Monday, May 31, 2010

Royal Focus: Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York's wedding dress

When asked about her wedding dress in 1986, Sarah Ferguson said "there will never be a dress to match it." And to date she has been correct. 

Her dress was designed by Lindka Cierach and was made from heavy ivory duchess satin, which was manufactured at Britain's only silk farm, Lullingstone near Sherborne in Dorset.The fabric was chosen because, according to Sarah 'it is the creamiest material in the world. It never creases. It is as smooth as glass and hangs beautifully.'

The champagne color of the dress flattered the bride's hair and skin tone. The design had a renaissance silhouette and the fitted, boned bodice had a dropped waist coming into a point at the front and a lower 'V' at the back. The neckline was gently curved and edged with pearls. The sleeves were full, coming into a simple pearl-edged point just below the elbow. 

The skirt was flat in front, widening on the sides and full at the back. The 17 1/2 foot train flowed from beneath a fan shaped bow and the underskirt was bordered by a silk scalloped lace flounce billowing out the heavy sheen of the satin skirt. The designer's hallmark - heavy beading - was most strikingly evident on the train and was based on Sarah's Coat-of-Arms.  Worked in seed pearls and diamante, the train was embroidered with thistles, bees and hearts and in a nod to Prince Andrew's naval career, anchors, and waves. Rising in a scale at the bottom of the train, a heraldic 'A' led into a double 'S'.  The pure silk tulle veil had scalloped edging and was embroidered with true lover's knots and shimmered with sequins. The total number of bugle beads, sequins, crystals pearls and stones on the wedding dress amounted to 155,000.

The satin shoes were designed by Manolo Blahnik and beaded with bees and ribbons in pearls and diamonds. She wore a necklace of cultured pearls intertwined with 18 carat gold and a diamond pearl pendant. She wore a headdress off fresh flowers - roses, lily petals , gardenias (Andrew's favorite flower) and lilies-of-the-valley. At the end of the ceremony the headdress was removed to reveal a diamond tiara, symbolic of her metamorphosis from commoner to royal. As Sarah recalled 'I had stepped up as the country girl; I would walk back as a princess.'

In her hands Sarah carried an "S' shaped spray of cream lilies, palest yellow roses, gardenias, lilies of the valley and the traditional sprig of myrtle.  

© Marilyn Braun 2010

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Royal Report for Sunday May 30, 2010 - Can Fergie bounce back?

Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York was recently caught in a video sting by an undercover News of the World reporter offering access to Prince Andrew in exchange for money. With a history of mishaps, can she bounce back from this one?

Listen to the episode to find out

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada Weekly No 174 Spring 2010

Hello! Canada Weekly No 149 9 November 2010

My Story by Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York

News of the World Video mentioned

Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson in cash for access scandal

Blogs and websites mentioned

World of Royalty Website

World of Royalty Blog

Royal News Blog

The Ceremonial Funeral of Lord Louis Mountbatten of Burma

From My Royal Collection

The Royal Way of Death (History & Politics) by Olivia Bland

Tune in LIVE to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday June 6, 2010 at 9:00PM EST (North America).

The topic to be determined

© Marilyn Braun 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Why Prince Andrew should forgive Fergie

Prince Andrew must, no doubt, be aware of the story of his ex-wife having been caught in a sting by a journalist from the News of the World. We can only imagine the 'apoleptic rage' he keeps hidden behind the royal reserve while attending engagements. To his credit he ignored questions by reporters, thereby not engaging in a public mud slinging match. One well chosen syllable of which would have been enough to destroy her reputation for good.

Fergie, who was in the US to accept an award will be returning to the UK soon. The Daily Mail predicts there will be a showdown, where she will be called to account to her ex-husband for her latest gaffe.  Fergie, in her 'fragile mental state,', according to the Express, is 'throwing herself at the mercy of friends.' "Desperate and in a bad place' she has taken to leaving 'anguished messages' on a friend's answering machine.  Oh the melodrama!

