Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Royal Profile: Prince Andrew of Greece

Image source: WikipediaMany biographies paint Prince Philip's father as a serious, distant figure who spent his life in exile as a playboy. But according to his great-niece, Queen Alexandra of Yugoslavia, he was "a tall genial, smiling gentleman, a truly lovable figure." He "was a connoisseur of all the good things in life." According to his son, he was a cheerful man who enjoyed pranks and practical jokes.

Born in Athens on February 2, 1882, one of the first babies of Tatoi, he was the fourth son of King George I of the Hellenes and Queen Olga. He grew up in the Palace of Athens with his four brothers and two sisters. A family of many languages, his parents spoke German to each other, English to their children. The children spoke Greek to each other. Devoted to the country of his birth, Andrea, who would only speak Greek to his parents, insisted on sticking to Greek as his first language, speaking it more fluently than English. But like his son Prince Philip, he was not really Greek at all. Through his mother he was Russian and on his fathers side two parts Danish, one part Dutch and five parts German.

Tall, good-looking, quick witted and intelligent, Andrea was short-sighted and wore spectacles in early life, later adopting a monocle, which added an aura of distinction. Andrea was brought up to be a soldier and was passionate about his military career. At the age of fourteen he became a cadet at the Military School in Athens and in 1901 he was commissioned a subaltern in the calvary. In that year he met Princess Alice of Battenburg (daughter of Victoria, Marchioness of Milford Haven ). They became engaged the following year and were married (in one civil and two religious ceremonies) in Darmstadt on October 6th & 7th 1903.

After their wedding, the couple lived in Greece, first in the Palace of Athens and later at Mon Repos, the Greek royal residence on Corfu. They had four daughters: Margarita (1905-1981), Theodora (1906-1969), Cecile (1911-37), Sophie (1914-2001), and one son, Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in 1921.

In 1912-13 he took part in the Balkan Wars, during which his father was assasinated. His brother Constantine became king but he was forced to abdicate because of his neutral stance in the First World War. Prince Andrew and his family were banished with him and for three years they lived in exile in Switzerland. When Constantine was reinstated, they returned to Greece in 1920.

In 1922 he took command of the 2nd Army Corps in the war in Asia Minor. The Greeks were heavily defeated by the Turks and the King was once again deposed. Prince Andrew was allowed to remain in Greece, provided he stayed on Corfu, but he was summoned before the revolutionary court, charged with treason for his part in the disastrous Asia Minor campaign, imprisoned and sentenced to death. Princess Alice appealed to King George V for help. The British government intervened and negotiated Prince Andrew's release. He left Greece aboard the HMS Calypso, picking up Princess Alice and the children in Corfu.

The family settled in Saint-Cloud, on the outskirts of Paris. Prince Andrew wrote a book, Towards Disaster - his account of the campaign against the Turks. He returned to Greece briefly for the installation of his nephew as King George II in 1935, but the rest of his life would be spent in exile. The family drifted apart and eventually he moved to Monte Carlo where he settled with his lady friend the Countess Andrée de La Bigne.

He died of a heart attack in the Hotel Metropole in Monte Carlo, on December 3rd, 1944. According to his great-niece, "he got out of bed and donned his dressing-gown, slipped his monocle in his right eye, seated himself in his armchair and quietly died, meeting death itself like the great gentleman he always was." He was taken to rest in the Russian Orthodox Church in Nice. Two years later his body was returned to his own country and buried in the gardens of Tatoi, the royal residence to the north of Athens.

His gravestone reads:

Andrea Vasilopais (Son of a King)
Prince of Greece
Prince of Denmark

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Royal Report for Sunday April 27th, 2008 - Camilla, 3 years later

The next Royal Report will be on Sunday May 4th, 2008 at 9:00PM.

The topic will be: With the recent trip to Klosters and Kate attending William's RAF Wings ceremony, many have seen these events as signs that they will announce their engagement. But will they? Or are we reading too much into it?

Upcoming Royal Report - Sunday April 27, 2008

Join me for the next Royal Reporton Sunday April 27, 2008 at 9:00PM EST.

The topic will be: Camilla, 3 years later.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Prince William the Pretty

Prince William has been in the news quite a bit lately. He recently graduated from the RAF, earning some snazzy wings in the process, Kate Middleton was in attendance at this event, thus igniting engagement rumours to fever pitch. Then he landed a helicopter on the property belonging to Kate Middleton's parents. How romantic/foolish/wasteful of taxpayers money/[insert your opinion here]. While controversy swirls around him, one fact is completly undeniable.

The man looks good in a uniform.

It's true. I've never really been a fan of William's looks. Sure he was a cute baby, somewhat adorable toddler, and a perfect teen pinup at 14, but now at almost 26 he's practically losing his looks. He still bears a striking resemblance to his mother, but his appearance is clearly veering towards the Spencer side of the family, specifically the late Earl Spencer . Fortunately he never inherited his father's looks. Not to say the Windsors aren't a rather handsome family but they just don't age well....sorry, where was I?

Yes, William looks positively yummy in that uniform.

