Thursday, February 23, 2006

In Royal Fashion

In 1863, shortly after her marriage to the Prince of Wales, Queen Victoria warned her daughter-in-law Princess Alexandra against 'too much dressing or smartness'. This statement accurately sums up the royal family's attitude towards fashion. This is not to say that fashion isn't important, on the contrary, there have been many fashionable royals; some setting their own trends. The same Princess Alexandra set a trend for choker necklaces, because she was trying to cover a scar on her neck. When rheumatic fever left her with a permanent limp, it briefly became fashionable amongst society to do the ‘Alexandra limp’. Later, Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent's fondness for blue, became known as: Marina Blue. More recently, the term 'Camilla chic' has been coined to describe Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall's growing sense of style.

In Queen Victoria’s day, the preference was for British designers, in support of the British fashion industry, to dress royal ladies. Queen Victoria did her part in helping the lagging lace industry by choosing Honiton lace for her wedding dress and the heirloom-christening gown. Patronizing British designers is still encouraged but occasionally, during a royal tour, a compliment will be paid to a designer from the host country; as in the case of Diana, Princess of Wales when she arrived for a tour of France dressed head to toe in Chanel.

When a tour takes place, care is taken not to offend by ensuring that hemlines as well as outfit colors respect the customs of the host country. For public events, bright colors are chosen so that the royal lady stands out and hemlines are weighted to protect royal dignity. Black is rarely worn as it is considered a mourning color. In 1938, just before a tour of France, Queen Elizabeth's mother died and instead of wearing black, she choose to wear white; an alternate mourning color. This choice was a resounding success and is referred to as the White Wardrobe.

Accessories are just as important. Lately, hats have become a focal point, with some imaginative choices made by guests at the wedding of Charles and Camilla. Shortly after her marriage, Diana's choice of wearing hats revitalized the British milinery industry. Diana and Sarah, Duchess of York were lauded for their use of costume jewellry and it would be extremely rare to see the Queen without gloves, pearls, a priceless brooch and a handbag. It has been reported that she uses her handbags to send signals to her staff, by switching from one arm to another, when someone is taking up too much of her time!

Despite the emphasis on practicality and function, and long after trends have moved on, some royal ladies adopt a personal sartorial style. Queen Mary never strayed from wearing turban style hats and dresses that did not go above the ankle; Vogue magazine described her distinctive style as ‘magnificence that transcended fashion’. In her later years, the Queen Mother was famous for wearing pastel colours, white shoes, and upturned hats with feathers; almost identical as the years went by. Over the years the Queen has remained consistent in her appearance. Despite the occasional nod towards fashion with sleeve and skirt length, the Queen is not a fashion plate, nor has she ever set out to be.

The royal family is one of the best examples of flying the flag for the British fashion industry. Along the way they have set trends, and highlighted unknown designers. And, although some members of the royal family may regard fashion as part of the job, it cannot be denied that it plays an important role in maintaining public interest.

© Marilyn Braun 2006

Monday, February 20, 2006

638th in line for the British throne

Whenever I hear people complaining about the monarchy, its cost, the antics of the various royals, I can't help but feel indignant, and most people don't understand why I take their comments so personally. When I tell them that I'm in line for the throne they chuckle - commoners!

But despite this, I must say that I'm proud of my lineage and provence. I can't claim Dukes, Earls or a few Viscounts in my family tree, however I'm still related. A few generations ago, somewhere along the way, a royal higher up, interbred with someone from a morganatic marriage who then had an affair, fathered an illegitimate daughter, who married and had several children, who then married back into the royal family, had children and voila, here I am today. I confess that I've always harbored a dream that one day I would become Queen of England. I've have the the royal wave down pat (it's all in the wrist), and I've practiced the art of meeting heads of state and appearing riveted at the same time. It's true that as I'm so far down the line of succession that it's an unlikely occurence, but it's still a possibility. Most people don't believe me when I tell them about it, but I still hold on to my royal dignity in the face of it all. I don't have a title per se; Uncle George V limited the use of Prince or Princess. So it's not obvious that I have family connections.

I don't abuse my royal position, maybe the free beer here and there, but I'm not a leech, not like that cousin-in-law 'Freebie Fergie', I would never lower myself. No one asks me about being royal, the burden of it, but if they did I would say that I'm a regular person, I put my pants on one leg at a time like everyone else except that I'm a few pegs higher than them. I do have to work for a living - shocking isn't it? Of course it's not in the family business; my most recent altruitic deed was to donate a can of soup to the local food bank. But I still feel as though I'm making my contribution to the world and making it a better place. It might get more attention if the media were to watch me doing so, highlight the plight of those slightly less fortunate but my calls are ignored. Obviously they're too busy watching Tom Cruise jumping on sofas, otherwise they'd be at my doorstep.

