Marie-Chantal Miller & Prince Pavlos of Greece’s Wedding

In our last post, we recapped the speculation around Prince Harry and Princess Olympia of Greece and how closely linked the two royal families are (click here for a refresher). Basically, it’s wishful thinking for the time being on the part of the media but it really would make an incredible story. Case in point: let’s talk about that time Prince Pavlos married Marie-Chantal Miller in July 1995.

It made the cover of Weddings of Style! [Amazon]
It made the cover of Weddings of Style: A Guide to the Ultimate Wedding
The Engagement & Ring

Prince Pavlos and Marie-Chantal were set up by a mutual friend, Alecko Papamarkou at a dinner party in New Orleans where he arranged that they’d be seated next to each other. As Mary-Chantal later told Vanity Fair

I knew it was a big matchup, because Alecko had been telling me for weeks that he knew the perfect person for me. And I didn’t feel comfortable being set up. I tried to get out of it, but Alecko never returned my phone calls and we had arranged to meet at the airport. So I ended up going. I borrowed a navy-blue Chanel couture suit from my mother and looked like a million bucks.”

Pavlos’ take was very decided: “The moment I saw Marie-Chantal, I said, Well, this is what I’ve been looking for. Alecko was right.”

Over the next couple of years, Pavlos graduated from Georgetown (his cousin Crown Prince Felipe of Spain was a roommate) and Marie-Chantal moved to Washington to be nearby and to study at the Corcoran College of Art and Design. During Christmas 1994, Pavlos proposed on a ski lift in Gstaad, where the Miller family has a ski lodge.

A look at the ring! [InStyle]
A look at the ring! [InStyle]
He had a dainty cabochon sapphire and diamond ring made for M-C that had a lot of meaning. The sapphire came from his mother Queen Anne-Marie’s collection and he added a heart-shaped diamond to the side as a personal touch.

Pre-Wedding Celebrations

They set the wedding date for July 1, 1995 and the celebrations took place over several days (after everything was said and done, the bride’s parents took off for a relaxing yacht trip to recover).

The pre-wedding festivities included two parties hosted by Queens: Queen Elizabeth II hosted a tea party at Claridges and Queen Margarethe of Denmark, Prince Pavlos’ aunt, also hosted a luncheon for 100 on board the Royal yacht Dannebrog. She had travelled to London on board the yacht which was moored on the River Thames for the duration of the festivities which is a pretty great way to travel (the Danish Royal Family also arrived for the 2012 London Olympics this way).

Here she is aboard the yacht with Prince Henrik in 2006.

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And here it is ready to set sale in Copenhagen:

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Two nights before the wedding, the bride’s parents hosted  dinner for the 1,300 wedding guests at Wrotham Park in Hertfordshire.

Wrotham Park
Wrotham Park

The decor included thousands of Ecuadorian roses (a nod to Marie-Chantals Ecuadorian mother), large marquees made to look like the Parthenon, an antique carousel, and lots of dancing.  This little anecdote from one of the event planners Robert Isabell gives a good indication of the scale of this party:

 Called in at the last minute to advise on the Miller-Pavlos nuptials — there was a potentially catastrophic snafu involving miscalculated tent fabric — Isabell tells Miller’s mother he can save the event. “Could he come right away?” she asks. Isabell, Bond-like, responds: “I’ll take the Concorde and be there tomorrow. Get me a room at Claridge’s, and we’ll put this thing together.” [Wall Street Journal]

You can check out a picture of the Pavlos and M-C’s families all dolled up for the bash here. It all ended in a champagne breakfast in the wee hours of the morning and many of the guests left was the sun was rising.

The Wedding Ceremony

The wedding ceremony took place on July 1, 1995. The bride converted to the Greek Orthodox Church prior to the wedding, and the service was held at St. Sophia’s Cathedral in London. The Cathedral held 450 guests and an additional 850 guests watched the wedding ceremony on large screens set up at Hampton Court Palace where the reception also took place (among those guests was Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother).

Here’s the bride with her father Robert Miller. Note that Marie-Cantal chose not to wear any eye makeup (in keeping with the tradition that true ladies don’t wear any).

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The ceremony can be seen in the Greek video below. If you want to skip ahead for some glimpses, Marie Chantal appears 15 minutes in and numerous royals can be seen on the steps of the Cathedral at 1:15. Interestingly, neither the bride or groom said a single word during the entire ceremony.

At the time, the media remarked that this wedding brought together more royals in London than Prince Charles and Diana’s wedding had. King Hussein of Jordan can be seen outside the Cathedral with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

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And here she is with Queen Silvia of Spain.

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As a side note, check out the sketch by Hardie Ames showing the outfit worn by Queen Elizabeth for the occasion.

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Other royal guests included the Prince of Wales, the King and Queen of Denmark, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, Queen Noor of Jordan, and the King and Queen of Spain along with Prince Filipe and Infanta Cristina. Check them out gathered together for the portrait below  taken at Hampton Court Palace (M-C shared this particular shot on her Instagram page). Patrick Litchfield was the official wedding photographer and he was also the official photographer for Prince Charles and Diana’s wedding. Also of note – Pavlos and M-C’s monogram in flowers behind them all.

A wedding portrait shared by Marie-Chantal on her instagram page [hello!]
A wedding portrait shared by Marie-Chantal on her instagram page [Hello!]
A large floral monogram was also visible outside the cathedral. M-C and Pavlos still use this monogram- check out this photo of the tags on the christmas presents that she shared on her Instagram page this past holiday.



