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]
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!
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.
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.
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).
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.
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…
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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 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.
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.
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.’
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Some of the more unique aspects of royal life are what we find so fascinating here at the Royal Post, and one area we haven’t discussed yet is passports. Since they interest us, we thought you’d like to learn more as well so let’s dive in!
The British Royals
One of the perks of being The Queen of England is that she is the only citizen of the United Kingdom who does not need a passport when travelling overseas.
‘Her Britannic Majesty’s Secretary of State requests and requires in the name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.’
So, since British passports are issued in the name of The Queen, it is unnecessary for her to have one herself. She is the only exception; the rest of her family, including The Duke of Edinburgh and The Prince of Wales, have passports and must carry them when travelling abroad.
The fascinating book In Private In Public the Prince and Princess of Wales by Alastair Burnet includes a look at the passports that Diana and Charles carried in the mid ’80’s (such a fun read – you can pick up a copy here.
These passports don’t appear to have a special mark showing any special diplomatic status, but if we’re mistaken please let us know in the comments!
Here’s an inside look at Diana’s passport as well; it was part of the exhibit on her life at Althorp. No severe and boring drug store passport photo for the Princess of Wales!
Diana’s childhood passport was also included in the exhibit and I remember seeing it there on my visit to Althorp in the summer of 2001. Unfortunately the photo is teeny tiny, but I can just make out that her birthplace is listed as Sandringham, England on on 1-7-61. At this point, she would have been The Honourable Diana Frances Spencer and apparently Diana’s dad took all the photos of the Spencer siblings that were used in their passports.
We also know that William and Kate applied for a passport for Prince George in advance of their trip to Australia in 2013. Understandably, no pictures have been published of William, Kate, or George’s passports but I do have an anecdote!
An acquaintance of mine worked at the Welcome Centre at the Athlete’s Village during the 2012 London Olympics. At all Olympic Athlete’s Villages, the Welcome Centre essentially functions as Customs for the village. Anyone who is not an Olympic athlete must enter through the centre and be on a pre-screened and approved list and, without exception, each visitor must bring their passport with them to be left at the Centre for the duration of their visit. Most people are great about following the rules, but William and Kate sidestepped this and just brought photocopies. The gall! The folks running the centre weren’t pleased but…they let them in.
The House of Grimaldi
When Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier, she became a citizen of Monaco and decided to retain her US citizenship. This photo of her American passport surfaced on the internet – interesting that she calls herself ‘Grace Kelly Grimaldi’, right?
Prince Albert reportedly claimed dual citizenship as well, but gave it up when he turned 21. He is, however, enormously proud to have visited each and every State; he seems to bring that up in every interview with an American reporter.
The Royal Family of Denmark
There is limited information about the passport situation for Denmark’s royal family, however it is widely reported that all members of the Royal Family have diplomatic passports. We also know that when Queen Margarethe’s sons married foreigners Alexandra Manley, Mary Donaldson, and Marie Cavallier they were all given Danish citizenship. Understandably, it caused a bit of a fuss when they got to sidestep the normal channels to receive their passports.
When Princess Alexandra and Prince Joachim divorced, she reportedly was allowed to retain her diplomatic passport. The thinking there was that her and Prince Joachim’s sons Prince Nikolai and Prince Felix would both have diplomatic passports so it would be impractical if their mother didn’t have one as well when travelling.
Also, King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece can carry Danish diplomatic passports since they are descended from a Danish King and Queen. Members of their family, like Prince Pavolos and Princess Marie Chantal can also carry Danish passports since they are a Prince and Princess of Denmark. More details about that can be read here if you’re in the mood.
We’ll stick with those three royal families for now, but we’ll keep digging for more information and do feel free to share anything you know in the comments!
Oscar de la Renta has left quite a legacy. Many royal ladies have worn the designer over the years, so let’s dive in and look at a few of them.
Princess Marie Chantal of Greece
M-C wore this gorgeous ornate dress from Oscar de la Renta’s Spring 2013 collection for Princess Madeleine’s pre-wedding dinner. Love! So elegant.
Princess Mary of Denmark
This black and red number from Mary’s closet is another elegant Oscar piece.
