Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Royal Report for Sunday June 29th, 2008: Is Diana the last of the great princesses?

Since Diana died in 1997 there has been a void in the world of royalty - that of a great princess. Many accomplished women have married into the royal family but none seem likely to make the same impact that Diana did. Is Diana the last of the great princesses? Has she set the bar too high for other royal brides?

You can listen to the podcast here.

Tune in live to the next Royal Report on Sunday July 6th, 2008 9:00PM EST (North America).

The topic will be: A recent report revealed that the British monarchy costs taxpayers 66 pence per year (or about $1.79 CDN). Less than the cost of an iPOD download or a cup of Starbucks coffee. Are they worth it? Would you sacrifice a cup of coffee to pay for them? What gives better value, a Starbucks coffee or the British Monarchy?

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Question: What is an Earl?

I've heard of the designation Earl of an area but what would an Earl's wife's designation be?

I actually don't know what an Earl is either, perhaps you could explain.

Thank you for your questions.

The title of Earl is part of the British Peerage, and along with the title of Baron, is one of the oldest peerages. It ranks below a Marquess and above a Viscount. It derives from the Middle English "erl" meaning warrior, nobleman. While we no longer associate 'warrior' with an earldom, the 'nobleman' remains the correct definition. Earldoms tend to take their names from towns, or surnames/families (Earl Spencer) with ones named for counties retaining more prestige. When the Earldom of Snowdon was bestowed on Antony Armstrong-Jones it was a nod to his Welsh ancestry. Usually it is a title that is inherited by the eldest son, who is known by a subsidary or courtesy title prior to that: (Earl Spencer) Viscount Althorp, (Earl of Snowdon) Viscount Linley, Earl of Wessex (Viscount Severn). Daughters are titled 'Lady' and younger sons have 'The Honorable' before their names. An earldom normally passes to the eldest son. Only under exceptional circumstances does it pass to a daughter, as in the case of Patricia, Countess of Mountbatten.

Unlike Prince, Duke, Marquess, there is no female version of the title Earl. An Earl is regarded as the equivalent to a Continental Count, so the wife takes the title Countess. An example of this would be Sophie, Countess of Wessex , the wife of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.

I hope this answers your questions!

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Related Article

Meeting Royalty and Nobility

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Royal Engagements

Not a week goes by without some prediction on when an engagement will be announced between Prince William and Kate Middleton. New Years? Birthdays? Valentine's Day? Christmas? One day someone will be right, but for now we're left to speculate. Looking back on the last 150 years engagements have been announced at various times. Note the short time between the engagement and the wedding dates!

Spring Engagements

King George V and Queen Mary: May 3rd, 1893 (Married July 6th, 1893)

Princess Anne and Captain Mark Philips: May 29, 1973 (Married November 14, 1973)

Summer Engagements

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip: July 9, 1947 (Married November 20, 1947)

Autumn Engagements

King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra: September 9, 1862 (Married March 10, 1863)

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert: November 23rd 1839 (Married on February 10, 1840)

Princess Alexandra and Angus Ogilvy : November 19, 1962 (Married April 24, 1963)

Winter Engagements

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth: January 15, 1923 (Married April 23, 1923)

Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones : February 26, 1960 (Married May 6, 1960)

Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Katherine Worsley: March 8, 1961 (Married June 8, 1961)

Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer: February 24, 1981 (Married July 29, 1981)

Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson: March 19, 1986 (Married July 23, 1986)

Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones: January 6, 1999 (Married June 19, 1999)

Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles: February 10, 2005 (Married April 9, 2005)

Judging by this list, winter, specifically early in the year, seems to be the preferred season to announce engagements. Giving enough time to prepare for a summer royal wedding. Maybe predictions of a winter engagement for William and Kate may not be so far off after all?

Related Articles:

Royal Weddings
Royal Engagement Rings
Royal Wedding Dresses
Royal Wedding Trivia
Question: Royal Wedding Tradition?

