Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Royal Review: Style and Splendor

It's only been in the last 10 years or so that I've developed a true appreciation for royal fashion. Prior to that, I thought that they were just overpriced outfits and gowns. However after seeing the the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2001, and in 2002 the Elite Elegance haute couture exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum, I changed my mind. The sheer craftsmanship of these gowns is breathtaking to see up-close, and one can only wonder just how the wearer felt in them.

Style and Splendor - The Wardrobe of Queen Maud of Norway by Anne Kjellberg and Susan North covers outfits, accessories and gowns that she wore both as a princess and later as the Queen of Norway from 1896 to 1938.

The mother of King Olav V and the sister of Prince Albert Victor and Princess Victoria Alexandra , Princess Maud of Wales was not destined to be Queen. It was only when the Norwegians had a referendum in 1905 that the country elected to have a monarchy. As a result, Princess Maud and her husband Prince Carl of Denmark came to the throne as King Haakon VII and Queen Maud of Norway.

Unlike her sister-in-law Queen Mary, who for the majority of her life seemed stuck in a fashion time-warp pre-1914, Queen Maud wore the latest designs up until her death in 1938. This book showcases her fashions: coronation gown, day outfits, accessories, and gorgeous evening dresses in striking detail with beautiful photos, descriptions and information the designer.

I bought this book shortly after it came out and I was somewhat disappointed at how small it was. The contents definitely make up for any shortcomings in that area. And the book is well worth the price if you're interested in fashion from the period or royal fashion in general.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Royal Review: Kate Middleton: Princess in Waiting by Claudia Joseph

Until Kate - Kate Middleton: Princess in Waiting was published, the only other book about her was Robert Jobson's William's Princess. I was looking forward to reading Claudia Joseph's biography if only to see whether one could be written that does Kate justice. This book does just that. From the first page it is very clear that Joseph has done her homework - unlike Jobson.

Starting with her great-great-great-great grandparents, the author traces Kate's paternal and materal lives back to Queen Victoria's time. Her ancestry continuously running parallel to that of the royal family. But it's difficult to compare backgrounds with the royals. Anyone, including Kate's family will always come up short. They will always appear humble and common, making them no more remarkable than yours or mine.

Yet the comparisons do not end there as the lives of Kate's maternal and paternal ancestry is reviewed. One thing that I had a hard time with is just as I was getting into the maternal life story, it ended and the next chapter moved on to the paternal side. Constantly going back and forth between families was distracting. Just as you feel as though one side has moved further away from their humble backgrounds, you are returned to the other side still working on achieving that goal.

But the details are extraordinary. Joseph doesn't just write that Kate's family worked in coal mines, she actually describes their lives filled with hardship, illness, death. Making it far more interesting than the brief glimpses of the comparative glittering royal existence, which only serves to highlight the hardships. This is unnecessary; Kate's humble beginnings stand on their own. However, they're constantly portrayed as social climbers for simply wanting a better existence.

Eventually both sides rise in status and we are brought to the lives of Kate's parents, glossing over their current backgrounds and Kate's early life. The book then switches to the relevant history of William and Kate's relationship, making it little different from Jobson's. It also occasionally deviates into romance novel territory, just phrased differently.

Without an engagement I think both books are somewhat premature, although should one be announced, Joseph's could serve as a good primer for Kate's early family history. Ultimately neither one reveals anything new in William and Kate's relationship that can't and hasn't be read elsewhere.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Royal Review: William's Princess by Robert Jobson

I’ve had a hard time finding something nice to say about William's Princess by Robert Jobson. All I could come up with is that it has nice photos and at some point it must have had the potential to be better.

For people outside of the UK, the name Kate Middleton may mean absolutely nothing. But her name means a lot to royal watchers, with reactions ranging from idolatry to downright hatred. In case you’re wondering, Kate Middleton is the girlfriend of Prince William, the son of Prince Charles and the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Wills and Kate have been dating for seven or eight years and when it comes to their relationship, there is no middle ground.

The book starts off with Robert Jobson getting an exclusive tip to a big story: the engagement of Charles and Camilla. Is he trying to prove his credentials? The “About the Author” covers his award winning career as a commentator. His first book was Diana: Closely Guarded Secret, co-written with Ken Wharfe (which I actually enjoyed). So now that we’ve gotten that out of the way we can focus on Kate, right?


Considering the title: William’s Princess. You’d think the focus would be on Kate. Well, indirectly it does. It starts with rehashing Charles’s love history, then Diana’s. I guess trying to predict William’s attitude towards marriage, so that when Jobson finally gets around to William, we’re primed and ready. William ‘has fallen in love young’, is ‘determined to not throw it away’, but ‘will not be bullied into marrying one of his own’. So now that we’ve established that William has a mind of his own, we can focus on Kate, right?


Ultimately, this book has next to nothing to do with Kate. Possibly because so little is on record about her. She’s ultimately portrayed as an attractive, confident, tolerant accessory in William’s life. Published prior to their April 2007 split, to Jobson, it’s a foregone conclusion that Kate will be William’s bride. Kate’s middle-class background is focused on, with a rather weak attempt to include some royal links in her family history. The importance of finding a suitable bride is covered in detail. But sometimes the book reads like a romance novel. Case in point:

…the turquoise waters of the Caribbean glimmered and gave way to emeralds, pinks and reds as the sun dipped towards the sea on the horizon. The sky glowed they sat in the cocktail bar..sipping their exotic drinks and absorbed in each other’s company…

If that doesn’t make you squirm then speculation on Kate’s virginity is sure to:

..the delicate matter of whether her virginity is still intact may not be an issue yet tackled…


If you’re interested in reading about speculation on Prince William and Kate Middleton’s relationship, then this is the book for you.

Just don't expect to find much about Kate herself in it.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Royal Report for Sunday December 20, 2009 - The Royal year in review

On this episode: Did any of the predictions I made in 2008 come true? Which minor royal had a baby and married this year? Do the Queen and Prince Philip Twitter? Is Prince Andrew the next Tiger Woods?

Listen to this episode to find out!

Resources used for this episode:

World of Royalty Website
World of Royalty Blog
Royal News Blog
Netty's Royalty Pages
The Kate Middleton Report

My gratuitous article mention!

The Globe and Mail - I'm a Royal Bibliomaniac

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada Weekly no 153 7 December 2009
Hello! Canada Weekly no 154 14 December 2009
Hello! Canada Weekly no 155 21 December 2009

The show will be on hiatus during the holiday season. The Royal Report will return LIVE on Sunday January 11th, 2010 9:00 PM EST.

Topic to be determined

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Royal Profile: Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck

The final arrival in the royal marriage race that began with the death of Princess Charlotte in 1817, she was a first cousin of Queen Victoria and the mother of Queen Mary.

Princess Mary Adelaide Wilhelmina Elizabeth, the second daughter of Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, was born in Hanover on November 27th, 1833. Her father was the youngest and favorite son of King George III and her mother was Princess Augusta, youngest daughter of the Landgrave Frederick of Hesse. Princess Mary was christened on January 9, 1834 and named after her godparents: Mary, Duchess of Gloucester (her father's favorite sister), Queen Adelaide, King William IV, and Princess Elizabeth, the Landgravine of Hesse-Homburg. She had one sister, Princess Augusta and a brother, Prince George, born three days after Queen Victoria.

Her early years were spent at the Viceregal Palace and Villa Montbrilliant. At the age of three she was taken to England with her mother and they stayed at Windsor Castle. William IV was fond of his god-child and gave her a gold chain and locket containing his hair. In 1837 the family moved to England first living in Cambridge House Piccadilly, and then Cambridge Cottage in Kew. Princess Mary Adelaide, her sister Princess Augusta and their parents attended the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1838 and later her wedding in 1840.

