Friday, August 31, 2007

Prince William and Prince Harry get it right

Diana's Memorial service was held today. All of the controversy surrounding who should/shouldn't/wouldn't attend has evaporated. In its place, an atmosphere of forgiveness, conciliation, and love came through in the brightness of the Guards Chapel. It is only appropriate that for this day all petty frustrations be put aside.

For once, someone has gotten it right. And who better for it to be than her beloved boys?

In the run up to the service, many focused on who wasn't invited. The Prince's decision to invite Camila as wrong, as a mere nod to etiquette. And as a evidence of their naivete in a situation they were too young to understand. But their understanding should only be of their mother and commemorating her memory in the best way they possibly could.

Prince Harry's eulogy stands in sharp contrast to his uncle Earl Spencer's electrifying speech 10 years ago. It will not stand as a historical speech, but it doesn't have to. Untinged with bitterness, not trying to settle any scores, or defend her honor, it was filled with love. What the memorial should have stood for all along.

While we try to define her legacy, understand the outpouring of grief at her death, Prince William and Prince Harry remember her with love and affection. The service was not a time to be sad, but to be a celebration. The flowers laid at Kensington Palace focus on her death. Today is a day to remember her life. We were privileged to be allowed to watch a service which should have been a private occasion. But the Prince's, recognizing that they were not the only ones who loved her, let us join them. And for that we should be thankful.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Anatomy of a Diana Tell-All

It seems like every year a new book on Diana comes out. Some are by the familiar faces, the ubiquitous royal watchers: Ingrid Seward, Judy Wade, Sarah Bradford, and Andrew Morton. This year's big release is The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown. Getting in on the act are the books by her former employer, her psychic, her childhood nanny, and Trevor Rees Jones, the sole survivor of the 1997 crash.

In a special category by themselves are the ones written by people who worked in her service. Some might consider this to be a betrayal of her memory, others (like myself) enjoy the juicy bits while pretending to be offended. Yet, while these books cover different details of her public and private life, they have a pattern, in variation, that is hard to ignore.

The Disclaimer

Includes why the book was written, usually to because they want to set the record straight because they can no longer stand by idly while her memory is being tarnished. Simone Simmons even claims Diana told her to write her book. Each author claims to tell the truth - Jephson's book: 'most authoritative, balanced account'. Paul Burrell: 'the one man who can separate the myth from the truth of the Diana years'. And Ken Wharfe: 'His account represents the most intimate portrait of Diana to date'.

Author's Bio and Credentials

From childhood to present day we get a recap of the author's biography: where they were born, went to school, if they are married or have children. Previous job experience. Their rise in the royal ranks and how they came to the exalted position beside the princess. And in the case of Jephson and Wharfe, how they eventually fell from grace.

The Special Closeness
Each of them shared a special, exclusive closeness with her, to the point where they barely acknowledge their competition. In Wharfe's case he only refers to Jephson in relation to his job and an inaccuracy in his book. Jephson acknowledges a debt of gratitude to Wharfe and explains his departure. In two sentences, Burrell mentions Jephson's exit and generously acknowledges his closeness to Diana. However, despite being 'loyal to the end' and Diana's 'rock', neither Jephson or Wharfe make specific reference to Burrell.

Opinion on the end of the fairy tale

No tell-all about Diana would be complete without offering an opinion on the breakdown of her marriage. Understanding the pressures she experienced, some side with her exclusively, others take a more balanced view.

The Difficult Princess

Revelations on how notoriously difficult she was to work for. Yes, she had her bad days, but she's still the much beloved 'People's Princess'. So this is balanced by a list of her good qualities, including allowances made for the unique pressures she faced. Jephson's book in particular gives a rather acerbic account of his time with Diana as well as psychological analysis of her personality. This is also the section for any residual bitterness the author may hold towards Diana.

Maverick Princess

Yes, each of them had a special, pivotal role in helping her deal with her position. Surreptitiously enabling her, organizing special escapes and meetings with her lovers. Each of them have an admiration of her ability to contravene the royal system. However, in Jephson and Wharfe's cases this is one of the reasons why they left her service.

The Toll

Diana could be a demanding employer. As she left the royal circle, her staff started to shrink to bare bones. Those that remained took on multiple duties. As such, the author details the toll working for her, took on them psychologically, as well as on their relationships or lack of relationships.

The Day she died & conspiracy theories

Where they were when they found out. How the accident was preventable (in Wharfe's case, if only he'd been there), including a post-mortem of events leading up to the accident and laying the blame with Trevor Rees Jones. Burell in particular reminisces about putting Diana's seat belt on her the last time he saw her. The tears and reluctant mixed feelings. The shortcomings of the Queen and the rest of the royal family in their reactions. Of the three, Jephson briefly mentions her death and chivalrously steers clear of any speculation.

