Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Royal Watcher on CBC Newsworld

Today I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Andrew Nichols on CBC Newsworld about Princes William and Harry and the Concert for Diana.

With Permission of CBC Newsworld. Thank you to Andrea at the CBC.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

What if Diana had lived?

But had she lived through years more of controversial love affairs, marriages, more divorces...and the decline of her beauty, society would perhaps have grown cynical about its princess. Her funeral - in the year 2000 and something - might have been a minor and depressing event. As it was, through such a premature death, the aura she had magically generated in sixteen years remained untarnished, intact into the afterlife.

Diana, an English rose by Susan Maxwell Skinner & Anwar Hussein

A new book, called Lady D, by Isabelle Rivère and Caroline Babert, asks the question, What would Diana's life have been like had she lived?

Ultimately, I believe that this premise is an exercise in futility. What would have happened had King Edward VIII not abdicated, John F. Kennedy not been assassinated, or the catastrophe of September 11th not occurred. We'll never know, but life goes on. The death of Diana did happen. With the supposed 'spiral of self-destruction' she went through in her last summer, some might say it was inevitable.

In the year that marks the 10th anniversary of Diana's death, some will feel nostalgic, some will make a note of it, and many won't care. Had she lived it's more than likely that, over time, less and less people would have cared. Without the restraint of Princess Grace, the class of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, or the elegance of Princess Alexandra of Denmark (now Alexandra, Countess of Frederiksborg), Diana's life would have become somewhat sad over time. Despite paying lip-service to forgiving Prince Charles, the game of one-upmanship would have continued, with Diana pathetically trying to grab headlines in any way she could.

The tell-all books from the likes of Paul Burrell and Simone Simmons - no longer posthumous - would have been postponed. With the cachet of being an insider, Diana was much more valuable to them alive. But like Sarah, Duchess of York, Diana might have created her own cottage industry as a patron of various charities, a foundation in her name, a guest editor of fashion magazines, writing forwards for books or even writing a few books of her own.

It's nice to think that Diana was blossoming and it seems, coming into her own. She was steering two young men towards their destiny. While unlucky in love, the tide might have turned. Like Jacqueline Kennedy Onasis, had she chosen to return to private life, it might even have been possible to find happiness. The list of lives she could have touched, causes she could have highlighted, good she could have done is endless, and sad to think about.

Could Diana have changed the world? Could she have lived happily ever after?

Because of August 31, 1997, we'll never know.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Like royal books? Visit Marilyn's Royal Bookstore!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Question: Is Prince Harry ready to rule?

Should Prince William not be able to fulfill his role as the King of England, what preparation has Prince Harry had that would qualify him to reign?

In the royal family, there is a precedent of the second son succeeding the throne. I'm sure there are lots of examples of this being so* but two men who immediately come to mind are King George V and his son, King George VI. Neither of these men expected, or likely anticipated that they would become kings.

The future King George V, Prince George, Duke of York, became heir to the throne after his older brother, Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale died unexpectedly at the age of 28. Prince George had been pursuing a military career, which was regarded as the most suitable occupation for the second son. Prince Albert Victor, at the time of his death third-in-line for the throne, was to be married a month later to Princess May of Teck, but he died on January 14th, 1892. Prince George then became heir, and in time 'inherited' his brother's fiance, the future Queen Mary.

Unlike his future son, Prince Albert, King George V had plenty of time to adapt to his new role before he himself became king in 1910. His own father, King Edward VII, despite being the longest serving heir to the throne - 59 years, had little training himself, as his mother Queen Victoria didn't allow him access to her papers. Despite this, King Edward VII went on to become a successful monarch who gave his name to an era. During his reign, King Edward VII made certain that his son was well trained when the time came for him to succeed.

