Thursday, March 31, 2005

Prince Charles - Royal Sex Symbol

Yes ladies, in a weeks time the Prince of Wales will be officially off the market [insert global groans here]. I know..I's a disappointment isn't it? We can't help but be happy for him but the announcement of his upcoming marriage must be tempered with the heartbreak over what could have been if only we had waited out the whole Camilla thing. The problem was that we waited too long. Didn't we think we had plenty of time between 1996 and 2005? Aren't you just kicking yourself with regret?

At one point Charles was considered to be the 'most eligible man in the world'. As anyone so close in line for the throne, it is his fate to have women fall in love with him. He is no doubt a besieged sex symbol, aware of his power over women and modest in the presence of women screaming as if he was a popstar.He is known as a chivalrous suitor, never boasting of all of his conquests with his "Charlie's Angels". A prince and a gentleman.

Despite all of the tabloid reports, between Charles and Diana, I'm sure there were some women out there who held and continue to hold, a torch for him. It would be extremely hard to resist his charms. What with the whole 'heir to the throne' thing going for him and then in the 1970's the 'Action Man' tag. He's educated, wealthy, a deep thinker, and he has a certain rugged maculine appeal. How could anyone possibly resist his charms? Besides doesn't everyone just love a man in uniform?

Once the whole Diana fiasco was over with he went back to his status. Now I agree, his appeal is not of the same quality as the late John F. Kennedy Jr. but it was still there all along. After the unfortunate accident where Kennedy, his wife and sister-in-law died in 1999 the focus once again turned to Charles. Forget all of those 'Sexiest Man Alive' titles, People magazine was overlooking a gem in the rough. Movie starts will fade away, but as a member of the best known royal family in the world, Charles will always have a place in the history books.

Now the focus goes to Prince William; whom he's dating, whom he will marry. We can only hope that he will have the same sex appeal as his father.

© Marilyn Braun 2005

Monday, March 28, 2005

Explaining Camilla to children

There has been a lot of media coverage regarding the upcoming royal wedding which I would think has piqued the interest of people of all ages. Children love a fairy tale, no more so than when it's a real one. When Charles married Diana at the wedding of the century, the Archbishop of Canterbury said "this is the stuff of fairy tales", and we believed it ourselves. If we could only freeze frame that moment in time we could ignore it's ending and look 20 years younger.

I'm sure there was some difficulty with parents having to explain Diana's death and even more difficult if they're curious about Dodi and the conspiracy theories.With Camilla the story gets much more complicated than 'they lived happily ever after'. Weren't things supposed to turn out differently? Yes, Dick and Jane they were.

Like explaining the facts of life or thermonuclear physics, there is no simple answer regarding Charles and Camilla. However, one must always be prepared for such an eventuality; children look to us for leadership and sustanance so to present anything other than blithe reasurrance could be traumatizing. Not answering properly could be the pivitol moment where children realize their parents know nothing and have been bluffing all along.

All children have a natural curiosity which, depending on the subject, should be encouraged.On the bright side we could look upon this as a valuable and informative way to teach them about the world. So what is the best way to do this? Should we broach the topic ourselves? If so we need to choose our words very carefully before they hear the truth in the school yard. This wouldn't be on the epic level of deception as Santa Claus but it could still burst a few bubbles. Of course we would want them to keep an open mind regarding her, so calling her a trolloppe would be biased; better go with the more middle ground, all purpose, floosie. More importantly we don't want them calling every rotweiller they come across Camilla. We could also briefly explain the long and sordid history of royal mistresses; every family needs something to be proud of.

Not to mention judging a person by their appearance; time marches across everyone's face. Camilla's future title could introduce them to the elitist society in which we live but touching on the religious and legal issues regarding the marriage could go over their heads. The fact that Charles' parents aren't coming to the wedding and the complexities of parental approval could be worrisome even for the most secure of children. Best to omit that part so they can find out for themselves.

We could try to avoid the whole topic of Charles and Camilla entirely by switching to another channel or cutting those stories out of the newspaper but some would consider that to be censorship. They will need to be exposed to reality at some point, so starting with this and a part-time job could be a good segue way.

Once they've been temporarily reassured we could also let them know that maybe this story will end in a 'happily ever after'. We just might have to wait 20 years to find out.

© Marilyn Braun 2005

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Rest in peace Diana...but only for now

I don't know about you but there are times when I wish Diana was still here. Sometimes I'm filled with disbelief that she's gone; maybe that's what happens when someone vibrant and youthful dies. At the time of her death, even her own niece didn't believe it when told the news: "but not in real life Daddy".The global shock no longer reverberates but almost eight years after her death she lives on. She's in good company with Jackie Kennedy who is kept alive in Kennedy retrospectives and every new book that comes out to revive Camelot. We want to go back to a time when glamour meant something other than Oscar parties and best dressed lists.

With the exception of the whole 'Inquest into her death' issue to contend with, you could actually pretend that she's still around. Like Elvis, she has left the building and is living somewhere in Mexico, making the occasional foray to pick up a Big Mac. The conspiracy theories and inquest could be distracting us from the fact that maybe she is still alive and well and that publicizing and keeping her memory alive will smoke her out of hiding. Like those Sasquach, UFO and Loch Ness monster photos, it would provide proof to the unconverted. The lucky person who took the photo could count their money while giving us breathless first hand accounts, maybe even write their own book and appear on Larry King. The night Diana died, people were interviewed around the tunnel area, giving their own accounts and taking pictures for the slide show back home. Good taste isn't for everyone, especially those who can make money.

There are many people who I'm sure would want her to be around - the media as stock photos only go so far, the paparazzi who need something to do other than clean their lenses, the designers who have now slipped back into obscurity only to be brought out when discussing her fashion impact on the world, Barbara Walters. Wouldn't it be the ultimate exclusive? She might even make Diana cry to boost ratings.