The Bridal Party

There were four bridesmaids: Prince Pavlos’ young sister Princess Theodora, The Honorable Alexandra Knatchbull (goddaughter of Diana, Princess of Wales), Miss Marietta Chandris, and 19 month old Isabel Getty (daughter of Marie Chantal’s sister Pia).

Prince Philippos of Greece (Pavlos’ brother), Anthony Chandris, Sebastian Flick and Christian Robbs were the groomsmen.
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So all in all this is certainly a wedding that has gone down in history.

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What a shingding, am I right? Next up, a closer look at the wedding gown and tiara!


Thoughts on Those Prince Harry and Princess Olympia of Greece Rumours

In the last few days, Princess Maria-Olympia has been in the news thanks to some highly speculative reports that she and Prince Harry are dating. Let’s discuss.

Simply called Olympia by her parents,  she is the only daughter of Prince Pavlos and Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece. Pavlos is the oldest son of the King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece while Marie-Chantal one of the  ‘Miller Sisters‘; her parents are Duty Free Shoppers entrepreneur Robert Miller and his wife María Clara Pesantes Becerra. Pavlos and M-C are below, dolled up for the pre-wedding dinner hosted by The Queen on the eve of William and Kate’s wedding (love M-C’s dress!).

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The monarchy was abolished in Greece in 1973 and the family has been living in exile but they still uses their titles. However, the King and Queen of Greece are also Prince and Princess of Denmark. The Queen of Greece is the younger sister of Queen Margarethe II of Denmark and King Constantine descends from Christian IX of Denmark.

So Olympia is technically Princess Olympia of Greece and Denmark and she is the oldest child with four younger brothers: Constantine (Tino to family), Achileas (Achi), Odysseus, and Aristides. The photograph below was taken during the wedding celebrations Prince Nikolaus’ wedding to Tatiana Blatnik in August 2010 (Nikolaus is Pavlos’ younger brother).

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Olympia was born in New York but moved to London with her family in 2002; M-C and Pavlos wanted their children to be educated in Europe and also to be closer to Pavlos’ parents who live in London. She’s now 19 and has returned to New York for University (her courses began this past September) and she seems to very much enjoy the social scene.

She joined her parents for the ARK Gala dinner in June 2011, which was also the first public event attended by the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge after their wedding. The photograph below shows Olympia arriving with her parents.

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That’s the night that Kate looked AH-MAZING in her sparkly Jenny Packham gown.

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She’s also been spotted at Paris Fashion week; this particular photo was taken with her mom and maternal grandmother.

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More recently, she turned out to a gala at the Guggenheim in New York in November 2015.

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She’s also been on the cover of Tatler and Spain’s Vanity Fair and was also featured in W.

Olympia on the cover of Tatler [Daily Mail]
Olympia on the cover of Tatler [Daily Mail]
Her Instagram account @OlympiaGreece currently has over 60 thousand followers and she’s regularly shares her adventures. Her recent winter break from school has included Christmas at their home in the Bahamas followed by time in Los Angeles and then onto England.

Olympia photographed for W magazine [Daily Mail]
Olympia is pretty in pink for her Instagram account  [Daily Mail]
Meanwhile Harry is 31 and based in London.

Prince Harry [People]
Prince Harry [People]
Overall, I think it is wishful thinking on the part of the media who want to make this a thing, and there have been numerous denials from ‘inside sources’ backing this up. It is true though that their families have a ton of connections so who knows what could happen down the road.  Let’s break it down.

First of all, Olympia and Harry share a common ancestor in Queen Victoria so they are distant cousins. As well, Harry’s grandfather Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh was born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark (The Queen and Prince Philip also share Queen Victoria as a common ancestor).

The Greek and British royal families have spent quite a bit of time together over the years. In August of 1990  Diana, Charles, William, and Harry were invited by the King of Spain to spend time on his yacht. The King and Queen of Greece joined in as well with their youngest daughter Theodora (Olympia’s aunt).

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Here’s another shot of them all.

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When M-C and Pavlos got married in London in 1995, Queen Elizabeth II threw them a tea party at Claridges, and she attended the wedding along with Prince Philip and Prince Charles. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh can be seen below on the steps outside the church after the ceremony.

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When Olympia was born in 1997, Prince Charles was asked to be godfather and he accepted.   They also asked Prince William to be Olympia’s younger brother Constantine’s godfather in 1999. Here he is at the christening, with a broken arm and all.

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This was especially poignant since one of Prince William’s godfather’s is King Constantine and he was there for Prince William’s confirmation at Windsor Castle in March 1997 (he’s the fellow in glasses behind Diana below).

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Interestingly, just Prince Pavlos, Princess Marie-Chantal, and Prince Constantine were invited to  William and Kate’s wedding, so Olympia and her other brothers had to stay at home. Here they are arriving at Westminster Abbey for the ceremony:

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They can be spotted here as well:

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They weren’t invited to the evening reception at Buckingham Palace, though but they made the most of it and threw a bash for the other uninvited folks at their home.  Attendees included Crown Princess Victoria and Princess Michael of Kent (check out more on that here at the Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor).

In 2010, The Queen attended a 70th birthday party for King Constantine. It was also held at Pavlos and Marie-Chantal’s London home. Love her  soft blue dress!