At the age of seven she began her education, being taught by a governess at home. She took lessons in Latin, Scripture history, and Italian, along with lessons in dancing, and music. She had a particular interest in history and geography. When she was fourteen, her mother later took over her education. Mary was an excellent mimic, had a beautiful mezzo-soprano voice and enjoyed the opera and theatre. She was tall, with ash-blonde, wavy hair, dark blue eyes and a good complexion. But Mary Adelaide had problems with her size. While she had been a striking child with pretty blonde curls, later on she was known rather unflatteringly as 'Fat Mary' or 'Mary the mountain' yet despite her size she moved with a natural grace. She was confirmed on December 19, 1850.

She spent her childhood days at Kew. Her father died in 1850 when she was seventeen-years-old. She and her mother moved from Cambridge Cottage to St. James Palace. At the time it was thought that she should find a husband of wealth and standing. Queen Victoria, intrigued by match-making, joined in the hunt. Her suitors were restricted to the royal blood, and members of the British aristocracy were not considered.

In 1866, through Bertie and Alexandra (the future King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra) she met Prince Francis of Teck - as a serene highness he was of lower rank, four years younger and had no money. On April 6th they became engaged during a stroll in the Rhododendron Walk in Kew Gardens and the couple were married on June 12, 1866 in the little church on Kew Green. Because of the differences in their ranks, the marriage was morganatic and their children were 'Serene Highnesses' instead of 'Royal Highnesses'. The newlyweds were given the apartments at Kensington Palace that Queen Victoria had lived in as a child. Their first child, the future Queen Mary was born on May 26th, 1867, in the same room that Queen Victoria herself had been born. They had three more children - Adolphus (Dolly) on August 13, 1868, Francis (Frank) on January 9, 1870 and Alexander (Alge) on April 14th, 1874.

Mary Adelaide inherited the trait of her 'wicked uncles' the sons of George III. Money had no meaning to her and she believed the the British public should support its royals. She was generous beyond her means in the field of charity, her main extravagance was entertaining. To avoid her creditors, in 1883 she and her family fled to Florence Italy. They returned in 1885 and she managed to get permission to have White Lodge, a grace and favor residence in Richmond Park, as a rural retreat.

In 1891 her daughter Princess Mary became engaged to Prince Albert Victor . Shortly before their wedding he died and a year later she became engaged to his brother, Prince George, the future King George V.

Princess Mary Adelaide died 27 October 1897 at White Lodge, Richmond Park, Surrey, and was buried in the royal vault at St. George's Chapel, Windsor.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Question: Courtesy titles

If the daughter of a duke or marquess or earl who bore the courtesy title "Lady Mary Smith," married Mr. John Jones who was subsequently knighted by the Queen, would she continued to be called "Lady Mary Jones" or would she be called "Lady Jones" by virtue of her husband's being Sir John Jones?
With courtesy titles there is a difference between those who possess the title birth and those who acquire it by marriage.

I will offer Lady Helen Windsor as an example. As the daughter of the Duke of Kent, she is entitled to the courtesy title of 'Lady'. When she married Timothy Taylor, she took his surname and became Lady Helen Taylor. Now if Timothy Taylor were to receive a knighthood, she would still be Lady Helen Taylor because her courtesy title as the daughter of a Duke, outranks her husband's knighthood.

Another example would be the late Diana, Princess of Wales' sister, Lady Jane Fellowes. When she was born, her father was Viscount Althorp and she was known as The Honorable Cynthia Jane Spencer. Upon her father becoming Earl Spencer in 1975, she became The Lady Cynthia Jane Spencer (though she prefers to use her middle name). When she married, she took her husband's surname and became Lady Jane Fellowes. Her husband, Robert Fellowes, was knighted, but this did not change her title, as the daughter of an Earl, this again outranked his knighthood.

However, in 1999, Sir Robert Fellowes was granted a Life Peerage and became Baron Fellowes, of Shotesham in the County of Norfolk. When this happened Lady Jane took the style Baroness Fellowes, or more informally Lady Fellowes, which, believe it or not, is actually a demotion as Baron is the lowest rank of the peerage and Lady Jane is the daughter of an Earl - one of the top three peerages.

Now, in the reverse, when the husband is given a knighthood, the wife is entitled to be known as Lady (husband's surname). An example of this would be Paul McCartney. When he was knighted, his wife took the courtesy title Lady McCartney - at the time this was Heather Mills McCartney. She could not be known as Lady Heather McCartney because she took the title from her husband instead of her father. Unlike Lady Helen Taylor, who takes the title from her father instead of her husband.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Royal Review: The Young Victoria

I'll admit. Were it not for Sarah Ferguson's, (Duchess of York) involvement in this film I would have more than likely dismissed it as just another straight to DVD royal movie. Nice to eventually loan from the library but not something I would rush out to see otherwise.

However, with Sarah Ferguson's involvement I was somewhat intrigued by the idea. When I think of Queen Victoria I think of her later in life: the mournful, unsmiling, imposing, matriarch of a large extended inter-married royal family. I don't think of her as young, passionate and inexperienced. I also don't think of her as beautiful when portraits of her were said to be far more flattering than what she actually looked like in person.

Covering the period of her early teens and touching on the death of Prince Albert (sorry if I've given away the ending) The Young Victoria shows a princess under the thumb of her mother and advisor Sir John Conroy who want Victoria to sign a regency on her sickbed to put her mother in charge and Conroy the power behind the throne. However, Victoria is no docile princess. She is spirited and defiant and once she becomes Queen, Conroy and her mother are immediately jettisoned from her court.

But they're not the only ones with an agenda as politicians dismiss Victoria as too young and inexperienced, and Lord Melborne portraying himself as her protector and confidant. Then there's the King of the Belgians desire to infiltrate the court via his nephew, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Yet while Prince Albert initially does what's required of him, no one predicted that the new Queen and Prince Albert would actually develop feelings for each other. This makes those with agendas jealous, especially when the couple's loyalty to one another excludes them.

Although they are passionate, they are not without their disagreements. As Prince Albert struggles to find a meaningful role, Victoria becomes threatened by any interference to her power. After this fight, the couple go for a carriage ride and an assassination attempt is made on Victoria. Albert shields her with his body and is shot, suffering grievous injuries. He survives and Victoria realizes how important Albert is to her and gives him a more important role, illustrated by moving his desk next to hers and jettisoning her longtime servant and confidant, Baroness Lehzen.

Emily Blunt, (The Devil Wears Prada) portrays Queen Victoria in the bloom of her youth, as human and passionate - two qualities you wouldn't normally associate with her. Prince Albert is portrayed by the handsome Rupert Friend. Like Victoria, his looks may not be historically accurate, but using such photogenic actors makes their passion much more convincing. Mark Strong plays the glowering Sir John Conroy, Jim Broadbent is wonderful, hamming it up as Victoria's uncle, King William IV, Paul Bettany plays the charming, paternal and influential Lord Melborne and Victoria's great-great-great-great granddaughter Princess Beatrice has a minor cameo during the coronation scene.

Ultimately this film offers no great revelations but it's enjoyable and a good movie to watch if you'd like to see a side of Queen Victoria that most of us may be unfamiliar with.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Royal Report for Sunday December 6, 2009 - A look back at the Queen and Prince Philip's 62 years of marriage

On this episode, which royal will not be going into outer space? What does the Lord Chamberlains office think of William and Kate's wedding planner? Why do I have a bone to pick with Hello! Canada?

Listen to this episode to find out.

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada Weekly No 153 7 December 2009

The Little Princesses: The Story of the Queen's Childhood by Marion Crawford


60 Diamond Wedding Anniversary Facts

Philip and Elizabeth: Portrait of a Royal Marriage by Gyles Brandreth

Five Gold Rings - A Royal Wedding Souvenir Album from Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth II by Jane Roberts

There will be no episode next week but The Royal Report will return on Sunday December 20th, 2009 at 9:00PM EST.

Topic to be determined.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Royal Romance Report - Sunday November 29th, 2009

How did the Queen make a 110 year old subject's day? Should Prince Philip wear socks with sandals? Does Princess Eugenie play for the other team?

Listen to this episode to find out.

