Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Royal Report: Diana - Have we finally moved on?

On this episode I discussed the 11th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales and whether people have finally moved on.

You can listen to the podcast here.

Books mentioned:

The People's Princess by Larry King
Diana by Sarah Bradford
The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown

Websites mentioned:

The World of Royalty Message Board

There will be no Royal Report on Sunday September 7th. The show will return on Sunday September 14th, 2008. Topic TBD.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Royal Report: Review of the worst Official Royal Websites

On this episode I reviewed what I consider to be the worst official royal websites for Monaco, Belgium and Japan.

You can listen to the podcast here.

Good sites mentioned:

The Royal Representative
Forbes: The World's Richest Royals

Links for the worst sites:

Prince's Palace of Monaco
Official site for the Belgian Monarchy
The Imperial Household Agency Homepage

The next episode of The Royal Report will be on Sunday August 31st, 2008 9:00PM EST (North America)

The topic will be: This year will mark the 11th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Have we finally moved on?

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Royal Report for Sunday August 17th, 2008: Review of the Official Scandinavian Royal Websites

On this episode I review the Official Sites for the Danish, Norwegian, Swedish monarchies. Included is a review of the official site for the Crown Prince and Princess of Denmark.

You can listen to the show here.

Books mentioned in this podcast:

Queen Victoria A Biography in Word and Picture by Helmut and Alison Gernsheim

Anne & Mark: Photographs by Srdja Djukanovic Text by Judith Campbell

Splendour at Court: Dressing for Royal Occasions since 1700 by Nigel Arch and Joanna Marschner

Tune in to The Royal Report on Sunday August 24th, 2008 9:00PM EST.

The topic will be a review of the Official Royal Websites that I loathe.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Changing Face of Royalty

When I was a little girl, my image of what a Princess should be came from Cinderella and Princess Diana. It would be easy to think that Disney's representation of Cinderella is the definitive image, but as I grew up and became more familiar with world royalty I realized that this is not the reality. Times have changed and now we see Princess Tiana, the first black Disney princess, in the upcoming film The Princess and the Frog.

There are many examples of how royalty has changed: Princess Maxima of the Netherlands is from Buenos Aires, Grand Duchess Maria Theresa of Luxembourg is from Cuba, When Lady Rose Windsor, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, married Gary Lewis, he became the first person of Māori descent to marry into the British royal family. Peter Phillips' bride, Autumn Kelly became the first Canadian to do so. Alexandra Manley, born in Hong Kong, became a significant addition to Denmark's ruling family when she married Prince Joachim in 1995. She was the first person of Asian heritage to marry into a sitting European ruling house. They have since divorced and Alexandra is now titled Alexandra, Countess of Frederiksborg. Another example, though lesser known, is Princess Angela of Liechtenstein, currently the only black princess in a reigning European house.

Royalty has come a long way from the times where they could only marry royalty. It was not considered proper for them to marry outside of their class. If they did so, it was usually without permission of the sovereign. Usually they were stripped of title, rank or the like and their marriages were known as morganatic. As the years went by, and many royal houses fell by the wayside, available royal spouses grew scarce. Therefore spouses were chosen from the aristocracy. Despite her pedigree, in 1923 Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon became the first commoner to marry into the royal family in several centuries. In 2001 Prince Haakon of Norway married Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby, a single mother and former waitress. In 2004, Prince Felipe of Spain married Letizia Ortiz, who had been previously married in a civil ceremony. In 2005, Camilla Parker Bowles married Prince Charles. What once would never have been allowed, let alone considered, now seems to be commonplace. And even a reflection of reality.

The inspiration for this article came from an email I received about Princess Angela of Liechtenstein. That as the first black princess in a European dynasty, she received little media recognition. Indeed, prior to that email I wasn't even aware of her. Unfortunately I couldn't find enough unique information to do a royal profile but I had to wonder, should people gain recognition solely based on who they are married to? People may be proud to have their heritage represented in public figures, but, in itself, marrying into royalty isn't necessarily an accomplishment. It's something few people can aspire to. Some might consider it a step backward. Giving up who you are as an individual to be put on a wobbly pedestal? Is it worth it? When you are only defined by who you are married to what happens to the person you were before it? Marrying royalty can even be seen as an unrealistic goal better left to the imagination of Hollywood film-makers. The person who emailed wondered whether race was a factor in the lack of media coverage of her. I think this is less about race and more about the low profile of the royal family she married into. In fact, she isn't even mentioned on the official site. Read what you will into that.

I don't necessarily think that any of these women have changed the way people look at royalty. Meaning they haven't made royalty more accessible or promoted any greater understanding of civil marriages, single parenthood, divorce, race, or even their respective nationalities. It was inevitable for royalty to marry commoners but that doesn't make it remarkable. Autumn Kelly, as the first Canadian to marry into the British royal family, doesn't change anything for me. It doesn't fill me with any sense of national pride. Nor should it.

Cinderella and Princess Tiana are characters from a Disney film. Neither reflects reality. Royal women of today are accomplished, poised and multicultural. Regardless of their background, they have become assets to their respective royal dynasties.

Let's hope that never changes.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Related articles:

A Cinderella Story
Royal Profile - Princess Battenberg

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Royal Profile: Raine Spencer

Headline-maker, society beauty, recording artist, television personality, politician, force of nature. Raine Spencer is all of these things. And it all started in the womb.