The Epiphany

What they are doing now. What they've learnt, how Diana made them a better person or gave them a new understanding of themselves. Interestingly, but unsurprising, each of them, whether writing books or appearing in television specials, has made a career out their experience with her. The security guard Ken Wharfe, and the ex-Private Secretary, Patrick Jephson who now takes their places amongst the other royal watchers in giving us an inside behind the scenes look. Burrell's book covers his trial and offers a tantalizing hint of future books. True to his word he wrote The Way We Were: Remembering Diana.

Any book on Diana can, and will be looked upon as a betrayal of her memory; yet people will still buy and read them. While I enjoyed each of these books, I feel that Wharfe's has the most balanced view - neither acerbic nor fawning. Burrell unfortunately seems to be obsessed with Diana, and Jephson is too cynical. Jephson and Wharfe seem to possess an integrity that Burrell lacks, terms of their ability to draw the line, once they realized they couldn't effectively serve Diana. As well as not allowing their duties or their recollections to consume them as it seems to have done with Burrell, even 10 years later.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

To purchase any of these books, click on the links and book covers.

Other resources consulted:

The Diana I knew by Mary Robertson
Diana: The Secret Years by Simone Simmons with Susan Hill
Little Girl Lost by Mary Clarke
Love and War by James Hewitt
Princess in Love by Anna Pasternak

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The sad day Camilla pandered to you

I'm mad.

I don't remember the last time I was this disappointed. I've just found out that Camilla is not attending the Diana Memorial service on Friday. And I just want to say to all of the people who were against her attending.

Are YOU happy now?

This is an article from CNN. According to Clarence House, Camilla has decided not to attend because it 'could divert attention from the purpose of the occasion'.
But who was accusing her of doing so? Princes William and Harry wanted Camilla to attend, they invited her. Shouldn't that have been good enough? No, obviously it wasn't. If William and Harry can live in the present, forgive Camilla and their father, why can't we?

Maybe you feel that you're defending Diana's memory. By your complaints, you actually did the opposite. In all the time spent making this a controversial issue, you ignored Diana's memory completely. Was it ever about that for you? Or was it just an excuse to channel your negativity?

I don't know who I'm more disappointed in. You or Camilla. She pandered to you. Gave in to your tantrum. Now what are you going to do? Are you going to remember Diana or are you going to savour your victory? Probably the latter. To quote one reveller, and hard-core Diana fan: "I couldn't be happier if I’d won the lottery." Enough said.

Camilla should have gone. There, I've said it. I don't live in the past. If Camilla wanted to honor Diana's memory, she was perfectly entitled to do so. Especially when Princes William and Harry personally invited her. That's what should have been important. Or are you forgetting that? Diana was their mother. They're planning the service. Not YOU.

But articles have called William and Harry naive. They can't possibly understand the problems Camilla caused their mother. That they had only invited Camilla, according to James Whittaker, because "she is the wife of their father, whom they adore." But who is blaming them for their lack of judgement in this matter? YOU are. Diana would be thrilled.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Okay, people didn't want her to go. Fair enough. But who ultimately threatened to make this about something other than Diana?

YOU did.

I hope you're proud of yourselves.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Friday, August 24, 2007

The one and only Royal Report

Listen to The Royal Report live on on Sunday August 26, 2007 5:00pm PST (8:00pm EST)

The topic will be: Diana's legacy - Does she have one?

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Royal Profile: Edward John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer

When Lady Diana Spencer married Prince Charles in 1981, the Spencer's - one of England's preeminent aristocratic families, moved into the spotlight. While he is probably best known as the father of Diana, Princess of Wales, Johnnie Spencer was also a gifted amateur photographer, filmaker and people person.

Edward John (Johnnie) was born January 24, 1924, at 24 Sussex Square, London, the son of Albert, the 7th Earl Spencer and Lady Cynthia Hamilton. He had an older sister, Anne (born 1920).

He attended school at Wellesly House in Kent, where he boarded from the age of eight. He was popular, excelled academically, was good at sports, in particular cricket. Like generations of Spencer's, his son and later his grandsons, Princes William and Harry, Johnnie went to Eton in 1937. He excelled at soldiering, and also like his royal grandsons, he was educated at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. Around this time his talent for photography began to emerge, and during wartime he chronicled bomb damage with his Box Brownie.

After Eton he went into the Army, fighting in the Second World War. He was mentioned in dispatches for bravery, eventually gaining the rank of Captain in the Royal Scots Greys. After the war he served as ADC to Lord Norrie, Governor of South Australia, before becoming a courtier. He served King George VI and the Queen as an equerry, accompanying her on her tour of the Commonwealth in the early 1950s. He became a Member of the Royal Victorian Order in 1954.