Alternately, there are many people who probably wouldn't want her to be around, namely her official memorial fund as you can't hock Diana margarine without her approval. Perhaps the people who successfully bid on her dresses at auction, which then promptly went up on value after she died. I recently watched a program called 'Diana's dresses' which profiled some of the people who bought them. With a cross dresser providing commentary, people spoke about how the dress changed their lives, the measures they've taken to protect the dress by keeping it in a safe and not disclosing where they live for the camera. One rich and obviously troubled woman, protects the dress by displaying it with a glazed looking guard keeping watch beside it. The poor man must constantly fight the urge to drop a match on it.

Really, she doesn't physically need to be alive to us. There are so many people slavishly following every detail of the inquest and buying Franklin Mint dolls, that it should carry us for another good few years. Andrew Morton and Paul Burrell will milk it for every last drop. The memorial fountain fiasco alone is an honorable mention. Even her brother is in on the act; would we really go to Althorp if Diana wasn't buried there? We could take pictures of the island where she is buried, place flowers in the alotted area. Wouldn't the macabre side of us just love to get on that island and visit her grave? One can never get too close and maybe some of her magic might rub off. A few years back some people did sneak onto the island with metal detectors. Her brother foiled them by burying slabs of metal here and there just to confuse things. I'm guilty of wanting more information, briefly scanning the inquest documents for the grisly details; one can never know enough about her. At one point I thought about writing a book on her life from birth to death, minutely detailing it by day. There is a similar book out there with Elvis as the subject so it's not an original idea. But it could sell and I know I would buy it.

I'm sure the royal family would love for Diana to go away, especially Charles and Camilla. Camilla must be exhausted just trying to live up to the expectations and comparisons. The Queen must have made a grudging decision to add her to the memorial page of the royals official website and she has a cursory mention on Charles' site. On the royals site I've noticed that as each new royal dies she moves further and further down the page, but they can't stop those of us who are dedicated enough to use the scroll bar.

Her family's feelings notwithstanding, or if shes reading this herself, maybe it's better that she's no longer alive. One of the books I have mentions this very idea. She is forever frozen in time, always beautiful, eternally happy, and mystique still intact. Had she lived into old age her funeral would indeed have been a depressing event to those of us who still cared by that point. Unless you have the longevity of the Queen Mother, being elderly doesn't make for good copy or sell commemorative plates. Rest in peace Diana, wherever you are.

© Marilyn Braun 2005

Monday, March 21, 2005

Queen Camilla

Did I hear you right?....did you say Queen Camilla?

Will that be Camilla's title when Charles ascends the throne? At the moment it's a very strong possibility.

Ten years ago the idea of Camilla being anything other than a footnote in royal mistress history (like her great-grandmother Alice Keppel, longest serving mistress of King Edward VII) would have been met by extreme hostility. Charles and Diana were the golden couple, the unbeatable team, and destined to rule over us. Now we can only think of what could have been instead of facing the reality of what is. At one point it was inconceivable that the heir to the throne would ever get divorced, especially to Diana of all people. Oh how things have changed!

Now, on a daily basis there is a ping pong game going back and forth on what Camilla's title will be. I'm not referring to her future title of HRH Duchess of Cornwall, that seems to be acceptable to all concerned. A good compromise to those who revered Diana and don't want the title of HRH The Princess of Wales sullied by someone so strongly associated with Diana losing it. Details..details... haven't people already forgotten about that?

No the raging debate is on Camilla's future title once the Queen goes to that drafty palace in the sky. The company line seems to be that she will be referred to as HRH Princess Consort. On the face of things it seems like a good idea but not one that is written in stone. The official announcement from Clarence House leaves some doubt:

'It is intended that Mrs Parker Bowles should use the title HRH The Princess Consort when The Prince of Wales accedes to The Throne. '

The word 'intended' gives an out for the Prince's camp, banking on those who have either died of boredom or forgotten about this issue by the time he becomes King. Admittedly this discussion on her title seems to be somewhat academic as who really cares in the grand scheme of things? While shopping for Cheerios at the supermarket, are you suddenly going to stop dead in your tracks at the injustice of it all? lose sleep? complain to your local politican? Shake your fist at the sky and scream 'WHY' at the top of your lungs. Better do that after you check out so you don't miss the sale on kitty litter.

According to those in the know, the ubiquitious 'sources', Camilla herself does not want to be called Queen. A fairly diplomatic route to take, people already dislike her enough without her making the presumption that she will inherit the title by default of no one else wanting it. But is this really how she feels? Once again, those of us who have nothing better to do can only conjecture. Where is the Queen Mother when you need her to straighten things out? Give the definative answer to settle things once and for all. In 1936 She overruled constitutional law by whim of her own bitterness when a twist of fate made her Queen. When King Edward VIII abdicated, choosing happiness over a life of mind numbing ribbon cutting. she used her influence with her husband, the new King, and denied the wife of the newly minted Duke of Windsor those three precious letters - HRH. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor spent the rest of their days raging about it. But what would the 'HRH' really changed things for the Duchess? Maybe a polite bow or curtsey, plus being able to pull rank with the relatives back home in Pennslyvania?

Back to Camilla. By rights she would be Queen in all but name so why beat around the bush? We've just seen how the rules can be bent if necessary. Should she be given the title Queen what are we reallly going to do about it? storm Buckingham palace? stop buying souvenirs? convert to republicanism? The royals pandered to the public when Diana died, lowering the Union Jack on the palace and looking suitably anguished but that doesn't mean they have to do it all the time. When Prince Harry had his latest gaffe with the Nazi insignia the public demanded a visit to Auchwitz and instead got an apology. Where's the uproar now that we have Camilla's title to discuss? Shouldn't this have done permanent damage? The likelihood is that it will only be mentioned in those Prince Harry expose biographies as evidence he's the bad, misguided son.

Does Camilla really not want to become Queen? I don't believe that for a second. To call her HRH Princess Consort she meets her fate only halfway. Sure the disadvantages outweigh the advantages but large diamonds and priceless jewels are a consolation prize aren't they? Not to mention appearing on the commemorative china and keychains. It will soften the blow inherent with signing on with the 'family firm'. With Charles beside her it's a win win situation. But should things sour, as we've seen with Diana, it doesn't need to be a permanent life sentence and it's easier to escape from than the mafia. God save Queen Camilla.