This one takes the cake, though, am I right?
Another view to get the full effect.
Queen Sofia of Spain
It seems like Sofia and Oscar became buddies over the years. Here’s a fun moment – Hillary sandwiched between Oscar and Queen Sofia of Spain at the Queen Sofia Institute Gala in New York in 2013.
Together again at a November event in New York City
And here’s then Princess Letizia and Infanta Elena both in Oscar de la Renta suits for National Day in 2012
First of all, several outlets have been using photos of Diana wearing this pearl encrusted gown and have said it was Oscar de la Rena (even Harper’s Bazaar got it wrong- eek). Diana watchers know it was a Catherine Walker couture gown. It was made for a 1989 visit to Hong Kong and Diana later wore it to the British Fashion awards in 1989 and also on a trip to Budapest in 1990. It was one of the last dresses that Diana chose to add to the auction of her gowns. It was bought by the Franklin Mint who later gave it to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. You can read more about the dress on their site here.
Oscar and Diana did share a dance, though. This was during a September 1996 gala benefit in Washington, DC. This was Diana’s first official engagement in the United States after the divorce was finalized.
Diana was honorary chairwoman of the event and – look – Ralph Lauren and Anna Wintour were there, too.
A 1996 article with more information on the event can be found here.
Did I miss one of your favourites? Which is yours?
Our post awhile back on the art of royal signatures was such a hit that we thought we’d branch out and talk about royal monograms. There are just so many to choose from that we haven’t rounded up ALL of them but instead have focused on the ones that are most interesting to us.
Hopefully they’ll be the ones that are most interesting to you, too.
Diana Princesss of Wales
Let’s start with Diana, Princess of Wales
Her monogram really stands to me since the cursive D reflects her loopy (for lack of a better word) handwriting.
Here is a sample of her writing on a KP notecard. See what I mean?
And because we’re all over this stuff, check this out. While Diana was living at Coleherne Court in the days before she became engaged to Charles, she has personalized stationary with the apartment’s address and phone number. She really appreciated proper stationery and must have really have loved that D with the coronet!.
Kate is up next.
The Duchess of Cambridge
I can’t help but wonder how this went down…did Catherine/Kate have a few monogramoptions presented to her before she settled on this monogram? Or was it more of a “here you go, this will be your monogram” situation? Whatever the case, it seems like that would have been a fun and surreal moment. And she got the same type of crown as Diana.
The monogram has already shown up on this special bracelet which is reported to be from Camilla thought that has not been officially confirmed. I like to think that it was a gift from Charles to both the “C” ladies in his family since the other side of the charm has Camilla’s monogram.
While we’re at it, here’s the signature Catherine has been using. Must be strange to suddenly not have to sign with a last name, right?
On to the Swedes!
King Carl Gustav
The royal family of Sweden has grand monograms that are done in gold.
Queen Silvia seems to have a double S going on, perhaps because her maiden name was Sommerlathe?
Victoria & Daniel’s Joint Monogram
This is lovely.
And be still our hearts, Princess Estelle has her own webpage and monogram. Of course!
Obviously she needed a monogram to go with her mini Order of the Seraphim:
That looks like a sprightly crown on top of that M! Her hubby doesn’t get one since he declined the title of Prince…
but Princess Leonore’s monogram was revealed at the same time as her christening, which took place on Sunday June 8, 2014. Like her cousin Estelle, Leonore now has her own page as well. Check it out here.
Oh, and Princess Leonore got her own mini Order of the Seraphim as well!
Here’s a better look.
Prince Carl Philipe
They got both the C and the P in there which must have taken some time to sort out!
Royal Family of Norway
Crown Princess Mette-Marit
Double M! Love it so much we’ll ignore the rest of the Norwegian royals and move along to the Danes, ok?
Royal Family of Denmark
The Royal Family of Denmark have done a good job at making the monograms cohesive.
Mary & Frederik’s joint Monogram:
Prince Joachim of Denmark:
This has got to be the most modern looking one of the bunch. Love it:
Note how the M is different from Princess Mary’s ‘M’. Details, details!