Publications mentioned

Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother - The Official Biography by William Shawcross

Elizabeth, The Queen Mother by Hugo Vickers

Hello! Canada Weekly No 151 23 November 2009
Hello! Canada Weekly No 152 30 November 2009

Websites mentioned

World of Royalty

Tune in LIVE to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday December 6, 2009 at 9:00PM EST.

The topic will be: After 62 years of marriage, a look back at the Queen and Prince Philip's marriage.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Royal Report for Sunday November 22nd, 2009 - A look back at Canadian Royal Tours Part 2

Which heir to the throne shook 24,855 hands during his visit to Canada? When and where did the Queen make her first televised broadcast? What will I miss most about Charles and Camilla's visit?

Listen to this episode to find out!

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada Weekly No 150 16 November 2009
Hello! Canada Weekly No 151 23 November 2009

Website mentioned

The Royal Forums - Royal Jewels Thread

Resources used

Canada's Queen by Patti Tasko

The Queen's Tour of Canada Souvenir Edition by Trevor Hall

Fifty Years the Queen Arthur Bousfield & Garry Toffoli

Charles and Diana visit Canada by David Levenson and Trevor Hall

Royal Canada - A History of Royal visits since 1786 - by Trevor Hall

Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal Family in Canada (Golden Jubilee) - Stewart House Publishing

Tune in LIVE to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday November 29, 2009 at 9:00PM EST.

The topic will be: The Royal Romance Report - November edition

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

Charles and Camilla's Canadian Royal Tour - Day 10 & 11

On day 10 in Canada Charles and Camilla arrived at the National War Memorial for Remembrance Day in Ottawa. The couple attended the ceremony, along with the Prime Minister and Governor General to take part in a ceremony to 'remember and honour the more than 1,500,000 Canadian men and women who have served, and continue to serve, their country during times of war, conflict and peace.' Afterwards they headed to CFB Petawawa where they visited soldiers and their families.

Later on in the evening they attended a reception and dinner hosted by Their Excellencies at Rideau Hall.

The next day they planted an red oak sapling in the grounds of Rideau Hall as a commemoration of their visit. After an 11 day tour with stops in St. John's, Toronto, Victoria, Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa which included partaking in 55 events they departed for England.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Charles and Camilla's Canadian Royal Tour - Day 9

Charles and Camilla arrived back in Ontario, visiting Ottawa - the capital of Canada. They began their day visiting the Queen's representative, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada and His Excellency Jean-Daniel Lafond. They stayed on the grounds of Rideau Hall, the Governor General's residence and the usual place for them to stay when in Ottawa.

Later on the couple met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen. As 'Four Canadian Rangers stood guard in their trademark red sweaters' the two couples chatted. The PM handed the Prince two Ranger caps and sweaters for his sons, declaring them honorary members. The Prince chuckled and said 'I hope they fit' to which Mrs Harper replied 'One size fits all.'

Now, is that before or after they're washed? Oh nevermind..

The prince later met Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, who in a 1992 article in the Montreal Gazette had written "Now is the time for the republican tradition in Britain to find its voice again". On this visit he voiced no such sentiment to Prince Charles' face. Maybe he realized that this is one of those inside your head thoughts.

Charles and Camilla then departed for Montréal, Quebec where they met with the Premier of Québec, the Honourable Jean Charest and Mme Michèle Dionne, where they received an Inuit sculpture and a collection of Quebec DVDs.

But were they in Region 2 format? Oh, nevermind...

Afterwards they toured the headquarters of the Cirque du Soleil, watching a brief acrobatic performance and touring the workshops where costumes and props are made.

Charles later received a dramatic welcome when he visited the headquarters of the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada - a regiment he inherited as colonel-in-chief after the death of the Queen Mother. The riot squad was busy with 200 egg hurtling demonstrators (or 150 depending on who's counting...) 'brandishing signs with slogans such as Down With the Monarchy'...'Ottawa Leave Quebec, and Cultural Genocide, R.I.P.' and "Majesty Go Home!"

Psst - Maybe it's a bit premature to bring that sign out.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Charles and Camilla's Royal Tour - Day 7 & 8

On Day 7 - Sunday - instead of resting, they attended a remembrance service at Christ Church Cathedral. While there they dedicated a stained glass window 'commemorating the 80th anniversary of the consecration of the cathedral and the 150th anniversary of the Diocese of British Columbia'. Shortly before they went inside they mingled with the 200 people who'd waited outside of the Church for them. Then the couple spent the rest of their Sunday privately.

On Monday (Day 8) it was back to work for them as they participated in a ceremony 'honouring the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Navy, which occurs 2010, at CFB Esquimalt'. Charles, dressed for the occasion in a Canadian Naval uniform in his capacity as honorary vice-admiral. During the visit, to mark his 32 years of honorary service, Charles received a 'second clasp' to his Canadian Forces decoration. 'Prince Charles said he wears his Canadian medal “with great pride all the time,” and was “touched, flattered, honoured” to receive the complementing clasp.'

No comment from the non-honorary people who are working towards earning their medals.

This was their last stop in Victoria before leaving for Ottawa.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Charles and Camilla's Canadian Royal Tour - Day 6

Day 6 was a Saturday. You'd think that Charles and Camilla would get the day off but no such luck. I can only imagine the jet lag and having to deal with the difference in provincial time zones on top of it - must wreak havoc on their systems. Having said that, the Queen still does tours at the ripe age of 83, so Charles and Camilla probably dare not complain.

On this day the couple had a walkabout in Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Village, posed with a Sasquatch and Olympic mascots and yet again unveiled a plaque. Even if most Canadians aren't paying attention, future generations will know about their tour by following the commemorative plaques they leave in their wake.

Unlike in previous public appearances, Camilla wore a colorful outfit - a lightweight powder blue coat - which turned out to be completely inadequate for the cold rainy weather. She planted a tree at the Van Dusen Botanical Gardens and brought with her a collection of seeds from native British Columbian plants that were housed in the Millennium Seed Bank at the Royal Botanical Garden Kew. In return, Van Dusen Gardens gave the duchess a collection of different seeds to bring back to the seed bank.

But the seeds are not the only thing they will bring back with them as they also received traditional aboriginal blankets and talking sticks. Also some red mittens, scarves, gumboots and custom raincoats - which would have been useful to receive earlier in the day.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Charles and Camilla's Canadian Royal Tour - Day 5

Charles and Camilla began their day at 'The Royal' arriving in a horse drawn open carriage. "Nothing could give me greater pleasure than to declare the 87th Royal Agricultural Winter Fair officially open," the prince said to a crowd of 'thousands'. Camilla was presented with a leather western style horse saddle while the Prince received a basket of maple syrup and honey - which he can compare to his own Duchy Originals brand.

The couple toured the fair, presenting championship ribbons to delighted young teen winners of the Queen's Guineas beef cattle competition. Then Charles was off to surprise people in the cattle barn while Camilla toured the kennels and visited fair kiosks to do some shopping for her grandchildren. In a woman of the people move Camilla paid for her purchases with money from her purse. Yes, some of the royals do indeed carry money!

The couple then jetted off to Victoria, British Columbia for yet another official welcoming ceremony.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Monday, November 09, 2009

Question: Charles and Camilla's poppies

I have noticed in many pictures of Charles and Camilla that they are both wearing two poppies. Is this a royal thing? Does it mean something special?

Since Charles and Camilla first arrived in Canada on most public appearances they have worn two poppies. This has been the subject of a great deal of curiosity. Why the two poppies? What does it mean?

The two poppies that the couple are wearing are the British paper version and the Canadian one. The design of the Canadian poppy consists of petals made of red plastic with a felt lining and black centre held on by a pin. The British paper version is sold by the Royal British Legion through their annual Poppy Appeal. Some have suggested that by wearing the two poppies they are making a symbolic gesture of support for British and Canadian veterans.