Prince Andrew of all people must be aware of the predicament Fergie is in. After all, didn't his family help place her there by shafting her in the divorce settlement? Leaving her with little more than £15,000 and the remnants of a royal title. Who can blame her for trading off on what she has? Isn't he doing the same? Were it not for his title, would he be in the same position he is now?

The Prince is also well aware of how the media has treated members of his family. This is not the first run in with News of the World, and it probably won't be the last. Hopefully the Duchess will be wiser the next time but given her track record I doubt it. Placing the blame solely on Fergie and permanently faulting her for being naive would make them both look bad.

Let's also not forget that she is the mother of his children. The princesses must be caught in the middle, their loyalties divided. Beatrice and Eugenie must know their mother and the position she's in better than most, yet at the same time realizing that a price shouldn't be put on their royal heritage. I've always gotten the impression that Andrew and Sarah, sharing living arrangements and holidays, as the 'happiest divorced couple in the world' who, in Andrew's words, are 'divorced to each other, but not from each other' must share a special bond that the rest of us find hard to comprehend. A bond which survives even through her previous gaffes, some which have been more humiliating to him than being offered up for £500,000.

My money is on them weathering this storm too. After all of these years and after all they have been through, they must be fairly familiar with the following quote: 'to err is human, to forgive is divine.'

© Marilyn Braun 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Can Fergie bounce back?


Fergie, Fergie, Fergie (insert dramatic sigh here).

What have you done this time? Just when we thought you were on the road to royal redemption, breaking scones with the royal family at tea time and cozily living with your ex-husband as, what you call yourselves: "the happiest divorced couple in the world." You get caught in a video sting by an undercover reporter for News of the World. I hate when that happens.

My first reaction to your video? Holy c**p!

Second reaction to your video? She's done it again!

How, I wondered, could you still be so naive after all of these years?

Yes, you were shafted by the royal family in the divorce settlement. Yes, you have had to make your own way in the world. Having a title didn't hurt you. But your royal connections seemed to be off limits. Watching this video they obviously are not. Yet you are not the first person connected to the royal family to be captured making unflattered revealtions - Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Princess Michael of Kent to name but two. If anything, you're in good company.

You have apologized for your "serious lapse in judgement."  As the royals supposedly react to these things, the Queen herself must be 'incandescent with rage', Charles must be 'knashing his teeth' and the scandal is said to have shaken the royals. Then there are the rest of us who may be bemused, shocked, or indifferent. It is incredibly unfortunate, especially for some of us who had held out hope that when the Queen goes to that great palace in the sky, that you two might once again be reunited on commmemorative china. Like waiting for William and Kate to get married, we all have unrealistic dreams.

Reports of your financial difficulties are nothing new. You have denied them in the past but there is no denying it now. It must be a desperate situation for you to offer up the Duke of York to the higest bidder. While the deal you were trying to broker is shocking, it is your naivety that is painful to watch. Your appearance in the video, smoking, looking stressed and hunched over was pathetic for a woman circa 1986 who joined the royal family with such 'breath of fresh air' potential.

It's hard to say how this will affect your future with your business and your credibilty. I feel sad that for all of the progress you have made with the royal family you might be back to square one. Not to mention how your daughters must feel being caught in the middle. But you have bounced back before and you have proven that you are a survivor when others have chosen to count you out. And in that respect I'm not worried about you - for now.

This too shall pass...until the next time...

© Marilyn Braun 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Royal Report for Sunday May 16, 2010 - A Celebration of Prince Harry and Chelsy Davy's love

On this episode I "celebrate" the love of Prince Harry and Chelsy Davy.

