Princess Madeleine of Sweden is Engaged!

Well, it seems that Princess Madeleine very tactfully waited until after the royal wedding in Luxembourg to announce that she is engaged to Chris O’Neill, her boyfriend of two years. So we have another royal wedding to look forward to!This was a a very well orchestrated announcement, with the royal family’s official website publishing engagement pictures and and an interview with the two of them.

The engagement pictures are a bit Wills and Kate-like, no?

A little more relaxed here. Looks like a lovely vintage inspired diamond ring:

And the white shirt photo:

In addition, there is a video of a very composed Madeleine speaking in Swedish, followed by Chris chiming in with his bit. She really sounds so much like her older sister Crown Princess Victoria. They have the same measured manner. Chris is both American and British and has a British accent. When he speaks he says that he has been learning some Swedish and then he says a few words in the language. They seem very excited.

Check it out on the Royal Family’s website here.

The couple met in New York, where Madeleine moved after calling of her prior engagement back in 2010. Here she is with her previous fiance, who turned out to be quite a cad.

In the summer of 2011, she brought Chris along to the wedding of her good friend Natalie. We did a post on that, which you can read here.

He also more recently joined Madeleine in Sweden for Princess Estelle’s christening.

In the interview Princess Madeleine says that  “For the time being we will continue to live in New York due to both of our current obligations. However, we will not exclude the possibility of moving to Sweden in due course.”

They also share that the wedding will take place this upcoming summer in Sweden. Chris will have a lot to live up to when it comes to his groom’s speech! Remember Prince Daniel’s speech? So good!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onpXyCqQKU0]

Congratulations to Madeleine and Chris!

A New Tiara for Sophie

Many eagle eyes noticed that Sophie, Countess of Wessex was wearing a tiara that we had never seen her wear publicly before to the royal wedding in Luxembourg over the weekend. Hurray for Sophie getting some more jewel choices!

Here’s a good look at the tiara, which perched very nicely on Sophie’s head:

It turns out we discussed this very piece in a previous post by guest Royal Poster Sarah Taylor. Click here for a refresher. This tiara is from the Queen’s collection and is made up of diamonds and Brazilian aquamarines.

The Queen has not worn this tiara much at all – at least not publicly. Here is one of the few photographs available of the Queen wearing it:

The Queen was gifted this tiara from the Governor of Sao Paulo during a visit in 1968. There was some speculation that this tiara was taken apart to make up the Queen’s larger aquamarine tiara, so it is good to see that that was not the case after all!

Here’s that larger aquamarine tiara:

So how does this whole borrowing thing work, do you think? The Queen one day decides it’s time to dust off the jewel box and share? Or does Sophie ask before a big event like this? Or maybe this tiara was an extended loan from the Queen in recognition of Sophie and Edward’s tenth wedding anniversary? I am most curious about this.

Ok, let’s recap Sophie’s tiara collection so far.

1. Sophie’s Wedding Tiara

She of course has the tiara she wore to her own wedding in 1999, which had not been seen publicly before that day. It seems it is a piece made up of existing jewels in the royal collection. The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendour has a great post on it. Click here for that.  This is the only tiara that Sophie seems to have had access to for the first few years after her wedding.

Here she is with it for the occasion of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden’s wedding in 2010. Sophie is also wearing the same diamond necklace we saw this past weekend, which is also likely a loan from the Queen:

2. The Button Tiara

Sophie has also been loaned this button tiara, which she wore to a pre-wedding theatre event for the wedding of Prince Frederick of Denmark and Mary Donaldson in May 2004:

It is believed to be this tiara, which was owned by Prince Philip’s mother Princess Alice of Greece:

It seems especially fitting that Sophie should wear it since she and Edward will be Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh when the time comes. Curious that it has not made another public appearance since. I quite like it.

3. The Aquamarine and Diamond Tiara

Then of course there’s the aquamarine and diamond tiara which we went into in a previous post. Read all about it here. Much like Sophie’s wedding tiara, unfortunately not much is known about this tiara’s provenance. Fun fact:  this tiara converts into a necklace so it can be worn for non-tiara events, too.

Check out the matching necklace and earrings she’s wearing in this photo. They appear to be the same  as what Sophie wore with the button tiara in 2004.

4. The Brazilian Aquamarine & Diamond Tiara

And then of course there’s this ‘new’ one, which I must say I prefer over Sophie’s other aquamarine tiara.

Any thoughts?

