Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Princess Anne gets her due

She is an expert horsewoman and competed in the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

She one of the hardest working members of the royal family.

But yet these accomplishments pale in comparison to one dress worn twice in 27 years. Princess Anne might have now wished that she'd kept it in the closet. Fashion has now threatened to overtake all of her hard work. All the years spent trying to work hard for crown and country. Becoming known as a clotheshorse, albeit an economical one, as opposed to being recognized for her hard work. She must be shaking her head.

Despite earning plaudits for wearing the same outfit, and fitting in to it, people still criticized her lack of imagination with accessorizing. Anne has never been known for her fashion sense. She never had the glamour of her mother circa 1950's, wasn't in the same league as Diana. And probably couldn't care less; which shows.

"Poor Princess Anne..she's eighteen and nobody thinks she's a pretty girl.." as one woman's fashion magazine commented at the time. Princess Anne would never fit the fairy-tale princess mould, regardless of the lack of options the royal family had at the time. It took Diana to fill that void. Princess Anne must have breathed a sigh of relief. There is then a sense of irony that fashion plate Diana would eventually want the focus taken off her own clothes in favor of serious causes. But that would be a decade later. In that time Anne had been working, behind the scenes, on her own causes for over 20 years, namely Save the Children. Had she looked like Diana we might have even heard about it.

It's nothing new for royal women to recycle outfits. Camilla was recently seen in the same outfit she wore on 60th and 61st birthdays. Look at the Queen's fashions over the last 30 years and you'd find some old favorites trotted out time and again. She may not have been the most fashionable person, but her clothes have never detracted from who she is or the work she does. Her regal personage transcends fashion. She has even inspired designers the Autumn/Winter Dolce & Gabbana Collection. And in 2007 she named one of the world's most glamorous women by British Vogue Magazine. All while never catering to the fickle fashionistas. Something Princess Anne can only dream about.

The Princess now treads a fine line between being a fashion icon and being a hard working royal. She can be one or the other, but it seems not both. Will she risk it again?

Royal watchers and fickle fashionistas await her choice.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Related Articles

In Royal Fashion
Royal Profile: The Princess Royal

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Royal Report: Is Kate destined to remain a royal wedding guest?

Kate has recently attended her second royal wedding this year, sparking fresh speculation on an engagement. Will Kate become a royal bride or is she destined to remain a royal wedding guest?

You can listen to the podcast here.

There will be no shows on Sunday August 3rd and August 10th, 2008.

Tune in to the next Royal Report on Sunday August 17th, 2008 9:00PM EST (North America).

Topic to be determined!

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Royal Recipe: Spaghetti Bolognese

6 - 8 oz spaghetti
Parmesan Cheese

For the Bolognese sauce:

1 can tomatoes
1 small can tomato puree
approx 6 oz minced beef
2 oz mushrooms, finely chopped
1/2 pint good brown stock
2 oz butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, shreaded
1/2 - 1 clove of garlic (optional)

Source: Wikipedia CommonsHeat the butter in the pan, crush the garlic and gently fry it for 4-5 minutes along with the onion, mushrooms and carrot. Add the tomato puree and cook for a minute. Now stir in the minced beef and continue cooking until done. Add the stock and tomatoes, season to taste, and simmer until the sauce thickens.

The spaghetti should be cooked in briskly boiling salted water. Strain it and pour the sauce over it. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

Source: Dinner at Buckingham Palace Page 66.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Royal Report for Sunday July 20th, 2008: Should Chelsy Davy check herself before she wrecks herself?

The topic will be: Some recent photos of Chelsy Davy have appeared in the media showing her looking less than sober with her friends. Should she 'check herself before she wrecks herself?' or should we just mind our own business?

You can listen to the podcast here.

Tune in live to the next Royal Report on Sunday July 27th, 2008 9:00PM EST (North America).

The topic will be: Kate Middleton recently attended her second royal wedding this year, increasing speculation on an engagement. But will Kate Middleton ever be a royal bride or is she destined to remain a royal wedding guest?

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Royal Recipe: Bread and Butter Pudding

Wikipedia Commons: Nick Richards3 slices thin bread and butter
2 oz currants or sultanas
1 egg
1/2 pint milk
1/2 oz sugar

Grease a pie dish with butter and place it in a layer of bread and butter (butter side up), which has been cut into neat strips. Sprinkle with fruit and sugar. On top of this place another layer of bread and butter strips, and sprinkle them similarly. Continue until all has been used, remembering not to put fruit on the top layer.

Beat the egg and then add the milk, which should have been heated almost to boiling point. Strain this mixture over the bread, then grate the nutmeg over it. Allow to stand for 1/2 hour to allow the bread to swell. Now bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, until the pudding has set firm and is evenly browned on top.

Source: Dinner at Buckingham Palace page 170

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Royal Report for Sunday July 13th, 2008: A review of official British royal websites

On this episode I reviewed the official websites for the British monarchy, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York and Prince Michael of Kent.

You can listen to the podcast here.

