Saturday, December 20, 2008

Prince William's Raging Beard

You've got to hand it to Prince William. He's brilliant (well, in this instance or maybe I'm just reading too much into it). Growing a beard to throw us off the scent of dead pheasants and his relationship with Kate Middleton. Who knew a scruffy beard could be so distracting?

While we're focused on the color of the beard. What the RAF will make of this facial hair? Who will finally hand William the shaver? Liveried servant? maybe Kate might do the job herself. Or will William, with a stubborn and defiant streak running in his Spencer genes, make his own will known? Who will dare cross he who must be eventually obeyed? Would one ask the Queen to change her own hairstyle? Or suggest that Princess Anne go shopping? Probably not. Even if someone should have done so long ago

The important question to ask is, why did he grow the beard? Did he forget his shaving kit? Is he experimenting with his rapidly dwindling looks? Is it a manly right-of-passage? Is he growing hair for a potential transplant? Or did he grow it to remind himself that he can? In the absence of any real news, we have a myriad of fascinating possibilities to ponder.

But not everyone was as easily distracted. No. PETA jumped on the bandwagon and chastised Kate for 'dabbling in blood-sports'. Kate's fur hat just added fuel to the fire. The Telegraph even went so far as to write an article asking whether the beard would affect William's suitability for the throne. A poll on the British Royal Wedding blog asked the question: To Beard or Not to Beard? With 316 in favor to 159 against. Either people really like the look or the Republican movement reads the Telegraph and is looking for any excuse.

William may be reluctant to shave the beard. Kate is said to be devastated at the idea. Does he choose between the woman he loves, the monarchy, or the vagrant look? Yet another epic constitutional crisis prediction. Maybe the soothsayers might be right this time.

Kate's recent "wardrobe malfunction" can't even compete with the facial hair. Now Kate must know what Charles felt like with Diana. Instead of engagement bets, people are taking wagers on when William will shave. If William shaves his head, we may never hear about Kate again.

Someone hand Prince William a straight razor post-haste!

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Royal Report for Sunday December 14th, 2008 - Royal Year in Review

(Note that the Royal Report is on hiatus until the New Year. Happy Holidays!)

On this special edition of The Royal Report I revisited the highs, the lows, and news droughts of 2008.

You can listen to the episode here.

News Sources for this episode

Publications mentioned

Hello! Number 475 September 13, 1997

Diana - The People's Princess (published by Dennis Oneshots Ltd in 1997)

The Royal Line of Succession (Pitkin Pictorals 1972)

Articles mentioned

Television shows mentioned

The Tudors

Shameless Interview mention

The Royal Watcher on CBC Radio

Commemorative item mentioned

1953 Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Commemorative sewing kit

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Some Royal Questions and Answers

I love receiving royal questions and answering them. Some of them have inspired full articles, other times the questions only require a short answer. This is unfortunate since they are no less interesting. Sometimes I can't answer them, whether it's due to the scope or lack of expertise. In those cases I try to point the person in the right direction. I've decided to post some of the questions and answers. I hope you enjoy them.

Do you know the exact manufacturer and the name of Diana's wedding china that she chose?

As far as I can locate: Royal Worcester Evesham. You may want to confirm this with the General Trading Company where she was registered at the time of her wedding.

I have an item I'd like to sell [insert item description]. Can you tell me the value of it?

No. I'm not an expert on royal commemoratives. You may want to check with a local antique dealer who sells royal commemoratives, they might be able to assist. You could also try a search on eBay to see if someone is selling this item or one similar.

What do Prince Edward and Princess Sophie do? I have heard nothing about them for a long time in the media or blogs.

Any current information and activities of members of the royal family can be found by going to the official site:

I have some royal ancestors/history in my family. Can you tell me more about this?

Lucky you! No, I can't help with this. You may want to check out a genealogist or possibly a royal historian, they might be able to help you.

I've seen pictures of certain jewellery (brooches, earrings, rings..) worn by Camilla/The Queen, can you tell me more about the them?

I've written a few articles about royal jewels and tiaras. While the Queen does wear familiar brooches, some of Camilla's jewels are new or have never been worn publicly(or we haven't paid attention until now). Some of the "newer" brooches the Queen has worn might have come from the collection of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother or are redesigned older pieces. There are some very good books on royal jewels in general that you may find useful (see related links)There are also several threads on royal jewels at The Royal Forums (Scroll down). You might find your answer there.

Do you know where Kate Middleton is?

I wish I had that kind of insider information! Unfortunately I don't. For the best source of Kate updates go to The Kate Middleton Report - All Kate, all the time.

At what time did the British monarchy lose executive power over the United Kingdom? Why did this happen, and who was head of state at the time?


Has the roles of Princesses changed over time? (Are they considered more important today than they were yesterday?) What must a Princess do to gain popularity? Are there any qualities she should possess to win people’s hearts?

You know, there's nothing more satisfying that cracking open a book and doing your own homework...

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Related Articles:

Recommended Books: Royal Jewels
Jewels fit for a Queen
Question: The Queen's Pearls
Camilla's Tiara
Royal Focus: The Spencer Tiara

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Royal Profile: Sir George Pinker

A member of a family that can trace their history back to the Norman Conquest, he was possessed with a fine baritone voice. When he turned down a contract with the D'Oyle Carte Company to pursue a medical career, little did he know that in the process he would modernize the delivery of royal babies.

George Douglas Pinker was born on December 6th, 1924 in Calcutta, India, the second son of Queenie Elizabeth née Dix and Ronald Douglas Pinker, a horticulturist who worked for Sutton's Seeds for 40 years and headed the bulb and flower department for 25 years. At the time of George's birth he ran Sutton Seeds Indian Branch in Calcutta. His older brother Kenneth Hubert was born in Reading on September 15th, 1919.

Kenneth and George returned to England and were looked after by their aunts. At the age of four he and his brother were sent to the exclusive all-boys Reading School in the town of Reading, Berkshire, England. In 1942 he entered St Mary's Hospital Medical School, Paddington, qualifying as a doctor in 1947. As a student in 1946, when the Music Society put on its first post-war production, The Mikado, he sang one of the leading roles. His first brush with royalty came when Queen Elizabeth attended the performance as patron of both the hospital and the medical school, accompanied by the two young princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret.

During his time at St. Mary's he decided to specialize in obstetrics. He served in the Royal Army Medical Corps in Singapore, where he did much of his specialist training. He continued his training in Oxford and London. In 1958, at the age of 33, he was appointed a consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology in 1958 to St. Mary's Hospital and Samaritan Hospital for Women, both of which he served for the next 31 years. He also held the position of Consulting Gynaecological Surgeon to Middlesex Hospital, Soho hospital for women, Bolingbroke hospital in Battersea, and the Radcliffe Infirmary from 1969-1980. He accepted willingly an increasing involvement with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, serving as Honorary Treasurer, 1970-77. He was a past president of the British Fertility Society and supported the research that led to the birth in 1978 of Louise Brown, the first test-tube baby.