Seeing a picture of William and Kate walking together at the ceremony, Kate clearly has the best accessory in the room. We should all be that lucky. A lot of focus went into Kate's prescence, while people completely ignored William's uniform. Lest it be forgotten, this post will hopefully set things right.

William went for simplicity, wearing only his one lone medal. The emphasis was clearly on the wings - as it should be. The uniform fit perfectly, the blue shirt bringing out the color of his eyes, the shoes polished to gleaming perfection by an underpaid valet. When young, the Windsor men look good in uniform. Go past the age of 30 and things go downhill. If in doubt, look at Prince Andrew, Duke of York circa 1986 vs now. It's just not pretty. Past 30 their chests are weighed down by rows of unearned medals, clashing ribbons, and loops of gold braid useful for, if nothing else, making Tarzan like escapes.

Judging by the photo, William looks good in uniform, it suits him. Which is good because it goes with the job. Next he will go to the Navy and add yet another uniform to his closet; lovingly maintained by yet another unpaid valet. In future years he will slowly start to stoop under the weight of his decorations and we will look back at William circa 2008 and wistfully wonder what happened.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Royal Report for Sunday April 20, 2008 - A Salute to the Diana Inquest

The next Royal Report will be on Sunday April 27, 2008 at 9:00PM. The topic will be: Camilla, 3 years later. How is she adjusting as a member of the royal family?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"I Hate Kate Middleton"

It's a sentiment shared by several royal watchers.

What's there to really like about her anyways?

Every public figure has their dissenters. People who will never like them no matter what they say, do, date, don't date, or who they marry. Whether due to envy, jealousy, or just because. Many people simply don't like her.

To each their own.

Is Kate here to stay? Is her mother manipulating the situation? Scheming to get her daughter a golden page in the history books? Quite possibly. Is Kate just biding her time until Prince William realizes she won't leave him alone until he capitulates?

Has William been duped? Brainwashed? Will we ever know? During the engagement interview will we see the sheer terror in his eyes hidden behind the forced smile? A desperate 'rescue me' escapes his pursed lips as Kate tightens the leash she hides in his bespoke suit. Yes this is the stuff which modern day fairy tales are made.

In the sheer jubilation of the Kate supporters will we even care? The 'I hate Kate' contingent will be drowned out by wedding dress speculation. Happily ever after rhetoric will follow. Maybe Kate has duped us all.

Like Diana, Kate inevitably fell from grace. You can only coast on fashionable clothes and glossy hair for so long. When did it start? Was it quitting her job at Jigsaw to pursue photography? Was it her mother and 'Toiletgate'? Was it one too many media harassment complaints? Is she too Sloaney? Has she gone to Boujis too many times?

When news of their break-up was announced, their relationship was dissected - whose fault was it? Most believe William ditched Kate. After all, who would dump royalty? Obviously Kate wasn't good enough. She must have put too much pressure on William. The only one who could have told us was Kate, who, to her credit, didn't sell her story. When their relationship resumed, Kate was still seen as scheming and manipulative. She just can't win.

Maybe Kate is wasting her education. Maybe she did quit her job prematurely and her photography is an amusing foil. Or maybe it is true love. Believe whatever you want. Everyone is entitled to their opinion of her.

The wisest move Kate can make is to not listen to it.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Note: This post is meant to be ironic. For the record, I don't hate Kate. To read more about her, visit The Kate Middleton Report.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Survivor Balmoral - Day 33

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

This week, tribe Windsor merges with tribe Hanover. Joining the Windsor's are Paul Burrell and Prince Harry's girlfriend, Chelsy Davy. The tribe descends into turmoil when Paul Burrell tries to ingratiate himself with Chelsy. The remaining members of tribe Windsor are: Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince Andrew, Princess Anne, Prince Edward, and Prince Philip. Now that the tribes have merged, a new tribe called Saxe-Coburg-Gotha is formed.

Chelsy is busy sunning herself. Paul Burrell approaches her.

Paul: (to Chelsy) Did you know I used to work for the royal family? I was Diana's rock..the keeper of her...

Chelsy: Are you lying to me?

Paul: Well, I have been known to be naughty. Can I offer you some of my Royal Butler wine? How about a signed copy of one of my books?...

Chelsy: Go away, you're blocking my sun.

Princess Anne faces a new challenge: Opening the door. Princess Anne goes up to the door, looking at it curiously. She takes a few deep breaths, pensive. She is nervous and gives herself a pep talk before her attempt.

Princess Anne: Just turn the handle and open the door. Turn the handle, open the door...

Unbeknownst to her, on the other side of the door, Prince Andrew is also facing the challenge of opening the same door.

Prince Andrew (wipes the sweat from his brow): Just turn the handle and open the door. Turn the handle, open the door....

Princess Anne and Prince Andrew (frustrated, in unison): Oh bother!

In another part of the castle, Prince Charles has located the kitchen and is preparing to boil an egg. He holds the chicken aloft over the boiling water.*

Prince Philip: Don't you know that you must wait for the chicken to lay the egg?

Prince Charles (to the chicken): I command you to give me fresh eggs.

Prince Philip: (Takes the chicken from Charles) Here, let me do it!