Should I be called to duty I'm ready and willing to accept the sacrifices, the responsibility, constant attention. I might take a couple more coffee breaks and play solitare here and there, but I would take the job with the utmost seriousness. However, I would still expect benefits and three weeks vacation, not to mention time in lieu for all of the overtime I would incessantly complain about. Family is important to me so I would make sure that my assistants kept them at bay - there's always someone trying to do a power play for position or favour with the monarch. Just look at Princess Michael of Kent, practically in the Queen's back pocket.

Understandably I wouldn't wish misfortune on anyone but sometime I wonder what it would take to bring me closer. Every time a baby is born I move further and further down the line. I'm used to it but I would think that Margarita Armstrong-Jones will mind once she's old enough to understand. So, what can I do? I can't very well prevent everyone from siring and interbreeding now can I? Even if the immediate royals were to go over a cliff in a tour bus heading to Buffalo, it might bring me closer, but not by much. There would have to be some sort of family reunion, where most of them meet in the same place, then maybe an unfortunate tornado then hits and that takes care of another 100. If they have room on their ships, an alien invasion takes another 50. Ah, who am I kidding! Maybe more people could follow Prince Michael of Kent or the Earl of St. Andrews' example and marry Catholics to remove themselves from the line of succession. I could possibly marry up but now that Prince Charles is off the market my options are limited. Prince Andrew is only fourth in line and his chances of becoming King are about as likely as mine. However, if Prince William and Harry are into older women...hmmm, I think my husband would have something to say about that.

I don't know what it is about being Queen that appeals to me. Is it the power? the deference? having my image on stamps, coins, china, and portaits in municipal buildings? It's probably all of that and more. But what does it really mean to be a member of the royal family? If we use Diana and Fergie as examples it doesn't seem to be all that it's cracked up to be. Poor Camilla and Sophie! I've heard that the Queen works long hours and she only gets Easter and Christmas day off. It seems that there's no retirement either and that one must have an excellent sense of dedication to keep the job going. I like my weekends off so maybe I should stick with my present position as a minor royal. Apparently there's some talk of paring down the monarchy so unlike those closer to the throne, at least I'm safe. Who would want the constant worry of having to lose their job? Especially one that doesn't pay very well. I think that I would make a boring royal too, wearing the same outfits over and over and preferring to stay below the radar while carrying out my requisite load of duties. Earning my keep doesn't have to entail controversy does it?

I think I'll keep my day job.

© Marilyn Braun 2006

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Royal Military Service

As Prince William begins his career as a soldier, he is following a long-standing family tradition of military service. Most royal Princes have received training in the armed services; indeed, at one point it was considered a foregone conclusion. Now it seems to be at the individuals discretion, as in the case of the present Duke of Gloucester, David Linley and the sons of the Duke of Kent. However, when William ascends the throne, he will be Head of the Armed Services.

Almost every heir to the throne has had some type of extensive military training, even if they have not seen active duty. An exception to this is Queen Victoria and her son Edward VII, who as Prince of Wales had hoped for a career in the Army but served only briefly in the Grenadier Guards in 1861. There is less of an expectation for royal women, most of whom hold honorary titles. The Queen became the first female member of the Royal Family to be a full-time active member of the Armed Services when, as Princess Elizabeth, she joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1945.

Due to his position as heir and the potential diplomatic issues, it's unlikely that Prince William will see active combat. The Duke of York, at the time second in line to the throne, is the most recent member of the Royal family to see active service, during the Falklands War in 1982. The last king to lead his troops into battle was George II in 1743 when, aged 60, he took the field for the last time, defeating the French at the Battle of Dettingen in Germany. The last British Sovereign to have seen action in battle was George VI who, as a 20-year-old Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, fought in the battle of Jutland in May 1916.

The Royal Navy seems to be the most popular choice for the services, a tradition that goes back 700 years. A career in the navy was seen as a suitable occupation for a prince. King George V, as Prince George of Wales, the future King George VI as Prince Albert, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales have served in the Royal Navy (The Prince of Wales also trained in the Royal Air Force as a pilot), and The Duke of York served for 22 years as an officer in the Royal Navy. Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, served in the Royal Marines for 3 years.

