Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Royal Report for Sunday September 30th - Why are you interested in royalty?

Upcoming Royal Report - Sunday September 30th

The next Royal Report will be on Sunday September 30th. The topic will be: Why are you interested in royalty?

You can tune into the show at

5:00pm PST (8:00pm EST)

Here's a time zone converter if you're outside of North America.

Hope you can join me!


Friday, September 28, 2007

Royal Profile: Catherine Walker

You may not be familiar with her name, however if you followed Diana's fashions, you have most definitely seen her work. A notable example would be the green polka dot dress Diana wore when she left the hospital after the birth of Prince William. Diana had many designers that she favored and for 16 years, Catherine Walker was one of them. So much so..that the dress Diana is buried in bears her label.

Catherine Marguerite Marie-Therese Baheux-Lefebvre was born on June 27th, 1945 in Pont de Briques, a village near Boulogne. She has two older siblings, sister Nicole, and brother Patrick. Her parents were divorced in 1949. Her mother moved the family to the Alps in September 1950 and in 1955 her mother remarried. During school holidays her time was divided between her mother's home in Lille and her father's home in Normandy.

She attended elementary school in Lille, run by nuns of the order Les Dames de St. Maur. She later attended school at a Dominican convent called St. Jeanne d'Arc, excelling in math, and Latin. At seventeen she went on to the University if Lille, studying philosophy. She finished her degree at the University in Aix-en-Provence and afterwards moved to London, with the eventual intention of moving to the United States. She found a job teaching French but went back to Lille for post-graduate studies in Aesthetics. After graduation, she took a job in the French Embassy Lecture Department, and later took over the Film Department at the French Institute.

In February 1967 she met a young lawyer, John Walker, a lawyer, and in June 1969 they were married in the town of Le Touquet. They settled in London and had two daughters, Naomi, born in May 1971, and Marianne, born in November 1972. In the summer of 1975, her husband died suddenly after a tragic accident. After his death, she sent her children to live with her mother in the Alps, while she stayed in Aix. She would move back to London, and through some friends she met her second husband, Said Ismael.

She was never formally taught dress design and started doing so as a form of therapy after becoming suddenly widowed. In 1976 she started her own business, designing children's clothes. Walking from door to door in Kings Road in Chelsea, she sold her designs from a basket. In 1977 she set up her own studio in a dilapidated house in Chelsea, eventually calling it The Chelsea Design Company.

In 1981 she moved away from designing children's clothing. Her first venture into adult clothing was designing maternity wear, which brought her to the attention of Diana, Princess of Wales. She would eventually discontinue designing maternity wear to focus on day, cocktail, and evening dresses. Throughout her career she has sought to elongate the body by lenthening the torso. In this she has been influenced by the work of British photographer John French and by the technique and spirit of traditional French couturiers such as Madeleine Vionnet.

In 1990 she was awarded Designer of the year for Couture and in 1991 Designer of the year for Glamour. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 1995. In 2002 her work was exhibited at the Victoria & Albert museum in an exhibit called 25 years of British Courturier: Catherine Walker. In 2003 she launched Catherine Walker Skincare. She continued to design fo rmembers of the royal family: Lady Gabriella Windsor, Viscountess Serena Linley (wife of David Linley), and Lady Helen Taylor.

Update: Catherine Walker died of breast cancer on September 23, 2010.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Question: Royal wedding tradition?

"I am researching the preferred day of the week for Royal Weddings. I understand that Thursdays were the preferred day."

Royal weddings have been held on every day of the week, except for Sundays. It's entirely possible that ..a wedding has been held on a Sunday but by the following examples it doesn't look like it. These marriages include Queen Victoria and her children. Her grandson King George V and his children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The Queen & Prince Philip and their children, as well as their grandson Peter Phillips.


