Dear Prince Harry, Please do something foolish again

>> Monday, January 27, 2014

I have a confession to make. In the last few months I've started to grow bored of the British Royal Family. For someone whose all consuming purpose in life (aside from eating and tending to my family) is to write commentary about royalty this is bad news. It is a new year and I have yet to get riled up enough to blog. I've been relegated to writing about how I am uninspired to write about royalty. What will the rest of 2014 be like?

It's off to a bad start. Recently Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge celebrated her 1,000th day as a member of the royal family. First of all, I find this number reassuring. It gives me proof that there are other people just as bored as I am. So bored they sat down and calculated how many days Catherine has been royal. It is also proof at how inane royal news has become. And it allows me to date-stamp the moment when royal news all started to go downhill.

You will find people who disagree with that statement. After all, isn't Catherine the best thing that has ever happened to the royal family in all the years of its existence? Isn't it wonderful that she is perfection personified that she has never, ever put a foot wrong? Catherine walks on water and everything she does turns to gold...


I love writing critical commentary about this but right now I'm so bored I can't rouse myself to do so. I've run out of steam. Not enough to flounce skirts, gather up all my toys and melodramatically bid farewell in a blog post (sorry). But every time I read my twitter newsfeed, it slowly gets there. There's nothing controversial to write commentary about. Nothing new. No scandals to put into perspective. No sanctimonious denouncements about invading Kate's privacy by the very people who contribute to the problem. No royals getting naked or going on multiple exotic vacations. Even Prince Andrew (AKA Air Miles Andy) seems to be economizing. I used to follow various Kate fashion bloggers until my timeline was monopolized by a minute discussion about the actual color of Kate's shoes during her tour of Canada. Until that point I was completely indifferent. And this is why I'm date-stamping the downward spiral of royal news at April 29, 2011.

Before that date the coverage of Kate was much more interesting. Call it the thrill of the chase, the suspense, will they/won't they get married. The dynamic was different. The ridiculous stories were much more entertaining. Sure there was interest in outfits Kate wore, but it wasn't as obsessive as it is now. Now Kate has been relegated to a beautiful clothes horse and she seems happy to oblige. Great news for Kate fashion bloggers, but not so much for people looking for signs of substance behind it.

2013 was definitely a good year for royal news. The 60th anniversary of the coronation kept my Twitter feed dotted with tweets from grumpy republicans and smug monarchists responding to it. Surely there has to be a middle ground? Then there was Kate's pregnancy. Coverage that bordered on the ridiculous a majority of the time. But now that Kate has given birth to Prince George/Savior of the monarchy and he has been duly christened. Now what? Prince Charles shaking things up by merging PR offices. William, Harry and Catherine 'branding' themselves. Beatrice and Eugenie getting jobs. Lady Louise's successful eye surgery. William and Harry giving up playing with helicopters. Heck the most interesting "news story" is not about the royals, but about the outfit a transvestite wore to receive an honor from Prince Charles. Is this what we have to tide us over until Kate gets pregnant again or one of the royals dies?

I swear, where is a undercover reporter posing as a fake sheikh when you need one?

© Marilyn Braun 2014

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.


Royal Review: Her Majesty by Christopher Warwick & Reuel Golden

>> Friday, January 03, 2014

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Christopher Warwick and Reuel Golden
306 pages

Aside from finding room, one problem with compulsively collecting books (600 by last count) is that it is very hard to surprise me, especially when it comes to books containing lots of royal photographs. Books that tout 'unseen' or 'rare' royal photographs are often not the case for me. Which is why I'm often incredibly skeptical of any new release that makes these types of claims.

On first glance, Her Majesty is an impressive book. It is so large (16" x 12") and heavy (10 pounds) that it comes with its own carrying case. I would wage a guess that this book is now is the largest in my collection. It also has an impressive price tag ($150) although if you're lucky and patient you can get it on sale like I did. But just because a book is large, does not mean it breaks new ground.

Her Majesty covers the Queen's life from childhood to her Diamond jubilee celebrations. She is depicted on duty with the occasional casual photograph. Throughout her long life and reign, the Queen has been photographed by some of the finest photographers of the 20th century. Photographs, which are familiar to any avid royal follower. Unless you have never seen a book about the Queen, there are few surprises in Her Majesty. Which is disappointing given the fact that as the most photographed woman in the world, there is no shortage of material to choose from.

