Saturday, December 20, 2008

Prince William's Raging Beard

You've got to hand it to Prince William. He's brilliant (well, in this instance or maybe I'm just reading too much into it). Growing a beard to throw us off the scent of dead pheasants and his relationship with Kate Middleton. Who knew a scruffy beard could be so distracting?

While we're focused on the color of the beard. What the RAF will make of this facial hair? Who will finally hand William the shaver? Liveried servant? maybe Kate might do the job herself. Or will William, with a stubborn and defiant streak running in his Spencer genes, make his own will known? Who will dare cross he who must be eventually obeyed? Would one ask the Queen to change her own hairstyle? Or suggest that Princess Anne go shopping? Probably not. Even if someone should have done so long ago

The important question to ask is, why did he grow the beard? Did he forget his shaving kit? Is he experimenting with his rapidly dwindling looks? Is it a manly right-of-passage? Is he growing hair for a potential transplant? Or did he grow it to remind himself that he can? In the absence of any real news, we have a myriad of fascinating possibilities to ponder.

But not everyone was as easily distracted. No. PETA jumped on the bandwagon and chastised Kate for 'dabbling in blood-sports'. Kate's fur hat just added fuel to the fire. The Telegraph even went so far as to write an article asking whether the beard would affect William's suitability for the throne. A poll on the British Royal Wedding blog asked the question: To Beard or Not to Beard? With 316 in favor to 159 against. Either people really like the look or the Republican movement reads the Telegraph and is looking for any excuse.

William may be reluctant to shave the beard. Kate is said to be devastated at the idea. Does he choose between the woman he loves, the monarchy, or the vagrant look? Yet another epic constitutional crisis prediction. Maybe the soothsayers might be right this time.

Kate's recent "wardrobe malfunction" can't even compete with the facial hair. Now Kate must know what Charles felt like with Diana. Instead of engagement bets, people are taking wagers on when William will shave. If William shaves his head, we may never hear about Kate again.

Someone hand Prince William a straight razor post-haste!

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Royal Report for Sunday December 14th, 2008 - Royal Year in Review

(Note that the Royal Report is on hiatus until the New Year. Happy Holidays!)

On this special edition of The Royal Report I revisited the highs, the lows, and news droughts of 2008.

You can listen to the episode here.

News Sources for this episode

Publications mentioned

Hello! Number 475 September 13, 1997

Diana - The People's Princess (published by Dennis Oneshots Ltd in 1997)

The Royal Line of Succession (Pitkin Pictorals 1972)

Articles mentioned

Television shows mentioned

The Tudors

Shameless Interview mention

The Royal Watcher on CBC Radio

Commemorative item mentioned

1953 Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Commemorative sewing kit

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Some Royal Questions and Answers

I love receiving royal questions and answering them. Some of them have inspired full articles, other times the questions only require a short answer. This is unfortunate since they are no less interesting. Sometimes I can't answer them, whether it's due to the scope or lack of expertise. In those cases I try to point the person in the right direction. I've decided to post some of the questions and answers. I hope you enjoy them.

Do you know the exact manufacturer and the name of Diana's wedding china that she chose?

As far as I can locate: Royal Worcester Evesham. You may want to confirm this with the General Trading Company where she was registered at the time of her wedding.

I have an item I'd like to sell [insert item description]. Can you tell me the value of it?

No. I'm not an expert on royal commemoratives. You may want to check with a local antique dealer who sells royal commemoratives, they might be able to assist. You could also try a search on eBay to see if someone is selling this item or one similar.

What do Prince Edward and Princess Sophie do? I have heard nothing about them for a long time in the media or blogs.

Any current information and activities of members of the royal family can be found by going to the official site:

I have some royal ancestors/history in my family. Can you tell me more about this?

Lucky you! No, I can't help with this. You may want to check out a genealogist or possibly a royal historian, they might be able to help you.

I've seen pictures of certain jewellery (brooches, earrings, rings..) worn by Camilla/The Queen, can you tell me more about the them?

I've written a few articles about royal jewels and tiaras. While the Queen does wear familiar brooches, some of Camilla's jewels are new or have never been worn publicly(or we haven't paid attention until now). Some of the "newer" brooches the Queen has worn might have come from the collection of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother or are redesigned older pieces. There are some very good books on royal jewels in general that you may find useful (see related links)There are also several threads on royal jewels at The Royal Forums (Scroll down). You might find your answer there.

Do you know where Kate Middleton is?

I wish I had that kind of insider information! Unfortunately I don't. For the best source of Kate updates go to The Kate Middleton Report - All Kate, all the time.

At what time did the British monarchy lose executive power over the United Kingdom? Why did this happen, and who was head of state at the time?


Has the roles of Princesses changed over time? (Are they considered more important today than they were yesterday?) What must a Princess do to gain popularity? Are there any qualities she should possess to win people’s hearts?

