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!
With just a few more days to go before Christmas, we thought it would be fun to look at a few letters written over the Christmas holidays by Elizabeth Bowes Lyon. The letters chosen for this post show her spirit and sense of fun, and give some insight into what it was like growing up as a free spirited aristocratic Lady in the early 19o’s. This post covers the years from 191o (when she was just ten years old!) to 1921 when she had become good friends with Prince Albert.
All of these letters are part of the collection published in The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother: Counting One’s Blessings by William Shawcross. We highly recommend this book to any Royal watchers, it is a delightful read. It can be purchased here.
Before we jump in, let’s have a little refresher. The Honourable Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon was born in August of 1900 (there is some debate around the actual date). In 1904, her father inherited the Earldom of Strathmore and Kinghorne, making her Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. The family split their time between the famous Glamis Castle in Scotland, St. Paul’s Walden Bury in Hertfordshire, and a series of rented houses in London.
St. Paul’s Walden Bury has been owned by the family since the 1700’s and it is possibly where Elizabeth was born, though there is a degree of mystery around that. Click here or here for a bit more on that if you’re intrigued!
As you can see below, St. Paul’s Walden Bury is an impressive red brick house and it is surrounded by extensive grounds.
The letter below was written from St. Paul’s Walden Bury to The Honourable Fenella Trefusis when Elizabeth was ten years old. She was known in the Strathmore family as ‘Neva’ and married Elizabeth’s brother Hon. John Bowes-Lyon (known by family and friends as ‘Jock’) on September 29, 1914
16 December, 1910 to Fenella Trefusis from St. Paul’s Walden Bury
My Dear Neva,
Thank you very much for the delicious box of chocolates. You did not put who it was from, but two or three day’s later Rose wrote and told me it was you. Isn’t it awful perhaps we are going to have Xmas in London!!!! Think of it X-mas in London. Yours was the first present I have received. It was most awfully kind of you to think of us. I haven’t the slighted notion of where you are staying so I am going to look in the Red Book. I am afraid you will hardly be able to read my writing as it is nearly tea-time and the lamps have not come on yet. It has been raining and blowing for the last three days.
David sends his love and wishes me to thank you for the chocolates.
Good-bye with much love from
She sounds like a delightful ten year old, right? Oh the horrors of Christmas in London! And I love how the lamps had to be put on.
Jumping ahead five years, the 1915 letter below is to Beryl Poignand, who was hired as Elizabeth’s governess from 1914-17 and became a close confidant. Their relationship continued until Beryl’s death in 1965. As a matter of fact, Beryl helped to organize the exhibition of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding presents and the accompanying catalog in 1947.
Something else to remember while reading this (somewhat cheeky!) letter is that Glamis Castle was being used as a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers and Elizabeth befriended many of them.
Sunday 26 December 1915 to Beryl Poignand
My Dear Silly Ass
Thank you very much for your letter. Always received with grateful thanks. I wonder if you have left London, anyhow I shall send this to Cheltenham.
Well, I hope you had a very happy Christmas, and nice presents. Would you like to know what I had?
Father gave me a wristwatch, Mother a kettle, Rosie some hankies, Aunti Vava a picture, Grannie a bowl, May a pair of shoe buckles etc. In fact rather nice useful presents. I hope you like the book. […]
The men liked the Tree very much. I think, they each got an electric torch, a shirt, & chocolate & crackers & things.
I believe the noise last night at ‘lights out’ was something appalling, trumpets & squeaky things going like mad etc. Abel said, ‘It’s a funny thing, I wanted a bloomin’ cigarette case, and I wanted a blinkin’ electric torch and I got ’em both’! So he ought to be quite pleased. Pegg asked me if you’d gone to Cheltenham. Ernest was simply delighted with his book. Of course we drank ‘To hell with the b—– Kaiser’ last night and good ‘health to Henry and Larry.” […]
Good-bye, farewell, fare ye well, Tarry not, so long, au devoir, good bye, farewell etc etc etc and so on for 2 pages.
Abel, Pegg, and Ernest were all convalescent soldiers at Glamis during WWI. Ernest Pearce developed a life long relationship with Elizabeth, and eventually became garden at her home, Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park until he died in 1969.
Our next Christmas letter was written five years later in 1920. It was on July 8, 1920, that Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon first met Prince Albert at a RAF ball (in a letter dated to just a few days later she wrote to Beryl Poignand “I went to the RAF Ball at the Ritz…I danced with Prince Albert who I hadn’t known before, he is quite a nice youth.” They would have just known each other five months by the time she wrote this note.
