Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Royal Review - Royal Weddings by Friederike Haedecke and Julia Melchior

While there are many books on royal weddings, Royal Weddings by Friederike Haedecke and Julia Melchior is different. Looking at the cover with the famous photo of Diana on her wedding day, you could be forgiven for thinking of this as just another book focusing on British royal weddings. But such a nod and cover photo is necessary, if only because Diana is the most globally recognizable. Aside from Princess Grace of Monaco, the other brides may be completely foreign to those outside of their respective countries. But the cover is also somewhat misleading. Those expecting a book about Diana or other British royal brides are in for a surprise. This is no ordinary book on the subject.

Of the fourteen weddings, this book starts off with the most controversial one: Prince Haakon of Norway to Mette-Marit Tjessem Hoiby. For those who are not familiar with this story, prior to her wedding Mette-Marit was a single mother with an illegitimate child. Not your typical Cinderella. Despite the schmaltzy chapter title: Victory of Love, their relationship and wedding is covered in a way it would be for any other royal wedding. The couples are presented as real people in remarkable settings, sharing their special day with the rest of the world.

This book is beautiful, with full page color photos. The couples and their weddings are presented as real people, in remarkable settings, sharing their special day. There are some interesting bits of trivia: Princess Mary of Denmark's bridal bouquet was placed on her mother's grave in Scotland. Queen Silvia of Sweden's handkerchief was attached to her wrist with a rubber band. Not to mention the 44 pound wedding dress of Soraya Esfandiary, second wife of the Shah of Iran.

The weddings are grouped together, Scandinavian (Norway, Sweden and Denmark), Greek, Spanish, Monaco, British and Dutch. Those of Japan, Iran and Brunei stand out and make interesting inclusions if only to see how royal weddings are celebrated outside of European traditions. While the focus is very much on the current royal couples, there are some weddings from previous generations such as Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus, Princess Sophia of Greece and Don Juan Carlos of Spain, Queen Elizabeth II & Prince Philip. The oldest wedding is that of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert but the inclusion of Charles and Diana is somewhat predictable. However it's the weddings we only get a glimpse of that could have been very interesting additions, such the current King and Queen of Norway or even Queen Margarethe and Prince Henrik of Denmark.

Were it not for this book the details of these weddings, such as the wedding dress designer, locations of ceremony, guests, royal traditions, would otherwise be lost to the sands of time. Now the information is compiled in one place. The book is well researched but mentioning that Queen Victoria was 5'8" is questionable when most sources list her at 5 feet. Otherwise the book is a treat for the eyes and for those who love the ultimate in royal pageantry.

© Marilyn Braun 2009


Lucy said...

It certainly sounds interesting with all those details from various royals. The pictures must be gorgeous as well. Seems like it could entice many brides-to-be to seek out fashion ideas and more. I'm sure this could make for a perfect shower gift. Thanks for the great review (and for giving me an idea for a gift:)

Marilyn Braun said...

Anyone who buys it/gets it as a gift won't be disappointed. It is a beautiful book and given that information on other royal weddings tends to be scarce otherwise, it's a really good resource for people planning their weddings or for royal watchers in general. After all, who doesn't like a royal wedding?