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When she arrived, Prince Pavlos was there to greet her:

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And here she is saying goodbye to the King:

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In 2012, Princess Marie-Chantal’s wedding dress was included in the Valentino: Master of Couture exhibit that was held in London. She brought along Olympia for the event, and she had her picture taken with Princes Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.

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That same year, Queen Elizabeth II held a reception for reigning sovereigns at Windsor Castle and Harry and Kate caught up with the King and Queen of Greece.

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In 2013, Beatrice and Olympia were photographed together at a photography event in London.

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So in a nutshell it’s very possible that Harry and Olympia have met and it’s likely that their paths will keep crossing, but anything beyond that seems unlikely for the time being. It would be fun though, right? I mean, Olympia already has access to several tiaras!

This has all all  got me thinking it’s about time for a post on Marie-Chantal and Pavlos’ wedding so that will be sure next post. In the meantime,  click here for more on Marie-Chantal and her sisters.


Not in Front of the Corgis Book Review

On Christmas morning I was very lucky to discover a delightful royal book in my stocking. It’s called Not In Front of the Corgis: Secrets of Life Behind the Royal Curtains. Written by Brian Hoey, the book gathers all sorts of Royal Household ‘insider secrets’. Royal watchers may recognize Brian’s name for the numerous royal books he has written over the years.

Corgis Forever (source)
This chap looks pretty cute with his crown (source)

The title alludes to the Royal Household’s understanding that if you hear the corgis walking along, Her Majesty must be close by so now is not the time to gossip!

The Queen and her corgis meet the New Zealand Rugby Team (source)
The Queen and her dogs meet the New Zealand Rugby Team (source)

Here are a few nuggets to whet your appetite -we definitely think it’s worth picking up a copy which you can do here!

On what the Queen does with her clothes once she no longer wishes to wear them:

…She will hand it to one of her dressers, who can either wear it or sell it, with on proviso, all labels must be removed and anything that could possibly identify it as having come from royalty obliterated. One frock found itself to a jumble sale near Sandringham, but in spite of its obvious quality, it failed to sell. 

William Tallon with the Queen's corgis (source)
William Tallon (a beloved member of the Queen Mother’s staff) with the Queen’s corgis (source)

On how the Royal Family addresses staff:

Edward addresses his police officers, pages, and chauffeurs by their surname. Younger staff – footmen, valets, and housemaids- are called by their Christian names. This is a system used by most members of the Royal Family; one former police officer, who had served The Queen for over 20 years without once being addressed by his Christian name, was invited to shoot with the Duke of Edinburgh at Balmoral when he retired. He said that the only difference was that, as a guest, The Queen and Prince Philip used his Christian name. 

Prince Charles with long time aide Michael Fawcett (source)
Prince Charles with long time aide Michael Fawcett (source)

On an award ceremony mishap:

The attention to detail is meticulous. No mistakes are permitted.Though there was one hilarious occasion when someone dropped a cushion holding a number of awards during an investiture ceremony in the State Ballroom. The Queen solved the problem saying “I’ll give them anything and you can sort it out afterwards.” So a gentleman, who was expected to become a Commander of the British Empire, found that for a few minutes at least, he had been demoted to a mere MBE.

The Queen awards (source)
The Queen bestows a CBE to athlete Jessica Ennis at Buckingham Palace (source)

On quirks of the Royal Household:

The Household is still a world where liveried servants wait on other servants, where everything stops for Afternoon Tea, though, by tradition, no one sits down in the Equerries Withdrawing Room as they sip their Earl Grey and nibble on cucumber sandwiches. It must surely be the only place left in the world which boasts a Coffee Room Maid, or where a supply of black-edged writing paper and envelopes is kept in case there is a death in the family and the court goes into mourning. Or which employs a young man one of whose duties is to replace  a sheet of black blotting paper on the Queen’s desk every morning before she sits down, so that no one could possible read her writing by holding the pad up to a mirror. He then has the responsibility of  destroying the blotting paper, just to make sure.

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On dinner conversation:

When Prince Philip gives a private dinner party, he likes to decide the subject for conversation. One lady was dismayed to find she was expected to contribute on the subject of ‘deciduous trees’, about which she knew absolutely nothing…apparently the secret is to contact his office beforehand and find out his pet topics of the moment and learn just enough to be able to contribute intelligently, but not to upstate the host. Otherwise he can become ‘less than pleased’.

The Queen and Prince Philip at dinner during a visit to Rideau Hall, Ottawa in 1964 (source)
The Queen and Prince Philip at dinner during a visit to Rideau Hall, Ottawa in 1964 (source)

There are many other fun snippets you will enjoy in the book, including all sorts of information regarding the Queen’s children’s country homes. Prince Edward’s leased home Bagshot Park, Princess Anne’s home Gatcombe Park, and Prince Charles’ home Highgrove are all discussed in detail. There is even more information on Nottingham Cottage, the Kensington Palace home that William and Kate moved into shortly after their wedding before being given the run of Apartment 1A.

Any particular royal snippets you’ve picked up over the years that you’d like to share in the comments? Do tell!


Royal Roundup for January 16

Let’s jump right into a round up of royal happenings and news this week:

Queen Mathilde of Belgium welcomed Queen Rania of Jordan at the Royal Palace of Brussels earlier this week. Over a private lunch the two Queens discussed how to help the Syrian refugee crisis. On a completely frivolous note, did no one offer to take Queen Rainia’s coat and bag? [hello!]