23 December 1920 to the Duke of York
St. Paul’s Walden Bury
Dear Prince Albert
Thank you so very much for the lovely little box, which I simply love.
It is so nice of you think of giving it to me, and very many thanks. It is so pretty, and will help to ornament my sitting room in Bruton Street next year. I was so sorry about the dance on Tuesday, but my mother has really been very ill, and I couldn’t leave her.
She is a little better, which is a great relief. Did you enjoy Lady Evelyn’s dance last week? I loved it, tho’ I enjoyed ‘your party’ at Mrs Greville’s even more. I feel I shall not be going to another one for moths, which is dreadfully sad. I lead such a deadly existence here, that there is simply nothing to tell you – oh except that I have just fallen into a pond! The only event which happened for weeks!
I hope you will have a very merry Xmas, & I send you all my best wishes for 1921. I hope it will be a very happy year for you. Thank you again a thousand times for the darling little box – I do love it.
I am Sir,
Things had warmed up a bit by the time Elizabeth wrote a thank you note the next Christmas in 1921. She had moved from calling him ‘Prince Albert’ to ‘Prince Bertie’ after all!
Friday December 21 1921 to the Duke of York
Dear Prince Bertie,
Just a line to wish you a happy Xmas, and a wonderful New Year, full of everything delicious & joyful. I am not quite sure where you are, but will send this to York Cottage. Please forgive pencil, but I am writing in bed with a chill or flu or something.
Your delightful present has just arrived as I write!
I simply cannot thank you enough, it is the most darling little clock, and I simply love it. Thank you a million times – you should not give me such a lovely present. It really is too pretty for words, and besides being pretty useful too. I am enchanted with it. Also that is an excellent photograph of you – I wish I had got something to send you too.
All good wishes, & good luck
Yours v sincerely
Over the next two years, Prince Albert proposed several times until she finally accepted during a visit to St. Paul’s Walden Bury in January of 1923, where we will pick up in the next installment.If you’re in the mood for a bit more, check this post out for another charming letter.
What do you think of these letters? We hope they have helped you get into the festive spirit!
For this post we thought it would be fun to look at a royally historic address in London and to see how it has changed over the years.
17 Bruton Street in Mayfair was the London residence of the Earl and Countess of Strathmore. The Earl and Countess (their Christian names were Claude and Cecilia) were Elizabeth Bowes Lyon’s parents, shown here on the left in this famous wedding portrait.
This photograph of Bruton street was taken in 1904. The street stretches towards the lovely Berkeley Square Gardens.
The Strathmore’s moved into 17 Bruton Street in 1920 from their previous residence at 20 St. James’s Square. Several of the letters documented in the book Counting One’s Blessings The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth were written there or reference going to and from the house. It seems that some extensive work was done on the house before the family moved in. In April 1921 Elizabeth wrote this letter to her governess Beryl Poignand from the Strathmore’s stately Hertfordshire home St. Paul’s Waldenbury:
12 April 1921 to Beryl Poignand
St. Paul’s Waldenbury
I haven’t heard from you for years fickle Beast. I am longing to hear, so take up your pen oh Medusa, & forthwith set down on paper all your doings & thoughts […]
Mother & I have been here since Xmas now- isn’t it extraordinary? I am longing for ’17’ [Bruton Street] to be finished, and then you must instantly come and see it…”
It was at that point that Elizabeth struck up a closer friendship with Prince Albert. She left from the house on her way to Westminster Abbey on her wedding day April 26, 1923:
Another look. We wrote about her very of the moment dress here, if you’f like to see.
Three years the Duke and Duchess of York moved there for a few months for the birth of their first child. They had previously lived in Chesterfield House and Curzon House in Mayfair. The future Queen Elizabeth was born at 17 Bruton on at 2:40am 21 April 1926. Home Secretary Sir William Joynson-Hicks was present in the house following tradition. At the time, Princess Elizabeth was third in line to the throne after her dad and uncle, and was named HRH Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of York after her mother, paternal grandmother Queen Mary and great-grandmother Queen Alexandra. Both King George V and Queen Mary visited the home to see the new baby and massive crowds gathered at the house to witness it all. Despite that – no photos of the King and Queen’s arrival can be found. By the way, they switched things up for Princess Margaret, who was born at her maternal grandparents Scottish estate Glamis Castle on August 21 1930.
