Friday, July 31, 2015

Royal Book Challenge: To tread on Royal toes by Ray Bellisario

Published 1972
140 Pages

I ordered this book (from Australia) to do research on how the paparazzi works. To tread on Royal toes did not disappoint in that respect. Ray Bellesarrio, dubbed the first paparazzo, has been alternatively known as 'The Peeping Tom the Royals dread,' 'notorious unofficial royal photographer,' 'Hammer of the House of Windsor,' or, as Princess Margaret referred to him: 'that bloody Bellisario!'

Ray Bellisario began photographing the royals at the age of 18 and continued doing so for three decades. To tread on Royal toes features 120 photographs of the royal family both on duty and off. He found himself in trouble over his candid pictures of the royals in bathing suits, waterskiing and on honeymoon. However, what was novel then is tame by comparison now. Through it all Bellisario remains defiant, delighting in infuriating the royals and palace officials. He also takes particular glee in taking swipes at another well known royal photographer, Lord Snowdon.

After To tread on Royal toes was published, Bellisario sent a specially bound copy to the Queen. It was returned with a note 'Her Majesty does not wish to accept the book and it is therefore being returned herewith.'  Little did she know the paparazzi would only get worse.

Bellisario auctioned his entire photographic archives in 2013 to raise money for his charity, Reach for Rights. Some of his royal photos can be seen here.

© Marilyn Braun 2015

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, July 29, 2015

Royal Book Challenge: Royal Service by Stephen P. Barry

Published 1983
246 Pages

In the canon of royal tell-alls written by former staff members, Royal Service is rather tame. I would even go as far as to say it is somewhat dull.

Stephen P. Barry served as a valet to Prince Charles for 12 years. Published in 1983, Royal Service recounts his travels with the prince, maintaining his wardrobe, and looking after his day to day needs. 1970s era Prince Charles does not smoke, drink, go wild parties and hates chocolate pudding with nuts. He also loves polo, fishing, opera, a particular brand of honey and he is dedicated to his work (clearly very little has changed in 32 years). With so little material to work with, there are no scandals or juicy revelations that would make Royal Service more compelling to read. It reminded me of another, more famous royal tell-all, The Little Princesses by Marion Crawford, in both tone and old-fashioned level of discretion.

It is only when Barry delves into the princes personal relationships that things become somewhat more interesting. He writes about his friendships with Lady Tyron and Camilla Parker Bowles, and his various royal girlfriends, including Diana. Although Barry departed royal service after Charles and Diana married, he tries to make clear that his departure was voluntary and amicable. Barry was obviously fond of the prince, saying very little negative about him or any other member of the royal family. Although he portrays Diana positively, some of his anecdotes leave me with the impression that he was being diplomatic.

Barry followed up Royal Service with Royal Secrets: The View from Downstairs in 1985 (which I do not own and have not read). He died in in London in 1986 at the age of 37, reportedly from AIDS.

© Marilyn Braun 2015

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, July 27, 2015

Royal Book Challenge: In Public View The Nation's Snapshots of The Royal Family

Published 1984
200 Pages

For a as long as the camera has been in existence, members of the public have taken photographs of the royal family. This book, published in 1984, harks back to a bygone era before selfies and delete buttons, where cameras used rolls of film instead of memory cards. When the roll came to an end, you needed to wind it while it was still in the camera, remove the roll, get into your car and drop it off at a store. Then, on top of all of that, you needed to wait a week for the film to be developed! Then you had to get back in your car and pick up the photos, wondering whether any of them had turned out. No doubt a suspenseful experience for people taking photographs of the royal family. How would this once in a lifetime moment turn out? Blurry? Fuzzy? Would your finger photo-bomb? Or would you have a proud photograph you could later submit for publication in this book?

In Public View - The Nation's Snapshots of The Royal Family, published in a association with The Sunday People features photographs by hundreds of amateur photographers capturing these special moments from the reign of King George V to members of the royal family circa 1984 - The Queen and Prince Philip, The Queen Mother, Charles and Diana, Princess Margaret, Princess Alexandra, Duke and Duchess of Kent, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward, Prince and Princess Michael, Princess Anne and Mark Phillips as well as a few of Lord Louis Mountbatten.  There is no special lighting, posing or flattering camera angles. They capture happy interactions with the public and there are even photos of Princess Anne smiling!

