Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Royal Report for Tuesday December 27, 2011 - 2011: The Royal Year in Review

2011 was a big year for the Royal family, with two royal weddings and historic royal tours. On this episode, a look back at the royal events that took place in 2011.

You can listen to the show here: 2011- The Royal Year in Review

Publications mentioned

People - Best (and Worst!) of 2011

Hello! Canada Holiday No 244 9 January 2012

Maclean's 2011 The Year in Pictures

Maclean's Newsmakers 2011

This will be the last episode of 2011.

I have decided to take an indefinate break from doing the show. As much as I love doing it, I feel as though I've said everything there is to say. I've covered this topic from every conceivable angle that and now that William and Catherine are married and the succession rules have changed, I don't know what else there is to cover.So I'm taking a break to re-evaluate the future of the show.

My archives at BlogTalkRadio will still be available to listen to. Over the past four years I think I've done some good episodes there, so you're welcome to treasure hunt!

Thanks for listening!

© Marilyn Braun 2011

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.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Royal Report for Sunday December 18, 2011 - 75th Anniversary of the Abdication crisis

December 11th marked the 75th anniversary of the abdication crisis. On this date King Edward VIII stepped down from the throne and changed the course of the present Queen's life. On this episode a look back at the crisis and its impact on the royal family.

Listen to the episode: 75th Anniversary of the Abdication crisis

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada No 242 12 December 2011

Hello! Canada No 243 19 December 2011

Vanity Fair January 2012

From My Royal Collection

The Windsor Years Text by Lord Kinross

Tune in to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday December 25th, 2011 at 9:00PM EST (North America)

The topic will be: 2011 - The Royal Year in Review

© Marilyn Braun 2011

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.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

The Royal Report for Sunday December 4, 2011 - The Royal Family and Balmoral Castle

Since it was purchased by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1852, Balmoral Castle in Scotland has been a private home to successive generations of the royal family, right up to the present day. On this episode, a look back at the history of Balmoral.

Listen to the episode to find out about the history of Balmoral: The Royals and Balmoral Castle

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada Weekly No 241 5 December 2011

From My Royal Collection

Eating Royally by Darren McGrady

Tune in to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday December 11th, 2011 at 9:00PM EST (North America)

The topic will be: December 11th marks the 75th anniversary of the abdication crisis. On this date King Edward VIII stepped down from the throne and changed the course of the present Queen's life. On this episode a look back at the crisis and its impact on the royal family.

December 11th episode has been postponed

© Marilyn Braun 2011

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.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Prince William, it's time to pass the gold sticky stars around

Take a close look at the picture above. Notice anything?

These are some of the news stories about Prince William’s involvement in a mission to rescue Russian sailors from their sunken cargo ship. A risky mission accomplished in gale force winds. Two sailors were rescued and the search continues for more survivors.

William acted as the co-pilot. But yet, looking at the title of these articles, you could come to the conclusion that he single-handily rescued these men all on his own. He co-piloted the helicopter while putting down a winch to pull the sailors to safety. William must have long, strong arms.

Not to minimize his role but obviously William wasn’t alone. He was a member of a team, vaguely identified as his 'crew' or his 'Royal Air Force Collegues'. Did the other faceless, nameless persons involved in this effort receive the same amount of praise and recognition? After all, they also risked their lives. The Russian Ambassador to the UK even directed his thanks to Prince William for his effort. Sure his colleagues were acknowledged, but not by name like William. If I was them, I would be plenty cheesed off about this too.

Were it not for William’s involvement, would this story receive the same amount of coverage? More than likely it would have been mixed in with all of the other pressing tragic news stories. But because of William, it’s different. Suddenly he's the story and it seems as though his crew and especially the victims are incidental when it should be the other way around.

William had spent many years training as a Search and Rescue pilot. He seems to take the job very seriously and so far he hasn't crashed into anything. Yes, Prince William came to the rescue in a time of need. He put his skills to work. Because that's what he was doing, his job.It was risky and dangerous, but he's not the only one doing it. When a job is well done by a team, everyone deserves recognition, not just one person to the exclusion of everything else.

William will receive enough gold sticky stars throughout his life. Time to pass them around to the others whose lives are just as valuable.

Prince William, of all people, should insist upon it.

© Marilyn Braun 2011

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.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Royal Report for Sunday November 27, 2011 - Royal Focus - Kensington Palace

Tune in to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday November 27, 2011 at 9:00PM EST (North America)

The topic will be: It's been called the 'royal aunt heap', it was the birthplace of Queen Victoria and Queen Mary. It was notably the former home of Diana, Princess of Wales and Princess Margaret. It was once the favored home of kings and queens. In 2013 it will become the home of William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. On this episode, a focus on the history of Kensington Palace.

© Marilyn Braun 2011

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.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Royal Report for Sunday November 20, 2011 - Royal Baby Watch - November edition

Tune in to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday November 20th, 2011 at 9:00PM EST (North America).

The topic will be: Royal Baby Watch - November edition. Seven months in and still no news of a royal baby. Are William and Catherine under too much pressure to have a baby?

© Marilyn Braun 2011

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.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Stop the 24-hour royal baby watch, it's a mood killer

Catherine stands by the fireplace trying to ward off the November chill. Wearing a black cardigan from Alexander McQueen's Fall-Winter collection, a pair of Mark Fast Elastometric leggings, and Jimmy Choo ballerina flats, she  pads over to the stereo system and presses play on the iPod. Barry White's velvety voice fills the room as Catherine lights candles. William stands in their bedroom doorway wearing nothing but his honorary medals and a smile. Catherine wraps her arms around his waist and puts her head in his chest. He coos: "Darling, the succession rules have changed, let's make a baby." William and Catherine go into the bedroom and close the door. The screen goes dark.

Royal watchers lean back from the edge of their seats, eating the last of their peanut paste, and tweeting about what William and Catherine are doing behind the door. At the next public appearance, speculation will begin in earnest as the media desperately looks for any flimsy evidence of success. But in a dramatic twist, all may not be as it seems. Behind closed doors, instead of making a baby, William and Catherine are making a pact.

Catherine: (giggles) Did you see headlines about the peanut paste?

William: That was hilarious!

Catherine: Don't you think it's a bit mean?

William: No, serves them right. The should leave us alone.

Catherine: You're right, it really is too much fun.

William: Next time we're in public, make sure you pat your tummy more.

Catherine: Like this?

William: Yes, and pinch your cheeks beforehand so you look like you're glowing. Also, make sure you smile enigmatically while give me a knowing look.