© Marilyn Braun 2005

Royal Glamour Girls

Until I find a topic other that Charles and Camilla's wedding I've decided to wade into the fray with my thoughts on monarchy. Although I collect all of the books, made my pilgrimage to Althorp, and scour used book stores for the thrill of the hunt, I don't believe in monarchy. A system where one must give total deference to someone, who via an accident of birth expects it but has done nothing to deserve it, makes no sense to me.

Indeed, a few years ago I was at Woodbine racetrack waiting for the race to begin. Conveniently, the Queen and Prince Philip were in attendance on this day screwing lightbulbs left and right. I'm assuming that the race had not began yet but everyone around me rose to their feet and clapped as they went by. Everyone but me, the infirm, and the people who were too busy looking at their programs. Now I'm not sure if everyone was trying to get a better look at them or had bet on their carriage; but there were no cheers when they crossed the finish line. As they were a sure thing and the only one on the course, those that didn't bet were probably kicking themselves.

I paraphrase a quote from Princess Anne regarding Diana, "obviously she fullfilled a role that I wasn't able to". As a member of the royal family, Diana injected a much needed jolt of glamour that the royals didn't and wouldn't have otherwise - they were becoming long in the tooth even way back then. In her day, the youthful Queen heralded a new Elizabethan age. In the late 1950's and mid 1960's Princess Margaret was the glamour girl. But then in the 1970's Princess Anne came of age and disappointed us by not being beautiful. Enter Diana.

Now that Diana is dead and Sarah is off promoting Weight Watchers, our eyes turned to Sophie to rescue those of us who look at royalty from a superficial level. Unfortunately Sophie doesn't want to do that. She is neither the Diana fashion plate or the Fergie fashion disaster. Since she's a minor royal she probably can't afford the clothes necessary to make an impact; it's easy for her to play it safe. Luckily she doesn't carry out enough engagements for us to even notice. Left without our fix, we have to look to other european royals for glamour. Other royal houses understand this need, hiding any jealously they may harbor, in the interest of flying the flag for their country.

I recently read some thoughts on monarchy, one possible viewpoint, out of all of the more sobering serious thoughts:

'Monarchy is at most a tourist attraction and historic relic that provides some public theater and amusement and should be allowed to conitnue.'

Isn't it our projections that make it theatre? Aren't we making our own jokes and laughing at them? Unless we have relatives/friends there, is there any other reason to go to England? Or Monaco? France has Versailles, but it also has other attractions, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, plus being very romantic and cosmopolitan. Like any public figure, there's the private person and the public person. There must be a division otherwise our fickle opinions would drive them crazy. We call them dysfunctional, label the Queen a bad mother, but are they really? We can only imagine.

For want of anything better to do, we could debate the pros and cons on a quasi-serious level without ever resolving anything, pretend we're above it all and we've never look at the gossip magazines, claim we didn't know the weddings were on that day, and that we don't have some sort of souvenir for the next garage sale. But why not admit it and start a support group for those in denial? There's nothing to be ashamed of, really, there isn't.

I've never debated because I don't particularly care and my viewpoints wouldn't count in the scheme of things. But without the monarchy, what would journalists fill their columns with? what would the souvenir vendors do? What would the royals do without the mass adoration? How about the Republicans? Don't we need to think of them too?

So, back to the glamour girls. We have so many to choose from why not collect them all?

Princess Mary of Denmark
Princess Maxima of the Netherlands
Princess Mette-Marit of Norway
Princess Letizia of Spain
Princess Mathilde of Belgium
Princesses Victoria and Madeleine of Sweden
Princesses Caroline & Stephanie of Monaco

Princess Mary is so popular that on a recent visit to Australia (her home territory) she completely overshadowed Prince Charles' tour. Or should I say, her clothes overshadowed Charles. Not to worry about him, he must be used to it by now. After all, how can a 'vintage Oscar de la Renta skirt' compare to the future King of England? Even Camilla wedding dress gets more column space. Maybe the royals should compare schedules so there's no conflicts or injury to tender royal egos. Luckily the Danes were leaving Australia just as Princess Victoria of Sweden arrived.

The other European royals are not immune and once the glossy sheen wears off, Mary will be torn down for the cost of her clothes. When Mette-Marit married she brought with her the baggage of an out of wedlock son from a previous relationship. The public went 'tsk tsk' and demanded that she apologize for her 'desolute past'. Once done she could walk into the cathedral with her head held high. Letizia had been married previously, but that was a civil ceremony so it didn't count. Charles and Camilla won't escape penance either; after their Guildhall ceremony they will have a church blessing, part of which involves a prayer to confess their sins. Won't that make us all feel better? Maxima, and Mathilde, seem to be safely keeping themselves under the radar, except when appearing in Hello, having babies and making the occasional overseas visit. Since the Swedish royals were suing the tabloids, Caroline & Stephanie kept us occupied until Charles proposed. While Charles and Camilla are on honeymoon, and Prince Harry is behaving himself, if we're really bored we can discuss whether Prince Albert of Monaco is gay.

Quick! without going to the Prince of Wales' official website, can you name the topic of a recent speech he's made? I remember something vague about protecting albatross before they become endangered but that's about it. His opinion carried so much weight that three days after his speech his hosts still had him try on a cloak made of albatross feathers. Without Diana, wouldn't the British royals have sank like a rock? Would you watch them drown? If they look glamourous I know I would.

© Marilyn Braun 2005

Friday, March 18, 2005

Alternate wedding venues

Despite my disappointment at not being invited to Charles and Camilla's wedding, I realized that distance might be a factor in their decision to not invite me. Now I like to consider myself an extremely helpful person so I have sourced some alternate places where they could hold their wedding and include me at the same time. Maybe the Guildhall is from the 17th century and seeped in history but that doesn't mean that they can't consider alternate arrangements. The wedding at the Guildhall will cost £285 which works out to $657.43 in Canadian dollars.

