Sunday, March 24, 2013

Prince Harry and Cressida Bonas: How to Ruin a Royal Romance

Ah love....

There is nothing like a royal romance. The pattern is predictable: the media goes into hot-pursuit with intrusive coverage, the couple attempt to avoid being photographed together, unflattering paparazzi photos, hunting down any little scrap of titillating information, digging up embarrassing details and ex-boyfriends. All for our entertainment. Let's see just how far she can be chased before she runs for the hills. No matter if she does, just repeat the pattern with the next one.

Reportedly dating since last July, Prince Harry went public with his affection for Cressida while skiing in Verbier. Like all royal girlfriends, we know as much as the media digs up. Prince Harry's new girlfriend, Cressida Bonas is a socialite, model, dancer, former skiing instructor, Leeds University graduate and has a half-sister, Isabella Calthorpe, who rumor has it, caught Prince William's eye. Give it a year and we will have books about Cressida and a royal wedding mug with her engaged to the wrong prince. It almost makes you wonder how royal princes ever get married in the first place. The woman in question has to be strong and determined enough withstand the pressures, not only from the press but also potentially from a fickle prince who cannot make up his mind. As we have seen with Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Kate, it could be years before an announcement takes place.

Cressida ticks off the boxes for royal bride material. She is young, pretty and has an aristocratic background. Her mother is Lady Mary Gaye Curzon, daughter of the 6th Earl Howe and reportedly a descendant of King Charles II. The aristocratic connection is enough to deem her eminently suitable to royal watchers. But are Harry and Cressida compatible? With the prospect of another royal wedding, does it even matter? Marriage may be the furthest thing from Harry or Cressida's minds, but still the media, reading too much into their body language and quoting 'sources', touts her as 'the one'.

Will the intense media interest in their relationship derail it?

That's for Harry and Cressida to decide.

© Marilyn Braun 2013

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, March 21, 2013

Giving Catherine Cambridge a chance is hard, but someone has to do it

There are many ways in which Catherine cannot win.

  • There's her dress sense. (Too long, too short, too safe, too expensive, too cheap, seen too often..)

  • Then there's her looks. (She's too thin, Does she have extensions? what's with the sausage curls and hyena grin?)

  • Not to mention questions about her marriage and 'commoner' family background (Catherine is nothing more than a social climber who duped William into marrying her..)

  • Then there's her role within the royal family (Is she a senior royal or not? Her job is to give birth to an heir, why isn't she working more?)

  • Comparisons to other royals (Is she the new Diana? Look at the Queen, 86 years old. What is Catherine's excuse?)

  • As well as what she does in her spare time (Shopping, getting her hair done, vacations...)

  • Then there is the media with their 'everything Catherine touches turns to gold articles'.  Their relentless focus on Catherine's appearance to the exclusion of everything else. Along with a complete inability to write an article that directly criticizes her. Even if that criticism is valid.

Recently Catherine has slowly increased her duties. Instead of hearing that she is doing things 'behind the scenes' we are actually seeing her carry out royal duties in public. It is something that many Kate critics have waited a long time for, myself included. But there's also cynicism. Will she increase her engagements or will she go on a luxury vacation after doing four of them? How can we know for sure? Will we be disappointed by her yet again?

That cynicism is very apparent in the aftermath of her royal duties. It is as if people can't make up their minds. Despite wanting her to do more engagements, when she does do one, people criticize the type of engagement (too frivolous, not serious enough). If the engagement is a serious one, people will find something else to criticize her for.  Case in point: Despite doing a great job during her visit to Child Bereavement UK,  people criticized the length of her hemline. Then there's the motive behind the engagement. Is it a genuine visit or just damage control?  St James's Palace's tendency to release engagement information on the heels of negative public opinion is suspicious. But is this can't always be the case, can it?

Given the amount of goodwill from the royal wedding, Catherine could have hit the ground running. But she didn't. There was a two year grace period filled with stops and starts and unpredictable engagements. Nothing consistent. Is it really any wonder that people are cynical about Catherine now?

It seems Catherine can't win regardless of what she does, it almost makes you wonder why she bothers to leave the house. But then people would probably complain about that too! Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion about Catherine. Having said that, there's a difference between criticizing her and putting her in an impossible situation by tearing her down no matter what she does.

Catherine has a fantastic platform to make a difference. With the increase in engagements, let's hope this is a sign she plans to do something with it.

© Marilyn Braun 2013

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, March 14, 2013

In defense of Kate critics

Long before she became a global phenomenon, people had opinions about Kate. Opinions which weren't always positive or flattering. At the time I didn't understand people who could criticize someone they had never met. I usually thought that people who were critical of Kate were 'haters'. Over time I've come to realize that not everyone who expresses a critical opinion of her is jealous or a hater. Mainly because I too have become a Kate critic.

