Monday, October 31, 2005

Question - How can I please everyone?

Charles from England writes:

I'm completely misunderstood by everyone, it seems that no matter what I do it's judged mercilessly. I can't seem to please anyone. I try and put the Great back into Great Britain and no one seems to notice. What else do I need to do? I married and had heirs - oh the things I do for England! I carry out engagements, cut ribbons, eat organically, pay attention to my children...why ME? I didn't ask to be born into this position. I just want to be happy, how do I please everyone?

Dear Charles,

Well, thank you for writing in. Whilst I cannot pretend to understand your position, I will try to. If my hours of watching Dr. Phil have taught me, you cannot please everyone, it's a losing battle. However, just because it's a losing battle, doesn't mean you shouldn't make an effort. Have you tried hard enough? People can tell if you don't have your heart in it. Remember, if you make a valid attempt, you will never live your life with regrets.

To help you out, I've compiled a list of 25 ways* that you can please everyone:

  1. Say nothing
  2. Smile all of the time
  3. Time permitting, listen to what everyone says
  4. Do what your parents tell you to do
  5. Take the advice of everyone
  6. If advice conflicts, do a half and half split
  7. Always revere Diana's memory
  8. Publicly appear weighed down with guilt and regret
  9. Keep your opinions to yourself and don't make speeches that criticize people
  10. Make your own jam
  11. Practice what you preach
  12. Stay married and don't have an affair
  13. Sacrifice your personal happiness cheerfully
  14. Be happy but not too happy
  15. Answer all of your critics - by letter, email or phone
  16. Believe what everyone says about you and adapt your behavior accordingly
  17. Don't answer open ended questions
  18. Send thank you notes to all of your critics
  19. Be unfailingly polite, gracious, and generous
  20. Work hard but pay your own way
  21. Be nice to everyone - you never know where there's a microphone
  22. Show modesty and gratitude about your position
  23. Stay below to radar
  24. Keep Harry on a short leash
  25. Abdicate and let William take over

© Marilyn Braun

* Authors note: these are only guidelines, it's unlikely he will please everyone by using them. Don't tell Charles that. You might please me by using them but I'm not everyone. I like to think I am but I'm not. Read my blog regularly and share my blog link with everyone, this will please me too. I make no guarantees, nor do I assume any legal responsibility if you use them. Results may vary. May contains traces of peanuts. Dry clean only. Use caution if you have heart problems, or are pregnant. Keep out of reach of children. Pleasing eveyrone might be bad for your mental health. Consult your therapist for advice on your specific situation.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Camilla's tiara: The Delhi Durbar

Well, the Queen opened her vaults and picked out a tiara to lend to Camilla, and what a tiara! The Delhi Durbar tiara has been seen only a handful of times: the Queen Mother wore it in 1947 during a tour of South Africa, and in 1998, it was displayed at Christie's in aid of charity.

The circlet was made by Garrards, especially for Queen Mary during the Delhi Durbar on December 12,1911 - hence its name. Durbar is Hindi, for a 'ceremonial gathering to pay homage'. The gathering was to install King George V and Queen Mary as Emperor and Empress of India. King George V admired this piece and referred to it as "May's best tiara".

It was originally worn with detachable emerald drops and at the Durbar, Queen Mary wore it over a crimson velvet cap. According to the book Tiara's A History of Splendor by Geoffrey Munn, it is designed as a:

'graduated frieze of lyres and forget-me-not leaves and flowers, emblematic of harmony and love, it once supported not only the Cambridge emeralds but also the third and fourth cleavings of the famous Cullinan diamond. The cushion shaped stone of 62 carats was secured by a wire at the highest point of the jewel and the drop-shaped stone weighing 92 carats hung in the oval aperture below.'

The Cullinan III and IV diamonds are known as the Lesser Stars of Africa, they are the most valuable items owned by the Queen, who refers to them as 'Granny's Chips'. These diamonds are no longer in the Delhi Durbar, but are now set in a brooch, whch is rarely worn by the Queen. Queen Mary's Delhi Durbar crown latterly belonged to the Queen Mother, but upon her death it went into the private collection of the Queen.

© Marilyn Braun

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.