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Upcoming Royal Report: Should Kate Middleton get a job?

Tune in live to the next Royal Report, tonight at 9:00PM EST (North America).

The topic will be: Should Kate Middleton get a job? Why should we even care?

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Friday, June 20, 2008

Royal Recipe: Scones

I recently bought a book called Dinner at Buckingham Palace. It's a collection of anecdotes, rarely seen photographs, authentic recipes and menus from the royal household. This book is based on the diaries of Charles Oliver, a servant who lived and worked for most of his life within the palace. It was a hobby of his to collect royal menus and recipes. This book, published after his death, is a compilation of these recipes. Starting with a brief history of royal cooking it goes from Breakfast (eggs) to Tea, Soup, Savories, Fish, Meat, Poultry, Vegetables, Desserts and Wine. Also included are menus for every month of the year. Even if you don't cook any of these recipes, it can still be enjoyed as a fascinating insight into a rarely seen part of the royal household.

I thought it would be interesting, from time to time, to feature some of the more straightforward recipes. So, here's the first one: Scones.


8 oz flour
2 oz margarine
2 oz sugar
2 oz currants
1 egg for mixing
small amount of milk (optional)
1 teaspoon of cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
egg to glaze

Make a soft dough by mixing the ingredients, including the egg (and a little milk if necessary). Place on a lightly floured board and gently roll or pat out the dough to a thickness of about 3/4-1 inch. Using a small plain cutter, cut out the scones and put them in a greased tin, making sure they are well spaced out. Brush them over with a smear of beaten egg and bake in a hot oven (450 degrees F) for about 10 minutes.

Source: Dinner at Buckingham Palace, page 24.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Related Article

Royal Gastronomy

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Does Kate Middleton know what she's getting herself into?

Don't get me wrong, I, along with other royal bloggers, news sources, souvenir makers, poet laureates, wedding dress designers, and rabid royal watchers, would love to see an engagement between Kate Middleton and Prince William.

But I have to wonder, after 5 years of dating William, of slowly making public appearances at official events, whether she has any idea of what she's getting herself into. Sure, we can glamorize marrying into the royal family, never having to worry about money, the golden page in the history books, designers falling at your feet, the priceless jewels, vast estates, travelling the world...

But for every perk comes a price: the complete loss of freedom, being watched 24/7 for the rest of her life, the tedious engagements which will eventually mean more to everyone else but her. The awful biographies and straight-to-video movies. Media outlets which will knock Kate from her pedestal as soon as she says "I do". Not to mention the pressure to stay thin, beautiful and fashionable as every inch is scrutinized. She'll be criticized for doing nothing more that breathing. And like the reality of having a child, Kate won't know any of this until it happens.

It won't be easy. If she's lucky, William will be nothing like his father. She'll have Prince William's love. There will be times Kate will doubt herself, but she'll always have the suport of Hello! and Majesty magazine. If Kate's smart she won't listen to any of it.

But she will be adored. She'll be in a position to make a difference. She'll bring the proverbial breath of fresh air like those royal brides who have come before her. Kate will be loved for who people think she is or who they want her to be. She'll be the ultimate cover girl and we won't be able to get enough of her. Hopefully William can live with that.

Can Kate?

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Upcoming Royal Report: Royal News - Fact or Fiction?

Tune in to the next Royal Report on Sunday June 15th, 2008 9:00PM EST.

The topic will be: Royal News - Fact or Fiction?

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Royal Profile: Captain Alexander Ramsay of Mar

Captain Alexander Ramsay of Mar died on the eve of his 81st birthday on December 20, 2000. At the time of his death "Sandy" was one of five surviving great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria.

