Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Royal & The Clueless - Episode 8

On the last episode of The Royal & The Clueless Kate, frustrated with William's continuing inability to commit to a wedding date, inadvertently injured one of her co-workers. She narrowly escaped injury herself during a 70's themed roller disco charity event. Kate took a tumble and fell on her back. Caught in limbo with nothing better to do with her time, Kate decides to audition police officers for her royal role should William make up his mind. A man named Frank Farmer, who bears a striking resemblance to Kevin Costner (circa 1992) in his role from The Bodyguard, which won a Brit award for Best Soundtrack, comes into the room.

Kate: Has anyone ever told you that you look like Kevin Costner?

Frank: This is my disguise.

Kate: And why do you think you have what it takes to protect me?

Frank: Well, I know how to roller-skate and I can stop a stapler at 20 paces.

Injured uncredited co-worker a few cubicles over who has just returned to work: Phew!

Kate, still wearing roller-skates carefully rolls over to him and slips. Frank effortlessly catches her and looks deeply into her eyes. Kate also looks deeply into his eyes and starts to sing.

Kate: I will always love you...ooooh...I will always love you...

Injured uncredited co-worker a few cubicles over who has just returned to work: Thank goodness it wasn't a charity karaoke event.

Frank (trying to remain businesslike): Ma'am this is neither the time or the place for songs. Unless of course I have the job, in which case I'm a countertenor.

The injured uncredited co-worker a few cubicles over who has just returned to work stands up, brow furrowed, and looks over at Frank. He approaches Frank and starts to sing the lyrics to All I Ask Of You from Andrew Lloyd Webber's adaptation of Phantom of the Opera, the longest running Broadway musical in history.

Injured uncredited co-worker a few cubicles over who has just returned to work: No more talk of darkness,Forget these wide-eyed fears, I'm here, nothing can harm you my words will warm and calm you. Let me be your freedom, let daylight dry your tears.I'm here with you, beside you,to guard you and to guide you...

Frank: Say you love me every waking moment, turn my head with talk of summertime...Say you need me with you now and always...Promise me that all you say is true, that's all I ask of you...

Kate sits down at her desk and reaches for her stapler.

Did Frank get the job? Will Kate ever figure out how to use a stapler for its intended purpose? Find out on the next episode of The Royal & The Clueless.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Royal Report for Sunday September 28th, 2008 - Should Kate Middleton wait?

In January 2009, Prince William will begin training in the RAF to become a full-time search and rescue pilot. This training will end in the Summer of 2010. After six years of dating, what does this mean for his relationship with Kate? Should she wait for him?

You can listen to the podcast here.

Publications mentioned on this episode:

Hello! Canada Issue #100 6 October 2008

Tune in to the next Royal Report on Sunday October 5th, 2008 9:00PM EST (North America)

The topic will be: Royal Niche Blogs.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Question: The Duke and Duchess of Windsor's wedding rings

....I have not found, anywhere, any information on the wedding rings of the Duke and Duchess, and this is my query: Is there a photograph, or description of the rings – somewhere? Were the Duke and Duchess buried wearing the rings, or, were the rings auctioned at Sotheby’s with the Duchess’ jewelry (after her death)?

Thank you for your questions!

You're right, there doesn't seem to be a lot of photos of the wedding rings out there. But given the fabulous collection of jewels that the Duchess owned, this is not surprising. While there are some photos of her with a plain ring on her wedding finger, they're not close up. For the most part she seems to have been photographed with her engagement ring; a large flawless emerald cut from the size of a bird's egg that belonged to a Mogul Emperor. So while she might have worn her wedding ring everyday, the size of her engagement ring would have dwarfed it. Looking at wedding photos some of them show her wearing just the wedding ring. Incidentally, the gloves she wore for her wedding were designed to open on the ring finger of the left hand. In some photos during the Second World War, where she is contributing to the war effort, you can see her wearing just the wedding ring. Anything larger would have been inappropriate. Many photos show her wearing gloves so the rings would not be seen. She was said to be rather meticulous about her grooming and she had manicures everyday, but her hairdresser recalled: She hated her hands. She always sat with her hands between her knees trying to hide them. Interesting then that she wore such extravagantly large rings that drew attention to them.