Click on this link to purchase  In Public View: Nation's Album of the Royal Family

© Marilyn Braun 2015

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, July 23, 2015

29 years ago today...A look back at Andrew and Sarah's wedding

There was such hope. A young couple so clearly in love.

I was 14 at the time of their engagement and I remember being very disappointed when I heard about it. I wondered, why hadn't he waited for me? What prince would I marry now?

This was the first royal wedding I had paid attention to. Charles and Diana's wedding was not on my radar in 1981 and I had a vague recollection of wondering what all of the fuss was about. Fast forward 5 years and I found myself staying up all night so that I could watch the wedding procession and ceremony. I even video-taped it so I could watch it again later.

Sarah was lovely. I was envious of her curly red hair but not the floral headdress she wore when she entered Westminster Abbey. I preferred the tiara she wore when she left. Little realizing the symbolism of the change. As Sarah herself stated:  'I had stepped up as the country girl; I would walk back as a princess.'

Her happiness was evident as she walked up the aisle, smiling and joking with her father. The creamy beauty of her wedding dress in its glory, holding her unusual 'S' shaped bouquet. There were charming moments during the ceremony, like Sarah mixing up the order of Andrew's names. And not so charming moments watching 4 year old Prince William, who served as a page boy, misbehaving with his cousin Laura Fellowes.

I watched as the royal couple and their attendants returned to Buckingham Palace. Leaving his carriage, Prince William affectionately greeted Prince Andrew. Here was a side of the royal family not normally shown to the world. Later on, as the couple departed for their honeymoon, Prince William ran towards the carriage and the Queen sprinted to stop him.  How many times have we seen the Queen run like that?

Here was a royal marriage that would last. Or so all of us thought at the time. After their divorce they have continued to live together and they seem comfortable and relaxed in each other's company. A part of me still hopes that they will get together again. Time will tell.

© Marilyn Braun 2015

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, July 22, 2015

Happy Birthday, Prince George! Let's help him celebrate by leaving him alone

Hard to believe is was not that long ago that I stood in the Ottawa's Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, refreshing my twitter feed on my phone for updates about William and Kate's baby. Finally receiving the news that George had arrived and rushing out to the local drugstore for newspapers and magazines lauding his arrival. As he was overdue, I had brought my laptop with me on vacation but because there was no free Wi-Fi in the hotel I was staying at, it was very frustrating to not be able to blog about it as much as I would have liked. First world problems.

It has been two years of celebrating every rare public appearance, noting his outfits and his reaction to the birth of his younger sister, Princess Charlotte. By appearances he seems to be a regular toddler, taking joy in playing in the park with his mother or attending royal events such as Trooping the Color and his sister's christening, for the most part unaware of his extraordinary circumstances and predetermined role in royal history.

By the expression on his face in the photo above, I get the sense he is on the cusp of understanding he is of interest to others.  He may not be able to put it into words but I see it in his eyes. The wariness to strangers is multiplied by a million in his case. Every parent tries to protect their child from harm and his are no different. People complain that his parents don't release enough photos of him or that he is not seen in public enough. Paparazzi photos are slowly appearing, with the focus on what he is wearing instead of the obvious invasiveness. With the growing, apparently insatiable interest, I can't say I blame William and Kate for trying to shield their children to the best of their ability.

So happy birthday little prince, here's hoping the public allows you and your sister, to have a carefree and normal childhood.

Though somehow I doubt it.

© Marilyn Braun 2015

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, July 20, 2015

Royal Book Challenge: Alice - Princess Andrew of Greece by Hugo Vickers

Book 62/500
Alice - Princess Andrew of Greece by Hugo Vickers
477 Pages
Published 2000
ISBN: 0312302398

Born Princess Alice of Battenberg, she was the daughter of Victoria Marchioness of Milford Haven, sister of Queen Louise of Sweden  and a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Considered one of the most beautiful royals of her time, Princess Alice could have attempted to rely on her royal title to carry her through life. Instead, inspired by her aunt, Grand Duchess Ella, she chose to help those in greatest need, courageously hiding a Jewish family during the war and founding her own religious order. She faced uncertainty, tragedy, enforced exile, mental illness and the threat of her husband, Prince Andrew of Greece's execution. Along the way she had five children, four girls and one boy - the present Duke of Edinburgh.