Alexander Arthur Alfonso David Maule Ramsay was born in his mother's bathroom at Clarence House, then home to his maternal grandfather the Duke of Connaught, on December 21 1919. He was the son of Princess Patricia of Connaught and Admirable the Honorable Captain Sir Alexander Ramsay, the third son of the 13th Earl of Dalhousie. He was christened in the Chapel Royal, St James's, in the presence of George V and Queens Mary and Alexandra. His godparents included Princess Christian, the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) and King Alfonso of Spain.

A playmate of the present Queen when young, Sandy attended Eton College and acted as page of honor, along with his cousin the Earl of Harewood at the Coronation of King George VI. Leaving Eton the same year he received a commission in the Grenadier Guards and he saw active service in North Africa during WWII. He lost his right leg below the knee during a tank battle in Tunisia in 1943. In 1944 he became an Aide-de-Camp of his cousin, Henry Duke of Gloucester who was then Governor General of Australia. During his three years there he had another close call when his car became trapped between two trams in Sydney and was sliced in half.

In 1944 he learnt that he would inherit Mar Lodge and its estates from his aunt, Princess Arthur of Connaught, Duchess of Fife whose only son and heir apparent to the dukedom had died in 1943. Upon leaving the Army in 1947 he studied agriculture at Trinity College, Cambridge and graduated in 1952. He worked for three years on the Linlithgow estates at South Queensferry. In 1959 he inherited the Mar estate and was allowed to add the designation 'of Mar' to his name. Part of the estate was sold to pay inheritance tax and became Mar Lodge Estate; part of which was destroyed by fire in 1991 while being renovated.

On October 6th, 1956 he married Flora Fraser, the only daughter and heiress of the 20th Lord Saltoun, at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire. They had met at the Perth Hunt Ball. They had three daughters, Katherine (b 1957), Alice (b 1961) and Elizabeth (b 1963). Upon her father's death in 1979 Flora succeeded as the 21st Lady Saltoun and Chief of the Name of Fraser in her own right. The couple resided at his wife's family seat, Cairnbulg Castle, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire.

Captain Ramsay was a devotee of family and Scottish history, and took a keen interest in heraldry. He also enjoyed shooting, sailing and travelling. In 1959 he became vice-patron of the Braemar Royal Highland Society. In 1971 Ramsay became the deputy lord lieutenant for Aberdeenshire. He was also a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and for 30 years chairman of the executive committee of the Scottish Life Boat Council. He was survived by his wife and three daughters.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Monday, June 09, 2008

I Like Prince Charles

How many times have you heard someone say that?

Over the years my attitude towards him has mellowed somewhat. Despite the fact that I don't have a clue what he really does. I don't listen to his speeches. I only occasionally visit his website; if only to find out what's officially going on with Prince William and Prince Harry. I've also searched for Kate Middleton, to no avail. I did a Royal Report episode about him, using his site to research him so I could sound somewhat knowledgeable. Yes, it looks like he does a lot. He seems to care. And once he becomes king; if ever, I will feel sorry for him. He will lose the freedom that he has at present. The freedom to bravely wade into the foray and make a difference. Once he is monarch, he can only quietly make recommendations via carefully written memorandums to avoid public controversy. It's sad if you think about it.

What do I like about him? He exudes kindness. True, he will always have that remote royal quality, but in comparison to his mother, The Queen, he appears warm. Something, which in his particular position, means something. It's necessary. In fact, it has an impact that pales in comparison to other members of the royal family. Sure Prince Edward and Sophie can be pleasant. Princess Anne is dedicated to her causes. Prince Andrew does, whatever he does with a smile and a wave. The Dukes of Kent and Gloucester do what they do, working below the radar. Were it not for Majesty magazine, I wouldn't know they even exist.

After reading the following article on the World of Royalty website, to my surprise, I found myself logging in to Blogger and writing this article in intermittent spurts for the next two months. Leaping to his defense, begrudgingly admitting that he may have been ahead of his time, is not the thing to do. People may think that you're catering to him by doing so. Since my opinion means absolutely nothing, I don't have to worry about that.

