Royal Christmas Cards & Happenings for 2015

In keeping with the festive spirit of the holidays, today we have a round up of Christmas related royal tidbits for your enjoyment, including some Royal Christmas Cards!

Spain

First up: a Royal christmas card out of Spain. Thee  King and Queen of Spain’s Christmas card features this festive and cozy looking this photograph of Leonore, Princess of Asturias (age 10) and Infanta Sofia (age 8).

The Spanish Princess (via People Magazine)
The Spanish Princesses (via People Magazine)

England

Out of England, we have two christmas cards that have been publicly released so far. Charles and Camilla chose this warm and down to earth snapshot, which was taken by a friend at a private estate in August. They look so relaxed and normal. I love it.

Prince Charles & The Duchess of Cornwall 2015 (source)
Prince Charles & the Duchess of Cornwall on a stroll, August 2015 (source)

Perhaps seeing the warm response Prince Charles’ card received inspired William and Kate to make their own Christmas card public for the first time. Their chosen picture also has a nice, relaxed air to it and shows off the cuteness of Prince George and Princess Charlotte. It was taken in the grounds of Kensington Palace in October ’15 by Chris Jelf. Check out what appears to be Charlotte’s shoe on the grass in front of her – or is that part of the wooden train toy?

The Cambridges en Famille (source)
The Cambridges en Famille (source)

Thanks to this interview that William gave, we know that William and Kate will be at their country home Amner Hall this Christmas. That means we can expect to see them walk to Church with the Royal Family on Christmas morning (hurray!). The Middleton family will likely not far behind to attend the same service like they did last year.

We don’t have the Queen and Prince Philip’s card yet, but here’s heartwarming story about a man and his son who kept a tradition of sending the Queen a Christmas card every year since 1952. It turns out the Queen first reached out in 1972 saying “So it’s you who keeps sending me these lovely Christmas cards.”

Harry and Kate arrive at Buckingham Palace for Christmas lunch, 2015 (source)
Harry and Kate arrive at Buckingham Palace for Christmas lunch, 2015 (source)

Also, the Queen and Prince Philip hosted their annual Christmas lunch for extended family at Buckingham Palace on December 16. The lunch is a way to see and include extended family (like the Kents) who are not invited or able to make it to Sandringham for Christmas. You can read more about this year’s event here if you like.

On December 17, the Queen and Prince Philip  took the 10:44 train from London to Norfolk to begin their annual winter break at Sandringham. Every year I look forward to seeing the Queen at the train station ready to begin her holidays. It makes me feel like Christmas has truly begun, you know?

The Queen got comfortable on the train. Check out the aquamarine brooch on her tweed jacket (source)
The Queen got comfortable on the train. Check out the aquamarine brooch on her tweed jacket (source)

And here they are arriving at the train station.

The Queen added a signature silk scarf and Prince Philip took up the rear.
The Queen added a signature silk scarf. Not sure where Philip is but have been assured he arrived as well! (source)

Denmark

No cards yet from Denmark but know that Crown Princess Mary is in her native Australia for a Christmas visit with her family. It sounds like they are on an educational road trip around Western Australia; they have been spotted popping into an IGA and a bakery along the way. In the bakery, Prince Frederick took a selfie with an employee. More on that and their adventure here.

We are guessing they will be back in Denmark for the New Year’s festivities, one of the most formal and important nights of the year for the Royal Family.

Prince Frederick, Princess Mary and their children on holiday in Greenland
Prince Frederick, Princess Mary and their children on holiday in Greenland

Check out our post on some of the Danish Royal’s past Christmas cards here. 

Sweden

Earlier this month, an interview with Princess Madeleine and Chris O’Neil was aired (you can check it out here). They were interviewed (in English!) along with Adele and Jamie Oliver.

The interview got pretty lively at parts (source)
The interview got pretty lively at parts (source)

As far as I know, this is the first extensive interview they have done since they were married and it revealed such tidbits as the fact that they are now living in London where Chris works and will be spending Christmas with Chris’ family in England, after spending some time in December in Sweden. They were both there for the Nobel Prize dinner, so it makes sense that at least Madeleine would have stayed on with their two children for a longer visit.

As for Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Daniel, and Princess Estelle, they have carried on the tradition of  releasing an adorable Christmas video – they were filmed baking traditional Swedish treats. In Swedish, Estelle comments “Dad, I think this is very cozy” and at the end she wishes everyone a Merry Christmas.

Not to be left out, Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia received several Christmas trees on behalf of the Royal Family (Victoria and Estelle did the honors last year). The trees come from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and the gift of Christmas trees carries on a tradition that began in the 1960s.