Tiaras - A History of Splendor by Geoffrey C. Munn
Tiaras Past and Present by Geoffrey C. Munn
Queens' Jewels by Vincent Meylan
The Royal Jewels by Suzy Menkes
The Queen's Jewels by Leslie Field

Photo of the Delhi Durbar tiara from: Tiaras - A History of Splendor by Geoffrey C. Munn

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Camilla's night to shine

I must be psychic. Didn't I predict that Camilla would be wearing a tiara soon? Yes, I think I did.

So, as I've mentioned, the Norwegian royals are coming to town and the big question seems to be - What tiara will Camilla wear? Royal watchers will see this as the ultimate sign that Camilla has been accepted into the family. Imagine the minute speculation if she doesn't show up in one. If Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway (unwed mother whose son was fathered by a convicted drug dealer) wears a tiara, what does that say about Camilla?

Of course, she can't wear something that belonged to Diana or any of the other ones I wrote about in Jewels fit for a Queen. The Queen has so many tiaras I'm sure she can find one in the vaults that doesn't have any type of sentimental value with the public. Sometimes the vault isn't even opened: Sarah, Duchess of York didn't get a tiara of her own, and it doesn't seem that Sophie did either. However, Camilla is the wife of the heir to the throne, future Queen/Princess Consort (whichever one she chooses to be known by) and she must look the part.

Personally I think wearing jewellery that has been previously owned is bad luck. I feel that a piece of jewellery is one of the closest things to a persons body and retains the karma the previous owner. I also think it's pretty cheap to not go out and buy a piece especially for me. If I were Camilla, I would mention this to Charles, and convince him to buy something unique and special. So, instead of concentrating on the provence of the tiara, people can focus on how good she looks.

Of course she could also go with the minimalist approach; a woman who doesn't need jewels to shine. In 1962 the Shah and Empress of Iran made a State visit to the Kennedy White House. At a state dinner held in their honor, the Empress wore a gold embroidered dress glittering with sequins and several millions of dollars worth of jewellery. Instead of trying to match the empress, Jacqueline Kennedy wore a sunburst diamond clip in her hair. This minimalist approach was widely praised, but can Camilla pull it off? Going this route, she runs the risk of upstaging the other bedecked royals, something Diana learned to her detriment. If she wears too many jewels she will look like she's trying too hard. Poor Camilla, she just can't win.

Regardless of what she wears, Camilla doesn't need a tiara to prove that she's a member of the royal family; she became one the moment she married Prince Charles and no piece of jewellery can ever diminish that.

Shine on Camilla, shine on.

© Marilyn Braun

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Prince William's stripes

Congratulations to Prince William for earning a place at Sandhurst Military Academy.

Ok, no one else seems to be saying this, but I can't help but feel that he would have gotten into Sandhurst either way. Sure I was impressed with the way he looked in his fatigues and bib, suitably gritting his teeth for the cameras, but do we honestly believe that he would have been turned away?

Now, I admit that Prince William is in the position where he can't win, where he will always have to prove himself to people skeptical of whether he really earned his stripes, or presidencies of Football Associations. True, we can't fault him for an accident of birth that made him an heir to the throne. From the moment he was born he automatically won a place on stamps, commemorative china, and his name on hospitals and street signs. We should all be so lucky.

Maybe he did genuinely prove himself, but somehow I doubt his years at university prepared him for the Sandhurst physical endurance tests. Maybe some strings were pulled, or threats made, after all, it can't hurt when your grandmother is head of the armed services; it's good to have connections. There would have been nothing to lose by denying Harry a spot but William, as a future King, is different. Would Sandhurst really want to interfere with royal military tradition? Or William's future credibility as head of the armed services?

Prince Harry wants a career as a soldier, it's in his blood and it's expected of him. William has always been seen as the intellectual prince. Of course he seems to have legitimately gotten into St. Andrew's University and earned a degree on his own merits. But unlike the military, there would have been no problem had he not gotten into university. A degree is not a requirement to become King, nor does it guarantee a job. As many liberal arts graduates have discovered, a degree in geography is a qualification to work the night shift at a convenience store. Even if it were a requirement, had he not earned one, the honorary degrees, Doctorates, and Chancellorships conferred upon him will more than make up for it.