You can listen to my celebration here

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada Weekly No 173 17 May 2010


People - The Royals, Their Lives, Loves and Secrets 2006 version

Blogs mentioned

The Royal Representative

From my Royal Collection

Happy and Glorious: Six Reigns of Royal Photography

There will be no show next week due to the Victoria Day weekend. Tune in LIVE to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday May 30, 2010 9:00PM EST (North America)

The topic to be determined

© Marilyn Braun 2010

Saturday, May 08, 2010

The Royal Report for Sunday May 9th, 2010 - The Life and Times of Queen Elizabeth II - Part Three

What was the 1970s like for the Queen fashion wise? Will Harry marry Chelsy? What event shook the monarchy to its core?

Listen to this episode to find out.

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada Weekly No 172 10 May 2010

From a Clear Blue Sky: Surviving the Mountbatten Bomb by Timothy Knatchbull

Marcus Adams: Royal Photographer

Blog Posts mentioned

Royal Profile - Marcus Adams

From My Royal Collection

My Young Friends: The Queen's Young Family by Valerie Garner & Jayne Fincher

Resources used to research this episode

The Queen: 50 Years - A Celebration by Ronald Allison

Elizabeth: Fifty Glorious Years by Jennie Bond

Sixty Glorious Years: Elizabeth II by Christopher Warwick

Jubilee: A Celebration of 50 Years of the Reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Tim Graham

Tune in LIVE to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday May 16th, 2010 9:00PM EST (North America)

The topic will be: Prince Harry and Chelsy Davy - A Celebration of their love

© Marilyn Braun 2010

Friday, May 07, 2010

Royal Focus: Swedish Cameo Tiara

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - JUNE 19: Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden attends her wedding banquet at the Royal Palace on June 19, 2010 in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)On her wedding day, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden will continue a Bernadotte royal wedding tradition by wearing the Cameo tiara, one of the oldest jewels in the Swedish royal family's collection . UPDATE: Victoria wears the tiara at left

The tiara was made for Empress Josephine, first wife of Napoleon I, by the French Crown Jeweller Marie-Etienne Nitot in Paris in 1811. The gold and seed pearl tiara is set with seven portrait cameos.  The centre oval depicts Venus and cupid. On either side is a portrait of a man and on the other side a portait of a woman, both facing the centre cameo. The hardstone cameos are believed to have been supplied by the jeweller to the Empress Josephine in 1809. Napolean himself was fascinated by cameos and the diadem is an example of the revival of the antique style popular in France in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

In 1823 the diadem became part of the dowry of Josephine of Leuchtenberg, who received it from her grandmother and namesake, Empress Josephine, upon her marriage to the future King of Sweden, Oscar I. She is wearing it in the portrait at right.

Carl Gustav  XVI Weds
After the death of Queen Josefina of Sweden in 1876, her jewelry collection was divided up and the cameo diadem was bequethed to King Oscar II of Sweden who gave it to his wife, nee Princess Sophie of Nassau. Queen Sophie gave the cameo diadem to her youngest son, Eugene, who in turn gave it to Princess Sibylla, mother of King Carl XVI. She lent the tiara to her daughter Princess Birgitta who wore the tiara as her bridal crown for her wedding with Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern in 1961.Thus starting a tradition.  It has since been worn by royal brides Princess Désirée in 1964 and Queen Silvia, pictured on her wedding day in 1976.
© Marilyn Braun 2010

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Swedish-British Royal connection

Like most European royal houses, Sweden has links to the British royal family. In this case through three of Queen Victoria's children. They are related by blood through Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, and Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany and Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. The third connection is via marriage through Princess Alice, second daughter of Queen Victoria. The present King Carl XVI Gustaf is the son of two of her great-grandchildren. His daughter, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden is, twice-over, a great-great-great grandchild of Queen Victoria.

The current King's paternal grandmother was Princess Margaret of Connaught, the daughter of Arthur, Duke of Connaught, third son of Queen Victoria. She was born in 1882 and known to her family as 'Daisy'. She married Prince Gustaf Adolf, the future King Gustaf VI Adolf, in 1905 and they had five children, the eldest, Prince Gustaf Adolf, father of the present King, was born in 1906. Daisy did not live to become Queen of Sweden, having died suddenly in 1920. She is also, incidently, through her daughter Ingrid, the grandmother of the current Queen Margarethe of Denmark.