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King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway will be celebrating 25 years on the throne on Sunday, January 17th. They will be marking the day with many events including a church service and family friendly winter events in the Palace Square. Bonus: they have invited the King and Queen of Sweden and King and Queen Margarethe and Prince Henrik of Denmark as their special guests for the weekend festivities. [The Royal Court of Norway]

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The Royal Family also released new portraits in connection with the 25th anniversary. They were taken by Jørgen Gomnæs and include one of the current King Harald and his two direct heirs: Crown Prince Haakon and future Queen Princess Ingrid. Such a cute dress on Princess Ingrid! [Royal Court of Norway]

Three generations (source)
Three generations (source)

And how gorgeous does Crown Princess Mette-Marit look here wearing the tiara the King and Queen gave her for her wedding?

A 2016 portrait of Crown Princess Mette-Marit (source)
A 2016 portrait of Crown Princess Mette-Marit (source)

Annie Leibowitz opened up about her 2007 portrait session with The Queen and revealed a few tidbits: she did her own hair and makeup and referred to her ceremonial robe as a “cape thing”. [Express]

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The Duchess of Cambridge will be welcoming editors to Kensington Palace in mid February when she serves as Guest Editor of Huffington Post UK for a day. The opportunity will be used to highlight the the importance of children’s mental health. As a Kensington Palace spokesperson explained, “The Duchess will be commissioning contributions from a number of leading figures in the mental health sector as well as from young people, parents, and teachers.” So that’s a new way to have a royal engagement! [BBC]

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And for anyone lucky enough to find themselves in London this February, Fashion Rules: Dress from the Collections of HM the Queen , Princess Margaret, and Diana, Princess of Wales will be opening on February 11 at Kensington Palace.  The exhibit includes 21 couture dresses; the Queen’s gowns are from the ’50s, Princess Margaret’s from the ’60’s and ’70’s and Diana’s are from the ’80’s. Click here for more. We won’t be in London, but we did get to see Diana: Glimpses of a Modern Princess back in 2012 and it was all caps FUN.

This was the first Jacques Azagury  gown Diana ever wore. She chose it for a 1985 visit to Florence and it is one of the gowns that will be on display.

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Programming Note: We’re also working on updating the site, so please excuse any glitches that may occur over the coming days. We hope to be up and running normally toute de suite. Have a wonderful weekend!

The Queen’s Jewel Box: Her First Pearls

Thanks to Leslie Field who wrote The Queen’s Jewels: The Personal Collection of Elizabeth II (aka the definitive book on the Queen’s massive jewelry collection), we have all sorts of information about when and how the Queen acquired many of her pieces. It was published in 1987, and Field was assisted by the Queen’s Household in her research which is pretty incredible; it must have been such a fun project to work on.

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We know that the Queen loves her pearls; she often wears her pearl and diamond stud earrings (inherited from her grandmother Queen Mary) and on any given day might have two or three strings of pearls around her neck. So let’s dive into the pearl section of the Queen’s jewelry box, and in particular how it all began.

The Queen was give her first pearls when she was born, which was actually a family tradition begun by Queen Victoria. Here is  an excerpt explaining how it came to be:

Queen Victoria started a family tradition by giving each of her five daughters two fine pearls a year from birth, so that when they were grown-up they would have enough for a necklace. However, by 1866, when she was also buying pearls for a growing number of granddaughters, Queen Victoria asked her eldest daughter, Vicky, married to the Prussian Crown Prince, to explain to her sisters that with the price of a pearl having risen to between 30 pounds and 40 pounds she had to cut back and could only provide on a year for their daughters, since she was still making up the necklaces for her own two youngest daughters, Louise and Beatrice.

This family tradition continued with King George VI, who gave his daughter Princess Elizabeth (the present Queen) a thin chain to which two pears were added on each birthday. Here she is wearing it in 1929 when she was three years old.

Princess ELizabeth arriving at Lady Nunburnholme's children's party to celebrate the 1st anniversary of the birthday of the Hon Ben Wilson, the 4th Baron of Nunburnholme. (source)
Princess Elizabeth arriving at Lady Nunburnholme’s children’s party to celebrate the 1st anniversary of the birthday of the Hon Ben Wilson, the 4th Baron of Nunburnholme (source)

It seems that Anne did not receive her own thin chain and two pearls when she was born;  according to Field, Princess Anne is wearing the Queen’s childhood pearl necklace in the portrait below.

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I wonder if the necklace is still with the Queen or if it was truly a gift to Princess Anne. If it was, she may have passed it along to Zara and Zara’s daughter Mia. I’ve scoured the internet but can’t find any photos of Zara or Maya in the necklace; I’ll have to keep on the lookout!

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By the same token,  I wonder if we will see Princess Charlotte in a similar necklace. I’m sure Kate would be all over a tradition like that what with how she likes dressing Prince George in vintage children’s styles and Prince William’s own baby clothes.

The next pearls that the Queen received were for the occasion of King George V’s Silver Jubilee in 1935. The Queen received 3 rows of pearls and Princess Margaret received two rows since she was younger.

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Both princesses wore the necklaces for their parent’s coronation in 1938.

On the Buckingham Palace balcony after the coronation (source)
On the Buckingham Palace balcony after the coronation (source)

The pearls necklaces on the two princesses can be better seen in this 1940 portrait. Cute that Princess Margaret’s necklace is all twisted up.

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And here with a young Prince Charles and Princess Anne.

