Queen Beatrix's Abdication

Wow – big news out of the Netherlands today. As you’ve probably heard by now, Queen Beatrix has decided to abdicate in favour of her son Prince Willem-Alexander.


This is something of a tradition in the Netherlands since the Queen’s mother and grandmother both did the same thing .

And this means we will soon have a Queen Maxima on our hands!

Love the picture below. Maxima is being her usual exuberant self and that’s Catharina-Amalia, future Queen of the Netherlands, on the far right beside Queen Beatrix:


I think there is something to be said for this whole abdication thing. Why not hand over the reigns when everyone is healthy and you’re not in mourning? Plus, Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Maxima have been married well over ten years now, which has given them plenty of time to get into the swing of things.

This photograph was taken last week during a State visit to Singapore. See? They have had lots of time for on-the-job training together. And to think that during that whole trip they knew this announcement was just around the corner…


The Royal Family’s official website can be found here with all of the details that have been released so far, so there is no need to recount them verbatim here.

I found it especially interesting to read that the Queen will be moving from Huis ten Bosch Palace in The Hague  to Drakensteyn Castle in Lage Vuursche. This castle is a country home she purchased back in 1959. This is where she lived until she became Queen.

Here is a delightful photo of Beatrix in front of the castle:

23688_fullimage_Drakensteyn-2_560x350Presumably the new King will be taking up residence at Huis ten Bosch Palace Palace


Also, she is not going to be Queen Beatrix the Queen Mother or some such. Oh, no, she’s going back to being a princess. Another tidbit I found interesting was how the abdication means that:

After the abdication, the line of succession will begin with the children of His Majesty the King: Her Royal Highness the Princess of Orange, Her Royal Highness Princess Alexia, and Her Royal Highness Princess Ariane. The next in line will be His Royal Highness Prince Constantijn, his children and finally Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet.
After the abdication, the children of Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet of the Netherlands and Professor Pieter van Vollenhoven will no longer be eligible for the throne. They will also cease to be members of the Royal House

So, Princess Margriet is the Queen’s youngest sister aand she has four sons. I’d say that the Netherlands know how to a) abdicate with grace and b) keep things under control in terms of a too big, bursting at the seams royal family. Way to go.

What do you reckon Charles is thinking over in England?


If you’re in the mood for more, here are our top two posts on the family:

  • Our post all about Princess Catharina-Amalia of the Netherlands, future Queen of the Netherlands, can be found here.
  • Princess Maxima’s oh so patriotic engagement ring can be found here.

Queen Mary's Art Deco Emerald & Diamond Choker

This is our 250th post so…let’s celebrate with jewelry! It’s time to talk about some emeralds, in particular Queen Mary’s Emerald Choker.

First, let’s try to spot it in this portrait of Queen Mary. As she was fond of doing, she is all decked out in oodles of goodies. She’s got the Delhi Durbar tiara on her head, and the Delhi Durbar diamond and emerald necklace around her neck, along with lots of other diamonds, and right at the very top of the chokers, we have the beauty we’re chatting about today.


You might recognize this piece more once you’ve seen this 1982 photo of Diana:


This necklace was originally made with 16 cabochon emeralds as part of the Delhi Durbar parure. It was remodeled for Queen Mary in the 1920’s, who brought it down to 14 cabochon emeralds set in platinum in the Art Deco style. The necklace was inherited by the Queen in 1953, who chose to pass it along to Diana as a wedding gift.

Here is a good look at it:


Another view:


Princess Diana wore the necklace on numerous occasions, including when she wore it as a headband/tiara in Australia:

princess diana choker headband

And on another occasion when she paired it with the Spencer tiara. This dress was actually blue so someone photoshopped this picture green at some point:


This is an oldie but a goodie:


Princess Diana was allowed to keep the jewels given by the Queen after the divorce, on condition that they could not be lent or sold and that upon her death they would be returned to the royal family.

Unlike the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara, Diana did wear this piece after the divorce was finalized. Diana is pictured here on July 1, 1997, her 36th birthday:


She was attending the Centenary Gala of the Tate Gallery in London and is also wearing an emerald and diamond bracelet which was reportedly a wedding gift from Prince Charles that was purchased from Wartski.

Hopefully we’ll see this necklace out again before too long. In the meantime, here are some past posts on other delightful chokers:

Princess Diana’s Spencer Pearl Choker

Princess Diana’s Sapphire and Pearl Choker

Portraits of Crown Princess Mary of Denmark

What with all the chatter on Kate’s first official portrait, we thought it would be fun to look at the official portraits done of Australian-born Crown Princess Mary of Denmark. She is a favourite around here, after all.

Oh, and if you’re a fan and haven’t seen the documentary “Mary Elizabeth Donaldson” which was done back in 2004, do you ever  have a treat in store for you: [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCPzbGGWLC0]

To the portraits!

1. Jiawei Shen, 2005

The first official portrait of Crown Princess Mary was completed in 2005, the year after her and Frederik’s wedding. It was commissioned by Australia’s National Portrait Gallery and this is the result:


As you can see, Mary is all decked out in the Order of the Elephant and looks quite regal. Tons of information is available at the official website of the National Portrait Gallery. Click here for that!