Taking Hilary Mantel and Sandi Toksvig as examples, expressing a critical opinion about Kate is obviously risky. Mantel has said that doing so has made her a hate figure. Both have had their looks and lifestyles ripped apart and blasted for being jealous. Kate is young, beautiful, wealthy and privileged and they're not. Why else would they criticize her? When maybe, just maybe, they're expressing an opinion of her. Whether people like that opinion or not.

If you notice, the media very rarely says anything critical about Kate. You would think she walks on water. Which is why when there is criticism, however valid it might be, it stands out in stark contrast. Suddenly the person is jealous/a hater. You can be critical of something/someone without being jealous of it/them right? It should be common sense. If I say I don't like a public figure, for whatever reason, does that mean I am jealous, or am I expressing my opinion? Why does this change when discussing Kate? Would people respond the same to a criticism of Prince Andrew?

This is not to say that people don't hate Kate. There are definately people who are jealous of her. I have read some vitriolic comments on message boards. Creative conspiracy theories about her family. It is amazing how some can hate someone they have never met. On the other hand, I have also read some saccharine articles and comments. It is amazing that some people can love someone they've never met just as much as some people who hate her. When it comes to an opinion about Kate, the middle ground doesn't exist.

I have read that Kate fans supposedly outnumber the critics. Forget the people who are indifferent. They probably outnumber both camps combined. Considering there are 7 billion people on earth, I don't recall a survey about Kate, do you? It is as if everyone, by default, is supposed to love her and worship the ground she walks on. But if you don't happen to feel that way (and say it out loud) well then you must be jealous/have no life/embittered etc. In absence of a constructive counter argument, that seems to be the default response to people who criticize Kate.

I have followed Kate closely since 2007 but I have never held a slavish devotion to her. Certainly I am interested but not enough to emulate her every move. Since her marriage I admit that I have become more critical of her. While there is no denying she dresses well and has nice hair, I honestly do not like the way she is portrayed in the media as nothing more than a clothes horse who is expected to never voice an opinion. I don't like it. And I don't like that the British royal family seems to sanction that one dimensional image. Do I hate Kate? No. I'm just disappointed because Kate herself seems to allow it. The fact that people like Hilary Mantel and Sandi Toksvig get attacked for their opinions disappoints me even more. I highly doubt Prince Charles' critics have this problem.

Like it or not, everyone is entitled to their opinion of Kate. Even those who hold critical ones.

© Marilyn Braun 2013

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, March 11, 2013

Oh no, the sky is falling! Catherine Cambridge has been criticized yet again!

Seems Catherine Cambridge cannot cut a break after yet another older, accomplished woman has the temerity to express a two sentence critical opinion about Catherine Cambridge - Beloved, national treasure who has never put a foot wrong.

We will never know what Catherine thinks about radio host Sandi Toksvig opinion about her lack of opinion. (Whom Daily Mail has irrelevantly pointed out is middle-aged lesbian with three children). Much like we will never know what Catherine's thoughts are regarding Hilary Mantel's lecture. Of course Catherine cannot be expected to defend herself against everyone who dares to say something critical. It would be a full-time job and would make no difference whatsoever.

Some suggest that Catherine should emulate the Queen by becoming apolitical. Voicing no opinion for all these years has worked so successfully for the Queen, surely Catherine can follow suit? Look at the other royal women who don't offer opinions: Birgitte Gloucester, Princess Alexandra, Kate Kent. Quiet and under the radar, do they even exist? Nothing good can come from offering an opinion. Sophie Wessex learned this the hard way when she was stung by an undercover journalist in 2001. Then there was Princess Michael of Kent, also stung by the same journalist in 2005. Two cautionary tales. Don't worry, once they're dead, the authorized biography will reveal all.

Surely Catherine did not marry into the royal family to offer an opinion? That is not her purpose. It is to support her husband (read: don't overshadow him). Nothing wrong with wanting to support him but let's not forget the fact it would never occur to anyone to dare ask Prince William or Prince Harry to keep their thoughts to themselves.  Why is it different with Catherine?

Catherine expressing an opinion is a veritable minefield of danger. A line up of potential people just waiting to be offended. Catherine says she prefers Mondays, people who love Fridays will be up in arms. If Catherine says she prefers dogs the Daily Mail will scream: CATHERINE LIKES DOGS! HAMSTERS GO ON HUNGER STRIKE!

Opinions. From women. They only lead to trouble. After all, don't we already have too many successful, opinionated women in the world, already? Clearly, none of them should express their opinions either. For instance, Hilary Mantel.

When it comes to Catherine it seems that people interpret expressing her 'opinion' to mean becoming overly 'opinionated'. Once the floodgates open, there is no going back. Suddenly she would expound on everything like Prince Charles does. She would never be quiet, like she is supposed to be. The spell would be broken. Heaven forbid she become a role model for being a beautiful, well-dressed woman with an opinion!


The horror...the horror...

© Marilyn Braun 2013

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, March 08, 2013

Royal Baby Crisis Averted! Everyone Go Back To Your Posts!

Remember how I said that I love the alphabet?

