first months of the Revolutionary War. On July 1, delegates of the Continental Congress were in Philadelphia, debating over whether the 13 original colonies should declare their independence from Britain’s Parliament as well as King George III himself.

That night, news arrived that British ships had sailed into New York Harbor, posing an immediate threat to the Continental troops commanded by George Washington. On July 2, delegates from 12 colonies voted in favor of independence (New York would follow suit on July 9) and the motion carried. On July 3, even as Congress revised a draft of the declaration composed by Thomas Jefferson, an excited John Adams took up his pen to write to his wife, Abigail.

“The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America,” Adams wrote. “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival…It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

Adams was off by a couple of days.

On July 4, after making a total of 86 (mostly small) changes to Jefferson’s draft, Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence, though most of the delegates didn’t even sign the document until August 2. Some impromptu celebrations greeted the declaration’s first public readings on July 8, in front of local militia troops in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, but the first organized celebration of Independence Day would take place in Philadelphia on July 4, 1777.

Writing of Declaration of Independence (TV-PG; 3:49)

“Yesterday the 4th of July, being the anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America, …read more

Source: HISTORY

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The Flirtation with Illiberalism

July 3, 2019 in Economics

By Tanja Porčnik

Tanja Porčnik

While all of the former socialist economies
have liberalised and strengthened their markets over the past two
decades
, they have failed to strengthen the rule of law (see
Table 1). Under socialism, legal systems are not designed to
protect the rights of individuals. Instead, they serve the
interests of the political elite. To that end, judges, prosecutors,
and other judicial officials are trained and expected to cater to
those interests. Most worrisome, some of the former socialist
economies have even seen the weakening of the rule of law in the
last few years.

In mid-June, hundreds of
thousands of Czechs took to the streets of Prague
calling for
the resignation of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš in light of
both a criminal investigation in the Czech Republic over alleged
fraud, and an EU investigation over the abuse of EU funds by his
Agrofert conglomerate. Although the police in the Czech Republic
recommended that Mr. Babiš be taken to court to face charges
of misusing subsidies from the European Union, only the state’s
prosecutor can file charges. However, it is unlikely that this will
occur due to the existing political ties between Prime Minister and
the recently appointed minister of justice Marie
Benešová. In fact, many Czechs find Mr. Babiš
is using the government to provide a legal cover for himself.
In response,
Mr. Babiš pleads innocent, and alleges corrupt practices on
the part of the Transparency International and political agenda
behind the reporting of the Czech journalists.

In 2011, Hungary’s prime minister Viktor
Orbán’s ruling party (Fidesz), holding a two-thirds
parliamentary majority, passed a new
constitution
that reduced the power of the Constitutional Court
to strike down legislation. Moreover, it increased the number of
the Constitutional Court Justices, to make room for new members
loyal to Fidesz. As Justices over the age of 62 were required to
retire, their seats were filled with even more of their loyalists.
Late last year, Fidesz also weakened the independence of the court
by passing a law that all but established a parallel administrative
court system overseen directly by the Minister of Justice. In May,
the Hungarian
government announced the indefinite suspension of this reform
,
which would have paved the way for further political interference
with the judiciary.

In Poland, the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party imitated
Fidesz by overhauling the country’s judiciary and gave
politicians sweeping powers over it. In particular, the
PiS-controlled government passed a law that lowered the retirement
age of judges of the common courts, public prosecutors, and Supreme
Court Justices to 60 …read more

Source: OP-EDS