Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Christian Tradition Continues

The son of Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark was christened on January 21st. Born on October 15th 2005, his name was a secret, for reasons unknown, until his mother spoke them at the moment of his baptism - Christian Valdemar Henri John.

I had previously written about his name in my post The Naming of a Prince. I don't envy the parents who must have felt pressure to continue the tradition that alternates Christian and Frederik for future kings of Denmark. They said the name had been decided for some time and that it wasn't a difficult choice. But I disagree. What if they didn't like the name Christian? What if they had wanted to call him Frederik? Maybe these thoughts were running through their minds. We'll never know. In the end they decided to go with Christian, thus avoiding upsetting the order of things. But really, there are plenty of other perfectly good monikers available, just read the World of Royalty Blog, which mentions the various Danish names the couple could have chosen.

I have to say that I'm a bit disappointed by the choice of Christian. It's a nice name but it was no surprise. Not to mention a complete lack of originality. Of course I would have bended too but still, isn't part of the fun of choosing a name dashing the hopes of everyone around you? Especially people who make unsubtle suggestions. Sure people discussed the possibility of 'Gorm', highly unlikely but maybe it was on their list. Erik and Christopher would have been modern choices with precedent and Hans has a good ring to it in the year that celebrated the 200th birthday of Hans Christian Andersen. I'm not a fan of choosing a name that is currently fashionable, so 'Canute' would have made the prince stand out amongst his prep school peers. Don't feel so bad, his bodyguards would have protected him.

Hopefully the Prince and Princess will have more leeway in choosing the name of their second child. If it's a boy they could go with some of the names I've mentioned above. If it's a girl, how about Marilyn??

Just a suggestion.

© Marilyn Braun 2006

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A meal fit for a Queen

Members of the public are being asked to choose what the Queen will eat for her birthday luncheon. Instead of contributing to the poll, I've decided to respectfully submit my own four course menu. I've read that the Queen and Prince Philip enjoy simple fare and I'm a big fan of the four basic food groups, in the parlance of Martha Stewart - it's a good thing. When you're the Queen's age, it's even more important to eat healthy. However, she shouldn't sacrifice taste, so here are my suggestions:


Weiners de cocktail & Poppers de japaleno (always good to have a vegetarian option)


Potage des pois fendu avec du jambon

I love split pea soup. Sure you could do potage de courge de butternut avec la sauge, but why not try something different?

Main Entree

Mini-pieuvres avec Dîner Kraft or Macaroni au fromage et aux légumes

Or more commonly known as macaroni and cheese. It's a classic standby, it's easy, it's tasty and according to the box it has some nutritional value. Serve it with tuna, add a sprig of parsley and voila, it becomes a $20.00 entree at an expensive restaurant.


Bagatelle des fêtes au JELL-O

A staple of hospital and nursing homes, JELL-O is an easy standby and it doesn't have any calories. Add garniture fouettée Cool Whip, décongelée, mmmm, mmmm, mmmm, good!

Bon appétit!

© Marilyn Braun 2006

Friday, January 20, 2006

Royal Rumour has it...

Rumour has it that the Queen will step back, pare down on her duties and allow the Prince of Wales to act as Regent.

If true, I'm disappointed. I'm not a monarchist, but I'm comforted knowing that the Queen is still around. Like a grandparent I never visit, on a personal level, I care about her. She's the only queen I've ever known. She's on my stamps, my money, and on the various souvenirs I collect.

The Queen, of course, as earned the right to kick back and relax a bit. She'll be 80 in April. When her peers are retiring and spending winters in Florida, playing canasta, and making crafts with sea shells, she is doing investitures, reading important papers, travelling, and holding state dinners for 200+. Admirably she's still going strong.

Sure the Prince of Wales will do a great job, he's been apprenticing since he was 3 1/2 years old. Unlike Queen Victoria, who did not allow her heir, Edward VII, to access any papers, the Prince of Wales will be more prepared for his future role by QE2. It's reassuring, but it's not the same. What about the glamour and pagentry of monarchy? No one wears a tiara and priceless jewels like the Queen.

But should he really be handed the reins at the moment? With all of the furor surrounding his marriage to Camilla, shouldn't she let the dust settle? Won't this bring up all sorts of issues? His suitability as king? His name as sovereign? Camilla's title? His religious beliefs? There are all sorts of things for royal experts and the annoying Penny Junor to speculate on.

In her Coronation vows, I don't recall hearing anything about stepping back. Maybe it's in the interpretation. If we question her dedication, there are royal loopholes and disclaimers to prove us wrong. Legal experts will tell us we should have read the fine print.

It's nothing new for an heir to take on more duties when the monarch is unavailable or incapacitated. The Queen, when she was Princess Elizabeth did so, but it just seemed different then. With a young and beautiful queen there was something to look forward to. Can we say the same thing about the Prince of Wales?

I'm sure the Prince of Wales will make a great king; when the time comes. Until then I'm just not ready to see her go.

Let's hope it's just a rumour.

© Marilyn Braun 2006

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Royal Review: Freddy and Fredericka by Mark Helprin

I have to say that I was looking forward to reading this book. One chapter in I started to have my doubts about that.

Freddy and Fredericka is about a fictional Prince and Princess of Wales, who bear a striking resemblance to the real Prince and Princess. There's the Queen (Queen Philippa), Prince Philip (Prince Paul), Diana (Princess Fredericka), Prince Charles (Prince Freddy), and Camilla (Lady Phoebe Boylingehotte). All of the main characters from the real soap opera are here.