Poppies became a symbol of Rememberance after the poem In Flanders Field commemorated the flower. It was written in 1915 by a Canadian doctor named John McCrae after he witnessed the death of a friend. During the funeral McCrae noticed wild poppies blooming between the graves and this inspired his famous poem. After its publication it became the most popular poem of the First World War. In part because of its popularity, the poppy was adopted as the Flower of Remembrance for the war dead of Britain, France, the United States, Canada and other Commonwealth countries.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The Royal Report for Sunday November 8, 2009 - The Canadian Royal Tour

Upon arrival in Canada, which royal called Canada 'truly deplorable'? Who was the first female member of the royal family to visit? Was the price tag still on Prince Phillip's jeans when he took part in a square dance in Canada?

Listen to this episode to find out.

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada Weekly No 149 9 November 2009

Website and Blog mentioned

World of Royalty
World of Royalty Blog
The Official Site of the Prince of Wales

Documentaries discussed

Charles - The Passionate Prince - Viewable online

Prince William and Prince Harry: Into the future

Resources used

Canada's Queen by Patti Tasko

The Queen's Tour of Canada Souvenir Edition by Trevor Hall

Fifty Years the Queen Arthur Bousfield & Garry Toffoli

Charles and Diana visit Canada by David Levenson and Trevor Hall

Royal Canada - A History of Royal visits since 1786 - by Trevor Hall

Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal Family in Canada (Golden Jubilee) - Stewart House Publishing

Tune in live to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday November 15th, 2009 9:00PM EST.

The topic will be: In honor of the Prince of Wales & the Duchess of Cornwall's visit to Canada, a look back at Canadian Royal Tours - Part Two!

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Friday, November 06, 2009

Charles and Camilla's Canadian Royal Tour - Day 4

Charles and Camilla started the day by going home. Err, sort of. They visited historic Dundurn Castle in Hamilton, Ontario. The 72 room castle - which is more like a large mansion - was built by Camilla's great-great-great grandfather Sir Allan MacNab, Prime Minister of the United Provinces of Canada from 1854-56.

Upon arrival they were met by what must have been the largest crowd they'd encountered during their tour: more than 400 people. Possibly more than the rest of the people that greeted them in Newfoundland and Labrador combined. See? It pays to come to a province that people have heard of.

As they toured the castle I can only imagine the running commentary in Charles' head as he tries to keep a straight face. I'm reminded of the classic words of Crocodile Dundee which I'm paraphrasing - 'that's not a castle, now THIS (opening his wallet and pointing at a photo of Windsor) is a castle.' Charles tactfully kept these thoughts to himself while waving from the balcony of Dundurn.

The couple then went to tour HMCS Haida, a former military ship. During the tour Camilla gave us the ultimate crazy cat lady/bad hair day photograph. Or if she ever loses her mind, photographic proof when it started.

The couple also unveiled a plaque for future generations of royals to be photographed reading.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Charles and Camilla's Canadian Royal Tour - Day 3 Continued

Charles and Camilla arrive in Toronto! (AKA the centre of the Canadian universe).

The couple, who flew in from Newfoundland and no doubt exhausted from the tree planting and the touring archeological digs, looked alert as they arrived at Pearson International Airport. Upon arrival they had a private meeting with local and provincial dignitaries. Doesn't Camilla look excited!

Later on in the afternoon the couple then went their separate ways with Charles going off to attend a conference which nobody paid attention to. Meanwhile, in another part of the city, Camilla was touring the Royal Conservatory of Music. Shortly before she left, she paused to read a plaque commemorating a 1901 visit from another Duke and Duchess of Cornwall - the future King George V and Queen Mary. Whoever originally put the plaque up can now feel vindicated that there are people who still stop read it.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Charles and Camilla's Canadian Royal Tour - Day 3

Camilla isn't the only person on the tour making a fashion statement. On day 3 of the tour the couple were greeted by Newfoundland and Labrador's Lieutenant-Governor John Crosbie who wore a sealskin coat; characterized as a "statement" in support of the annual seal kill. John Crosbie's 'sartorial' choice drew ire from animal rights activists who were still frothed up about Camilla's rabbit fur scarf. Like PETA, Mr Crosbie knows something about promoting his own cause.

Now where was I? Oh yes, Charles and Camilla!

During their visit to Government-House the couple planted a pair of oak trees. A tradition dating back to the 1939 royal visit when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the future Queen Mother) did the same.

The couple also visited the St. John's War Memorial where Prince Charles laid a wreath at a ceremony to remember Newfoundland and Labrador's war dead. At the ceremony seven year old Matthew Lucas, whose father died in Afghanistan, put his arms around Camilla's neck and kissed her.

See Camilla, contrary to what the media have reported, there are people who care about your visit.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Charles and Camilla's Canadian Royal Tour - Day 2

Day 2 of Charles and Camilla's Royal Tour began with a visit to Cupids Bay, Newfoundland; a name which conjures up images of making-out (*Shudder*). A 'noticibly thin' crowd of about 75 (or 57 depending on which reporter is counting) enthusiastically welcomed them.

Cupids Bay is the birthplace of the English prescence in Canada. Originally settled in 1610 it was rediscovered in the 1990's. During their tour an archeologist showed them a coin unearthed from the dig site while Premier Danny Williams and The Prime Minister - speechless - looked on.

On this day of the tour Camilla 'earned the wrath' of animal rights activists by keeping herself warm with a rabbit fur stole, topping off her stylish green tweed outfit with a hat that had a fake fur trim. Ignoring the hat, PETA used the opportunity to state: 'the Duchess is out of step with public opinion.' Geez, if Camilla tried to please the public, PETA wouldn't have her to criticize now would they? No use starting now! Camilla can take heart that pro-hunt Canadians whole heartedly 'approved' of her choice.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Charles and Camilla's Canadian Royal Tour - Day 1

Charles and Camilla arrived on Canadian soil on Monday November 2nd in St. John's, Newfoundland. Where a 'large crowd, including dignitaries and the RCMP' welcomed them. They were greeted by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Governor General Michaelle Jean and St. John's and Labrador Premier Danny Williams.

The couple walked the red carpet and attended a 'moving' one hour ceremony in a half filled arena. During which the Prime Minister 'plagiarized' one of Charles' earlier speeches which has been seen as a 'massive screw-up' on the part of Harper's office.

We can only hope Charles and Camilla's tour will recover from this bad omen.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Charles and Camilla's Canadian Royal Tour Coverage

Well, Charles and Camilla have arrived in Canada and by the lack of coverage and enthusiasm you'd think they'd made a one hour stop over on their way to a warmer climate. Maybe we take the royals for granted, they're on our currency so seeing them in person is no big deal.

This visit, Charles 15th and Camilla's first, should receive more coverage, because it should have the curiosity factor - 'ah, that's what the third person in Diana's marriage looks like.' So far it hasn't but it doesn't hurt Charles. Let's be honest, Charles is not the drawing card he once was. And during his first visit in 1970 he had his parents and sister with him to guarantee people would come out. With the exception of the Queen, Charles on tour works better as a double-act. Bring someone attactive or higher ranking with him and he can't lose. Arrive by himself and, well who really cares, right? The minor royals suffer this indignity all of the time. Edward and Sophie were in our midst in June and had Hello! Canada not shown photos I wouldn't have been any the wiser. It's that bad.

So I'm taking control of this deplorable state of affairs and doing my own coverage. Or as much as I can do without actually accompanying them on tour. Forgive me for being a few days behind - they're already on Day 3! But I shall try to make up for it.

Stay tuned!

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Royal Report for Sunday November 1st, 2009 - Should we stop talking about Kate Middleton?

What would the show sound like without Kate Middleton? What does the Queen have for breakfast? Can Prince Edward out-gaffe Prince Phillip?

Listen to the episode to find out!

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada Weekly No 148 2 November 2009

Settling Down by James Whitaker

Websites mentioned

The Official Site of the Prince of Wales

World of Royalty

Tune in to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday November 8th, 2009 at 9:00PM EST.

The topic will be: In honor of the Prince of Wales' and the Duchess of Cornwall's visit to Canada - A look back at Royal Tours of Canada.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Royal Report for Sunday October 25th, 2009 - Is Prince William's Girlfriend the next Princess Diana?

