Sunday, August 25, 2013

Andrew and Sarah together again? Never Say Never

I recall July 23, 1986 vividly. Staying up all night to watch the royal wedding, setting the VCR on top of that so that I could replay the ceremony later.

Andrew and Sarah's wedding was the first royal event that I actually took an interest in. Charles and Diana's wedding, despite being a global event, wasn't even on my radar. It would take the birth of Prince William to spark my interest. And after that I was hooked.

Although I was only 14 at the time, I always thought that I would marry Prince Andrew one day. Suffice to say my disappointment when his engagement to Sarah Ferguson was announced. But I avidly paid attention in the run up, prepared myself to stay up so that I could watch the wedding live. And I wasn't disappointed.

I remember how lovely Sarah looked in her wedding dress. How her wedding dress shone and her eyes flashed at various guests as she walked up the aisle of Westminster abbey towards Prince Andrew at the altar. They looked so happy together. Unlike Charles and Diana. After the ceremony I watched them on the balcony at Buckingham Palace waving and laughing and looking gloriously happy. As the crowd called out for them to kiss, they jokingly pretended not to hear. When they finally did kiss, the roar of the crowd said it all. This was a marriage to celebrate and to last.

Sarah Ferguson, Fergie, was lauded as a breath of fresh air to the royal family. The antithesis of the thin and increasingly sad looking Diana. And then it all started to go wrong for Fergie. Not helping matters by not being as perfect or fashionable as Diana, gaining weight, and most glaringly of all, being herself. Leading to embarrassing herself and having affairs. Her autobiography details her downfall in raw detail. But despite all of these events, one thing seemed to be clear. Andrew still loved and supported Fergie. And almost 30 years later, continues to do so.

So it is no great surprise when there are rumors that they will get remarried. The rumors come about every so often. I personally think it is only a matter of time before this happens. Whether it be in the near future or once the present reign ends is hard to say. But I do think that Andrew and Sarah make each other happy, and always have.

The idea that they might get remarried is met with criticism, even derision. "Look at how foolish she has acted in the past!" "the lack of judgement during and after her marriage", "How can Andrew continue to enable her?" Yes, her history is unforgiving isn't it? But let's also remember that she isn't the first royal to have an affair (unfortunately, not the last either). At the same time, Charles was carrying on with Camilla and embarrassing the royal family in his own way. And most would agree that his position in line is far more important than Andrew's. Yet why the double standard? Why do people forget and forgive the past with one brother and not the other? If someone had suggested Charles and Camilla get married in the 1990s, how much scoffing and derision would that have met with? Yet they did get married and look at them today. Why is it different with Andrew and Sarah?

Regardless of what 'royal sources' would have people believe, we will never really know what goes on behind closed doors with Andrew and Sarah. We can only speculate. I hope, for their sakes, they do find happiness together. Regardless of public opinion, I think it is only a matter of time before they do get remarried.

I may not have a VCR, but should it happen, I look forward to staying up and watching it all over again.


© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Is Catherine a Duchess or a Princess? Kicking a dead horse is fun, but someone has to do it

It should have been simple and straightforward. Registering Prince George's birth. The first of many bureaucratic events he will have stay awake for later in life. His father Prince William, listed his occupation as  'Prince of the United Kingdom' on Prince George's birth registration. No one argued with that. It was listing Catherine's occupation as 'Princess of the United Kingdom' which got the 'drama' and 'mess' started.

Confusion abounded on twitter. Is she a princess or isn't she? At the time of the royal wedding the powers that be at the royal palace were insistent that Catherine was NOT a princess. Case closed, end of story. Personally, I accepted their word and got on with my life, even though deep in my heart of hearts a little voice told me they were wrong.

So the powers that be said Catherine isn't a princess. Certainly there was disappointment. Why wouldn't there be? Princess sounds so much more romantic than Duchess, doesn't it? Disney doesn't have a line of Disney Duchesses now do they? No little girl says 'I want to be a Duchess for Halloween'. Dammit! Catherine should be a princess. Women with 'Princess' fantasies suddenly had to switch gears to 'Duchess' fantasies instead. Oh the horror!

And then Prince George's birth registration came along, confusing everyone in the process. Had William elevated his wife to 'Princess of the United Kingdom' hoping the Queen, the fount of all honor, and other sharp eyed royal watchers wouldn't notice? Foolish Prince! How dare he go play polo at a time like this?

I admit it. I'm not above the fray. No one loves a good, meaningless royal discussion to distract me from the day to day hum-drum of my existence, more than I do. So I grabbed my popcorn. But after a day or so, when do we stop beating the dead horse? Facts are important, duly noted. But look, the poor horse is dead! Or did it wisely escape to greener pastures? Thankfully unable to read the twitter one-upmanship and royal reporters being beaten to death with dusty textbooks before starting an 'inquest' with their last breath. The Powers that be have 'mislead' the public for the last two years! Lies! Incompetence! The Republican movement nod their heads in agreement "See how we feel now?"

For the love of cheese and crackers, what is the world coming to when Buckingham Palace and Clarence House, the official of all official sites, can't even get this minor point, which has been blown out of all proportion, right?

Discuss amongst yourselves. I'm off to get some more popcorn.

© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Prince George, it's never too early to become the poster child for something

Prince George! Congratulations on your parents giving you a name! What a relief to those new parents waiting so they could name their own babies after you! Your aden + anais swaddle blankets sold out before you got home. Look at you already setting an example without realizing it. Good boy!

Clearly we need to harness this power! Think of the possibilities! Like your mother making it okay for new mothers to not instantly lose baby weight before leaving hospital, you are already the poster child for how not to strap your newborn into a car seat in front of the world media. Look at the photos, even YOU didn't look happy about it. Now newborns everywhere will know that they don't have to settle for anything less than complete safety.

Then there's food. You alone influence whether newborn babies breastfeed or not. If it is OK for you it is OK for other newborns. However, had you decided breastfeeding wasn't for you, that would have been OK too. In time, you can influence when new parents should start solid foods, eventually wean their babies and eat their vegetables. You're royal, forget being a picky eater. It. Just. Isn't. Done.

Can we talk about circumcision? Apparently your grandfather, Prince Charles was but your father wasn't. Of course this is a personal decision which you, unfortunately, have absolutely no control over. Suffice to say all of the doctors and rabbis poised with their Mogen clamps await your wails for the go-ahead.

What are you waiting for? Wake up Georgie, you can't stay in swaddle blankets forever! Like your mother's clothing, there are people out there, who can't dress their babies or potty train them. They desperately need your guidance!

Being a week old is no excuse. Only YOU can lead the way. Whether you like it or not.

© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Forgive us Baby Cambridge, we just can't help ourselves

Dear Baby Cambridge,

Congratulations on your birth! We've been waiting a long time for you. In fact, Had you known the amount of hysterical interest and speculation following every stage of your existence, you might have chosen to stay in longer. And it would have been completely understandable, if not nerve wracking for the rest of the world.

But now that you're out in the world, there's no going back! Yay for us and your parents, you're too young to have second thoughts. Don't worry, that will come in time when the full weight of our suffocating interest dawns on you. Your parents may protect you physically and emotionally, but cannot prevent the inevitable crushing reality dawning on you.

See, here's the thing. Everyone loves babies. Royal babies possibly even more so because we don't have to take care of you. Like grandparents, we have the best of both worlds. We can take pride in you, and spoil you with attention, but at the end of the day we can close the book and turn off the TV, until the next time you do something the media deems adorable. Even if it is just drooling.

Like your mother, you can do no wrong. For now. You will be the perfect baby and no matter what your level of attractiveness, you will be deemed the most beautiful child in the world. You will be put on a very high pedestal which may seem fun at first, especially as it will get wobbly. Your parents have their work cut out keeping you grounded in reality. They have a hard enough time doing this for themselves, so this will be tough.