The King's mother, Princess Sibylla, was the granddaughter of Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, fourth son of Victoria. She was born in 1908 and her father, Prince Charles Edward, was the posthumus son of Prince Leopold and upon his birth became Duke of Albany. She married her second cousin,  Prince Gustaf Adolf in 1932 and they had five children, the youngest, the current king, born in 1946. Like her late-mother in law, Princess Margaret, she would never become Queen. Her husband died in a plane crash in 1947, leaving their infant son as second in line to the throne. She died in 1972.

When Crown Princess Margaret of Sweden died in 1920, Prince Gustav Adolf remarried in 1923 to Lady Louise Mountbatten  granddaughter of Princess Alice, second daughter of Queen Victoria. They did not have any children and became King Gustaf VI Adolf and Queen Louise in 1950. She died in 1965 and her husband reigned until 1973. Upon his death, his grandson, King Carl XVI Gustaf, succeeded.

© Marilyn Braun 2010

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

And I turn towards Sweden..

I'm having a serious case of royal watching envy as Sweden prepares for the wedding of their Crown Princess. All of the romance, the preparation, the speculation that the British royal family should be experiencing if only Prince William would get off his regal tush and propose to Kate Middleton. Or if he already has proposed then tell the world about it already!

Sweden has what the British royals do not - a happy ending.

I've lamented the lack of royal news, it's depressing to think that the last wedding happened in 2008 and wasn't really a royal wedding at all. Sure the trappings were there, the royal pedigree was unquestioned. But when the groom, Peter Philips, was born he was plain Master Peter Philips. As a grandchild in the female line, he and his sister Zara were the first children of a royal to be born commoners in over 500 years.

William and Kate's wedding would undoubtably be a royal wedding. In fact it would be the royal wedding. As his father's first wedding and his grandmother, the Queen's had been before that. The wedding of a direct heir to the throne captures the imagination. After all there is a lot at stake. Not only would Kate become the newest Princess, she would be expected to secure the line, and eventually take her place beside William on the throne. Heady stuff but Kate has had eight years to consider it. And William has had just as much time to consider it as well. Unlike his father who was reportedly bullied into marrying Lady Diana Spencer, William is in a position where he can take his time to make the right decision. When he will let us know is anyones guess.

Sweden had a similar wait for their Crown Princess. She reportedly began dating Daniel Westling in 2002 and their engagement was announced in February 2009. I admit that until recently I didn't pay much attention to what went on in the Swedish royal family other than to note how exceptionally photogenic they are. Now on June 19th they will take their place on the royal watching centre stage - The beautiful princess and her handsome prince-to-be. Not only a glamorous and regal event but a historic one too. The Crown Princess's marriage will be the first wedding of a female successor to the throne in the history of Swedish monarchs. It will also be the largest event ever covered in Stockholm.

And all I can do is watch and sigh enviously...

© Marilyn Braun 2010

Sunday, May 02, 2010

The Royal Report for Sunday May 2, 2010 - The Life and Times of Elizabeth II - Part Two

What was the Queen up to in the 1940s, 50s and 60s?

Listen to this episode to find out

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada Weekly No 171 3 May 2010

People Magazine May 3, 2010

Websites mentioned

World of Royalty

YouTube The Queen's 21st birthday speech

From My Royal Collection

Royal Encounters by Paul Ratcliffe

Resources used to research this episode

The Queen: 50 Years - A Celebration by Ronald Allison

Queen and Country: The Fifty-Year Reign of Elizabeth II by William Shawcross

Elizabeth: Fifty Glorious Years by Jennie Bond

Tune in LIVE to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday May 9, 2010 at 9:00PM EST (North America).

The topic will be: Part Three of a look back at the life and times of Queen Elizabeth II.

© Marilyn Braun 2010