The prince and princess didn't get the memo to wear red and green (source)
The prince and princess didn’t get the memo to wear red and green (source)

Norway

The Norwegian Royals have also gotten into the fun of media relations at Christmas. The King and Queen gathered together with Crown Prince Haakon, Crown Princess Mette-Marit, Princess Ingrid, Prince Sverre, and Marius Hoiby to decorate a tree and have their picture taken.

Gotta love the color coordination! (source)
Gotta love the color coordination! (source)

All that hard work calls for a lie down and some cookies, am I right?

Prince Sverre Magnus and Princess Ingrid pose it up (source)
Prince Sverre Magnus and Princess Ingrid pose it up (source)

There must have been a discussion where the Queen said, “I’ll wear red and you wear green” to Mette-Marit.

En famille (source)
“Everyone gather round the tree!” (source)

A very happy holidays to you all and best wishes for a fantastic year ahead.

Any special requests for posts for 2016?

Christmas Letters from Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon Written From 1910 – 1921

With just a few more days to go before Christmas, we thought it would be fun to look at a few letters written over the Christmas holidays by Elizabeth Bowes Lyon. The letters chosen for this post show her spirit and sense of fun, and give some insight into what it was like growing up as a free spirited aristocratic Lady in the early 19o’s. This post covers the years from 191o (when she was just ten years old!) to 1921 when she had become good friends with Prince Albert.

(via Amazon)
(via Amazon)

All of these letters are part of the collection published in The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother: Counting One’s Blessings by William Shawcross. We highly recommend this book to any Royal watchers, it is a delightful read. It can be purchased here.

 

Elizabeth and her brother David at St. Paul's Walden Bury in 1905
Elizabeth and her brother David at St. Paul’s Walden Bury in 1905 (source)

Before we jump in, let’s have a little refresher. The Honourable Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon was born in August of 1900 (there is some debate around the actual date). In 1904, her father inherited the Earldom of Strathmore and Kinghorne, making her Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. The family split their time between the famous Glamis Castle in Scotland, St. Paul’s Walden Bury in Hertfordshire, and a series of rented houses in London.

St. Paul’s Walden Bury has been owned by the family since the 1700’s and it is possibly where Elizabeth was born, though there is a degree of mystery around that. Click here or here for a bit more on that if you’re intrigued!

As you can see below, St. Paul’s Walden Bury is an impressive red brick house and it is surrounded by extensive grounds.

A view of the grounds and house at St. Paul's Walden bury (via St. Paul's Walden Bury)
A view of the grounds and house at St. Paul’s Walden bury (via St. Paul’s Walden Bury official site)

The letter below was written from St. Paul’s Walden Bury to The Honourable Fenella Trefusis when Elizabeth was ten years old. She was known in the Strathmore family as ‘Neva’ and married Elizabeth’s brother Hon. John Bowes-Lyon (known by family and friends as ‘Jock’) on September 29, 1914

Nine year old Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon with her brother David (via Pinterest)
Nine year old Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon all dressed up for a play of some sort with her brother David (via Pinterest)

16 December, 1910 to Fenella Trefusis from St. Paul’s Walden Bury

My Dear Neva,

Thank you very much for the delicious box of chocolates. You did not put who it was from, but two or three day’s later Rose wrote and told me it was you. Isn’t it awful perhaps we are going to have Xmas in London!!!! Think of it X-mas in London. Yours was the first present I have received. It was most awfully kind of you to think of us. I haven’t the slighted notion of where you are staying so I am going to look in the Red Book. I am afraid you will hardly be able to read my writing as it is nearly tea-time and the lamps have not come on yet. It has been raining and blowing for the last three days. 

David sends his love and wishes me to thank you for the chocolates.

Good-bye with much love from 

Elizabeth

She sounds like a delightful ten year old, right? Oh the horrors of Christmas in London! And I love how the lamps had to be put on.

Jumping ahead five years, the 1915 letter below is to Beryl Poignand, who was hired as Elizabeth’s governess from 1914-17 and became a close confidant. Their relationship continued until Beryl’s death in 1965. As a matter of fact, Beryl helped to organize the exhibition of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding presents and the accompanying catalog in 1947.

Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon with her brother in 1915 (via Daily Mail)
Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon with her brother in 1915 (via Daily Mail)

Something else to remember while reading this (somewhat cheeky!) letter is that Glamis Castle was being used as a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers and Elizabeth befriended many of them.

Sunday 26 December 1915 to Beryl Poignand 

Glamis Castle

My Dear Silly Ass

Thank you very much for your letter. Always received with grateful thanks. I wonder if you have left London, anyhow I shall send this to Cheltenham. 