Is Prince William's girlfriend destined to be the next Princess Diana? Can I get through this entire episode without once referring to her by name?

Listen and find out here!

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada No. 146 19 October 2009
Hello! Canada No 147 26 October 2009

Royal Podcasts mentioned

RoyaltyNow! - Winegums and Wilders

Tune in to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday November 1st, 2009 9:00PM EST.

The topic will be: Should we stop talking about Prince William's girlfriend?

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Royal Romance Report - Sunday October 18, 2009

What did the Queen say to balloon boy? What is the criteria for being a legendary romance? Will there be a meditation pyramid at Princess Beatrice's wedding?

Listen to the episode to find out. Note: There were some brief technical difficulties with this show.

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada No 146 19 October 2009
Hello! Canada Special Royal Issue - Legendary Royal Love stories

Websites mentioned

World of Royalty

Tune in to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday October 25, 2009 9:00PM EST.

The topic will be: Is Kate Middleton the next Princess Diana?

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Sunday, October 04, 2009

The Royal Report for Sunday October 4th, 2009 - Is Prince William more than just a pretty face?

In a recent speech Prince William has stated that he doesn’t want to be seen as a "mere ornament" when it comes to royal duties. Can he move beyond that view, or is Prince William just a pretty face?

You can listen to the episode here.

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada No 145 October 2009

Kate - Kate Middleton: Princess in Waiting by Claudia Joseph

William's Princess by Robert Jobson

It is Thanksgiving in Canada next weekend so there will be no show. Tune in to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday October 18th, 2009 9:00PM EST.

The topic will be: The Royal Romance Report - October edition

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Royal Report for Sunday September 27, 2009 - Will we ever let Diana rest in peace?

On this episode: Is Prince Andrew the father of Angie Everhart's baby son? Does Paul McCartney think the Queen is still pretty? Can we ever let Diana rest in peace?

Listen here to find out.

Publications mentioned:

Hello! Canada No 144 28 September 2009
Hello! Canada No 145 October 2009
The Princess and The President by Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Freddy and Fredericka by Mark Helprin
Di and I by Peter Lefcourt
His Lovely Wife by Elizabeth Dewberry

Tune in to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday October 4th, 2009 at 9:00PM EST.

The topic will be: Is Prince William more than just a pretty face?

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Royal Romance Report for Sunday September 13, 2009

On this episode does Princess Diana make stealth visits to Guantanemo Bay? Does Camilla enjoy beating 10 year olds? Will Zara Phillips or Kate Middleton win the race to the altar? What is Victoria's Secret anyways?

You can find out the answers here!

Publications discussed

Female Force - Princess Diana by Chris Arrant

Websites mentioned

World of Royalty

There will be no The Royal Report next week. The show will return on Sunday September 27th, 2009.

Topic to be determined

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Royal Report for Sunday September 6th, 2009: Prince William and Kate Middleton - Is it time to give up hope?

On this episode: Engagement predictions, wedding predictions yet nary an official announcement in sight. Is it time to give up hope?

You can listen to the episode here

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada No 142 14 September 2009
Hello! Canada No 111 12 January 2009
Hello! Canada No 130 1 June 2009
Hello! Canada No 127 4 May 2009
Hello! Canada No 81 28 April 2008
Hello! Canada No 85 2 June 2008
Hello! Canada No 95 25 August 2008
Hello! Canada No 98 22 September 2008
Vanity Fair November 2008 issue
William's Princess by Robert Jobson

Tune in to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday September 13th, 2009 at 9:00PM EST.

The topic will be: The Royal Romance Report - September edition

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Royal Report for Sunday August 30, 2009 - Are the younger royals taking their roles seriously?

On this episode Prince William drinks out of toilets, Princess Eugenie prefers ketchup bottles, Prince Harry likes wearing disguises and Princess Beatrice just wants people to call her Beatrice. Are the younger royals taking their roles seriously? Also on this episode, I called Party Pieces (several times) to find out if Kate works there.

You can listen to the show here.

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada Weekly No 141 31 August 2009

Blog post that inspired this episode

The Royal Representative - Who's taking the business of Monarchy seriously?

Tune in to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday September 6, 2009 at 9:00PM EST.

The topic will be: It's September and still no engagement between Prince William and Kate Middleton. Is it time to *gasp* give up hope?

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Question: The Windsor name

How far does the name Windsor go back? Does that apply to all of the Kings and Queens until there where no last names at all?

The Windsor name goes back to 1917. Prior to that point members of the royal family did not have a surname but the name of the house or dynasty which they belonged.

At the time King George V was head of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha dynasty. During the First World War, in reaction to anti-German sentiment, the King changed the name from the German sounding Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor; chosen after the ancient castle of the same name. This change applied to both the Royal House and as a surname for his family should one be required.

This change was made official at a meeting of the Privy Council on July 17, 1917. The King declared that 'all descendants in the male line of Queen Victoria, who are subjects of these realms, other than female descendants who marry or who have married, shall bear the name of Windsor'. This surname is used by all male and unmarried female descendants of King George V. For instance: Lord Frederick Windsor, Lady Gabriella Windsor, Lord Nicholas Windsor.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Royal Report for Sunday August 23, 2009 - What date will Prince William and Kate Middleton marry on?

Rumours are swirling that Prince William and Kate Middleton have set a date for their wedding. On this episode, I made a prediction for what that date will be.

Listen here to find out what my prediction is.

Publication mentioned

Hello! Canada Weekly No 140 24 August 2009

Blog articles used to research this episode

Royal Engagements

Royal Weddings

Question: Royal Wedding Tradition?

Tune in to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday August 30, 2009 9:00PM EST.

Topic to be determined!

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Royal & The Clueless - Episode 17

On the last episode of The Royal & The Clueless, Kate took speech lessons from Enrique and broke out into song. During her lessons, engagement speculation reached fever pitch, yet William had not proposed. On this episode Kate, frustrated with a lack of engagement, decides to take a different approach.

Kate: I've tried everything, and William still hasn't proposed. I've taken up hunting, canoodled by dead pheasants, shown an interest in his polo even though I'm allergic to horses...

Enrique: Wearing the cardboard sign didn't work?

Kate: No, he's still trying to read it.

Enrique nodded, perplexed. William obviously isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer but he should be able to read. He thought for a moment rubbing the perfectly trimmed stubble on his chin. Suddenly an idea came to him. No, it couldn't work. It's too simple. Even for William. Enrique mulls it over and starts to warm to the idea.

Enrique: Have you tried wearing the color blue?

Kate: What?

Enrique: The color blue. You're attending a wedding aren't you? You should wear a blue outfit. You can accessorize it with shiny objects. That will get his attention!

Kate: That is a brilliant idea!

Enrique grabs Kate's hand and takes her shopping. 10 stores later, Kate finally comes out of the change room and models the outfit she's chosen. She twirls around in a gray blue dress pleased with herself.

Kate: What do you think?

Enrique (shaking his head): That's Wallis blue. It might remind him of the abdication.

Kate goes to try another dress on. She comes out wearing baby blue.

Enrique: No, that might be too much pressure on him. Wear that once the ring is on your finger.

Kate: Why does the dress have to be blue? Why not purple?

Enrique: Purple is the color of royalty. They might think that you're getting too ahead of yourself. Stay away from all purples.

Kate goes and changes into another dress, this time in royal blue.

Enrique, smouldering and intense, walks over to Kate. He takes her into his arms and looks deeply into her eyes, his face inches from hers. When he speaks his voice now sounds like Antonio Banderas.

Enrique: If I were William (Enrique pauses for effect). I would propose on the spot.

A few days later at the wedding. William comes up to Kate and leans in to kiss her. He stops and looks her up and down.

William: Wow, shiny objects!