Princess Elizabeth was christened on May 29, 1926 at the private chapel in Buckingham Palace. At the time, she was still living on Bruton Street, and here she is heading to BP with the Duchess of York. This is also a a rarely seen look at the famous christening gown (lots more about the christening gown can be found here).
Here’s an excerpt of one from 1926, which goes to show how much the Duke and Duchess of York appreciated being able to stay and live at the house. It wasn’t until later that the Duke and Duchess of York took a London house at 145 Picadilly, which we’ll just have to write about in a future post.
28 October 1926 to Lady Strathmore
My Darling Mother
Thank you a thousand times for your two last letters. I am so sorry that poor father has a cold, and I do hope he is better now. I wonder when you will be coming south? […]
We leave here tomorrow, & return to B.[ruton] Street. I honestly don’t know what we would have done without it.
The baby is very well, and now spends the whole day taking her shoes off & sucking her toes! She is going to be very wicked, and she is very quick I think…
Sadly, the house has been demolished and we haven’t yet unearthed when this happened or when the Strathmores decided to sell (do you know?). However, a plaque is on the building that now stands in its place. The plaque was added as part of the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations in 2012.
It reads On this site at 17 Bruton Street stood the townhouse of the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne where Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, later to become Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, was born on 21 April 1926.
Here’s the building that stands there now.
In fact, there’s a restaurant there that holds the address 17 Bruton Street. It’s highly rated and called Haakasan.
As a side note, favourite royal Designer Norman Hartnell also has some history on Bruton Street. On 11 May 2005, Hartnell was commemorated with an English Heritage Blue Plaque at 26 Bruton Street, London W1, where he lived and worked from 1935 to 1979.
Do you know anymore about 17 Bruton Street? Have you taken a stroll by where it once stood?
Today is Prince William and Kate’s third wedding anniversary, and the three year anniversary of the Royal Posters staying up all night to watch and direct every second of it. There was even a life-size cut out of William and Kate there (thanks, AMD!) and we all dressed up as different royals. So much fun. Anyway, their’s isn’t the only royal wedding to look back on this time of year.
91 years ago this week, Prince Albert married Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon in Westminster Abbey. Lucky for us, we have Elizabeth’s diary entry from that day as it was quoted in the delightful book Counting One’s Blessings: The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother by William Shawcrosse, which includes letters Elizabeth wrote when she was a young girl up until the last years of her life (it can be purchased here.)
Diary: Thursday, 26 April, 1923
Woke at 8:30. Up by 10. Put on my wedding dress, aided by Suzanne & Catherine. It looked lovely. All the family went off early, also mother. Miss Chard came & talked to me. At 11.12 the carriage came & father & I started off for the Abbey. Lots of people in B St., & crowds in streets. Did not feel very nervous. Bertie smiled at me when I got up to him – & it all went off well. We had a long drive home to B.P. Crowds very kind. We were photographed, & also went out on the balcony. The luncheon. Sat between Bertie & the King. After lunch talked & cut cake etc. Went to change about 3.40. Mother & Anne came – then May & Rosie, Mike, and David and father. Awful saying goodbye. B & I drove off at 4.15 & had a special to Bookham. Very tired & happy. Bed 12.
Here’s one of those pictures she mentions. What a happy looking bunch. *cough*
This photo of the couple of the balcony is a bit more cheerful:
As we discussed in the post on the Greville Jewels, the new Duke and Duchess of York spent their honeymoon at Polesden Lacey, Mrs. Ronnie Greville’s estate. Unfortunately, Elizabeth came down with a case of whooping cough. Too bad!
Our last post reminisced about some unusual and fun royal portraits and today we’re looking at some delightfully awkward and sometimes creepy ones. Let’s dive in.
Princess Marie Chantal and Prince Pavlos of Greece
These two got married on July 1, 1995 in London and chose to sit for this wedding portrait afterwards.
So blasé. And she’s the definition of haughty, right?
Princess Charlene of Monaco
Next up is Charlene. I get what they were going for here – but it’s just a bit much for me. Fascinating that she and Albert a) thought this was a good idea and b) signed off on it.
And this one is a bit random thanks to the equestrian look – I don’t know that Charlene has ever been on a horse – but it’s a fun homage to Princess Grace. And a bit warrior princess-y to boot.