His work at the Royal College earned him international respect amongst obstetricians and gynaecologists. In 1980 he was elected Vice-President and finally President in 1987. Indeed, so respected is his opinion that to this day, according to his nephew Martin Pinker: "My daughter is expecting twins and she's been going to Mount Sinai hospital. All the top doctors in the hospital, all know George Pinker. The minute she goes in with the name Pinker they say, have you anything to do with George. 'Oh yes, he's my great-great uncle.' So she's getting very special attention. "

He gave his own special attention to his patients. Staff liked and respected him, and patients adored him, According to a family anecdote: "...during the interval an performance at the Royal Opera House a lady went into labor. The house manager knew that George was in the audience so he rushed into the Crush Bar and asked in anyone knew Sir George Pinker. At which point 20 - 70 women raised their hands." *

In 1964 he and several distinguished colleagues founded Childbirth Research Centre in 1964. It would eventually change it's name to Birthright in 1972. In the late nineties the name was changed again to Wellbeing of Women. Diana, Princess of Wales, whose two sons had been delivered by him, became a patron in 1984.

In 1973 he succeeded Sir John Peel as surgeon gynaecologist to the Queen. The youngest person to be appointed to the post, which he held until 1990. He would deliver nine royal babies, starting with the Earl of Ulster, Lady Rose Windsor, Lady Davina Windsor, Lord Frederik Windsor, Lady Gabriella Windsor, Peter Phillips, Zara Phillips, Prince William, and Prince Harry. All of these births took place at St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington. A significant break with royal tradition; prior to this all royal births had taken place at a royal residence.

He was appointed a CVO in 1983 and a KCVO in 1990. In the same year he authored the book 'Preparing for Pregnancy'. In 1991 he edited 'Clinical Gynecological Oncology'. He also contributed to several books - Diseases of Women by Ten Teachers (1964), Obstetrics by Ten Teachers (1964), A Short Textbook of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (1967).
His pastimes included a love of music, particularly Opera. He became assistant concert director of Reading Symphony Orchestra and then vice-president of the London Choral Society in 1988. He was a keen skier, sailor, gardener and hill-walker.

On March 31st, 1951 he married Dorothy Emma Russell, a former nurse. The couple would have four children: Catherine & Ian (twins), Robert and William. His wife died in 2003. In his last years he was disabled by Parkinson's disease and partial blindness and he died in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire on April 29 2007.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Thank you to Martin Pinker for information on Sir George's early years and Pinker family history. For more information on Martin Pinker visit this link.

* Trevor Pinker website: The Oxford

Related Articles:

Royal Christenings

Royal Births

Royal Baby Boom

Royal Baby Names

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Royal Report for Sunday November 30th, 2008 - Can Prince William keep his private life private?

On this episode I discussed Prince William's private life. Can he keep his private life private? Or is he being naive?

You can listen to the episode here

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada Weekly No. 108 December 8 2008

Links mentioned

Matt Lauer Interview with Prince William and Prince Harry

Fern Cotton interviews Prince William and Prince Harry Part 1

Fern Cotton interviews Prince William and Prince Harry - Part 2

Tune in to the next Royal Report on Sunday December 7th, 2008 9:00PM EST (North America) The topic will be: A review of the royal residence websites. From Buckingham Palace to Sandringham Estate. I'll tell you where to go and how to get there.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Royal & The Clueless - Episode 13

On the last episode of The Royal & The Clueless Kate had been kidnapped by a militant group of Kate-haters called Kate-Haters R Us. While they were distracted Enrique agreed to rescue Kate after being given full credit and his own office. Kate is now back at work but tired from her ordeal, falls asleep at her desk. In her dreams it is now 2062. William and Kate, both 80 years old, are still dating; which has broken the record for the longest royal courtship in history. She is at her desk, bent over, still trying to figure out how to use a stapler. Kate, her hair still inexplicably brown and glossy, receives a phone call on whatever technology exists at that time.

William: Hello darling

Kate: What? Who is this?

William: It's William

Kate: Who?

William shouts down the line: It's WILLIAM. Remember, your boyfriend?

Kate: Oh yes, that's right. What do you want?

William: Well, Granny is having a party to celebrate her 136th birthday and I'd like you to come with me.

Kate: Another birthday? She's really getting up there isn't she?

William: Papa says that all the time

Kate: I thought he was cryogenically frozen?

William: We've unthawed him for this event. He looks very good, not a day over 100.

Kate: I don't know William, I'll have to check my calendar.

William: Hello! will be there..

Kate: Who?


Kate: Yes, hello, who are you?

William: (*Sigh*) As your boyfriend and future sovereign I demand that you do my bidding..

Kate: Oh put a sock in it!

William: What?

Kate: PUT A SOCK IN IT! You've kept me waiting long enough!

William: Well I guess I'll have to find someone else to take to the party then..There are lots of women who want to go out with me...

Kate: Who? Everyone you've ever dated is dead. All of our friends are dead. We're the only ones left.

William: Harry and Chelsy will be able to set me up with someone.

Kate: How long have they been married anyways?

William: 52 years

Kate: Why couldn't that have been us?

William: What?


William: I can't hear you. What are you saying?

Kate: Why haven't you married me?

William: Well, I've been so busy. What with the flying, royal duties, dancing with blonde's in bars..

Kate: Excuses, excuses

William: Are you coming with me or not? I can be at your backyard in half an hour.

Kate: I can't do this anymore

William: You can't do what anymore?

Kate: I can't do this anymore. I can't do this anymore. I can't do this anymore...

Kate wakes up at her desk. Enrique, intense and smouldering yet professionally dressed, stands over her.

Kate: (Wipes drool from the side of her mouth. There is an imprint of a stapler on the side of her face) What's going on?

Enrique: You were having a nightmare. You kept saying you can't do this anymore. Over and over.

Kate: (Confused) No, I meant I can't fall asleep at my desk any more..

Will Enrique believe Kate's lame excuse? Will Kate continue doing what she's going? Tune in to the next episode of The Royal & The Clueless.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Royal Report for Sunday November 23rd, 2008 - A Salute to Prince Charles at 60

On this episode I saluted Prince Charles, discussed the infamous Cherry-Brandy incident, Camilla-gate, my feet, and some revealing photographs Prince William.

You can download the podcast here.

Publications mentioned:

Hello! Canada No 107 December 1 2008

People Magazine Sexiest Man Alive! Issue

The Prince of Wales - A biography by Jonathan Dimbleby

Websites mentioned

The Official Site for the Prince of Wales

Royal Insight - Test your knowledge of the Prince of Wales

Interesting links

The Queen in Flares - Judge for Yourself. Is this her?

Anyone with a picture of Kate's feet send it to... (Note I was having an off foot day when I took this photo. And it was supposed to be a joke)

Tune in to the next Royal Report on Sunday November 30th, 2008 9:00PM EST (North America)

The topic will be: Prince William was once asked in an interview about his private life and he replied that his private life was between him and himself. Is this realistic?

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Question: Queen Victoria's Wedding Dress and Bouquet

Could you tell me more about Queen Victoria's wedding dress and bouquet?
Thank you very much for your question.

On her wedding day Queen Victoria wore a shoulder-free white satin court dress. The bodice had a low, round neck and edging the neckline were narrow rows of piping and the short, full sleeves gathered into double puffs. The fullness of the skirt was taken in at the waist in a series of deep forward-facing pleats. The skirt had a deep panel of Honiton lace at the front, chosen by Victoria to support the declining lace trade. A court train, made of the same silk satin, measured 6 years in length and had a border of orange blossom sprays matching the coronet of orange blossoms from which her veil was suspended. The choice of orange blossom is significant and somewhat prophetic. In the Mediterranean, it was a symbol of fertility; Queen Victoria would later have nine children. In China it was an emblem of purity, innocence, and chastity; bywords for the Victorian era.