Catherine: Like this? (she smiles and gives William an exaggerated wink)

William: Not so obvious. More of an imperceptible eye flutter. Anything more and they'll think we're expecting triplets.

No doubt this charade is part of their diabolical plans to lead us on. When we read the headlines the next day, the joke is on us. But this is destined to backfire. The more we speculate, the more intrusive it becomes. Intimacy becomes a chore when we expect every swing of the bat to be a homerun. Who can blame William and Catherine for bolting the door and drawing their curtains in an attempt to escape our 24 hour royal baby watch?

Whether it's a week, month or year (or more) from now, a royal baby announcement will be made when William and Catherine are ready. As we've seen with the engagement, our rabid speculation won't make it come sooner. Media outlets take note, hyperactive reports are a mood killer. When the times comes, a royal baby, like the wedding dress, will be worth the wait.

© Marilyn Braun 2011

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.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Royal Review: Princess Diana - The Day She Didn't Die

Based on the title it would be easy to dismiss this book as yet another attempt to reincarnate Diana. Other books have tried and, in my opinion, have fallen short. Mainly in terms of the complete lack of plausibility. Therefore I approached this book with skepticism. Surprisingly, I found myself gripped from the start.

One of the main things that sets this novel apart from the competition is that Diana is not only alive, she hasn't taken drastic measures to escape from the past. The car accident happened. Another car was involved and the Mercedes hit the pillar. The driver died, there is no Trevor Rees-Jones, but Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Al Fayed survived.

When Diana died, many unanswered questions remained. Was Diana just having a fling with Dodi? Were they engaged to be married? Was she pregnant? Was someone trying to kill her? Princess Diana - The Day She Didn't Die tries to answer them by fictionalizing what Diana's life would have been like in the aftermath of the accident.

Dodi Al Fayed's reported reputation as a playboy while alive is replaced by a responsible businessman, more than capable of holding his own with Diana and the complications that come with her. To their credit, the authors do not take the easy route by reducing Diana to a charicature based on public perception.

People viewed Diana in a variety of ways. She was seen as a fairytale princess, a fashion icon, and someone who had great influence. Despite her divorce, the interest in Diana would not have ended but instead evolved. To gauge the public response to her new life with Dodi Al Fayed, we have the perspective of a university student named Ella. Because of Diana, Ella is also exploring Islam and experiences similiar conflicts while dating a Muslim, albeit on a smaller scale.

One of the biggest unanswered questions is whether Diana would have converted to Islam. While interesting, I found there to be too much emphasis on religion and the effect on their relationship. While understandable under the circumstances, there should have been more to her existence. Given her seeming addiction to the limelight, it's hard to imagine Diana giving up her global role; no matter how much she loves Dodi. In life, taking a backseat never seemed to be Diana's style, and it's unrealistic to expect otherwise.

The role of the royal family is minimized to occasional visits from her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry and a guest appearance by a disapproving Prince Charles. Yet there is also the interesting possibilities of what Diana's role would have been as a de facto member of the royal family which remain unexplored.

Covering the period from the 1997 car accident to the September 11th, 2001 attacks the ending is somewhat abrupt, leaving more questions than answers. Seemingly on the verge of converting, there are many possibilities that could have been explored, with not only Diana's continued reluctance to embrace Islam, but also Dodi's potential complications in the aftermath of 9/11.  Given everything they went through up to that point, it's interesting to contemplate whether their relationship could have withstood this development.

As in real life, we will never really know. But this book takes an effective, realistic and plausible attempt at imagining what could have been without resorting to happily ever after.

© Marilyn Braun 2011

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.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Royal Report for Sunday October 23, 2011 - Royal Baby Watch - October edition

On this episode, tips on making a royal baby. Why does Prince Philip have a twinkle in his eye? Can a book about Diana's death be plausible? Find out on this episode:

The Royal Report - Royal Baby Watch - October edition

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada Weekly No 235 24 October 2011

Chatelaine November 2011 issue - Cover story: Kate Middleton - What's next for the most talked about woman of 2011

From My Royal Collection

Princess Diana - The Day She Didn't Die

Tune in to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday October 30, 2011 at 9:00PM ET (North America)

The topic will be: The Royal Family in Scotland

© Marilyn Braun 2011

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.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Royal Report for Sunday October 16, 2011 - Girls rock, let them rule!

Despite having illustrious histories with extremely capable Queens regnant, namely Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Victoria and the present Queen, males still take precedence over females in the line of succession. By these current rules, should William and Catherine's first child be a girl, her position would be usurped by any younger brothers.

Prime Minister David Cameron has recently announced his support for changing these rules to allow for equal rights to the throne. Is it about time these rules are changed? What's involved in changing them?

Listen to this episode to find out: Girls rock, let them rule!

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada Weekly No 234 17 October 2011

Tatler - October 2011 Cover Story - Zara!

From My Royal Collection

Bright Young Royals: Your Guide to the Next Generation of Blue Bloods

Websites mentioned

World of Royalty Blog

Tune in to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday October 23, 2011 at 9:00PM EST (North America)

The topic will be: Royal Baby Watch - October edition

© Marilyn Braun 2011

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, October 13, 2011

Kate Middleton and Catherine who?

The Official Royal Wedding photographs
Exhibit A
It was inevitable and understandable. Hanging on to the past is reassuring and familiar. There could also be disbelief that the royal wedding actually occurred. Rest assured it did and there's plenty of proof when it doubt. You might actually have to pinch yourself but it's time to face reality. William and Kate Middleton are married and now she is Catherine, The Duchess of Cambridge. It's on DVDs, books and china. There's even official photographs. I present Exhibit A.

The Duke and Duchess  of Cambridge open the new Oak Centre for Children and Young People during a visit to The Royal Marsden Hospital
Exhibit B
Despite the wedding ceremony and official announcements there are still numerous articles referring to Catherine as Kate Middleton. In rare occurrences she is called The Duchess of Cambridge, like when she unveils a plaque (Exhibit B). But for the media it seems they just don't get it. Some reporters, unsure of what to do, have inventively created a hybrid 'Katy Cambridge'. It's as if they want to acknowledge reality but don't want to let go of the past.

In the beginning, we may have thought that this misconception would be temporary. It would take time for people to adapt. But six months later, people are still using her old name. No matter how many new fashions Catherine wears, she is still referred to as Kate Middleton. She can wear shiny pantyhose to her hearts content but it doesn't change a thing. The  name Kate Middleton is so deeply ingrained that there seems to be no other possibility. It's as if Catherine is just not good enough. It's always 'Kate Middleton, Kate Middleton, Kate Middleton.'