Then there's us, the public, with our insatiable interest, even pre-conception we were discussing you and while in utero we speculated on every single aspect of your existence, even betting on things like your name, weight and how you would be born. As we speak, there are people who bet on you being born vaginally congratulating themselves! How many others can say the same?

The media, at our behest, will dig for any detail. Unfortunately, nothing is off limits. We will know if you have been circumcised and a biography of the person who does so. No use hiding when you have your first solids, when you are weaned from the breast, and when you begin potty training. The media will find out, or make it up along the way. Books and magazine articles will be written about it, not to mention all of the royal experts weighing in! Forget baby memory books, the stages of your development will be in the public domain for you to be embarrassed about later.

All of that will come in time though. But today you took the first step towards that on the Lindo wing steps in your mother's arms. Waving, already a royal pro, you were completely oblivious to the hoopla, gun salutes, and people impatiently refreshing twitter feeds while waiting for you to appear. Enjoy your oblivion while it lasts. As you sleep we are already intruding on it.


© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Monday, July 22, 2013

What will Baby Boy Cambridge be called?

Now that William and Catherine have welcomed their son into the world, the question on many royal watcher's minds is what will his name be. Over the last several months there has been a great deal of speculation on names for Baby Cambridge. Now that we've eliminated the female names, it narrows down the list to ones for boys. Some of the names people are placing bets on include James, Michael, George, and Philip. Baby Boy Cambridge is destined to be a future monarch, therefore he requires a regal sounding name to go with that pedigree. Some of these names have been discounted mainly because the royal family currently has a family member with that name and/or it is a Middleton name. But when it comes to repeating names, let's not forget that the royal family has had more than one member of the family share a name at the same time.

Personally, while I have preferences, I will not discount any names. Regardless of their choice, any name William and Kate choose is likely to start a trend. In fact, there are reportedly new mothers holding off on naming their own newborn until they find out the royal name. Whatever William and Kate choose, someone will be unhappy with it. As a matter of fact, I guarantee it will not meet with universal approval. Let's take a look at some of the name contenders and why or why not they might be chosen:

James

People have discounted this name because it is the name of Kate's brother. You can practically feel the sneering at the very idea that Kate and William might be tribute to a Middleton. How un-regal is THAT? Another reason for discounting the name is because two current family members hold it as a first name: James Ogilvy, son of Princess Alexandra and James, Viscount Severn, son of Prince Edward. Not to mention all of the kings who bore the name too. Forget that though, it is seen as a Middleton name.

Michael

Michael falls under the same category as James , being seen as a Middleton name because of Kate's father (insert more sneering here). Some feel it is not royal enough - despite a current member of the royal family holding it - Prince Michael of Kent. Choosing this name would be good because it would be unique. No British king has used Michael as a regnal name.

Philip

Currently the name of the baby's great-grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, it would be a nice tribute to the 92 year old consort of the Queen. As well, like Michael, no British king has used Philip as a regnal name.

George

I'll admit it. I've never liked this name and I hope that they don't choose it for their son. While it does have a Cambridge association, it is too old-fashioned sounding. As with any name, should William and Catherine choose George, it could start a revival, however some things should be left in the past, and the name George is one of them. I believe at present there is one member of the family with the name George, The Earl of St. Andrews - son of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent. In the past several members of the royal family have shared the name George. Upon the abdication of King Edward VIII in 1936, Prince Albert, Duke of York, chosen the name King George VI, despite having a younger brother with the same name, Prince George, Duke of Kent, as well as a nephew, George, Viscount Lascelles, son of his sister Princess Mary.

Edward

Three members of the royal family currently have Edward as a first name. Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, his grandson, Edward, Baron Downpatrick and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex. Eight kings have used it as a regnal name. However, I think this name is a long shot.

John

On the list but unlikely because it has a tragic history within the royal and Spencer families. One of the Queen's uncles, Prince John died as a teenager. Her great-grandmother, Queen Alexandra's youngest son, John, died shortly after he was born. And Baby Cambridge's grandmother, the late Diana Princess of Wales, had an older brother, also named John, who died within hours of his birth.

David

Currently used by Princess Margaret's son, David Linley, as well as being one of Prince Harry's middle names, David might be a long shot given its complex history within the royal family. David was the name King Edward VIII was known by to his friends and family. Because of the abdication crisis, using David as a first name for a future monarch might make that unlikely.

Albert

This name brings up associations with Queen Victoria's beloved consort, Prince Albert. She was insistent on her male descendants bearing the name Albert. However, although King Edward VII and King George VI's birth names were Albert, neither chose it as a regnal name. Prince Harry has it amongst his given names.

Charles

It is entirely possible that William and Catherine could choose to pay tribute to Prince Charles but I think they would reserve it for a middle name as opposed to a first name. Like George it sounds old fashioned to me. Other family members known by Charles include David Linley's son and Baby Cambridge's maternal great-uncle is Charles Spencer. Like David and Albert, Prince Harry has Charles amongst his given names too.

Henry

The name of the Baby Cambridge's paternal uncle as well as eight previous kings, should William and Catherine name their son Henry, he might eventually ascend the throne as King Henry IX. The first British King to be ninth under any name.

Alexander

Like Michael and Philip, Alexander would be another unique name choice for a future British king. It isn't a particularly common name amongst the royal family, but it does have a royal history. Princess Beatrice named her first son Prince Alexander of Battenberg, Queen Mary had a brother, Prince Alexander of Teck, Prince George, Duke of Kent had it amongst his given names as does Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester and it was also the name of Princess Patricia of Connaught's son, Alexander Ramsay of Mar. A current member of the royal family to hold the name Alexander is Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester's son the Earl of Ulster.

William and Catherine seem like couple who will choose something regal and traditional yet modern at the same time. Out of all of the names, my bets are on James and Philip, but I also like the sound of Prince Alexander of Cambridge too.

© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Breathe deeply, the royal baby insanity is almost over

Sometimes the hoopla surrounding the birth of the royal baby just makes my blood boil. And yet I cannot look away from it, or ignore it despite the increasing ridiculousness of the coverage.

Case in point, Wikipedia has created a page for Baby Cambridge, even though he/she is not even born. Supposedly this is the first time a page has been created for an unborn child. Since William and Catherine are likely to have more than one child, I'm presuming Wikipedia will be coming out with pages before they're even conceived, such is the intense interest?

Kate is already being touted as the 'perfect mother'.  Hate to say this but there is no such thing. Have we really reached the point where any minor deviation from royal parenting - hugging, spending quality time with your child - is seen as innovative? Let's see a sleep deprived Kate manage a newborn and a toddler with a temper tantrum -  in public - before labeling her a 'perfect mother' shall we?

Then there's lighting up Canadian tourist attractions like Niagara falls and CN tower blue or pink to celebrate the royal birth.  Normally, I wouldn't have a problem with these things, but it just adds to the atmosphere of overkill rampant with everything related to the arrival of Baby Cambridge. Whatever happened to sending a card or some flowers? Isn't a 41-gun salute and pealing church bells across the land enough? True, it is nothing new to color monuments to mark royal births. When Prince Charles was born in 1948 the fountains in Trafalgar Square in London were lit up blue for a boy. But these are the type of tributes William and Kate and their baby will, in time, take for granted. Naming a lake or school after their baby? Old hat which only gets older. Why not inundate them with cards, gifts and unwelcome visits like every other parent? A true rite of passage for new parents everywhere.

Today, the Daily Mail published a layout of the floor of the Lindo wing where Kate will give birth, including where the nearest stairwell is. Tell me, do we really need to know this information? How much more invasive can we get? Earlier in the pregnancy, with all that happened with the death of the nurse, Jacinta Saldanha after two Australian DJs called the hospital pretending to be the Queen, wasn't a line in the sand established?

