Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day One - William and Catherine arrive in Canada

Prince William and his new wife Catherine have finally arrived in Canada. This is Prince William's third visit to Canada and Catherine's first. William's last visit to Canada took place in 1998 when he accompanied his father and brother to Vancouver for a private holiday in Whistler, British Columbia.

Anticipation of their arrival had been building daily with a constant stream of tweets from royal watchers, bloggers, royal reporters and those eager for a glimpse of what Catherine was wearing. She departed London wearing wearing a navy blazer by Toronto label Smythe les Vestes, over a sheath of the same color by French label Roland Mouret. She accessorized this with Manolo Blahnik Calogera shoes and a Mulberry Polly Push Lock bag.

Upon landing in Ottawa the airbus seemed to taxi for an interminable length of time. As dignitaries lined up, William and Catherine made their way down the stairs for a meet and greet. Catherine had her hair pulled back from her face, had changed into a different outfit and was wearing a black and white lace dress by London-based Canadian designer Erdem Moralioglu accessorized with a nude clutch and heels. From the designers 2012 collection, the description for the navy, lace Cecile shift is as follows:
The fitted scoop-backed dress of contrast stone neoprene crepe with a navy lace overlay had a sheer lace sleeve with a scallop detail and was made in the United Kingdom.
A nice, subtle nods to Canada; which we may see more of as the tour progresses.

Catherine was presented with a bouquet by nine-year-old Kellen Schleyer before the couple headed to Confederation square for a wreath laying ceremony. Greeted by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen, the Duke and Duchess approached the national war memorial for a ceremony of remembrance. Afterwards the couple met with veterans for 20 minutes before heading towards the crowds for a walkabout.
The couple then headed to Rideau Hall, the Governor General of Canada's official residence where they met with Gov.-Gen. David Johnston and his wife Sharon. After the official welcome, the Duke gave a short speech

The couple will attend a private event at Rideau Hall later on in the evening. Tomorrow they will be on Parliament Hill for Canada Day.

© 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.

Royal Protocol: What to do if you don't meet William and Catherine

You've practiced the correct way of saying 'Ma'am'. Studied official sites in preparation for meeting William & Catherine during their royal tour of Canada. While there is plenty of information on what the royal protocol is for meeting the couple. What do you do when the inevitable occurs and you don't meet them? Here is some unofficial protocol should that situation arise.

1. Don't take it personally

Unless you are a small child, an elderly woman with a sob story/110 year old war veteran, or you simply can't afford to, your chances are slim to none. They will be meeting a lot of boring dignitaries/celebrities with an inflated sense of their own importance. As such they are bound not to notice you. No matter how charming you think you are. Whatever you do, do not take it personally. Instead face reality. It was never likely to happen to begin with.

2. Don't let your new skills go to waste

You've perfected that curtsy/head bow, practiced your loyal toasts and not speaking unless spoken to. All of that time and effort. Now what do you do? Manners are like a muscle, you have to use them or you will lose them. Continue to curtsy/bow daily until the next royal visit. Your mother-in-law will appreciate it.

3. Save Face

Instead of complaining to anyone who will listen, and to avoid those "I told you so's' from everyone, make up a story. If you saw their plane flying overhead, say "I was there when they arrived." If you watched their appearance at Parliament Hill in HDTV say "I had the best seat in the house and I couldn't have gotten any closer."  To make this more legitimate, sit in the sun for a while to give yourself that' I waited five hours for them to appear-look'.

4. Don't despair. They'll be back

If it's any consolation, unless the monarchy is abolished in Canada, William and Catherine are likely to return. The Queen is anticipated to visit Canada in 2012 to mark her Diamond Jubilee. While not the same, it's better than nothing.

© 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, June 25, 2011

The Royal Report on Sunday June 26, 2011 - What's new in the Royal Blogsphere

It's been a year since I last did an episode highlighting some fantastic royal blogs. How has the royal blogsphere changed since then?

Find out on this episode: More Royal Blogs

Publications mentioned

Vanity Fair - July 2011 - Will and Kate's New Life cover story by Katie Nicholl

Hello! Canada Weekly No 221 20 June 2011

From My Royal Collection

Born To Be King : Prince William Of Wales

Royal Blogs mentioned in this episode:

Royal Blog Central

Princess Palace

Royal Expert Certification

The Royal Universe

The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor

What Kate Wore

Confessions of a Ci-Devant

Tune in to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday July 3, 2011 at 9:00PM EST (North America).

The topic will be: July 1, 2011 marks what would have been the 50th birthday of Diana, Princess of Wales. On this episode, a focus on Diana at 50.

© 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, June 22, 2011

Why should we care about Diana at 50?