With Her Majesty, the text is interesting and offered in English, German and French. However, again, there are no surprises.  It must be an occupational hazard for any royal biographer to come up with a new take on the Queen. Especially when other authors and journalists have already covered that same well-documented life ad-nauseam. The book becomes more interesting in the Appendix section which contains a chronology of her life and detailed list of her overseas travels from 1953 - 2011. It truly shines in the Royal Media section with newspaper and magazine covers throughout her life and reign, which serves to illustrate her cultural impact far better than any of the photographs within the book.

If you want to find a book with royal photographs, there are far more affordable options. Queen Elizabeth II: A Photographic Portrait by Philip Ziegler, The Queen: Art and Image by Paul Moorhouse. Cecil Beaton: The Royal Portraits by Roy Strong. If you're looking for rare and interesting outtakes from those sessions, you can find them in Queen Elizabeth II: Portraits by Cecil Beaton by Susanna Brown.

© Marilyn Braun 2014

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.


Andrew and Sarah together again? Never Say Never

>> Sunday, August 25, 2013

I recall July 23, 1986 vividly. Staying up all night to watch the royal wedding, setting the VCR on top of that so that I could replay the ceremony later.

Andrew and Sarah's wedding was the first royal event that I actually took an interest in. Charles and Diana's wedding, despite being a global event, wasn't even on my radar. It would take the birth of Prince William to spark my interest. And after that I was hooked.

Although I was only 14 at the time, I always thought that I would marry Prince Andrew one day. Suffice to say my disappointment when his engagement to Sarah Ferguson was announced. But I avidly paid attention in the run up, prepared myself to stay up so that I could watch the wedding live. And I wasn't disappointed.

I remember how lovely Sarah looked in her wedding dress. How her wedding dress shone and her eyes flashed at various guests as she walked up the aisle of Westminster abbey towards Prince Andrew at the altar. They looked so happy together. Unlike Charles and Diana. After the ceremony I watched them on the balcony at Buckingham Palace waving and laughing and looking gloriously happy. As the crowd called out for them to kiss, they jokingly pretended not to hear. When they finally did kiss, the roar of the crowd said it all. This was a marriage to celebrate and to last.

Sarah Ferguson, Fergie, was lauded as a breath of fresh air to the royal family. The antithesis of the thin and increasingly sad looking Diana. And then it all started to go wrong for Fergie. Not helping matters by not being as perfect or fashionable as Diana, gaining weight, and most glaringly of all, being herself. Leading to embarrassing herself and having affairs. Her autobiography details her downfall in raw detail. But despite all of these events, one thing seemed to be clear. Andrew still loved and supported Fergie. And almost 30 years later, continues to do so.

So it is no great surprise when there are rumors that they will get remarried. The rumors come about every so often. I personally think it is only a matter of time before this happens. Whether it be in the near future or once the present reign ends is hard to say. But I do think that Andrew and Sarah make each other happy, and always have.

The idea that they might get remarried is met with criticism, even derision. "Look at how foolish she has acted in the past!" "the lack of judgement during and after her marriage", "How can Andrew continue to enable her?" Yes, her history is unforgiving isn't it? But let's also remember that she isn't the first royal to have an affair (unfortunately, not the last either). At the same time, Charles was carrying on with Camilla and embarrassing the royal family in his own way. And most would agree that his position in line is far more important than Andrew's. Yet why the double standard? Why do people forget and forgive the past with one brother and not the other? If someone had suggested Charles and Camilla get married in the 1990s, how much scoffing and derision would that have met with? Yet they did get married and look at them today. Why is it different with Andrew and Sarah?

Regardless of what 'royal sources' would have people believe, we will never really know what goes on behind closed doors with Andrew and Sarah. We can only speculate. I hope, for their sakes, they do find happiness together. Regardless of public opinion, I think it is only a matter of time before they do get remarried.

I may not have a VCR, but should it happen, I look forward to staying up and watching it all over again.

© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

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