Not to mention just plain respect and decorum. Have we completely lost sight of that?

Sometimes I wonder.

© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Royal Baby is coming! The Royal Baby is coming! Have we completely lost our mnds?

As we and get closer to the due date for the royal baby's arrival you would think that we are the ones on the verge of giving birth. So far, we've covered choosing names, hospitals to give birth, natural versus cesarean, pain relief techniques and what the nursery will look like. Some have even started speculating on whether Kate will breastfeed and how Baby Cambridge will be educated. It would be an understatement to say that people are looking forward to this birth. It has become the royal event of 2013 and people will wring every last drop of interest out of the pregnancy until the baby finally arrives.

We may not know the exact due date but it hasn't stopped people from predicting. Some even going so far as to say Kate has mislead us and the baby may, in fact, arrive 10 days earlier than expected. Of grave concern is whether the baby be born on July 1st. Just another day in the calendar? No! It just so happens to be the birth date of Baby Cambridge's iconic dead grandmother, Diana, Princess of Wales. God forbid he or she should be born on such a sacred day! Think of the specter of Diana, hovering over the child, the burden it will face, especially if it is a girl! The constant reminders because we will not let this child forget it! Should the baby have the luck/misfortune (depends on who you ask) to be born on July 1st, I highly doubt Baby Cambridge will think about Diana as he/she tears his/her birthday gifts apart in the years to come. Can we say the same?

With the amount of pressure Kate is under, I wouldn't be surprised if she chose to be induced like Diana, who did so because she couldn't handle the pressure she was under. Some think Kate is made of stronger stuff, but it is easy to say so when we are not the ones being minutely scrutinized. Then again, even if she is induced, does it really matter? Or would it be a crack in the perfect veneer we've created around Kate?

I for one do not envy Kate. She may be slavishly adored for 'never putting a foot wrong', and have a nice view from the pedestal we've placed her on, but when she goes into labor the pressure will be even greater, and if she has a long labor it will be agonizing for more reasons than one. Just knowing that with every contraction, the worlds media is waiting outside the hospital for her to deliver not just any royal baby, but the royal baby.

This birth will be anything but a private, intimate moment for William and Kate. We will make sure of it.

© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Be afraid of the royal baby, be very afraid

Babies. Cute. Some not so cute. Cuddly. Sleeping peacefully occasionally. What harm could they possibly do?

If you're Baby Cambridge. Plenty.

Not yet born and he/she has already taken control. There is no going back.

Is it any coincidence that #royalbaby is the most re-tweeted hash tag of all time? Cup your ear to Catherine's stomach and before you get arrested you'll hear a diabolical in-utero gurgle. Or indigestion.

For the last eight months, in utero, he/she has been devising a plan for global domination. Utilizing 'royal experts' to make generalizations about his/her name, education, future. To build interest, lest we forget about his/her pending arrival.

Only Baby Cambridge knows the truth. And upon birth, all will be revealed.

Sure the pregnancy speculation was fun, intrusive, harmless, invasive. Little did we know the reality of the juggernaut of influence this child will be. The economy, fashion trends, names. This is just the beginning.

Now royal watchers and reporters are on standby, phones fully charged, ring tones on the loudest setting. Anxiously awaiting Baby Cambridge. On the day royal baby is born, legitimate news stories will be obliterated. Anyone who has the power to trend on social media while in the birth canal and make complete strangers with no vested interest rejoice is dangerous indeed.

All part of the plan to have us wrapped around his/her finger. Resistance is futile and there is no escape. One way or another, you will know he/she has arrived. Whether you want to or not.

When Catherine's labor begins, run for cover if you haven't already.

© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Royal Baby Facts

In honor of the upcoming birth of William and Catherine's first child, some British royal baby facts:

  • When William and Catherine's baby is born, he/she will be the first royal baby to bear and use the style and title HRH Prince/Princess since Princess Eugenie's birth in 1990.

  • In the unlikely event William and Catherine's baby is born in a royal palace, he/she will be the first royal baby since 1964 to do so. The last baby to be born in a royal palace was Lady Sarah Chatto, daughter of Princess Margaret, who was born at Kensington Palace on May 1, 1964. Prior to her birth Prince Edward was born at Buckingham Palace on March 10, 1964.

  • A royal baby boom occurred in 1964 when four royal ladies were pregnant at the same time. Princess Alexandra was pregnant with her son James Ogilvy, the Queen with Prince Edward, the Duchess of Kent with Lady Helen Taylor and Princess Margaret with Lady Sarah Chatto.

  • Princess Anne's son, Peter Phillips, was the first grandchild of a sovereign to be born a commoner in more than 500 years. He and his sister, Zara, are the Queen's only untitled grandchildren.

  • Peter Phillips is the first grandson of a British sovereign to be born in hospital.

  • Prince William is the first direct heir to the throne to be born in hospital

  • After attending the birth of his first child, Peter in 1977, Mark Phillips remarked: "It is not every ones cup of tea". After the birth of his daughter Zara in 1981 he commented: "Yes, I was present at the birth but I wouldn't recommend it to other fathers."

  • Contrary to some reports, should Prince William attend the birth of his child, he will not be the first royal father to do so. Other fathers who have attended the birth of their children include Prince Albert, (Consort of Queen Victoria), Prince Albert Edward attended the birth of his first son Prince Albert Victor, Prince George, Duke of Kent attended the birth of his son Prince Edward (the present Duke), as well as Mark Philips, Prince Andrew, Prince Charles and Prince Edward.

  • Amongst the baby gifts Charles and Diana received for Prince William was a book of nursery rhymes, containing fourteen well-known characters, entirely in lace. The book was made by a team of lace makers at Beer in Devon and took 10,000 man-hours to create.  

  • Queen Victoria was insistent on being present at the births of her grandchildren

  • Queen Victoria disliked and disapproved of breastfeeding. When she discovered her daughter Princess Alice did so, she had one of the cows at the Royal Dairy named 'Alice'.

  • In 1948, one of the cakes for Prince Charles' christening was made by the students of the National Bakery School. It weighed 130lbs and was 36 inches high.

  • Lord Nicholas Windsor, third child of the Duke and Duchess of Kent, was the first royal baby to be born in hospital. He was born at University College Hospital on July 25, 1970.

  • Princess Beatrice's date of birth 8/8/88 is considered to be extremely lucky in the Chinese calendar.

  • Since the 1970s, it has become the norm for royal babies to be born in hospital. Previous royal babies have been born in more illustrious surroundings. To name a few: Balmoral Castle, the Sandringham Estate, Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, Marlborough House, Kensington Palace, Clarence House and St. James's Palace. 


  • Princess Eugenie of York, daughter of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, was the first royal baby to have a public christening. This occurred during morning service at St. Mary Magdalene, Sandringham, in December 1990.

  • Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was born on a dining room table

  • Princess Alexandra, first cousin of the Queen was born on Christmas day in 1936, the year of the abdication crisis. Her grandmother Queen Mary remarked that her birth was 'The nicest thing to have happened this year.'

  • Princess Alexandra's son, James Ogilvy was born on February 29th, 1964.

  • In 1960, Prince Andrew was the first royal baby born to a reigning British sovereign since Queen Victoria gave birth to Princess Beatrice in 1857.

  • In 1930, Princess Margaret was the first royal baby - so close in the line of succession - to be born in Scotland since Charles I in 1600. At the time of her birth she was 4th in line to the throne. Between Charles I and Princess Margaret other royal babies born in Scotland include Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain in 1887 and her brother Prince Maurice in 1891, both born at Balmoral Castle. However they were not as close in line as Princess Margaret!

  • When Princess Margaret was born in 1930, her birth registration was delayed so that her birth certificate would not be numbered 13.

