April 29: a significant date in the annals of history

A casual glance through the history books reveals April 29 to be a significant date in times past – even more so now for Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds following the birth of their son in hospital on Wednesday.

Here are some of the events to have taken place on this date in previous years:

The feast day of St Catherine of Siena

Wing of an Alterpiece/stolen art
The painting Wing of an Altarpiece – featuring Saints Catherine of Alexandra, Barbara and Anthony Abbot, and Saints Catherine of Siena, Ursula and Dominic – from 1480 (Paul Barker/PA)

Catherine Benincasa was born to a prosperous family of 25 children in Italy in March 1347. At the age of six, she saw a vision of Christ, seated in glory with the apostles Peter, Paul and John, and a year later made a secret vow to give her life to God.

She rejected suggestions of marriage, took up a life of prayer and volunteered to nurse the sick in Siena’s hospitals, helping fight the ravages of the plague. She died on this date in 1380 at the age of 33 shortly after a paralytic stroke, and was canonised by Pope Pius II in 1461.


Prime Minister’s Questions
Sir Lindsay Hoyle is the latest Speaker of the House of Commons (PA)

The office of speaker was first held by Sir Peter de la Mare, knight for Herefordshire, in 1376’s “Good Parliament”, so-called because the Commons refused to grant the Crown any new taxes until its grievances had been addressed.

In the dispute with Edward III, Sir Peter acted as spokesman for the Commons and their collective strength prevailed, but as soon as Parliament was dissolved, Sir Peter was thrown into prison and his successor Sir Thomas Hungerford presided over the “Bad Parliament”, which reversed most of the gains of the previous year.


1916 Easter Rising commemoration
The Irish tricolour flies at half mast to mark the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising (Brian Lawless/PA)

Irish rebels laid down their weapons in Dublin, effectively bringing to an end the Easter Rising against British rule.

The Easter Rising was a military failure for the revolutionaries, who included poets, journalists and teachers, but it sparked a chain of events that ultimately led to the partition of Ireland and the creation of an independent Republic as well as Northern Ireland.


Eva Braun
Eva Braun (PA)

Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and his long-time paramour Eva Braun wed on April 29 1945 in the Fuhrer’s Berlin bunker as the Russians closed in, with the Third Reich teetering on the brink of collapse. They died by suicide the following day.


‘My Fair Lady’ Twelfth Night Ceremony – Theatre Royal
Julie Andrews played Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady in 1958 (PA)

The musical My Fair Lady opened for its first night in London following a stint on Broadway, with Rex Harrison as Professor Higgins, and Julie Andrews playing Eliza Doolittle.

It was met with acclaim from punters and critics, although one review at the time noted the play contained “Americanised” flourishes from its time in New York and had not been “re-Anglicised” for its London audience.


Film – Directors – Alfred Hitchcock – Claridges Hotel – London
Sir Alfred Hitchcock (PA)

Sir Alfred Hitchcock, the master of screen suspense, died on this day in 1980, aged 80. The London-born director began his career in advertising and entered the film industry in 1920.

A famous example of his alleged insensitivity towards his big name stars involved Tippi Hedren in The Birds (1963) when, legend has it, she did not know so many real birds would be used and was traumatised for months afterwards by the terrifying scene. He was also the architect of the revered bathroom scene in Psycho (1960).


King Edward VIII abdicated from the throne to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson (PA Archive/PA Images)

The Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson, was laid to rest alongside her husband, King Edward VIII, at Frogmore in Windsor. The duke died in Paris in 1972.

The couple had met in 1931 although their relationship drew outrage within royal circles due to the American socialite being married at the time, leading to a constitutional crisis and the king’s eventual abdication in 1936.


Duke and Duchess of Sussex statement
William and Kate married in 2011 (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

Prince William and Kate Middleton began their life together as a married couple after a glittering wedding ceremony at Westminster Abbey. They sealed their love with not one but two kisses on Buckingham Palace’s famous balcony.

The couple, now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, have had three children: George, Charlotte and Louis.

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