Sunday, April 29, 2007

Royal Review: The Queen

I will admit, that when I first heard about this movie being made I was somewhat skeptical. Royal docudrama dialogue tends to be culled from sensationalized headlines and the characterizations are usually one-dimensional. In ths case, I thought it would be no different from the others, not to mention a bad career move for Helen Mirren.

So imagine my surprise when this movie started to get rave reviews and Helen Mirren was touted for an Oscar. People around me, who had no interest in royalty, praised her performance. I found myself rooting for her to win the Oscar. When she did, I became impatient to see this movie. After a long wait, I watched it last night.

The Queen, is set in 1997 during the week following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in a Paris car-crash. One aspect of this movie that is rather refreshing is that it isn't all about Diana. We don't have to deal with conspiracy theories, Dodi, or if an actress played Diana well. Except for a blur of blonde hair getting into the Mercedes on that fateful night, Diana is shown only in archival footage.

While Diana does permeate, the focus of this film is very much on the Queen and her inner conflict with tradition versus common sense. It would have been very easy to make the royals appear insensitive, but the portrayals are sympathetic and human. Queen is not made to be cold and aloof. Prince Charles isn't the villain he was made out to be at the time. Diana isn't sainted. And Prince Philip is...well...Prince Philip.

Helen Mirren gives a dignified performance as The Queen and, in some instances, bears a rather remarkable resemblance to her. James Cromwell, as Prince Philip, provides some comic relief with his irascible behavior and Sylvia Syms as the Queen Mother gives some wry asides. Alex Jennings, who portrays Prince Charles, has the pained expression perfected but, to me, still looks more like George W. Bush.

Through-out the movie it seems that we, the viewers, are getting royal lessons: 'the queen doesn't vote', 'one must keep ones feelings to oneselves', 'this situation is unprecendented', instead of it being part of the natural conversation. A writing teacher once said to me 'show, don't tell', and I think that phrase is somewhat apt for this movie.

We'll never know exactly what happened between Balmoral and Downing Street, but the dialogue seems to have been written from the benefit of hindsight. Did the Queen really not understand the impact of Diana's death? Was Tony Blair really that pivitol in saving the Queen from herself? Like other docudramas, the dialogue does occasionally veer into the extreme when Cherie Blair pronounces to her husband that 'the Queen hated Diana's guts'. Which, from Mirren's performance, I don't get a sense of.

The mixture of Diana footage with unfolding events at Balmoral and Downing Street is very well done. But despite the care taken to get events right, there are still some anachronisms with cell phones and vehicles appearing that didn't exist at the time.

While the outcome of the movie is no surprise, the movie is definately worth watching, if only to get a different view of the Queen from what we've been led to believe.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Click on this link to order The Queen

Friday, April 27, 2007

Other Royal Trivia

Did you know....

  • King Abdullah II of Jordan, is a big Star Trek fan. When he was Prince Abdullah, he appeared as an exra, in a non-speaking role, on a 1995 episode of Star Trek.

  • Queen Rania of Jordan, King Abdullah's wife, is (currently) the world's youngest queen.

  • When Princess Margriet of The Netherlands was born in 1943, the hospital she was born in, Ottawa Civic, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, was placed, temporarily, outside of the jurisdiction of Canadian law to ensure she would not have dual nationality.

  • King Constantine of Greece won a gold medal at the 1960 Olympics in Rome for sailing.

  • King Olav V of Norway won a gold medal at the 1928 Summer Olympics for sailing.

  • King George VI, as Prince Albert, played in 1926 at the All England Championships at Wimbledon in the men's doubles.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Question: Why isn't the Duke of Edinburgh Prince Consort?

I recently received this question:

Can you blog us anything about "Prince Consort?" I take it this will be a big honor for Prince Philip since no one has held this title since Prince Albert...why has it taken the Queen this many years to bestow it?

Thanks very much for your question!

If you pay attention to recent royal news reports, you might have read that Queen Elizabeth II might/may/will make her husband Prince Consort on/around their 60th wedding anniversary on November 20th, 2007.

Should she do so, the Duke of Edinburgh, would become only the second male consort to hold the title, which carries with it no benefits or extra duties, but probably looks nice on business cards. Currently, there is only one Prince Consort, and that is the husband of Queen Margarethe of Denmark.

Such titles aren't always bestowed right away. Prince Henrik, Queen Margarethe's husband, became Prince Consort 33 years after her accession to the throne. Queen Victoria conferred the title of Prince Consort upon her husband Prince Albert in 1857, 17 years after their marriage. Queen Victoria's consort, Prince Albert, was the first male consort in the British royal family to hold the title.