Certainly I've taken my fair shots at him on this blog - but only in humour. He's the funniest member of the royal family. Which makes him all the more endearing to me. I don't know what I would do without him. Marrying Camilla was the smartest move he could have made - he looks like he's happy. After all these years, after all he's been though, he deserves it. Yet, if there's any doubt, he's paid a price for his happiness. He's made mistakes but life goes on.

Maybe his birthright has entrapped him. Maybe he never wanted it at all. We'll never truly know. You can wonder all you like. Pity him all you want. While he's Prince of Wales he's in a position to make a difference. Maybe an eternity of waiting isn't such a bad thing after all.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Friday, June 06, 2008

Someday your prince may come but more than likely you'll have to find him

Keeping a prince can be a difficult job. Finding one in this day and age can be downright impossible. What with the dwindling prospects making drunken fools of themselves on a regular basis. It's tough. Kate Middleton certainly has her work cut out for her, guiding Prince William towards the altar. Here are some steps to help you out should you be interested in the same position.

1) Find a prince. Check out family trees. Go to places he hangs out - polo fields, expensive clubs, or the oldest university in Scotland. While doing so, invest in a copy of the Almanach de Gotha, it could take years to get your copy but once you do you'll see whether you're on the right track.

2) Once you've located your prince. Lure him into your lair by modelling skimpy clothes at a fashion show. Move in before he gets a glazed over look. Worked for Kate.

3) If necessary, quit your job. Forget everything your guidance counsellor told you about becoming royalty. It is possible.

4) Always look your best. Act the part. Anything less and you'll be considered a slacker. Remember that you'll be expected to set trends and look nice without spending any money whatsoever. Better get used to it now.

5) Get the media and your future subjects behind you. This is where tip#4 comes in. Your Prince will lose face in the eyes of his future subjects if he doesn't choose you.

6) Change your name. No one wants a future queen named Trixie, Peaches, or Amy Winehouse. Choose something suitably regal sounding, with an eye towards the name fitting on souvenirs. Catherine is a good choice.

7) While he may be worth millions, and could buy you your hearts desire, accept any love tokens, regardless of how cheap or tacky. He'll think that you appreciate the simple things in life. Especially those made with glue and sawdust.

8) Socialize without him. If you can make it look like you're having a good time in the pages of Hello magazine even better.

9) If you're dating a romantic and dashing prince, make sure your property has enough room to land a helicopter.

10) Be patient. This is the toughest part of all. Playing the waiting game. Some Princes aren't the sharpest knives in the drawer. It may take a while for them to make up their minds.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

How Royal is Royal?

I've always dreamt of being a Princess. Not a queen, but a Princess. Princess Marilyn has a rather nice ring to it, don't you think? Rumor has it that Marilyn Monroe was considered to be a candidate to marry Prince Rainier of Monaco. While not making me royal, I would have known there was a Princess Marilyn in the history books. Maybe it could have become my nickname. Alas it was not to be.

Whether truly royal, distantly related, or just delusional, it's not difficult to claim that you're royalty. It's whether people believe you. There are no specific qualifications. You don't have to have a certificate. Just stick the word prince/princess in front of your name, put an obscure sounding country that no one has ever heard of (or is unlikely to look up), set up a really ugly website, slap a coat of arms on it and there you go. If you have a personal motto and can cut and paste a photo of a castle, even better! But who knows, maybe some of these people genuinely are royalty - no offense. It's good to be proud of your heritage, whatever that may be. You can even spend your time putting together family trees that show you're related, but no one outside of your family is likely to care about. Everyone needs a hobby.