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This was taken at Balmoral in 1952.

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This photograph of the Queen with Princess Anne was taken in 1960 at Windsor Castle.

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This is another great photograph

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Jumping ahead many years, The Queen chose this necklace in March, 1981. This was the day her private council consented to Lady Diana and Prince Charles’ engagement, shown here together at Buckingham Palace.

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here she is wearing the same necklace in 1997.

A portrait taken by Lord Snowdon in 1997 (source)
A portrait taken by Lord Snowdon in 1997 (source)

The Queen also chose to wear the three-stand necklace to the funeral service for the Princess of Wales in 1997.

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The necklace is still in the Queen’s regular rotation. It is shown here in Scotland in 2015.

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Pearls do go with everything! If you’re in the mood for some more posts on pearls, here’s one on Princess Diana’s Spencer chokers and one on the magnificent sapphire and pearl choker that became her signature. Researching the post has me wishing we all wore pearls every day, just out and about. This three-strand beauty is on my wishlist, and I’m seriously thinking I’d wear it with my jeans and a button down.

What do you think of this lovely tradition of starting pearl necklaces at such a young age? Any requests for specific jewels to look at in future posts?


Princess Diana’s Secret Trip to Paris with Friends

In our last post, we dove into Ken Wharfe’s account of his time with Diana in his book Diana: Closely Guarded Secret and how she took a secret trip to Italy that included a midnight tour of Venice. Click here if you missed it or would like a refresher. Among many other illuminating insights (the book is truly worth a read!), the book reveals another undercover trip – a jaunt to Paris in May 1993.

Such a great read! (source)
Such a great read! (source)

Diana had travelled to Paris on a solo visit the year prior, in November 1992 (with her sister Sarah as a Lady in Waiting), and now she wanted to go on an easy, quiet trip with friends during which she hoped she wouldn’t attract any attention from the media.

Princess Diana and Ken Wharfe in Paris 1992 (source)
Princess Diana and Ken Wharfe in Paris during her public 1992 visit (source)

Here’s Lady Sara with the Princess on that official trip (feel free to check out our post on Ladies in Waiting here if you’re in the mood (when you see that post, you’ll notice that it appears that Diana and Sarah wore the same outfits for engagements in 1992 and 1994, just with different accessories).

Diana and her sister Sara (source)
Diana and her sister Sarah in Paris (source)

In a bid “to be normal” she asked Ken Wharfe to arrange the security needed for the private trip. She and two friends, Lady Palumbo and Lucia Flecha de Lima, decided to take the trip together. They flew to Paris on a private jet Lady Palumbo had access to and stayed at the Palumbo’s Parisian home, both of which helped them achieve this undercover trip. Here is his account of the trip.

I had arranged the hire of a plain Renault Espace people carrier at Le Bourget airport, and in that we headed straight for Paris’ high-fashion quarter, where Lady Palumbo had arranged for Diana to have a private viewing at Chanel…before we went on to some other boutiques in the area…their purchases included an Hermes tie for me!…and we then headed to the Palmbo’s award winning house in the exclusive district of Neuilly, close to the Bois de Boulogne, where we were to stay.

So far, no one had any idea we were there, and I had taken the decision not to ask for help from local police this time for fear of leaks to the press. Next day…she was almost skipping along as we approach the chic Marius et Jeanette restaurant.

Diana's restaurant of choice in Paris for lunch with friends (source)
Diana’s restaurant of choice in Paris for lunch with friends (source)

As I followed our party in, my heart sank. There, sitting on his scooter outside the restaurant was one man and his lens- Jean-Paul Dousset, who at that time worked with the notorious paparazzo Daniel Angelli. The year before, they had together exposed the Duchess of York’s love affair with John Brian with those infamous toe-sucking photographs….Luckily Diana didn’t spot him and so remained oblivious to the fact that we had been found out. Then I realized that we hadn’t. For in the corner of the restaurant sat the actor Gerard Depardieu, one of France’s most celebrated sex symbols, and the reason why Dousset had been waiting outside…

Princess Diana had met Gerard Depardieu the previous year in October 1992 at the Royal Premier of '1492' at the Odeon in Leicester Square, London (Getty Images)
Princess Diana had met Gerard Depardieu the previous year in October 1992 at the Royal Premier of ‘1492’ at the Odeon in Leicester Square, London (Getty Images)

Depardieu recognized the Princess at once, and like the perfect French gentleman he is, came over immediately to stand by her table, talking of her great beauty and what a privilege it was for France, for Paris and for him personally that he could be there. She was putty in his hands. And we were all putty in the hands of the freelance photographer outside, who must already have been working out exactly how much he was going to make by selling a set of pictures….I decided to act immediately…knowing that he was not a [security] threat, I offered him a deal. If he kept a discreet distance so that the Princess did not know he was watching her, I would not interfere with his job. In return, he would not release the pictures until we were safely out of France, so that she would not be mobbed and thus have her short break ruined, and her security put at increased risk. He agreed, and was as good as his word. For the rest of the day Jean-Paul trailed us, but always at a distance and never too close to alert the Princess. True to our deal, he dispatched his pictures only after we had left Paris…

Through my secret deal- for I never told the princess – I had kept the number of paparazzi to the smallest number possible -one- and Diana was able to enjoy a trouble-free break. 