Countess Alexandra is the former wife of Prince Joachim and we have some more juicy on the Countess that you can read here.
When she and Joachim divorced, not only did she get to keep her diplomatic passport and the title of countess, but she also gets to use this delightfully regal monogram:
It’s interesting to note that this monogram is a downgrade from her original. When she was Princess, she was given this monogram with the closed crown to use (on the left). After the divorce, the monogram was revised to the open crown (on the right).
Before we move along, I recently found these pictures of the then Princess Alexandra at Schakenborg Castle, her home with Prince Joachim. These gates were a gift from the Queen. Joachim now lives there with Princess Marie so the gates were changed to their joint cypher. More about that here.
Alexandra and Joachim outside those lovely gates.
Principality of Monaco
Prince Albert & Princess Charlene
Lord only knows what the deal is with these two, both they have used a joint monogram since the wedding. As far as we can tell from their official website, Princess Charlene does not have her own. Their website was recently given a sorely needed upgrade, and you can check it out here.
During the wedding celebrations, the monograph was everywhere!!! Case in point:
Princess Grace of Monaco
Grace Grimaldi got two G’s in her monogram.
Well that’s it for now. Anyone else share our interest in royal monograms? Hope so! 🙂
We all have our opinions on Diana’s gown and while it may not have stood the test of time style-wise it deserves a place in history as an iconic royal wedding dress, am I right?
A couple of Christmases ago, I unwrapped the delightful book A Dress for Diana by David Emanuel and Elizabeth Emanuel, the young and fresh-out-of-school designers chosen to create Diana’s wedding dress. It’s a fun read with page after page of gorgeous photos and some interesting little known facts as well. So let’s take strip doing memory line, starting at the beginning.
Diana wasn’t the first royal that the Emanuels dressed. Princess Michael of Kent was an early client, and she brought in some other royal ladies as well, though the Emanuels don’t specify who.
Diana was first introduced to the Emanuels through a photo shoot that she did with British Vogue. Without revealing who the clothes were for, the magazine asked the Emanuels to send in some pieces that might be suitable. Much to their delight, Diana fell in love with this soft pink chiffon one and wanted to learn more about the designers. Voila, the road was set…
By the way, the photographer for the Vogue shoot was Princess Margaret’s photographer husband, Antony Armstrong-Jones and according to the Emmanuels it was done BEFORE the engagement was announced! Amazing that that didn’t get out in the press. So let’s figure this out: Charles proposed on the evening of February 6th after which Diana left the country, so when did she fit in this Vogue shoot and how did it not leak out into the press? Something does not measure up. Anyone have any thoughts?
Andrew Morton’s book Diana in Her Own Words explains that took off on a pre-arranged trip to Australia sometime around February 8th, 1981. She went with her mom and step dad went to their sheep station in Yass in New South Wales and later to a friend’s beach house for ten days of peace and seclusion. The book also has this quote from Diana:
I then went away two days later to Australia for three weeks to sort of settle down and to organize lists and things with my mother. That was a complete disaster because I pined for him but he never rang me up. I thought that was very strange and whenever I rang him he was out and he never rang me back. I thought ‘Ok’. I was just being generous – ‘He is being very busy, this, that and the other.” I come back from Australia, someone knocks on my door. Someone from his office with a bunch of flowers and I knew they hadn’t come from Charles because there was no note. It was just someone being very tactful in the office.
The book also says that there was a solitary phone call after she called him, which Charles alludes to in this video from when the engagement was announced on February 24th. Man, Diana must have been jet lagged, right?!
Anyway, that pink blouse from the Vogue shoot led to this black dress, which Diana wore with great fanfare to her first official engagement with Charles. Diana returned the dress after she started shedding a lot of weight, and the alterations were so extensive that the Emanuels just made her a new dress and kept the old one. Incidentally, that dress sold at auction in 2010 for $276,000.
The earrings Diana wore that night were her mom’s and she also borrowed them on her wedding day. Diana’s sister Lady Sarah seems to own them now, and she wore them to her daughter’s wedding in the summer of 2012. It was quite thrilling to see them out and about again – more about that in our post here.