Queen Victoria wanted her entire ensemble to be made of materials of British manufacture. Probably the most well known aspect of her dress is the honiton lace used for her veil and for the flounce. The design of the lace is attributed to Wiliam Dyce and a colleague at the Government School of Design in London. It took more than one hundred lace makers six months to make the exquisite lace and the pattern was destroyed so that it could never be copied. Of her five daughters only her youngest, Princess Beatrice, would get to wear it on her wedding day in 1885. The veil was amongst Queen Victoria's most prized possessions and she would eventually be buried with it.

Because her gown and veil were all in white, she is credited with helping to establish a custom of wearing white, which continues to this day. Previously royal brides had worn gold and silver colors in order to express their wealth. Commoners often wore dark colors in order to use their gowns for other special days. It is said that the simplicity of her dress would set a pattern for other royal wedding dresses - although looking at some of the wedding dresses that followed, I would disagree with that. Many royal wedding dresses have been quite elaborate with beautiful embroidery - hardly simple at all. If anything it would be 120 years later that simplicity would return with Princess Margaret's dress in 1960.

As for her bouquet, Queen Victoria carried a small posy made up solely of snowdrops (Prince Albert's favorite flower). It's somewhat unfortunate but I can only find one source for this information. In reference to bridal bouquets, there is a royal wedding tradition of brides including a sprig of myrtle in their bouquets. This bush was grown from a cutting brought from Coburg by Prince Albert. Sprigs have been included in the bouquets of all royal brides since the 1850s.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.


Royal Wedding Dresses by Nigel Arch and Joanna Marschner. A Historic Royal Palaces publication.

Royal Weddings by Friederike Haedecke and Julia Melchior

Legendary Brides by Letita Baldrige

I Do: 100 Years of Wedding Fashion by Caroline Cox
Britain's Royal Brides by Josy Argy and Wendy Riches

Five Gold Rings - A Royal Wedding Souvenir Album - by Jane Roberts for Royal Collection Publications

Two Centuries of Royal Weddings by Christopher Warwick

Related Articles

Royal Weddings
Royal Wedding Dresses
Question: Princess Diana's Wedding Bouquet

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Royal Report for Sunday November 16th, 2008 - Is the monarchy in safe hands?

On this episode I discussed the future of the monarchy once the Queen dies. Is the monarchy in safe hands with Prince Charles, Prince Harry, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie?

You can listen to the podcast here.

Publications mentioned:

Hello! Canada Weekly no. 106 November 24, 2008


Prince William's Charities & Patronages

Prince Harry's Charities & Patronages

Information on Princess Beatrice's and Princess Eugenie's ITV Orphanage Report

Blogs mentioned:

Royal Truth

Tune in to the next Royal Report on Sunday November 23rd, 2008. It will be live at 9:00PM EST (North America)

The topic will be: A Salute to Prince Charles

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Royal & The Clueless - Episode 12

On the last episode of The Royal & The Clueless, after Kate dropped off The co-worker a few cubicles over who calls himself Enrique (Or TCWAFCOWCHE for short) at an undisclosed location Kate was caught with a cell phone in her hand whilst sitting in the drivers seat of a car. Kate was brought in for questioning and was grilled by Good Cop and Bad Cop. After being released without any charges being laid, Kate was subsequently kidnapped by a militant group known as Kate-Haters R Us, and taken to an undisclosed location not far from where TCWAFCOWCHE was dropped off. Presently Kate, hands tied behind her back and hooded is led into a sparse room. One of the kidnappers takes the hood off Kate and unties her hands. Kate shakes out her glossy hair and looks around a dingy basement apartment filled with IKEA furniture.

Kate: (Recoiling from the surroundings) Where am I?

Kate-Hater #1: We can't tell you that

Kate: Why am I here? What are you planning to do with me?

Kate-Hater #2: Well..we haven't decided yet..

Kate: You're a disorganized lot aren't you? Don't you think that people are going to miss me? What are people going to discuss on message boards now? Who are they going to Kate-bash? What will Hello! do without me on their cover?

Kate-Hater #1: Good point. I never thought of that. What are we..err..people on message boards supposed to do now?

Kate-Hater #2: There has to be someone else?

Kate-Hater #1: Chelsy?

Kate-Hater #2: I rather like Chelsy

Kate_Hater #1: Me too. Unlike Kate here she isn't waiting around. She's independent.

Kate-Hater #2: So therefore we can't bash Chelsy. Who else is there? Beatrice? Zara? Eugenie?

Kate-Hater #1: They're rather boring. I mean, what has Zara done other than get her tongue pierced?

Kate-Hater #2: Yes, a rather desperate move on her part. So no Chelsy, Beatrice, Zara or Eugenie. Sad state of affairs then.

Kate-Hater #1: Quite.

While the Kate-haters are discussing their options TCWAFCOWCHE quietly creeps into the house hoping to use the phone to call for help.

Kate: (Whispering to Enrique) Oh Enrique! I'm so happy to see you!

Enrique: You are?

Kate: Are you here to rescue me?

Enrique: No, why should I? You dropped me off at an undisclosed location in the middle of nowhere..

Kate: That was in the past. I need your help.

Enrique: (To Marilyn, as she writes this episode) Are you kidding me? You write me out of these episodes, and mysteriously get rid of me.

Marilyn, as she writes this episode: But I did leave your return open. Anyways, Kate needs your help and your presence makes you look like a hero.

Enrique: OK. So what's in it for me?

Marilyn, as she writes this episode: What do you want?

Enrique: Credit, creative consultation and my own office. I don't like the cubicle.

Marilyn, as she writes this episode: Done. Now can we get back to the story line? This episode is getting too long.

Enrique gives Kate a smouldering look. He now wears a white unbuttoned dress shirt that shows off his trim, muscular physique. His hair blows in the wind from an unexplained source. His voice has suddenly become deeper with a Clint Eastwood type tone.

Enrique: (To Kate, seductively) Take my hand and let's go..

Will Enrique actually get his own office?...

Enrique: (To Marilyn as she writes this episode) You'd better.

Marilyn, as she writes this episode: Sorry. Where was I?

Will the two Kate-haters ever notice that she's gone? What will royal watchers do without Kate? Find out on the next episode of The Royal & The Clueless.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Royal Report for Sunday November 9th, 2008 - More Royal Blogs!!

The Royal Report has a new home!!

On this episode I discussed some more fantastic royal blogs. You can listen to the podcast here: More Royal Blogs!!

Publications mentioned:

Hello! Canada Weekly No # 104 November 10, 2008

Royal Blogs mentioned:

The Merry Royals
Princess Eugenie
Royal Anecdotes
Ana Maria's Royal Perspective
The Royalist
The Raucous Royals
Royal Video
World of Royalty Blog

Tune in to the next Royal Report on Sunday November 16th, 2008. It will be live at 7:30 AM EST (The timeslot will change but for now it's in the morning).It will be available for download afterwards.

The topic will be: When the Queen goes to that great palace in the sky, is the monarchy in safe hands? Should we be worried?

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Royal News Generator

Recently we've had a slow news week. It happens at the best of times. The royals can't be interesting all the time and I'm sure that they relish the break from our unrelenting scrutiny. In the interim, while we're waiting for them to do something, I've decided to come up with a trusty royal news generator to create your own stories (just like the tabloids do). Hours upon hours of fun should ensue as you go through each interesting possibility. The royals had better watch their backs. With this tool nothing is sacred.


