The Young Future Queens of Europe: Infanta Leonor of Spain

Her Royal Highness Infanta Leonor of Spain was born on October 31, 2005 in Madrid. Her parents are Prince Filipe and Princess Letizia. Her official title is Her Royal Highness, Infanta of Spain.

Spain still follows male primogeniture for succession, though there have been talks of updating the constitution to match those of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands. No changes have been made as of yet, so Princess Leonor will continue to be second in line to the throne after her father unless she has any brothers in the future. As such, like her contemporaries Princess Ingrid of Norway and Princess Catharina-Amalia of the Netherlands, she is expected to be Queen of Spain.

This is a picture of Prince Filipe taken just four hours after  Leonor’s birth:

Ok, so what is an infanta, you may ask? Well, infanta means ‘infant’ in Portuguese and this is the title and rank given to children of a monarch and the grandchildren of the male line of the monarch of Spain. All infantes are also given the title of Princes or Princess.

The princess was baptised on the 14th of January, 2006. Following the tradition of Spain’s royal family, she was baptised with water from the River Jordan. Her godparents are her paternal grandparents, Their Majesties King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain.

Here she is with her godparents, the King and Queen of Spain:

We love this picture so much, we’ve shown it before, in our post on royal kids heading back to school (click here for a refresher). This was taken in September of 2008.

And, to finish, here is our favourite pic of Leonor. She apparently got the giggles when the wind threatened her skirt during an outing with her mom in Mallorca:

Time will tell if Leonor has a brother that will threaten her place in the line of succession. In that case, the succession laws could be changed…or not. We shall see! In any case, here’s to Leonor having many more giggles…

Kate and William & the Rest of the Royal A Team at Buckingham Palace

Last night Kate and William attended an event at Buckingham Palace along with The Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Camilla. This is the Royal A-Team.

The event was a reception for 350 members of the media who are expected to be reporting on the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee next year. Richard Palmer tweeted that the Queen and Prince Philip shook hands with all 350 guests. Impressive!  The reception also included a ‘Tweet Suite’ where guests could tweet about the event. The British Royals certainly are doing what they can to stay with the times.

Here are a few tweets from the event:

Fearnecotton  “Prince William is still a radio 1 listener which is good news. He has asked for a shout out tomorrow. I think I can manage that!
RoyalReporter Richard Palmer “I spoke to a couple of journos who met Kate for the first time tonight and the verdict was “lovely, so down to earth, very talkative”.”
So, what did you all think of the green Mulberry dress Kate wore? Here’s another look at it from the Mulberry runway:

Me, I had a few of thoughts…

  1. She’s more consistently stepping away from high street (Mulberry is not exactly Reiss), and this is not a repeat or an item she purchased in anticipation of her future role, or an item from the closet of Carole/’Mama Midds’, as with this and,possibly, this.
  2. Colour! This is a departure from the last time we saw her at Buckingham Palace, one-on-one with the Queen to view The Dress when she wore a cream Joseph number. (see #3) To me, wearing green is a bolder, more confident move. (But don’t get us wrong, we LOVED the cream Joseph!) It was also a colour that worked well for her in Los Angeles when she pulled out that DVF number, which made it’s second appearance the night before Zara’s wedding.
  3. Kate seems very relaxed and at ease. She did in Canada as well, but I feel like there’s been a gradual shift away from the novelty of this new life, into a more at ease, comfortableness if you will in the role. I imagine in the coming weeks we will start getting announcements about the first of her patronages. Stay tuned!
  4. It looks like she may be wearing the gold charm bracelet again! You have to look closely…

What did you think?

Princess Diana’s Wedding Looks

Happy Monday!

Princess Diana had one of the most viewed weddings in the last few decades, and one of the most recognized wedding dresses. Today we thought we’d take a look at what she wore when she was a guest at the weddings of her family and friends during her days as Princess of Wales.

1) Wedding of Viscount Althorp (Charles Spencer) and Victoria Lockwood, 1989

Diana, William and Charles at the wedding of her brother Charles

Diana wore one of our favourite all time Diana outfits to her brother’s first wedding; a light blue and white dress and tailcoat by Catherine Walker. Love this – so classic! Diana also wore this outfit to Ascot.