The Luxembourg Royal Wedding

Hurray…it’s been a long time since we had a royal wedding in Europe and today did we ever have one! 30 year old Prince Guillaume, the oldest son of Grand Duke Henri and Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg, married 28 year old Countess Stephanie de Lannoy.

Prince Guillame holds the title of Hereditary Grand Duke as next in line. Here he is with Stephanie. They announced their engagement this past April:

As a member of the Belgian nobility, Stephanie calls lovely Anvaing Castle home:

She has a master’s degree and has studied Russian literature and is also fluent in German, Dutch, and French. She is working on becoming fluent in Luxembourgish, which is a language that is mostly spoken an not written in Luxembourg. It is one of the country’s official languages, along with French and German.

For his part, Prince Guillame has studied at Sandhurst (like William and Harry and various Jordanian royals) as well as at the University of Durham and Brunei University. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the Institut Albert-Le Grand in Angers.

Here are the Grand Duke and Duchess themselves. This picture was taken at the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Daniel Westling. As you can see, Luxembourg is not lacking in bling:

Luxembourg is the only Grand Duchy in the world. The country is bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany and is slightly smaller than the state of Rhode Island at 998 square miles.

And, look! Luxembourg was hit with royal wedding fever:

There were even chocolates made:

Today’s wedding ceremony, which we will get to shortly, was preceded by a civil ceremony yesterday. Here is the happy couple before their civil ceremony which was held yesterday at Luxembourg City Town Hall:

Let’s get a look at the whole outfit, shall we?

And here is the Grand Duke and Duchess with their daughter Princess Alexandra (who was one of the bridesmaids today) and son Prince Sebastien:

Prince Guillame’s other brother Prince Louis is already married to Princess Tessy. They married in 2006 in a shot gun royal wedding that we can perhaps get into another time. Here they are arriving at the civil ceremony, looking very swish:

And onto the big event!

The wedding ceremony today was held in Luxembourg Cathedral. Princess Stephanie (she became a princess during the Civil Ceremony, you see) arrived in a car bedecked in flowers:

And OMG look at all that loveliness. Layers and layers of it:

Her dress is by Lebanese designer Elie Saab and is GORGEOUS! It is reported to have taken no fewer than 3,200 hours to make. I can believe it.

People are going to make comparisons to Kate’s dress and I can see why, what with the lace overlay, sleeves, and extensive train. I think Countess Stephanie’s just looks more…floaty, ethereal, and just prettier. After all, she didn’t have to worry about incorporating shamrocks and thistles and such…

Now that we know that the wedding dress designer was Elie Saab, let’s take a step back to briefly discuss the pre-wedding banquet which was held last night.  Princess Stephanie chose Elie Saab for this event as well.

Here she is toasting with the Grand Duke:

So gorgeous, right? You may recall that Crown Princess Victoria wore Elie Saab for the events the night before her wedding, so Elie sure has a royal stamp of approval! Here is Crown Princess Victoria in her Elie Saab dress that night, which has some similarities.

Before we jump back to the wedding, let’s take a look at some of the other attendees at the banquet.

The British Royal Family’s go-to wedding guests, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, were there. Looking good, Sophie!

And here we have one of my faves, Princess Mette-Marit of Norway looking lovely in red along with Princess Caroline of Monaco and Princess Marie-Chantall of Greece. Hurray for tiaras!

And to round it out, Crown Princess Victoria wore Elie Saab again! Love it:

Ok, back to the wedding ceremony. We can see the gown better here. Princess Stephanie was escorted by her brother Count Jehan de Lannoy and her attendants were decked out in the colours of the House of Nassau:

Not sure how successful that was, but I appreciate the thought there. The older bridesmaids look lovely. It’s just that that blue and orange on the little ones looks a bit costumey to me. It’s not the best colour combo ever.

And here they are with the Archbishop of Luxembourg before heading into the church:

The Luxembourg version of the Pippa moment! They each got different dress details! Love that.

Now that’s a train! It is 13 feet long:

The couple at the altar:

The bride wore her family’s tiara, and oodles of info on it can be found here.

The ceremony was conducted in both french and english and included a moment of silence for the bride’s mother, who passed away at the age of 70 two months ago.

Afterwards, the prince and prince  had their balcony moment at the Grand Ducal Palace. That’s bridesmaid Princess Alexandra in the peachy tangerine:

More festivities like a fireworks display are being held to celebrate.

So what do we think? Is this dress a winner? Was I being too harsh about the blue and orange attendants? Let’s chat.

Kate's Lace!