Which will result in

Royal Watchers Are

And Predicting

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Royal Profile: Dorothy Wilding

According to the National Portrait Gallery, Dorthy Wilding "is best known for her brightly lit linear compositions photographed in high key lighting against a white background." Known as the 'Wilding Look'. She was the first female appointed as the official royal photographer for the 1937 Coronation. However, her royal legacy would be one portrait known to philatelists the world over.

Dorothy Frances Edith Wilding was born on January 10, 1893 near Gloucestershire. She was the last child in a family of 10 and at the age of four she was taken to be raised by a childless aunt and uncle in Cheltenham. Her initial ambition was to be an actress but her uncle disapproved. Fiercely independent she saved up money and at sixteen bought her first camera. She taught herself the art of photography, convincing her family to let her move to London where she began her photographic career as an apprentice to Bond Street photographer Marian Neilson.

In 1915 she had saved up enough money (£60) to lease her own photo studio. Unable to afford a proper lighting set up, she took her portraits in daylight. She gained success and opened a larger studio, moving her business to Bond Street, In 1929 she had her first royal sitting when she photographed 17 year old Prince George, later Duke of Kent. Her royal portraits continued with a session featuring Wallis Simpson. The Prince of Wales (later the Duke of Windsor) was so impressed with the photographs that he posed for her himself.

In January 1937 She received a summons to Buckingham Palace to photograph the new Queen Elizabeth. During the session the new King entered the room dressed in his uniform of Admiral of the Fleet. Wilding suggested ‘Your Majesty, don’t you think The Queen looks a little lonely standing there without you? If you joined her, I could make such a lovely portrait of you both’. The King replied: ‘Why not?’ The portrait was used on a Coronation issue stamp and would later be adapted for a Silver Wedding Stamp in 1948. Her portraits of the King were also used on currency and banknotes.

She had mistakenly married young, but met her second husband, Rufus Leighton-Pearce, when he created a revolutionary art deco design for her studio. They would marry some years later after his divorce from an alcoholic wife. With her striking confidence she more than held her own in the male dominated industry. An anecdote from photographer Tom Hustler who worked in her studio, recalled a meeting between Dorothy and Antony Armstrong Jones where he remarked that he preferred natural light to studio work, she replied, "Mr Jones, in my studio I can put the sun where I want it."

She opened her New York Studio around this time and commuted between New York and London by ocean liner. She photographed some of the most famous people of her day and she was particularly known for her "Girls in Pearls" photographs that appeared in society magazines. In 1940, a German bomb destroyed her London studio. She took her ailing husband to New York. After he died she dedicated much her time to building her US business. She was awarded the Royal Warrant in 1943, creating royal portraits for British and Commonwealth stamps.

Image from Wikipedia CommonsHer most famous work was the portrait of Elizabeth II used for the new Queen's stamps - now known by philatelists as the Wilding series. The photograph is known as 'The Dorothy Wilding Portrait'. The session took place at Clarence House on February 26, 1952, three weeks after the death of King George VI. All British definitive stamps bore this Wilding portrait from 1952 until 1967. Her work also appeared on many Commonwealth stamps.

Her working relationship with the royal family continued until 1958 when she sold her Bond Street Studio. Her New York Studio had closed in 1957. Her autobiography In Pursuit of Perfection was published in 1958.

After a long illness, she died in a nursing home on February 9th, 1976. Her surviving archives were presented to the National Portrait Gallery by her sister Mrs Susan Morton in the same year.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Related Posts

Royal Profile: Patrick Lichfield

Royal Profile: Marcus Adams

Royal Profile: Cecil Beaton

Royal Profile: Antony Armstrong Jones, The Earl of Snowdon

Royal Profile: Tim Graham

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Royal Report for Sunday October 26th, 2008 - More Royal Blogs!

Sorry, there will be no podcast tonight. I'm having problems with Nowlive so I can't call in to the show.

I'm currently looking for another place to host my podcast. I don't know how long this is going to take so enjoy my previous podcasts in the interim.


© Marilyn Braun 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Royal and The Clueless - Episode 11

On the last episode of The Royal & The Clueless Marilyn, the writer of these episodes and The co-worker a few cubicles over who calls himself Enrique experienced some creative differences. The co-worker a few cubicles over who calls himself Enrique (Or TCWAFCOWCHE for short) mysteriously disappeared shortly afterwards. On this episode Kate, in the process of dropping TCWAFCOWCHE off at an undisclosed location, called to let Marilyn, as she writes this episode know, and was subsequently photographed with the phone in her hand. After reading about this in the newspaper at their local coffee shop, the police brought Kate in. Presently she sits in the interrogation room with the proverbial cliched hanging light, which has been strategically placed to enhance the glossiness of Kate's hair. Two investigators, Good Cop and Bad Cop, interrogate her.

Bad Cop: What on earth were you thinking? There are people out there who are just waiting for you to screw up. And boy did you ever screw up! Do you know you could face 20 to 30 years, plus community service for this?

Kate: (eyes nervously darting) For...using a phone?

Bad Cop: We know what you did. We have photographic proof.(He shakes his head for dramatic effect. Gets up and walks away. he leans against the wall and hits his fist against it in frustration.

Bad Cop: (Barks) Where were you on the night of January 7th 1982?

Kate: In utero?

Bad Cop: Don't you get smart with me!

(Bad Cop goes and checks Wikipedia)

Bad Cop: (looks at Kate suspiciously) You've won this round Miss Middleton.

(Bad Cop turns away and goes to checks his facts on Wikipedia to prevent further embarassment.)

Good Cop: (Sits on the table on front of Kate, gently patting her shoulder) Go easy on her Bad Cop. After all, it can't be easy with all of the paps chasing her. (To Kate) Would you like some tea? (Good cop goes out to put on the kettle)

Bad Cop: (Returning for round two. He slams his hand down on the table and stares down Kate) Why weren't you at work?

Kate: I...well..

Bad Cop: You don't have a job, do you??

Good Cop: (Returning with the tea, he places it in front of Kate) Easy Bad Cop, we've seen the strategically placed photograph on the Party Pieces website. You looked lovely by the way.

Bad Cop: Obviously you're scheming and cunning. People underestimate you Miss Middleton. Don't you have anything to say?

Kate: (Kate's bottom lip trembles in an effort to elicit some sympathy) I think I need to call my lawyers..

Whatever happened to TCWAFCOWCHE? Is Kate guilty...of using a phone? Will Kate ever learn how to act? Tune in to the next episode of The Royal & The Clueless.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Royal Report for Sunday October 19th, 2008: Why do people like or dislike Kate Middleton?

On this episode I asked the rhetorical question Why do people like or dislike Kate Middleton and speculated on the possible reasons.

You can listen to the podcast here.

Publications mentioned:

Hello! Canada Special Royal Issue

Christie's Auction Catalogues: Property of the Collection of Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon - Volumes I & II

Sotheby's Sale Duke and Duchess of Windsor. The Private & Public Collections - Volumes I & II

Websites Mentioned:

Strand Bookstore New York City

The World of Royalty

The Internet Forum: Kate Middleton Appreciation Thread

Tune in to the next Royal Report on Sunday October 26th, 2008 9:00PM EST (North America).

The topic will be: More Royal Blogs to Introduce you to!!

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Kate Middleton Isn't Your Whipping Post

I'm all for being a law abiding citizen. It works for me. But when recent news reports trumpeted Kate Middleton with a cell phone in her hand while either driving or sitting in a car (it's arguable when looking at the photos), it made me mad. OK, sure it looks as though she broke the law. If she did break the law, she should not be above it or the consequences of doing so. I don't have a problem with that at all.