King George V had five sons and one daughter, Edward - Prince of Wales, Albert - Duke of York, Mary - Princess Royal, George - Duke of Kent, Henry - Duke of Gloucester, and John - who died as a child. Edward had been destined to be king from birth and he eventually would succeed the throne in 1936 upon the death of his father. However, Edward decided to abdicate to marry Wallis Simpson and his brother, Albert - who was seen as a rather unlikely candidate for the throne, became King George VI in the same year (incidently 1936 is known as the year of three kings). King George VI wasn't nearly as well trained as his father had been but he eventually became a good king. As the father of the present Queen, he ensured that she had the best possible training for her future role.

While it's hard to ignore precedent, I doubt that Prince Harry would have the same type of training. Is he qualified? Yes - from the moment of his birth. There really isn't anything that defines what criteria makes a good monarch. You'd be hard pressed to find a career counsellor who could tell you. Should something unfortunate happen to William, hopefully Harry will have plenty of time to adapt to his new role. He could have no better instructor than his grandmother.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

* if anyone knows of other examples, feel free to comment.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Diana the Cover Girl

It's no surprise that on the 10th anniversary of Diana's death, there will be an onslaught of magazines covers. When she was alive she could significantly boost readership. Even after her death, Diana is still making covers, possesing a longevity Maxim girls would envy. It's guaranteed that Majesty Magazine, Royalty Monthly, Hello and People will feature her. Good Housekeeping and TV Guide have already had her on the cover. The Special edition TV Guide, eschewing its normal subject in favor of a magazine packed with photos and blurbs, but no upcoming Diana tv shows. But what other magazines could jump on the bandwagon?

Sports Illustrated: Diana, her life through sport.

Skeptic Magazine: Is Diana still alive?

The American Journal of Medicine: Diana - still curing waiting room malaise

Rolling Stone: Ex-Wife, Mother, Music lover. Will Duran Duran's career ever be the same?

UFO Digest: Connecting with Diana in the afterlife.

Maxim: Diana - just because she looks nice.

Better Homes & Gardens: How Diana changed the floral industry.

Popular Photography: Diana - Just because we can.

Travel + Leisure: Hot spots Diana loved

British Journalism Review: Diana - What do we write about now?

And my personal favorite:

Gun World: Diana Memorabilia - Defending your right to collect.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Happy Birthday Prince William!

Prince William was born 25 years ago today. I was 10 years old and I remember hearing about his birth on the radio.

NOTE: Okay, well then, this video has been removed from youtube. Too bad, it was actually nice to go down memory lane. Couldn't they have waited until the 22nd to do this? ;)

Oh well, Happy Birthday to Prince William anyways!

This video isn't as 'poignant' as the other one but it has some nice photos.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Lilibet's Royal Blog

June 1, 2007

Now that I have an email address, a website and I can use a cell phone, I've decided to start my own royal blog. I was going to call it 'The Adventures of Lilibet' or 'I'm the Queen' but I thought the first one was too long and the second too presumptuous - even though it's completely true - I AM the Queen. Anyways, after much thought I've decided on Lilibet's Royal Blog.

I must be crazy to do this, with all of my endless engagements, correspondence, Openings of Parliament, Trooping the Color, etc. But I thought I would give it a go. Wish me luck!

June 5, 2007

Sorry I haven't updated in a while. Been busy with the ruling thing and all. Today I had a dress fitting and sat for a portrait. I'm completely exhausted.

June 10, 2007

Philip's 86th birthday today. It's so hard to shop for him nowadays. Settled on some new socks but held out on giving the Prince Consort title - that's going to be a surprise for our anniversary.Off to walk the corgis now.

June 15, 2007

My goodness, this royal blogging is harder than it looks. What was I getting myself into?

June 18, 2007

Yesterday we had the Garter Ceremony. I always enjoy getting dressed up for that. Had scones for tea. They were a bit on the stale side.

June 19, 2007

Is anybody still reading this?

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Monday, June 18, 2007

Excerpts from the Princes William and Harry interview.