A light but fun post today. A few months ago, Kate wore a beautiful blue lace dress by Jenny Packham to the Royal Albert Hall for a gala hosted by the British Olympic Association. As soon as I saw it, it became my favourite:

And it was so lovely seeing Kate’s hair in an updo that really showed off the petite buttons and intricate lace on the back of the dress:

A few months ago, I received an email from the designer who made my wedding dress that said that the lace for this dress of Kate’s is from the same supplier as the lace we used for my wedding dress. Fun! Since my dress was custom made, we searched all around for an especially light and intricate lace and the supplier we ended up with was Renard Griere, who we now know also supplies lace for Jenny Packham. Renard Griere  is located in Caudry which is the last of two French towns (along with Calais) where lace is still made in France. Their website is here.

It’s funny that when I saw Kate’s dress I thought that they looked quite similar…turns out they had more in common than the cap sleeves and low back. Compare for yourself!

Here’s a closer look at the lace:

Since we’re on the subject, here are some more lace related posts if you feel like some more royal reading:

Similarities between Kate Middleton and Isabella Orsini’s wedding dresses

Emily McCorquodale chose lace, too!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tea at The Orangery, Kensington Palace

In our last post, I recounted a recent visit to Kensington Palace. Click here if you missed it. All of that walking around worked up quite an appetite, so I ended my visit with a trip to The Orangery Restaurant which is situated in Kensington Palace Gardens.

The Orangery was built by Queen Anne, who ruled from 1702 to 1714, as both a greenhouse and a place to entertain. And here’s the lady herself:

Queen Anne spent a significant part of her reign at Kensington Palace, and the Orangery is the building project which she is most remembered for. Building began in 1704 and was completed in 1705.

As you can see in the photograph I took below, the walk to The Orangery from the palace is very picturesque. I was lucky that the sun came out!

The inside is beautiful, with high ceilings, white walls,  and a lot of natural light.  It can be rented out for events and has hosted weddings.

Here’s the view from my table:

And here’s a look at the menu:

The tea itself came with a nice variety of tasty treats and I especially loved the scones. The staff were all very friendly but I have to say that our afternoon tea at the Goring Hotel (where Kate and her family stayed before THE wedding) has The Orangery beat in terms of both presentation and selection. In fairness, the Goring is a tough act to follow. Click here to read that post!

When I walked out and snapped this picture of the patio outside, it was cloudy again:

I walked around some more outside after tea, and couldn’t help but think about how Kate & William’s cottage is somewhere over that sturdy wall you see in the background above and in the picture here:

Renovations to their new apartment in the palace are reportedly underway, but I can’t say I saw any evidence of that. I also walked down ‘ambassador’s row’ behind the palace, where there are oodles of signs that say that it is forbidden to take any pictures. It’s definitely worth checking out to see all the architecture of the embassies for yourself, and you also get a view into the entrance to the palace for residents, staff, and visitors (the invited kind).

To end, here’s a photo of some more KP greenery:

The official page for The Orangery Restaurant can be found here. If you’re having a walk in the park, I highly recommend stopping by!

The Victoria Revealed Exhibit at Kensington Palace

Today we’re continuing with my recent visit to Kensington Palace. Our last post focused on the current Diana exhibit, and today is all about Victoria Revealed, a temporary exhibit that looks at some of Queen Victoria’s  toys, dresses, and sketches to give more insight into her life.

This exhibit is also very appropriately held in some of the rooms where Victoria lived. She was born at Kensington Palace, and it is where she grew up. It was here that she was woken up in the wee hours of the 20th of June 1837 when she was eighteen and was informed that she was now Queen. This monument now stands in front of the palace in her memory:

So let’s get started! Just like there was a ‘D’ painted on the wall for the Diana exhibit, there was a delightful ‘V’ for Victoria that leads up the stairs to the exhibit:

One of the first things that caught my eye when I walked in was this dress. Queen Victoria wore this to her first Privy Council Meeting on the day she became Queen. It was originally black since the court was in mourning for the King, but it now appears brown because of age:

And that Privvy Council meeting took place in the very room where the dress now is. How cool is that? Another highlight for me was a room that displayed some of the future Queen’s toys, including this delightful doll house:

The doll house is set up on this yellow rug which has the following quote from Queen Victoria:

“My earliest recollections are connected with Kensington Palace where I can remember crawling on a yellow carpet that was set out for this purpose.” 