However, tell me, how many of those people who are making an example of her haven't done the same thing? Maybe it might even be you and you just haven't been caught yet. It's good to live in your glass house, isn't it? Aren't you lucky to not have a pack of paparazzi following you and your every move?

But see, this isn't about a driving with a cell phone. It's not about public safety. It's about making Kate into a whipping post. The Kate-haters looking for any reason to criticize her. The media with a slow news week pouncing on this supposed "story". Driving safety advocates, while not making an example of her, weighing in on the dangers of using a cell phone while driving. So, what do you think they're doing then?

Jumping on the bandwagon.

Enjoy it while it lasts. In a week they'll go back to their lost cause of preventing the problem and the Kate-haters will sharpen their claws until the next excuse comes along.

But authorities are supposed to throw the book at her, aren't' they? She's not above the law. You're absolutely right on that count. They can fine her but that won't be enough, will it? Would knowing she's been fined make you happy? I doubt it. You'll probably use the receipt as kindling while attaching her to the stake. Kate will be made the poster child for this issue. Maybe, if she becomes royal she can become a patron of said driving safety organization? Would that satisfy you?

How many of you are truly incensed enough to make this a safety issue? Maybe you would put together a petition? You could become a catalyst for change. Will you go to the police and report it? Give them a call and let them know you're coming. Or will you simply continue to post vicious comments on message boards? Only you know the answer to that.

She may have broken the law. But where I come from, she's innocent until proven guilty. I'm tired of her being made a whipping post for peoples jealousy and insecurities.

There ought to be a law for that too.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Royal & The Clueless - Episode 10

On the last episode of The Royal & The Clueless Kate worked hard at looking as though she was working hard. No sooner had everyone fallen for her ruse then she received news that she might have to wait several years longer for an engagement to Prince William. Kate is in a heightened state of anxiety and goes to talk to the uncredited co-worker now demanding credit.

Kate: I've just found out I might have to wait another eight years!

Uncredited co-worker a few cubicles over who is now demanding credit: You still don't get it do you?

Kate: Get what?

Uncredited co-worker a few cubicles ov....

Uncredited co-worker a few cubicles over who is now demanding credit: My name is Enrique! To the person writing this episode, I think they get it now so knock it off!

The person writing this episode: My name is Marilyn

The formerly uncredited co-worker who calls himself Enrique: Okay Marilyn, I think they get it!

Marilyn, as she writes this episode: (reducing the font size to illustrate regret) Sorry..

The formerly uncredited co-worker who calls himself....

The formerly uncredited co-worker who calls himself Enrique: (To Marilyn, as she writes this episode) Can you just call me Enrique? And can you just call yourself Marilyn?

Marilyn, as she writes this episode: (To Enrique) But how are people supposed to know who you're talking to? It's not like I'm in the room with you.

Enrique: (To Marilyn, as she writes this episode): True, but still...

Kate: (To Enrique) Who are you talking to?

Enrique and Marilyn, as she writes this episode: Nevermind.

Kate: (forlorn) How much longer do I need to wait?

Enrique: The news reports say eight years

Kate: How long is that?

Enrique stares blankly at Kate.

Enrique: (To Marilyn, as she writes this episode) You've got to be kidding right? First the stapler, now this?

Marilyn, as she writes this episode: It's an unexpected plot twist.

Enrique: (To Marilyn, she she writes this episode) Kind of predictable actually. This is the best you can come up with?

Marilyn, as she writes this episode: (To Enrique) Who's writing this episode? Are you?

Enrique: (To Marilyn, as she writes this episode) No, but..

Marilyn, as she writes this episode: (To Enrique) Do you want credit or not?

Marilyn, as she writes this episode gives Enrique nothing to say so he is silent.

Marilyn, as she writes this episode: (To Enrique) That's what I thought. Now stick with the plotline.

Enrique: (to Kate) *Sigh* Do you to

Marilyn, as she writes this episode: (to Enrique) As if you mean it

Enrique: (to Marilyn, as she writes this episode) But she can't possibly be that...

Marilyn, as she writes this episode: (To Enrique) There are people who think she is..

Enrique: (To Marilyn, as she writes this episode) I wouldn't say that, maybe desperate, scheming, but not that..

Kate: I'm what?..Who are you talking to?

Will Kate ever figure it out? Will Enrique ever realize he's not writing this episode? Can Enrique and Marilyn, as she writes this episode put aside their artistic and creative differences? Tune in to the next episode of The Royal & The Clueless.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Royal & The Clueless - Episode 9

On the last episode of The Royal & The Clueless Kate prematurely auditioned potential protection officers without success . The front runner, Frank Farmer decided to ditch the security guard gig and go on tour instead. In a rare flash of insight Kate decided something must be done about her image. Upon the suggestion of her mother and a female co-worker who is attractive but not too attractive as to draw attention away from Kate, she poses for a photograph that if you scroll past all of the adorable children, will be put "discreetly" at the bottom of the main website page. As the photographer sets up, Kate is practicing her poses in front of the uncredited co-worker a few cubicles over who is now demanding credit.

Kate: Do you think I should smile or look serious?

Uncredited co-worker a few cubicles over who is now demanding credit: Let's see. Show me what you've been working on so far.

Kate smiles. A strategically placed light catches her glossy hair.

Uncredited co-worker a few cubicles over who is now demanding credit: I think you need to lose the light. Now serious but with an air of professionalism about you.

Kate looks serious as she sees the lawyer, manager and agent for the Uncredited co-worker a few cubicles over who is now demanding credit.

Uncredited co-worker a few cubicles over who is now demanding credit: I still don't think you understand. How about spontaneously showing teeth?

In slow motion Kate throws her head back and gives her best overpriced sonic electric toothbrush commercial smile

Uncredited co-worker a few cubicles over who is now demanding credit: Too Farrah Fawcett posing for her famous swimsuit poster circa 1976.

Kate: (furrowing her brow while looking confused) Who is Farrah Fawcett?

Uncredited co-worker a few cubicles over who is now demanding credit: *Sigh* Never mind. Now look as though you've been pleasantly interrupted at work by someone who just happens to be walking by with a camera.

Kate picks up the stapler and smiles, mouth open mid sentence as if she had just been in the process of demonstrating how a stapler works.

Uncredited co-worker a few cubicles over who is now demanding credit: You still don't get it do you?

Kate stares blankly and pouts

Uncredited co-worker a few cubicles over who is now demanding credit: No that just won't do. Now the scheming girlfriend of the heir to the throne.

Kate gives her best Cheshire grin

Uncredited co-worker a few cubicles over who is now demanding credit: Perfect!

Will Kate ever get the look right? Will the uncredited co-worker a few cubicles over who is now demanding credit, ever get credit? Tune in to the next episode of The Royal & The Clueless.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Royal Report for Sunday October 5, 2008: Royal Niche Blogs

On this episode I discussed Royal Niche Blogs.

You can listen to the podcast here.

Articles discussed

Vanity Fair - Will's Cup of Tea by Vicky Ward

Blog articles mentioned

The Blogs Royal

The Blogs Royal - Part 2

3rd Annual Blogs Royal Listing

Niche Blogs Covered

Sophia's Royal Sweden

Toute Royale

Danish Royal Watchers

Blog Royale

Due to Canadian Thanksgiving there will be no Royal Report next week. The show will return with a new episode on Sunday October 19th, 2008 9:00PM EST (North America).