Good luck to Prince William as he enters this next phase of his life. However, if the going gets too tough, there's always honorary colonelships awaiting him.

© Marilyn Braun

Monday, October 24, 2005

Royal Profile: King Olav V of Norway

You may be wondering why I'm writing a profile on a Norwegian monarch. In fact, there are strong ties between the British and Norwegian royal families; British by birth, King Olav V and the Queen were cousins. In anticipation of the King and Queen of Norway's visit to the United Kingdom I thought it appropriate to focus on him.

Prince Alexander Edward Christian Frederik was born at Appleton House on the Sandringham Estate on July 2, 1903. He was the only child of Prince Carl of Denmark (later King Haakon VII of Norway) and Princess Maud (later Queen Maud of Norway), the third daughter of King Edward VII.

In 1905 when his father was elected King of Norway, the two year old Alexander was given the more Norwegian sounding name Olav. As an only child, he was brought up in a loving environment and he was especially close to his mother, who nicknamed him "my little Hamlet". At first he was privately educated, but later went to a secondary school in Oslo: the first prince to attend an ordinary state school. He attended the Norwegian Military Academy and in 1924 enrolled in Oxford University, where he read law and economics. Like his mother, he excelled in sports; becoming a champion ski-jumper and winning a gold medal at the 1928 Summer Olympics where he represented his country in yachting.

On March 21, 1929 he married his cousin, Princess Martha of Sweden and they had three children: Princess Ragnhild, born in 1930, Princess Astrid, born in 1932 and Prince Harald (the present King Harald V) in 1937. When his wife died in 1954, he never remarried.

After the German occupation of Norway in 1940, the King and Prince Olav found refuge in Britain. For the duration of the war the Crown Princess and her children were exiled to Washington D.C. Prince Olav was highly respected for his knowledge and leadership skills and in 1944 he was appointed Norwegian Chief of Defence. In this position he led the Norwegian disarmament of German occupying forces. Olav returned to Norway in 1945.

In 1955, he was appointed Regent when his father became incapacitated and on September 21,1957 he succeeded to the throne upon the death of his father. By a 1908 amendment in the Norwegian constitution, it was no longer a requirement for the sovereign to be crowned. Instead, King Olav was blessed in Nidaros Cathedral on June 22, 1958. He was extremely popular amongst his subjects; driving his own cars, and paying for his tickets when he used public transportation. He was nicknamed "Folkekonge" (The people's king).

King Olav, who had been Europe's oldest reigning monarch, died on January 17, 1991 at Kongsseteren, the Royal Lodge. He is buried in the Chapel of Akershus Castle in Oslo.

© Marilyn Braun

Friday, October 21, 2005

Royal Reality

Whenever I write an article I usually ask my husband to read them, not necessarily for constructive criticism, but more for reassurance that at least someone is reading my blog. Having read the recent articles, he tactfully commented that the royal profiles, were, uh, lacking some pizzazz. He said that I should write something negative about my subjects, controversial, something most people wouldn't know about them.

Me: Are you saying that the royals are boring?

At that moment I knew I was asking a rhetorical question

Yes, the royals are boring

For non-royal watchers this is rather obvious. When was the last time they really did something interesting? We've only had a handful of royals that have some type of glamour - Prince Edward, the future King Edward VIII, then Duke of Windsor - who abdicated for the woman he loved. Princess Margaret, choosing duty over love. In present times, there was Diana and squigy-gate, Charles and Camilla-gate, and toe-sucking, freebie Fergie; the ultimate royal entertainer!

In this day and age of reality television, we're looking for the quick fix. People demeaning themselves for our entertainment. The royals use television as a medium for christmas broadcasts, exclusive interviews, flattering profiles, and occasional retaliation. In 1987 The Duke and Duchess of York, Princess Anne and Prince Edward did take part in an early reality tv show 'It's a royal knockabout', a 'slapstick' game show with members of the royal family, dressed in medieval costume, acting as team captains for a charity of their choice. But that was fairly tame in comparision to today. We would never see the royals on Fear Factor. Can you imagine the Queen repelling off a 10 story building for $50,000?