It's an unfortunate occurrence that Catherine would feel neglected. Eclipsed by a more familiar counterpart, possibly at risk of developing an inferiority complex. She needs to repeat the mantra: 'Catherine, you're good enough, you're smart enough, and doggone-it, people will clue in eventually.'

It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when.

© Marilyn Braun 2011

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.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

The Royal Report for Sunday October 2, 2011 - Royal Patronages and Charities

Members of the royal family receive many request to be involved in charities as patron. Far more than they can lend their support to. On this episode the history of royal patronages, a look at charities that members of the royal family support and the reasons they do so.

Listen to the episode to find out: Royal Patronages and Charities

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday in Canada, there will be no episode next week. The Royal Report will return with a new episode on Sunday October 16, 2011 at 9:00PM EST (North America).

Topic to be determined.

© Marilyn Braun 2011

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.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Has Catherine's privacy become a royal paradox?

It's always nice to see Catherine, isn't it? Especially as it's so rare to do so. What with her wanting to take her time and ease into royal duties. We can't be blamed for taking what we can get in between.

Catherine reportedly spent 4 hours at the salon. How do we know she was there? Because there's a photo of her getting her hair blow dried. This photo was taken through a window. Whose fault is it that she was photographed? The paparazzi who took the picture? Or is it Catherine's for not sitting in a more private location?

Judging by the comments people like seeing her. But yet there are also comments invoking Diana.  Her life is a parable for what can go wrong. But pointing this out is a downer. Like playing outside and being reminded you have homework. It spoils the fun. Off duty photos are harmless, aren't they? Besides, what are the chances it could happen again?

As you read this article there's no need to comment on the hypocrisy. I know I am not innocent of wanting to know about Catherine.  Nor about using her as material for my blogs. I follow her because she is, currently, the most interesting member of the royal family. A royal superstar. Therefore I can't take the high road. Because then it wouldn't allow me to question what's wrong with it.

However I'm also not alone in my interest. But where do you draw the line? The bedroom? Bathroom?Is she supposed to stay in her remote cottage/palace and become a recluse? She may have signed up for a life in the spotlight, but when did saying 'Catherine's privacy' become incongruous? 

I'm drawing my line in the sand at photographs taken through windows or when she's off duty.

Where do you draw yours?

© Marilyn Braun 2011

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.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Royal Report for Sunday September 25, 2011 - Is it time to stop comparing Kate to Diana?

Since the engagement announcement, Kate has been relentlessly compared to Diana. From her wedding dress, to her fashions, to her approach to her royal role, Kate seems to live in her shadow. Is it time to stop comparing Kate to Diana? Can we stop doing so?

You can listen to the episode here: The Royal Report - Is it time to stop comparing Kate to Diana?

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada Weekly No 233 3 October 2011

From My Royal Collection

Britain's Royal Heritage: An A to Z of the Monarchy

Tune in to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday October 2, 2011 at 9:00PM EST (North America).

The topic will be: Worthy charities and the royals who support them.

© Marilyn Braun 2011

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.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Royal Review: Bright Young Royals by Jerramy Fine

Searching for your prince or princess?

Not sure where to begin?

You could buy a ticket to whatever country the object of your royal affection is in and hope for the best, but there is no guarantee you'll be successful. Then there are the strange looks from your family to contend with.

No, what you need is a well thought out plan.

You could invest in a copy of the Almanach de Gotha, it's expensive and awkward to tote around. Not to mention having to wade through over 1000 pages to locate the royals that are actually still available. Too time consuming.

Or you could buy a copy of Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage so that you don't step on any regal toes. But why bother?

What you need is a concise guide. A primer that tells you which royals are available and what they like to do in their spare time.

Thankfully that publication now exists. Bright Young Royals: Your Guide to the Next Generation of Blue Bloods by Jerramy Fine is your indispensable reference for finding your royal and keeping them. This book will tell you everything you need to know about who they are, where they live and how to win their hearts.

This book lists the available candidates from the various European royal houses along with short biographies, which include photographs to compare your options. You will learn where these royals live, their educational background, and what charities they support so that you can make an informed decision on whether they would make your family proud. Or switch gears if necessary.

So, armed with the ultimate guide, what do you do next?

Once you've made it past the security detail for the object of your royal affection, you're all set to win their heart using the helpful tips in Jerramy's book. What they like to eat, their birthdate, the names of their siblings, how much money they have and where they are in the royal pecking order. Sure to impress even the most minor of available royals.

Of course there will be roadblocks along the way. It could take years before you get a proposal. Just ask Kate Middleton and Charlene Wittstock. That's why Jerramy has included a chapter on modern day Cinderella success stories to keep you motivated and inspired. Think being a commoner, overly intelligent, a single mother, or a divorcee  will stand in your way of finding true royal love? Rest assured it won't. 

But once you've married your royal it isn't all luxury and glamour. There's real work to do, such as using your powers for good and raising a future generation of royals to be responsible individuals. An entire generation of upcoming attractive young royals to write a sequel for. No doubt it will be just as enjoyable as this version is now.

© Marilyn Braun 2011

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.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Why training Catherine to be Royal is a bad idea

Now that Catherine has been a member of the Royal family for close to five months, the real work is set to begin.

After all, there's more to her role than hitting all the right fashion notes and getting pregnant on demand. The signs are reassuring. Since April the new Duchess of Cambridge has shown promise. She's already perfected the royal wave and the ability to smile on cue. Not to mention she has received training fending off kidnappers when her security detail isn't paying attention. Having passed all of this, she has now progressed to the next level.

Catherine will now be trained on the business side of being royal: private tutorials on government, briefings of State, and learning about organizations such as the arts and media. These private lessons are being held in St. James's Palace. This indoctrination process is expected to take several months, by which point she may regret having said "I Will".

Obviously the learning curve is steep and it will take time. Given her future ornamental role as consort there are all types of diplomatic minefields lying in wait. Fashion faux pas waiting to happen such as wearing the national flag colors of France while visiting the Netherlands.

You'll notice the training has worked when she stiffens at approaching children, no longer smiles spontaneously, and appears impervious to sub-zero temperatures. Will she take fashion risks? Highly unlikely. When all is said and done, Catherine may become a brunette version of Sophie, the Countess of Wessex. Pretty, but staid and unremarkable.

Lessons may have been learnt from the past, but if Catherine is trained to be Royal, the very qualities that people are charmed by and find refreshing are likely to be drummed out of her. Catherine may be accessible now, but the Royal family has their own rules when it comes to their subjects. Rule number one: Do not act like one of them.

So the next time you see Catherine in public acting natural and spontaneous?