Charles, in Canada we have a fantasic location right at my front door: Niagara Falls. It's not called the Honeymoon capital of the world for nothing! One venue that I have located includes stock ceremonies to choose from, a mini album, as well as various value added services. I think that 'The Fairy Tale' would be the best route to go, anything less and Camilla might think you're cheap. Plus it comes complete with music, DVD of the ceremony and commemorative certificate designed for framing. I'll bet you can't get that at the Guildhall. Once the ceremony is over they could do some post-nuptial gambling at our casinos and afterwards do some cross border shopping.

If you don't feel like the idea of coming to Canada, why not go to the United States? You don't get nearly the same bang for buck when you work out the exchange rate but it looks like you have more options. They do have a location just as famous for weddings: Las Vegas. There are lots of places to get married there but the best known one (according to their website)is A Little White Chapel. The 'Honeymooner' ceremony might break the bank so I highly recommend the Michael Jordan package. I wouldn't have Elvis officiate as that's just tacky. FYI Camilla, you can also rent a gown here; a very practical choice as you don't have to clean it and find a place to store if afterwards. If you're in a hurry to get back to Windsor Castle for the reception, you can always do a drive-thru ceremony . For those who can't attend, like your parents (sorry, I didn't mean to remind you), they can watch your ceremony via webcam on the Internet.

If you still want the whole fairytale thing you can get married at Disneyland. You will need to meet with the Disneyland wedding planners. With such short notice this might not be viable but you can always check, who knows...there might be a cancellation.

The one last option I've sourced is Jamaica An incentive with this option is that 'brides fly for free'. I would think that this wouldn't be a problem for you but just in case Mummy doesn't lend you one of the planes in her fleet, it's something to be considered. Included in this option are wedding coordinators, flowers, officiant and wedding cake. A video tape of the ceremony is extra.

So, there you have it, venues that are both affordable and value added. I know that all of those extras are a bit mind boggling but choosing the right place will make it all the more memorable. Now that I've pointed out alternate places, I await your invitation.

© Marilyn Braun 2005

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Family in crisis....on the next Dr. Phil

Dr. Phil: On today's program we have a couple who are getting married next month and their plans are beset with all sorts of problems. On top of that, his mother puts her job before parenthood and neither parent is going to the wedding. I'd like you to meet Chuck, his fiancee Milla and his parents Liz and Phil. Welcome to the show. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding.

Chuck: Thank you
Dr. Phil: It's my understanding that both of you have been married before, is that correct?
Milla: Yes
Dr. Phil: (to Liz and Phil) and neither of you are coming to the wedding
Liz: That's correct
Dr Phil: (looking at his cards): it says here that you put your job above parenthood, what is it that you do?
Liz: I'm the Queen of England, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith
Dr. Phil: You're a multi-tasker aren't you?
Liz: Quite
Dr. Phil (to Phil): what do you think of all of this?
Phil: I don't like the long hours that Liz works, sometimes I just wish that she would take some time off..we had such a good time before she took over the 'top job'.
Dr. Phil: How do you feel about your son's wedding?
Liz: Well, as a mother you want your children to be happy...
Phil: that bloody boy of ours just mucked things up...he could have had a good marriage...we all liked his first wife...and then he ran off with...her..(points to Milla)
Dr. Phil (to Chuck): you had an affair while you were married?
Chuck: yes, once it was clear that my marriage had irretrivably broken down...
Phil: Oh stop making excuses!'re always making excuses...admit mucked up!
Chuck: ..I wasn't a perfect husband..I agree...
Dr. Phil (to Milla): how do you feel about all of this?
Milla: well, it hasn't been easy for us...we've loved each other for over thirty years...I'm disappointed that his parent's aren't coming to the wedding...I really wish that they would reconsider.
Chuck: We want to have a small wedding and my parents say that they're happy for us...but I don't believe it..
Liz: Chuck, you know that's not true...but, with my job, think of how it would look..
Dr. Phil: This is your son, why are you concerned with how it would look?
Liz: As Defender of the Head of the Church of England...I can't be seen to be condoning this marriage, no matter how I feel about it conflicts with my job..
Chuck: Oh mummy! You've always put your job above us children.
Liz (to Chuck): one day you'll understand the amount of responsibility, the sacrifices I made. I didn't want to but I had no choice, there is no break in the job that I have....there's no kicking back and relaxing...
Dr. Phil (to Liz): No retirement?
Liz: No...I made an oath to do this job until I die..I can't go back on that promise
Dr Phil: Your dedication is admirable..
Liz (pulling out a kleenex): if I didn't have a tipple..I think I would go mad..
Milla (under her breath): sometimes more than a tipple
Liz (to Milla): what did you say?.....what did you say?...If you think this is a joke then I'm not amused! I understand why Diana called you a rotweiller..the only reason we're allowing you to marry is because Chuck won't give you up..non-negotiable he calls his relationship with you!...
Milla (to Liz): why can't you just be happy for us?...would it kill you to smile once in a while?
Dr. Phil (to Chuck): Your plans have been beset with all sorts of that correct?
Chuck: Yes, we've had to downgrade to the town hall..
Dr. Phil: Does it really matter where you guys marry?...isn't the marriage more important than the where?..
Milla (to Chuck): I would go to the ends of the earth for you..
Chuck (to Milla): if I could only live in your trousers...
Dr. Phil: Ok...I think we need to take a break...back in a moment.