Queen Victoria & Prince Albert - February 10, 1840

Princess Victoria, Princess Royal & Prince Frederick William of Prussia - January 25, 1858


King Edward VII & Queen Alexandra - March 10, 1863

Princess Louise & Marquess of Lorne - March 21, 1871

Princess Mary, Princess Royal & Viscount Lascelles - February 28, 1922

Princess Alice & Prince Louis of Hesse and by Rhine - July 1, 1862


Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer - July 29, 1981

Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson - July 23, 1986

Princess Anne and Mark Philips - November 14, 1973

Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester & Lady Alice Montagu- Douglas-Scott - November 6, 1935

Princess Alexandra of Kent & Angus Ogilvy - April 24, 1963


Queen Elizabeth II & Prince Philip - November 20, 1947

King George V & Queen Mary - July 6, 1893

Duke of Windsor & Wallis Simpson - June 3, 1937

Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother & King George VI - April 26, 1923

Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester & Birgitte van Deurs - June 8, 1972

Prince George, Duke of Kent & Princess Marina of Greece - November 29, 1934

Prince Edward, Duke of Kent & Katharine Worsley - June 8, 1961

Princess Helena & Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein- July 5, 1866

Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught & Princess Margurite of Prussia - March 13, 1879

Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany & Princess Helena of Waldeck and Pyrmont - April 27, 1882

Princess Beatrice & Prince Henry of Battenburg - July 23, 1885

Lady Sarah Armstrong Jones & Daniel Chatto July 14, 1994

Lord Nicholas Windsor & Paola Doimi de Lupis Frankopan October 19, 2006 (Civil Ceremony)


Princess Margaret & Lord Snowdon - May 6, 1960

David Linley & Serena Stanhope - October 8, 1993

Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh - Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia - January 23, 1874

Prince Michael of Kent & Marie-Christine von Reibnitz, - June 30, 1978


Princess Anne & Timothy Laurence (her second marriage) - Saturday December 12, 1992

Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys Jones - June 19, 1999

Lady Helen Windsor & Timothy Taylor July 18, 1992

George, Earl of St Andrews & Sylvana Tomaselli January 9, 1988

Lord Nicholas Windsor & Paola Doimi de Lupis Frankopan November 4, 2006 (Religious Ceremony)

Alexander, Earl of Ulster & Claire Booth June 22, 2002

Lady Davina Windsor & Gary Lewis July 31, 2004

Lady Rose Windsor & George Gilman July 19, 2008

Peter Phillips & Autumn Kelly May 17, 2008

Prince Charles & Camilla Parker Bowles (his second marriage) - Saturday April 9, 2005. The original date was Friday April 8th. But this was postponed due to the funeral of Pope John Paul II

More recent weddings of minor members of the royal family have been held on Saturdays, however Thursday does indeed seem to be the preferred day of the week, although I cannot find any tradition to explain why this is so. Nor whether Thursday is considered a special day in the United Kingdom. I'm venturing a guess that it's coincidence, otherwise why would the wedding of Queen Victoria & Prince Albert have been held on a Monday? Or Charles and Diana's on a Wednesday?

If anyone knows why this day of the week is preferred, please feel free to have your say.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Related article: Royal Weddings

Updated: Revised to include recent weddings in the royal family

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Is Kate Middleton just another twenty-something trying to figure things out?

When I was in my twenties, I spent the large part of it being confused with who I was and what I was supposed to be doing with my life. Today at 35, I still can't say that I've come to any conclusion. And while I made mistakes, I didn't have to do them in the public eye like Kate Middleton.

It has been recently reported that Kate Middleton is leaving her career as an accessory buyer for the company Jigsaw and is seriously considering a career in photography, mainly because she is bored with her job. Now that her romance with William is back on, she's seriously looking at her career and working at Jigsaw was only a 'stop-gap' for her. She's ready for a new challenge.

So, what's so unusual about all of this? I have to ask, why on earth is this making news?

Some of us are lucky in that we figure it out early, others have to try different things on for size until they find something that fits them. Maybe she'll stay in photography, maybe she won't. Kate may have a royal boyfriend, but that doesn't mean it's any easier for her. Especially when the media is ready to pounce on any minute part of her life for our consumption.

We seem to forget that Kate's only 25. We seem to be projecting our happily ever fantasies onto her young shoulders. But what if that's not part of then plan for her? Whether she goes from student to accessories buyer, to photographer, to royal bride, what's next for Kate?