Philip shakes the chicken up and down. Charles tries to grab the chicken back, but it flutters away and runs for its life.

Meanwhile, Prince Edward is still in the loo trying to draw his own bath. The Queen is outside to door, waiting.

The Queen: Edward, open the door, I have to go to the loo

Prince Edward goes towards the door to open it. He looks confused at the handle. He starts to take some deep breaths.

Prince Edward: Just turn the handle and open the door...turn the handle and open the door...

The door does not open

Prince Edward: Mummy I'm stuck!!!

Later on, at Tribal Council, the Queen gathers tribe Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Prince Philip has failed the child rearing challenge. Paul Burrell has the immunity idol after winning the bed-making challenge.

The Queen: Where's Edward?

Prince Edward: (runs towards the group, panting and sweaty) Here I am, Mummy!

Prince Philip: (to Edward) You're completely out of shape, didn't the army teach you anything?...oh wait, never mind..

The Queen: Tonight someone must go home. It seems there's some dead weight in the tribe....

Chelsy: (sulky) This is so boring!

Chelsy gets up and grabs her sunscreen.

Chelsy: I'm off to Boujis!

On the next episode of Survivor Balmoral, Prince Charles attempts to mop the floor while Prince William cleans up after himself.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

*Note: No chickens were harmed while writing this article.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Yes, the Royals do death rather well

Some reports about Prince Philip's recent stay at a hospital for a chest infection have included a biography of his life, sounding like a preliminary obituary, ready to replace the 'Prince Philip is' with 'Prince Philip was'. At the age of 86 and currently the oldest member of the royal family, media outlets are gearing up for the inevitable. Indeed, many have already prepared obituaries, not only for the royal family but for other public figures. Morbid efficiency at it's finest.

I don't wish ill on anyone. People don't like to discuss death. But when any member of the royal family dies it is a big event. The equivalent of hitting the jackpot. "The British do death rather well" is one quote I've heard over the years. Planned down to the last detail, even the royals themselves are masters of morbid efficiency. Nothing is left to chance. That is, until Diana died, and then everything was thrown into chaos.

Other than a U.S. President/ex-president, no one marks death on such a major scale like royalty. With the masses suffering from inescapable media coverage, they go outside, gather, lay floral bouquets, and sign condolence books which will be archived unread. Comparisons to Queen Victoria's widowhood will be made. Majesty magazine will have a special issue. The Republican movement will have their slingshots, BB guns and petition forms out. Horse drawn corteges rumble through the streets, and close-ups of royal grief will be analysed. Prince Philip's controversial sayings will be poured over; sadly defining a life lived in the spotlight for 60 years. It may not be what Prince Philip would have wanted, but will people settle for anything less than that for the longest serving royal consort?

Maybe this article is premature. But mark my words, it will happen.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Prince William & Kate Middleton's Special Day

Kate Middleton and Prince William's recent trip to Klosters is probably the most discussed ski trip in the history of ski trips. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. The speculation has provided material for The Kate Middleton Report that otherwise would have been non-existent had the couple just decided to stay at home. But enough is enough.

The engagement rumours are not new. They seem to have a pattern to them. Case in point. Christmas 2007? Instead Kate got a pair of fake diamond earrings. When Kate turned 26 her birthday was the perfect opportunity for William to propose. When that didn't pan out, Valentine's Day became the key occasion. This year we had a leap year when Kate could have taken the ball into her own hands. When that didn't pan out, the Klosters trip, while not leading to a proposal itself, was seen as sure evidence of an imminent one. If it doesn't happen any time soon, well there's always Christmas 2008. And on and on it goes.

While people seem to focus on Christmas, birthdays, Valentine's Day or the couple simply standing beside each other, there are other important proposal opportunities to consider:

January 13th: Make your dream come true day. It would make all of us so happy!

February 15th: National Singles Day. Kate has no doubt marked many of these without even realizing it.

March 9th: National Panic Day. Christmas and Valentine's day have passed, might as well bite the bullet.

April 2nd: National reconciliation day. Prince William, don't drop the ball this time.

May 1st: May Day. Spring is coming, love is in the air. What a lovely opportunity!

June 1st: Flip a coin day. Heads William proposes, tails Kate kicks him to the curb.

July 14th: Pandemonium Day. You can't mark this day without a reason.

July 26th: All or nothing day. This should be self-explanatory, there's no middle ground on this grey area...

August 25th: Kiss and make up day. William, you're lucky Kate is giving you another chance.

August 27th: Just because day. Why not? Other than our respect, what do you have to lose?

September 6th: Fight procrastination day. William, make a decision, take action, just do it! We'll be happy you did.

October 18th: Sweetest Day. It will be even sweeter if you propose William.

November 13th: Sadie Hawkins Day. Don't' bother running William, you can't escape.

December 31st: Make up your mind day. William, just do it!

There you have it. No need to thank me. Well, you can always invite me to the wedding...

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Royal Report for Tuesday April 1, 2008 - What's wrong with wanting to be a princess?

Please note there will be no show on Sunday April 6th or Sunday April 13th. The Royal Report will return on Sunday April 20th with a Salute to the Diana Inquest.