Enjoy it while it lasts.

© Marilyn Braun 2011

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.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Royal Report for Sunday September 18, 2011 - Royal Baby Watch - September edition

Tune in to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday September 18, 2011 at 9:00PM EST (North America)

The topic will be: Five months in and still no news of a royal baby for William and Catherine. Should they be pregnant by now or are we being impatient?

© Marilyn Braun 2011

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.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

5 Reasons I don't want to be like Kate Middleton

On April 29th, Catherine Middleton walked into Westminster Abbey a commoner and left HRH The Duchess of Cambridge. Thus fulfilling the collective dreams of women waiting to find their own prince. Not to mention all of the impatient little girls who dragged their parents to the Disney store for instant gratification.

Yes, the royal wedding was a glorious, long overdue event. But now that it's over, reality has set in. This author seems to be under the impression that because she is thin and dresses well we all want to be like Kate Middleton. Granted it would be nice to have hospitals named after you, the adulation of the crowds and an unlimited supply of flower bouquets, for the most part I don't envy Kate in the slightest and I don't want to be like her. Here are my five reasons why.

1) No one gets your name right

Her name is Catherine. It was on the wedding programme and it's probably on her birth certificate. Despite this the media seems to want to hang on to the past. Imagine a world where you are called the wrong name for the rest of your life. Irritating, no? On the bright side, in the event of a divorce, no need to tell people your 'new' name because they never stopped using it in the first place. See? There's always a silver lining.

2) People suddenly have a vested interest in your sex life

Royal babies do not magically appear in official photographs. They must come from somewhere, somehow. Sure we crouch the concept in euphemisms such as 'pregnancy', 'expecting', 'bump' but royal babies must be conceived first. And how to we conceive babies? That's right, we have sex. Now if the thought of thousands of people waiting for you to have sex isn't a buzz killer then I don't know what is.

3) Every part of your appearance is scrutinized in minute detail

We all have bad days where no amount of concealer or Spanx makes a difference. Now imagine being Kate. She cannot leave the palace without looking 100% perfect. Even if she thinks she looks perfect she will inadvertently disappoint hundreds of people without even realizing it. People who take her apart for everything: her hair, skin, teeth, weight, shoes, etc. Everything is fair game. Not to mention being photographed from every conceivable angle. For. The. Rest. Of. Your. Life. I don't know about you, but I could not handle that level of scrutiny.

4) You can't eat

Why? See reason #3.

5) Being a trend-setter is hard work

It must be difficult constantly trying to top yourself. Where every decision you make, from the cornflakes you buy to the sushi you eat, is worth emulating. Must be stressful trying to live up to those expectations. Sometimes a girl just wants a bag of crisps without the world waiting to take note of it, okay?

© Marilyn Braun 2011

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.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Royal Fashionistas

In honor of New York Fashion Week and the relentless focus on Kate's clothing, I thought I would go  back and revisit some other royals who were quite the fashionistas in their day. Think Kate put the royal family on the fashion map? Au contraire!

No fashion list would be complete without Queen Victoria. She rocked the black dress well before Audrey Hepburn was a glimmer in her parent's eyes. Thankfully she did not pioneer the little black dress (shudder) but she was a true champion when it came to wearing black from head to toe. Pairing it with accessories, such as priceless jewels, a white veil and a ceremonial sash, no royal has ever done the color justice since.

Albert Edward,
The Prince of Wales
While he would later lend his name to an entire era, the future King Edward VII was once a mere babe in a formal portrait.  In this Winterhalter painting, the young prince wears a sailor suit. His mother Queen Victoria was so enchanted with the suits worn by sailors in the Royal Navy that she commissioned a scaled down version for her son, thus setting a fashion trend. It is somewhat ironic that Edward himself did not serve in the Royal Navy, unlike his sons. The original suit is preserved in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.

No other royal could be credited with popularizing a physical disability. Just before the birth of her third child in 1867  Princess Alexandra, Princess of Wales, contracted rheumatic fever, which left her with a permanent limp. This started a trend amongst society ladies called the 'Alexandra limp'. Which just goes to prove that the tradition of sycophancy never goes out of style.

Edward, Prince of Wales, was the royal superstar of his day. The man who popularized patterned Fair Isle sweaters, the Windsor Knot (but did not invent it) reportedly owed his boyish figure to spanx. He favored plus-fours, loud check tweeds, as well as two-tone shoes. Chaffing against royal fashion constraints, one of his first acts upon becoming king was to banish the frock-coat from his court. 

The Princess Royal may not be renowned for her fashion sense but well before Kate was recycling her clothes, there was Anne. Case in point, at the 2008 wedding of Lady Rose Windsor, daughter of the Duke of Gloucester, Anne wore a dress older than the groom. The Maureen Baker dress had been worn at Charles and Diana's wedding 27 years earlier. Anne paired the outfit with the same John Boyd hat and it appears the same earrings. Instead of being criticized she was praised not only for her economy, but for still having the figure to fit into a dress at the age of 58 that she originally wore when she was 31.

© Marilyn Braun 2011

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.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Royal Report for Sunday September 11, 2011 - Happy Birthday Prince Harry!

Prince Harry will turn 27 on September 15th, on this episode I discuss Harry's position as third in line to the throne and the expectations placed on him. As well, I get on my soap box about Kate's privacy, what to do when your wedding attendants bail, Star magazine's fertility, and why we should let go of Pippa Middleton's bottom.

You can listen to the episode here:

Happy Birthday Prince Harry!

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada Weekly No 230 12 September 2011

Tatler Issues: Pippa Rules - August 2011 Volume 306 Number 8

From My Royal Collection

There are Still Kings

Tune in to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday September 18, 2011 at 9:00PM ESt (North America)

The topic will be: Five months in and Catherine Cambridge is still not pregnant. Should she get pregnant or are we just being impatient?

© Marilyn Braun 2011

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, September 08, 2011

My Royal Sanctuary

Since the royal tour ended there's very little to write about. So I thought I would get personal and write about my love of royal books and the place I go to unwind. This is a photo of my den/library. My royal sanctuary. It has a nice comfy couch, a TV and my royal books. I have two children and sometimes, just to get some peace and quiet and go to this room, pick a random book off the shelf and explore it. I don't read them cover to cover (I don't get the chance!) but even if I don't get a long reprieve, there's something about them that recharges my batteries. Reading these books relaxes me like nothing else can.
One of my earliest purchases

This is one of my first royal books. Diana, Princess of Wales by Brenda Ralph Lewis. Released in 1982, it's nothing fancy. About 46 pages. The inside cover is inscribed with my name in multi-colored bubble letters, flowers and balloons (sacrilege!) and there's one of my first royal drawings depicting the Queen on the throne on her Coronation day.

