Monday, January 27, 2014

Dear Prince Harry, Please do something foolish again

I have a confession to make. In the last few months I've started to grow bored of the British Royal Family. For someone whose all consuming purpose in life (aside from eating and tending to my family) is to write commentary about royalty this is bad news. It is a new year and I have yet to get riled up enough to blog. I've been relegated to writing about how I am uninspired to write about royalty. What will the rest of 2014 be like?

It's off to a bad start. Recently Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge celebrated her 1,000th day as a member of the royal family. First of all, I find this number reassuring. It gives me proof that there are other people just as bored as I am. So bored they sat down and calculated how many days Catherine has been royal. It is also proof at how inane royal news has become. And it allows me to date-stamp the moment when royal news all started to go downhill.

You will find people who disagree with that statement. After all, isn't Catherine the best thing that has ever happened to the royal family in all the years of its existence? Isn't it wonderful that she is perfection personified that she has never, ever put a foot wrong? Catherine walks on water and everything she does turns to gold...


I love writing critical commentary about this but right now I'm so bored I can't rouse myself to do so. I've run out of steam. Not enough to flounce skirts, gather up all my toys and melodramatically bid farewell in a blog post (sorry). But every time I read my twitter newsfeed, it slowly gets there. There's nothing controversial to write commentary about. Nothing new. No scandals to put into perspective. No sanctimonious denouncements about invading Kate's privacy by the very people who contribute to the problem. No royals getting naked or going on multiple exotic vacations. Even Prince Andrew (AKA Air Miles Andy) seems to be economizing. I used to follow various Kate fashion bloggers until my timeline was monopolized by a minute discussion about the actual color of Kate's shoes during her tour of Canada. Until that point I was completely indifferent. And this is why I'm date-stamping the downward spiral of royal news at April 29, 2011.

Before that date the coverage of Kate was much more interesting. Call it the thrill of the chase, the suspense, will they/won't they get married. The dynamic was different. The ridiculous stories were much more entertaining. Sure there was interest in outfits Kate wore, but it wasn't as obsessive as it is now. Now Kate has been relegated to a beautiful clothes horse and she seems happy to oblige. Great news for Kate fashion bloggers, but not so much for people looking for signs of substance behind it.

2013 was definitely a good year for royal news. The 60th anniversary of the coronation kept my Twitter feed dotted with tweets from grumpy republicans and smug monarchists responding to it. Surely there has to be a middle ground? Then there was Kate's pregnancy. Coverage that bordered on the ridiculous a majority of the time. But now that Kate has given birth to Prince George/Savior of the monarchy and he has been duly christened. Now what? Prince Charles shaking things up by merging PR offices. William, Harry and Catherine 'branding' themselves. Beatrice and Eugenie getting jobs. Lady Louise's successful eye surgery. William and Harry giving up playing with helicopters. Heck the most interesting "news story" is not about the royals, but about the outfit a transvestite wore to receive an honor from Prince Charles. Is this what we have to tide us over until Kate gets pregnant again or one of the royals dies?

I swear, where is a undercover reporter posing as a fake sheikh when you need one?

© Marilyn Braun 2014

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, January 03, 2014

Royal Review: Her Majesty by Christopher Warwick & Reuel Golden

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Christopher Warwick and Reuel Golden
306 pages

Aside from finding room, one problem with compulsively collecting books (600 by last count) is that it is very hard to surprise me, especially when it comes to books containing lots of royal photographs. Books that tout 'unseen' or 'rare' royal photographs are often not the case for me. Which is why I'm often incredibly skeptical of any new release that makes these types of claims.

On first glance, Her Majesty is an impressive book. It is so large (16" x 12") and heavy (10 pounds) that it comes with its own carrying case. I would wage a guess that this book is now is the largest in my collection. It also has an impressive price tag ($150) although if you're lucky and patient you can get it on sale like I did. But just because a book is large, does not mean it breaks new ground.

Her Majesty covers the Queen's life from childhood to her Diamond jubilee celebrations. She is depicted on duty with the occasional casual photograph. Throughout her long life and reign, the Queen has been photographed by some of the finest photographers of the 20th century. Photographs, which are familiar to any avid royal follower. Unless you have never seen a book about the Queen, there are few surprises in Her Majesty. Which is disappointing given the fact that as the most photographed woman in the world, there is no shortage of material to choose from.

With Her Majesty, the text is interesting and offered in English, German and French. However, again, there are no surprises.  It must be an occupational hazard for any royal biographer to come up with a new take on the Queen. Especially when other authors and journalists have already covered that same well-documented life ad-nauseam. The book becomes more interesting in the Appendix section which contains a chronology of her life and detailed list of her overseas travels from 1953 - 2011. It truly shines in the Royal Media section with newspaper and magazine covers throughout her life and reign, which serves to illustrate her cultural impact far better than any of the photographs within the book.

If you want to find a book with royal photographs, there are far more affordable options. Queen Elizabeth II: A Photographic Portrait by Philip Ziegler, The Queen: Art and Image by Paul Moorhouse. Cecil Beaton: The Royal Portraits by Roy Strong. If you're looking for rare and interesting outtakes from those sessions, you can find them in Queen Elizabeth II: Portraits by Cecil Beaton by Susanna Brown.

© Marilyn Braun 2014

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.