Not only can it be used to write blog posts, poetry and entertaining tabloid articles, it can also be used to put words in someones mouth.  It turns out that a video has surfaced that proves Catherine did not stop herself from using a word beginning with the letter 'D' as she accepted a teddy bear.

For a few glorious days we speculated on what Catherine might have meant when she reportedly said 'Is this for my...d..'  Dog, Dentist, Doula? Dammit! Was Catherine deviously teasing us by using the alphabet in calculated ways? Who could blame her? We deserve to be tortured for our incessant need to know everything about her womb.

The video surfaced as the furore was at its apex. Who knows how long we could have chewed on the letter 'D' for? These moments can be mecca for royal watchers who thrive on the media taking any scrap of trivial information and blowing it out of proportion. Because of this new video we will never know just how many more days this story could have gone on for. Killjoy.

Now the media has had to backtrack on their articles and reports. Prior to this video, some experts knew for sure. After the video, experts now know as much as we do about the royal baby's gender. Reporters were only working with what a woman said she overheard. Catherine had no longer dropped the 'hints' people were certain of. Considering the readily available videos, how difficult would it have been to take a closer listen before running with the story? Now a woman in Grimsby has been made to look foolish. Even if she heard it wrong, who made this a bigger story than it needed to be in the first place?

Crisis averted! Now everyone go back to your posts and pray for some real news next time.

© Marilyn Braun 2013

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, March 07, 2013

The Kate-Effect Hits The Alphabet

God I love the alphabet. So many letters to chose from. You can make up all kinds of words and stories and blog posts with them. This week, taking a page out of Sesame street, the royal world decided to focus on the letter 'D'.

For the last few days, the letter D has taken on a significance and prominence we could never have predicted. Prior to Tuesday, it was just the fourth letter of the alphabet. Used to spell words like decalogue and deinotherium. Kate's visit to Grimsby changed that.

During her visit to Grimsby, as Kate greeted crowds on her walkabout she was handed a teddy bear and a woman overheard her say "Oh, is this for our d ... " before stopping herself. The media replayed the video from the moment, listening to the audio for clues as to whether Kate had almost said 'daughter'. The verdict is still out on whether Kate actually said 'D' at all, but no matter. If hearsay is all we have to work with, well then so be it. The Kate effect had hit the alphabet and everyone was deliriously off and running.

A split second suddenly had the world on the edge of their seats. Did the letter D mean we had finally unlocked the secrets of the royal womb? Had Kate slipped up and revealed the sex of her baby? Could this much anticipated fetus/savior of the monarchy be...a daughter?

Calmer heads wisely recognized that there are other words that begin with the letter D. Could Kate have been taking the teddy bear for her d....driver? instructor?...dermatologist?..designer? It became Sesame Street for royal watchers and toddlers as we rediscovered D words. Some even wondered if Kate was being devious to throw us off the scent.

With all of the media furor surrounding 'D' I will add another word to the list.


© Marilyn Braun 2013

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, March 04, 2013

Shhhhh...don't say it too loudly. Maybe it's time for the Queen to cut back her duties

Much like the observation I made about how no one is allowed to criticize Catherine and get away with it, there is another topic that seems to be off-limits. Despite the Queen's age and her recent trip to the hospital, one thing has become clear.

Do not question whether the Queen should scale back her royal duties.

Nope. She will die with her boots firmly strapped on, thank you very much.

Look at people scoffing at the Pope retiring. Regardless of how gracefully he did it. Our Queen would never do that! If she were to scale back, would people see it as a dereliction of her royal duties or breaking her sacred oath? She was 27 when she made that vow. Could something have changed in the interim?

Much like the any discussion about her abdicating, there seems to be no question about delegating. Whatsoever. That's what people say. What the Queen herself thinks is unknown. But looking back over her medical history, as the Telegraph so helpfully did we can see that she is made of good stock. Which is very impressive but doesn't change the fact that she is almost 87.

Another thing that has become clear. Though maybe people are not willing to admit it lest it jinx everything.

The Queen is human. And mortal.

And this must come as a shock because she seems as though she will live forever. The Victorians must have felt the same way about their Queen too. But look what happened. While Queen Elizabeth seems to be superhuman in terms of her work ethic, she gets ill. She goes into the hospital, media camp outside, her obituary one click away from being posted. Could it be that she needs to start slowing down?


Slow down? How dare you insinuate that she might be human and mortal. That she might have limits. What's up with that?

I don't think anyone would suggest that the Queen completely retire. (Actually I did, but never mind). Nor are they suggesting she should move into a retirement community where no one will ever visit her. Quite the contrary. People may think she can go on forever and take pride in her stamina but mark my words. The older she gets, the louder the question will become.

As unquestioningly dedicated to the service of her nation as she has been, there are benefits to passing the torch. Especially while she is still cognizant enough to do so. She has a son waiting in the wings and a younger generation growing older by the minute. All ready to help out if need be. And wouldn't it be good for them to have a chance to shine while they're all still photogenic and vertical?

Maybe the time has come for her to seriously consider...


© Marilyn Braun 2013

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.