The Duke of Edinburgh will be 86 in June of this year. In November he will have been married to the Queen for 60 years. He has been her consort since February 1952. In September 1952, the Queen granted her husband precedence next to herself and on February 22nd, 1957 she created him a Prince of the United Kingdom and his title then became HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

According to the official site:

Prince Philip chose not to take on the title of 'Prince Consort', and to continue to be known instead as 'The Duke of Edinburgh'. He still offers the support and undertakes the duties expected of a consort and was the first person to pay homage to The Queen following her Coronation, by kneeling at her feet and then kissing her cheek.

The Prince has served Her Majesty without any such title and, whether she choses to make him Prince Consort after all of this time, really makes no difference. Title or none, his duty to her is unquestioned.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Rose by a Royal name

When royal ladies arrive at an engagement, it is customary to give a bouquet of flowers. Usually the royal lady will also receive flowers from the crowds, sometimes in abundance. Some of the flowers are kept and some are given to local hospitals for patients to enjoy. However, there are some flowers which, when received, royalty might hang on to.

Of the many accolades that royalty receives, whether having food, a building, or a street in their name, many have also had the honor of having a flower, usually a rose, named after them as well. Here are just a few of the flowers:

Princesse de Monaco: Named for Princess Grace of Monaco. Some of her hobbies included flower arranging and pressing. Her daughter also has a rose named after her called the Caroline de Monaco.

Crown Princess Mary - a rose named after Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and sold through the Heart foundation of Austrailia. Particularly appropriate as her late mother, who passed away from heart disease, was an avid rose gardener.

What could be more appropriate for someone known as 'England's Rose', than to have a flower named after her. This is actually not the first flower named in her honor. There's also one called the 'Lady Diana' and another called 'The Princess of Wales'. The one pictured is the 'Diana, Princess of Wales' and is being sold to raise money for her memorial foundation.

Royal William. Depending on which source you check, this rose is either named to commemorate the birth of Prince William or to mark King William III's arrival in England in 1688.

Duchess of Cornwall - named after Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall to raise funds for the National Osteoporosis Society, a disease her mother died of.

Princess Alice Rose. Queen Victoria's third child and second daughter. She was also the mother of Victoria, Marchioness of Milford Haven .

Other royals who have had flowers named after them:

Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands
Princess Margaret
Princess Michael of Kent
Princess Marina and her daughter Princess Alexandra
Princess Michiko of Japan (now Empress Michiko)
Princess Alexandra of Denmark

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Friday, April 20, 2007

Survivor Balmoral

Trapped in their home for 39 days with no servants to wait on them, no private secretaries as go betweens, the royals must communicate directly with each other and make their own beds. Through a series of challenges, each contestant will prove that they are the real Royal Survivor.

Day 30

On last week's episode we saw tribe Hanover prevail in the immunity challenge. Currently there is dissention in tribe Windsor, alliances have been formed and broken. Andrew currently has the Immunity Idol after winning the smiling and waving challenge, which Edward failed.

Edward: "Mummy, my arms are tired".

The Queen is not amused, she rolls her eyes.

The Queen: "I've been doing this for 80 years. Suck it up".

Next challenge: Charles attempts to iron his shirts and squeeze his own toothpaste. Without success.

Charles: "I dare say, this is harder than it looks. Where do you plug the toothpaste in?"

Philip: (already brushing his teeth) "You don't know what hardship is really like do you?"

Exasperated, Charles looks for paper and pen to write a memo to his father.

Charles: "This really isn't fair. How are we supposed to communicate with each other anyways?"

Meanwhile, William and Kate Middleton are having a disagreement....

Kate: "Where's the toilet?"

William: "No, it's called a 'lavatory'. Let's spell that together..L..A..V..."

Kate: "Pardon?"

William: "What?"

Later that day, at Tribal Council, the Queen waits for the remaining members of Tribe Windsor. Philip, Charles, Anne, Andrew, Edward, William, Harry and Kate Middleton, meet at Balmoral to vote off the next contestant.

Kate: (to the Queen) "Pleased to meet you."

Everyone glares at her.

Queen: You have come here today because, once again, your tribe lost the immunity challenge against Hanover, why do you think this happened?

Andrew: "I blame Harry, claiming to be sick anytime there's work to be done"

Edward: "Someone should be tested for drugs...."

Charles: "At least he's doing his time in the military".

Edward: "Mummy, are you going to let him say that to me?"

Harry gets up, fists ready. William goes to restrain him.

Harry: "Look William, there's a cheap blonde at the bar!"

William is distracted and lets Harry go. Harry lunges at Edward. Kate phones her lawyers.