Can Prince William stop staring at Kate's shiny objects? Does he have competition in the smouldering form of Enrique? Tune in to the next episode of The Royal & The Clueless.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

President Obama has a paper cut!..and other such nonsense

Sometimes royal news seems to be just that silly. Take for instance Prince William and Kate Middleton. Recent reports say that they are secretly engaged, that they have come to an understanding, that Kate is sending subtle messages by wearing the color blue to a society wedding. Don't believe me about the blue dress? Take a look here.

Forgive my skepticism but over the years I've heard so many rumours surrounding their engagement, so many signs that it's imminent, so many commentators with straight faces letting us know that This. Will. Be. The. Year.

Maybe, maybe not. But then 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and even this year, 2009 have been THE year too. Pull a number out of a hat, such as 2011, and if they're still together by that point, one day commentators may be right.

I'd like them to get engaged just as much as the next pro-Kate royal watcher. But I'm not going to hold my breath, I'm taking a wait and see approach. My hopes have been raised and then dashed one too many times.

Until an engagement is announced by Clarence House, speculation about their relationship is in the same league as news that President Obama has a paper cut.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Royal Romance Report - Sunday August 16, 2009

On this episode of The Royal Romance Report - Which royal just received a personalized perfume for her 21st birthday? Has the Queen really sparked lesbian rumours? Why do the Scandinavian royals have more fun? Is the Queen expecting a great-grandchild soon?

Find out the answer by listening to the episode here!

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada Weekly No 139 17 August 2009

Tatler Magazine - September 2005

Tune in to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday August 23rd, 2009 9:00PM EST.

The topic will be: Rumours are heating up that an engagement between Prince William and Kate Middleton will be announced soon? Are WE ready for it?

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Royal Profile: Susan Barrantes

Best known as the mother of Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, she was part of a family that can trace their ancestry back to 1557.

Born on June 9, 1937 in Bramcote Hills Notthingham, Susan Mary Wright was the youngest of three daughters of FitzHerbert Wright, a former lieutenant in the 15th/19th Hussars and later a company director. Her mother Doreen Wingfield was the only daughter of the 8th Viscount Powerscourt. Her brother Bryan was for a time the secretary of the Dorchester Club; her elder sister Brigid married Julian Salmond, son of Marshal of the RAF Sir John Salmond; her younger sister Davina married Sir Richard Boughey, Bt.

The Wright family trace their ancestry back to John Wright, of Stowmarket, Suffolk, in 1557. Another ancestor, also John Wright, was imprisoned for eight years for raising a company in a regiment of horse in the Parliamentary cause in 1643. Later, the family moved to Nottingham, where they became principal proprietors of the Butterley Works. Susan's grandfather settled at Yeldersley Hall, Derbyshire.

Susan's childhood interests consisted of riding side-saddle and working hunter classes, where she won numerous prizes. After school, she went through secretarial college and undertook the debutante season at the age of 17 being presented to the Queen.

It was at a dance that she met her first husband, Ronald Ferguson, then serving in the Life Guards. He was at once impressed: she was lively and vivacious, and shared his equestrian interests. She had also, he said, "a touch of Irish wildness about her, and she was a country girl, having been brought up in Lincolnshire and at her grandfather's castle [Powerscourt] in County Wicklow". Moreover, he explained, "she enjoyed going to polo matches - an essential pre-requisite for a Ferguson girlfriend in those days!"

Her parents, feeling she was too young to marry, sent her to France for a year. But the attachment survived the separation, and Susan married Ronald Ferguson at St Margaret's Westminster, on January 17 1956, with a reception for 600 guests at Claridge's. In the same year she appeared on the cover of Tatler magazine.

They began their married life in London, where Ferguson was stationed at Knightsbridge Barracks, and a few years later moved to a house at Ascot, strategically close to the polo fields of Smith's Lawn and Windsor Castle. The couple would have two daughters: Jane in August 1957 and Sarah, the future Duchess of York, born in October 1959. She later miscarried a daughter, Sophia, after developing pre-eclampsia, a potentially life-threatening condition chiefly characterised by high blood pressure.

In 1968, Ferguson's father died and the family moved to his childhood home, Dummer Down House, a Queen Anne-style farmhouse near Basingstoke. Her interests revolved around horses and she was a keen show jumper. Though the marriage was a happy one in the early years, Ronald Ferguson had an affairs, one of with her best friends. In 1972 she fell in love with a professional polo player from Argentina, Hector Barrantes, whose wife Luisita and unborn child were killed in a car crash near Buenos Aires in February 1972. Barrantes had been a star rugby player and Golden Gloves heavyweight. That summer, Susan decided to leave her family for him which created a society scandal. She was divorced from Ronald Ferguson in May 1974 and married in Barrantes in July 1975, at Chichester, Register Office, England.

She went to live in Argentina, where she and her husband maintained a large ranch at El Pucara, 350 miles south-west of Buenos Aires. There they bred 500 foals for polo, as well as cattle. And no doubt they would have remained there quietly pursuing these interests, had it not been for the marriage of Sarah to Prince Andrew, in July 1986. Thereafter, Sarah's parents and siblings were the focus of intense media attention.

Hector Barrantes fell ill with cancer of the lymph glands and died on August 10, 1990 at the age of 51. Susan experienced finanical difficulties afterwards, having to sell more than half the farm to the polo-playing Australian media magnate Kerry Packer. She gave her first reluctant interview to Hello! magazine in June 1988. She returned to that magazine with a full version of her reminiscences in 1992, and allowed further interviews in subsequent years. In 1997 she wrote the book POLO for which Prince Charles wrote the forward.

On September 19, 1998 she was killed in a car accident and was buried next to her late husband Hector in a vault below her house, next to a polo field on the Argentinian estate.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Marilyn's Royal Blog - Sparingly updated but not forgotten

Hello all,

If you visit this blog on a regular basis you may notice that I haven't updated in a while. And when I do update it's sparingly. At the moment I'm taking a writing course and working on a novel which is taking up a lot of time, hence the lack of focus on my blogs.

The course is winding up, although a new one will be starting in September. I will try to post more regularly soon. In the interim please enjoy my archives of informative articles.



© Marilyn Braun 2009

Saturday, August 01, 2009

The Royal Report for Sunday August 2, 2009 - The show celebrates 2 years!

On August 6th The Royal Report will be 2 years old. On this episode, a look back at 2years of fun, informative, thought provoking and occasionally humourous reports.

You can listen to the episode here.

Note that there will be no The Royal Report next week.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Royal Report for Sunday July 26th, 2009 - Are photos of Kate Middleton an invasion of privacy?

The Sun recently published some photos of Kate Middleton and Prince William kissing. Are these photos an invasion of privacy or a necessary evil for bloggers?

You can listen to the episode here

Photos discussed in this episode

The Sun - Photos of William and Kate

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada Weekly No 137 27 July 2009

Sites mentioned

Mary, Queen of Scots contest

World of Royalty Blog

British Royal Wedding

Party Pieces

Links mentioned

Press Complaints Commission - Kate Middleton

Press Complaints Commission - Kate Middleton Resolution

Tune in to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday August 2, 2009 9:00PM EST

The topic will be: On August 6th, 2009 The Royal Report will be 2 years old! A look back at 2 years of magical, informative, educational and hilarious reports.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Royal & The Clueless - Episode 16

On the last episode of The Royal and The Clueless, Kate Middleton vowed to make better use of her time. Recently recorded speaking in public for the first time, Kate decides to work on her enunciation with her co-worker Enrique.

Kate: Do you think I sounded okay on that YouTube video?

Enrique: Darling, you did a great job. I can hear you thanking small children for posies in that voice. But there's still work to do. Let's begin: "The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plain.."

Kate: The rine in spine sties minely in the pline

Enrique: It's 'the *rain* in *Spain* stays *mainly* in the *plain*.

Kate: Didn't ah sy that?

Enrique: (sighs) Kate, you speak as well as you roller-skate. Now I want you to say it fifty times until you get it.

3 days later

Kate: The rine in spine sties minely in the pline..

Enrique slaps the palm of his hand to his forehead in frustration.