Let her figure it out for herself.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Like royal books? Visit Marilyn's Royal Bookstore!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Why I buy royal books I can't finish and my excuses for doing so

It must be a form of insanity. Buying books I can't finish. I can't remember the last time I actually read a book (that wasn't a childrens book) from cover to cover. Maybe having two small children will do that. Reading used to be a pleasure, now it's a luxury. I have piles of books on a variety of subjects - podcasting, writing, baking, child care, and royal books. Now normally I have no problem with reading royal books, but over time I've noticed that it's taken me much longer to get through some of them. Here are a few on my list:

Diana - by Sarah Bradford

I have been trying to read this book for at least 3 months. I'm not sure whether the library misses it or not, but I keep renewing it and renewing it in the hopes that I will be able to read it. It never happens. I'm beginning to think I should buy my own copy; just so that it can continue to sit amongst my pile of books without anyone missing it. Right now it's due back on the 27th, so hopefully I'll be able to read it before then. But probably not. One of the reasons that I would like to read this book, is mainly to be able to compare it to the next book on my list.

The Diana Chronicles - by Tina Brown

Unlike most Diana biographies, which I usually borrow from the library or wait until they come out on paperback, I bought this book, in hardcover, within a week of its release. There's been a lot of hype with this book and I would love to review it but I just can't seem to get around to doing it. By the time I actually do read it, it will no longer be noteworthy enough to discuss.

Five Gold Rings - A Royal Wedding Souvenir Album by Jane Roberts. The Royal Collection

I truly looked forward to receiving this book. I love royal weddings and this book, heavy on pictures than on text, is right up my alley. I do believe that pictures can tell their own stories, so one would think it would be easy to read this book. No such luck. Hopefully I will have read this book before their 65th or 70th wedding anniversary. Fingers crossed!

Diana Style by Colin McDowell

A recent acquisition, also heavy on pictures than on text. It must have too many words, otherwise why would it take so long to read it? I enjoy reading about Diana's fashion, or should I say, looking at pictures of her fashions. But that doesn't make for a very interesting review, now does it? In my defence, I only received this book on Monday.

Coronation by Roy Strong

Beyond royal weddings, I can't say that I have much interest in other types of royal ceremonies. This book however piqued my interest. Covering the Coronation ceremony from the 8th to the 21st Century, it is not a book you read in a week. So that's my excuse for this one!

If you've read any of these books and would like to tell me about them, feel free to have your say. If you don't have any of these books but would like to read them for me, you can order them by clicking on the book image.
© Marilyn Braun 2007

Like royal books? Visit Marilyn's Royal Bookstore!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

10 tips for Princesses in waiting

Maybe you've applied and been turned down. You think you have the right credentials, but you never know. You can learn from experience, as some former royal girlfriends have done, or you can use this invaluable list of tips. Good luck.

1) Choose your prince carefully. Always aim for the first son, the heir. Lots of benefits there - generous fashion stipend, better jewels, and endless media glorification. Only choose the second or third son if the first is married, you are genuinely attracted to him, and you don't mind his ever diminishing proximity to greatness.

2) Feign interest in absolutely everything he does. He loves Polo? You've always dreamt of learning. Football? Pretend you understand everything going on. Sustainable Agriculture in the Punjab? You're buying your plane ticket as we speak. Specialist Cheese makers Initiative? You'll bring the crackers.

3) Laugh at his jokes. Listen to his speeches with enraptured thrall, extolling his brilliance when it comes to fly fishing in the North Pole.

4) Dress nicely. Even if you can't afford it. Beg, borrow, raid the closets of fashion conscious friends. Of course you could get lucky while wearing your regular clothes and be lauded for your sense of style - fashion that regular women can wear.

5) Smile. The media will hunt you down. An unfortunate consequence of dating royalty, but nevertheless an occupational hazard. Get used to it.

6) Always remember who you are dating. Observe royal protocol. Even Diana had to call Charles 'Sir' until their engagement. Show deference to his mother, grandmother, aunts, uncles and second cousins once removed. You never know who will put in a good word for you.

7) Have no outside interests. Don't go to parties. As a matter of fact, don't leave your house at all. You'll be accused of being an attention seeker.

8) Don't involve lawyers. They'll do nothing but bill you.

9) Never, ever say 'Pleased to meet you' or ask where the toilet is.

10) Hang in there. Camilla waited 30 years and look where she is today.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Friday, September 07, 2007

Should Prince Charles be king?