Mark your calendars. July 1st, 2011 would have been the 50th birthday of Diana, Princess of Wales.

That is, if she were still alive.

Since her premature death in 1997, it seems people are determined to hang on to her memory. Every other year seems to bring a new biography. Then there's the Diana exhibit, the inquest into her death, her sons holding the Concert for Diana and a memorial service. With Prince William marrying Catherine Middleton, giving her his mother's famed ring, choosing Diana's favorite photographer and reportedly moving into Diana's old residence, Kensington Palace, the media has enough material to work with.

With all of the overkill surrounding her memory, why should we mark her birthday as well? Let's not kid ourselves that there's anything altruistic or meaningful in doing so. Diana, for whatever reason, still sells. That's why you have LIFE book-a-zines and articles filled with futile speculation on what she would have been like had she lived. (Is it ironic for a publication that celebrates the benefits of aging to speculate about the life of a dead person?)

To be fair, she's not the only dead person whose birthday we commemorate if we're reminded. Combining it with a holiday (Christmas) certainly jogs the memory, otherwise it's just a date in the calendar. For Canadians, July 1st is already a holiday - Canada Day. Too bad, so sad. Maybe if we're lucky Google will create a Doodle in her memory.

With each passing year any relevance that Diana had wanes. Because she died at her peak we continue to idealize her. As if she would have continued on that trajectory. If she had died at her lowest point, she would be a sad memory - like Marilyn Monroe or Judy Garland. Glorious in their heyday, pitiful in death. By marking the anniversary of Diana's 50th birthday, what are we really commemorating? What could have been? What should have been?

How about facing the reality of what is. Diana is gone.

Leave her to her rest in peace.

© 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, June 15, 2011

Time to face reality, maybe Catherine Cambridge isn't cut out to be royal

Let's face it, maybe Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge isn't cut out to be royal.

Sure one could say she's still on the learning curve but so far it doesn't look good for Catherine. It seems the royals have reason to be concerned. In fact, this could be bigger than the abdication crisis.

The problem?

Catherine is too independent. She still has silly ideas about 'doing things herself'.  Days after her wedding, when we saw her at the supermarket, pushing her own trolley, it wasn't just an act. She  genuinely seems to be resisting conforming to the royal way of doing things.

From the time of her engagement to the wedding day she was supposed to get all of that out of her system. Doesn't she know that once she has the wedding ring on her finger she was supposed to give all of that up?

(*Gasp*) I'll bet she still squeezes her own toothpaste!

That's semi-acceptable in private, but when she's in public it's an issue. For instance, on her upcoming trip to Canada and the United States, Catherine will not be bringing a dresser with her. Unsurprisingly, this is eliciting shocked responses from the media. Doesn't she know that dressing herself just isn't done?

Queen Victoria must be rolling over in her grave.

If Catherine wants to survive in the royal system, she has to learn a new way of not doing things for herself. A special type of learned helplessness exclusive to royalty. No longer should her hands touch a door-handle. Running her own bath? Forget it. Using her own utensils is borderline. Allowable only after she's been shown the royal way of not using them. Have you ever seen a photo of the Queen holding a fork? I rest my case.

There are encouraging signs. Thankfully she's come to her senses and is bringing a hairdresser along. She's already unlearnt how to use a brush. Given time, she'll unlearn how to do her own makeup.

Maybe just maybe, there's hope for her yet.

© 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, June 12, 2011

The Royal Report for Sunday June 12, 2011 - Should the minor royals have police protection?

The bill to protect 22 members of the royal family is reportedly £50 million, thus leading people to question whether protecting some of these royals is necessary. Prince Andrew's daughters are rumored to be losing their 24 hour protection, if they haven't already. Should they lose their protection? Do other members of the royal family need protection?

Find out on this episode:

Should some of the minor royals lose their police protection?

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada Weekly No 219 6 June 2011

Hello! Canada Weekly No 220 13 June 2011

From My Royal Collection

My Decade with Diana: The Perpetual Power of the People's Princess

Tune in to the next episode of The Royal Report on Sunday June 26, 2011 at 9:00PM EST (North America).

The topic will be: More Royal Blogs - what's going on in the royal blogsphere? What has changed? Find out on this episode.

© 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, June 08, 2011

The Human Side Of Royalty

During a recent engagement at the Royal Orthopedic Hospital in London, Princess Eugenie made a revelation to patients. She had suffered from scoliosis as a child, undergoing a major operation to correct her curved spine. In doing so she offered patients someone that they could relate to; a success story. Eugenie also did one other thing. She revealed that royalty, be it a prince, princess, king or queen, is human. Unfortunately this wasn't always readily obvious to people. For several royal generations, anything deviating from the perfect royal image was hidden from view.