So, how can the royals be more interesting? Personally, I think they need to get with the times, appeal to a younger demographic, get in touch with their subjects. What better way to do this than via their own reality series. Here are some ideas I've come up with:

Newlyweds: Follow those romantic middle-aged lovebirds Charles and Camilla as they adapt to the monotony of married life.

Royal Bootcamp: A reality show that follows Prince Harry through the trials and challenges of his military career. He could endear himself to the audience by tearing up when he's called Prince Sicknote.

Survivorman - Leave Princess Michael in the woods for seven days, sans food and water, with a harmonica and camera and see whether she comes back.

The Apprentice - Tune in to see the Queen tell Prince Charles "You're fired!"

The Bachelor - Prince William chooses from a bevy of lovely aristocratic ladies, vying for the opportunity to be a future mistress

The Simple Life: Strip Princess Beatrice and Zara Philips of their cell phones and manolo blahniks, send them to rural Saskatchewan, and see what happens

© Marilyn Braun

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

More Royal Trivia

Did you know:

  • Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was the first member of the royal family to be interviewed on television, this occured in May 1961

  • In 1929, The Queen, (then Princess Elizabeth), made the cover of Time magazine for 'setting the babe fashion for yellow'

  • The Queen has never given an interview

  • Princess Beatrice's birthday - 8.8.88 - is considered to be extremely lucky in the Chinese calendar

  • The Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen are both great-great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria

  • Windsor Castle is the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world

© Marilyn Braun

Monday, October 17, 2005

Wanted: A job writing about royalty

I LOVE writing about royalty (picture me jumping on a couch like Tom Cruise) and I would die happy, at an extremely old age, if I could do it for a living. So I'm pulling an Oprah, with her book clubs and capturing of criminals, to appeal to you for help in finding a job. Of course I can't offer you a $100,000, but I can offer you my undying appreciation and, if I haven't let success go to my head, a small dedication in my first book.

To date I have written almost 60 articles and I feel that it's appropriate to do this now that I've developed a portfolio. I have some articles which I feel are better than others, satirical work such as Buckingham Palace: Royal Eyesore, Royal Glamour Girls , and Rest in Peace Diana, but only for now. I've also written more factual articles on Royal Weddings and Queen's House: Dynasty and Surname and I'm branching out with more biographical pieces, such as: Royal Profile - Princess Patricia of Connaught.

When I started this blog in March, I had no idea what direction it would take or what I was going to write. I also didn't know how much I would enjoy researching and writing these articles. Believe it or not, I wanted the blog to have a purpose and I hope is that you enjoy the articles. I'm happy if you come away with a smile, find a link that interests you, or read the royal profiles and say to yourself "I had no idea that person existed". I'm even happier if you visit on a regular basis.

I would genuinely love to make a career out of writing so if you can suggest ways to do this or if you or someone you know has connections in publishing or any other type of media - spread the word and my blog link! Any suggestions are appreciated and I can be contacted via email on my profile.

Thank you

Marilyn :o)

Friday, October 14, 2005

Royal Profile: Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent

Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, was born on December 13, 1906 in Athens, the youngest daughter of Prince Nicholas and Princess Helene of Greece. Like her first cousin Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, she was brought up outside of Greece after her family was forced into exile.

Her family moved to Paris where she attended finishing school and studied painting. She was an accomplished linguist and a skillful dressmaker. She was also widely reknowned for her style and beauty.

On November 29, 1934 she married Prince George, Duke of Kent in Westminster Abbey. Princess Marina belonged to the Greek Orthodox Church and following the service at Westminster Abbey, a second ceremony with Greek Orthodox rites was held in the private chapel in Buckingham Palace. The couple made their home at Number 3 Belgrave Square, and at Coppins, Iver in Buckinghamshire, a home that the Duke inherited from his aunt, Princess Victoria Alexandra. The couple had three children, Prince Edward, the present Duke of Kent born in 1935, Princess Alexandra born in 1936, and Prince Michael of Kent born in 1942.

Seven weeks after the birth of their youngest son, the Duke was killed in a flying accident. No financial provisions had been made and during wartime, the Duchess was not granted funds from the civil list. This resulted in many of the Duke's valuable pictures and objects being sold. After her husband's death she assumed many of his duties, including the presidencies of several organizations and the chancellorship of the University of Kent. Her interests included music, the theatre and ballet, and she enjoyed reading, painting and tennis.