Since the portrait’s unveiling it has been on display at the National Portrait Gallery, though it travelled to the Danish Museum of National History in Frederiksborg in Denmark in April 2006.

Here it is on display at the palace along with Mary’s dress:


This photo was taken during a 2011 visit to Australia when Mary had a good, close look at it:
Prince Frederik and Princess Mary Visit Australia - Day 3 2. 2006, Ralph Heimans

The next official portrait of Mary was completed in 2006. Australian-born, Paris-based artist Ralph Heimans was given the commission.  This portrait is the Danish counterpart to the first portrait we discussed. Heimans’ painting has quite a different feel; it depicts the princess amongst the Rococo glory of the 17th century Frederiksborg Castle, north of Copenhagen.

In the background, the artist has painted the harbour of Hobart, where Princess Mary grew up in Australiaand Mary is looking quite serious as she gazes out towards the windows:


Do we like it? Personally, I prefer it to the first one. I like the timeless quality of it, and the way that the light is coming in to the room. It seems rather mysterious.

The artist called Mary “an ideal sitter” and said, “When I started this painting I wanted to enrich the painting with sort of historical references. And I was really trying to be faithful to my ‘impression’ from the very first time I met the princess – and that was in May (2005). It was the impression of a very strong, confident and professional person and, yet, it’s all wrapped up with the fairy tale obviously that’s associated with her, and her world at the palace.”

Here’s Mary checking it out:


3. 2012, Guggar Petter

Here is a more recent portrait which was done by Danish artist Guggar Petter in 2012, and it’s my favourite of them all:


The portrait was donated by the artist to the Museum of National History, which is located in Fredricksborg Castle outside of Copenhagen. The museum also borrowed Gugger’s portrait of President Obama that was commissioned from her in 2007 by one of Obama’s benefactors.

Here is a look at the unveiling, which was attended by Mary:


4. 2012, Romero Britto

This colourful pop art portrait by Brazilian artists Romerro Britto was unveiled on May 6, 2012 at Gallery Copenhagen.

As you can see, Mary is decked out in the Danish Ruby Parure tiara and has acquired some blue hair.


While we’re on the subject, Mr. Britto has also done portraits of Princess Charlene and Prince Albert as well as William and Kate:


He sure likes hearts:


Oh, and the Queen, too:



Kate & Diana's First Official Portraits

As you’ve no doubt read if you’re a fan of this blog, the first official portrait of the Duchess of Cambridge was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery this week.


The portrait was given to the National Portrait Gallery (of which Kate is Patron) through the Art Fund by Sir Hugh Leggatt in memory of Sir Denis Mahon. The artist, Paul Emsley, was chosen with Kate’s input.

According to the National Portrait Gallery’s website,  “the Duchess was able to give two sittings, the first at Kensington Palace and the second at the artist’s studio. Emsley’s subjects are frequently located against a dark background and emphasize, ‘the singularity and silence of the form.'” As the artist said, Kate wanted to be portrayed “naturally, her natural self, as opposed to her official self.” He also shared that Kate chose the photograph from which the artist based the portrait (which can be seen in the second photograph below).

Check out this great (and short) video of Emsley talking about how the portrait came together. It’s especially interesting to see all the photographs he used to create the portrait:


Notably, Kate chose to wear the sapphire earrings that were owned by Princess Diana (it is believed they were a gift from Charles) and were modified for Kate. Click here for more info on those. Kate also chose to wear the earrings for the Duke and Duchess’ official portrait for their 2011 tour of Canada and California:


As for the blouse, the Daily Mail reports that “The finished picture shows her in a Windsor blue pussy-bow blouse imagined by the artist because she wore different outfits for each of her sittings.” It looks to me to be quite close to the one in the picture attached to the portrait below, though:


I feel like the portrait has been unfairly criticized in the press, and in person must look quite different than it could possibly look in print or on the internet. Our London-based Royal Poster is hoping to drop by the Gallery shortly, and we’ll update the blog with her thoughts of how the portrait appears in person.

Before we move along, did anyone else notice that Carole Middleton wore the same jacket to the unveiling that she wore on the engagement day announcement? Here she is with Pippa arriving at the Gallery:


And here she is on the day of the engagement announcement:


Back to royal portraits!

It has been reported that Prince Charles commissioned a portrait of Kate as a gift for Prince William’s 30th birthday. If that is the case, it is unlikely to be seen in the public for quite some time, if ever. My hope is that William and Kate eventually release some photos of this nature in their new Kensington Palace apartment, and that we will then see the portrait in the background.


Here’s to hoping!

Before we end, let’s take  a quick look at the first official portrait of the then Lady Diana Spencer. This portait hangs at the National Portrait Gallery and it was painted by Bryan Organ in 1981 to mark Diana’s engagement to Prince Charles. Diana is depicted in the Yellow Drawing Room of Buckingham Palace. Keep in mind she was 19 at this time. Crazy.