Prince John, the youngest son of King George V and Queen Mary was someone who was kept in seclusion and isolated from his family. He suffered from epilepsy and his attacks became more frequent as he grew older. He lived in Wood Farm on the Sandringham Estate with his own household. He would die at Wood Farm at the age of 13 in January 1919.

His older brother, Prince Albert, Duke of York, often suffered from ill health, chronic stomach problems and knock-knees. He was naturally left handed but made to use his right. He also suffered from a stammer, something well documented in the movie The King's Speech. The new King dreaded public speaking and the problem was hidden, as much as possible, from the public. Being such a high profile individual, it might have made a difference to those who stammer - seeing that people from all levels can experience a speech impediment.

Princess Anne obviously isn't the first royal woman to be pregnant, but she was one of the early ones to not let it hamper her lifestyle. Prior to this, royal pregnancies tended to be hidden from view, let alone announced. Usually Buckingham Palace would release a statement that the royal woman would not be undertaking any further engagements after a certain point and people were left to draw their own conclusions. Less than nine-months later a royal baby would be born and then the connection would be obvious. For all of her pregnancies the Queen stayed out of public view. Even missing the State Opening of Parliament in 1959 and 1963 because she was expecting Prince Andrew and Prince Edward. In 1977 Princess Anne changed all of that. Pregnant with her first child, Peter, she appeared in public not trying to hide her stomach from view, nor enveloping it in a large fur coat as her mother had done before her. Other royal ladies would follow suit by not going into hiding when pregnant. Diana in particular being lauded for being so open about her pregnancy, despite Princess Anne having started the trend first.

In 1993, Diana, Princess of Wales revealed that she suffered from the eating disorder bulimia. While not the first woman to be open up about the issue, her high profile example only served to make her more human. In 2005, in an effort to help others, Princess Beatrice of York admitted that she struggled with the learning disorder dyslexia.

Revelations that would be unheard of a generation ago are now making a difference in the lives of other men, women and children. It is only today that there is more openness with these topics because it is no longer held against them. Today it would be unheard of to hide a pregnancy, but with these revelations, Diana, Beatrice and Eugenie have shown courage in revealing the challenges they have faced. Not all princesses lead charmed lives. They're human too.

© 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, June 07, 2011

Royal Review: Diana, The Life of a Royal Icon

It was so close I could have touched it.

Dress by Catherine Walker
Circa 1992
I didn't but I could have. One of the famous dresses auctioned by Diana, Princess of Wales. A dress that I had seen countless times in books, was now two feet in front of me. It was one of my favorites. The burgundy velvet dress with the striking embroidery by Catherine Walker was stunning. Diana had worn it to the premiere of Steel Magnolias in 1990. It had travelled the world and now it stood on a mannequin in a corner of the Design Exchange gift shop.The dress itself possibly cost more than all of the artisan items in the store combined, thus making everything look rather cheap by comparison.

Dress by Catherine Walker
I thought back to the last time I had seen this dress. It had been 1998 and the exhibit Dresses for Humanity had come into town. I was very excited to see the famous dresses. Auctioned only the year before, here was a chance to actually see them in person. At the time, the exhibit had included a few loaner dresses - ones Diana wore to the Christie's preview galas in London and New York. This time round it was just the 14 dresses that belonged to Maureen Rorech Dunkel. Previously the dresses had been protected in their own glass case with built in lighting to show its contents to full effect. Now only three of the 14 were behind glass. The famous ink blue velvet 'Travolta' dress Diana had worn to the White House in 1985, and two dresses by Catherine  Walker, a long dress with an embroidered bolero and a chic sarong evening dress embroidered with pearls and sequins.

Various dresses by Catherine Walker
The remaining dresses were placed in another room, where they stood lined up in a rectangle, with signs offering background information on where Diana had worn them. To get to this section you had to pass a room filled with photographs of trees and bark. No rhyme or reason to it. Is this really how far the cachet of the collection had fallen? Previously, no photography had been allowed. Now almost everyone was taking photographs, myself included. A predictable film of Diana's life played as people walked through the exhibit.

By Catherine Walker
Circa 1993
Thankfully this was only a temporary home for this collection. The dresses are set to be auctioned off by the Canadian auction house Waddington's on June 23.  Reading about Ms Rorech Dunkel's experiences with the collection, the care she had taken to preserve it, and then seeing the dresses out in the open for anyone to touch was a disappointment. Hopefully the new owners will continue to treat the dresses with the respect that they deserve.