Love that! And to top it all off, the room where all of this is set up is believed to have been Victoria’s playroom. That room includes these tiny outfits that were worn by two of Queen Victoria’s children to a fancy dress party:

And there are also some sketches that Victoria did when she was still a princess. This sketch is of her dog, who she named Dash. He is shown here all dressed up in a jacket and hat:

While I was looking at this I recalled a video which we included in our post on the British Royal Family’s christening gowns. In it, the Queen talks to a very young Zara and Peter Philips about her new Corgi who she has named Dash. She tells that that it is “a word you use when you’re cross. And it comes out frankly well as a dog’s name, you see.” So apparently dog’s names run in the family, too!

Here’s the video. The “Dash” stuff comes up at 1:36 and is really quite funny:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPJQvQX7X9I]

The adjoining room houses Queen Victoria’s wedding gown in a beautiful display. Looking at it in person, I was struck at how TINY she was. She must have been well under 5 feet tall:

Her head dress and earrings are also shows in a glass case so you can really get a good look:
If you feel so inclined to read our post on Queen Victoria’s wedding dress, click here and for more on her wedding jewels, click here. It was fun to see it all in person!
To end, check out the regal signage for the washrooms:

All of that walking around worked up an appetite so my next post will recount my visit to The Orangery for tea in Kensington Gardens. See you then!

A Visit to Kensington Palace: The Diana Exhibit

My recent trip to Kensington Palace, or KP as Diana called it, was a lot of fun. I took this picture by those famous gates that were covered in flowers in the days after Princess Diana’s death:

That still seems to be top of mind to people walking by; I overheard a couple of ladies talking about those mountains of flowers and how this spot became a place for people to congregate.

As you may know, there were some extensive renovations done recently and the palace re-opened to the public last March. The entryway for visitors of the tourist variety is a glass gazebo-like structure that commemorates Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee:

Once inside, there are currently three temporary exhibits on and this post will focus on the first one I visited. It is called Diana: Glimpses of a Modern Princess. I started out here, since this exhibit is on the main floor and remarkably, is actually part of Apartment 1A, Princess Margaret’s old apartment which will be the home of William and Kate. Click here for our post on that.

The outside of the exhibit has this great portrait taken by Mario Testino which shows  Diana wearing one of the five dresses included in the exhibit:

And there’s this delightful “D” painted on the wall:

Here’s a closer look. Note the Spencer tiara, ballet slippers, Jimmy Chu shoes, English rose, and cause ribbon:

Next you walk down this hallway into the exhibit which has wallpaper depicting Diana during some iconic moments of her life. There’s a Daily Mail article that goes through which pictures the wallpaper depicts. Check it out here. The drawings were done by fashion illustrator Julie Verhoeven:

Note the high ceilings and window for natural light:

Here’s a close up of the wallpaper:

When I was walking by, I noticed the little lamb near the depiction of Diana in her wedding dress. There it is jumping over a clothes hanger above. Could that be a reference to Diana’s comment to her private secretary Patrick Jephson that she felt she was  “a lamb to the slaughter” while walking up the aisle in St. Paul’s? Click here for an article on that. Rather bold, and yet in all the articles I read about the exhibit  and this wallpaper I saw no mention of it. Hmm…

Anyhow, here’s the entry way into the room with all the dresses:

You will be greeted with this explanation:

And onto the dresses! The room is set up like this. That’s a sleepy guard standing in the background:

There are two dresses in that centre case. The first one is the one that Diana wore on her first engagement with Prince Charles.

Princess Grace was there that night as well:

The second dress is this beautiful one by Catherine Walker which is a favourite of mine:

Here’s the back view, which I hadn’t seen before:

This silk chiffon gown is by Catherine Walker as well, and was first worn on a visit to Thailand in 1988.

Here is the accompanying description:

 

and a photo from the Thailand trip. This dress is one of the ones depicted on that wallpaper:

This dress was designed by Bellville Sassoon:

Gotta love this sassy illustration:

There are also pictures and and an additional sketch displayed in this cabinet:

The fifth dress is this black Versace number which shows how Diana’s style became especially sophisticated in the final years of her life:

Here is a photograph of Diana in the dress:

The other display of note in the exhibition room is this mantlepiece, which features some well known pictures of Diana out and about. This mantlepiece really makes me wonder what this room originally was. A den, perhaps??

This exhibit just runs until November 4, 2012 if you have a chance to go.

Also, I thought it was interesting that the gift shop has all sorts of Princess paraphanalia on sale…including a book entitled The Dumpy Princess. Seems a bit too Disneylandish to me, but I guess you gotta keep sales up somehow.

Some more books for sale…including the Tina Brown biography on Diana…which again seems a bit much:

To end, here’s a lovely photo of the garden in the afternoon:

Any thoughts or favourites of these dresses?