Well, I hope you had a very happy Christmas, and nice presents. Would you like to know what I had?

Father gave me a wristwatch, Mother a kettle, Rosie some hankies, Aunti Vava a picture, Grannie a bowl, May a pair of shoe buckles etc. In fact rather nice useful presents. I hope you like the book. […]

The men liked the Tree very much. I think, they each got an electric torch, a shirt, & chocolate & crackers & things.

I believe the noise last night at ‘lights out’ was something appalling, trumpets & squeaky things going like mad etc. Abel said, ‘It’s a funny thing, I wanted a bloomin’ cigarette case, and I wanted a blinkin’ electric torch and I got ’em both’! So he ought to be quite pleased. Pegg asked me if you’d gone to Cheltenham. Ernest was simply delighted with his book. Of course we drank ‘To hell with the b—– Kaiser’ last night and good ‘health to Henry and Larry.” […]

Good-bye, farewell, fare ye well, Tarry not, so long, au devoir, good bye, farewell etc etc etc and so on for 2 pages.

Abel, Pegg, and Ernest were all convalescent soldiers at Glamis during WWI. Ernest Pearce developed a life long relationship with Elizabeth, and eventually became garden at her home, Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park until he died in 1969.

Lady Elizabeth at her desk, January 1920 (Getty Images)
Lady Elizabeth at her desk, January 1920 (Getty Images)

Our next Christmas letter was written five years later in 1920. It was on July 8, 1920, that Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon first met Prince Albert at a RAF ball (in a letter dated to just a few days later she wrote to Beryl Poignand “I went to the RAF Ball at the Ritz…I danced with Prince Albert who I hadn’t known before, he is quite a nice youth.” They would have just known each other five months by the time she wrote this note.

23 December 1920 to the Duke of York

St. Paul’s Walden Bury

Dear Prince Albert

Thank you so very much for the lovely little box, which I simply love.

It is so nice of you think of giving it to me, and very many thanks. It is so pretty, and will help to ornament my sitting room in Bruton Street next year. I was so sorry about the dance on Tuesday, but my mother has really been very ill, and I couldn’t leave her.

She is a little better, which is a great relief. Did you enjoy Lady Evelyn’s dance last week? I loved it, tho’ I enjoyed ‘your party’ at Mrs Greville’s even more. I feel I shall not be going to another one for moths, which is dreadfully sad. I lead such a deadly existence here, that there is simply nothing to tell you – oh except that I have just fallen into a pond! The only event which happened for weeks!

I hope you will have a very merry Xmas, & I send you all my best wishes for 1921. I hope it will be a very happy year for you. Thank you again a thousand times for the darling little box – I do love it.

I am Sir,

Yours Sincerely,

Elizabeth Lyon

Things had warmed up a bit by the time Elizabeth wrote a thank you note the next Christmas in 1921. She had moved from calling him ‘Prince Albert’ to ‘Prince Bertie’ after all!

A portrait of Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon c.1921 (via Pinterest)
A portrait of Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon c.1921 (via Pinterest)

Friday December 21 1921 to the Duke of York

Glamis Castle

Dear Prince Bertie,

Just a line to wish you a happy Xmas, and a wonderful New Year, full of everything delicious & joyful. I am not quite sure where you are, but will send this to York Cottage. Please forgive pencil, but I am writing in bed with a chill or flu or something.

Your delightful present has just arrived as I write!

I simply cannot thank you enough, it is the most darling little clock, and I simply love it. Thank you a million times – you should not give me such a lovely present. It really is too pretty for words, and besides being pretty useful too. I am enchanted with it. Also that is an excellent photograph of you – I wish I had got something to send you too.

All good wishes, & good luck

Yours v sincerely

Elizabeth

Glamis Castle during a warmer time of year (source)
Glamis Castle during a warmer time of year (source)

Over the next two years, Prince Albert proposed several times until she finally accepted during a visit to St. Paul’s Walden Bury in January of 1923, where we will pick up in the next installment.If you’re in the mood for a bit more, check this post out for another charming letter.

A rather somber engagement photograph of the Duke of York and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (via Flickr)
A rather somber engagement photograph of the Duke of York and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (via Flickr)

What do you think of these letters? We hope they have helped you get into the festive spirit!

The Tiaras Worn by Kate So Far

This past week, a prediction we made on this blog back in October 2011 came true: Kate wore the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara in public. Before we dive further into that momentous occasion in history for royal jewelry watchers, let’s take a look at each of the three tiaras Kate has worn so far.