NPG 5408; Diana, Princess of Wales by Bryan Organ

This detailed preparatory pencil sketch by the artist is stunning and shows how the portrait came to be:


Bryan Organ also painted this portrait of Prince Charles in 1980, which was the first portrait of the Prince to hang in the National Portrait Gallery. I like the relaxed nature of it, and the fact that Charles is shown wearing a sweatshirt with the Prince of Wales feathers. Of course:

NPG 5365; Prince Charles by Bryan Organ

Diana and Charles were such fans of the artist that they asked Bryan to be one of Prince Harry’s godfathers.  Here he is with Harry at his confirmation at Eton:


Bryan also did this portrait of Prince Philip, which also hangs in the National Portrait Gallery:

NPG 5698; Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh by Bryan Organ

So, what do you think of Kate’s portrait?

And if you’re in the mood for more portraits, check out these posts:

Rarely Seen Portraits of Princess Diana, Part One

Rarely Seen Portraits of Princess Diana, Part Two

Royal Charm Bracelets

Happy Belated New Year to you all! Today we’re looking at a fun and frivolous topic: royal charm bracelets. Because why not?

Princess Mary of Denmark

Princess Mary has accumulated a beautiful collection of jewelry since her 2004 wedding, including pieces which belong to the Crown (like the ruby parure) and those that she owns personally (like her engagement ring).

In September of 2012, Crown Prince Frederick and Crown Princess Mary headed to Brazil for a six day tour and Mary brought a big ‘ol jewelry box with her.


Amongst the many jewels she wore during the trip was a gold charm bracelet. Here is a close up of the bracelets she is wearing in the photograph above. An eagle eyed poster on the Royal Forums noticed that one of the bracelets features a disc that appears to have Mary’s monogram engraved on it:


Courtesy of the Danish Royal Family’s website, here is Princess Mary’s monogram so you can decide for yourself:



Princess Isabella of Denmark

Next up is Princess Mary’s daughter Isabella. When she was born, Tasmania gifted the little princess with a tiny bracelet to fit her wrist at her christening. The bracelet is made of white gold and features white gold apple seeds and nine red hearts. The white and red is for the Danish flag.

I haven’t been able to find either a picture of the bracelet or one that shows Isabella’s wrist at the christening. Does anyone know if she did actually wear it?


But that’s not all! A charming tradition in the Danish royal family is that all girls in the family receive a gold bracelet on the occasion of their fifth birthday. Queen Ingrid, Isabella’s great grandmother, was the first to receive a gold bracelet on her fifth birthday back in 1915.

Princess Isabella turned five on April 21, 2012 and has been pictured wearing the bracelt on a few occasions.

First of all, here is one of the pictures released by the palace to mark Isabella’s fifth birthday:


And here she is in the birthday bracelet in a picture published be Hello!:


Grandmother Queen Margrethe is shown here wearing hers at two state occasions:


Queen Victoria

On to the Brits! Queen Victoria is often credited with starting the trend for charm bracelets in the early 20th century. Here is an example of one of her many charm bracelets:


This gold piece was a gift from Prince Albert in November of 1840. It features 9 enamel heart lockets in a variety of colours.  The Royal Collection website shares the following info:

This simple chain and locket bracelet is typical of the sentimental items Prince Albert gave to the Queen. The inscription on the clasp states that it was given to her three days after the birth of their first child, Victoria, The Princess Royal. A locket was added for each subsequent birth, each one containing a lock of the child’s hair.

Text from Victoria & Albert: Art & Love.

The hearts record the birth of the children as follows: pink for Princess Victoria, turquoise blue for Albert, red for Princess Alice, dark blue for Alfred, translucent white for Helena, dark green for Louise, mid blue for Arthur, opaque white for Leopold and light green for Beatrice.

An additional bracelet with numerous lockets can be seen on The Royal Collection website by clicking here. It’s a real treasure.

The Duchess of Cambridge

Much ado was made of the fact that Kate started to wear a gold charm bracelet after her wedding, pictured on Kate’s wrist below:


The real interest was for the gold disc charm. Here is a good look at it:


Let’s get even more up close and personal:


The disc features two royal monograms. One side has Kate’s monogram:


And the other side appears to be Camilla’s:


Here is Camilla’s monogram, as shown on her personal stationery:


It does look quite like it! It has not been officially confirmed that Camilla gave the bracelet to Kate, though that theory does make sense. I’ve been keeping my eyes out for Camilla to be seen wearing a matching one. How cute would it have been if she had one, too, and if it came from Charles, another ‘C’?

Diana, Princess of Wales

After all, we know that Charles gave Diana a charm bracelet that she treasured. Diana often wore a gold charm bracelet in the early ’80’s. It’s tough to see whether this is the one from Charles or not:


Some reports claim that Diana never wore the bracelet from Charles in public, because she considered it too precious (Paul Burrel has commented that Diana never actually wore this bracelet, but kept it tucked safely away with her jewelry at Kensington Palace).

The photo below shows the many charms that Charles gave Diana over the years, from an “x” for their ten year anniversary to a miniature of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Though I don’t know the provenance of this photo, I’d guess it is legit.


 Well that’s it for now. Are you charmed?