The Queen: "Kate, I'm under the impression that you're not suitable royal bride material..some say you're middle class".

Everyone gasps

Kate: "William doesn't you William?...William?"

Philip: (Looks over at the bar) "Does he have his hand on her...."

Kate: "That's it!...I can't take this anymore!"

Kate runs off into the night. The remaining contestants look at each other, confused.

The Queen: "I guess the commoner has spoken!"

On next week's episode:

Charles tries to mow the lawn. And Edward draws his own bath.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Candidates for Prince William's hand

Kate Middleton isn't even cold and already speculation has started on who will be on the commemorative china with him. While having tea in the old mugs, Woolworth's must be gleefully rubbing its hands together. Yes, maybe the next relationship will last!

In August 2005 I posted a list of potential royal brides should things not work out with Kate. At the time, he was dating her so he probably wouldn't have taken this list very seriously. Of course, now that Prince William is single again, he may want to take a closer look. Since the original list the availability has changed somewhat, Christina is married and Britney is divorced, but he still has plenty of choice. Of course, he could choose from a bevy of blonde aristocratic ladies with multi-hyphenated names bigger than their collective IQ's. But why not consider someone different?

Chelsey Davy: She can trade up if she gets tired of Prince Harry

Jennifer Aniston: Take that Brad!

Pamela Anderson: Blonde cougars have more fun

Paris Hilton: Looks good on video and rich enough that he doesn't have to worry about her marrying him for his money.

Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen: I still maintain that it would be useful to have a bride with a twin sister. When he wants a change, he could swap them out. But if I were him I'd choose the cleaner looking of the two, Mary-Kate.*

Lindsay Lohan: He'd have someone to party with. But she might drink him under the table.

Princess Madeleine of Sweden: They'd look so good together we'd be jealous of their unborn babies.

Princess Beatrice: [Insert collective ewwww] If he wants to keep it in the same gene pool. At one point royals did marry their first cousins. No, really it's true! Which could explain quite a bit now.

Heather Mills-McCartney: She seems to like them rich and old. Hopefully William does too.

Kylie Minogue: A forerunner on the UK bookmakers list. But could she blow the corgi's out of the room like Christina?

Britney Spears: Well, maybe not a potential bride. But with the head shaving incident he could add her to his list of charities.

Christina Aguilera: She's married at the moment but that'll change. On the plus side, she doesn't have as much baggage as Britney.

Princess Theodora of Greece: If he wants to keep it in the family

There, now Prince William can't complain that he doesn't have any choice. He can thank me with an invitiation to his wedding.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

* I stand corrected. Apparently Ashley is the cleaner looking of the two!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Kate Middleton story that will not die

Kate Middleton's breakup with Prince William is all over the media. One look at most royalty sites, forums and blogs that cover the British royal family devote posts to this saga. Some blogs, like The Royal Representative have moved on to other royal news. The World of Royalty blog briefly touched on it, and The Monarchist never covered it at all.

Three royal blogs down, six to go (including this one and The Royal Chronicles).

When will this story die?

The Dutch Crown Prince and Princess name their daughter? Queen Margarethe of Denmark turns 67? Nelson Mandela's royal link restored? No comparison. Royal watchers have hit the jackpot. In the absence of a royal death or divorce, it's the current hot topic and, seemingly, an endless source of discussion, speculation and material. Where's an abdication when we need one?

Why did Kate and Will's breakup? What did Kate do? Who dumped who? Does it really matter in the grand scheme of things? Unless Kate writes a book or becomes a reality star, will we be talking about this in a month's time? Who knows? We're still talking about Diana 10 years later.

Will it be five blogs down? Not anytime soon.

But if I get tired of it, I'm reminded of some lyrics:

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Wanted: Royal Bride

Job Type: Permanent/Full time (after indeterminate probation period)
Location: Clarence House, London, UK
Job Category: Executive
Industry: World Rulers
Company Name: Windsor Inc.
Company URL:
Experience: None
Number Of Positions: 1
Position Start Date: TBD

The Opportunity

Do you have what it takes to be a future Queen? Are you looking for an opportunity for advancement? If so, an opening has just come up in Windsor Inc. Direct Line division for a Royal Bride.

The British Royal Family has a long history and is one of most well known royal families in the world. The Firm is looking for a Royal Bride to expand operations and provide top level support. Reporting to the Sovereign, the successful incumbent will be a self-starter, and capable of hitting the ground running. Serving the country, you will provide good value while liaising with all levels of society.

An amazing opportunity to take your place in history!