Her life story tends to be defined by little more than her deafness, mental illness, eccentric habits and connection to others. Alice - Princess Andrew of Greece by Hugo Vickers, provides a more well rounded picture of this fascinating, courageous and remarkable woman.

Click on the title to purchase Alice: Princess Andrew of Greece by Hugo Vickers

© Marilyn Braun 2015

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, July 19, 2015

Keep Calm, the Queen's track record speaks for itself

20 seconds of eight decade old film. You would think everything the Queen had accomplished in her lifetime would come crashing down as a result of it.

Truth be told, to our modern eyes, The Sun's footage featuring the seven year old Princess Elizabeth, her mother, the Duchess of York, Princess Margaret and their Uncle David, the future King Edward VIII, performing the Nazi salute is shocking.  Given what we know about Uncle David, it is no surprise. It is surprising and riveting to see the future Queen doing so. No doubt about it.

Buckingham Palace was quick to issue a statement in her defense. Tweets and articles defending the Queen followed suit, along with more politically correct wartime images to counter it. As if it would change anything.

The Queen's was a child in the footage and holding her to account for it is absurd. No one in their right mind would countenance the thought. The Sun itself recognizes this.

The next time someone rushes to defend her, they would be wise to remember that 20 seconds of old footage does not negate the Queen's unquestionable lifetime of dedicated service.

Come what may, her track record will always speak for itself.

© Marilyn Braun 2015

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, July 17, 2015

Royal Book Challenge: Five Gold Rings - A Royal Wedding Souvenir Album

Five Gold Rings: A Royal Wedding Souvenir Album from Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth II
Published 2007
120 Pages

Next to royal jewels, one of my favorite subjects is royal weddings. In all honesty, I can't get enough of them. The beautiful wedding dresses, the flowers, the jewels, the official photographs, the sense of optimism for the newlyweds and the true pageantry is stunning.

Five Gold Rings was published to mark the Diamond wedding wedding anniversary of the Queen and Prince Philip and it accompanied the exhibit at Buckingham Palace, which no doubt would have provided lots of eye candy for royal watchers. For people like me, who cannot make it to the exhibits, I am grateful the Royal Collection publishes books such as this with highlights.

I have several books about royal weddings in my collection, but I would have to say that this is my favorite. Spanning 107 years of royal wedding history, it features 275 illustrations from five royal weddings: Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (1840), King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra (1863), King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (1923) and Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip (1947).

Inside the book is a veritable feast of royal wedding lace, jewels, fashions, menus, diary entries, china, wedding gifts, pieces of wedding cake, letters, souvenirs, list of hymns from each royal wedding and some surprisingly sentimental items such as pressed roses the future King Edward VII received from his fiancée the day of their engagement. The highlights are the close up images of royal jewels as well as royal wedding dresses.

Out of all of these weddings, my favorites are Prince George, Duke of York and Princess May of Teck. I love Victorian fashion and everything about the era. Their successful marriage of a reserved couple brought together by the death of Princess May's original fiancé and Prince George's older brother, Prince Albert Victor.

I also love the details from the wedding of Princess Elizabeth to Prince Philip. A beautiful bride and heiress to the throne, with her stunningly handsome groom, provided a much needed moment of glamour so soon after the war. I don't think the Queen has ever looked lovelier than on her wedding day. Lady Diana, Sarah Ferguson and Kate Middleton have nothing on her.

Five Gold Rings is a fantastic book and a must have for anyone interested in the subject.

© Marilyn Braun 2015

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Let's try this again - The Royal Book Challenge!

A few years ago I made a crazy New Years resolution to read every book in my royal collection, cover to cover, then write a blog post it. As with many new years resolutions, it fell by the wayside as I struggled to keep up. It was harder than I thought. Not that it stopped me from collecting more royal books! Since the resolution was made I think I have added another 100. Including the ones I have already read and reviewed (but not labeled as part of the challenge) I think I made it to 60 of 500 books.

Now, I have decided to revive the goal again to give myself something to blog about between major news stories. I can't guarantee I will be able to do it on a weekly basis, but I will try to work ahead so that it doesn't become overwhelming or compete with real world commitments.

I hope you enjoy an overview of each of my royal books and maybe even find something you enjoy enough to add to your own royal book collection.