When I look at the people on the Wikipedia list for the line of succession to the British throne , there are almost 1400 names. Now yes, Wikipedia is not the be all, end all, but this list is a pretty good start. However I think there comes a point where, if you're not within the first 10 names, a monarch of a ruling house, their children, and some of their grandchildren, you really shouldn't consider yourself to be royal. Just my personal opinion. The Dutch and the Norwegian royal families have a rather good system - they divide it by Royal House and Royal family. Which makes it fairly clear. With each new monarch, part of the family falls off the list, giving academic preference to the direct descendants. Some people may be happy to have this happen - gives some normalcy. Those who stand on ceremony may fight this tooth and nail, somehow ending up in the pages of Majesty or Hello Magazine, when there's a wedding or the christening of a baby.

People who call themselves Prince/Princess or consider themselves royal, dilute the mystique and the meaning of royalty. Royalty has to earn their keep nowadays. Attending party after party at the world's glamorous locations doesn't sound like charity work to me. Some members of the royal family consider it a burden; Prince Harry sometimes wishes he wasn't a prince. Would this pseudo royalty trade places if they knew what was involved?

Depends on how many parties and vacations they'd have to sacrifice.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Monday, June 02, 2008

Survivor Balmoral - Day 34

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.

On the last episode of Survivor Balmoral, Paul Burrell won the immunity idol for winning the bed making challenge. Prince Philip had a setback after he failed the child rearing challenge. And Prince Edward narrowly escaped being permanently trapped in the loo. On this episode, the very survival of tribe Saxe-Coburg-Gotha is at risk when Princess Anne faces the challenge of cutting a slice of bread.

The Princess carefully approaches the counter. Four knives lay before her - Table, Paring, Bread, and Swiss Army. Along with them a wooden spoon. She picks up one of the implements up eyes the loaf with trepidation.

Prince Edward: I'm hungry

Prince Andrew: Yes, me too

Princess Anne: (turns towards them with the wooden spoon in hand) Stop it or I'll call Mummy.

Both men are silent. One of their stomachs growl audibly. Paul Burrell sits on a chair in the kitchen, chuckling to himself.

Paul: Need some help?

Princess Anne: Go away

Paul: Well, just thought I'd let you know that you can't cut a loaf of bread with a spoon.

Prince Edward: I can't handle this any longer.

Prince Edward grabs the bread off the counter and starts to savagely tear at it with his teeth. Prince Andrew wrestles the bread from him.

Meanwhile, in another part of the castle. Prince Charles sits beside a mop and bucket. He is weeping.

Prince Charles: (to the camera) I didn't realize it would be this hard. I don't even know which end of the mop to use. (He looks at the mop closer). You know, if it weren't for this monstrous carbuncle of fabric, this might be good for walking in the hills.

Prince William calls from another room.

Prince William: Papa!

Prince Charles: What is it Wills?

William, in a heightened state of anxiety, points to a crumpled piece of paper on the floor. Both princes look at the floor with trepidation. Charles takes the stick and pokes at the paper. Inching it closer to the wastebasket.

William: No Papa, this is my challenge.

William bravely bends down on the floor and starts to blow the paper. It slowly moves. Soon he is out of breath. He sits up, tears of frustration roll down his cheeks. Charles hugs William.

Prince Charles: We'll get through this together.

Later on at tribal council, the members of the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha tribe arrive tired and exhausted. Prince Edwards stomach rumbles. Paul Burrell sits and smiles smugly.The tribe members glower at him.

The Queen: Do you why you're all here?

Paul Burrell: Yes, it's so disappointing your Majesty. But they've tried so hard, with my help of course. May I offer you a glass of Royal Butler wine?

Prince Philip: (looks at Paul) What is that I hear in the distance? the authorities? I think someones looking for you Paul!

Paul Burrell looks around nervously, gathers his wine, and runs for the hills.

Princess Anne: (exasperated) That's no good, he's the only one who knows how to cut bread. Now what are we going to eat?

The tribe members look at each other. Prince Edward sizes up Prince Andrew, pinching him. Stomachs growl audibly.

On the next episode of Survivor Balmoral the remaining members of tribe Saxe-Coburg-Gotha descend into turmoil over the simplest of tasks.

© Marilyn Braun 2008