Topic: TBD

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Royal & The Clueless - Episode 8

On the last episode of The Royal & The Clueless Kate, frustrated with William's continuing inability to commit to a wedding date, inadvertently injured one of her co-workers. She narrowly escaped injury herself during a 70's themed roller disco charity event. Kate took a tumble and fell on her back. Caught in limbo with nothing better to do with her time, Kate decides to audition police officers for her royal role should William make up his mind. A man named Frank Farmer, who bears a striking resemblance to Kevin Costner (circa 1992) in his role from The Bodyguard, which won a Brit award for Best Soundtrack, comes into the room.

Kate: Has anyone ever told you that you look like Kevin Costner?

Frank: This is my disguise.

Kate: And why do you think you have what it takes to protect me?

Frank: Well, I know how to roller-skate and I can stop a stapler at 20 paces.

Injured uncredited co-worker a few cubicles over who has just returned to work: Phew!

Kate, still wearing roller-skates carefully rolls over to him and slips. Frank effortlessly catches her and looks deeply into her eyes. Kate also looks deeply into his eyes and starts to sing.

Kate: I will always love you...ooooh...I will always love you...

Injured uncredited co-worker a few cubicles over who has just returned to work: Thank goodness it wasn't a charity karaoke event.

Frank (trying to remain businesslike): Ma'am this is neither the time or the place for songs. Unless of course I have the job, in which case I'm a countertenor.

The injured uncredited co-worker a few cubicles over who has just returned to work stands up, brow furrowed, and looks over at Frank. He approaches Frank and starts to sing the lyrics to All I Ask Of You from Andrew Lloyd Webber's adaptation of Phantom of the Opera, the longest running Broadway musical in history.

Injured uncredited co-worker a few cubicles over who has just returned to work: No more talk of darkness,Forget these wide-eyed fears, I'm here, nothing can harm you my words will warm and calm you. Let me be your freedom, let daylight dry your tears.I'm here with you, beside you,to guard you and to guide you...

Frank: Say you love me every waking moment, turn my head with talk of summertime...Say you need me with you now and always...Promise me that all you say is true, that's all I ask of you...

Kate sits down at her desk and reaches for her stapler.

Did Frank get the job? Will Kate ever figure out how to use a stapler for its intended purpose? Find out on the next episode of The Royal & The Clueless.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Royal Report for Sunday September 28th, 2008 - Should Kate Middleton wait?

In January 2009, Prince William will begin training in the RAF to become a full-time search and rescue pilot. This training will end in the Summer of 2010. After six years of dating, what does this mean for his relationship with Kate? Should she wait for him?

You can listen to the podcast here.

Publications mentioned on this episode:

Hello! Canada Issue #100 6 October 2008

Tune in to the next Royal Report on Sunday October 5th, 2008 9:00PM EST (North America)

The topic will be: Royal Niche Blogs.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Question: The Duke and Duchess of Windsor's wedding rings

....I have not found, anywhere, any information on the wedding rings of the Duke and Duchess, and this is my query: Is there a photograph, or description of the rings – somewhere? Were the Duke and Duchess buried wearing the rings, or, were the rings auctioned at Sotheby’s with the Duchess’ jewelry (after her death)?

Thank you for your questions!

You're right, there doesn't seem to be a lot of photos of the wedding rings out there. But given the fabulous collection of jewels that the Duchess owned, this is not surprising. While there are some photos of her with a plain ring on her wedding finger, they're not close up. For the most part she seems to have been photographed with her engagement ring; a large flawless emerald cut from the size of a bird's egg that belonged to a Mogul Emperor. So while she might have worn her wedding ring everyday, the size of her engagement ring would have dwarfed it. Looking at wedding photos some of them show her wearing just the wedding ring. Incidentally, the gloves she wore for her wedding were designed to open on the ring finger of the left hand. In some photos during the Second World War, where she is contributing to the war effort, you can see her wearing just the wedding ring. Anything larger would have been inappropriate. Many photos show her wearing gloves so the rings would not be seen. She was said to be rather meticulous about her grooming and she had manicures everyday, but her hairdresser recalled: She hated her hands. She always sat with her hands between her knees trying to hide them. Interesting then that she wore such extravagantly large rings that drew attention to them.

In most books about her there is very little reference to the wedding rings. Considering the circumstances, that would have been a minor detail. One book refers to it as being made from gold mined from the Welsh hills with a platinum copy auctioned in 1987 at Sotheby's. There are several wedding rings listed in the Sotheby's sale: lot #142 lists a 'platinum wedding ring, English, 1937, inscribed 'Wallis 18-10-35 Your David 3-VI-37' the two dates commemorate when the Prince proposed and the date of their marriage. In lot #177 there are 'Four wedding rings, all inscribed'. In photos the Duke of Windsor wears two rings on the fifth finger of his left hand, which seems to be the place royal men wear their wedding rings. Why there are five wedding rings in the auction, and whether one of them would have belonged to the Duke of Windsor is anybody's guess. Maybe he was buried with his but I highly doubt it.

Unfortunately I cannot locate photos specifically of these rings. Your best bet would be to see if you can purchase the auction catalogue which is rare and depending on where you look, very expensive, Sotheby's The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor sold for the benefit of the Pasteur Institute. Or The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor, by John Culme and Nicholas Rayner, written after the auction and a more affordable option. You might find photographs there.

Update: Although it's an interesting book, The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor by John Culme and Nicholas Rayner (written after the auction) does not have a photo of the wedding rings. Nor does the official auction catalogue.


The Windsor Style by Suzy Menkes

The Royal Jewels by Suzy Menkes

Famous Jewelry Collectors by Stefano Papi & Alexandra Rhodes

The Windsor Years by Lord Kinross

Edward VIII - The Road to Abdication - by Frances Donaldson

The Secret Life of The Duchess of Windsor by Charles Higham

The Windsor Story by J. Bryan III and Charles J.V. Murphy

Related Articles:

Royal Engagement Rings

Jewels fit for a Queen

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Royal Report for Sunday September 21st, 2008: The Blogs Royal

On this episode I discussed a few of my favorite sites as well as the background behind my own royal blogs.

You can listen to the podcast here.

Blogs mentioned (outside of my own). Links are in the sidebar.

The World of Royalty Blog
Royal News Blog
The Royal Representative
August Annotations
British Royal Wedding
The Royal Roundup
The Wills and Kate Update
Mad Hattery
Watching the Windsors

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada issue #99 September 29, 2008

Blog posts mentioned:

Mad Hattery!: The Threat Level Scale
Crowning Moments: Political and Monarchist Cartoons
Today's Kate Middleton Report

Tune in to the next Royal Report on Sunday September 28th, 2008 9:00PM EST (North America)

The topic will be: Prince William is pursuing a career in the RAF. What does this mean for Kate? Should Kate wait for William?

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Royal & The Clueless - Episode 7

On the last episode of The Royal & The Clueless Kate was torn between getting the stapler to work vs being at William's beck and call. In a fit of frustration she tosses the stapler across the office. A distant "oww" can be heard a few cubicles over. It's 9:30AM and she's just gotten off the phone with Prince William, who has made an idle threat to find someone else, ultimately rooted in a deep seated insecurity yet to be explored through therapy. She's crying and decides to call Prince Harry's girlfriend Chelsy Davy.

Kate: *Sob* William wants to *sob* put *sob* our *sob* wedding plans *sob* on *sob* hold.

Chelsy: So what else is new? What is it now?