© Marilyn Braun 2005

Lunch with the Duchess

When I created this blog I vowed (to myself) that I would not make this my personal pulpit for my viewpoints. There are too many of those out there. This blog is intended to answer questions submitted and present a look at the lighter side of royalty. Now as previously mentioned, I check the website daily, if not several times a day, to keep up to date on royal news in the world. One of the articles caught my eye, the link is from Cinderella's site:

This contest offers the opportunity to have lunch with the Duchess of York (aka Sarah Ferguson). To be honest, I've never had a desire to meet her. In 1986 I did get up to watch her wedding, followed her royal foibles, read her autobiography, and I collected all of the books about her and Prince Andrew. Having lunch with her would be the closest I will ever come to meeting pseudo-royalty. Who am I to give up that chance? It's not like I'll run into her otherwise or I have anything better to with my time. Maybe we could develop a friendship, exchange emails, and her daughters could babysit mine. They're the right age, seem responsible enough and I'm sure they could use some pocket money.

Back to the contest, it may sound easy and straightforward but there is a caveat, you need to provide a sandwich recipe using French's light mayonaise as an ingredient. Unfortunately this contest is not open to Canadian residents, so I don't have the opportunity to meet the Duchess and have lunch with her in New York City, NY. Therefore I can't share my family recipe of back-bacon on a bun, soaked in maple syrup, with a dollop of French's mayo, then deep fried and sprinkled with crushed smarties. Hey, no one said the recipe had to be edible or healthy. She just doesn't know what she's missing.

Now if I were an American (which I'm not...not that there's nothing wrong with that), and I won (which I'm not likely to anyways), what would I say to the Duchess? Would I have to sign a release that I won't sell our conversation to the media ? Would there be a preapproved list of topics we could discuss? Or a list of things we couldn't discuss? Would our discussions be confined to her thoughts on Wedgewood or Weight Watchers? How long would our lunch be? Should I bring flowers? If there were no restrictions on our discussion I would ask the following questions:

Have you tried my recipe? If so, what did you think? If not, why not?
Do you really follow weight watchers?
What is the Queen really like?
How to you really feel about Charles and Camilla's wedding?
Do you and Andrew still live together? Is it platonic? Dou you find that difficult? Do you still have feelings for him? Will you get back together with him?
What's it really like to be royal? Are you bitter about the HRH thing?
Were you really friends with Diana? What do you think of the conspiracy theories?
Are you seeing anyone? If not, would you be interested in a friend of mine?
Is Andrew seeing anyone? would he be interested in a friend of mine?
Are you going to eat that?
I'm watching my weight, do you want to share a dessert?

Now I agree that some of these questions might not be appropriate but we would have to discuss something now wouldn't we? Fill in those awkward silences that would inevitably occur when having lunch with someone you have nothing in common with. It must be difficult being her, never knowing whether someone likes her for her or wants to social climb. I'm sure being a Duchess isn't all it's cracked up to be. The deference, having to always be "on", the money, the fame, the proximity to real royalty, must be completely overrated.

I wonder if she ever gets tired of it all. Doesn't she just want to leave it all behind? go back to annonymity? I've heard that she's a fairly relaxed, regular person so I would follow up my lunch by inviting her over for tea if she's ever in the Brampton area. She could come over, put her feet up, and chat about life. Would she like me to make her a sandwich? I guess I'll never get the chance to ask her.

© Marilyn Braun 2005

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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Royal Links

Royal Websites
Note: All links open in a new window
Mandy's British Royalty
The Royal Forums
Unofficial Royalty

Royal Message Boards

The Royal Forums

 Royal Blogs

Royal News Blog
The Court Jeweller
Order of Splendor
What Kate Wore
Princess Palace
The Royal Representative
Royalty in the News
The Daily Kate
Mad Hattery!
British Royals


The Royal Collection
Hoelseth's Royal Corner
Glittering Royal Events
Royal Magazin
Royalty in Windsor
Alexander Palace Time Machine
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor Society

Official Sites

British Royalty
The Prince of Wales
The Duke of York
Danish Royalty
TRH The Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Denmark
Dutch Royalty
Norwegian Royalty
The Swedish Royal Court
Greek Royalty
Belgian Royalty
Spanish Royalty
Japanese Royalty
Jordanian Royalty
Queen Rania of Jordan
Liechtenstein Royalty
The Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg
Serbian and Yugoslavian Royalty
Monaco Royalty
House of Hapsburg
Thailand's Monarchy
Imperial Ethiopia
Kingdom of Tonga
Kingdom of Morocco
The House of Savoy

Places To Go

Buckingham Palace
The Royal Collection
Historic Royal Palaces
St. George's Chapel, Windsor
Westminster Abbey
St. Paul's Cathedral
Sandringham Estate
Balmoral Castle
Glamis Castle
Harewood House

About Marilyn

Marilyn circa 1978/1979Marilyn was born in the last century, during the tumultuous period of 8-track players, disco, and Watergate. The 1970’s are a time she has no recollection of, but through photo albums she realizes that she experienced it in all its Polaroid and polyester pant-suit glory.

She vividly recalls the moment she first became interested in royalty. On June 21, 1982, as she was riding in her father’s green Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, listening to an AM radio station she heard about the birth of Prince William. Much to the consternation of her parents she started to collect books, magazines and newspaper clippings. This continued unabated for many years and now she has over 400 books and magazines that she doesn't have enough time to read.

But not content to keep this information in her head, she created a blog called Marilyn's Royal Blog. Followed by the intermittently updated Royal Chronicles and the jump-on-the bandwagon blog, The Catherine Cambridge Report (formerly The Kate Middleton Report). Not content with that, from August 2007 to December 2011 she hosted The Royal Report, a humorous and thought-provoking Internet radio show about current events in the British Royal family.

Reading voraciously and compulsively collecting books paid off and now she considers herself to be extremely knowledgeable on the subject of royalty. So much so that she has appeared on CBC Newsworld, CTV News, CBC Radio, CP24 (CablePulse 24), the Stephen Nolan show on BBC 5 Live, Breakfast on Newstalk ZB with Mike Hosking (New Zealand) and RTN (Radio Télévision Neuchâtel) Switzerland.

Thank you for visiting!


Marilyn has appeared on CBC Newsworld, CTV News, CBC Radio, CP24 (CablePulse 24), the Stephen Nolan show on BBC 5 Live, Breakfast Newstalk ZB with Mike Hosking (New Zealand), Listening Post program on AlJazeera and RTN (Radio Télévision Neuchâtel) Switzerland, and CNN's HLN Network show The Daily Share.