The Cartier ‘Halo’ Tiara (also known as Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother’s Scroll Tiara)

Back in April 2011, Kate famously wore a tiara for the first time in public when she chose to wear the Cartier ‘Halo’ Tiara for her wedding day to Prince William. Our original post about that tiara’s history can be found here.

(Via Culture Concept)
The new Duchess of Cambridge, April 2015 (Via Culture Concept)

This tiara first came into the Royal Family’s collection around 1923 when the then Duke of York gave it to the then Duchess of York (later the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother). According to Leslie Field in the The Queen’s Jewels, it was one of half a dozen tiaras that the Duchess of York wore between her marriage in 1923 to her accession to the throne in 1936.  The photograph below of the Duchess of York was taken just before King Edward VIII’s abdication and was likely the last time she wore it in public. After that, she had more ‘Queenly’ tiaras to wear and she wasn’t seen wearing the tiara in public again.

(via Royal Order of Sartorial Splendour)
The Duke and Duchess of York c. 1936 (via Royal Order of Sartorial Splendour)

At some point it was passed onto the present Queen, but it seems it wasn’t a great favourite since she has never worn it in public either. Instead, she loaned it to her sister Princess Margaret who wore it on numerous occasions and later to Princess Anne, who wore it frequently in her early tiara wearing years. The classic, low style of this piece makes it a perfect starter tiara!

Princess Anne and Princess Margaret (via Pinterest)
Princess Anne and Princess Margaret (via Pinterest)

Now of course Kate is the most likely member of the royal family to be seen wearing the tiara in future years, and my guess is that Princess Charlotte will be the next royal lady to be seen in it after Kate (Prince Harry’s future wife is going to have to choose something else). What do you think?

Hopefully Kate will dust it off an wear it more in the future. After all, Kate’s parents commissioned diamond earrings from Robinson Pelham that echo the scrolls of the Halo tiara and it would be so much fun to see them worn together again on a night out.

As a side note, around the time of the wedding there were rumours that Kate planned to wear a floral wreath on her head instead of a tiara, in keeping with the ‘language of flowers’ theme of the wedding and all. These earrings shot a hole through that theory; the Cartier ‘Halo’ tiara must have been chosen pretty early on into the engagement to allow time for the earrings to be made with such a similar scroll motif as the ones used in the tiara.

(via The Jewelry Editor)
Kate’s Wedding Day Earrings that Echo the Scrolls of the Cartier Tiara (via The Jewellery Editor)

Kate hasn’t brought out this tiara or the earrings out for a second time yet, but it’s bound to happen in the next few years at least. One possible reason that she hasn’t worn it again yet is because it was loaned to Cartier for the Cartier: Style and History exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris from December 4, 2013 to February 16, 2014, right when her second tiara wearing event came along

 

The Lotus Flower Tiara (also known as the Diamond Fan Motif Tiara)

It was on December 3, 2014 that Kate wore a tiara in public for the second time, and obviously the Halo tiara was unavailable, so the Queen offered up something else. She chose another dainty but pretty ‘starter tiara’ which was appropriate since Kate hadn’t been in the Royal Family very long. Diving right into wearing the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara would have been a heavy weight to carry in more ways than one.

Kate arrives at Buckingham Palace, December 3 2013 (via Royal Fans)
Kate arrives at Buckingham Palace, December 3 2013 (via Royal Fans)

This tiara first came into the royal family in the 1920’s when it was gifted to the Duchess of York. In The Queen’s Jewels, Leslie Fields refers to it as having “graduated diamond fan-shaped festoons given height by pearls and collet diamonds on upright spikes.” It actually appears that there is only one pearl and it is at centre front.

As was the fashion, the then Duchess of York wore the tiara across her forehead for this 1929 portrait.

The Stylish Duchess of York photographed in 1929 (via Daily Mail)
The Stylish Duchess of York photographed in 1929 (via Daily Mail)

She later passed the tiara on to Princess Margaret to use, and she wore it in the more traditional style for many tiara occasions, and once for a portrait which is now held by the National Portrait Gallery.

Princess Margaret in the Lotus Flower Tiara (via Daily Mail)
Princess Margaret in the Lotus Flower Tiara (via Daily Mail)

As we pointed out in our earlier post,  until Kate wore this tiara in December of 2013, it hadn’t been worn publicly since Serena Stanhope wore it on her October 1993 wedding day when she married Princess Margaret’s son David Linley. That’s a wait of over 20 years!