I was drawn to this book because it had the first pictures of Prince William. Other than seeing a bit of his head peeping out, it's kind of disappointing. I don't think I cared about that at the time. Included amongst the pages are family trees for Prince Charles and one for Diana. These family trees, particularly Prince Charles' sparked a desire to learn more about the royal family. Hard to believe that one book can do that, but it did. 

There's nothing fawning about this book nor scandalous. That would come later. If you look closely in some of the photos you can see a young Sarah Ferguson. Interestingly enough, though the author mentions it, other than a small head and shoulders shot, there are no photos of Diana on her first official engagement wearing the famous black dress. The dress that helped reveal a different, more glamourous side of Diana. A fashion icon in the making. Instead the photos portray an appropriate young queen-to-be with a flair for fashion. Much like her daughter-in-law Kate today.

When I bought this book I remember being delighted and pouring over it from cover to cover. 500 books later I take the same delight with items in my royal collection.

What is your first royal book? Do you have a special place where you go to enjoy them?

© Marilyn Braun 2011

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, September 03, 2011

Royal News Generator 2.1

Tired of waiting for Catherine to announce a pregnancy? Or for Pippa to get another parking ticket? In the interim, while we're waiting for an epic fashion disaster, I've updated my trusty royal news generator so you can create your own royal news stories.  Just like the tabloids do! Hours upon hours of fun should ensue as you go through each interesting possibility and its devastating impact on the monarchy.


Which will result in

Royal Watchers Are

And Predicting

© Marilyn Braun 2011

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.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Royal Report for Sunday August 28, 2011 - Do the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge deserve privacy?

Since their marriage Prince William and his wife Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, have been the focus of intense scrutiny. Recent photos of the couple show the couple holding hands on what should be a private moment.

Do William and Catherine deserve privacy? Given their positions on the public stage, Is it too much to expect?

Publications mentioned

People Special Fashion Issue - Kate's Style Secrets

Hello! Canada Weekly No 228 22 August 2011

Hello! Canada Weekly No 229 29 August 2011

Song mentioned

Everyone watched the wedding - Jim Cuddy

From My Royal Collection

Chronicle of the Royal Family

Tune in to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday September 11, 2011 at 9:00PM EST.

Topic to be determined

© Marilyn Braun 2011

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.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Royal Souvenirs and Collectibles

Royal Weddings, Births, Deaths, Coronations, Jubilees all inspire new souvenirs and collectibles. From books, to china, figurines, glassware, clothing, you name it. But what are souvenir items. They are, of course a way of making money, but at one point they were also used as a way of showing support for the monarchy. This is very evident in items relating to Jubilees; the earliest known English commemorative items date from the restoration of King Charles II in 1660.
The tradition of selling commemorative items to mark special royal occasions didn’t really catch on until Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Because very few of the people even knew what the Queen looked like, items adorning her likeness became very popular and started a tradition. Royal events past and present have been marked by coins, stamps and ceramics, glassware to name a few. With the arrival of new manufacturing methods in the last 250 years, commemorative items are now more affordable to the general public.
In the last few years there have even been some recent auctions of undergarments owned by Queen Victoria. In 2008, a pair of Queen Victoria's monogrammed cotton underwear dating from the 1890s, sold for £4,500 at an auction in Derby, attracting bids from Brazil, Russia, Hong Kong and New York. At the same auction, a chemise sold for £3,800, while one of Queen Victoria's nightdresses sold for £5,200 to an American collector. These items are considered valuable because they are so rare. One of the most valuable pieces of royal memorabilia is a Meissen teapot decorated with the coat of arms of Sophie of Hanover, the mother of King George I, which dates from 1713-14, is considered the earliest surviving date-able piece of Meissen porcelain, and has an estimated value of £200,000-£300,000. A few years back someone was trying to sell letters Prince Charles had written for 20 or $30,000 on eBay. Not including shipping.

Having royal items fetch these prices is the exception rather than the rule. The sheer volume of memorabilia means that so much of what is made has little to no resale value. So much so that you have to go back to Queen Victoria taking the throne in 1837 to find objects that have increased in value.

 In the case of William and Kate’s wedding the range of items has increased. After all it is big business, to the tune of £40m. The items are eclectic - some traditional are traditional, like china, others are unusual and imaginative, such as souvenir condoms. There’s also replica engagement rings, salt and pepper shakers, life sized cutouts, nail polish, beer, pies, coins, stamps, the list is endless.

The Royal family may have rejected approval for t-shirts, towels and aprons but this doesn’t stop people from producing items. Buckingham Palace has issued rules on what souvenir manufacturers can produce in terms of William and Kate wedding merchandise. Items must be permanent and significant – tea towels, t-shirts and aprons are out, whereas mugs, china plates and biscuit jars are in. While this may be the official rule, manufacturers still tried to get in on the act. The Royal Family doesn’t trademark itself, so anyone is free to produce merchandise bearing their names or likenesses, which means there is no real distinction between licensed and unlicensed merchandise – an important distinction in the world of collecting. Many of these items produced will be sold in the thousands, and thus not hold any long term value.

Not to say that modern items are completely worthless. Royal items designed by Eric Rav-il-ilous are collectible. One sold last year for close to £2,000. The ugly and the unusual also tend to sell better. Maybe it’s worth taking a look at that Royal Mint coin that looks nothing like William and Kate?

There are some things that might have a good chance of holding their value:

Official china – mugs, tankards, plates, pill boxes. For fine bone china, there are items from the Aynsley collection. Including a hand-painted highly sought after 4 piece set including an engagement plate, loving cup with two handles, tankard mug and coaster. Though they are currently affordable, they’re likely to go up in price as the supply dwindles.

Commemorative coins are another good investment when it comes to Royal wedding memorabilia. They will be embossed with the important dates and will increase in value over the years to come especially if they are made from silver or gold or are part of a limited edition run.

Stamps are a very popular item and because the various Commonwealth countries will produce their own, there will be a lot to choose from.

Some pointers for collecting:

  • Don’t buy anything that is not of a high quality. Protect your investment by buying from a reputable company.
  • Try and acquire an extensive and themed collection.
  • Ensure you store your collection well to keep it in mint condition. Keep anything boxed or packaged as is.
  • Look out for fine bone china pieces as they hold their value. High quality china as well as hand painted versions are the ones to collect – see the Aynsley collection above.
  • Cups and mugs with portraits of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are likely to become collectors pieces.
  • Commemorative plates are another good option and will be available both before and long after the wedding to mark such events as anniversaries or the birth of their children. Those with portraits of the couple will be the most desirable.
  • Portraits are the key to the future popularity of an item.