Tune in live to the next Royal Report on Sunday July 20th, 2008 9:00PM EST (North America).

The topic will be: Some recent photos of Chelsy Davy have appeared in the media showing her looking less than sober with her friends. Should she 'check herself before she wrecks herself?' or should we just mind our own business?

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Friday, July 11, 2008

People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones at Chelsy Davy

I'm not normally one to pay too much attention to Chelsy Davy. Nor am I one to defend her. The way I figure it, in a few years she will be a footnote in royal girlfriend history. People who think she will be a royal bride are deluding themselves. No amount of rebranding will change that. But that's just my opinion. She could stand the test of time for all we know. I highly doubt it.

A recent post on the World of Royalty blog links to a story called Is this how a princess should behave? The article features photos of Chelsy being, well, the Chelsy the media presents to us: party-hearty, university student, whooping it up, cigarette and drink in hand. With nary Prince Harry in sight, looking less than sober, she is photographed on a man's shoulders, sitting in a tree, laughing and kissing one of her friends. A good time was obviously had by all. Until these photos were published.

It's nothing new to see photos of Chelsy looking bleary-eyed. For everything positive said about Kate Middleton, Chelsy is criticized. Maybe my opinion on Chelsy comes from these stories. Chelsy could be the most wonderful person in the world but you wouldn't know it by the press coverage she gets. The 'fag-smoking South African boozer' torn down by the media then raised up when she looks sober. A dizzying and humiliating roller-coaster. Chelsy must love Prince Harry in order to put up with it.

Is this how a princess should behave? Let's not forget that she's not a princess. Yet. Neither is Kate Middleton. Would we have seen photos of Princess Elizabeth, Princess Alexandra, Princess Anne or even Diana partying it up? Nope. In Princess Margaret's day, her long cigarette holders, 'racy' attitude, and heady romances was seen as scandalous. But this is a different generation. One filled with unscrupulous friends and camera phones. Now we're all flies on the wall.

Enjoy the show, from your glass house, while it lasts.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Royal Recipe: Soupe à l'Oignon

Image source: BBC Good Food 3 large onions
2 oz butter
2 oz cheese, grated
1 heaped teaspoon plain flour
1 teaspoon castor sugar
2 - 2 1/2 pints of water
French bread slices

Slice the onions into thin rings. In a thick pan, heat the butter then add the onion rings and season well. Keep stirring carefully over a medium heat, taking care not to burn the onions, until their color changes to golden brown. This should take at least 20 minutes. Next, steadily add the flour, stirring all the time. Pour in the water and sugar, and allow the pan to simmer gently for 15 minutes.

Spread the slices of French bread with a thin layer of butter and then evenly cover them with grated cheese. Now arrange them in a hot soup tureen and carefully pour in the soup. Cover the tureen and keep it warm for 5 minutes before serving.


Sieve the onions before pouring the soup into the tureen.

Evenly brown the bread and cheese beneath a hot grill before placing in the tureen.

Use vegetable stock instead of water and good dripping instead of butter.

From the book: Dinner at Buckingham Palace Page 41

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Royal Review - Diana Princess of Wales by Mario Testino

If you follow the life of Diana you've no doubt seen at least one photo from this, her last, photo session. Maybe you first saw them in the Vanity Fair issue, or you were lucky enough to see the exhibit at Kensington Palace. If, like me, you didn't then Diana: Princess of Wales by Mario Testino will make up for it.

I love royal books with pictures in them. To me, a photo can tell more fascinating stories than any rehashed royal anecdote. And I can spend hours looking at them and still discover something new, whether it'd be a rarely seen brooch, to a redesigned outfit, to Victorian royal photos that show relationships before they were destroyed by World War One. Sometimes words get in the way.

This book is not new. And I'd held out buying it, possibly because I didn't want to see the new Diana, whose face had taken on a hard and rather high maintenance look. But for some inexplicable reason I was compelled to buy it now. Although it isn't new, the photographs are still as fresh and revealing as they were 10 years ago. Their naturalness transending the normal dating effects of fashion and hairstyle trends.

In her life she was photographed by many of the worlds reknowed photographers: Snowdon Patrick Lichfield, Patrick Demarchier, Terrence Donovan, Jayne Fincher, Tim Graham, and she looked different in each one. But I'm at a loss to find, amongst any of their photos, ones as iconic as Mario Testino's session. And had this session been photographed by anyone else, I highly doubt they would have produced such compelling images. The photos were taken to support the sale of her dresses, two sessions, one with Snowdon for the catalogue, the other with Testino for Vanity Fair, and there is a marked difference. Diana looks stiff and uncomfortable in the Snowdon session. Indeed, when my husband saw some of the Snowdon photos he asked: "Is that really her?"

To Prince William and Prince Harry the Testino photos definately are. They personally chose photos from this session for the Concert for Diana programme and have said that the photos represent most accurately the mother they really knew. There can be no better endorsement than that.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Royal Report for Sunday July 6th, 2008: What gives better value? The British Monarchy or Starbucks Coffee?

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?