Since the 1870's several members of the royal family have received their naval training at Dartmouth.The first royal princes to attend Dartmouth were Prince Albert Victor and his younger brother, Prince George (later King George V). The original college was based in a ship but in 1903 training shifted to a shore based college split between two sites, Osbourne on the Isle of Wight and Dartmouth. The first member of the royal family to attend the new college was Prince Edward (later Edward VIII). His brother Prince Albert (later George VI) arrived at Dartmouth in 1911. Other members of the royal family that have taken courses at Dartmouth include, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex. Their father, at the time Prince Philip of Greece, attended and the first recorded meeting between the Prince and Princess Elizabeth took place there in July 1939.

Prince William, and Prince Harry are training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. This academy was formed in 1947. It is descended from two older institutions, the Royal Military Academy (founded in 1741) and the Royal Military College (founded in 1800). Along with Prince William and Prince Harry, the present Duke of Kent and his younger brother Prince Michael also attended Sandhurst.

It remains to be seen whether Prince William will follow the family's naval tradition. Like his grandfather, father and uncle, it is more than likely he will gain his pilots license at some point in his career. While not mandatory, an all round training in the services can only serve him well in his future role.

© Marilyn Braun 2006

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Royal Prolific Challenge

On February 13th,I challenged myself to become more prolific in my royal writing. I started on the 14th and for the next 10 days I will be posting daily on my other royal blog: The Royal Chronicles.

Hope you can drop by and check it out!

Thanks for visiting

Marilyn :o)

BTW: I'm still posting on this blog as well

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Althorp - Much Ado About Nothing

It has recently been reported that Althorp, ancestral home of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, is being opened to the public for weddings and corporate events. As a result, this may cause some consternation from people who think that Diana's brother, Earl Spencer is cashing in on the Diana connection.The article also adds that,

"It will be the first time Althorp has hosted functions since Diana's death in 1997"

Hardly. What these people may not realize is that Althorp has been open to the public since 1953; 8 years before Diana was born, 28 years before Diana's wedding in 1981. I'm sure the Diana factor doesn't hurt, adding a cachet other ancestral estates don't have, but ultimately Althorp was used for commercial purposes well before Diana came along.

The commercial use of an estate is nothing new. Broadlands, where the Queen and Prince Philip spent part of their honeymoon, Balmoral Castle and Sandringham House, two of the Queen's properties are used commercially, Frogmore House and Grounds, containing the mausoleum of Queen Victoria, Harewood house, another estate with a royal connection, is open to the public. Princess Mary, the Princess Royal (mother of George Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood) is also buried within the grounds. Do we see people up in arms over that?

For people who think Earl Spencer is cashing in, it should be noted that Althorp has a legal obligation to open to the public for at least 60 days each year. This applies to every stately home in the UK that contains outstanding works of art. I have been to Althorp, and other than a portrait and a few photos scattered about, the actual house doesn't really mention Diana. The bedroom touted as 'The Princess of Wales' room, was named in honour of Princess Alexandra, Princess of Wales, wife of the future King Edward VII. The Diana exhibit, tastefully done I might add, is only open for three months of the year. From July 1 to August 30, and all profits are donated to the Princess of Wales Memorial fund.

When Earl Spencer starts renting out Diana's wedding dress, then we'll start to worry

© Marilyn Braun 2006

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Royal Profile: Sir Angus Ogilvy

Angus James Bruce Ogilvy, the second son of the Earl of Airlie, was born on September 14, 1928 at Cortachy Castle. His family was no stranger to the royal family, having had close associations as friends and trusted courtiers. His father was a 'Lord in Waiting' to King George V, his grandmother was a close friend of Queen Mary and his elder brother held the office of Lord Chamberlain.

He was educated at Heatherdown, Eton and Trinity College, Oxford. He graduated in 1950 with a degree in philosphy, politics and economics. From 1946 to 1948 he was commissioned into the Scots guards.

He and Princess Alexandra of Kent (The daughter Princess Marina of Kent and sister of Prince Michael of Kent) were childhood playmates and had been friends all of their lives. They became engaged on November 19, 1962 and were married on April 24,1963 in Westminster Abbey. Despite being married to a popular member of the royal family, Sir Angus was able to keep a relatively low profile. They had two children - James (born 1964) and Marina (born 1966).

After leaving Oxford be pursued a varied and successful career in the City of London, and by 1956 he had become director of a number of companies. In 1973 he became embroiled in a controversy over his involvement with 'Tiny' Rowlands company Lonrho and its activities in Rhodesia. He was later exonerated from any blame but he was obliged to resign from several directorships of various companies and 16 City appointments. Despite the controversy, several companies refused to let him go.