So that dress led to Vogue asking the Emanuels to be one of 6 designers asked to submit designs for an article on how they would design Diana’s wedding dress if given the commission. This is what they submitted:
Not far off from what they actually designed, right?! It’s shockingly similar!
So Diana liked it and rang up the Emanuels to ask them to do the honours, and then Buckingham Palace called on March 10, 1981 to say they were being revealed as the designers in a press release being sent out that day. After that, the Emanuels did everything they could to keep the design a secret- they had a safe installed, and threw random bits of fabric into the rubbage bin outside to trick the press- even though the actual design was pretty much right there in Vogue!
As the work was underway, David and Elizabeth were delighted that they and three of their employees were invited to the wedding as guests. One of them was Rose Hoey, and her memory of a visit to Buckinham Palace for a fitting is just the best:
“Diana…she was such a wonderful lady – so down to earth. I remember once at Buckingham Palace saying to her that it was amazing to think I was on the inside, having stood outside as a tourist so many times. She laughed and said we should go out on the balcony and wave at all the people outside – and we did!”
OMG, OMG. Did any of the tourists outside that day get a picture of that and was it somehow captured in the press and escaped my notice all these years?? Here’s to hoping – that picture would be priceless!
The bridesmaids of course had lots of fittings as well, and on one occasion wore roller skates during the proceedings. Sadly, there’s no picture of that.
The Emanuels thought of a lot of other details as well. They went to St. Paul’s and lined up with tourists so that they could measure the length of the aisle to make sure they didn’t make the train too wide (yes, they were recognized). They also coordinated the design of the shoes, worked with the florists to make sure that Diana’s bouquet wouldn’t look puny with the big dress, and even created a matching water-proof parasol in case of rain.
They got the dress safely to Clarence House for the wedding day, and helped Diana get dressed. Evidently she was quite relaxed and was happily singing along to the “Just One Cornetto” jingle that had been playing on the TV as she watched wedding coverage.
Then it was off to St. Paul’s. his video has the dramatic moment when Diana arrived at St. Paul’s t the 2:38 mark… the enormous train kept coming out of the carriage and – eek!- it was all creased.
We write about a lot of random royal stuff here, and today’s post is no exception. Now that William and Kate’s tour of Australia and New Zealand is about to start, we’ve been inspired to take a closer look at royal luggage over the years. After all, who doesn’t love a peak behind the curtain? Luggage with tags marked with ‘The Queen’ fulfills that for me.
The Queen is the only British Citizen who doesn’t need to travel with a passport since all British passports are issued in her name. Her family members travel on diplomatic passport and they also use a handy colour coded luggage tag system to keep things organized. Different family members have different coloured tags assigned to them, and they also specify where the luggage is to be delivered (i.e. ‘Residence).
The Queen’s tags are always yellow as you can see here. This stack of luggage was for the Queen’s 2007 tour of the US and are pretty normal looking when you consider what’s inside them., right?
Naturally, royal jewels travel as carry on!
This photo of Charles and Diana was taken in 1981 and shows the couple arriving in London. In this case, Diana had a couple pieces of carry on luggage.
Things were remarkably different for their tour of Australia in 1985. This photo, taken at the Melbourne airport, shows the pile of luggage that the Prince and Princess of Wales required for the trip. This particular shot comes from the delightful book Dressing Diana by Tim Graham (it can be purchased here and is sooo worth having in your royal library).
Check out the standing wardrobe case!
For this tour, the Princess of Wales was assigned pink tags and the yellow tags designated where the luggage was to be delivered. Looks like this was the ninth of many more bags! I just LOVE the organization.
Here’s an excerpt from the book:
“On this tour of Australia and America, Diana took twenty daytime outfits, twelve hats, more than a dozen evening dresses, fifteen pairs of shoes and matching bags, nineteen pairs of earrings, two tiaras, eight necklaces and assorted pairs of tights to match her outfits. Accompanying Diana was her dresser, Evelyn Dagley, who was on hand to help the Princess with her many changes each day. After Australia, the couple flew straight to America. The Princess had meticulously preplanned both trips and unveiled a whole new set of evening gowns, coats, and daywear for the visit, including the show-stoping Victor Edelstein dark blue velvet number she wore to the While House dinner and dance hosted by President Reagan.”