Marilyn's Royal Blog was also listed by the book The Royal Wedding for Dummies as one of the top ten websites for information about the royal wedding. Amongst media titans such as the BBC, Hello! Sky News and Huffington Post, it is the only site run by an individual to be listed.

In Print & Online

The Globe and Mail - I'm a royal bibliomaniac

Readers Digest UK Magazine Blog - Why are Americans interested in the royal wedding?

Faces Magazine - Princess to Queen


Yahoo Canada - Vogue gets obsessive about Kate Middleton's fashion statistics

New York Post - Prince William's girlfriend Kate Middleton a patient princess-to-be

National Post - Is that supposed to be Kate Middleton?

The Washington Post - Prince William: On a sombre anniversary a fan recounts how he won her heart

CBC - Royal weddings a time for charity

Newsmax - Prince Charles' Politics Raise Eyebrows

Ottawa Citizen: Prince Charles: Swooned over and scorned, the king-in-waiting is carving out a royal niche

Toronto Star - Royal Visit 2012 - Prince Charles and Camilla visit Toronto for Diamond Jubilee

Audio Interviews

CBC Radio Interview (Moncton, New Brunswick) - May 16th, 2008 RE: The Wedding of Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly

CBC Radio Interview (Quebec City, Quebec) - May 16th Re: The Wedding of Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly

Daily Splice Interview Re: The Royal Report

Other Interviews

South Asia Blog - Interview of Marilyn Braun: A Royal Watcher and Blogger

Television Appearances
CBC Newsworld - Re: Concert for Diana June 30th, 2007

CTV Newsnet - May 16, 2008 Re: Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly wedding

The Royal Report Ads

Where's my invitation?

Ever since the announcement in February that Charles and Camilla are getting married I have been eagerly making my own plans to celebrate the event. Whatever happened in the past is in the past and no one could be happier than myself at their upcoming wedding. I'm embarassed to admit that I don't remember his first wedding in 1981 and I confess that my first recollection is of vague incomprehension at what all of the fuss was all about. I chaulk this up to the fact that I was nine years old and probably had more interest in playing with my barbies instead of the celebration.

Now, 24 years later I'm geared up and ready to make amends. However, imagine my shock at not receiving an invitation to these nuptuals. Here I have been religiously checking the mail, trying to locate the perfect gift at Walmart, and debating what I will wear. This obviously doesn't seem to matter. I never took Charles (Chuck to me) to be the vindictive sort and I planned on getting him a nice gift to make up for all of it. The right gift is crucial, you can never underestimate the value of a good bbq set. Unfortunately the royal couple have not advertised where they are registered so this makes my quest just that much more difficult - way to go Fred and Glady's! I've never understood these pet names for each other and to be honest I don't use them myself. Diana labelled Camilla the "rotweiller" but I think that's unfair. Personally I've always thought she looked more like a British bulldog or if I'm having a good day, a pug, but the consensus seems that she resembles a rotweiller. Who am I to challenge public opinion?

I don't like to brag about my ties to Charles but we're practically related. I'm related through his tenth cousin five times removed through his German cousins, (who live in England and only write occasionally), one of whom has a friend who has a brother who has a nephew who married the woman who read his authorized biography and lent it to me. I read it a while ago and he didn't bother to mention me. My ego took a knocking with that; however he was polite enough not to air the dirty laundry I do have. The closest mention were some tapes which I have yet to receive some sort of payment for, commonly known as 'Camillagate'. Oh how the extended family laughed and laughed! Although I haven't always seen eye to eye with his behavior, I've maintained a dignified silence to his face. I've always defined family as people you have to tolerate because you want to remain in their wills. You share the good times and gossip at the bad times. I personally believe that Charles was always too big for his britches. Just because you're a prince doesn't mean you have to be a snob, that's what I always want to say. But I do have a bit of a soft spot for him, doesn't he have such a dreamy smile? Sorry that's an inside my head thought..they do occasionally pop out at the most embarrasing moments.

I do admit that I didn't invite him to my wedding, but that's only because I didn't want my event overshadowed by his presence and the handful of media that would come with him. Where would I seat them? An open bar get's expensive you know. I also didn't want to have to rent more chairs; the supplier was nice enough to give me a discount on the one's I did get and I was't about to push my luck. If the lack of invitation is because of this deliberate oversight then that's completely petty.

I've heard that he wants to keep this wedding as low key as possible; apparently only thirty people are invited. One would think that since his mum and dad aren't coming that there would now be some sort of space for me. I don't even mind sitting in the back. Hmmph! maybe I'll just keep that bbq set for myself.

© Marilyn Braun 2005

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Question: Queen's House, Dynasty and surname

Scott Scott has asked:

Whats the difference between a 'House' and a Dynasty? What is The Queen's House, Dynasty and surname?

Thank you for your question!

A dynasty is a line of continuous rulers from the same family. The term 'dynasty' doesn't just apply to a royal family but to political families, well known examples of this would be the Bush family or the Kennedy's.
Eleven dynasties have held the English crown: Anglo-Saxon, Normans, Angevins, Plantagenets, Lancastrians, Yorkist, Tudors, Stuarts, Hanoverians, Saxe-Cobourg-Gotha and Windsor. For more information on the individual dynasties, as well as the Scottish ones, go to:

The Royal House refers to the official designation and name of the Royal family instead of a surname.The name of the Royal House is not a surname but a way of identifying individuals. In the UK the Royal House and surname were the same until 1960. During the reign of King Edward VII the royal family had the house name of Saxe-Coburgh & Gotha; however Edward VII was to be the only sovereign of this house. During WW1 when King George V ruled, there was a lot of anti-German sentiment in England so the house name and family surname were changed to the more English sounding Windsor. The announcement stated that:

'as from the date of this Our Royal Proclamation (17 July 1917) Our House and Family shall be styled and known as the House and Family of Windsor'

During WW2 Princess Elizabeth (the present Queen) undertook National Service and she was registered as Second Subaltern Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor. The Queen is the fourth sovereign of the House of Windsor. In 1952, at the beginning of her reign, she declared that:

'She and her children shall be styled and known as the House and Family of Windsor, and that Her decendants, other than female decendants who marry, and their decendants, shall bear the name of Windsor'

In 1960 the Queen, wanting to recognize her husband, and not wanting to change the name of the house established by her grandfather, changed this and declared that those of her decendants not entitled to the style of Royal Highness or Prince or Princess, and female decendants who married and their decendants, would in future use the surname Mountbatten-Windsor. The first use of this new surname was on the marriage register of Princess Anne in 1973.

