Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Royal Book Challenge: Undoubted Queen


15/500

Undoubted Queen by Harry Tatlock Miller & Loudon Sainthill
255 Pages
Published 1958
ASIN: B001X6A36Q

There is no actual year of publication listed, nor an ISBN so I've taken the information from Amazon. Judging by the photos of the Queen, Prince Charles and Princess Anne, I would say that 1957/1958 time frame would be accurate.

Undoubted Queen takes its title from a phrase in the Order of Coronation. And like that event, the overall feel is reverential. Other than captions to identify locations, there is very little text outside of the bibliography. Comprised of photographs of Elizabeth II throughout her (short) life, the glamorous young queen is primarily presented in the line of duty, on ceremonial occasions and on her travels around the world. Not all of the photographs are particularly flattering, there are some out of focus pictures and grainy closeups. On her travels to Nigeria and Australia, photos of tribesmen and aboriginals add a National Geographic feel.

It is hard to tell what the point of Undoubted Queen is. It has very few words and the photographs are mainly from her coronation and travels during the early years of her reign. Beside illustrations of previous queens regnant, the reader is left to draw their own conclusions about the new queen and her place in royal history.

Little could the authors have known just how significant that place would be.

© Marilyn Braun 2012

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, February 24, 2012

Royal Book Challenge: William and Kate: A Royal Love Story by Christopher Andersen

14/500

William and Kate: A Royal Love Story by Christopher Andersen
Published 2011
312 Pages
ISBN: 9781451621457

When I went to the store to buy this book, the display it was on had a sign that said: 'The truth is always a good read'.

I'm sure it is. Whether you find much of it in this book is debatable.

I was skeptical from the start. Claims that Diana, suffering from severe post-partum depression, had an affair with James Hewitt three months after Prince William's birth seem rather far-fetched. According to this book, after William's christening, Diana 'washed down a handful of pills and half a bottle of Scotch' and had to be rushed to the hospital to have her stomach pumped. The most famous woman in the world having an event like that 'magically kept out of the press?' Are you kidding me?

Some of the revelations, such as Kate travelling to New York to meet with Mario Testino have turned out to be untrue. Turns out that until she went to Los Angeles with Prince William, Kate had never travelled to North America. I'm no royal insider but when the bibliography features a comprehensive list of other royal tell-alls, it makes you wonder about the accuracy of the rest of his sources.

Any non-fiction book that requires you to suspend your belief in reality is in the wrong category.

© Marilyn Braun 2012

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, February 23, 2012

Another future Queen is born!

On February 23rd, 2012 a future queen, Princess Estelle Silvia Ewa Mary, was born in Sweden. Counting her mother, Crown Princess Victoria, who is currently the only female heir-apparent in the world, this brings the total number of future queens regnant to five. The others are Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway, Princess Catharina-Amalia of the Netherlands and Princess Elisabeth of Belgium. If the Crown Prince and Princess of Spain do not have a son their elder daughter, Infanta Leonor, would make it six.

Barring any unforseen tragedy or abolishing the monarchy, these little girls are changing history. Other countries have had queens regnant before but Princess Elisabeth will be Belgium's first. Should Sweden's little princess inherit the throne from her mother, this will be one of the few times, outside of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, when the Queen of a European throne has been succeeded by another woman. Monarchies are no longer a boys only club. Should William and Catherine have a firstborn daughter, Prince Christian of Denmark will be further outnumbered by his female contemporaries.

Princess Estelle, who cannot be usurped by a male sibling, owes her position to her mother. When Sweden changed their rules of succession in 1980 from agnatic to equal primogeniture, Victoria became Crown Princess despite having a younger brother. Other monarchies followed suit, Norway in 1990, Belgium 1991, Denmark in 2009 and Luxembourg in 2011. The Netherlands, with their own history of Queens, made the change in 1983. Women have ruled the country for so long that when Crown Prince Willem-Alexander succeeds his mother Queen Beatrix, he will be the first king of the Netherlands since 1890. Although Britain has five Queens Regnant, they are currently in the process of changing the rules. If William and Catherine's firstborn is a girl, she will be the beneficiary of this change. If the fates are kind, she may eventually take her place amongst her illustrious predecessors in British history.