© Marilyn Braun 2015

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, July 13, 2015

Royal Review: The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
Published 2015
454 Pages

Based on the premise of The Royal We, one could be forgiven for presuming it is a fictional retelling of William and Kate's relationship. It definitely meets the criteria:

Checked box symbol A Prince (Nick) meets an American commoner (Rebecca Porter/Bex) at university/predictably breakup/make each other jealous while apart/inevitably get back together

Checked box symbol Prince Nick has a younger, sexy brother (Prince Freddie) with ginger hair who likes to party

Checked box symbol Bex has a sister (Lacey) who basks in her sister's limelight

Checked box symbol Bex comes from a self-made family which includes an ambitious mother

Checked box symbol Prince Nick has commitment issues due to what happened to his mother at the hands of the royal family and the press

Checked box symbol Prince Nick gives Bex a royal heirloom engagement ring last worn by his tragic mother

Checked box symbol Bex has numerous fashion blogs devoted to her appearance

Checked box symbol Most predicable of all, because every single fictional royal novel includes emotionally distant royals who disapprove of situations beyond their control. Despite changing the names of the main characters and creating a different royal house, the dynamic is still there.

The beginning of The Royal We finds the bride-to-be, Bex, at The Goring Hotel the night before the royal wedding. Given all of the similarities, it would be obvious to assume that there will be a happily ever after, right? Not necessarily.

Before we can get to Westminster Abbey, we need to get the similarities out of the way. This takes longer than expected as first we need to cover the predicable courtship and breakup, which lasts far longer than William and Kate's. Once they predictably break up, readers are led on a journey which include Bex partying and flirting with guys who could jeopardize her future. After Nick proposes, he ships off to sea, leaving Bex to fend for herself in regal  'shark infested waters.' Predictably, the pressure gets to her and she starts to feel sorry for herself after reading nasty stories on a website called The Royal Flush.  Although unrelenting at times, the pithy remarks from loyal friends provide welcome comic relief along the way.

It is only towards the end of the book - Part Five - where the story deviates from the predictability and becomes a page turner. I literally could not put it down. I think that the suspense of the twist could have been alluded to earlier and drawn out more. As it stands, the twist feels as though it has been dumped in the readers lap without preliminary. The Royal We ends just as the resulting conflict was starting to get unpredictably interesting.

If you have followed William and Kate's relationship from the beginning you will feel as though you have already read the majority of this book. Although fun and light, it is only when The Royal We finally deviates from the similarities and predictability that it becomes a compelling read.

© Marilyn Braun 2015

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, July 10, 2015

Dear William and Kate, choose a decade and stick with it

via British Monarchy Flickr

Whenever we discuss the future of the monarchy, we are often reminded that William and Kate are doing things their own way. Yes, they want to be like normal married couple, deferring royal responsibilities to raise their young children away from the spotlight. To give them, what generations of royal biographies have opined, "as normal a childhood as possible."

William clearly does not want to repeat previous mistakes. Not after what happened to his beloved mother. But the future seems to hold no appeal for the Cambridges either. Once Prince Charles becomes King, William and Kate face a future filled with ribbon cutting, shaking hands, standing on ceremony and accepting obeisance from people who don't know better. What is a reluctant future king and queen taking flak for their current choices to do?

PR Minions: What about harking back to the past?

Same PR Minions: Good idea!

How about halcyon days before the internet, selfies and social media? An era both classic and comfortable fashion wise for Kate, George and Charlotte. I envision William and Kate dusting off royal photo albums for inspiration.

1980s: At Trooping the Color, Prince George wore the exact same outfit Prince William wore for his first balcony appearance in 1984 so this decade is taken care of.

1990s, unfortunate both in fashion and musically. Not to mention 'annus horribilis,' the implosion of various royal marriages and his mother's tragic death.

No, let's go further back...

Victorian era? What do you mean I can't sunbathe topless and have to wear a corset?

OK, too far back. Hmmmm...

1920s? Even Kate can't bring back the flapper look.

1930s? Who wants to be reminded of the Abdication crisis? Yay! Good times...

1940s? Wait, how many clothing coupons do I need for that Alexander McQueen dress?

1960s? Free love and people were starting to question everything.

1970s? Equally unflattering to photogenic and non-photogenic royals.

No. How about a more deferential time? Say the 1950s era royals, where being young and glamorous was enough to earn patriotic doffed caps, the public were subjects, long absences were seen as acceptable and the media never crossed lines. A time period where nannies wore uniforms and royal children behaved perfectly in photographs.