The Queen also attended this wedding; after all, she is godmother to Charles Spencer. (Let’s think about this for a second – when Charles Spencer criticized the royal family in his eulogy his godmother the Queen is the head of that family – how brazen!). Princess Margaret was also invited. The royals and Spencers go way back…even before they were neighbours at Sandringham.

The bride wore the Spencer tiara and the reception took place at Althorp.

Love this picture of the bride and groom, just sorry it’s so small here:

Here’s a close up of Victoria Lockwood, who at this point carried the title Viscountess Althorp, in the Spencer tiara:

And another shot of Diana that day. Here she is with her mum:

2) Wedding of Carolyn Pride and William Bartholomew in 1982. 

Carolyn was one of Diana’s flatmates from when she lived at Coleherne Court in the flat bought for her by her mother when she moved to London. Diana lived there until her engagement was announced in the winter of 1981. At that time it was reported that when when Diana left the flat the night before the big engagement announcement, she left a note that read, “For God’s sake ring me up – I’m going to need you.” Carolyn and Diana were old school friends and later Diana would be godmother to Carolyn’s son, Jack. Here’s a link to a video of Diana arriving at the wedding.

And another photo for good measure:

3) Sarah Ferguson and HRH Prince Andrew, 1986

Diana famously helped bring Sarah and Andrew together (who had known each other as children) by having them seated together at a party at Windsor Castle for Ascot. At the wedding, Diana wore a black and blue polka dot dress. We believe this was a repeat outfit – please let us know in the comments if we are mistaken – which is quite thoughtful and helped to keep Sarah as the centre of attention at the wedding.

Here’s  a bigger picture:

And another!

Do you have any other favourite Diana wedding guest looks?

Althorp House: The Ancestral Home of Diana, Princess of Wales

This post is for those of us who love learning more about the country estates of England. Today we are going to discuss Althorp,  the country estate of the Spencer Family (as in Lady Diana Spencer). The origins of the name Althorp aren’t definitely known, but it’s worth noting that the name is traditionally pronounced ‘Althrop’ even though the spelling is ‘Althorp.’ The estate encompasses 14,000 acres and is located across parts of Northamptonshire, Norfolk, and Warwickshire. That is huge! To put things in perspective, Monaco is just 485 acres (3.5% of the size of the Althorp estate).

This aerial shot gives a great view of the grounds surrounding the main house:

So let’s start at the beginning. Althorp was originally a village and the remnants of that village can be seen today in the form of earthworks in certain parts of the estate. Althorp Village is mentioned in the Domesday Book which was completed in 1086 so there is certainly a lot of history on these grounds.

At some point, the village disappeared and Althorp House was built in 1508 by a family by the name of Catesby. The house and lands were purchased from them by Sir John Spencer in 1522 with the fortune he had made rearing sheep. His uncle, also named John Spencer, had been a tenant on the Althorp grounds. Originally a brick building, it was redone in the 1700s to resemble the house as it is today.

In 1975,  Diana’s father inherited the title of Earl Spencer and Diana went from being the ‘Honourable Diana Spencer’ to the elevated ‘Lady Diana Spencer.’ The family moved from Park House on the Sandringham Estate to Althorp (click here for our post on Park House). When she spoke to Andrew Morton for Diana Her True Story, Diana recalled, “When I was 13 we moved to Althorp in Northampton and that was a terrible wrench, leaving Norfolk, because that’s where everybody who I’d grown up with lived. We had to move because grandfather died and life took a very big turn.”

Lady Diana with her siblings (from left) Sarah, Charles and Jane and her father the 8th Earl Spencer

Diana lived at Althorp while not at boarding school and it was here that Diana first properly met Charles when he came to visit Althorp with her sister Sarah. Diana remembered, “I remember him coming to Althorp to stay, my husband, and the first impact was ‘God, what a sad man.’ He came with his labrador…I made a lot of noise and he liked that and he came up to me after dinner and we had a big dance and he said, “Will you show me the gallery?” and I was just about to show him the gallery and my sister Sarah comes up and tells me to push off and I said, “At least, let me tell you where the switches are to the gallery because you won’t know where they are” and I disappeared. And he was charm itself and when I stood next to him the next day, a 16-year old, for someone like that to show you any attention – I was just sort of amazed.”