  • When Baby Cambridge is born, it will mark the second time in history where 3 direct heirs to the throne have been born while the sovereign is alive. The first time occurred during the reign of Queen Victoria when her son, The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), and grandson, the Duke of York (later King George V) marked the birth of the future King Edward VIII in 1894.

© Marilyn Braun 2013



Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Royal Privacy - It Should Become A Thing

At the risk of sounding as though I'm naïve or do not comprehend the global media event the upcoming royal birth will become, I think there comes a point where we should give William and Catherine room to breathe and celebrate the birth of their baby. In complete private.

Royal privacy is a very sticky topic, it has come up many times before and the definition changes depending on who you ask. In this instance, if you were to ask William and Catherine, they would insist that, like the conception, the birth of their child is a private, intimate matter. Whereas the rest of the world would completely ignore the concept of royal privacy over wall-to-wall coverage of the birth of a future monarch. Regardless of just how intrusive that coverage will become.  At times I can't help but wonder just how far the media would wander into the delivery room if the door was left ajar. My guess is we would see more than necessary. Public backlash be damned.

The coverage for the birth should be treated differently from the coverage of the royal wedding. It should be, but it won't. The royal wedding, while significant in some ways, was filled with all kinds of mundane details that were harmless to speculate on. Not so with childbirth. As anyone who has given birth knows, it is an incredibly intimate moment. One where the last thing you would want is a billion eyes watching your every breath and contraction. But yet that is exactly what the pending coverage is about to do. And we only have ourselves to blame for creating the demand for it.

If I were William and Kate I would revert back to the days where royal babies were born within the confines of the palace. Private, protected, no need to face the media when you least feel like it. Most people don't think it will happen. After all, it has become the norm for royal babies to be born in hospital, not to mention meeting our expectations with the obligatory photograph when they depart. William and Kate may prefer to do things differently, and I hope they do because it is the only way for them to get privacy and enjoy the moment when they become parents. Personally, I would love it if William and Kate had their baby and left hospital before anyone knew they'd entered it. We wouldn't be any the wiser until an announcement is made. Start a new tradition for keeping a royal birth private, whether we like it or not.

It would only serve us right for insisting upon it being otherwise. And it would be no less than we deserve.

© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

When it comes to Catherine Cambridge's pregnancy, the only thing predictable are the predictions

Kate Middleton considers C-section, Will breastfeed royal heir?

William will likely be in delivery room

Kate Middleton sets chic and stylish maternity dressing trend

Duchess Kate and Carole Middleton Plan Nursery Décor Together

Did I not predict this type of coverage back in December 2012? Why yes, YES I did!

And clearly, I'm not the only one able to predict the predictable coverage. (By the way, this is the type of article I wish I had written).

I can appreciate the interest in the royal baby. Historical facts about royal babies fascinate me. Although Diana's pregnancy wasn't on my radar at the time, Prince William's birth is what originally sparked my interest in the royal family. The gross sense of entitlement for every scrap of information about this pregnancy does not.

We may not be invited into the delivery room, know the name of the baby, or the color of the nursery walls, but we don't need to because we have the predictable coverage to fill in the blanks. Anyone can state that Kate will decorate her nursery in sedate colors, or that she will listen to her doctors advice in the delivery room or that she will have a boy...or a girl...

Heck, I could have told you that!

Last night I had a dream that William and Kate finally had their baby. It was a girl (YAY!) I also breathed a sigh of relief that Royal Womb Watch 2013 was finally over. Imagine my chagrin when I woke up and looked at the calendar.

With a month or so to go, Baby Cambridge's arrival can't come soon enough.

© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Here's what happens when we invite ourselves to Baby Cambridge's birth

We've waited nine long months for this moment. Poured over pictures of Kate's stomach in a futile attempt to find the meaning and purpose of royalty. Congratulated ourselves when we've read too much into Kate's words and actions, been chastened when video footage has proved us all wrong.


Things that go ping!
Now. Now it is the big day! And lucky us, we have invited ourselves to the Royal Birth - 2013!

[Cue network momentous occasion music]

For the next interminable hours the world will be in labor with Kate, following each contraction. Networks providing exhaustive, commercial free coverage of one of the most intimate moments in a woman's life.  Sonorous voiced commentators drowned out by Kate begging for pain killers and blaming William for putting her through this. We will learn new medical terminology and expensive medical equipment will go *ping!* We will discuss what Kate's hospital gown is made of. Is it too short? Too long? What is on trend for hospital gowns anyways? If anyone can make a open backed hospital gown trendy it is Kate. Manufacturers will rejoice! Designers create replicas for the runway. Forget buying one, the gowns will be sold out before the baby takes its first breath.

All will finally be revealed on this day. Is it a boy? Is it a Girl? Place your final bets before the baby emerges. The camera pans in for a close up view to ensure this is indeed the legal heir. Baby Cambridge's first blurry eyed view will not be of his/her parents but of an invasive public waiting for the umbilical cord to be cut so we can coo while the media feasts on every inch of Baby Cambridge. We will observe the new parents attempt to shield their newborn while a public gross sense of entitlement wrestles with royal prerogative.

The Royal tradition machine will kick into gear. Bells will ring across the land as gun salutes take place. Hello! compiles its fifth commemorative royal birth collectors edition. Cash registers ring. Republicans will scoff. Monarchists will fawn. The Royal Poet Laureate composes verse few will pay attention to. As royal watchers all the while marvel and disavow the circus we helped to create.

© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Prince Harry and Cressida Bonas: How to Ruin a Royal Romance

Ah love....

There is nothing like a royal romance. The pattern is predictable: the media goes into hot-pursuit with intrusive coverage, the couple attempt to avoid being photographed together, unflattering paparazzi photos, hunting down any little scrap of titillating information, digging up embarrassing details and ex-boyfriends. All for our entertainment. Let's see just how far she can be chased before she runs for the hills. No matter if she does, just repeat the pattern with the next one.

Reportedly dating since last July, Prince Harry went public with his affection for Cressida while skiing in Verbier. Like all royal girlfriends, we know as much as the media digs up. Prince Harry's new girlfriend, Cressida Bonas is a socialite, model, dancer, former skiing instructor, Leeds University graduate and has a half-sister, Isabella Calthorpe, who rumor has it, caught Prince William's eye. Give it a year and we will have books about Cressida and a royal wedding mug with her engaged to the wrong prince. It almost makes you wonder how royal princes ever get married in the first place. The woman in question has to be strong and determined enough withstand the pressures, not only from the press but also potentially from a fickle prince who cannot make up his mind. As we have seen with Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Kate, it could be years before an announcement takes place.

Cressida ticks off the boxes for royal bride material. She is young, pretty and has an aristocratic background. Her mother is Lady Mary Gaye Curzon, daughter of the 6th Earl Howe and reportedly a descendant of King Charles II. The aristocratic connection is enough to deem her eminently suitable to royal watchers. But are Harry and Cressida compatible? With the prospect of another royal wedding, does it even matter? Marriage may be the furthest thing from Harry or Cressida's minds, but still the media, reading too much into their body language and quoting 'sources', touts her as 'the one'.

Will the intense media interest in their relationship derail it?

That's for Harry and Cressida to decide.

© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Giving Catherine Cambridge a chance is hard, but someone has to do it

There are many ways in which Catherine cannot win.

  • There's her dress sense. (Too long, too short, too safe, too expensive, too cheap, seen too often..)

  • Then there's her looks. (She's too thin, Does she have extensions? what's with the sausage curls and hyena grin?)

  • Not to mention questions about her marriage and 'commoner' family background (Catherine is nothing more than a social climber who duped William into marrying her..)

  • Then there's her role within the royal family (Is she a senior royal or not? Her job is to give birth to an heir, why isn't she working more?)

  • Comparisons to other royals (Is she the new Diana? Look at the Queen, 86 years old. What is Catherine's excuse?)

  • As well as what she does in her spare time (Shopping, getting her hair done, vacations...)