From Prince George's outfit, the nanny's uniform and the vintage pram, William and Kate had the 1950s down pat on Princess Charlotte's christening day. Even the Queen must have experienced déjà vu. Turn the footage black and white, add a respectful British Pathé narrator and the charade is complete. But temporary.

Tradition is the royal family's raison d'être. The royal collection has an entire arsenal for the purpose. It is all well and good to play dress up with the past and pretend normalcy but even the 89-year old Queen faces the future and reality. William and Kate would be wise to follow suit. The past should be used for fond reminisces, not for hiding behind.

© Marilyn Braun 2015

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, July 01, 2015

Royal Focus: Royal Godparents

When Princess Charlotte is christened on Sunday July 5th, she will traditionally be given five or six godparents/sponsors. Prince William has paid tribute to his mother in his daughter's name, the church where his own mother was baptized and chosen Mario Testino, Diana's favorite photographer, to take the official photographs. Because William is choosing to underline the Diana connection so heavily, I think it is likely that he will also choose someone from the Spencer side of his family as one of Charlotte's godparents,  potentially one of Diana's sisters, Lady Sarah McCorquodale or Lady Jane Fellowes. This would be a unique choice as neither William, Harry or Prince George have a Spencer family member included amongst their godparents. From the Spencer side, it is interesting to note that each of Diana's siblings have a royal godparent - except for her!

At one point godparents were drawn heavily from members of the immediate and extended royal family. Over time the emphasis has shifted to godparents with loyal connections rather than royal family ties. For instance, unlike his grandfather Prince Charles, who had five royal godparents,  Prince George only has one with a royal connection, Zara Phillips.

The Queen and Princess Margaret

The Queen's godparents were comprised entirely of family members and included her paternal grandparents King George V and Queen Mary, her maternal grandfather, the Earl of Strathmore, her aunts Princess Mary (later Princess Royal), Lady Elphinstone and her great-great uncle Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught.

Princess Elizabeth christening photograph
Royal Collection website

Princess Margaret's godparents were her uncle, Edward, Prince of Wales, Princess Ingrid of Sweden (later Queen of Denmark) and Princess Victoria, favorite sister of King George V. The maternal side of her family was represented by her mother's siblings, Lady Rose Levenson-Gower and the Honorable David Bowes-Lyon.

The Queen's children

Prince Charles' godparents were his grandfather, King George VI, his maternal great-grandmother, Queen Mary, his paternal great-grandmother, Victoria, Marchioness of Milford Haven, David Bowes-Lyon, Lady Brabourne, King Haakon of Norway and Prince George of Greece.

Prince Charles christening photograph
Royal Collection website

Princess Anne's godparents were, from the maternal side: her grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, and The Rev and Hon. Andrew Elphinstone (son of Lady Elphinstone, godmother of the Queen). Her paternal godparents were her grandmother, Princess Andrew of Greece, aunt Princess Margarita and great-uncle Earl Mountbatten of Burma.

Princess Anne christening photograph
Royal Collection website

Prince Andrew's godparents were his great-uncle Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, Princess Alexandra, Lord Elphinstone, the Earl of Euston and Mr. Harold Phillips.

Prince Edward's godparents were Prince Richard of Gloucester, the Duchess of Kent, his uncle by marriage, the Earl of Snowdon, Princess George of Hanover and Prince Louis of Hesse.

The Queen's grandchildren

Interesting to note that, unlike previous generations of royal children, none of her grandchildren or great-grandchildren have the Queen or Prince Philip as a godparent. Previous monarchs, Queen Victoria, King Edward VII, Queen Alexandra, King George V, Queen Mary, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth all served as godparents to various grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Peter Phillips godparents were his uncle, the Prince of Wales, the Rt. Rev Geoffrey Tiarks, Captain Hamish Lochare, Lady Cecil Cameron of Lochiel and Mrs. Timothy Holderness-Roddam.

Zara Phillips's godparents were her uncle the Duke of York, the Countess of Litchfield, Mrs. Jackie Steward, Colonel Andrew Parker-Bowles (first husband of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall), and Mr. Hugh Thomas.

Prince William's godparents were ex-King Constantine of Greece, Lord Romsey, Sir Laurens van der Post, Princess Alexandra, the Duchess of Westminster and Lady Susan Hussey.