Diana Dancing at Althorp

The interior of the house is generally considered its strongest asset as the Spencer family has assembled an impressive collection of portrait art including several pieces painted by the Flemish master Anthony van Dyck. The estate stable block has been converted into an exhibition devoted to the memory of Diana, Princess of Wales and provides an attractive sandstone setting that effectively offsets the imposing facade of the house.

I was able to visit the estate back in 2003 and really enjoyed the Diana exhibit; it is done very respectfully and includes footage of Diana and her siblings as children taken by their father. As you probably know, after her funeral Diana was interred on a small island in the middle of a lake near the estate. The island is closed to the public, but you can walk in the grounds surrounding the house and get quite close to the lake if you wish.

In September 2009, Lord Spencer started a major restoration project repairing the roof, stonework and the mathematical tiles which clad the building. To learn more, check out Althorp’s official website by clicking here.

Have any of you been to Althorp for a visit? We’d love to hear!

Queen Victoria’s Wedding Jewelry

We had a lot of fun talking about Queen Victoria’s wedding dress yesterday, and are really looking forward to it going on display this March at Kensington Palace. Click here for a refresher.

Today, we are going to discuss the gorgeous jewelry that Queen Victoria wore on her wedding day (almost 162 years ago). All in all, Queen Victoria wore rather a lot of jewelry: a serious diamond necklace with matching earrings that she called her “Turkish Diamonds” and a sapphire brooch given to her by the Prince Albert.

Sapphire Brooch aka “Prince Albert’s Sapphire Brooch”

First up is this stunning sapphire brooch. It consists of an oval surrounded by brilliant diamonds and is set in gold. It measures 3.7 x 4.1cm. This piece was a gift from Prince Albert to Queen Victoria; he gave it to her the day before the wedding at Buckingham Palace. Queen Victoria described the brooch as being ‘a splendid brooch, a large sapphire set round with diamonds, which is really quite beautiful’. She sure gave it pride of place on her dress – and talk about a something blue!

Check it out in the portrait of Queen Victoria below:

It is not known where Prince Albert acquired this piece. The Royal Collection conjectures that ‘The brooch may have been supplied by a leading London jeweller such as Kitching & Abud or Mortimer & Hunt, both of whom Prince Albert patronised significantly in the early years of the marriage. If, however, the Prince purchased the brooch abroad, it may be among the unspecified payments to firms in Hanau.’

In her will, Queen Victoria specified that this piece was to be an heirloom of the Crown which is how it is still in the Royal Collection. Queen Elizabeth still wears this brooch, which we are always very excited to see. Here are some examples of the Queen bringing out this particular piece of bling over the years. As you can see, she tends to match it to her blue ensembles:

The “Turkish Jewels”: Diamond Necklace & Earrings

So what are the “Turkish Jewels” that Queen Victoria wore? Queen Victoria was gifted numerous diamonds by Sultan Mahmud of Turkey in 1838. They were then and made up into a necklace and earrings the following year by Rundells & Bridge, a jewellery firm based in London. The firm held the royal warrant from 1797 until 1843.

The necklace featured diamond rosettes and strands of diamonds. The earrings were equally elaborate and must have been very heavy on Victoria’s ears. Take another look at the portrait above to see how large they were – they look like something that Beyonce would wear to an awards show.

It is believed that Queen Victoria left the necklace to her son, the Duke of Connaught, upon her death. Sadly it is no longer a part of the Royal Collection and its whereabouts are unknown (same goes for the earrings).

Please let us know if you have any more information about this necklace and earring set – we’d love to know if it still exists! Fingers crossed that it does and hasn’t been dismantled…

Bridesmaid’s Turquoise Eagle Brooch

To end off, let’s take a look at the bridesmaids gifts that Queen Victoria’s 12 bridesmaids received. This brooch was designed with both Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s input and were manufactured by the London jeweller Charles du Vée.  The brooches feature a turquoise eagle (representing Prince Albert’s Coburg family) with a diamond beak, ruby eyes and pearls in each talon. Not too shabby!