© Marilyn Braun 2012

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.

Article amended to add the name of the princess.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Royal Book Challenge: Doomed Queens by Kris Waldherr

13/500

Doomed Queens: Royal Women Who Met Bad Ends, From Cleopatra to Princess Di by Kris Waldherr
Published 2008
176 Pages
ISBN: 9780767928991

I own several books about royal death. Out of all of them, hands down, this one is the funniest. I'll go as far as saying that this is one of the best books in my collection.

In 2009 I wrote a review for Doomed Queens, so I won't spoil it for you. Suffice to say that anyone who can take a macabre topic and combine it with gleeful humor, deserves some type of award in the best book about royal death category.

Heads off!..err hats off..to you Ms Waldherr!

© Marilyn Braun 2012

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, February 19, 2012

Royal Book Challenge: The Royal Baby Book by Phoebe Hichens

12/500

The Royal Baby Book by Phoebe Hichens
Published 1984
64 Pages
ISBN: 0517454661

My interest in the royal family began the day Prince William was born, June 21st, 1982. I've always loved looking at baby pictures and combined with  royalty, this book is right up my alley.

The Royal Baby Book is about royal children from Edward VIII to Prince Harry. Each royal child has his/her own page with their birth date, astrological sign, short biography along with the significance of their position in the royal family. Along with some delightful photos of the various children, there are some surprising errors in the birth dates of Prince Charles, Prince Andrew and Prince William. To be fair, this was before Wikipedia could be used to double-check these things.

Looking through the book it's clear that, despite covering almost 100 years of royal babies, the fascination with royal infants, their births and the way they are raised, doesn't change. In fact, the desire for more information about the minute of their upbringing has grown. There is no doubt that William and Catherine can expect the same reaction upon the arrival of their own children.

© Marilyn Braun 2012

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, February 16, 2012

Royal Book Challenge: Settling Down by James Whitaker

Book 11/500

Settling Down by James Whitaker
128 Pages
Published 1981
ISBN: 0704333856

Hard to believe, but at one point Prince Charles was one of the worlds most eligible bachelors. The media was just as interested in his relationships, maybe even more so, than Prince William's bachelor status 30 years later.

In his time the prince was linked with several women, whether he went out with them or not. Settling Down focuses on the courtship of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. Whitaker holds nothing back about his efforts to get the exclusive story, which is far more interesting than the rest of the book. Unlike other books written about their relationship, Diana is not presented as Cinderella, nor is Charles presented as Prince Charming. Whitaker doesn't romanticize either of them. Diana is shrewd, cunning and not even remotely like the 'Shy Di' of lore. And Charles is portrayed as someone 'fond' of Diana but not really in love with her. Hardly the stuff of fairy tales.

No biography of Charles would be complete without covering his relationships with his married friends. Camilla Parker Bowles in particular enjoys 'looking after' him (his quotes, not mine) and states that Diana would 'never come to resent' Charles' friendship with her. In retrospect it was a naive statement to make.

The last chapter recaps the women he dated or was linked to. Including those who introduced him to 'the delights of the bedroom' , the flings with suitable aristocrats, unsuitable worldly blonde's, and the smart women who turned him down. Looking back, with all of the warning signs, it's a shame Diana wasn't one of them.

© Marilyn Braun 2012

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, February 05, 2012

Royal Book Challenge: Kate & Wills Up The Aisle by Alison Jackson

10/500

Kate and Wills Up the Aisle: A Right Royal Wedding by Alison Jackson
122 Pages
Published 2011
ISBN: 1849490139

Just how 'wild a buck' was Prince William in his younger days? How did Charles and Camilla cope with news of the engagement? How did William propose to Kate? You'll find none of the truthful answers in this book.