Examples of other Royal House names include:

Begium: Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
Netherlands: Orange-Nassau
Denmark: Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg
Spain: Bourbon
Norway: Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg
Sweden: Bernadotte

© Marilyn Braun 2005

Monday, March 14, 2005

Royal Weddings

With the exception of coronation ceremonies, nothing compares to the pageantry of a royal wedding. Whether people support the monarchy or not, the ceremony can capture the world's attention like no other event. Indeed, some 750 million people are said to have watched the wedding of Prince Charles & Lady Diana Spencer. These occasions are a time of celebration and at times have lifted the spirit of the British public after the war or challenging economic times. The glamour is enticing, the speculation of what the bride will wear is intense. The rush to sell souvenirs, whether tasteful or otherwise, is competitive. Royal weddings are big business.

There are quite a few traditions associated with royal weddings and there is a special romantic appeal to them. With the upcoming marriage of the Prince of Wales to Camilla Parker-Bowles some of these traditions have fallen by the wayside. I feel that this is truly a shame as traditions, whether related to weddings or not, seem to be a rare occurrence these days.

Time of ceremony:

Before Queen Victoria married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg in 1840, most royal marriages were celebrated at night. Queen Victoria chose to break with that tradition and held her own ceremony at one o'clock in the afternoon. Most royal weddings are now held in the early to late afternoon.


Some methods of transportation for the royal party have been coach, carriage, landau or Rolls-Royce. The Glass Coach made it's debut as a bridal coach in 1922. Since then, most royal brides have used it. It is also used to transport the newlyweds back to Buckingham Palace. The first exception to this was the wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1981 when the 1902 State Landau was used. The Prince of Wales rode to his wedding in it and the newlyweds used it for their return to the palace . With the wedding of Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones, the bride used a more modest form of transportation - a Rolls Royce.

Wedding Dress

With the majority of weddings, whether royal or not, the wedding dress is usually the centerpiece of the day. Queen Victoria was said to be the first royal bride to wear white at her wedding and Princess Elizabeth is said to have been the first one to wear a veil that covered her face. With royal dresses in the past there was a need to adhere to 'political correctness'. In 1863 Princess Alexandra of Denmark was to wear a dress made of Brussels lace but it was deemed too unpatriotic. At Princess Elizabeth's wedding in 1947 shortly after the war ended, care was taken that the silk worms used for the dress not be of Japanese or Italian origin. Many royal wedding dresses have had beautiful embroidery and long trains, Princess Elizabeth's and Sarah, Duchess of York to name two examples. The record for the longest royal train belongs to Diana, Princess of Wales at 25 feet.

Royal Bouquet

There are two traditions associated with the bridal bouquet, one is that a sprig of myrtle is included. These sprigs come from a bush grown from a cutting which had formed part of Queen Victoria's bridal bouquet. The other tradition is placing the bouquet on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Although the start of this tradition is attributed to Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, in fact Princess Mary (daughter of George V) paid a similar tribute first. On her way back from her wedding, she stopped her carriage at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, and handed her bouquet to an officer who laid it on the steps of the war memorial.

Public and Private Weddings

It's an understatement to say that Royal weddings tend to be very public occasions. However, one time, all royal weddings were held away from the public gaze with only close family and friends invited. These ceremonies were often brief and business like. The first public royal wedding was in 1501, when Arthur, Prince of Wales, married Catherine of Aragon. At the wedding of Prince Albert & Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon there was some debate on whether or not to broadcast the ceremony for fear that men in taverns would be listening with their hats on! In 1947 Princess Elizabeth's wedding was broadcast on the radio and newsreel footage was shown in the country's cinemas. The 1960's wedding of Princess Margaret was televised. The more recent royal weddings of Princess Anne, Prince Edward and now Prince Charles, seem to be reverting back to becoming more private occasions.

Royal wedding venues
Although Westminster Abbey is the most closely associated with royal weddings, this wasn't always the case. Most royal weddings had been celebrated in one of two places - Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace and St. George's Chapel Windsor. In 1919 Princess Patricia of Connaught married Commander the Hon. Alexander Ramsay at the Abbey. Princess Patricia, felt that as a junior member of the royal family, she should celebrate her marriage in a 'church more keeping with her status.' Prior to this event the abbey had not been used for royal weddings since the 13th century. This wedding set a trend and subsequent weddings were celebrated at this venue.

Notable royal weddings that have been celebrated at the abbey:
Princess Mary and Henry, Viscount Lascelles in 1922
Prince Albert & Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon - 1923
Princess Marina and Prince George of Kent - 1934. As Princess Marina belonged to the Greek Orthodox church, a second ceremony took place at Buckingham Palace in the private chapel.
Princess Elizabeth & The Duke of Edinburgh - 1947
Princess Margaret & Antony Armstrong-Jones - 1960
Princess Alexandra & The Hon. Angus Ogilvy - 1963
Princess Anne & Captain Mark Phillips - 1973
Prince Andrew & Sarah Ferguson - 1986

When Prince Charles married his first wife, Lady Diana Spencer, in 1981, they chose St. Paul's Cathedral. Some of the reasons for this change was the fact that it was larger, had a more open concept for guests, and Prince Charles is a fan of the architecture and acoustics. Also, the Abbey probably brought back painful memories for Charles; in 1979 the funeral of Lord Louis Mountbatten, a close mentor of Prince Charles, was held there.