In most books about her there is very little reference to the wedding rings. Considering the circumstances, that would have been a minor detail. One book refers to it as being made from gold mined from the Welsh hills with a platinum copy auctioned in 1987 at Sotheby's. There are several wedding rings listed in the Sotheby's sale: lot #142 lists a 'platinum wedding ring, English, 1937, inscribed 'Wallis 18-10-35 Your David 3-VI-37' the two dates commemorate when the Prince proposed and the date of their marriage. In lot #177 there are 'Four wedding rings, all inscribed'. In photos the Duke of Windsor wears two rings on the fifth finger of his left hand, which seems to be the place royal men wear their wedding rings. Why there are five wedding rings in the auction, and whether one of them would have belonged to the Duke of Windsor is anybody's guess. Maybe he was buried with his but I highly doubt it.

Unfortunately I cannot locate photos specifically of these rings. Your best bet would be to see if you can purchase the auction catalogue which is rare and depending on where you look, very expensive, Sotheby's The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor sold for the benefit of the Pasteur Institute. Or The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor, by John Culme and Nicholas Rayner, written after the auction and a more affordable option. You might find photographs there.

Update: Although it's an interesting book, The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor by John Culme and Nicholas Rayner (written after the auction) does not have a photo of the wedding rings. Nor does the official auction catalogue.


The Windsor Style by Suzy Menkes

The Royal Jewels by Suzy Menkes

Famous Jewelry Collectors by Stefano Papi & Alexandra Rhodes

The Windsor Years by Lord Kinross

Edward VIII - The Road to Abdication - by Frances Donaldson

The Secret Life of The Duchess of Windsor by Charles Higham

The Windsor Story by J. Bryan III and Charles J.V. Murphy

Related Articles:

Royal Engagement Rings

Jewels fit for a Queen

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Royal Report for Sunday September 21st, 2008: The Blogs Royal

On this episode I discussed a few of my favorite sites as well as the background behind my own royal blogs.

You can listen to the podcast here.

Blogs mentioned (outside of my own). Links are in the sidebar.

The World of Royalty Blog
Royal News Blog
The Royal Representative
August Annotations
British Royal Wedding
The Royal Roundup
The Wills and Kate Update
Mad Hattery
Watching the Windsors

Publications mentioned

Hello! Canada issue #99 September 29, 2008

Blog posts mentioned:

Mad Hattery!: The Threat Level Scale
Crowning Moments: Political and Monarchist Cartoons
Today's Kate Middleton Report

Tune in to the next Royal Report on Sunday September 28th, 2008 9:00PM EST (North America)

The topic will be: Prince William is pursuing a career in the RAF. What does this mean for Kate? Should Kate wait for William?

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Royal & The Clueless - Episode 7

On the last episode of The Royal & The Clueless Kate was torn between getting the stapler to work vs being at William's beck and call. In a fit of frustration she tosses the stapler across the office. A distant "oww" can be heard a few cubicles over. It's 9:30AM and she's just gotten off the phone with Prince William, who has made an idle threat to find someone else, ultimately rooted in a deep seated insecurity yet to be explored through therapy. She's crying and decides to call Prince Harry's girlfriend Chelsy Davy.

Kate: *Sob* William wants to *sob* put *sob* our *sob* wedding plans *sob* on *sob* hold.

Chelsy: So what else is new? What is it now?

Injured uncredited co-worker a few cublicles over: I think I'm bleeding

Kate: *Sob* William says he wants to focus on his RAF career. *sob* He puts his chopper above all else. If I'd known that there would be three of us in this relationship...

Chelsy: *Sigh* Like I said in Episode 4 you need to like make yourself scarce. Like leave the country, make William, like, chase after you.

Injured uncredited co-worker a few cubicles over: Can someone take me to the doctor?

Kate: Maybe if I'd just gone with William...if only I hadn't decided to get some of my self-respect back by working...none of this would have happened...*sob*

Chelsy: No wonder people call you "Waity-Katy"

Kate: It's Catherine!

Chelsy: Whatever. You like need to figure things out. What about a different career? Maybe, like, interior design?

Kate dries her eyes, which unlike normal women whose eyes would still be puffy, now look perfect. A thud is heard as the injured uncredited co-worker a few cubicles over, who has lost a lot of blood, falls to the ground.

Kate: You're right Chelsy. As God is my witness, as God as my witness, they're not going to lick me. I'm going to live through this and when it's all over, I'll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again....I'll go home. And I'll think of some way to get him back. After all... tomorrow is another day.

Chelsy: Whatever, Katie Scarlett O'Hara Hamilton Kennedy Butler..

Kate: It's Catherine!