One of these brooches remains in the Royal Collection and the Royal Collection website gives lots of information about this piece. It says,  “According to The Times of 10 February, ‘The whole workmanship [of the brooches] is very superior and exactly in accordance with the directions of the Royal Bride’. The stones used were all highly symbolic: turquoises and pearls representing true love, rubies for passion and diamonds for eternityAfter the wedding ceremony, each train bearer was presented with one of these brooches in a blue velvet box. Several of these survive in the families of their original recipients, for example at Woburn Abbey and at Hatfield House. An example, possibly this one, belonged to Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Princess Marie Louise (1872-1956).”

What do you make of Queen Victoria’s wedding jewelry?

Queen Victoria’s Wedding Dress, February 10 1840

We’ve talked about our favourite royal wedding dresses, and though Queen Victoria’s dress dress didn’t make it on the list, it is certainly a significant gown with lots of fun history attached to it so we thought we’d dive into a discussion about it today.

For lucky readers who are in London this spring, don’t forget that  the Victoria Revealed exhibition at Kensington Palace opens in March and will include the wedding dress! This will be the first time Queen Victoria’s wedding dress has been displayed in a decade. Just imagine that in 160 years, there very well could be an exhibition on Kate’s dress. It’s been put into storage so that it can be preserved as long as possible…but we digress.

According to the book Royal Wedding Dresses by Nigel Arch & Joanna Marschner, when Princess Victoria and Prince Albert were babies the Dowager Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Prince Albert’s grandmother) remarked, “what a charming pendant he would be to his charming cousin.” Well, that certainly turned out to be the case. Queen Victoria first met Albert in 1836 when he came to England for the first time. On October 15, 1839 the Queen and Prince Albert were engaged during his second trip.

As the sovereign, Queen Victoria had to be the one to propose – rather awkward! Of her proposal she wrote in her journal, “I said to him that I thought he must be aware why I wished him to come here – and that it would make  me happy if he would consent to what I wished.” Not a bad way of putting it! Clearly, Prince Albert got the hint as to what she was talking about.

The wedding day was set for February 10, 1840 to take place at the Chapel Royal in St. James’ Palace. So, the next order of business was to look back at history to see how the last Queen of England’s wedding was handled. Turned out the last wedding of a reigning Queen was in 1554 so there wasn’t much helpful information.  Queen Victoria’s journal gives us a hint as to how the plans for her dress went. She wrote, “Talked of wearing my robes at the wedding, which I wished not.” Instead, Queen Victoria wore a white, silk satin court dress which was highly fashionable at that time.

The dress was made entirely of British materials: The silk satin came from Spitalfields in London and the Queen’s dresser, a lady by the name of Mrs. Bettans, created the dress. The English Honiton lace trim was made in Devon by more than 200 lace workers and  took eight months to complete. The dress also had a train measuring 6 yards that was trimmed in orange blossoms to match the Queen’s orange blossom headdress.

This picture shows the dress laid out in preparation for conservation work.

Here is a close up look at the sleeve. Rather like Lady Diana’s wedding dress sleeves:

The idea that Queen Victoria started the trend towards white wedding dresses isn’t exactly accurate; white wedding dresses had been worn by the nobility for decades prior. White was considered a sign of status since it is hard to maintain and therefore was not a practical for poorer brides who would wear the dress they wore for their weddings for many future occasions.  It is perhaps more accurate to say that she helped this trend gain popularity.

Queen Victoria’s wedding shoes matched the dress and  are now held by the Northampton Borough Council. The ribbons were meant to be tied around the ankles much like ballet slippers:

They were made by Gundry and Son, 1 Soho Square, Boot and Shoemakers to the Queen. Here’s a look at the inside of the shoe:

Rain poured down on the wedding day and the Chapel Royal at St. James’ Palace was filled with guests (for this reason ladies had been requested to not wear court trains). The ceremony began shortly before one and took about 15 minutes. The ceremony was followed by a wedding breakfast at Buckingham Palace, and by four o’clock the Queen and Prince Albert were on their way to Windsor Castle for their honeymoon.