He married The Honorable Frances Burke Roche on June 1, 1954. Their wedding was considered the social event of the year, attended by the Queen, the Queen Mother, and Princess Margaret. After their marriage, the couple settled at Park House and Johnnie studied at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester. They would have five children (one died in infancy) - Sarah (born 1955), Jane (born 1957), Diana (1961-1997) and Charles (born 1964), the present Earl Spencer. The couple were divorced in 1969, after Frances left Johnnie for Peter Shand Kydd. In the ensuing divorce, he won custody of his children.

He was passionate about photography, his wine cellar and people. As his eldest daughter Lady Sarah McCorquodale recalls:

"My father had an instinctive way with people...He was brilliant, and he stood in this wonderful shop at Althorp selling wine and he would come in and say, 'I've had a really good day today.' So we would say, 'Oh, have you sold lots of wine?' 'No' he'd reply, 'two divorces and a hysterectomy.' People would talk to him and he was gripped. He loved it.

20th May 1985:  The Earl (1924 - 1992) and Countess Spencer arriving at Spencer House for the 21st birthday of the Earl's son, Viscount Charles Althorp. The Earl is the father of Princess Diana and Prince Charles'  father-in-law.  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images) He became the 8th Earl Spencer upon the death of his father in 1975 and the family moved to Althorp. He married his second wife, Raine, Countess of Dartmouth, the daughter of the romance novelist, Barbara Cartland, on July 14, 1976. In September 1978 he collapsed due to a stroke, but recovered sufficiently to walk Diana down the aisle at her 1981 wedding.
He was chairman of the National Association of Boy's Clubs and a member of Northampton Council for 29 years. In 1983 he wrote a book with Raine called The Spencer's on Spas.

Lord Spencer died on March 29th, 1992 of a heart attack, at Humana Hospital, Wellington, London, where he had been admitted for pneumonia on March 21st. He was cremated and buried at the traditional Spencer burial place, St. Mary's Church, Great Brighton, Northamptonshire.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Like royal books? Visit Marilyn's Royal Bookstore!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Royal Report for August 19, 2007 - Should Camilla attend the Diana memorial?

Join me live for my show next week - August 26, 2007 5:00pm Pacific time (8:00pm Eastern time). My topic will be: Diana's legacy - Does she have one?

Note: I seem to be having some difficulties with the widget for the show. To listen to it, please select detach and the player should come up for you.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Like royal books? Visit Marilyn's Royal Bookstore!

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Royal Report Ad

Tune in to The Royal Report on Sunday August 19, 2007 at 5:00pm (PST) & 8:00pm (EST)

The topic will be: Should Camilla attend the Diana memorial?

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Like royal books? Visit Marilyn's Royal Bookstore!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Here comes the revolutionary?

I don't know about you. Maybe if I was in the same situation I might feel differently. When I was planning my wedding, the last thing on my mind would have been trying to change history. I was too busy fretting over seating arrangements, favours, choosing a unique wedding dress, perfect tiara, rings, photographer, and guiding my errant, indecisive maid-of-honor towards a dress, in the chosen color, we would both be happy with.

I wasn't 10th in line to the throne. So I didn't have to worry about gaining the Queen's approval. I wasn't marrying a Catholic, so I didn't have to worry about losing my place in the line of succession because of my future husband. I was a bride trying to enjoy my day. And I did.

Unfortunately, sometimes it isn't that simple. Look at Autumn Kelly, the fiancée of Peter Philips. Engaged to the grandson of the sovereign, young, beautiful and Canadian - she has everything going for her. But did I mention she's Catholic? Were it not for who she's marrying, this wouldn't be a problem. Now we're discussing a religious quandry. Will she give up her religion? Does she need a special dispensation from the Vatican? Can love conquer the Act of Settlement of 1701? Bridal nerves takes on a whole new meaning. We're talking about changing history.

It's not something brides usually add to their checklist. You won't find it in any of the wedding planning books; religious quandary pros and cons, dispensation applications, phone numbers for the Vatican. Maybe people trying to hijack this event can supply these to Peter and Autumn?

For most couples, these issues don't normally come up. But Peter Philips is different. He falls under the Act, which along with the Royal Marriages Act of 1772, regulates royal marriages and excludes Catholics or anyone marrying a Catholic, from coming to the throne. There have been two examples of this in the immediate family: Prince Michael of Kent, and his nephew, George - Earl of St. Andrews, both of whom married Catholics. And as a result, forfeited their place in the line of succession. But giving up ones place, especially if unlikely to succeed, doesn't seem to have done either of these men any harm. Maybe you lose bragging rights, but that's about it.

But while many are trying to make this into an issue. Make it seem that someone is going to have to make a painful sacrifice of their identity. How do the couple in question actually feel? Or is that incidental to people trying to promote their own interests? Will Peter and Autumn leave changing history to others or will they allow their wedding to become a catalyst for change?