Will Kate run with Chelsy's career suggestion? Will she check to make sure that it's okay to quote copyrighted text from the classic 1939 movie, Gone with the Wind based on the 1936 novel of the same name by Margaret Mitchell? Will someone ever call an ambulence for the injured uncredited co-worker a few cubicles over? Find out on the next episode of The Royal & The Clueless.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Royal Report for Sunday September 14th, 2008 - Review of the Official sites for the Dutch and Spanish monarchies

On this episode I reviewed the Official websites for the Dutch and Spanish monarchies.

You can listen to the podcast here.

Websites mentioned:

The Official website of the Dutch Royal House

The Royal Household of His Majesty The King of Spain

Babelfish Translation

Party Pieces

The Prince of Wales rendered in macaroni

Brilliant Blog articles mentioned:

When a kiss isn't just a kiss

Tune in to The Royal Report on Sunday September 21st, 2008 9:00PM EST North America.

The topic will be: The Blogs Royal - What's going on in the royal blogsphere?

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Royal Review: Royal Entertaining Books

I don't think I've ever entertained more that 15 people at one time. And even then it wasn't a fancy affair: filled with a mish-mash of dishes, place mats, cutlery, and store-bought lasagna. However, if I ever decided to gather 150 of my closest friends, relatives, acquaintances, enemies, former co-workers, and third cousins once removed, I would use these books as a starting point for what to do in that unlikely scenario. Each one one covers different aspects of royal entertaining, such as proper cutlery, meals to prepare, and the appropriate attire for the liveried servers. One thing they have in common is the insight into the lives of the royal family. Of course, were I to start entertaining on such a grand scale I would have to buy a larger table, more stemware, cutlery, dishes, place mats, napkins, pots, pans, and change my criteria for buying wine (Under $20 and must have the word Chateau in the name). Other than that I'm sure I could adapt if the need arise.

Eating Royally by Darren McGrady. Out of the ones listed, this is my favorite. And I think it's the best too, mainly because it's the classiest and the most personal. Along with that, part of the proceeds went to charity. Darren McGrady worked as a royal chef for fifteen years, four of which were spent with Diana, Princess of Wales. Although there is a chapter focusing on his work at Kensington Palace, the majority of his reminisces come from working for the Queen at the various royal residences. One notable error is McGrady mentioning that Charles and Diana were married in 1982! (The date was July 29th, 1981).The anecdotes are very interesting and humorous, the recipes are made accessible and accompanied by beautiful photographs. Reading this book you almost get the sense of being in the royal kitchens with McGrady. There are a few recipes I'm looking forward to trying, mainly the one for mashed potatoes and Balmoral Strawberry Jam.

In the Royal Manner by Paul Burrell. Before you prejudge this book as just another attempt to cash in on Princess Diana, note that this was his first attempt. And a classy one at that. Take out his name, all of the royal personages and estates mentioned, and you might have a book Martha Stewart would have written. One thing about this how-to book on royal entertaining is that all of the tips could easily be incorporated into any dinner party: appropriate wines, folding a napkin into a perfect Fleur de Lys, when to use certain glassware and cutlery, table manners (Don't' talk with your mouth full or sit with your elbows on the table) and how to remove lipstick stains. Step by step seasonal flower arrangements with helpful photographs as guides. It has a very charming section on parties for children (A Bug's Party). Recipes are included, appropriate to each season, along with an overview of royal events and residences. Details for weddings are also covered: engagement announcements, the ceremony, reception, seating arrangements, flowers, wedding cake, etc. The only error that I can see is that Burrell lists Charles and Diana's wedding day as 29 June 1981 (What is it about their wedding date?) I'm looking forward to trying the recipe for Deep-Filled Apple Pie.

Dinner at Buckingham Palace by Charles Oliver I've already reviewed this book and I recommend it. It starts with a history of royal cooking along with recipes used from Queen Victoria to the present Queen. The anecdotes are interesting and there are some nice casual photos of the royal family (the Queen wearing pants!). The recipes far outweigh the anecdotes, but that's OK. Sometimes there's too much detail in the recipes- such as how to make turtle soup. (Oh, so that's the way to boil a turtle - I've been doing it wrong all along!). For the Royal Table (below) features a similar recipe with the killing and prepping of the turtle replaced with 'Prepare and Joint the turtle'. The end of the book lists menus for food served at State banquets in 1841. Along with ones for every month of the year, helpfully broken down by size of the dinner party. Now I'll never have to worry about what to serve 16 people for dinner in July!