Have your say on the next Royal Report -

Sunday September 9th, 2007 - 5:00pm PST (8:00pm EST)

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Goodbye Diana?

Whenever any big royal event occurs, I always try to collect the newspapers reporting on them. With the 10th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, there was no doubt in my mind that it would be a cover story, maybe a special insert included. So when I bought the newspapers for August 31st, I was truly surprised to see the event barely covered. One of the newspapers had a small article on the inside cover, another an editorial cartoon, but that's about it. Maybe, I thought, there will be something in the next day's papers. But, scanning the covers, there was nothing there either.

I'll be honest, this kind of bothered me. While recent royal events like Charles and Camilla's wedding or the Queen's 80th birthday, haven't necessarily dominated newspapers, this was Diana we were dealing with. Diana, the one whose face has sold a million covers. Diana, the subject of countless tell-alls and television specials of varying degrees of quality. What happened?

Maybe the constant email news alerts, where every second word seemed to be about Diana, had lulled me into a false sense that this would be a major story to everyone else. How could it not be? 10 years ago Diana's death had brought the world to a virtual stand-still. The coverage was unavoidable. If you'd claimed to have missed it all, you were either deaf, blind, or lying. It seemed as though it would never end. And until I read the papers on August 31st, 2007, it had never occurred to me that it would.

While coverage seems to have waned, I don't believe it will ever end. We will still see tell-alls, and when Prince William or Prince Harry marry, she will no doubt be discussed. But what do we do until then? Or what do I do until then? I like reading about her, even if I don't learn anything new. Even if she hasn't been up anything these days. For some reason I want to know, even if I don't necessarily understand why.

Has major coverage of Diana reached the end of the road? Or is this just the case with newspapers outside of the UK? Will I have to look at back-issues of People and Hello magazine to remember the glory days? Probably. I won't learn anything new either way, and it doesn't add to my collection, but it's better than nothing.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

This article was inspired by this post on the World of Royalty Blog.

Like royal books? Visit Marilyn's Royal Bookstore!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Operation Heads Will Roll

The recent Diana Memorial service was turned into a debacle when Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall bowed to public opinion and withdrew from attending the service. A furious Camilla took off for the Mediterranean, to plot her revenge. Beautifully tanned, Camilla has returned and is ready to strike. This mission, if you choose to accept it is indefinite and has no expiry date. Hang on to the tape just in case.

Location: A palace somewhere in London

The Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Camilla, sit at the table and open their dossiers. They pull out 8 x 10 glossies of the various courtiers, the famous grey men.

Camilla: (seething)My popularity has been set back five years because of the whole Diana memorial. These men make mistakes and then I end up paying for them. Well I've had enough.

Charles: What are you going to do darling?

Camilla: You tell me dear, or are you all out of good ideas?

The Queen: Pa and I tried to intervene, but it was too late.

Philip: (to Camilla) Never listen to Charles, he takes his advice from plants.

Charles: (to both his parents) You just don't understand me, you never have. Scientists have actually backed me up...

The Queen: (over-dramatically) Oh no one understands me...I'm so put upon....

Camilla: (indignant) Can we get back to me? I have an idea. I propose to take my revenge when they least expect it. When I'm Queen...

Philip: And when do you suppose that will be?

Camilla: When Charles ascends the throne

The Queen: I'm still in the room you know!

Camilla: Sorry Mama

Philip: When Charles comes to the throne, do you really think you'll be Queen? That people will accept that?

Camilla:(livid) Hasn't this been sorted out?

Charles: No, we're still working on Operation Queen Camilla. We sent William and Harry to infiltrate the offices of Majesty magazine..

The Queen: Where are those boys? It's been months, shouldn't they have rewritten Ingrid Seward's editorial by now?

Philip: Darling, they must choose their words carefully...

Camilla: Excuses, excuses..I want heads to roll..and when I'm Queen they will!

Philip: I guess the grey men will be waiting a long time then. They probably won't even remember what they've done..

Camilla: (furious) I don't care, I want revenge..I can't wait any longer..

Camilla picks one of the 8 x 10's from the pile

Camilla: I'll start with this one

To be continued

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Like royal books? Visit Marilyn's Royal Bookstore!