Having said this, any increase in value is not likely to be seen for another 30-40 years, so just hope that your children and grandchildren will appreciate these items as much as you do having taken the time and care to collect them.

And even if they do not retain their value, one of the best quotes is on the British Royal Family website: it is the meaning and memories associated with the souvenirs which give them their value.

© Marilyn Braun 2011 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.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Royal Marriages - It's not all doom and gloom

The House of Windsor’s marital history is well documented with a focus on the failures - Charles and Diana, Andrew and Fergie and Anne and Mark Philips. When Willliam and Catherine married these examples were brought up as a warning, as if it is a foregone conclusion that their marriage will end the same way. It also highlights the pressure the couple are under to not only make it work but also to make up for the past; which neither one had control over. If anything, the positive aspects of royal marriages have all but been ignored. But there have been some success stories.

Yes, believe it or not royal couples can get along and stay married. It’s rare now but it does happen. Prior to Charles and Diana it would have been unthinkable to divorce, too scandalous. Better to stay married and save face. The reason for royal marriages have also changed over time. They used to be arranged, negotiations beginning for some couples while they were still in the cradle. Arranging royal marriages was done for a variety of reasons, to make political alliances or even to prevent them in some cases, to join royal houses, to secure the succession – Henry VIII married six times in an effort to have a son to succeed him, later on King George III’s sons gave up their mistresses and married in order to produce an heir.  If they happened to fall in love then that was an unexpected bonus. The planning of royal marriages was very strategic and a pragmatic approach was taken to choosing the right spouse. Despite this, sometimes they didn’t even meet each other until the wedding day! Sometimes neither attended the wedding ceremony and they married by proxy.

King George III and Queen Charlotte

Inn 1759, the future King George III was in love with another woman, Lady Sarah Lennox, daughter of the Duke of Richmond. But he was advised against the marriage and so he gave up any thoughts of it. He is quoted as saying: "I am born for the happiness or misery of a great nation," he wrote, "and consequently must often act contrary to my passionssomething that many royal bridegrooms can relate to. He became King in 1760 and had to find a suitable Queen. One candidate was seventeen year old Princess Charlotte Mecklenburg-Strelitz. A minor princess who, though intelligent was not particularly attractive but the king announced his intention to marry her in July 1761. Princess Charlotte arrived in London on September 7, 1761 and met the King and the royal family. The next day, September 8th, they were married. Their marriage was successful, and rare for the time; King George III did not take any mistresses during their marriage. They had 15 children, 13 of whom survived to adulthood.  At the time of her death in 1818, they had been married for 57 years.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

When Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837 at the age of 18, she was not thinking of marriage. She was young and she was enjoying freedom for the first time in her life after years of being overprotected. Prior to this she had slept in the same room as her mother and whenever she went down a set of stairs, someone held her hand.

Prince Albert was her first cousin, and when the first met neither made much of an impression on the other. But in 1839 when Victoria had become Queen, she felt differently about him: falling in love with him and proposing marriage, they were married in February 1840. After her wedding night, Victoria wrote in her diary:

"I NEVER, NEVER spent such an evening!!! MY DEAREST DEAREST DEAR Albert ... his excessive love & affection gave me feelings of heavenly love & happiness I never could have hoped to have felt before! He clasped me in his arms, & we kissed each other again & again! His beauty, his sweetness & gentleness – really how can I ever be thankful enough to have such a Husband! ... to be called by names of tenderness, I have never yet heard used to me before – was bliss beyond belief! Oh! This was the happiest day of my life!"

Their marriage would be a happy one and they would have nine children, most of whom would marry into the royal houses of Europe, thus giving Queen Victoria the nickname – Grandmother of Europe. Prince Albert did not live to become the grandfather of Europe as he died in December 1861. The Queen was devastated and mourned him, wearing black for the rest of her life until her death in 1901. They were married for 21 years.

King George V and Queen Mary

In the early 1890s, Princess May of Teck was in an unenviable position. Due to her father’s morganatic birth, it was thought she would have a hard time finding a husband. Too royal to marry beneath her and not royal enough to marry above her station. She also wasn’t getting any younger either – 26 at the time of her marriage. Luckily Queen Victoria saw past her morganatic background and she became engaged to the elder son of the Prince of Wales, Prince Albert Victor.

It wasn’t a love match, the prince was in actually in love with another woman, Helene, the daughter of the Comte de Paris. Unfortunately, Prince Albert Victor died a month before the intended wedding. Queen Victoria felt that Princess May was too good a bride to slip away so a year later May married Prince Albert Victor’s brother, Prince George. This is not the first time a sibling has married another’s intended. King Henry VIII married his brother’s widow, Catherine of Aragon in 1509.

Theirs was not a love match. Prince George had a purely platonic attitude towards May. But there was affection between them. May wrote to him:

I am very sorry that I am still so shy with you. I tried not to be but failed. I was angry with myself! It is so stupid to be so stiff together and really there is nothing I would not tell you, except that I love you more than anybody in the world, and this I cannot tell you myself so I write it to relieve my feelings.

He wrote back:

Thank God we both understand each other, and I really think it unnecessary for me to tell you how deep my love for you, my darling, is and I feel it growing strong and stronger every time I see you – although I may appear shy and cold..’

George and May were married in July 1893 and were married for almost 47 years. They had six children, one of whom would have a happy marriage himself: Prince Albert, the future King George VI.

King George VI and Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon

Prince Albert did not have a lot going for him He was shy, awkward, he had a stammer and he was overshadowed by his older and more glamorous brother, David. When he met Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon he was quite smitten with her but too shy to do anything about directly. She was fond of him but not impressed, especially when he proposed through an intermediary. He would propose twice, and on the third try she accepted. They were married on April 26, 1923 and came to the throne in 1936 upon the abdication of his older brother, David. The King died in his sleep in 1952. Had he lived, the couple would have marked 29 years of marriage in April of that year. Their elder daughter would go on to mark a historic royal wedding anniversary.