Some excerpts from the interview with Prince William and Prince Harry to mark the 10th anniversary of their mother's death.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Royal Review: Diana, A Celebration

On my recent visit to Cleveland, Ohio I got the chance to visit 'Diana: A Celebration'. This is not the first time I've seen this exhibit. Prior to this, I went to Althorp, Diana's ancestral estate in 2003. At the time I didn't have this blog so I couldn't share my thoughts about it. But even if I'd had the blog, I still would have been too overawed by the estate, her grave and lure of the gift-shop to truly give a worthy review.

People have differing opinions on this exhibit. Many people may feel that her brother is trying to cash in on her memory. Some may think this exhibit doesn't do her justice. After all how can you really condense the life of someone who had such a global impact into four or five rooms? But her brother doesn't try to. Instead he shows us where Diana came from, and then takes us on a journey of her remarkable life.

The exhibit begins with some short, edited home movies of Diana, showing her through various stages of her childhood, until the age of seven. Seeing her as an infant on her christening day, her first birthday, taking her first tentative steps, and at the age of seven dancing with the wild abandon of the young and carefree. Watching this five minute film was an emotional experience for me. It gave me a strong sense of loss I really didn't have at the time of her death. Seeing her, so young and full of promise, and knowing the terrible ending to her story, made me realize how tragic her death truly was.

The exhibit continues on to showing where Diana came from with a brief history of the Spencer family, portraits and beautiful heirloom jewels. Then on to her childhood belongings - her favorite stuffed animals, ballet slippers, letters she wrote home, typewriter, her first passport, private photo albums, and school tuck box; to name but a few of the items. These belongings would be no more remarkable were it not for its owner. But there's a sense of charm in her letters, report cards and toys stitched with her name, which if nothing else, show us that she was like us, albeit raised in better surroundings.

The next part of the exhibit moves on to her wedding day. To give us a true sense of the occasion, footage of her wedding day, her arrival at St. Paul's Cathedral, walking up the aisle and later on the balcony waving to the crowds, is shown. But this is just a mere accompaniment to 'The Dress'. If nothing else, the view of her historic wedding dress is worth the price of admission, which is the reason I came to see the exhibit. Displayed in a case long enough to show the length of her 25 foot train, the Spencer tiara, the embroidery on the dress, including the panel of Queen Mary lace on the bodice is truly a stunning combination. I had a hard time moving on to the next room.

A large part of the exhibit focuses on Diana's glamour, and in the beginning this was really her claim to fame. But as Diana moved through her royal life, the exhibit shows the evolution from glamorous fashion icon to the serious side to her work in letters to her various charity heads, and briefs for foreign visits. Also included is a short display for the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial foundation, and the work it continues to do in her memory.

While I have seen this exhibit before, I didn't expect to be pulled in emotionally on such a profound level. The most touching display was the wall of at least two-hundred condolence books - a fraction of the amount on display at Althorp, which lead into the final room. As Elton John's famous ode to Diana 'Goodbye England's Rose' plays in the background, a video is shown of her cortage as it makes its way to Westminster Abbey, the emotion of the crowds, her funeral, and then our last view of her as the coffin arrives at the gates of Althorp. Below the screen is a small carpet of flowers. As with the display at Althorp, it honestly brought tears to my eyes.

Visiting the exhibit in Cleveland wasn't quite the same as seeing it at Althorp, where you can get a better sense of her family from a historical standpoint and pay your respects to her grave, I still recommend it, whether you are a Diana fan or not. It is a fitting tribute to a remarkable woman.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Exhibit photos courtesy of the Althorp website.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

I'm off on vacation!

I'm going on vacation, so I won't be updating this blog for a week. Taking a trip to Cleveland, Ohio. I'm going to check out the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and eat whatever Cleveland is famous for!

Who knows, there might even be something royal to blog about too!

In the interim, I've created a drop down menu of labels for my posts (to the left under the archives menu) - Commentary! Satire! Royal Jewels! Royal Profiles! Royal Trivia!

It's (almost) all there! (okay, enough with the exclamation marks)

As always, I welcome your questions, blog topic suggestions, and comments via email. I will try to respond to as quickly as possible on my return.

Take care,

Marilyn :o)