Queen Victoria loved to reminisce about her wedding day, and wore her wedding dress again several times after the wedding. For example, Queen Victoria commissioned the portrait below as an anniversary gift for Prince Albert in 1847, seven years after their wedding. This portrait is held in the Royal Collection was done by artist Franz Xaver Winterhalter in 18. More information about this portrait can be found on the official website of the Royal Collection. Click here to access that website.

Several years after that, she and Albert recreated it later in life wearing their wedding apparel. Check out the photograph of this below.

Tomorrow. we will discuss the gorgeous jewelry that Queen Victoria wore on her wedding day. See you then! In the meantime, let us know what you think of Queen Victoria’s dress.

The Young Future Queens of Europe: Princess Catharina-Amalia of The Netherlands

In our series on the Young Future Queens of Europe, we have so far discussed Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway (click here for a refresher).  Princess Ingrid is just a year younger than our next Princess, Catharina- Amalia of the Netherlands.

Princess Catharina-Amalia of the Netherlands is the eldest of the three daughters of Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Maxima, and is usually just known as “Amalia.” She was born on the 7th of December, 2003 and is second in line to the throne after her father the Prince of Orange. As such,  she holds the title The Hereditary Princes of Orange. Updated: Upon the abdication of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Amalia’s official title is Her Royal Highness the Princess of Orange.

Ok, so the picture above is adorable, but at the same time….maybe a bit much to be posing on a pink throne at such a young age when you’re actually a future queen?? Is that not asking for some future diva-ish behaviour?? Or are we being unfair? Feel free to sound off in the comments!

Princess Amalia was christened on June 12, 2004 and her godparents include Prince Constantin of the Netherlands and  Princess Victoria of Sweden (just like Princess Ingrid of Norway!).

Also just like Princess Ingrid, Princess Amalia acted as a bridesmaid for her godmother Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden when she married Daniel Westling in June of 2010. We love this picture of her in her bridesmaids dress with her proud parents at the wedding.

Here she is to the left of Princess Ingrid, in the middle of the procession of attendants:

The Princess had a rather big 2010; she also attended the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. Here she is decked out in orange to support the Dutch speed skating team (who took home several medals, btw). She seems to have inherited her mother’s exuberant personality. Love it:

And the sporting fun continues…she even got an orange vuvuzela to cheer on the Dutch team for the World Cup in June of 2010. Oh, yeah:

Princess Maxima has spoken about how her three daughters understand their royal roles. Here is Princess Amalia with her grandmother Queen Beatrix at an engagement at the European Dressage Championships this past September.

Apparently Princess Amalia helps  her younger sisters (Princess Alexia and Princess Ariane, they like the A-names it seems) at photocalls, telling them that they need to pose nicely so that they can go and play afterwards. With all that they do seem like normal and happy kids!

Next up: the young future Queen of Spain.

‘We are never tired, and we all love hospitals.’ ~ Queen Mary

How about a bit of royal family history? Today we are talking about a very interesting royal lady, Queen Mary.

The future Queen Mary was born in London on 26 May 1867 in Kensington Palace.

Her parents, the Duke of Teck and and Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, a grandchild of George III, gave here the name Victoria Mary Augusta Louise Olga Pauline Claudine Agnes. (We love the extended middle names favoured by the Royals – looking forward to seeing what names William and Kate pick when the time comes!) Her title was Her Serene Highness Princess Victoria Mary of Teck. To her family, she was known as May, after her birth month. (Click here for more Royal nicknames)

Mary had three brothers, shown below.

Before she married the future King George (her second cousin) she was engaged to his brother, Prince Albert, the eldest son of the Prince of Wales. He sadly died of influenza six weeks after their engagement was announced.