The story begins with a falcon named Craig-Vyvyan which is supposed to predict the future monarch; if it flies from the arm of the heir, it means that they will be the next sovereign. After several attempts, the falcon has not flown for Freddy. At this point in the story one can only hope that it never does.

The character of Fredericka, fashionable, universally loved and lauded, is portrayed as an empty-headed, shallow, and manipulative, seemingly with no redeeming qualities. Although I'm sure the real Princess of Wales had her faults, this portrayal is taken to the extreme and it becomes annoying after a while. Freddy, more sympathetically portrayed, is misunderstood, contemplative, constantly upstaged by his glamourous wife, criticized by his father, and finds solace in talking to plants and Lady Boylingehotte. Can you already see where the story is going?

Of course we can read about that in royal biographies, so Helprin's tale takes a turn. When Freddy and Fredericka's antics make the monarchy look bad once too often, they are cast out into the real world, left to their own devices, to recapture the American colonies. The events that follow are completely plausible for two naked people forced to parachute into New Jersey in the middle of the night. They have no food, clothes, money, or ID. They also can't tell people who they are.

Adopting new identities, they make their way across America, finding food, clothing, and a new respect for each other. With surprising capability, they support themselves working as dishwashers, railway workers, cleaning toilets. They also become art thieves, dentists, and political speechwriters.

Some of the names used in the novel are too farfetched to be funny; Princess Fredericka's ancestral estate is called 'Feta', Prince Freddy's estate is 'Moocock'. Their new identities are a tongue twister: Mr and Mrs. Lachproof Bachquaquinnik Des Moofoomooach. My apologies to anyone with this as their real name.

Some of the arguments in semantics that the main character's get into, usually at inopportune moments, are funny, the misunderstandings while explaining themselves are hilarious. However there are times when some of the passages drag on. No doubt these are supposed to satire politicians and political situations but it just becomes an unnecessary distraction to the main story of Freddy and Fredericka.

Stripped of their royal personages, wealth and priviledge, we see them as real people, human, flawed. As they discover each other and question their royal positions, one can't help but feel compassion towards them. This makes the book a page turner and I found myself rooting for the characters to reach their destiny, whatever their choice ended up being.

Will they stay in America and reclaim the colonies? Will they return to Britain and their royal positions?

I highly recommend reading this book to find out.

© Marilyn Braun 2006

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Royal Trivia Time!

Did you know...

  • The Queen became one of the first Heads of State to send an e-mail on March 26, 1976 during a visit to the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment, a military unit based at Malvern, Worcestershire.

  • The Queen has 30 god-children

  • The Queen became the first member of the Royal Family to be awarded a gold disc from the recording industry. Around 100,000 copies of the CD of the 'Party at the Palace', produced by EMI, were sold within the first week of release.

  • Prince Philip is the first member of the royal family to use a helicopter

  • The first Royal Walkabout bt the Queen and Prince Philip took place during a visit to Australia and New Zealand in 1970.

© Marilyn Braun 2006

Monday, January 09, 2006

Royal Profile: George Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood

The Rt. Honourable Sir George Henry Hubert Lascelles, KBE, 7th Earl of Harewood, Viscount Lascelles and Baron Harewood was born on February 7, 1923 at Harewood House, the family manor in Yorkshire. He was the first son of Henry, the 6th Earl of Harewood and Princess Mary, later the Princess Royal. He was the first grandchild of King George V and Queen Mary and is a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II. Until he succeeded to the title of Earl of Harewood in 1947, he was known by the courtesy title of Viscount Lascelles. He has a younger brother, Gerald (1924-1998).

He was educated at Eton and King's College, Cambridge and later commissioned into the Grenadier Guards, attaining the rank of Captain. During World War II he fought in Italy, was wounded and captured by the Germans and imprisioned in Colditz from 1944 to May 1945. After the war, in 1945-6 he served as 'aide de-camp' to the governor-general of Canada at the time, the Earl of Athlone (husband of Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone). During the monarch's absence abroad, he was appointed a Counsellor of State in 1947; the first person without a royal title to do so. He was appointed again during Queen Elizabeth's major post Coronation Commonwealth tour in 1953-54.

In 1949 he married Marion Stein, and the couple had three sons: David, the current Viscount Lascelles (b 1950), James (b 1953), and Jeremy (b 1955). The marriage was dissolved in 1966; making the earl the first member of the immediate family to divorce. Two years prior to this, he had a son, Mark Lascelles (b 1964) by Patricia Tuckwell, whom he married in 1967. Marion Stein later went on to marry politician Jeremy Thorpe, who caused a scandal in 1976 when he was accused of having a homosexual relationship with another man.

He has devoted most of his career to the opera, for which he is a recognized expert and has written major books on the subject. He was editor of Opera Magazine and worked for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Director. He has been Chairman of the Board of the English Opera, Artistic Director of the Leeds Festival and the Edinburgh International Festival. Artistic Adviser to the New Philharmonica Orchestra and Managing Director of the English National Opera North. In 1985 he retired to devote more time to running Harewood House.

The Queen created him a Knight Commander of the British Empire in 1986. He received the Australian Order of Merit in 1959. His memoirs, The Tongs and the Bones, was published in 1981.

Update: The Earl of Harewood died on July 11th, 2011. He is survived by his wife Patricia and his four sons.

© Marilyn Braun 2006