These are some of those photos. They show the Princess out and about enjoying the sights, including outside of Notre Dame Cathedral. Ken Wharfe can be spotted in both set of photographs. You can see him to the left of the Princess in the long photograph below – perhaps they were picking up some wine or, if it were me, snacks for the flight home!

Out and About in Paris May 1, 1993 (source)
Out and About in Paris May 1, 1993 (source)

Ken Wharfe is also pictured standing behind the Princess in the top left photograph and to the right of the Princess in the middle photograph on the bottom below. Note that the Princess isn’t wearing any sort of disguise and yet she was able to walk around with ease. She also appears to be carrying a quilted black leather Chanel bag; I wonder if she had just bought it in the boutique the day before.

The sightseeing princess, chic in black & white (source)

Unfortunately, Wharfe resigned from his post later that year when he felt that for a number of reasons related to his relationship with the Princess he was no longer able to do his job effectively. To his credit, in my opinion he doesn’t sound bitter or vindictive; he comes across as evenhanded and excellent at his job. I highly Diana: Closely Guarded Secretsuggest picking up the book to have a good read yourself – you might just find yourself still reading in the early hours of the morning like I was.


Princess Diana’s Secret Visit to Italy

I recently stayed up waaay too late reading a copy of Diana: Closely Guarded Secret which is full of interesting insights. Written by her longtime Personal Protection Officer (PPO) Ken Wharfe (with Robert Jobson), the book seems to me to be an even handed account unto what daily life was like working for the Princess of Wales. It is available on Amazon, and we highly recommend picking up a copy.

Such a great read! (source)
Such a great read! (source)

The book isn’t a new one- it came out in 2002- and it covers the story of how Wharfe worked for Scotland Yard and was eventually hired to protect Princes William and Harry in 1986 (he’d accompany Prince William during his school day at Wetherby Prep School, for example) before moving onto the team protecting Princess Diana the following year.

Ken accompanying William, Harry, and Diana on a trip to the shops (source)
Ken accompanying William, Harry, and Diana on a trip to the shops (source)

This post will give particular attention to a particularly interesting account in the book – an undercover trip to Italy that Diana managed to take with Wharfe’s help. Wharfe reveals how the Princess loved Italy and particularly enjoyed a visit to Villa Rizzardi with her mother Frances Shand Kydd. They were guests of Contessa Maria Christina Guerrieri-Rizzardi aka ‘The Countess of Verona’, a longtime family friend.

Villa Nizzardi n Moonlight (source)
Villa Rizzardi n Moonlight (source)

The plane tickets were booked under ‘Mr. and Mr. Hargreaves’ which evidently was their pseudonym of choice for many trips. It was a short 3-day visit and on the final night the party went to see Pavarotti perform at a nearby concert. They had a marvelous time despite the fact that the concert was cancelled before the end due to a torrential rainstorm.

Princess Diana,and Luciano Pavarotti at Hyde Park concert July 30, 1991 in London. (source)
Princess Diana,and Luciano Pavarotti on a separate occasion at Hyde Park concert July 30, 1991 in London. (source)

Diana, her mum, and the Countess had been spotted by Pavarotti in the crowd and he invited them backstage which they were all excited about. Afterwards, Diana was so thrilled that they had managed not to attract media attention that she asked Ken to arrange for them to drive to Venice- 70 miles away- that very night. Not seeing any security reasons not to, Wharf agreed to help facilitate this request. Here is a snippet of his account of the midnight visit:

Diana jumped out of the Contessa’s car and start[ed] kicking the puddles, as if she were Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain. The Venice Carabinieri then arranged for two motor boats to take us off to enjoy the astonishing beauty of Venice by moonlight…

There was no one else around. For the next hour we saw Venice as few have ever been privileged to do. We sailed along the Grand Canal, with the ancient city silhouetted against a stormy sky pierced by a full moon. Armed with a  flat of coffee and a bottle of chilled Pinot Grigio, from which Diana would take the occasional swig as we had no glasses, we were midnight tourists in an empty city. She then announced that she wanted to walk through Saint Mark’s Square. The Italian police, who by now had embraced the mood, agreed. We docked our launches at the Hotel Danieli and, still with the tarpaulin over our sodden heads since it had started to rain again, walked towards Saint Mark’s Cathedral at the end of the square. It was an enchanting, if almost unreal experience. The, from nowhere, Sergeant Dave Sharpe appeared with a  tray of hot croissants and small loaves of freshly cooked break which earned him a round of applause from the by now ecstatic Princess. 

They left shortly afterwards, before tourists started to mill about again, and the Princess was able to catch a couple of hours of sleep at the Villa before returning home to London that day. Doesn’t that sound delightful? It’s fun to hear about her spontaneous, bubbly side.

Diana did have two other public trips to Venice. One was with Prince Charles in May 1985. The couple arrived with great fanfare on the Royal Yacht Brittania. The footage below is from a BBC news broadcast and you can spy Diana on the deck of the yacht as it arrives in Venice, with her  binoculars at the ready to see the city.

Upon spotting a can of hair spray floating along in the canal during a ride in a gondola, Diana was said to have remarked that it appeared her hairdresser had fallen in – ha!

The Princes and Princess of Wales in Venice (source)
The Princes and Princess of Wales in Venice (source)

Diana returned in 1995 and attended a dinner in aid of the Serpentine Gallery wearing a red beaded cocktail dress by Jacques Azagury. Pictures from that evening were splashed around the world.