The next year, Queen Victoria supported the decision for Mary of Teck to be engaged to Albert’s younger brother George, second in line to the throne. Here is the pair below:

Engagement photo of Prince George and Mary of Teck

The wedding took place 6 July 1893 at the Chapel Royal, St. James’s Palace, in London. The dress, shown below, now belongs to the British Royal Collection and is part of a display of royal wedding dresses at Kensington Palace. The wedding day portrait of George and Mary is below.

George and Mary were known as Their  Royal Highnesses, The Duke and Duchess of York, and lived on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk (click here for more on Sandringham). They had six children Edward, Albert, Mary, Henry, George and John. (Edward, of course, later abdicated the throne to marry Wallis Simpson.)

George V ascended the throne in 1910, and are shown below in their coronation robes.

King George V and Queen Mary at their coronation

Mary was known for her dedication to royal duties. We love her famous quote: ‘We are a member of the British royal family. We are never tired, and we all love hospitals.’

Queen Mary died at the age of 85 of lung cancer, only two and a half months before her granddaughter Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.

The Young Future Queens of Europe: Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway

As we’re sure you know by now, the Order of Succession for the British Royal Family was officially changed in October 2011 to end male primogeniture. That means that going forward, boys will not take precedence over girls and  as such, if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have a daughter before they have a son, their daughter will be Queen. Awesome.

Several of the European royals have already been on this bandwagon for awhile now, and consequently there are a few young european princesses who are in line to be crowned Queen. In this series, we will look at who these young princesses are.

Our first ‘Young Future Queen’ is seven year old Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway. Princess Ingrid was born to Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit on January 21, 2004. The Crown Prince and Princess of Norway are a very interesting couple that we’ll talk about more in future posts. In the meantime, check out Princess Ingrid’s official webpage on the Norwegian Royal Family’s website by clicking here.

The Constitution of Norway was altered in 1990, changing the succession law to what is referred to as ‘absolute cognatic primogeniture.’ This meant that the eldest child of the heir to the throne, regardless of gender, takes precedence in the line of succession. The first member of Norway’s royal family this law applies to is Princess Ingrid Alexandra; her dad Crown Prince Haakon still maintains precedence over his older sister Princess Martha Louise, pictured below with her husband Ari Behn on their wedding day.

As a side note, Princess Martha Louise is quite a fun character and seems very happy for her brother to be next in line to the throne instead of her (she is fourth in line, after Prince Haakon and his two biological children). She willingly gave up the style “Her Royal Highness” when she married in 2002 and instead is now known simply as “Her Highness Princess Martha Louise.” The decision to remove “Royal” gave her more opportunity to have a professional life outside of her royal work. She still carries out royal duties, but at a reduced capacity. She is a trained physiotherapist, and in 2007 she began Astarte Education, which is focused on alternative therapy and training people to tap into their intuition and communicate with angels. You can check out her company website here.

But back to her niece! As the second in line to the throne, little Princess Ingrid likely won’t have the opportunity to go off on her own like that, but she does seem to have a very nice  and somewhat normal family life. You just have to love this official portrait of her, taken on the occasion of her sixth birthday(below) and, yes, the adorable baby in the picture at the beginning of this post is the official portrait of Princess Ingrid for her christening.

Her godparents are His Majesty The King of Norway, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Fredrik of Denmark, Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, His Royal Highness Prince Felipe of Asturias, Her Highness Princess Märtha Louise (Princess Ingrid’s aunt), and Ms Marit Tjessem (Princess Ingrid’s maternal grandmother).

Princess Ingrid served as a bridesmaid for her Godmother Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden when she married Daniel Westling in June of 2010. She’s the sweet brunette in the middle in the picture below. Love the little dresses and headbands that so nicely echoed Princess Victoria’s dress

Also love this picture of Princess Ingrid on the way to her first day of elementary school with her parents this past August:

And clearly she’s a lover of the colour pink and isn’t afraid to accesorize!

Princes Ingrid is already being prepared for her future royal role and according to the royal family of Norway’s website already takes part in official engagements, such as Norway’s Constitution Day. We hope she gets to have as normal a childhood as possible!

The next ‘Young Future Queen’ up for discussion is seven year old Princess Catharina-Amalia of the Netherlands. Hope to see you then!