Raine McCorquodale was born on September 9, 1926 weighing 7lbs 10 3/4 oz. in London. She was the daughter of the famous romance novelist Barbara Cartland and her first husband, Alexander George McCorquodale an Army officer and heir to a printing fortune. Raine was destined for success from the moment she was born. 'When I was carrying my daughter, I was determined she should be beautiful and I not only looked at Beauty but thought it'. Barbara Cartland revealed. Her mother chose the Gaelic name Raine because she thought it sounded romantic. She was christened at St Margaret's Westminster. Schooled from birth on the importance of being socially acceptable, she was a society baby breathlessly written about in Vogue magazine, Glasgow Evening News, and The Daily News. At six months old she was diagnosed with a enlarged thymus gland. Her treatment was £15,000-worth of radium strapped to her chest while she slept.

Her parents divorced in 1936 and in the same year her mother remarried her former husband's cousin, Hugh McCorquodale, and they had two sons, Ian and Glen. Educated by a governess at home. During World War 2 she was briefly sent to Canada. When she returned, she became a weekly boarder at the fashionable Owlstone Croft School. Intelligent and at the top of her class she was known for paying a lot of attention to her appearance.

She came out as a debutante in 1947 at the Queen Charlotte Ball and she was voted 1947 Debutante of the year. She met Gerald Humphrey Legge, heir presumptive to the Earldom of Dartmouth (9th Earl of Dartmouth) when she was sixteen. They were married on July 21, 1948 at St Margaret's Westminster and honeymooned in France. Fifteen months after her marriage, Raine gave birth to her first child, a son William. She would have three more children, Rupert born in 1951, Charlotte in 1963 and Henry in 1968.

In 1954 she made headlines in a situation that would become known as 'the storm in a filthy teapcup' when in the lounge of London airport she noticed tables covered with dirty coffee cups and cigarette ash. After politely asking for the tables to be cleaned but having been given the run-around, she lost her temper. Her outburst made the headlines the following day. Her fifteen minutes of fame continued and she received innumerable invitations to judge appear at and open events. In March 1955 she made her television debut as a story-teller in a programme called Snapshot. She also made a record on the HMV label called 'I'm in Love' written by her mother Barbara Cartland with the proceeds going to charity.

Her television career continued in 1957 when she appeared with her mother and grandmother on an ITV programme called Success Story. In 1958 her husband became Viscount Lewisham and Raine became Lady Lewisham. In October 1962 Gerald and Raine became the Earl and Countess of Dartmouth. She continued to appear regularly on television shows and radio and in the press she was referred to as 'Lady D'.

Active in numerous organizations and Councils as well as holding positions in local politics, it was through her work on the Greater London Council book called What is our Heritage? that she would meet Johnnie Spencer. Edward "Johnnie" the 8th Earl Spencer, first husband of Frances Shand-Kydd and the father of Diana, Princess of Wales found he had much in common with Raine. Coincidently, during their schooldays at Eton, Johnnie Spencer and the Earl of Dartmouth had been good friends. In 1976 she divorced from Gerald, and two months after her divorce, on July 14th of the same year, Raine and Johnnie married in London's Caxton Hall. The marriage was not a popular one with his children, who knew nothing about it until after it happened. The would go on to famously nickname her 'Acid Raine'. She would eventually run further afoul of them when she sold treasures and art work that had belonged to the Spencer family for generations.
In 1978 Johnnie Spencer collapsed with a near fatal brain haemorrahage. He had a stroke and the prognosis was not good. But Raine refused to give up and she contacted everyone she knew with medical connections to find the best place for him to be treated. He remained in a coma for two months and remained in the hospital for two months longer. He eventually recovered well enough to walk his daughter down the aisle at her 1981 wedding.
After her husband's death in 1992, she married French aristocrat, Count Jean-Franois Pineton de Chambrun in 1993 after a 33 day courtship. They were divorced in January 1995.
Along with the aforementioned What is Our Heritage? She has written Do You Care About Historic Buildings? Are Historic Buildings Really Necessary? Japan and the East, Althorp - A Short History of Althorp and the Spencer Family in 1982 and The Spencers on Spas in 1983
She is a member of the board of directors of Harrods - the department store owned by Mohammed Al Fayed, the father of Dodi Al Fayed, who was killed in a car crash with Diana, Princess of Wales.
© Marilyn Braun 2008

Monday, August 04, 2008

I'm off to the Slushie Capital of Canada!

Yes, I'm off to Winnipeg, Manitoba - the Slushie and murder capital of Canada.

As such I won't be able to update this blog next week. But feel free to browse my archive (the friendly little drop down menu on the sidebar at left). There are lots of gems in there. Like some of the best things, sometimes you have to dig for them. But it's worth it, I promise!

Take care,


© Marilyn Braun 2008

Friday, August 01, 2008

Daily Splice Interview

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Daily Splice about The Royal Report.

Here's what they said on their site about this interview:

Marilyn Braun is one of Canada’s authorities on the Royal Family and has a blog that is a central resources for everything Royal. We had the pleasure of talking to her about her podcast, the Royal Report. It’s definitely a great podcast to add to your list on DailySplice if you love Royalty, or even if you are just interested in learning more. We hope you enjoy the interview!

Daily Splice is a program that allows users to create their own tailor-made “radio-program” using their favorite podcasts.

© Marilyn Braun 2008