However, you can see what their look-a-likes did in those situations. Up The Aisle tells the 'fairytale' story of William and Kate's love story using eerie doppelgangers. If you didn't read the disclaimer at the start, you'd think you were actually looking at Gordon Ramsay giving Kate cooking lessons or Elton John preparing for the wedding by getting a colonic irrigation. *shudder*

Some of the photos border on 'letting daylight in on the magic' (Kate getting a bikini wax, two horses graphically mating, William and Mike Middleton washing a car). Such things should remain a mystery.

Highly entertaining, most of the fun is in marvelling at the freaky likenesses. But it's best to take this book in small doses. There's only so many times you can look at a photo of William in the bathroom admiring a picture of Kate or Camilla wearing a flimsy negligee.

*shudder*

© Marilyn Braun 2012

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, February 01, 2012

Royal Pets

Visiting the kennels at Balmoral
The royal family visiting the Balmoral kennels, 1972
Image via British Monarchy Flickr
William and Catherine have made an addition to their little family - a black cocker spaniel puppy. By choosing a dog, they are following a royal tradition. Dogs have long been associated with members of the royal family. The Queen favors corgis and breeds Labradors, but the types of dogs owned over the years vary by the individual. Some have been adopted and some have been received as gifts. Here is a brief history of royals and their favorite pets.


Princess Victoria with her spaniel, Dash
via Wikipedia
Over the course of her long life, Queen Victoria owned several breeds - terriers, collies, dachshunds, greyhounds and Tibetan Mastiff. When Queen Victoria was presented with a Pekingese, he was the first of his breed to arrive in Britain. She also owned pugs - a favorite of her great-grandson, the Duke of Windsor. Her dogs were commemorated in paintings, photographs, and when they died, statues to mark their graves. One of the last dogs she owned, a Pomeranian named Turi, was at her side when she died in 1901.

Marble effigy of Caesar
Image from the
St George's Chapel website
King Edward VII was partial to terriers and his favorite was an Irish terrier named Jack. He admired Jack's independence and disdain for others. In 1903 Jack died during a trip to Ireland with the King and Queen. After Jack's death the king kept a locket containing strands of the terrier's hair on his writing desk.

Shortly after Jack's death, the King was presented with a fox terrier called Caesar, who accompanied his master everywhere. In 1907 the King he commissioned Faberge to create a group of small carved animals, including one of Caesar. The miniature features ruby eyes and a gold collar that reads 'I am Caesar. I belong to the King'. After the king's death in 1910 he gained fame as part of the king's funeral procession, walking behind the late king's favorite horse. As a result of his notoriety, Where's Master? a book supposedly written by Caesar, was published in June 1910 . He died in 1914 and is buried in the grounds of Marlborough house. In 1927 an effigy of him was included on the tombs of the King and Queen Alexandra in St George's Chapel. He lies curled up at the foot of his master.

King George V owned five dogs, the first was a collie called Heather. After Heather died, the King adopted Happy, the first of four terriers he would own. Like Caesar, he wrote his own book If I were King George, which was published in 1911.

The Royal Family in the gardens of Frogmore House in 1968
The Royal family in 1968
via British Monarchy flickr
His son, King George VI, owned several Labrador Retrievers, and bred yellow Labradors. He introduced the corgi to the royal family in 1933 when he bought one named Dookie from a local kennel. At present, the Queen owns three Corgis: Monty, Willow and Holly and three Dorgis: Cider, Candy and Vulcan.  On her eighteenth birthday, Princess Elizabeth was given a corgi named Susan, who accompanied her on honeymoon in 1947. Some of the royal corgis have mated with daschunds, resulting in the 'Dorgi' breed. The Queen is one of the longest-established breeders of Pembroke corgis in the world.

Visiting Battersea Dogs and Cats Home
The Duchess of Cornwall visits
Battersea Dogs and Cats home
The Duchess of Cornwall is patron of several organizations for animals. She owns three Jack Russell terriers, Tosca, Rosie and in August 2011 she adopted another named Beth from the Battersea Dogs and Cats home.

© Marilyn Braun 2012

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.

Sources:

Noble Hounds and Dear Companions: The Royal Photograph Collection

The Official site of the British Monarchy