You know, there's nothing more satisfying that cracking open a book and doing your own homework...

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Related Articles:

Recommended Books: Royal Jewels
Jewels fit for a Queen
Question: The Queen's Pearls
Camilla's Tiara
Royal Focus: The Spencer Tiara

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Royal Profile: Sir George Pinker

A member of a family that can trace their history back to the Norman Conquest, he was possessed with a fine baritone voice. When he turned down a contract with the D'Oyle Carte Company to pursue a medical career, little did he know that in the process he would modernize the delivery of royal babies.

George Douglas Pinker was born on December 6th, 1924 in Calcutta, India, the second son of Queenie Elizabeth née Dix and Ronald Douglas Pinker, a horticulturist who worked for Sutton's Seeds for 40 years and headed the bulb and flower department for 25 years. At the time of George's birth he ran Sutton Seeds Indian Branch in Calcutta. His older brother Kenneth Hubert was born in Reading on September 15th, 1919.

Kenneth and George returned to England and were looked after by their aunts. At the age of four he and his brother were sent to the exclusive all-boys Reading School in the town of Reading, Berkshire, England. In 1942 he entered St Mary's Hospital Medical School, Paddington, qualifying as a doctor in 1947. As a student in 1946, when the Music Society put on its first post-war production, The Mikado, he sang one of the leading roles. His first brush with royalty came when Queen Elizabeth attended the performance as patron of both the hospital and the medical school, accompanied by the two young princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret.

During his time at St. Mary's he decided to specialize in obstetrics. He served in the Royal Army Medical Corps in Singapore, where he did much of his specialist training. He continued his training in Oxford and London. In 1958, at the age of 33, he was appointed a consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology in 1958 to St. Mary's Hospital and Samaritan Hospital for Women, both of which he served for the next 31 years. He also held the position of Consulting Gynaecological Surgeon to Middlesex Hospital, Soho hospital for women, Bolingbroke hospital in Battersea, and the Radcliffe Infirmary from 1969-1980. He accepted willingly an increasing involvement with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, serving as Honorary Treasurer, 1970-77. He was a past president of the British Fertility Society and supported the research that led to the birth in 1978 of Louise Brown, the first test-tube baby.

His work at the Royal College earned him international respect amongst obstetricians and gynaecologists. In 1980 he was elected Vice-President and finally President in 1987. Indeed, so respected is his opinion that to this day, according to his nephew Martin Pinker: "My daughter is expecting twins and she's been going to Mount Sinai hospital. All the top doctors in the hospital, all know George Pinker. The minute she goes in with the name Pinker they say, have you anything to do with George. 'Oh yes, he's my great-great uncle.' So she's getting very special attention. "

He gave his own special attention to his patients. Staff liked and respected him, and patients adored him, According to a family anecdote: "...during the interval an performance at the Royal Opera House a lady went into labor. The house manager knew that George was in the audience so he rushed into the Crush Bar and asked in anyone knew Sir George Pinker. At which point 20 - 70 women raised their hands." *

In 1964 he and several distinguished colleagues founded Childbirth Research Centre in 1964. It would eventually change it's name to Birthright in 1972. In the late nineties the name was changed again to Wellbeing of Women. Diana, Princess of Wales, whose two sons had been delivered by him, became a patron in 1984.

In 1973 he succeeded Sir John Peel as surgeon gynaecologist to the Queen. The youngest person to be appointed to the post, which he held until 1990. He would deliver nine royal babies, starting with the Earl of Ulster, Lady Rose Windsor, Lady Davina Windsor, Lord Frederik Windsor, Lady Gabriella Windsor, Peter Phillips, Zara Phillips, Prince William, and Prince Harry. All of these births took place at St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington. A significant break with royal tradition; prior to this all royal births had taken place at a royal residence.

He was appointed a CVO in 1983 and a KCVO in 1990. In the same year he authored the book 'Preparing for Pregnancy'. In 1991 he edited 'Clinical Gynecological Oncology'. He also contributed to several books - Diseases of Women by Ten Teachers (1964), Obstetrics by Ten Teachers (1964), A Short Textbook of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (1967).
His pastimes included a love of music, particularly Opera. He became assistant concert director of Reading Symphony Orchestra and then vice-president of the London Choral Society in 1988. He was a keen skier, sailor, gardener and hill-walker.

On March 31st, 1951 he married Dorothy Emma Russell, a former nurse. The couple would have four children: Catherine & Ian (twins), Robert and William. His wife died in 2003. In his last years he was disabled by Parkinson's disease and partial blindness and he died in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire on April 29 2007.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Thank you to Martin Pinker for information on Sir George's early years and Pinker family history. For more information on Martin Pinker visit this link.

* Trevor Pinker website: The Oxford

Related Articles:

Royal Christenings

Royal Births

Royal Baby Boom

Royal Baby Names