If so, they might be the best looking revolutionaries in the room.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Like royal books? Visit Marilyn's Royal Bookstore!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Should Camilla attend the Diana memorial?

Maybe asking this question falls under the category of a lost cause. After all, according to a recent poll 54% say that Camilla should not attend the Diana memorial. If you ask women - 61% think she should not attend, that it would be completely innapropriate. How can you ask such a question in the face of such overwhelming opposition?

Yes, it should be a no-brainer. Camilla, stay home! Don't come out of the palace until we approve of you. When you married Prince Charles, you obviously snuck under our radar. Well, you're married now, so we can't do anything about it. The cheers when you arrived drowned out our hisses and boos. Even if 39% of people feel that you've strengthened the monarchy by marrying Charles. Notice that 37% feel that you've weakened it - so don't get too comfortable. We're recruiting the 25% 'Don't know' contingent as we speak. They'll come to their senses and agree with us, eventually.

Our negative attitude towards out should rightly become a 'string which will alarm supporters.' This should keep you from the Diana memorial, and becoming Queen, even if it doesn't impact our lives in any way whether you do or not. We can complain when you wear the family jewels; zoom in on photographs comparing it to ones Diana wore. We may not barricade the street the service will be held on, but we can participate in polls which have no real relevance to reality. Polls which still ask questions like 'When the Queen abdicates...should the throne pass to Prince Charles or Prince William?' Are we part of the 71% of people who buy into that lost cause?

Even if you do end up attending, make sure you wear a suitably morose, remorseful expression. Whatever you do, don't smile or wave at the crowds. Remember, this isn't your show. If we're lucky, the service will be televised and we can keep tabs on you during the hymns. When the phone rings with a new poll asking us how you behaved, you may just improve your results if you shed a tear or two.

If you don't attend, we'll probably hold it against you too. How can you show us penitence hiding in your palace? Clearly this is a no-win situation for you. But whatever you do, don't wait for us to make up our minds. Trust us, even if our opinions about you change like the weather. Even if the poll caught us during a particularly anti-Camilla mood. Who knows how we'll feel tomorrow. On our way to the service we'll stop at the supermarket and buy eggs to throw at you. If she knew her memory was being hijacked by our antics, Diana would be proud of us.

Maybe the question shouldn't be whether you should attend, but whether this question has made us lose sight of that point.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Like royal books? Visit Marilyn's Royal Bookstore!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Tune in to The Royal Report

The next show will be on August 12, 2007 5:00pm PST (8:00pm EST)

The topic will be: Diana bashing - What's the point?

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Happy 19th birthday Princess Beatrice!

Today is Princess Beatrice's 19th birthday. This is an interview from her 18th birthday.

© Marilyn Braun 2007 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Like royal books? Visit Marilyn's Royal Bookstore! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Calling all Royal Bloggers and Royal Website owners!

Do you have a royal blog or website?

Then I want to interview you! à la Inside the Actor's Studio, for my online chat show - The Royal Report.

If interested, please contact me here.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Like royal books? Visit Marilyn's Royal Bookstore!

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Royal Report: Monday August 6, 2007

The first Royal Report will be presented on Monday August 6th at 5:00pm PST. If I have my time converstion correct, that should be 8:00pm EST.

The subject for the show will be: Kate Middleton - What's the big deal?

Prior to the show, please feel free to send me an email, if you'd like me to address a particular aspect of this subject. Or call in and talk! A variety of dial-in numbers are available for different parts of the United States.

Hope you will tune in.

Click here to join the show!

An Open Letter to Kate Middleton

Dear Kate,

We were so sorry to hear about your break-up with Prince William in April. You guys looked so good together, we truly thought you were meant to be. Well, at least I did. In the devastating aftermath we found out, through the media, that you were coping well. Putting on a brave face despite, what must have been, the crushing weight of our expectations and disappointment.

It's been almost five months and we're glad to see that you're doing better. You looked great at the Concert for Diana. You've joined a rowing team - always good to start new hobbies to get your mind off of things. And your parent's business is doing great; shrewdly cashing in on the Harry Potter craze. It's all good.

But let me get to the point of this letter. We know that you're doing better, but can you please try to be less interesting to us? the whole ordinary shtick just isn't working. Take a vacation. Drive instead of taking the bus. We don't want to see you partying so stay home and watch a chick flick. If you do go out, can you not wear a mini-dress? or have such shiny hair? Must you carry the rowing boat with such élan? Tabloid columnists find it distracting.

Things seem to be looking up for you. We've read that you're back together with William. That's fantastic. Hello magazine just featured your ambiguous smile on their cover for the upteenth time. Not a day seems to go by where someone doesn't write about you. But be careful not to let these things get out of hand, the media might start blaming you for all of this publicity.

Take care of yourself Kate. And remember, we've always got your back.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Like royal books? Visit Marilyn's Royal Bookstore!