For the Royal Table - Dining at the Palace from The Royal Collection. This recently released companion to the current exhibition at Buckingham Palace gives an insight into royal entertaining on the grandest scale imaginable - State Banquets. At no point is there any attempt to bring dining down to commoner levels. With detailed information on practically every aspect of State banquets, this book should answer any questions you may have. There are a few How-to's: folding napkins and carving a pineapple, along with some recipes (Turtle Soup anyone?). An interesting behind the scenes look into the preparation for State Banquets up to details of the actual event.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Royal & The Clueless - Episode 6

On the last episode of The Royal & The Clueless, Kate Middleton unsuccessfully tried to change her name to Catherine on all previous and future episode posts. In meltdown mode the Queen realized that Kate needs a job to fill her time. After mounting public pressure, and the Queen's invervention, Kate has finally settled down into a job working for her parents company. Satisfied to get everyone off her back, Kate gets to work. It's 9:00AM. Her brow furrows as she tries to figure out how the stapler works. The phone rings and Kate picks it up. Prince William is on the line.

William: Darling, what are you up to?

Kate: I'm at the office. Some of the office equipment just isn't working, I might have to call the repair person. I didn't know this could be so tiring.

William: Well, don't worry about that. Say, what are you doing in 2010?

Kate checks her schedule. It's fully booked with shopping and parties.

Kate: I'm sorry but I'm all booked up

William: Well, clear your schedule because, we're getting engaged!!

Kate: You've said that in 2005, 2006 and 2007 and we're still not engaged.

William: But by 2010 and I will have made up my mind. I'm sure of it.

Kate: I don't know William...

William: Let's go on vacation and talk about it!

Kate: William, I have important work to do.

William: Well, drop it and let's go!

Kate: I can't William. I just can't.

William: (growing petulant) As your boyfriend, future king and possible husband once I make up my mind, I command you to drop everything and do my bidding.

Kate: Don't you remember what granny said?

William: Don't worry about her, she's too busy planning for the State visit to Slovenia

Kate: But I do worry. We need her permission. Royal marriages are regulated by two statutes: the Act of Settlement (1701), and the Royal Marriages Act (1772). The 1701 Act of Settlement laid down that neither a Catholic nor a person marrying a Catholic could come to the throne. The Royal Marriages Act provides that the marriage of any lineal descendant of George II is invalid unless Royal consent has first been obtained. However, if the Sovereign does not give consent, a member of the Royal Family may, at the age of 25, signify to the Privy Council his or her intention to marry without the consent of the Sovereign. The marriage can then lawfully take place unless both Houses of Parliament expressly disapprove.

William: Remind me to change that when I become king. Anyways, a couple of drinks will bring the old girl around.

Kate: I can't William. I just can't.

William: I guess I'll just have to find someone else then..

Does Kate respond to William's hollow threat born of deep seated insecurity? Or does she stick firmly to her newly grown backbone? Find out on the next episode of The Royal & The Clueless.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Royal Review - The Last Princess by Matthew Dennison

The Last Princess - The Devoted Life of Queen Victoria's Youngest Daughter - by Matthew Dennison can be summarized by the following sentence found on page 251:

...much of Beatrice's life and work was connected with death..

Princess Beatrice, last child of Queen Victoria was born in 1857. Four short years later in 1861, her father Prince Albert would die. The events of December 14, 1861 would come to define her life as much as her mother's. That brief period from her birth to his death there is a glimmer of joy. Such glimmers are few and far between 1857 and 1944, the year she died.

It started out well. The lovely little blonde princess, precocious, indulged, the light of her parent's lives, and the envy of her elder siblings. All of that changed when the Prince Consort died, thereby making young Beatrice a human life-raft and the object of pity of those same siblings, extended family members and courtiers alike. When I told my husband about this book he said "why would anyone do that to their child"? Why indeed.

Of course times were different. Dennison makes Queen Victoria's mourning and the effect it had on her family, particularly Beatrice, very real. Too real in fact. The Queen comes across as incredibly selfish in her desire to keep Beatrice at her side. Preventing her from finding any happiness, from living a life beyond that of Victoria's sombre court. It's clear that Beatrice young, impressionable, raised to know nothing beyond what her mother allows her to, never had a chance to begin with. That precocious princess becomes a quiet, dull and passive woman. Destined to lead a life of selfless servitude to her mother.

It would take Beatrice 27 years to find happiness, but even that would be conditional upon the desires of her mother. Despite knowing how the story ends, I still found myself rooting for Beatrice. But this happiness would be short lived too. Four children and 10 years later, she too would be a widow. But this time it's different. As an adult Beatrice has a choice. Though always putting her mother's interests above her own marriage and children, she does not sacrifice her children on the altar of her own grief. Nor does she wallow in it.