Knighted in 1989, the Queen appointed him a Privy Counsellor in 1997. He was a member of the Royal Company of Archers, the Queen's ceremonial bodyguard in Scotland. In later life, he was involved in a large number or charities and his interests included reading, music and architecture. In 2002 he was diagnosed with throat cancer and died two years later on December 26, 2004 - the day after his wife's 68th birthday.

© Marilyn Braun 2006

Monday, February 13, 2006

At least they have nice personalities

Sometimes I'm disappointed with the British royals these days. It's not just the possibility that Prince Charles might take over some of the duties of the Queen, it's the complete and utter lack of sex appeal in the present royal family. I'm not talking about Diana and Fergie, or anyone else who has married into the royal family. The gene pool was in dire need of boosting, so they did their part. No people, I'm talking about the blood royals.

If anyone at one point did have some appeal, it has definately gone by the wayside. Prince Charles did, as I wrote about in my posting Prince Charles: Royal Sex Symbol. But he's really the only one, with royal blood, who had any appeal. And this is only because of his position. The potential to become a princess would make Prince Charles attractive to anyone.

Sure there's some evidence of sex appeal within the family. A couple of photos of Prince William without his shirt on should tide us over. Some thought that the 21st birthday photo of Prince Harry on his motorcycle, channeling Marlon Brando, was sexy. Zara Philips is a good clotheshorse, and Princess Beatrice looked great on the cover of Tatler. But really, who are we kidding here?

Who was the last sexy royal? Well, Princess Margaret did have a sex appeal going for her, the Duke of Windsor, when he was Prince of Wales, had the women swooning. Prince George, Duke of Kent (husband of Marina, Duchess of Kent), rumoured to be bi-sexual and a drug addict, was also supposed to be sexy. Prince Andrew, or 'Randy Andy' was attractive in his day. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, can be counted because he does have royal blood. But, that seems to be about it. Can you believe that in 100 years, we've only had five genuinely sexy royals? This doesn't include Prince Charles, because if he didn't have that aura of symbolic power about him, we probably wouldn't give him a second glance.

Because the well seems to have run dry, we have to look at other royal families to find attractiveness. Isn't it sad? Some people who have nothing better to do, would argue that I'm being completely shallow and that they've been genetically blessed with good health and longevity, and that should override physical features. However, the fact that they've lived as long as they have, simply reminds me more and more that there isn't a beautiful royal amongst them.

*Sigh* At least they have nice personalities

© Marilyn Braun 2006

Friday, February 03, 2006

What would the neighbors think....

I have a love/hate relationship with the internet. When it's working, I love it. When it doesn't work, I hate it. But yet I keep coming back for more. In otherwords I'm having technical difficulties and I hope to be back later today or tomorrow.

Right now I don't have stable internet access, so I'm resorting to covert operations in order to post this. Very hush, hush. See how dedicated and addicted I am to this blog? I need help and as soon as I have my internet up and running I'll search for some friendly doctors who can prescribe the appropriate medication.

In the interim, feel free to browse my archives for hidden gems. Alternatively, you can use the search box I've added to find articles on your favourite royal subjects: Camilla, William, Diana, royal weddings, royal engagement rings, royal jewels, fascinating royal profiles....

Have a fantastic and technologically glitch free weekend.

Marilyn :o)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Marilyn's Royal Blog is back!!!

Dear Visitor,

If you're a visitor to my blog (or if you subscribe to a service that let's you know when I've changed it), you may have noticed that I've updated several times today.

I'm currently trying out another blog program - experimenting if you will, and I decided to import some of my articles over to the new blog, which is It's not a permanent move, I'm just trying it out. I'm thinking that I will eventually move this blog to a website, but I don't think that's going to happen very soon. When it does, I'll let you know.

Anyways, once I did this, I went back into Blogger and found my blog had practically disappeared (links, current articles, profile, even the template, you name it, it was gone) , except for a list of my archives and a friendly re-direct to wordpress. so that you too can get a wordpress blog! Not what I had in mind.

My only consolation was that all of my articles were still in Blogger - Phew! You don't know how relieved I was about that. Meanwhile, I was panicking and almost in tears trying to figure out where this blog had gone. I've worked very hard on this blog and I'm proud of it and the last thing I wanted is to have it disappear.

Thankfully I had some friendly help and I was able to calm down and repair my blog. The idea of having to go in and upload 90 articles, and try and add all of the links to other sites again was daunting to say the least. Luckily calmer heads prevailed with good advice and I don't have to do that.

The moral of this story is: Always keep a back-up copy of your template!

Thank you for your patience and thanks for visiting

Marilyn :o)