As the wife of the second-in-line to the throne, you should have the following qualifications:

  • Ability to give and receive undue deference

    • Good judgement and discretion

    • Patience and the ability to look the other way

    • Keen interest in people and the ability to make small talk

    • Sensitivity to all cultures

    • Strong fashion sense.

    • Physical attractiveness is a definite plus

      • Must like flowers

        • Capable of operating scissors when opening hospitals, cutting ribbons.

        • Must be able to review troops and sit for endless portraits

        • Ability to ride a horse is an asset.

        • Demonstrated skills in speech making and dealing with the media

        • Comfortable in a high profile role

        • Willingness to travel and a familiarity with the various global divisions

        • Advanced Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook skills.

        • Able to prioritize and multi-task

        • Adaptable to changing duties

        • Ability to work effectively in a fast paced and occasionally unpredictable environment.


          Dental, eyeglasses, vast properties, priceless jewels, generous fashion stipend. Travel to exotic locations.

          If this opportunity interests you please contact Trixie at

          We thank you for your interest. Due to the large volume of applicants, only those qualified for the position will be contacted.

          © Marilyn Braun 2007

        Monday, April 16, 2007

        Kate Middleton's Future

        It's all over the news - Kate Middleton and William have split. I haven't been this shocked since Brad and Jen. What went wrong? They looked so good on the Woolworth commemorative mugs. It's so sad. She invested five years of her life into the relationship. Not to mention all of time we wasted speculating. And for what? Didn't we deserve a happy ending?

        Typically Clarence House remains tight lipped. We'll never know the true reason and many trees will fall in speculating. Did William feel up one too many drunken blondes? Did she show too much spunk with the media? What, if anything, did Camilla have to do with this? The questions and possibilities for spin are endless.

        Our first instinct might be to feel sorry for her. After all, now that she no longer has to save the monarchy, she has time to think about her future. But don't feel so bad, she has several options before she becomes a royal footnote:

        • She can write her autobiography. Nothing eases the pain like cashing in.

        • She can parlay her fame into an acting, modelling or singing career. No singing experience required - look at J.Lo and Hilary Duff.

        • She can become a motivational speaker, holding seminars on 'How not to become a princess'.

        • Design a range of items, like purses or hats, for the discerning royal wannabe.

        • Like Fergie, she can write childrens books and endorse Wedgewood.

        • She can do tearful appearances on Oprah. And make the cover of Hello magazine looking despondent.

        • She can appear on reality shows eating questionable animal parts with Paul Burrell.

        • Like spurned Bachelor contestant Trista Rehn, she can become the new Bachellorette.

        • She can become a contestant on Dancing with the stars.

        • If she's feeling charitable, she could go out with Kevin Federline.

        • She can become BFF with Paris Hilton.

        And most importantly:

        She can get on with her life.

        © Marilyn Braun 2007

        Note: This article made an online magazine!!!!

        Wednesday, April 11, 2007

        Now Open! Marilyn's Royal Bookstore

        Book shopping is one of my favorite past times. My motto is you can never have enough royal books, even if you have no room for them. In an ideal world, there would be a great selection of royal books in every bookstore. Alas, the subject of royalty may get half a shelf at the most.

        Instead of dreaming about such a store, I've created it! Now in the comfort of your own home you can shop for books at my store. Instead of searching for royal books, they're conveniently in one place. Like me, you may even discover interesting books you didn't know existed!

        Happy Shopping!

        Click on the image to access the store or the link to Marilyn's Royal Bookstore on the sidebar.

        Tuesday, April 10, 2007

        Royal Profile: The Right Honorable Adrienne Clarkson

        Adrienne Clarkson had a distinguished career in broadcasting journalism, the arts and public service, before becoming the first immigrant, person of Asian heritage, and the second woman, to become the 26th Governor General of Canada, whose role is to represent The Queen in Canada.

        She was born Adrienne Poy in Hong Kong on February 10, 1939, the daughter of William Poy and Ethel Lam. Her father was a successful jockey and horse owner through the Hong Kong Jockey Club and she and her brother Neville (born in 1935) grew up in a life of priviledge. Upon the Japanese invasion in December 1941, her family's lifestyle vanished. They lived on the run for six months, while her father utilized his contacts to get his family out of the country. After they made a Red Cross list to be exchanged, they boarded a Japanese ship and came to Canada as refugees in 1942.

        During her early years in Canada she lived in a small triplex on Sussex Avenue in Ottawa, which is also the location of Rideau Hall; the traditional residence of the Governor General. She attended Lisgar Collegiate in Ottawa and later she attended Trinity College in the University of Toronto, earning a B.A. and M.A. in English literature. She did her post-graduate work at the Sorbonne in France. During her education she wrote and published two novels, one while she was still an undergraduate.