Other venues for royal weddings:
The Chapel at Buckingham Palace - Prince Henry & Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott - Duke and Duchess of Gloucester in 1935. The ceremony was originally intended for Westminster Abbey but the Lady Alice's father died suddenly and the venue and scale were changed out of respect. During WW2 the chapel was severely damaged by bombs and it is now the location of the Queen's Gallery.

Chapel Royal at St. James Palace - 4 of Queen Victoria's nine children and many of her grandchildren were married here.

St. George's Chapel Windsor Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (eldest son of Queen Victoria) and Princess Alexandra of Denmark, 1863, Princess Louise (third daughter of Queen Victoria) & the Marquess of Lorne 1871. Prince Edward & Sophie Rhys-Jones 1999.

Osbourne House - Isle of Wight - Princess Alice (second daughter of Queen Victoria) 1862

York Minister - The Duke of Kent & Katherine Worsley - 1961

St. Andrew's Church, Barnwell - Prince Richard of Gloucester & Birgitte van Deurs - 1972

Craithie Church at Balmoral. Princess Anne's second marriage to Commander Timothy Laurence - 1992

Windsor Guildhall -Prince Charles & Camilla Parker-Bowles - 2005

Wedding Rings:

In keeping with Royal tradition, the gold for royal wedding rings come froms the Clogau St David's mine in Bontddu, North Wales. It was mined by Cambrian Goldfields Ltd. Previous Royal wedding rings were made from 22ct gold from the same mine.The rings have been made from a celebrated nugget of Welsh gold which has been kept in the Royal vaults for nearly sixty years. The people of Wales gave it to the Queen Mother for her wedding ring in 1923 and it was used to make the rings for the Queen, Princess Margaret, Princess Anne, Diana, Princess of Wales and Sarah, Duchess of York.

© Marilyn Braun 2005

References - Royal Insight - March 2005
Royalty in Vogue by Josephine Ross
Invitation to a Royal Wedding: Edward and Sophie by Peter Donnelly
Britian's Royal Brides by Josy Argy and Wendy Riches
Two Centuries of Royal Weddings by Christopher Warwick
Their Royal Highnesses The Duke & Duchess of York by Christopher Warwick and Valerie Garner
Invitation to a Royal Wedding: Charles and Diana by Kathryn Spink

Question: No one approves of my relationship

Charles from England writes:

I've recently become engaged to a woman that I've loved for over 30 years and no one seems to approve. I had a previous marriage that failed and she unfortunately died, but she seems to haunt me wherever I go. Mum and Dad and my family say that they approve, practically shouting it to the world, but I think it's all for show to be honest. I don't think my parents have ever approved of anything I've done...well, that's a therapy session in and of itself. My parents aren't even coming to my wedding. We're having a lot of problems with the planning, our first venue is unavailable and now it seems we'll need to have the wedding in the local town hall. I just want to be happy and no one else seems to understand. Sometimes I feel like people are plotting against me. I don't expect the world to approve but I just want some acceptance for my relationship with the woman I love.

Well Charles, love is never easy. I'm happy that you've found happiness with the woman you love. Your saying 'woman I love' actually reminds me of another man who wrote in; he actually used that very phrase! His love for this woman was so strong that he eventually had to give up his job and escape to France. Hopefully this is not the case with you.

I'm guessing that this isn't some sort of rebound relationship following on the heels of your divorce. Did this woman that you're now cohorting with have anything to do with the breakdown of your marriage? Were you having an affair? That could indeed explain why there's a lack of approval. Maybe your mum and dad and friends really liked your first wife. You say that she still haunts you to this day...maybe you should explore that. Is it her approval that you're seeking?

The fact that your mum and dad are 'shouting it out to the world' is a good sign and I don't think that they're doing it for show. The fact that your parents aren't coming to the wedding causes me some concern. You could read a lot into that alone but I'll let you ponder that for yourself. Maybe they don't like where they're seated, maybe your mum can't find something suitable to wear, maybe they don't want to pay for another wedding...who knows.

Planning a wedding is stressfull, especially when you've got a large family and they've invited you to their weddings and now you're not returning the favor. I don't agree with the practice of inviting people you only see at weddings and funerals...even if they're re-gifting the blender I gave them at their wedding. To relieve stress I find it soothing go out into my garden and talk to my plants...the rhubarb is particularily understanding and delicious to eat afterwards.

My psychotherapist recently quoted Bill Cosby: I don't know what they key to success is, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.. Is this what I'm paying her for?..I can't believe I'm paying her to throw quotes out at me...who is she going to quote next?...Oprah?..Dr. Phil? Maybe these sessions are covered by my insurance, I'll have to look into that...Oh, sorry! where was I?...Oh yes..back to the Bill Cosby quote. I think you should take that nugget of wisdom to heart and go forward with your plans, knowing that happiness is the best revenge.

© Marilyn Braun 2005

Friday, March 11, 2005

It started with a dream...

I'm on maternity leave until October 2005 and I'm trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. I've had several jobs working in an office and I've hated each one of them. Getting paid to keep the seat warm just isn't my cup of tea and the idea of going back to a job like that is about as exciting as watching grass grow. So, last night my husband suggested I combine my passionate interest in British royalty with gainful employment. The gainful employment part will (hopefully) come later. Would someone actually pay me to write about royalty, to answer questions on royalty? Who knows? I can dream can't I?

So, I have a favorite website that I check religiously for all things happening in the world of royalty -, an absolutely fantastic site. There are many many people who post on the message board and they blow me away with their immense knowledge of world royalty. Although I've learnt a lot about world royalty and developed an interest in Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish, Belgium, Danish, Japanese ( get the idea) my main interest is in British royalty. Today I posted asking about how to get a job related to royalty and the webmaster suggested I create my own blog. Having hid under a rock for the last 33 years, I had no clue what a 'blog' was so the helpful people at showed me the way and here I am today. Dreams do come true