  • Then there is the media with their 'everything Catherine touches turns to gold articles'.  Their relentless focus on Catherine's appearance to the exclusion of everything else. Along with a complete inability to write an article that directly criticizes her. Even if that criticism is valid.

Recently Catherine has slowly increased her duties. Instead of hearing that she is doing things 'behind the scenes' we are actually seeing her carry out royal duties in public. It is something that many Kate critics have waited a long time for, myself included. But there's also cynicism. Will she increase her engagements or will she go on a luxury vacation after doing four of them? How can we know for sure? Will we be disappointed by her yet again?

That cynicism is very apparent in the aftermath of her royal duties. It is as if people can't make up their minds. Despite wanting her to do more engagements, when she does do one, people criticize the type of engagement (too frivolous, not serious enough). If the engagement is a serious one, people will find something else to criticize her for.  Case in point: Despite doing a great job during her visit to Child Bereavement UK,  people criticized the length of her hemline. Then there's the motive behind the engagement. Is it a genuine visit or just damage control?  St James's Palace's tendency to release engagement information on the heels of negative public opinion is suspicious. But is this can't always be the case, can it?

Given the amount of goodwill from the royal wedding, Catherine could have hit the ground running. But she didn't. There was a two year grace period filled with stops and starts and unpredictable engagements. Nothing consistent. Is it really any wonder that people are cynical about Catherine now?

It seems Catherine can't win regardless of what she does, it almost makes you wonder why she bothers to leave the house. But then people would probably complain about that too! Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion about Catherine. Having said that, there's a difference between criticizing her and putting her in an impossible situation by tearing her down no matter what she does.

Catherine has a fantastic platform to make a difference. With the increase in engagements, let's hope this is a sign she plans to do something with it.

© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

In defense of Kate critics

Long before she became a global phenomenon, people had opinions about Kate. Opinions which weren't always positive or flattering. At the time I didn't understand people who could criticize someone they had never met. I usually thought that people who were critical of Kate were 'haters'. Over time I've come to realize that not everyone who expresses a critical opinion of her is jealous or a hater. Mainly because I too have become a Kate critic.

Taking Hilary Mantel and Sandi Toksvig as examples, expressing a critical opinion about Kate is obviously risky. Mantel has said that doing so has made her a hate figure. Both have had their looks and lifestyles ripped apart and blasted for being jealous. Kate is young, beautiful, wealthy and privileged and they're not. Why else would they criticize her? When maybe, just maybe, they're expressing an opinion of her. Whether people like that opinion or not.

If you notice, the media very rarely says anything critical about Kate. You would think she walks on water. Which is why when there is criticism, however valid it might be, it stands out in stark contrast. Suddenly the person is jealous/a hater. You can be critical of something/someone without being jealous of it/them right? It should be common sense. If I say I don't like a public figure, for whatever reason, does that mean I am jealous, or am I expressing my opinion? Why does this change when discussing Kate? Would people respond the same to a criticism of Prince Andrew?

This is not to say that people don't hate Kate. There are definately people who are jealous of her. I have read some vitriolic comments on message boards. Creative conspiracy theories about her family. It is amazing how some can hate someone they have never met. On the other hand, I have also read some saccharine articles and comments. It is amazing that some people can love someone they've never met just as much as some people who hate her. When it comes to an opinion about Kate, the middle ground doesn't exist.

I have read that Kate fans supposedly outnumber the critics. Forget the people who are indifferent. They probably outnumber both camps combined. Considering there are 7 billion people on earth, I don't recall a survey about Kate, do you? It is as if everyone, by default, is supposed to love her and worship the ground she walks on. But if you don't happen to feel that way (and say it out loud) well then you must be jealous/have no life/embittered etc. In absence of a constructive counter argument, that seems to be the default response to people who criticize Kate.

I have followed Kate closely since 2007 but I have never held a slavish devotion to her. Certainly I am interested but not enough to emulate her every move. Since her marriage I admit that I have become more critical of her. While there is no denying she dresses well and has nice hair, I honestly do not like the way she is portrayed in the media as nothing more than a clothes horse who is expected to never voice an opinion. I don't like it. And I don't like that the British royal family seems to sanction that one dimensional image. Do I hate Kate? No. I'm just disappointed because Kate herself seems to allow it. The fact that people like Hilary Mantel and Sandi Toksvig get attacked for their opinions disappoints me even more. I highly doubt Prince Charles' critics have this problem.

Like it or not, everyone is entitled to their opinion of Kate. Even those who hold critical ones.

© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Oh no, the sky is falling! Catherine Cambridge has been criticized yet again!

Seems Catherine Cambridge cannot cut a break after yet another older, accomplished woman has the temerity to express a two sentence critical opinion about Catherine Cambridge - Beloved, national treasure who has never put a foot wrong.

We will never know what Catherine thinks about radio host Sandi Toksvig opinion about her lack of opinion. (Whom Daily Mail has irrelevantly pointed out is middle-aged lesbian with three children). Much like we will never know what Catherine's thoughts are regarding Hilary Mantel's lecture. Of course Catherine cannot be expected to defend herself against everyone who dares to say something critical. It would be a full-time job and would make no difference whatsoever.

Some suggest that Catherine should emulate the Queen by becoming apolitical. Voicing no opinion for all these years has worked so successfully for the Queen, surely Catherine can follow suit? Look at the other royal women who don't offer opinions: Birgitte Gloucester, Princess Alexandra, Kate Kent. Quiet and under the radar, do they even exist? Nothing good can come from offering an opinion. Sophie Wessex learned this the hard way when she was stung by an undercover journalist in 2001. Then there was Princess Michael of Kent, also stung by the same journalist in 2005. Two cautionary tales. Don't worry, once they're dead, the authorized biography will reveal all.

Surely Catherine did not marry into the royal family to offer an opinion? That is not her purpose. It is to support her husband (read: don't overshadow him). Nothing wrong with wanting to support him but let's not forget the fact it would never occur to anyone to dare ask Prince William or Prince Harry to keep their thoughts to themselves.  Why is it different with Catherine?

Catherine expressing an opinion is a veritable minefield of danger. A line up of potential people just waiting to be offended. Catherine says she prefers Mondays, people who love Fridays will be up in arms. If Catherine says she prefers dogs the Daily Mail will scream: CATHERINE LIKES DOGS! HAMSTERS GO ON HUNGER STRIKE!

Opinions. From women. They only lead to trouble. After all, don't we already have too many successful, opinionated women in the world, already? Clearly, none of them should express their opinions either. For instance, Hilary Mantel.

When it comes to Catherine it seems that people interpret expressing her 'opinion' to mean becoming overly 'opinionated'. Once the floodgates open, there is no going back. Suddenly she would expound on everything like Prince Charles does. She would never be quiet, like she is supposed to be. The spell would be broken. Heaven forbid she become a role model for being a beautiful, well-dressed woman with an opinion!

*Gasp*

The horror...the horror...

© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Royal Baby Crisis Averted! Everyone Go Back To Your Posts!

Remember how I said that I love the alphabet?

Not only can it be used to write blog posts, poetry and entertaining tabloid articles, it can also be used to put words in someones mouth.  It turns out that a video has surfaced that proves Catherine did not stop herself from using a word beginning with the letter 'D' as she accepted a teddy bear.

For a few glorious days we speculated on what Catherine might have meant when she reportedly said 'Is this for my...d..'  Dog, Dentist, Doula? Dammit! Was Catherine deviously teasing us by using the alphabet in calculated ways? Who could blame her? We deserve to be tortured for our incessant need to know everything about her womb.

The video surfaced as the furore was at its apex. Who knows how long we could have chewed on the letter 'D' for? These moments can be mecca for royal watchers who thrive on the media taking any scrap of trivial information and blowing it out of proportion. Because of this new video we will never know just how many more days this story could have gone on for. Killjoy.