Enrique: No, no, no..the *rain* in *Spain*...

2 Weeks Later

Kate: The rine in..

Enrique (with exaggerated calm): Kate, you must work on this. A lady speaks properly. If you work hard you shall sleep in a proper bedroom, have lots to eat, and money to buy lots of chocolates. We shall take you to Buckingham Palace, beautifully dressed. If the Queen finds out you're not a lady, you will be taken to the Tower of London, where your head will be cut off as a warning to other wannabe royal girlfriends. But if you are not found out you shall have a golden page in the history books. Now let's try it again. 'The..

Kate: Rain in...

Enrique: By George I think she's got it! Where does it rain?

Kate (sings): On the plain..on the plain!

Enrique winces at her singing.

Enrique: And where is that plain?

Kate: (sings) In Spain, in Spain

Enrique: I think you've got it. But seriously, stop singing.

Can Enrique get Kate to stop singing? Will she learn how to speak better than she roller-skates? Tune in to the next episode of The Royal & The Clueless.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Royal Transportation

The Queen is the most travelled monarch in British history and she has the distinction of having taken every concievable mode transportation - horseback, carriage, train, plane, helicopter, car and bicycle. She's also ridden on an elephant, been transported on a barge and even taken public transportation.

Let's revisit some of the modes of transportation:

Royal Train - In Victorian times there were few options for royal travel but this changed in 1840 when the Great Western Railway Company built a splendid railway carriage for Queen Victoria and her family. It was also used by the Dowager Queen Adelaide, widow of William IV. It was not until 1842 that Queen Victoria could be persuaded to ride it. The first Royal train journey took place on June 13, 1842 transported Queen Victoria from Slough to Paddington. The trip took 25 minutes and her journals record the experience as 'delightful'. Thus began the history of royal rail travel. Since then, successive monarchs have used the train.

Royal Flight - While today flying is commonplace as a mode of transporation, the Royal Air Force wasn't formed until 1918. King George V never flew, even as a passenger. The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) was the first member of the royal family to fly. In 1936 he became the first monarch to do so. The first member of the royal family to become a qualified pilot was Prince Albert, Duke of York (later King George VI) in 1919. Many members of the royal family have learnt to fly. While Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother took the controls of a Comet in 1952, the first female member to earn a private pilots licence is Sarah, Duchess of York in 1987. The present Queen first flew in 1945 with her parents to Northern Ireland. Since that point there are strict rules on members of the royal family flying together in the same plane or helicopter. To prevent disaster from striking twice, the Queen and Prince Charles do not fly together. Nor do Prince Charles and Prince William. Prince Philip was the first member of the royal family to fly the Concorde in 1972. The Queen flew in it five years later and the late Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother celebrated her 85th birthday in the cockpit of the Concorde.

Royal Carriage - The Royal Mews has over 100 carriages, the oldest being the Gold State Coach used by King George III in 1762. Another famous coach is the Glass coach, used to transport royal brides to their weddings. Royal Carriages are a symbol of pagentry, being used for ceremonial occasions such as the State Opening of Parliament, Trooping the Color and Coronations. Queen Victoria is said to have been very fond of taking daily open carriage rides regardless of the weather.

Royal Cars - Albert Edward, Prince of Wales was the first member of the royal family to own a car. He had his first drive in a "horseless carriage" - a Daimler - in 1896. In 1898, while some were still branding the new invention “dirty” and “evil”, he drove a vehicle for the first time on public roads. He bought his first car – again, a Daimler – in 1900. In 1905, by then Edward VII, he bought no fewer than seven Daimlers in a single year. The develoment of the motor car owes much to his enthusiasm for this mode of transport. Depending on the member of the royal family, it is quite possibly the most frequently used form of transportation. For most of her engagements the Queen uses a State car.

Royal Yacht -In the early to mid part of the 20th century, cross Atlantic royal travel was by ship. As Princess Elizabeth, the Queen arrived at her first overseas visit via HMS Vanguard in 1947. The royal family has a long tradition of sailing for sport and strong ties with the yacht racing community. While the Queen has christened many a ship, the one most closely associated with her is the Royal Yacht Britannia. Launched in 1953 it was designed to be a venue for official entertaining and receptions as well as a residence for Royal tours. During its 44 years of service it went on 696 overseas visits before being decommissioned in 1997.

Riding - While not as efficient a mode of travel to carry out royal engagements, riding is arguably the oldest form of royal transport. Since there has been a royal family there have been horses. Horses have been ridden into battle and to play polo, the sport of kings. Like carriages, they are used for ceremonial occasions. They are also used for competition and for pleasure. Most members of the royal family ride, most notably Princess Anne, The Princess Royal. She is an accomplished rider, having competed in the Montreal Olympics.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

Question: Does the Queen wear wigs?

I say QE II has worn wigs in public for many decades. Have you talked about this in your blog? My sister says she wears expensive wigs . Michael Fagan said he saw her wigs on her makeup table. Can you verify this? I would appreciate your
insight. I say she wears wigs and does so as a convenience.

In all of the books I've read about her, I don't think I've ever heard about her wearing wigs. I'm going to have to say no, I don't think that the Queen wears wigs. Yes, when Michael Fagan broke into the Queen's bedroom in 1982 there were reports that he had seen a wig. The Sun, a tabloid newspaper, reportedly paid his wife, Christine for the rights to her story. Amongst the tantalizing revelations, the Queen wore a shortie nightgown and had the figure of a 16 year old. Viewing photos of her circa 1982, can you picture her owning either?

The Queen has had the same hairstyle, with some slight variations, for the last eighty years. Towards the end of the 1940's, when it was almost to her shoulders, was the longest length she wore it. In the 1950's she had the petalled pin-curl style, fashionable at the time. In the 1960's it resembled a football helmet circa 1938 and she has more or less stuck with this particular look since then.

Unlike her late sister, Princess Margaret, the Queen has never experimented with her looks. She's never worn elaborate updos or changed the color and she seems blessed with hair that hasn't thinned as she has gotten older. When it started to go gray in the late 1980's she stopped dying it altogether. Like her mother and grandmother, the Queen has had the same ubiqitious style - handy for keeping the look of stamps and currency consistent. The only instance of false hair I can find is that her grandmother, Queen Mary, as a young woman, wore an artificial fringe attached to the front hairline called a 'bang'.

She has used the same hairstylist, Ian Carmichael, for the last 11 years. If she wears wigs then only her hairdresser knows for sure.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Monday, July 06, 2009

Michael Jackson vs Diana - Who will win the funeral stakes?

Since Michael Jackson died almost 2 weeks ago there have been comparisons to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in terms of how shocked the world was when they died. I have to say that Diana's death was far more shocking than Michael Jackson's. He had looked ill and fragile for some time and Diana was bursting with vitality, ready to write the next chapter in her post-royal life. Like Diana, Jackson's death was premature and like Diana, he will be raised to an iconic status. In time we will only remember the good about both of them.

The next comparison to Diana is her funeral. Watched by a billion people it effectly brought most of the world to a stand-still for the week leading up to it. The British royals know how to throw a funeral, on par with the American talent for throwing presidential elections. Diana's funeral was a class act from start to the last glimpse as the hearse drove through the gates of Althorp.

Both funerals could have been private events but each family realized that each of them touched peoples lives. Neither did anything quietly in life, therefore why should it be any different in death? While Diana may have sold more books and newspapers, Michael Jackson is selling more CDs and DVDs. Diana may be frozen in time as a beautiful princess, but Jackson will always be a brilliant entertainer having influenced many of todays top performers.

It will be tough to gauge the response to the memorial service planned at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles on Tuesday. The service will be broadcast like Diana's funeral, to a world wide audience. But unlike Diana in 1997 we now have Twitter and Facebook to add the element of participation for those unlucky enough to not have won tickets to the event. Billed as the hottest ticket in town, the royals must be shaking their heads at the absence of dignity. Diana may not have been royal, but she was given a send off that set the bar high for the demise of any future public figure. So who will win in the world-wide funeral stakes?