Diana in Venice (source)
Diana arriving at the event in Venice looking like a million bucks (source)

If you’d like to pick up a copy of the book for yourself, it can be found here.  But we’re not done with this great book yet – next up we have a look at Wharfe’s account of Diana’s undercover visit to Paris with friends during the spring of 1992. Are you charmed that she was able to have a midnight adventure in Venice, too?





A First Look at Netflix Series The Crown

Have you heard about the new series that will debut later this year exclusively on Netflix? It’s called The Crown and Netflix did not create this show on the cheap; the budget is a reported $156 million dollars, far more than they’ve ever spent on an exclusive series.

This past summer some pictures were revealed showing the filming of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding and the attention to detail is so impressive. Check out the bridesmaids dresses in the photo from the production..

Princess Elizabeth's bridemsaids all dolled up (Source)
Princess Elizabeth’s bridemsaids all dolled up (Source)

and then compare them the photo from the actual wedding day. Princess Margaret is on the far left next to Lady Mary Cambridge and the bride and groom on the Buckingham Palace balcony on November 20, 1947.

Waving to the cheering crowds in The Mall (source)
Waving to the cheering crowds in The Mall (source)

And here comes actress Claire Foy as Princess Elizabeth in a gorgeous carriage.

Claire Foy En route to the Abbey (source)
Claire Foy En route to the Abbey (source)

Check out the replicas of the fringe tiara and her Norman Hartnell wedding dress Princess Elizabeth wore. Our post the dress can be found here and is full of information on the detail that went into the gown.

Arriving! (source)
Arriving! (source)

For this scene, Ely Cathedral stood in for Westminster Abbey.

Preparations under way (source)

John Lithgow plays Winston Churchill and Harriet Walter is Clementine Churchill – love her as Fanny Dashwood in the 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility. Another Sense and Sensibility costar is in the series as well; Greg Wise (aka Willoughby) plays Louis Mountbatten.

Churchill and (source)
Churchill and (source)

The exact date the show will be released hasn’t been made public, but Netflix has just released an official trailer which is creating plenty of buzz. Check it out here.

Queen Mary looks AMAZING, right?  Prince Philip looks so convincing as well. Looking forward to devouring this show as soon as it comes out. Will you be watching?



Sophie & Edward’s Engagement Announcement: January 6, 1999

Just for fun, let’s take a step back in time.

17 years ago today, on January 6 1999, the press was notified on the Queen’s behalf that Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones were engaged. Later that morning, a photo call was held in the St. James’s Palace. The couple emerged to greet the waiting press for pictures and a look at the ring.

Sophie & Edward (source)
It must have been a warm January! Sophie & Edward at St. James’s Palace January 6, 1999 (source)

During the photo call, Prince Edward revealed that when he proposed, “I managed to take her completely by surprise, she had no idea it was coming.” He was also pretty thrilled with the ring and told the journalists “If it catches the sun, you’ll all be blinded.” One of our first posts when we launched the blog in 2011 covered Sophie’s engagement ring here.

On that day in January 1999, Prince Edward was 34 to Sophie’s 33 years of age and they had been dating for a solid five years. To answer why the wait was so long, Edward said  “It’s impossible for anyone else to understand why it has taken me this long but I don’t think it would have been right before and I don’t think Sophie would have said yes if I had said before. Hopefully, by the fact that she did say yes, I must have got the timing right.” (source). You can check out a video of the photo call here here.

We went into detail on their chance royal meeting in a previous post. In a nutshell, they met thanks to a charity event that the company Sophie worked for had helped to put on. She first met him at a preliminary meeting in 1992 and then things really got rolling at the event itself when Sophie asked him to play a round of tennis with her. A rather gossipy article with more on that can be found here if you are in the mood for more.

A First Photo, September 1993 (source)
A First Photo, September 1993 (source)

Fun fact: Television presenter Sue Barker was also on the invite list for the event that day, however she was unable to take a promotional photograph with Prince Edward, so Sophie was asked to step in and the results are above. When the couple sat down to a pre-wedding interview a few days before the wedding, Sue was the journalist asked to do the honors.

A good chunk of the interview is included in the footage below. It took place on the grounds of Bagshot Park, the stately home that Prince Edward had begun to lease two years before the engagement (and, really, the house and grounds deserve their own lengthy post so will add that to the list). The interview begins at 27:30 and a detailed transcript can be found here.

It’s been reported that Prince Edward proposed to Sophie while they were on vacation before Christmas. They spoke to their parents over the holidays and made the announcement when everyone was getting back to work in the New Year which gave them some time to decide a few things. For example, they shared with the press that they would like to have a smaller wedding than Edward’s siblings had had and would instead have their wedding ceremony at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor. Both Princess Anne and Prince Andrew had chosen Westminster Abbey for their weddings and Prince Charles of course famously married Lady Diana Spencer at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

They also shared their intention to continue their careers after the wedding instead of taking on full time royal duties. This AP video has some interesting snippets including a quote from Sophie’s business partner saying that “it’s business as usual…the intention always was that we’d sent the company up and after the engagement she’d continue to work.” Interesting that Sophie was that candid in expecting the engagement, right?

Sophie outside her office after her engagement was announced, protection officer in tow. (Getty Images)
Sophie outside her office after her engagement was announced, protection officer in tow. (Getty Images)

A former boyfriend is also interviewed in the video. His soundbite is quite something. He says, “She’s a capable girl and I always think she had her eye on the main chance. I think that although she went out with the likes of me I think that weekends are very much spent in the country homes of Lord This and Lady That and I think that that is what she always felt was the kind of area that she would want to move into…and good luck to her…I think she’ll be a breath of fresh air.” Cue the screech of the record stopping on Lord This and Lady That. Sheesh- she can’t have been too thrilled with that interview!