Injured uncredited co-worker a few cublicles over: I think I'm bleeding

Kate: *Sob* William says he wants to focus on his RAF career. *sob* He puts his chopper above all else. If I'd known that there would be three of us in this relationship...

Chelsy: *Sigh* Like I said in Episode 4 you need to like make yourself scarce. Like leave the country, make William, like, chase after you.

Injured uncredited co-worker a few cubicles over: Can someone take me to the doctor?

Kate: Maybe if I'd just gone with William...if only I hadn't decided to get some of my self-respect back by working...none of this would have happened...*sob*

Chelsy: No wonder people call you "Waity-Katy"

Kate: It's Catherine!

Chelsy: Whatever. You like need to figure things out. What about a different career? Maybe, like, interior design?

Kate dries her eyes, which unlike normal women whose eyes would still be puffy, now look perfect. A thud is heard as the injured uncredited co-worker a few cubicles over, who has lost a lot of blood, falls to the ground.

Kate: You're right Chelsy. As God is my witness, as God as my witness, they're not going to lick me. I'm going to live through this and when it's all over, I'll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again....I'll go home. And I'll think of some way to get him back. After all... tomorrow is another day.

Chelsy: Whatever, Katie Scarlett O'Hara Hamilton Kennedy Butler..

Kate: It's Catherine!

Will Kate run with Chelsy's career suggestion? Will she check to make sure that it's okay to quote copyrighted text from the classic 1939 movie, Gone with the Wind based on the 1936 novel of the same name by Margaret Mitchell? Will someone ever call an ambulence for the injured uncredited co-worker a few cubicles over? Find out on the next episode of The Royal & The Clueless.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Royal Report for Sunday September 14th, 2008 - Review of the Official sites for the Dutch and Spanish monarchies

On this episode I reviewed the Official websites for the Dutch and Spanish monarchies.

You can listen to the podcast here.

Websites mentioned:

The Official website of the Dutch Royal House

The Royal Household of His Majesty The King of Spain

Babelfish Translation

Party Pieces

The Prince of Wales rendered in macaroni

Brilliant Blog articles mentioned:

When a kiss isn't just a kiss

Tune in to The Royal Report on Sunday September 21st, 2008 9:00PM EST North America.

The topic will be: The Blogs Royal - What's going on in the royal blogsphere?

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Royal Review: Royal Entertaining Books

I don't think I've ever entertained more that 15 people at one time. And even then it wasn't a fancy affair: filled with a mish-mash of dishes, place mats, cutlery, and store-bought lasagna. However, if I ever decided to gather 150 of my closest friends, relatives, acquaintances, enemies, former co-workers, and third cousins once removed, I would use these books as a starting point for what to do in that unlikely scenario. Each one one covers different aspects of royal entertaining, such as proper cutlery, meals to prepare, and the appropriate attire for the liveried servers. One thing they have in common is the insight into the lives of the royal family. Of course, were I to start entertaining on such a grand scale I would have to buy a larger table, more stemware, cutlery, dishes, place mats, napkins, pots, pans, and change my criteria for buying wine (Under $20 and must have the word Chateau in the name). Other than that I'm sure I could adapt if the need arise.

Eating Royally by Darren McGrady. Out of the ones listed, this is my favorite. And I think it's the best too, mainly because it's the classiest and the most personal. Along with that, part of the proceeds went to charity. Darren McGrady worked as a royal chef for fifteen years, four of which were spent with Diana, Princess of Wales. Although there is a chapter focusing on his work at Kensington Palace, the majority of his reminisces come from working for the Queen at the various royal residences. One notable error is McGrady mentioning that Charles and Diana were married in 1982! (The date was July 29th, 1981).The anecdotes are very interesting and humorous, the recipes are made accessible and accompanied by beautiful photographs. Reading this book you almost get the sense of being in the royal kitchens with McGrady. There are a few recipes I'm looking forward to trying, mainly the one for mashed potatoes and Balmoral Strawberry Jam.

In the Royal Manner by Paul Burrell. Before you prejudge this book as just another attempt to cash in on Princess Diana, note that this was his first attempt. And a classy one at that. Take out his name, all of the royal personages and estates mentioned, and you might have a book Martha Stewart would have written. One thing about this how-to book on royal entertaining is that all of the tips could easily be incorporated into any dinner party: appropriate wines, folding a napkin into a perfect Fleur de Lys, when to use certain glassware and cutlery, table manners (Don't' talk with your mouth full or sit with your elbows on the table) and how to remove lipstick stains. Step by step seasonal flower arrangements with helpful photographs as guides. It has a very charming section on parties for children (A Bug's Party). Recipes are included, appropriate to each season, along with an overview of royal events and residences. Details for weddings are also covered: engagement announcements, the ceremony, reception, seating arrangements, flowers, wedding cake, etc. The only error that I can see is that Burrell lists Charles and Diana's wedding day as 29 June 1981 (What is it about their wedding date?) I'm looking forward to trying the recipe for Deep-Filled Apple Pie.

Dinner at Buckingham Palace by Charles Oliver I've already reviewed this book and I recommend it. It starts with a history of royal cooking along with recipes used from Queen Victoria to the present Queen. The anecdotes are interesting and there are some nice casual photos of the royal family (the Queen wearing pants!). The recipes far outweigh the anecdotes, but that's OK. Sometimes there's too much detail in the recipes- such as how to make turtle soup. (Oh, so that's the way to boil a turtle - I've been doing it wrong all along!). For the Royal Table (below) features a similar recipe with the killing and prepping of the turtle replaced with 'Prepare and Joint the turtle'. The end of the book lists menus for food served at State banquets in 1841. Along with ones for every month of the year, helpfully broken down by size of the dinner party. Now I'll never have to worry about what to serve 16 people for dinner in July!

For the Royal Table - Dining at the Palace from The Royal Collection. This recently released companion to the current exhibition at Buckingham Palace gives an insight into royal entertaining on the grandest scale imaginable - State Banquets. At no point is there any attempt to bring dining down to commoner levels. With detailed information on practically every aspect of State banquets, this book should answer any questions you may have. There are a few How-to's: folding napkins and carving a pineapple, along with some recipes (Turtle Soup anyone?). An interesting behind the scenes look into the preparation for State Banquets up to details of the actual event.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Royal & The Clueless - Episode 6

On the last episode of The Royal & The Clueless, Kate Middleton unsuccessfully tried to change her name to Catherine on all previous and future episode posts. In meltdown mode the Queen realized that Kate needs a job to fill her time. After mounting public pressure, and the Queen's invervention, Kate has finally settled down into a job working for her parents company. Satisfied to get everyone off her back, Kate gets to work. It's 9:00AM. Her brow furrows as she tries to figure out how the stapler works. The phone rings and Kate picks it up. Prince William is on the line.

William: Darling, what are you up to?

Kate: I'm at the office. Some of the office equipment just isn't working, I might have to call the repair person. I didn't know this could be so tiring.

William: Well, don't worry about that. Say, what are you doing in 2010?

Kate checks her schedule. It's fully booked with shopping and parties.

Kate: I'm sorry but I'm all booked up

William: Well, clear your schedule because, we're getting engaged!!

Kate: You've said that in 2005, 2006 and 2007 and we're still not engaged.

William: But by 2010 and I will have made up my mind. I'm sure of it.

Kate: I don't know William...

William: Let's go on vacation and talk about it!

Kate: William, I have important work to do.

William: Well, drop it and let's go!

Kate: I can't William. I just can't.

William: (growing petulant) As your boyfriend, future king and possible husband once I make up my mind, I command you to drop everything and do my bidding.