It depends on your tastes.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Saturday, July 04, 2009

The Royal Romance Report for Sunday July 5th, 2009

On the July edition of The Royal Romance Report, can Michael Jackson top Diana in the funeral stakes? Should Andrew and Fergie get back together?

You can listen to the episode here.

Publications mentioned

People Magazine – The Talent and Tragedy of Michael Jackson 1958 – 2009

My Story by Sarah, Duchess of York

Blogs mentioned

British Royal Wedding

The Royal Report will be on hiatus for the next 2 weeks. The show will return on Sunday July 26th, 2009 - topic to be determined. Please feel free to check out my show archives in the interim.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Royal Report for Sunday June 28th, 2009 - Should Prince William be sent to the front lines?

On this episode I discussed the royal tradition of military service. That's right! Prince William isn't just being young and reckless!

You can listen to the episode here

Note: The Royal Report is available for download on iTunes!

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada No 134 Summer 2009

Websites mentioned

The Prince of Wales' Military Career

Wikipedia - Line of Succession to the British Throne

Tune in LIVE via web cam to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday July 5th, 2009 9:00PM EST

The topic will be: The Royal Romance Report - July edition

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Question: Title of Queen

Would Camilla attain the title if Charles ascends to the throne? Would Diana have attained this title if she were still Charles wife? Who would ascend to the throne following Charles death?

At the time of their wedding in 2005 there was a lot of controversy over what Camilla's title would be upon her marriage to Charles. Legally she is entitled to be called Princess of Wales but because the title is so associated with Diana, decided to take the title Duchess of Cornwall instead. When Charles becomes king the official line is that she will be known as H.R.H. The Princess Consort. Legally she would be Queen but Camilla reportedly does not want the title of Queen. This move might also be to placate members of the public who would be against her being known as Queen Camilla.

Had Diana lived, and still been married to Charles, she would have become Queen Diana in due course.

Next in line to the throne following Charles' death would be his elder son Prince William. Should something happen to William then the next in line would become monarch - Prince Harry.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Royal Report for Sunday June 21, 2009 - Royal Romances

On this episode I discussed Royal Romances and the sorted details I've been able to source of the Internet and my royal book collection. Also on this episode - how people wooed way back when and the finer points of mailing a letter.

You can listen to the episode here

Note: The Royal Report is available for download on iTunes!

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada weekly No 133 22 June 2009

Award Schemes mentioned

The Duke of Edinburgh Awards

Tune in LIVE via web cam to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday June 28th, 2009 9:00PM EST

The topic will be: Should Prince William be sent to the front lines?

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Royal Romance Report for Sunday June 14th, 2009

On this episode - What does Prince Harry think of his sweet nickname? Can the royal family handle two topless women in their midst? Can the Queen and Prince Philip's love stand the test of time? Are William and Kate engaged?

Find out by listening to this episode!

Note: The Royal Report is available for download on iTunes!

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada weekly No. 132 15 June 2009

Blogs mentioned

Excuses excuses

Websites mentioned

Internet Movie Database

Tune in LIVE via webcam to the next episode of The Royal Reporton Sunday June 21st, 2009 9:00PM EST

The topic will be: Royal Romances

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Royal Residence Trivia

Did you know.....

One of the Queen's favorite homes is Windsor Castle - which is the largest occupied castle in the world.

The Queen does not own Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle.

Balmoral Castle and the Sandringham Estate are the personal property of The Queen.

In 1848, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought the lease on the property that Balmoral Castle stands on, without ever having seen the property. They eventually purchased the land in 1852.

The original castle on the land was inadequate for their needs, so Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and their growing brood, had another castle built (Balmoral Castle as it is today), while they resided in the old residence.

The foundation stone for Balmoral Castle was laid by Queen Victoria on 28th September 1853. Before the foundation stone was placed in position Queen Victoria signed a parchment recording the date. This parchment, together with an example of each of the current coins of the realm, were placed in a bottle, which was inserted into a cavity below the site prepared for the stone.

Balmoral Castle was completed in 1856 and the old building was then demolished. This building is commemorated by a stone which marks the position of the front door of the demolished castle. about 100 yards from the path. is located on the front lawn at a point opposite the tower and about 100 yards from the path.

Buckingham Palace has been the official residence of British Sovereigns since 1837.

Sandringham was the site of the first Royal Christmas broadcast to the Empire in 1932.

Both King George V and King George VI loved Sandringham. They died there in 1936 and 1952 respectively.

When King George V was Prince of Wales, he devised ST - Sandringham time. He had a passion for shooting and to make the most of winter daylight hours clocks all over the estate were advanced by half an hour. It was later abolished by King Edward VIII in 1936.

With the exception of King Edward VIII, all of King George V's children were born at York Cottage on the Sandringham estate

Diana, Princess of Wales was born at Park House on the Sandringham estate

King Olav of Norway was born at Sandringham

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Saturday, June 06, 2009

The Royal Report for Sunday June 7, 2009 - Can Prince William and Prince Harry carry on their mother's work?

Since their mother, Princess Diana died, both of her sons have vowed to continue her work. Can they live up to her legacy?

You can listen to the episode here

Note: The Royal Report is now available on iTunes!

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada No 131 8 June 2009

The Serpent and the Moon by Princess Michael of Kent

Websites mentioned

World of Royalty

Princess Michael of Kent

Prince of Wales

Causes mentioned



Royal Marsden Hospital

The Diana Memorial Fund

Tune in LIVE via webcam to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday June 14th, 2009 9:00PM EST.

The topic will be: The Royal Romance Report - June edition

© Marilyn Braun 2009

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Survivor Balmoral - Day 35

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, the only one who knew how to cook and entertain royally, unexpectedly left the tribe. Chaos ensued as the tribe members, hungrily eyed each other. On this episode the remaining members of tribe Saxe Coburg Gotha sit satiated around the campfire. The Queen approaches the group and they all stand up.

The Queen: Have you seen the corgi's?

The other tribe members look around innocently. Edward stops knawing on a bone. Charles dabs his mouth with a napkin.

Edward: Mummy, would you like a rib?

The Queen: Where's Andrew and Anne?

Charles: I guess they just couldn't handle it. Survival of the fittest Mummy.

Anne enters carrying some more firewood

Anne: Must I do all of the work around here?

The Queen: Well, if you see Andrew please let him know that I was looking for him. I need some help with my Wii.

Meanwhile, during the dessert making challenge, Prince William is trying to plan a small birthday party for his grandfather, Prince Philip who will be 88 soon. He is currently in the carpenters shed and looks for some supplies to make a birthday cake. He finds some sawdust and what appears to be a stale bag of marshmallows and fashions a crude mound. Proud of himself he heads towards the door, which he has cleverly wedged open with an open crate containing a box of cake mix, a carton of eggs, bottled water and two cake pans. Prince Philip and the Queen wait to taste-test. William puts the cake down infront of them. The Queen looks at it warily.

Prince William (Proudly): I made it myself!

Prince Philip: It's...very interesting...what does it have in it?

Prince William: Marshmallows!

The Queen (whispering to Philip): We don't have any marshmallows.

In another part of the castle Prince Charles and Princess Anne are busy with the IKEA challenge. They must put together a rectangular plastic coffee table with 4 screw-in legs. Charles reads the instructions.

Charles: (Amazed) It says you don't need any tools for this.

Anne: That sounds too easy. Why would they give us something that easy? Are they trying to trick us?

Both look apprehensively at the 5 pieces.

Charles (looks around desperately) Help!!

Later on, at tribal council, the Queen gathers the remaining members of the tribe. She looks around and mentally does a headcount.

The Queen: Has anyone seen Andrew?

Charles and Edward look nervously at each other. Just then, the missing corgi appears.

The Queen (delighted): Oh there's my lost corgi!

On the next episode of Survivor Balmoral, the Queen searches for Prince Andrew while the remaining tribe members help put the coffee table together.

© Marilyn Braun 2009

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