Queen Elizabeth & Prince Philip 1947

Out of all of the marriages, theirs is the most remarkable. Though to have Prince Philip tell it, their decision to get married wasn’t necessarily romantic. He having claimed it was ‘fixed up’. We’ll never know her true thoughts about that but she became smitten with the 18 year old Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark when her family visited Dartmouth royal naval college 1939, where he was a cadet. This was their first photographed meeting. It is said that they’d met at the wedding of Princess Marina to the Duke of Kent. Though Princess Elizabeth was only 8 at the time. Prince Philip was assigned to escort her and her sister around the college and it is said that the Queen never looked at another man afterwards. After the war, her parents thought she was too young to get engaged. They wanted her to meet other eligible men but Elizabeth was determined. The King asked her to wait before announcing an engagement and the family went on a three month tour of South Africa in 1947. The king finally relented to an engagement and it was announced in July 1947 with the couple being married in November of that year. They had four children and in 2007 marked 60 years of marriage. A first for any British monarch in history.

Prince and Princess Michael of Kent

Prince Michael of Kent married Baroness Marie Christine von Reibnitz in 1978. Marie Christine had a complicated background, her father had been a Nazi party member and she had been previous married (which would be annulled by the Pope in 1978). The biggest strike against her was that she was a devout Catholic. Under the terms of the Act of Settlement, Prince Michael could not marry a Catholic and keep his place in the line of succession, where he was sixteenth at the time. Another obstacle was that due to the Royal Marriages act of 1772, no member of the royal family could marry without the sovereigns consent. Prince Michael and Marie Christine were unsure whether the Queen would give her consent. They turned to Lord Mountbatten, who approached the Queen, who did consent to the marriage, which took place in July 1978. They have two children and this year will celebrate 33 years of marriage.

Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles

After a 30 year love affair and an inconvenient first husband and wife, Charles and Camilla were finally able to marry in 2005. Many people thought it would never happen, nor whether it was even possible. The last Prince of Wales paid a high price for marrying a divorced woman. The late Queen Mother was said to be against Camilla. After she died in 2002 the way was paved for the couple to get married. Though it would take three more years for it to happen. Much to the shock and amazement of many, their engagement was announced in February 2005 and they married in April 2005. Upon her marriage she became Princess of Wales, however, in deference to the memory of Diana, Camilla took the title Duchess of Cornwall instead. It is still unclear what title she will take when Charles becomes king. By most accounts, theirs is a happy marriage, they are compatible and Prince Charles seems to be happier and more content.

Princess Anne and Timothy Laurence

Princess Anne was originally married in 1973 to Captain Mark Philips, who had been unfaithful to his wife during their marriage. They had two children but the marriage ended in 1992.  Six months later she married Commander Timothy Laurence in Scotland in a very low-key ceremony. Anne became the first Royal divorcĂ©e to remarry since Princess Victoria Melita did so in 1905.

Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys Jones

Prince Edward, the youngest son of the Queen and Prince Philip, is the only one of her children to stay married, a remarkable feat by today’s royal standards. Edward and Sophie had met in 1993 at a charity tennis tournament and began their relationship soon afterwards. Until Prince William’s courtship of Kate Middleton, theirs had been one of the longest royal courtships. They had dated for six years until they announced their engagement in 1999. They were married in June of that year and now have two children. In June they celebrated 12 years of marriage. 

© Marilyn Braun 2011

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.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Royal Wedding Dress Designers

What do Norman Hartnell, David and Elizabeth Emmanuel, Lindka Cierach, Molyneux, Mainbocher, and Mme Handley Seymour have in common? All of them designed memorable royal wedding dresses. With Catherine Middleton’s wedding dress, Sarah Burton from the House of Alexander McQueen joined those illustrious ranks.

Royal wedding dresses conjure up images of fairy tales and happily ever after. Each designer is called upon not only to create a personal statement for the bride but also to redefine the fantasy image of the ultimate fairytale princess – Cinderella.

Some designs retain a timeless quality to them, such as Princess Margaret’s 1960 dress. Some are a product of their time – such as Princess Anne’s 1973 Tudor style sleeves or Lady Diana’s Spencer’s meringue creation from 1981.  Some are classic, such as Grace Kelly’s. Many have set trends. Queen Victoria set the ultimate trend, which continues to this day, of choosing a white dress for her wedding. Prior to this, brides had not always worn white. Roman brides wore yellow. 16th and 17th pale green was a popular choice – because of their association with fertility. But most brides wore their best clothes, wearing the dress she could afford. Now, wearing anything other than a dress within the white range of color, especially for a royal bride would be inconceivable. Though it has happened, the Duchess of Windsor’s dress, by American designer Mainbocher was pale blue. Lady Alice Montagu Douglas Scott’s dress was of a deep ivory that it had a blush pink hue.

Princess Alexandra,
Princess of Wales
Queen Victoria wore white silk satin court dress for her wedding in 1840. Made by Mary Bettans it used materials of British manufacture. Using British materials and even British designers is a custom that continues to this day. In 1863, her daughter in law, Princess Alexandra of Denmark, was given a beautiful dress of Brussels lace by King Leopold of the Belgians as a wedding gift, but as it was not British, it was considered inappropriate to use as a wedding dress. Instead, a dress of English silk was made by Mrs James, a favored dressmaker in London.

Like Queen Victoria and Princess Alexandra, Princess May of Teck’s 1893 wedding dress also used materials of English manufacture and was made by an English dressmaker, Linton and Curtis. In 1923, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon’s ivory chiffon dress was made by Madame Handley Seymour, a court dressmaker to Queen Mary, who not only made her wedding dress but the dress she wore for her Coronation too.

Looking back at these gowns and the designers who made them it’s a shame that their names have been, in effect, lost to the sands of time. Royal Wedding dresses tended to be made by royal dressmakers who did not get the same attention as designers do today.

The next royal bride, Princess Marina of Denmark would choose Edward Molyneux, Known for his elegant silhouettes, he was a couturier to society and the stars. He was a perfect choice for Princess Marina who was known for her chic and poised style.

Then there would be Norman Hartnell, a court dressmaker to the Queen Mother and to the Queen for many years. He was also well known for designing fashion costumes for films. He designed wedding dresses for Lady Alice Montagu Douglas Scott. Princess Elizabeth – the present Queen, whose dress was inspired by the image of Flora by Botticelli and had intricate embroidery. By contrast, his dress for Princess Margaret in 1960 was striking in its simplicity, as was Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester’s dress in 1972. He also designed the present Queen’s coronation dress and robes.

Some lesser known designers have included John Cavanaugh, who started his career working for Molyneux, designed the wedding dresses of both Katharine Worsley, Duchess of Kent in 1961 and her sister in law, Princess Alexandra of Kent in 1963. In 1973 Princess Anne would choose a relatively unknown Maureen Baker, chief designer at the firm Susan Small to make her wedding gown. Maureen Baker was not a household name but had been making clothing for the princess for several years.