Serena Stanhope Wore the Tiara on her Wedding Day (Via Royal Order of Sartorial Splendour)
Serena Stanhope Wore the Tiara on her Wedding Day (Via Royal Order of Sartorial Splendour)

The fact that the Queen appears to own the tiara now implies that Princess Margaret never personally owned the tiara. Or, in the unlikely event that she did, the Queen must have privately bought it back from Princess Margaret’s children so it would not be sold at auction. Princess Margaret’s son and daughter did choose to auction off Princess Margaret’s ‘Poltimore’ wedding tiara back in 2006.

Kate brought out the Lotus Flower tiara for a second time for her third public tiara appearance. It was considered to be something of a diplomatic choice since she chose to wear it for a state banquet given for Chinese President Xi Jinping. In Chinese culture, the lotus flower is considered to be representative of harmony, beauty, and tranquility (source).

Cheers to diplomatic jewelry wearing! (via Daily Mail)
Cheers to diplomatic jewelry wearing! (via Daily Mail)

 

It was Kate’s first state dinner and let’s hope a State dinner will be given for the King and Queen of Spain when they visit England and stay at Windsor Castle in March 2016 and that Kate and William will take part; a Queen Letitia and Duchess of Cambridge photo op would be most welcome!

Our post with more of the history of this tiara can be found here, if you’re in the mood for more.

The Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara

We originally wrote about this tiara in October of 2011, and that post can be found here. In that post we spoke about how it makes sense that even thought this tiara is so strongly lined to Diana, Princess of Wales this tiara, it should eventually be passed to Kate to use once she had built up her own royal identity enough. She is after all the Duchess of Cambridge and will eventually be Princess of Wales herself. Wearing significant pieces of jewelry owned by the Royal Family when representing the United Kingdom just goes with the territory!

It was thrilling to see her pull up to Buckingham Palace wearing it. It’s quite fitting that this first outing for the tiara  on Kate was for an event where pictures aren’t released to the public. It’s the perfect warm up for when she next gets it out of the vault for a more public outing with more photo opportunities.

Kate in the Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara (via Today)
Kate in the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara (via Today)

In The Queen’s Jewels, Fields gives us much more insight into the history of this tiara:

One of the most charming tributes that Queen Mary ever paid to the maternal side of her family was the tiara that she had made by Gerrard in 1914 to her own design and from pearls and diamonds already in her possession. It was a copy of one owned by her grandmother, Princess Augusta of Hesse, who married the first Duke of Cambridge, seventh son of King George III, in 1818. She had been given it by her family prior to her marriage…When the Duchess of Cambridge’s eldest daughter, and namesake, Augusta, married the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in 1843, she gave her the tiara as a wedding present. The Grand Duchess, in turn, became godmother, and ultimately closest confidante, to her niece, the future Queen Mary, who saw her annually and knew the tiara well. In 1912 she wrote to her aunt:

‘If you have a dinner to celebrate yr birthday you must wear on yr 90th birthday the pearl & diamond diadems &English orders, do please do so for my sake. Think how beautiful you will look with yr white hair and still lovely neck.”

Naturally the tiara was passed along to Queen Mary who wore it often. This portrait of Queen Mary shows her wearing the tiara in 1926 as it was originally designed.

Queen Mary in 1926 (via Tumblr)
Queen Mary in 1926 (via Tumblr)

She removed the upright pearls by 1935 and left the tiara to the present Queen in her will. Queen Elizabeth who wore it on several occasions before passing it on to the Princess of Wales to use.

Queen Elizabeth in 1955 (via Internet Stones)
Queen Elizabeth in 1955 (via Internet Stones)

The Queen lent the tiara to the Princess of Wales to wear when she married Prince Charles in 1981; despite some claims to the contrary, this tiara was never personally owned by Diana.

Diana wore the tiara for the first time in October of 1981 for the opening of Parliament and numerous times after that. She apparently often chose to wear the Spencer tiara instead since the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara is much heavier and she found the swinging pearls distracting.

The Princess of Wales in 1981 (via Pinterest)
The Princess of Wales in 1981 (via Pinterest)

So three tiaras in four years is pretty fantastic and has me wondering if there are any other tiara’s from the Queen’s collection that have been earmarked for Kate to wear in the future before she becomes Queen. On that note, they’ll also have to have a tiara on hand for Prince Harry’s future wife to use, assuming she won’t already have one of her own. Any eagle eyed tiara observers out there with ideas for what Harry’s wife will have? Maybe she and Kate will share the Lotus Flower? Or they will buy her a new one, like they did for Sara, Duchess of York? Or perhaps they will dust off something in the Queen’s Vault that hasn’t been seen publicly in ages, like they did for Sophie, Countess of Wessex?