© 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, June 02, 2011

Royal Review: Royal Wedding Commemorative Issues - Part 2

Prior the wedding I wrote a post reviewing the various royal wedding commemorative book-a-zines being sold to commemorative the royal wedding. Now several of the issues have updated their versions with photos from the big day, much to my chagrin. Thus making me feel bad for having wasted the money on them in the first place. I really should have known better. These updated versions were inevitable.

Now that the event is over, there are a dozen or more magazines commemorating the royal wedding. Because of this, one thing is very clear. You can waste a lot of money collecting these issues if you don't choose carefully. For me, I have had to physically restrain myself from buying most of them. The ones I have purchased may be somewhat repetitive in terms of their coverage, but if nothing else they've given me material for another article.

Let's review the ones I have bought:

LIFE - The Royal Wedding - Expanded Commemorative Edition

LIFE magazine released a version called Royal Wedding before the wedding itself. Now they have updated it, calling this issue the 'expanded commemorative edition.' And so it is. It is the exact same magazine except that the introduction has been rewritten and photos of the royal wedding have been added. Out of all of the issues I would recommend this one. Especially if you did not purchase the version before it. The issue is of very good, durable quality. It may not have as many wedding photos as other issues but then again, how many pictures do you really need of the newlyweds gazing adoringly at each other or riding in the carriage?

TIME Special Commemorative Issue

Like LIFE, TIME has also put together a quality issue. Unlike LIFE it is not completely devoted to the royal wedding itself. But what it lacks in wall to wall photos, it makes up in the content of the articles about William, Catherine and the future of the monarchy.

Maclean's Special Commemorative Edition - William and Kate, The Royal Wedding

Maclean's magazine, the Canadian equivalent of TIME, has prepared an issue dedicated entirely to the wedding. It is of much better quality than its American counterpart. Information on the preparations and the key people involved in the ceremony. It's all there.  If for nothing else, it's worth the price if only to read an entire article about the difficulty Prince William had putting the wedding ring on Catherine's finger. It would be nice to say that this is the only royal wedding magazine Maclean's has released, but it isn't. At present I have no plans to buy the newer edition.

People Magazine Special Collector's Issue and People Magazine Commemorative Edition

How many issues of the same publication do you need to celebrate the royal wedding? The editors of People seem to think the world needs two.

Of the two, the Special Collector's Issue is the larger one, with a 72-page royal wedding album. Not content with that issue, People went ahead and put together a Commemorative Edition. Unlike the Special Collector's issue it is completely devoted to the royal wedding. Unless you did not buy the Special Collector's Issue, I would not recommend the Commemorative Edition. The 72 pages in the Special Collector's issue is more than enough and includes more interesting information than the version after it. Or maybe the inevitable third commemorative keepsake issue will be better?

Hello! Royal Wedding Special Keepsake Album, Photo Album and Special Double Issue

You have to hand it to Hello! They're in a league of their own when it comes to going overboard with the royal wedding. There's the Original Commemorative issue, the Second Souvenir Issue, and the Royal Wedding Keepsake Album of magical memories. I have the Canadian versions so I confess to not knowing the full extent they have gone overboard. But judging by the fact I have three issues covering the exact same event is enough for me. (Why do I have three issues? In my defense, two of them are part of my subscription). As is Hello's! custom, the text is mostly limited to informative caption boxes covering interesting historical details. The photos dominate the issue and overall Hello! has covered the event well. It would be nice if they had limited the amount of issues. Sometimes there can be too much of a good thing.

Overall, each of them is good. For an overview of their relationship and wedding - buy LIFE. If you're interested in lots of pictures of the Royal Wedding, I recommend buying the Hello! keepsake issue.

© 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, June 01, 2011

Pippa Middleton is a pain in the butt

I don't know about you but I'm getting kind of tired of hearing about Pippa Middleton's butt.

Since she sashayed into the collective consciousness with that kick-ass bridesmaids dress, people can't seem to get enough of her. Except maybe her sister. Sunday dinners at the Middleton's must be a bummer now.

Sure she looked nice, but must we really be subjected to continuously reading about her posterior? News stories such as plastic surgeons being inundated with requests for similar buns? The secret behind her tush is Pilate's? Obviously these news stories are designed to make the rest of lazy-bums feel inadequate.

If fame can be defined as being nominated for the cheeky sounding Britain's Rear of the Year, then Pippa has finally made it to the big leagues. (How do you put that award on your mantle anyways?)

Fame is fleeting, the best advice is for Pippa to put it all behind her. If she needs a kick in the rear, no doubt Kate will be first in line.

At least we know that this can't last forever. Or will we be reading about that too? "No it's all natural" she'll say, at the age of 99. Those of us still alive by that point will scoff. Every ones fanny succumbs to gravity sooner or later.

No if ands or butts.

OK, I'll stop 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.