Prince William christening photograph
Royal Collection website

Prince Harry's godparents were his uncle, the Duke of York, Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones, Lady Vestey, Mrs. William Bartholomew, Mr. Bryan Organ and Mr. Gerald Ward.

Princess Beatrice's godparents were Viscount Linley, Peter Palumbo, the Duchess of Roxburghe, Mrs. Harry Cotterell and Mrs John Greenall.

Princess Eugenie's godparents were James Ogilvy, Captain Alistair Ross, Mrs Ronald Ferguson, Mrs Patrick Dodd-Noble and Miss Louise Blacker.

Lady Louise Windsor's godparents include: Lady Sarah Chatto (nee Armstrong Jones), Lord Ivar Mountbatten, Lady Alexandra Etherington, Mrs Francesca Schwarzenbach and Mr Rupert Elliott.

James, Viscount Severn's godparents were Denise Poulton, Jeanye Irwin, Alastair Bruce, 5th Baron Aberdare, Duncan Bullivant, and Tom Hill.

The Queen's great-grandchildren

Despite their royal connections, the parents of Savannah and Isla Phillips and Mia Tindall have not announced the godparents for their own children.

However, we do know the ones for Prince George: Oliver Baker, Emilia Jardine-Paterson, Earl Grosvenor, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, Julia Samuel, William van Cutsem and Zara Tindall.

Prince George on his christening day with his parents and great-grandmother
British Monarchy Flickr

It will be interesting to see who William and Catherine choose to be godparents for Princess Charlotte. Will her parents honor a Spencer family member? We shall find out soon enough!

UPDATE: Princess Charlotte has five godparents (two fewer than George). They are: Miss Sophie Carter, Mr. James Meade, Mr. Alan Middleton, Mr. Thomas van Straubenzee, and from the Spencer side, The Hon. Laura Fellowes. I guessed Lady Jane but William and Kate chose her daughter instead!

© Marilyn Braun 2015

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.


The Royal Encyclopedia by Ronald Alllison and Sarah Riddell
Princess Margaret by Theo Aronson
Official site for the British Monarchy
British Monarchy Flickr
The Royal Collection website

Royal Review: Very British Baby Knits by Susan Campbell

Like her mother, Princess Charlotte recently caused a stir with one of her outfits. When Princess Charlotte left hospital, she was wearing a handmade knitted bonnet by Irulea and her official photographs released later in the month featured the matching outfit by the same designer. While these items are lovely, the $260 price tag for the complete outfit might be a deterrent for even the most devoted royal baby watcher. Fortunately, there are some wonderfully royal themed alternatives.

Very British Baby Knits 30 Designs fit for a royal baby features five collections designed by Susan Campbell, a 'veteran in the design of baby clothes' . The 30 designs are comprised of familiar items such as hats, booties, cardigans and the like to keep your own baby snug and warm. The author has charmingly included a pattern to make your own knitted bunny with tiny matching outfits from each collection to go with them.

Each of the five collections is inspired by a royal residence and thoughtful consideration has gone into each set.

Anmer Hall mimics the Duchess of Cambridge's style, ''not fussy' and easy to wear but, at the same time modern and trendy.'

The Balmoral collection for baby girls is more romantic with 'tiny flowers and colors that blend in with the prolific Scottish heathers' on the estate.

The pure new wool Highgrove collection in cream and grey, 'remind us of natural, undyed fleece and the use of garter stich evokes thoughtful country textures.'

Sandringham collection features 'stripes that mimic the ploughed fields of Norfolk' and a 'splash of  gold to celebrate the yearly appearance of the wild golden asphodel which grows on the estate.'

Windsor was inspired by the castle and the  Order of the Garter: 'the twisted cable on the sweater symbolizes eternal chivalry and the smart royal blue cardigan speaks of sobriety and honor.'

Anmer Hall and Windsor patterns recommend using blue colors, while the pretty pink Balmoral set would be adorable on a baby girl. However, if the parents-to-be do not announce their baby's gender in advance, you cannot go wrong with the Highgrove and Sandringham collections featuring the more unisex colors of cream, beige, white and gold.

The book is very well organized, beautifully photographed and the patterns are easy to follow. A highly recommended addition to any devoted knitters pattern collection.

Click on the following link to purchase Very British Baby Knits: 30 Stylish Designs Fit for a Royal Baby.

© Marilyn Braun 2015

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.