That would be this one, of course and I’m guessing it would have been hung in that standing wardrobe case so the velvet wouldn’t be crushed:
Since we’re stepping back in time, here’s an article that appeared in the LA Times the following day (November 12, 1985).
WASHINGTON — If you’re wondering why Princess Diana danced with John Travolta, Clint Eastwood and Neil Diamond but not Mikhail Baryshnikov, the man who sat next to her at that fabulous White House dinner, it was because the ballet dancer had sore ankles and could not do so. . . . The dance with Travolta was quite the talk of Washington the next day. The music they were dancing to, according to Travolta, was a medley of the music from two of his movies, “Grease” and “Saturday Night Fever,” as played quite beautifully by the U.S. Marine Dance Band. (Source)
Prince Charles & The Duchess of Cornwall
Moving a long to a more recent tour, here is some of Charles and Camilla’s luggage being offloaded upon their arrival in Sweden in March of 2012. What a great behind the scenes look!
This was the red carpet arrival they really wanted us to see, but I”m sure you’ll agree it’s not nearly as interesting as all those bags coming down the stairs.
In this photo, Harry’s wheeling out his now ex-girlfriend Chelsey Davey’s bag from Heathrow in September 2007. He was an hour late to pick her up, was totally in the dog house and was trying to make amends.
He thinks nothing of schlepping his own bags and is shown here arriving at Hollyroof House for Zara’s wedding back in the summer of 2011.
And while were’ on the subject of that wedding, what I loved most about the coverage was all the photos of royals arriving and leaving with their bags.
Here’s Sophie leaving the morning after with her hat box.
The bride was also photographed getting ready to leave (the striped bag she’s carrying is an Anya Hindmarch traveler bag that is comes tucked away in her bags when you buy them).
Her need husband Mike Tindall was photographed still wearing his suit from the day before (but he did change shortly after).
And here’s Zara’s brother Peter and his wife Autumn packing up to head home.
William & Kate
William luggage to include his official monogram. This photo was taken during Kate and William’s tour of North America.
In contrast, Kate’s luggage is a total miss mash. While living in London after graduating from university, Kate was a weekend warrior (she only worked 4 days a week which helped) and the green bag below made a lot of appearances. By the way, I have those same shoes she’s wearing in the pic below. They are from LK Bennet and the are just the best, though I think the last time they were in stores was 2008.
Here is the bag and those shoes again.
This was taken at Gatwick airport in July of 2007. Kate was en route to the Seychelles where she met prince William (he arrived shortly after her). This was after the short-lived April 2007 breakup heard around the world..
Ok, now we’ll fast forward to the summer of 2011 when Kate and William toured Canada. Remember the big accidental dress reveal?
It happened as Kate and William’s luggage was being loaded into the airport in Yellowknife, and eagle eyes spotted the dress and correctly assumed the dress was for the BAFTA event they were to attend in Los Angeles. Here it is on Kate.
And here’s a close up of some of the other luggage on the tarmac. The spotted one is from Cath Kitson and the red is Longchamp. She has it in a few different colours and sizes.
Government House in New Zealand where Kate and William will stat fir the first part if the tour
UPDATED April 6, 2014: The tour has begun: Kate and William were spotted switching planes in Sydney en route to New Zealand. Kate was carrying her navy Longchamp bag (well, actually William was carrying it for her since she had Prince George). Also, is that a Kangaroo?
And it still looks like a total mishmash of bags. We’ll keep our eyes peeled for more photos like this during the tour.
Ok, and this video is hilarious. Seriously, it made me laugh out loud. It’s a morning news show in Australia and they are trying to make a story out of William and Kate getting on their plane to New Zealand and they’re having a lot of fun with it. They talk about the luggage being loaded on, they beg William and Kate to turn around at the top of the stairs when we’re boarding the plane, and we even see Kate’s secretary Rebecca Deacon carrying a hat box and garment bag onto the plane….so perhaps Kate will be wearing that hat and outfit when she disembarks?