Now the media has had to backtrack on their articles and reports. Prior to this video, some experts knew for sure. After the video, experts now know as much as we do about the royal baby's gender. Reporters were only working with what a woman said she overheard. Catherine had no longer dropped the 'hints' people were certain of. Considering the readily available videos, how difficult would it have been to take a closer listen before running with the story? Now a woman in Grimsby has been made to look foolish. Even if she heard it wrong, who made this a bigger story than it needed to be in the first place?

Crisis averted! Now everyone go back to your posts and pray for some real news next time.

© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

The Kate-Effect Hits The Alphabet

God I love the alphabet. So many letters to chose from. You can make up all kinds of words and stories and blog posts with them. This week, taking a page out of Sesame street, the royal world decided to focus on the letter 'D'.

For the last few days, the letter D has taken on a significance and prominence we could never have predicted. Prior to Tuesday, it was just the fourth letter of the alphabet. Used to spell words like decalogue and deinotherium. Kate's visit to Grimsby changed that.

During her visit to Grimsby, as Kate greeted crowds on her walkabout she was handed a teddy bear and a woman overheard her say "Oh, is this for our d ... " before stopping herself. The media replayed the video from the moment, listening to the audio for clues as to whether Kate had almost said 'daughter'. The verdict is still out on whether Kate actually said 'D' at all, but no matter. If hearsay is all we have to work with, well then so be it. The Kate effect had hit the alphabet and everyone was deliriously off and running.

A split second suddenly had the world on the edge of their seats. Did the letter D mean we had finally unlocked the secrets of the royal womb? Had Kate slipped up and revealed the sex of her baby? Could this much anticipated fetus/savior of the monarchy be...a daughter?

Calmer heads wisely recognized that there are other words that begin with the letter D. Could Kate have been taking the teddy bear for her d....driver?...dog?..dietitian?...doula?...detective?..dance instructor?...dermatologist?..designer? It became Sesame Street for royal watchers and toddlers as we rediscovered D words. Some even wondered if Kate was being devious to throw us off the scent.

With all of the media furor surrounding 'D' I will add another word to the list.

Desperate.

© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Shhhhh...don't say it too loudly. Maybe it's time for the Queen to cut back her duties

Much like the observation I made about how no one is allowed to criticize Catherine and get away with it, there is another topic that seems to be off-limits. Despite the Queen's age and her recent trip to the hospital, one thing has become clear.

Do not question whether the Queen should scale back her royal duties.

Nope. She will die with her boots firmly strapped on, thank you very much.

Look at people scoffing at the Pope retiring. Regardless of how gracefully he did it. Our Queen would never do that! If she were to scale back, would people see it as a dereliction of her royal duties or breaking her sacred oath? She was 27 when she made that vow. Could something have changed in the interim?

Much like the any discussion about her abdicating, there seems to be no question about delegating. Whatsoever. That's what people say. What the Queen herself thinks is unknown. But looking back over her medical history, as the Telegraph so helpfully did we can see that she is made of good stock. Which is very impressive but doesn't change the fact that she is almost 87.

Another thing that has become clear. Though maybe people are not willing to admit it lest it jinx everything.

The Queen is human. And mortal.

And this must come as a shock because she seems as though she will live forever. The Victorians must have felt the same way about their Queen too. But look what happened. While Queen Elizabeth seems to be superhuman in terms of her work ethic, she gets ill. She goes into the hospital, media camp outside, her obituary one click away from being posted. Could it be that she needs to start slowing down?

Shhhhhhh....

Slow down? How dare you insinuate that she might be human and mortal. That she might have limits. What's up with that?

I don't think anyone would suggest that the Queen completely retire. (Actually I did, but never mind). Nor are they suggesting she should move into a retirement community where no one will ever visit her. Quite the contrary. People may think she can go on forever and take pride in her stamina but mark my words. The older she gets, the louder the question will become.

As unquestioningly dedicated to the service of her nation as she has been, there are benefits to passing the torch. Especially while she is still cognizant enough to do so. She has a son waiting in the wings and a younger generation growing older by the minute. All ready to help out if need be. And wouldn't it be good for them to have a chance to shine while they're all still photogenic and vertical?

Maybe the time has come for her to seriously consider...

Shhhhhh....

© Marilyn Braun 2013


Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Monday, February 25, 2013

No need to defend Catherine Cambridge, she can take care of herself

This past week there has been some amazing commentary about Hilary Mantel's lecture, Royal Bodies. Everything from how people have ignored the context of her speech to defending Catherine's honor. Those who defend cherry picking from Catherine's past: her university education (she reads!), the positive public reaction to her appearances (she's not plastic, she's warm!), she dated William for nine years (she is ambitious - a sign of character). All cited as evidence of how wrong Mantel is about her. A veritable litany of 'everyone likes Catherine, what is your problem.' Even Prime Minister David Cameron felt compelled to defend her. Looking back on the coverage, if there is anything that this week of debate has reinforced for me, number one is:

Do NOT criticize Catherine in any way, shape or form (even if you did not intend your words to be critical of her).

It's true. Had Hilary Mantel's speech included words of open praise about how wonderful Catherine is and everything she touches turns to gold, it would have gotten lost in the pile of praise. Mantel would have been lauded, a successful author not breaking the cardinal rule about writing or even speaking about Catherine.  Which is:

Do NOT criticize Catherine in any way, shape or form (even if you did not intend your words to be critical of her).

You will live to regret it. Your appearance will be dragged through the mud. You will be called jealous not to mention blamed for people taking further interest in what you have to say by buying your books. Forget Mantel's previous success, it is all part of a devious plan, right?

The defensive, knee-jerk reaction to the speech made me think. This is not the first time Catherine has been criticized, nor will it be the last. Why does Catherine need to be defended? Certainly she is a nice, polite person but she is not a sacred cow. And while she may not be allowed to respond in kind, she should be used to criticism by now. According to some, she needed a thick skin to get Diana's ring on her finger.

Instead of releasing a statement that she was 'disappointed' about Mantel's lecture (if she was even aware of it to begin with), Catherine did what she does best. She let her appearance speak for her. A much heralded and anticipated public appearance became a moment to prove Mantel wrong. Catherine - so strong, keeping her head up, calm, collected, stylish, not betraying a flicker of irritation at Mantel's words. Smoothing the dress over her 'royal bump,'' as if to say, 'I know this is what you want to see.'

It was a masterful performance. Appearing calm, collected, stylish, ignoring the controversy of the moment. Catherine does it so well. People remark about it all the time, calling it 'not putting a foot wrong.' During this recent appearance did we expect anything different from her? Wouldn't she have smiled and patted her bump the same way, regardless?

If she had any thoughts about Mantel's speech she wasn't telling us. She has no voice of her own, and she isn't expect to. Opinion is divided on why but the blame is usually laid at the doorstep of everyone but her. No voice to respond to criticisms about her work ethic. True Catherine is just starting out in her royal life, she cannot be expected to become a respected, hard working member of the royal family overnight. But looking at the coverage focusing on her pregnancy and what she wears, you would think those are the only thing she has going for her.

Surely Catherine must be aware of this? Isn't it time she did something about it? Why not let her work speak for her?

When she lets her work speak for her instead of what she wears or who she is married to, then she will provide people with less obvious ammunition to criticize her. Then she will no longer be exclusively portrayed as someone pretty whose main role is providing an heir and supporting the British fashion industry. The interest in her fashions is understandable but in the long term, how fulfilling will it be for Catherine on a personal level?

As if responding to the criticism about her work ethic, Clarence House released more specific information about the meetings and work she does behind closed doors. It is a long overdue move in the right direction. Announcing more patronages and openly supporting them more frequently is another. It is not good enough to tell us she is working behind the scenes. She needs to show us. Then there will be no need for others to defend her. She will have shown she can take care of herself.

© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Kate Middleton: The sacred cow of the moment

Kate Middleton...err..Catherine Cambridge cannot put a foot wrong...

She is beautiful, everything a princess is supposed to be...

She is a style icon in the making and every woman wants to be her...

 Even her natural fear of childbirth is to be noted, evidence of her humanity.

But woe betide anyone who dares to state differently. Or in this case, points it out the obvious without sugar coating it.

Leave that to the people who adore her. They know best and can say it better. Discuss, in serious tones, that she is primarily known for her appearance and requirement ability to breed and you are blasted because you are so jealous you can't think straight. *Gasp!* Criticism? (However valid it might be?) That's irrational. After all, you don't know her now do you?

Neither do the people who praise her. Those referred to as 'sycophants'. Praising for no other reason that she is has married into the royal family, she is pretty and now she is fertile. She sells clothes. What she does is not nearly as important as how she looks. Until Kate lets her work speak for her, what else is there to say?

True, there is vicious criticism of her online. Just as there is cavity inducing praise. A well thought out critical argument is now a 'venemous attack'. It goes against the script, the fairy tale. Anything critical can be spun. An ill-timed, expensive vacation becomes a well deserved 'baby moon'. Spending too much on clothes? Part of the job. And the ultimate criticism. Her work ethic. Suddenly akin to a four letter word. How dare she be asked to become a working royal? Let's make it more palatable by calling it 'supporting her charities' instead. Try this:

Catherine needs to work more vs. Catherine needs to 'support her charities more frequently'.

Go ahead, explain the reasons she doesn't 'support her charities more'.

There is no denying that she looks nice and wears clothes well. Was she chosen for her appearance? Because she carries herself well? Doesn't hurt. Had she weighed 160 pounds I highly doubt people would ignore it. Then it would become 'why would William choose someone who looks like that'? Kate is praised for being 'just like us', accessible, every woman. But now every woman doesn't have a muffin top, do they?

Much like Sarah Ferguson and Diana, Catherine is the sacred cow of the moment. Someone who can do no wrong.

For now...

© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

How do you draw the line at royal privacy when others keep moving it?

Well, a few weeks back I asked for a royal scandal didn't I?

Okay, so no one has abdicated, or died or came out of the closet. (Geez, work with me people!) This time round it is just some photographs of Catherine's bump in a bikini frolicking on the beach with his/her parents to be.

*Gasp* Shock, horror!

Okay, maybe these photos are not that scandalous but if this is all I have to work with then so be it.

Photos of William and Catherine on holiday are nothing new. Photos of Catherine in a bikini, are also nothing new. So it was rather predictable that we would get photos of this holiday too. Inevitable. So predictable that if you bet money on whether there would be holiday photos you would win every time.

In this instance we have most of the ingredients for a semi-royal scandal. While no one has yet to tearfully express contrition, we do have columnists writing interesting opinion pieces about the press and privacy and how William should pick his battles. Some columnists gloss over the privacy issue and compliment Catherine how how beautiful she looks. So far royal reaction has been rather muted. Merely a statement expressing 'disappointment'. A true royal scandal has someone described as 'incandescent with rage' or 'seething'.  Note the difference.

Yes, it is all a fascinating insight into the continuing saga of William and Catherine's privacy. In the past I was frustrated and annoyed when I would see photos of Catherine off duty. Sometimes I felt I was the only one expressing indignation while others were completely okay with it. The pictures were fun, harmless, right? Not only that, we could use them to discuss what she was wearing. Forget privacy, where did she get those shoes from?

I've always felt, and I've stated this before, that to truly respect Catherine and William's privacy, no photos of them should be published when they are off duty. They are in private and deserve privacy. This should be rather straightforward, no? I'm well aware this isn't realistic but if those photos are OK the it was only a matter of time before we expected more. People pay lip service to the memory of Diana, while being just as invasive. People decide when they think the paparazzi have crossed the line and when they haven't. Some things seem to be okay, but yet others are not. For instance.

Photos of Catherine walking her dog are OK
Photos of her shopping are OK
Photos of her going for coffee are OK
Photos of her sunbathing topless are bad.
Photos of William and Catherine strolling on a beach with their dog in Wales are OK.
Photos of William and Catherine strolling on a beach in a Mustique are bad. (Maybe if the dog was there it would be okay?)

And how do people justify all of these incidents?

William and Catherine are in PUBLIC. Public being defined as being outdoors where people can see them. Does the location matter? Not really. Remember, they're outdoors and depending on how you feel about it, they don't own the locations they're photographed in, now do they? In effect, William and Catherine are fair game.

It seems that the the less clothing they have on, the more the outrage increases. Apparently it's okay to take pictures of them in public as long as they leave something to our imagination.

Interesting how people who justify the other incidents express indignation at these photos without realizing the public role in creating an appetite for them. Suddenly William and Catherine's privacy has been violated and someone else is to blame. (By the way. I call BS on people who claim they didn't search for the photos or look at them, citing 'respecting their privacy'.)

So I give up! I officially declare that I am now, deliberately, part of the problem (I always was but didn't want to admit it to myself until now.) Not because I dislike theses pictures, but because the line for their privacy keeps shifting. Because it does not stay in one place, it is very difficult to decipher where it truly belongs when one appearance in public is okay but another appearance in public is wrong.

When someone permanently draws a line in the sand about this issue, let me know.

© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Catherine Cambridge is one step closer to sainthood

It's official. Since April 29th, 2011, Catherine Cambridge is the greatest person who has ever deigned to walk the earth amongst us.

We want her nose, clothes, hair, teeth and to get pregnant at the same time. Even her dog is better than yours. Don't believe me? Read this and weep at how inadequate we are in comparison. Thankfully she isn't a full time royal yet, so your work ethic is safe. Just don't get complacent.

Irrefutable proof of
our inadequacy
Everything Catherine touches turns to gold. No one goes shopping like she does. Or holds a cup of coffee with such je ne sais quoi.  she never spills and always recycles. She breathes with an élan that we can only breathlessly admire. When she gives birth, there will be no need to read the news. A star will be above the hospital guiding us to the blessed child, whose receiving blanket will sell out once he/she appears in it.

Catherine will be the perfect mother, or so we will be told. Never shall an impatient thought cross her mind. The child's diapers will be sweet. The contents capable of bringing world peace. Tied with Baby Jesus for halo size and awe inspiring serenity. He/She is already wealthier than you can ever dream of being. But this pales in comparison to having Catherine as the most perfect mother. Ever.

Yes. Catherine is the best person who ever lived. Or so we are told. When it comes to our opinions, there is no middle ground. Those who praise are sycophants, those who are critical are jealous. Only Catherine, high on her pedestal, is above it all. 

We only need to read the news to see who placed her there.

© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Don't you just love a royal scandal?

I don't know if you've noticed but lately there's been a lag in royal news. Queen Beatrix's abdication just serves as a reminder of how dull British royal news has become. It is truly a sad situation when other royal houses do more interesting things than the British do.

Case in point. The Dutch abdication is historic. Right now all we have to work with is Kate going to Starbucks and shopping at the Gap and Harry expressing ambivalence towards his destiny. Ho hum stuff. The British royal family is ripe for a royal scandal in 2013. I just know it. I'm not referring to a scandal where someone dies. Nothing that dire. No, what we need is a scandal we can sink our teeth into, one that lights up Twitter and royal message boards and inspires columnists to write sanctimonious articles that add nothing to the solution.

2012 was not a boring year. What with the photos of Harry in Las Vegas and Kate's topless photos in France. If I had known that was the best the royals could do, well I would have savored the fallout more. So far 2013 has turned out to be rather dull in this respect. True, it is January. But as February approaches, the signs are not good.