The death of her mother in 1901 serves to liberate Beatrice and simultaneously cast her adrift. Her entire life had been about her mother. With no home of her own, a widow, Beatrice's life continues to seem as if it belongs to anyone but her. The next thirty years are spent editing her mother's journals and destroying the originals. Even in death Beatrice cannot escape her mother. But there are some glimpses of happiness with the marriage of her daughter, Victoria Eugenie to Alphonso XIII of Spain and the births of her grandchildren. Princess Beatrice bears all events, the demise of her daughter's marriage and the death of her favorite son Maurice, with predictable stoicism.

Suffering from rheumatism and cataracts, she withdrew from public life in the late 1920's, Beatrice occupies herself with publishing books, spending time with her grandchildren and carrying out a limited amount of engagements. When she dies in 1944 Dennison harks back to the place Beatrice found fleeting happiness, Darmstadt. But even this mention is bittersweet; Darmstadt was flattened by bombs four months after her death.

Given the times and circumstances Beatrice grew up, it's not surprising that her father's death would be a defining event in her life. But I did not expect the emphasis to be placed continuously on death. Not a page seems to go by without some mention of death, dying, the spectre of death, potential death, eventual death. Or words associated with death: mourning, sorrow, grief, etc. The overall effect of the book is a depressing one. I kept hoping that the real Beatrice would emerge from the shadows of death and find happiness. Unfortunately for the last princess and the reader, Dennison doesn't allow this to be.

If you want to learn about Princess Beatrice's life, this is a good starting point. Just don't expect it to be an uplifting experience.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Question: Court Mourning and Coronation planning

What is the mourning length the british government do have to wait when a monarch dies to crown the next king or queen? What are the steps to the next coronation please?
Thanks for your question.

There are four categories of mourning - general, court, service or family.

General Mourning: A period of mourning to be observed by the general public but nowadays usually restricted to the death of the Sovereign, lasting only a few days until the funeral. Formally adopted for other members of the royal family and sometimes lasting several weeks

Court Mourning. Observed by members of the Royal Family, Households of the Royal Family, The Queen's representatives both at home and abroad and their staffs. With instructions on dress codes and official and social engagements prescribed. But length of court mourning varies. In King George VI's case it lasted from his death, February 6th, 1952 until May 31, 1952.

Service mourning: Observed by the Armed Services on the death of the Sovereign

Family mourning Observed by the Royal Family and by Households of the royal family when in personal attendance only.

The length of mourning varies greatly. Queen Victoria practically made mourning into an art form, mourning her husband Prince Albert for 40 years. Mourning could go on for months, sometimes up to a year in the case of the death of a Sovereign, during which time the court would move through degrees of mourning (full to half-mourning) with strict provisions for appropriate attire and social engagements for both the royal court and for the public. At the time of Queen Victoria's death court mourning was prescribed to last until January 24, 1902. The public was directed to wear deep mourning until March 6th, 1901 and half-mourning until April 17, 1901.Nowadays the period is significantly reduced and the length of time for public mourning and appropriate attire is left up to the individual.

Funerals are arranged through the Lord Chamberlands office. Funerals of sovereigns are organized by the Earl Marshall who is also responsible for the Coronation arrangements. The coronation of the new Sovereign follows some months after his or her accession. The length of time vs the date of Coronation probably has more to do with the complex planning involved than with any particular period of mourning. Some examples of the length of time between accession and coronation are:

Queen Victoria: Acceded to the throne on June 20, 1837. Coronation held on June 28, 1838

King Edward VII : He became King upon the death of his mother, Queen Victoria on January 22, 1901. His Coronation was planned for June 26, 1902 but postponed to August 9, 1902 following an attack of appendicitis which required an emergency operation.

King George V: Date of accession May 6, 1910. Coronation June 22, 1911

King Edward VIII succeed to the throne on January 20, 1936. He abdicated while his coronation was being planned. The date for this was May 12, 1937. Upon his abdication on December 11, 1936, his younger brother became King George VI. Instead of postponing the coronation, the date was kept the same.

Queen Elizabeth II - Date of accession February 6, 1952. Date of Coronation June 2, 1953.

Examples of current length of royal mourning. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother died on March 30th, 2002. Her funeral on was on April 9th and members of the royal family observed mourning until April 19th. Her daughter, Princess Margaret, died on February 9th 2002 and mourning was observed from that date to the day of her funeral February 15, 2002.

As for the preparation surrounding coronations, the official site is your best resource.

For more information on Coronations, you might find the following book useful: Coronation: From the 8th to the 21st Century by Roy Strong

Thanks again for your question

© Marilyn Braun 2008