Out of all of the royal wedding dress designers, up until 1981, none were more famous or well known than David and Elizabeth Emanuel. And 3 decades later they remain famous. They too were relatively unknown, having only graduated from the Royal College of Art only four years before Lady Diana Spencer approached them to create her iconic wedding dress.  Beating out more established designers such as Hardy Amies, dressmaker to the Queen, and the front runner Bellville Sassoon.

The Emanuel’s creation, with its record 25 foot train, is remarkable in its excess, though it reflected the fashions of the time it is also seen as the ultimate fairytale dress, setting many trends in the process. Most royal wedding dresses since 1981, including Catherine’s have been compared to it and no doubt will continue to be compared to it.

Wedding dress designers that followed would not gain the same level of fame or notoriety. Though they created beautiful dresses, few would be as familiar with the designer names Linka Cierach, who made Sarah Ferguson’s dress or Samantha Shaw who designed Sophie Rhys Jones’ wedding gown.

After William and Catherine’s engagement was announced, speculation began on who would design Catherine’s dress. Unlike other royal brides, she did not announce the name of her designer, preferring to keep everyone in suspense until the big day. Names of possible designers included Bruce Oldfield, a favorite of Diana, Issa who had made many clothes for Catherine, including her engagement dress, Sophie Cranston, and Sarah Burton from Alexander McQueen.

On the day itself the design and the designer were revealed as Sarah Burton. According to the press release for the dress:

Miss Middleton chose British brand Alexander McQueen for the beauty of its craftsmanship and its respect for traditional workmanship and the technical construction of clothing. Miss Middleton wished for her dress to combine tradition and modernity with the artistic vision that characterises Alexander McQueen’s work. Miss Middleton worked closely with Sarah Burton in formulating the design of her dress.
Burton started as a personal assistant to Alexander McQueen in 1997. She was appointed as Head of Womens wear in 2000, with clients including Lady Gaga, Michelle Obama, and Gwyneth Paltrow. After McQueen’s death she was named as the creative director of the company in 2010. Though her name was mentioned as a contender for designing the dress she denied any involvement. Though she almost gave the game away when she was seen arriving at the Goring hotel. Up until the day of the wedding no one knew for sure who the designer was, just as Catherine wanted it to be. Will other royal brides follow suit in keeping the names of their designers a secret? We’ll have to wait and see!

© Marilyn Braun 2011

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.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Royal Visits to Canada - A Brief History

Image: Chris Jackson/St James's Palace
When Prince William and his new wife Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge recently toured Canada, their visit highlighted the long association that the royal family has with Canada. A relationship that began back in 1786 with another Prince William.

The first visit by a British royal took place in 1786 when the future King William IV, came to Canada as part of a naval contingent. Since then there have been royal visits by many members of the royal family, included amongst them, several future monarchs. Many came as part of military service, some for personal visits, and some became Governor Generals of Canada. Most have come for official visits and to mark significant national events.

Normally royal visitors are accompanied by their spouse. Although they have been infrequent, there have been some visits that have been family affairs. In 1927 when Edward, Prince of Wales and his brother, Prince George visited Canada to mark the Diamond Jubilee of the Confederation. In 1970 the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Princess Anne came to tour the Arctic. There would be another family visit in 1976 when the Queen came to open the Olympic Games in Montreal, which Princess Anne was competing in the equestrian event. She was watched by her parents and her three brothers, the only time the entire royal family has been abroad in one place. In 1977, during a visit to Alberta, Prince Charles was joined by Prince Andrew to watch the Calgary Stampede. The last official family visit occurred in 1991 Prince William and Prince Harry joined their parents in Ontario. In 1998, Prince Charles made a personal visit to Vancouver accompanied by Prince William and Prince Harry. The most recent sibling visit was in 2009 when Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie of York attended the Toronto International Film Festival.

Queen Victoria was said to be rather fond of Canada, though she never visited it. The first visit by a reigning sovereign took place in 1939 when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth stepped foot on Canadian soil, in Quebec, and began a six-week coast to coast tour from Quebec to Vancouver and back to Halifax, 9,000 miles, in 40 days.

The present Queen first visited Canada as a princess in 1951. She was 25 at the time. Young, glamorous, with a handsome husband, they were the equivalent of Charles and Diana. Such was the interest in her visit that any little detail was made into news, such as one headline in the Globe and Mail titled “Princess Bringing Crinolines!” The tour was five weeks long and they received a rapturous welcome, having 13,000 school children sing O Canada for them and it is estimated that 200,000 people saw the royal couple.

Since that first visit, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have travelled through every province and territory in Canada. Visiting for many significant national events. In 1957 she became the first monarch to open parliament in Ottawa. Wearing her coronation gown for the event, she quoted the words of the first Elizabeth: ‘Though God hath raised me high, yet this I count the glory of my Crown that I have reined with your love.” During this visit another historic event occurred when the Queen made her first televised broadcast, a precursor to the televised Christmas speech the same year.

During the 1959 visit the Queen, along with President Dwight Eisenhower, opened the St. Lawrence Seaway. She was in the early stages of her pregnancy with Prince Andrew and it was reported that she looked ‘rather off color’ at times. This pregnancy wasn’t revealed until after the tour was completed. The tour lasted 45 days and the royal couple visited every province and territory. A remarkable feat for someone in the early stages of pregnancy. It is rather apt that this child, Prince Andrew, would himself, later be closely associated with Canada when he attended Lakefield College for six months in the 1970s.

The Queen's next visit would occur in 1964, a few months after the birth of Prince Edward. And this time her arrival would not be so rapturously greeted, as she was met by demonstrators chanting and singing demands for a Quebec independent of the Canadian confederation. The Queen, however, was praised for her bravery in visiting despite these protests.

In July 1967 the Queen and Prince Philip would visit to mark Canada’s centennial celebration of Confederation. The Queen cut into a giant cake, the majority of which was plywood with icing on it. Prince Philip incidentally, is the most frequent visitor, having visited Canada 43 times, including 22 trips with the Queen.

The Queen made what was one of her most significant visits in 1982 both for herself as monarch and for Canada itself when she signed the act proclaiming the Canadian constitution and Canada’s independence from Britain.

Another significant visit that the Queen would make would be in 1992 when she celebrated Canada’s 125th birthday and the 40th anniversary of her accession. In 2002 she would visit in her Golden Jubilee year, where Canadian’s turned out in record numbers to celebrate right along with her. She visited in 2005 and most recently in 2010. There has been some speculation that these might be her last visits. But health permitting she is reportedly planning return in 2012 to mark 60 years on the throne.

© Marilyn Braun 2011

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.