        She married fellow Trinity student Stephen Clarkson and the couple had three daughters, Kyra (born 1969) and twins Blaise and Chloe (born in 1971). Chloe died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome when she was nine months old. Their marriage ended in 1975 and after the divorce, Adrienne became estranged from her two surviving daughters; who have since reconciled with their mother.

        She began her career with the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) by chance. A former classmate encouraged her to audition, where her natural ease in front of the camera was recognized. She stayed at the CBC for 30 years, beginning with the popular afternoon show, Take Thirty. In 1974 she began her program Adrienne at Large and in 1975 joined the public affairs program, The Fifth Estate. In 1983 she became Ontario's Agent General in Paris, a role she held until 1987, when she became Publisher and President of McClelland and Stewart. After 18 months she resigned and returned to television in the arts program Adrienne Clarkson Presents, for which she won a Gemini award (the Canadian equivalent of the Emmy). In 1992 she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.

        She married her second husband, John Ralston Saul in 1999. In the same year, on October 7th, she was sworn in as Governor General. Just prior to the announcement of her appointment, to better understand and prepare for the role, she researched it at the Toronto Reference Library. Upon her appointment she became Chancellor and Principal Companion of the Order of Canada. She held the position of Governor General until September 27th, 2005.

        Since leaving the position, she published her memoirs, Heart Matters, and was appointed the Colonel-in-Chief of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, a position she took over from Countess Mountbatten of Burma.

        © Marilyn Braun 2007

        Wednesday, April 04, 2007

        Royal Review - Grace Kelly: A Life in Pictures

        I found the book quite by mistake. Surfing, I was looking for new royalty books and I came up with this. Without thinking twice, or bothering with reviews, I ordered it. Receiving the confirmation email made me one step closer to owning this book. The estimated delivery date reassured me that it would arrive soon and I eagerly checked my doorstep for the familiar cardboard box. After a day or so of waiting, I went to check the superbox (neighborhood mailbox) and there it was, wedged into the oversized bin. Tossing dignity aside I braced myself against the box with my foot, pulled the book out, taking care not to destroy the box or the hinges on the door. Yes, finally, here it is!

        Can you tell I love books like this?

        So much so, that I actually own several other books by the same author. Of the seven books in the series, I own the ones on John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and John F. Kennedy Jr. Will I buy the Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg version? Probably, I love anything to do with the Kennedy family.

        But I digress.

        Grace Kelly: A life in pictures covers her life from infancy to her death. Like the other versions, this book has several pages in front of the book with biographical information. If you're familiar with her life story you, like myself, can skip these pages and go directly to the beautiful photographs. While the book can be enjoyed just for the photographs themselves, care has been taken to not make her appear as just a pretty face or a fairytale princess. The quotations by her, indispersed throughout the book, remind us that there was a real person behind whatever idealistic image we may continue to hold of her.

        We see Grace as a baby and a somewhat awkward little girl in a family of over achievers. We see her in all her glamour shot glory, and at the pinacle of her success as she wins an Academy Award. Then we see her transformation to a princess on her wedding day. She is shown with her husband and children at work and at play. As she grows older, some of the photographs aren't necessarily flattering, but this makes her more human. If I have any complaint about this book, it's the title. While she may be more familiar to people as a movie star, she spent more of her life as a princess. Also, some of the photographs aren't always chronologically organized. Several years into her life as a princess, for no inexplicable reason, pre-wedding photos during her engagement period show up.

        While the book claims to have never before seen photos, Princess Grace fan that I am, I've actually seen almost all of them. Still, I was not disappointed. Whether you're a Grace Kelly/Princess Grace fan, I recommend this book for encapsulating a fascinating life and for the sheer beauty of the photographs.

        © Marilyn Braun 2007

        To order this book, click here.

        Sunday, April 01, 2007

        Prince William and Kate Middleton are engaged!

        After months and months of speculation, here's the announcement we've all been waiting for!

        The following announcement is issued by the Press Secretary to the Prince of Wales

        The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of his son, Prince William, to Miss Kate Middleton, daughter of Mr and Mrs Michael and Carole Middleton, to which union the Queen has gladly given her consent.

        The couple sought the permission of their respective parents early in the New Year. Both families are thrilled at the news.

        No decision has been taken yet regarding the venue and date for the wedding. However, Prince William and Miss Kate Middleton hope that it might be possible to use Westminster Abbey, in the late Summer or early Fall.

        © Marilyn Braun 2007

        PS: Happy April Fool's Day!