It's not as if we don't have something to look forward to. Yes, yes, I know William and Catherine's baby will arrive in July. Yes, the Queen is celebrating the anniversary of her coronation. I'm sure Charles and Camilla will take the tube again. Maybe this will be the year Princess Anne smiles.  *Yawn* Excuse me while I await the stamps, coins and multiple commemorative issues from Hello magazine.

Harry used to be the go-to royal for entertainment value. What with his rugged good looks and complete inability to distinguish from inside your head thoughts vs outside your head thoughts.Much like when Fergie reappears. It seems they can no longer shock us. It's more a case of shaking heads and sighing "OK, what did she/he do this time?" The only way Harry could shock us now is if he said something diplomatic.

I'm not picky. I'll settle for an illegitimate child, maybe someone can unexpectedly come out of the closet. If they run out of ideas they can look to the Monegasques and run off with someone from the circus or marry someone against their will!

Fingers crossed!

© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Why I think the Queen should abdicate

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands abdication has brought up the question over whether the present Queen should follow suit. Unlike the Netherlands, abdication is not a tradition in the British royal family. After the abdication crisis of 1936 it is regarded as the equivalent of a dirty word, a sign of selfishness and a lack of dedication. But the attitude towards the 1936 abdication was based on the circumstances and associated scandal. Would it have been different if Wallis Simpson were not in the picture? Had it been any other monarch, such as Victoria, would she have been as pilloried for stepping down?

Although I'm not as familiar with the Dutch royal family, I do not get the sense that Queen Beatrix is in any way less than dedicated to her role as sovereign. Nor do I get that sense from Wilhelmina and Juliana. Does anyone think less of them for having abdicated or is it simply an acknowledgement of their mortality and a desire to pass the torch while still capable of doing so in a dignified way.

There is not a shred of doubt that the Queen will not abdicate. Dare to mention the idea and people will remind you how she dedicated herself to the service of her people in 1947, quoting her famous speech in the process. Not to mention her Coronation oath in 1953. She took a vow and was sacredly anointed. Although I am on the fence about becoming a republican, I can acknowledge that she is well respected and her dedication is unquestioned. The Queen stepping down will not happen. Period.

That doesn't mean she shouldn't.

Not to diminish those sacred oaths but the Queen is human and mortal. She is not a martyr. After 60 years on the throne, who could blame her for changing her mind in the interim? Would we hold it against her if she did? I know I wouldn't.

The Queen will turn 87 this year and she is, by all appearances, in good health. Her mother lived to 101 and there is no reason the Queen could not reach that age herself. And that would be a wonderful achievement. Not to mention a sigh of relief for people who question Prince Charles' capability to reign. But longevity aside, how effective would she be? Would she be doing the future of the monarchy any favors by continuing to reign despite her age? It may not be questioned now but just watch when she starts to approach 100.

The concept of the Queen abdicating because of her age is not a factor. The idea of her abdicating is muddled by the personalities of those involved. Whether Charles is suitable to become king. Not to mention how Charles should stand aside for William. As if the monarchy is some sort of popularity contest. That is not what this article is about. If the Queen does live as long as her mother, Charles could be in his 80s and Prince William could be in his 60s or 70s when he ascends the throne himself. How frustrating would it be to know that neither will make any meaningful impact as sovereign because they were not given the chance to? In the long run, how does the monarchy stand to benefit from that?

In her speech Queen Beatrix explained her decision to abdicate: "I do not abdicate, therefore, because the task has become an onerous one, but because I am convinced the responsibility for our country should now be placed in the hands of a new generation.

Even Queen Elizabeth would find it hard to ignore the wisdom in that.

© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Queen Beatrix Abdicates and History is Made

Today is a historic day for the monarchy in the Netherlands. Queen Beatrix announced that she would abdicate in favor of her son, Prince Willem-Alexander, on April 30th, a day which is known as Koninginnedag or 'Queen's Day'. The date is significant as the same date Beatrix's own mother, Queen Juliana, abdicated in Beatrix's favor in 1980. Upon her abdication Beatrix's title will revert to Princess Beatrix.

Beatrix's abdication is no surprise. In fact some would say that it was inevitable given the history of abdications in the Dutch monarchy. Beatrix's grandmother, Queen Wilhelmina and mother, Queen Juliana, both abdicated and now Beatrix has followed suit.

The Netherlands have been ruled by women since 1890. When Willem-Alexander becomes king, he will be the first male monarch in 123 years. The previous king, William III, was also named Willem-Alexander. By the new King's side will be his wife, Argentinian born Maxima.



Upon acceding to the throne, his oldest daughter, Princess Catharina-Amalia becomes next in line. This is notable for a few reasons. In doing so she will likely become Princess of Orange in her own right, a title normally reserved for the eldest son of the sovereign. Amalia also becomes the second female heir apparent in the world after her godmother, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden. Born in December 2003 she will be the second youngest heir apparent in the world after Prince Lerotholi Seeiso, born in 2007. She also becomes the youngest heir apparent to a reigning European royal house.

© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Prince Harry should marry for love, not to break glass celings

I like to think that I'm fairly open minded. I've always subscribed to the view that the color of someones skin or their sex shouldn't be a factor in any situation. So when I read articles like Will Prince Harry ever marry a Black girl? it bugs me.

My main problem with this article is that love doesn't seem be a consideration. Any preferences Harry might have is trumped by how it would be 'a world advertisement for what a caring and inclusive nation we are' or how  "Palace PR can see the benefits of welcoming a woman of colour into the fold."  That shouldn't even remotely be a factor, but this article makes a pro/con argument for it.

For arguments sake, let's say Harry does marry someone who is not Caucasian. Yes. there would be intense interest. But this would be the case for anyone he marries. Much like it was when William married Catherine. Would her color or religion make a difference? Not to Prince Harry, but it will to others. And therein lies the rub. While it may be seen as a step forward that the royals have accepted a woman of color marrying into the family, those same people will balk once the coverage turns exclusively to race, as it inevitably will. When you start off by making who Prince Harry marries about race and religion instead of the individual, don't be surprised when it remains that way.

Unlike a black man (or eventually a woman) becoming President of the United States, there is no glass ceiling to break for marrying into the royal family. It doesn't exist. For most people, regardless of their race or religion, sexual preference, it is out of the realm of possibility. This is not about 'standing a chance' it is about facing reality. And to be honest, looking at the coverage of Kate's pregnancy, I don't envy those who do marry into the royal family anyway.

Once the ridiculous ban on marrying Catholics is lifted, Harry has no restrictions on who he marries. Catholic, Muslim, Black, Asian, Jewish, Canadian or American, fat, skinny, divorced there is nothing to prevent him from marrying someone he falls in love with. If it comes down to it, there's even precedent for people giving up their throne or their place in the line of succession to do so. Judging by his actions, Harry seems like the type to buck tradition when it comes to his personal life. While he may prefer the tall blond type, he is young and this could change. But even if it doesn't, it shouldn't be viewed as a slight for those who don't fit that type. Using the word 'never' in relation to Harry ever marrying a black woman or someone of ethnicity, is an awfully long time.

Even though Catherine wasn't the first commoner to marry into the royal family, much was made of her commoner status. Did commoners across the globe rail at the inherent discrimination in the coverage? I wasn't invited to any protests because of it. The discussions surrounding whether she is good enough for William are appalling in their snobbery. Yet William married in spite of it. He married for love, not for what the rest of the world prefers. I wage a guess Harry will do the same.

Prince Harry is currently third in line to the throne. Like Princess Margaret, with each child born to William and Kate, he will move further down the line of succession making him unlikely to ever be king. You only need to look at Prince Andrew to see what lies in store for Harry's future. Having served his time in the military, he will eventually struggle to find something useful to do with himself.

Regardless of her race or religion, let's hope he finds the woman he loves to help him through it.

© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.