When her son Prince Edward married in 1961, to distinguish her from her daughter-in-law, she adopted her former title and became known as HRH Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent. She moved to Kensington Palace and lived there until her death on August 27, 1968. She is buried beside her husband in the Frogmore Burial Ground.

© Marilyn Braun

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Why I love the Internet

Dear Reader,

If you’re a regular visitor or just pass through, you may have noticed that I haven’t posted in a while. Not because I don’t have ideas, I have plenty that I can’t finish. Not because I haven’t felt like it, because I have. Due to technical difficulties, I have not been able to keep the blog current. I nearly called in a favour from someone who surfs the Internet regularly at work; desperate times call for pseudo desperate measures. Luckily I never had to resort to such subterfuge.

Despite offending modems, I love the Internet. It has provided me with recipes I’ve passed off as my own, given me valuable parenting advice, and generated thank you cards when I haven’t been able to think of anything unique to say. I’ve been able to communicate with friends, relatives and co-workers instead of having to speak to them in person and I’ve passed many long hours at work under the guise of making travel arrangements for managers.

As I haven’t had access in over a week, I have no idea what’s going on in the world of royalty. I would have heard if something happened with the British, but for the other monarchies, I’m clueless. Someone important could have died, maybe Princess Mary of Denmark had her baby, or Máxima of the Netherlands ran off with a servant and I would be the last to know. I’m probably missing out on timely material, right now as we speak.

We never really know the value of someone until we no longer have it. Until now I've had to wing the parenting thing, with mixed results. Now that I'm powered up and running I have no excuse for not paying my bills, or not posting articles. So check back soon.

Thanks for visiting


Monday, October 03, 2005

My Favourite Royal

Ever since Diana's death I've felt a void inside of me, which no other royal can fill. Unlike other royals, stories about her on the news, in magazines, or on the Internet, used to stop me dead in my tracks. If there were a new book on her I would shove the elderly or small children out of the way to get to it. I can't say that anymore and it's disappoints me.

The royals are no longer completely interesting to me, no longer glamorous. To get my Diana fix I've had to settle for revelations by James Hewitt, or the outright money grubbing by Paul Burrell. Has it come to this? Am I really so desperate? I laugh and scoff like the rest of you, but deep down inside I pay attention. Of course I have my standards, I don't buy tabloids; the headlines teased me for too long and it finally broke my heart when I realized none of them were true.

It would be an understatement to say I have an interest in royalty. I stayed up all night to watch the wedding of Andrew and Fergie, and I bought every newspaper and magazine I could find after Diana's death. When the Queen dies, I've warned my husband that no matter what time of day it is or where we are I will go out, once again, and buy every publication. I admit I didn't do this when the Queen Mother or Princess Margaret died, and I probably wouldn't go out of my way for Prince Charles, but I would do it for the Queen.

I guess if I were asked who my favourite royal is now, I would have to say its Camilla. Strange isn't it? The void filled by Diana's nemesis. Is there irony in that? Camilla is interesting in a way that Charles and William's bald spots, or the question of Harry's paternity isn't. Now that she's in the fold, I find myself longing to know more about her. Should a sanctioned book come out I would probably let the infirm pass by before I grabbed it. I might even wait until it comes out on paperback.

Now that Charles and Camilla are married there's no longer the promise of something interesting and I find myself looking to older books. Books which freeze frame the blossoming Princess Elizabeth as she came of age, her wedding to Prince Philip, and the Coronation which heralded a new Elizabethan age. Was there anyone more dashing than Prince Philip as a young man? Anyone lovelier than the 26-year-old Queen? 60 years on their devotion to one another is still going strong.

Princesses Mary of Denmark, Mette-Marit of Norway, Maxima of the Netherlands, Mathilde of Belgium, and Letizia of Spain assure me that glamour exists. But all hope is not lost with the British; there's Prince William's girlfriend Kate Middleton. I genuinely find myself pulling for her, hoping that she can tough out the publicity to become the next royal bride. She will never replace Diana but she’ll look good trying.

So should William and Kate become engaged, or the Queen dies get out of the way or I'll run over you.

© Marilyn Braun