The wedding went off on June 19, 1999 with just a few small glitches like the sound of airplanes en route to Heathrow drowning out the vows and Edward struggled to get Sophie’s ring on. They will celebrate their 17th wedding anniversary this year and while they did go back to work after the wedding it proved to be too difficult to continue indefinitely what with Edward’s production company ignoring a media ban when William started at St. Andrew’s University and Sophie’s being taken in by a fake sheikh. They announced in December 20o1 that they would be wrapping up their careers in order to focus full time with royal duties and supporting the Queen.

The new Earl and Countess of Wessex (source)
The new Earl and Countess of Wessex (source)

It seems to me that they’ve been fulfilled their promise and are actively involved with a number of charities and interests so it must be mildly frustrating that the press glosses over them for features on more glamorous royals. Sophie is a favorite of mine, she seems quite down to earth and hardworking despite all the crazy around her. What do you think?

PS Here’s a look at the tiaras Sophie has worn so far if you feel like looking at more sparkly things!

What a Thing to Say To The Queen Book Review

Happy New Year, Royal Posters! I hope you’ve enjoyed a happy holiday season. It’s hard to believe that we started this blog in 2011 so are already into our 6th year.

To kick off this New Year on The Royal Post, I’d like to share some snippets from a delightful book on the British Royals. Just published in November of 2015, it’s called What a Thing To Say to The Queen: A Collection of Royal Anecdotes from the House of Windsor by Thomas Blaikie. Lucky me – I was given a copy for Christmas.

Perfect to read with a cup of tea (source)
Perfect to read with a cup of tea (source)

Mr. Blaikie has compiled a fun collection of witty quips and (very) short stories, many never published, that give insight into the goings on of the Royal Family.   It’s not too saccharine and is the perfect book to pick up and read snippets of here and there. It also has accompanying illustrations that give it some extra flavor.

Here are a few of my favorites to give you a taste.

In a chapter titled “No Airs and Graces’:

At Highclere, better knows as Downton Abbey, a farm worker was wedged under a broken-down trailer when he heard a familiar voice asking, “Can I help?’ It was the Queen, in a headscarf, out walking with a dog. She is on of those guests who wants to make a contribution.

The Queen at a polo match at Highclere Castle aka Downton Abbey (source)
The Queen at a polo match at Highclere Castle aka Downton Abbey (source)

The Queen had an adventure getting to a private party in London recently. ‘We were coming across the Park’, she told friends, ‘when a policemen stepped in front of the car and made us wait while a big procession of vehicles passed by with blue flashing lights. It must have been a very important ruler.’

In the Chapter titled Staff:

While Prince Charles and Lady Diana were announcing their engagement to the world’s press on the lawn of Buckingham Palace on 24 February 1981, two people were twitching their curtains, hoping not to be seen, in the windows behind them: the Prince’s valet and the Queen.

Charles & Diana on the grounds of Buckingham Palace (Source). Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images
Charles & Diana on the grounds of Buckingham Palace (Source). Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images

The Queen granted fifteen sittings to the artist Lucian Freud between May 2000 and December 200, not in the usual grand palace drawing room but in an art restoration studios in St. James’s Palace. He wanted the Queen in the royal diadem but with a blue day suit, not the usual state dress. The finished portrait was disliked by many who were unfamiliar with the artist’s approach. Because of the value of the diadem, protection officers had to be present, but Freud found them distracting and the Queen asked them to go outside. One of the men, the Queen said, she knew quite well. While picking up birds at a shoot on a friend’s estate, a cock pheasant had hurtled out of a hedge and knocked her over. There was blood. The officer rushed up and, hurling himself upon her, began administering the kiss of life. He thought she had been shot. The Queen was impressed and engaged him in her own protection squad. 

Lucian Freud portrait of Queen Elizabeth II (source; The Royal Collection)
Lucian Freud portrait of Queen Elizabeth II (source: The Royal Collection)

In the Chapter titled Our Eye for Details:

The Queen annotated the program for a state visit of the King and Queen go Thailand in the 1960’s. ‘Tell the band leader under no circumstances to play excerpts from the King and I.’

HM Queen Elizabeth II with HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand in 1960 (source)
HM Queen Elizabeth II with HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand in 1960 (source)

In the Chapter titled Mother:

The Queen Mother wished to name her second daughter Anne, but George VI wouldn’t have it. She had to settle for Margaret, the King’s preference, which she considered a maid’s name. Curious that when her time came, the present Queen called her first daughter Anne. 

Margaret, Elizabeth, & Anne (source)
Margaret, Elizabeth, & Anne (source)

In a chapter titled Wild Side:

The Queen was greatly excited about Ginny Airlie’s  70th birthday party at Annabel’s in February 2003. She hadn’t been to a nightclub, she said, since she was first married. On an engagement the following day at St. Alban’s Abbey in Hertfordshire, the Dean asked her if she knew Robert Salisbury, also present. ‘Oh yes’, she said, ‘Robert and I were in a nightclub last night until half past one.’ 

There are plenty more anecdotes in the book and I highly recommend picking up a copy!

All best wishes for a happy 2016.