You can listen to the podcast here.

Tune in live to the next Royal Report on Sunday July 13th, 2008 9:00PM EST (North America). The topic will be a review of the Official royal websites. The best ones, the worst ones, which ones to avoid. Which ones do you think are the best?

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Question: Princess Diana's wedding bouquet

Do you happen to know how much Princess Diana's wedding bouquet weighed? My sister had an exact replica of her bouquet for her wedding. I was only 13 at the time but i recall it being extremely heavy.

Thank you for your question.

The wedding bouquet that Diana, Princess of Wales carried for her wedding in 1981 was made by Longmans Florists, who also designed and made the bouquet for the Queen when she married in 1947. The bouquet was a gift from the Worshipful Company of Gardeners.

The bouquet, 42" long and 15" wide, was of a cascading shower design similar to those from Edwardian times. It set a trend for wedding bouquets which up to that point at been comparably small. The designers of her wedding dress, David and Elizabeth Emanuel wanted Diana to have a large bouquet, as a small one would have obviously been dwarfed by the size of her dress. The flowers that comprised the bouquet were:

Odontoglossum Orchid (Royal Wedding)
Lily of the Valley
Earl Mountbatten Roses
Hedera (Ivy)
Veronica (Hebe)

It's worth noting that it is a royal wedding tradition for a sprig of myrtle, from the bush grown from the original myrtle in Queen Victoria's wedding bouquet, to be included. The Earl of Mountbatten roses were a tribute to Prince Charles' "Uncle Dickie" Lord Louis Mountbatten, who had died in 1979. The yellow color of the rose incidentally inspired the bridesmaid dresses.

Three bouquets were made, one for the practice the night before the wedding, the second was delivered to St. James' Palace. The third was taken to Buckingham Palace on the day of the wedding and used for the formal photographs. As per royal wedding tradition, at least one of them would have been placed after the wedding on the tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey.

Unfortunately, the Longman family sold their business a few years ago so there's no way to ask them about the specific weight. But according to the press release for the wedding bouquet: 'It is well balanced,and although heavier than most carried nowadays the distribution should not be too tiresome for the Bride.'

Whatever the weight, lets hope there was no bouquet toss; she could have seriously injured someone in the process!

Update: I was able to find out the information on the weight of the bouquet. It weighed approximately between 2-3 kilo's. Thank you to Yoko Hansen for providing this info!

© 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.

Bouquet Information Source:

A Dress for Diana by David Emanuel and Elizabeth Emanuel

Related article:

Royal Weddings

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Royal Review - Royal Collection Publications

On of my dreams in life is to sneak into the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle, specifically to see all of the old photographs and mementos from significant events in the last 150 years. While that's never likely to happen, the following books are probably the closest I'll ever get to seeing the inside. The Royal Collection has released many interesting books but I think these stand out as more personal and accessible.

Charles, Prince of Wales: A Birthday Souvenir Album. Released in May 2008 this book is a companion to the exhibit at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the upcoming 60th birthday of The Prince of Wales. This book is a portrait of the prince from his earliest years to the present day, it features mementos, never before seen items and rare photographs. It is divided into sections: Early Years, Prince of Wales, Family Life, and Interests and Charities. It also includes nice personal touches with comments from Prince Charles on his favorite works of art, all personally selected for inclusion in this book.

Five Gold Rings - A Royal Wedding Souvenir Album. Published to mark the Diamond wedding anniversary of the Queen and Prince Philip. A first for any British Sovereign. Of all of the books, this one is my favorite. I love royal weddings and to have an insight from the royal family is indeed a treat. Covering weddings from Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth II it features photos of the wedding dresses, music, illustrations, invitations, presents, jewels and charming mementos evoking memories of these special days.

Noble Hounds and Dear Companions from the Royal Photograph Collection. I admit that I'm not a dog person, I bought this book strictly for the old photographs. It features the pets of each monarch from Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth II. It is interesting to see the royal family in unguarded moments with their pets. The warmth of the relationship clearly evident through the generations. The cover photo is a good example of this. But there's also a certain sad poignancy to this particular photograph; can you imagine the future King George V looking at one of his children this way? Unlike the other books, which rely on mementos to tell the story, this one covers the topic in great detail, with descriptions of each monarch's favorite pets and breed preference at the end.

Queen Elizabeth II - A Birthday Souvenir Album. Released to celebrate the 80th birthday of Her Majesty. Unlike the book to celebrate Prince Charles' birthday, this is less personal but no less interesting. The book starts with a news clipping from the April 21st, 1926 Court Circular, which announces her birth, matter-of-factly, in one sentence. An unremarkable start to a royal life that would be anything but. Instead of page numbers, each year has pages to itself, starting with 1926 and ending with 2006. The book is filled with charming items: christening gifts, dolls, letters, her account of the 1937 Coronation ceremony, ration card, ATS uniform, to name a few. In the later years the items become less personal. Which I think strikes a balance between the person and her role. Something which very few (if any) other publications have achieved.

© Marilyn Braun 2008