Kate: Don't you remember what granny said?

William: Don't worry about her, she's too busy planning for the State visit to Slovenia

Kate: But I do worry. We need her permission. Royal marriages are regulated by two statutes: the Act of Settlement (1701), and the Royal Marriages Act (1772). The 1701 Act of Settlement laid down that neither a Catholic nor a person marrying a Catholic could come to the throne. The Royal Marriages Act provides that the marriage of any lineal descendant of George II is invalid unless Royal consent has first been obtained. However, if the Sovereign does not give consent, a member of the Royal Family may, at the age of 25, signify to the Privy Council his or her intention to marry without the consent of the Sovereign. The marriage can then lawfully take place unless both Houses of Parliament expressly disapprove.

William: Remind me to change that when I become king. Anyways, a couple of drinks will bring the old girl around.

Kate: I can't William. I just can't.

William: I guess I'll just have to find someone else then..

Does Kate respond to William's hollow threat born of deep seated insecurity? Or does she stick firmly to her newly grown backbone? Find out on the next episode of The Royal & The Clueless.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Royal Review - The Last Princess by Matthew Dennison

The Last Princess - The Devoted Life of Queen Victoria's Youngest Daughter - by Matthew Dennison can be summarized by the following sentence found on page 251:

...much of Beatrice's life and work was connected with death..

Princess Beatrice, last child of Queen Victoria was born in 1857. Four short years later in 1861, her father Prince Albert would die. The events of December 14, 1861 would come to define her life as much as her mother's. That brief period from her birth to his death there is a glimmer of joy. Such glimmers are few and far between 1857 and 1944, the year she died.

It started out well. The lovely little blonde princess, precocious, indulged, the light of her parent's lives, and the envy of her elder siblings. All of that changed when the Prince Consort died, thereby making young Beatrice a human life-raft and the object of pity of those same siblings, extended family members and courtiers alike. When I told my husband about this book he said "why would anyone do that to their child"? Why indeed.

Of course times were different. Dennison makes Queen Victoria's mourning and the effect it had on her family, particularly Beatrice, very real. Too real in fact. The Queen comes across as incredibly selfish in her desire to keep Beatrice at her side. Preventing her from finding any happiness, from living a life beyond that of Victoria's sombre court. It's clear that Beatrice young, impressionable, raised to know nothing beyond what her mother allows her to, never had a chance to begin with. That precocious princess becomes a quiet, dull and passive woman. Destined to lead a life of selfless servitude to her mother.

It would take Beatrice 27 years to find happiness, but even that would be conditional upon the desires of her mother. Despite knowing how the story ends, I still found myself rooting for Beatrice. But this happiness would be short lived too. Four children and 10 years later, she too would be a widow. But this time it's different. As an adult Beatrice has a choice. Though always putting her mother's interests above her own marriage and children, she does not sacrifice her children on the altar of her own grief. Nor does she wallow in it.

The death of her mother in 1901 serves to liberate Beatrice and simultaneously cast her adrift. Her entire life had been about her mother. With no home of her own, a widow, Beatrice's life continues to seem as if it belongs to anyone but her. The next thirty years are spent editing her mother's journals and destroying the originals. Even in death Beatrice cannot escape her mother. But there are some glimpses of happiness with the marriage of her daughter, Victoria Eugenie to Alphonso XIII of Spain and the births of her grandchildren. Princess Beatrice bears all events, the demise of her daughter's marriage and the death of her favorite son Maurice, with predictable stoicism.

Suffering from rheumatism and cataracts, she withdrew from public life in the late 1920's, Beatrice occupies herself with publishing books, spending time with her grandchildren and carrying out a limited amount of engagements. When she dies in 1944 Dennison harks back to the place Beatrice found fleeting happiness, Darmstadt. But even this mention is bittersweet; Darmstadt was flattened by bombs four months after her death.

Given the times and circumstances Beatrice grew up, it's not surprising that her father's death would be a defining event in her life. But I did not expect the emphasis to be placed continuously on death. Not a page seems to go by without some mention of death, dying, the spectre of death, potential death, eventual death. Or words associated with death: mourning, sorrow, grief, etc. The overall effect of the book is a depressing one. I kept hoping that the real Beatrice would emerge from the shadows of death and find happiness. Unfortunately for the last princess and the reader, Dennison doesn't allow this to be.

If you want to learn about Princess Beatrice's life, this is a good starting point. Just don't expect it to be an uplifting experience.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Question: Court Mourning and Coronation planning

What is the mourning length the british government do have to wait when a monarch dies to crown the next king or queen? What are the steps to the next coronation please?
Thanks for your question.

There are four categories of mourning - general, court, service or family.

General Mourning: A period of mourning to be observed by the general public but nowadays usually restricted to the death of the Sovereign, lasting only a few days until the funeral. Formally adopted for other members of the royal family and sometimes lasting several weeks

Court Mourning. Observed by members of the Royal Family, Households of the Royal Family, The Queen's representatives both at home and abroad and their staffs. With instructions on dress codes and official and social engagements prescribed. But length of court mourning varies. In King George VI's case it lasted from his death, February 6th, 1952 until May 31, 1952.

Service mourning: Observed by the Armed Services on the death of the Sovereign

Family mourning Observed by the Royal Family and by Households of the royal family when in personal attendance only.

The length of mourning varies greatly. Queen Victoria practically made mourning into an art form, mourning her husband Prince Albert for 40 years. Mourning could go on for months, sometimes up to a year in the case of the death of a Sovereign, during which time the court would move through degrees of mourning (full to half-mourning) with strict provisions for appropriate attire and social engagements for both the royal court and for the public. At the time of Queen Victoria's death court mourning was prescribed to last until January 24, 1902. The public was directed to wear deep mourning until March 6th, 1901 and half-mourning until April 17, 1901.Nowadays the period is significantly reduced and the length of time for public mourning and appropriate attire is left up to the individual.

Funerals are arranged through the Lord Chamberlands office. Funerals of sovereigns are organized by the Earl Marshall who is also responsible for the Coronation arrangements. The coronation of the new Sovereign follows some months after his or her accession. The length of time vs the date of Coronation probably has more to do with the complex planning involved than with any particular period of mourning. Some examples of the length of time between accession and coronation are:

Queen Victoria: Acceded to the throne on June 20, 1837. Coronation held on June 28, 1838

King Edward VII : He became King upon the death of his mother, Queen Victoria on January 22, 1901. His Coronation was planned for June 26, 1902 but postponed to August 9, 1902 following an attack of appendicitis which required an emergency operation.

King George V: Date of accession May 6, 1910. Coronation June 22, 1911

King Edward VIII succeed to the throne on January 20, 1936. He abdicated while his coronation was being planned. The date for this was May 12, 1937. Upon his abdication on December 11, 1936, his younger brother became King George VI. Instead of postponing the coronation, the date was kept the same.

Queen Elizabeth II - Date of accession February 6, 1952. Date of Coronation June 2, 1953.

Examples of current length of royal mourning. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother died on March 30th, 2002. Her funeral on was on April 9th and members of the royal family observed mourning until April 19th. Her daughter, Princess Margaret, died on February 9th 2002 and mourning was observed from that date to the day of her funeral February 15, 2002.

As for the preparation surrounding coronations, the official site is your best resource.

For more information on Coronations, you might find the following book useful: Coronation: From the 8th to the 21st Century by Roy Strong

Thanks again for your question

© Marilyn Braun 2008