Queen Maxima of the Netherlands
Maxima had some 40th birthday portraits taken back when she was a princess and a lot of them were lovely. Just not sure about a few of them…
I mean, I get the idea behind this one…White on white. Professional woman. Regal. All that is great. It just doesn’t look very comfortable. Maybe she needs to learn the Tyra Banks schmize trick (aka “smile with your eyes”).
And this is pretty – who doesn’t love seeing spring time blossoms fluttering to the ground- but we’re talking about a future Queen here! Not someone celebrating their sweet 16. And she looks like she’s grimacing…maybe she’s not sure about this, either?
Alexandra Manley and Prince Joachim of Denmark
Alexandra Manley and Prince Joachim posed for this engagement photo in 1995. So that’s really the problem here I suppose…the oh so dated outfit and hair do on the future Princess. Otherwise it’s pretty cute!
Here’s another for good measure. So young!
The British Royal Family
We’ve posted one of these before (see here and here for more) but think it’s totally worth another visit.
I mean, this is exactly how Harry and William hoped to spend their Saturday off from school, right?
Here’s some more interesting info on the circumstances of this photo shoot with Lord Snowdon over at The Daily Mail.
And what is the deal with this one?
Seriously…what was the train of thought from “I’d like my portrait taken by Terrence Donovan” to “and I’d like to be in my Safari get up.”
This was taken by Lord Snowdon and really couldn’t be more posed!
But maybe this one gets the prize? I gotta say I still love it, though.
Love everything about this image – but why does the future Queen Mum have to be hanging out the window?
The Danish Royal Family
I’ve saved the best for last. This one really takes the cake, particularly because it was an official portrait of the royal family of Denmark. A LOT of effort and time went into this and when it was released in November of 2013, it caused a stir for all the wrong reasons.
Note that the only sitters who are looking out at the viewer are the Queen and the first three in line to the throne. Princes Felix and Nikolai are hard at work on a red tower of doom. Princess Isabella rubs her hands together as she plots her next move while Prince tries to make a run for it. Shivers!
Are you ready for 2014? We are ringing in new beginnings in Hawaii this year (aloha!) and thought it would be fun to take a peak at some British royals who’ve visited this gorgeous place in the last 93 years.
Edward, Prince of Wales 1920
Did you know that long before he abdicated the throne, Edward was quite the surfer? Well, apparently he was and I just learned about that about two hours ago myself.
This autographed photo of Edward surfing in Hawaii was taken in July of 1920 during a 3 day trip there with Earl Mountbatten. He had first been to Hawaii in April of that year, and during that visit he was given lessons by legendary Olympic swimmer Duke Kahanamoku. This photograph was purchased by the Museum of British Surfing in Devon, which is how we came across it.
“He had gone to Hawaii in April 1920 on HMS Renown and was taken out by Duke Kahanamoku on an outrigger canoe. He had a surf lesson and did OK, but absolutely loved it”, says Peter Robinson, founder of the museum.
“He later ordered the royal yacht to go back to Hawaii so he could surf for three days. Duke was out of the country when he returned so David Kahanamoku took him out and these pictures were taken then.”
Historic reports say Edward loved surfing. He spent two hours surfing every morning and three hours every afternoon during their July stay. (Source)
The Queen Mum 1966
Not to be outdone, the Queen Mum attempted to hula during her visit to Hawaii in ’66. Awesome.
I feel that either of these two pictures could and should be the subject of a “Caption This” contest. And to top it off, the delightful fellow dancing with the Queen Mum is none other than Duke Kahanamoku himself!
Here they are arriving at Hickam Air Force Base just before midnight on November 7, 1985.
It’s interesting to note that this was Diana’s very first visit to the United States. Crazy, right? Prince Charles had previously visited Hawaii in 1974 during his time in the Navy.
They were given leis as they got off the plane, before they were whisked away to their hotel where they must have been very happy to hit the hay since it was so late at night.
I’m sure they were pretty bummed that their visit just lasted 18 hours. This report of the visit comes from the AP Archives:
The couple stayed at the beachfront Kahala Hilton Hotel, about two miles east of Diamond Head and well away from the bustling and crowded Waikiki Beach resort area.
Soon after a decoy motorcade left the hotel, the royal couple slipped out of the back entrance and were taken by limousine to a private beachfront residence a few blocks away where they ate a lunch provided by the hotel.
Reporters and photographers kept watch from across the street. Neighbors said they did not know who lived at the residence. State security officers asked a work crew using a hydraulic cherry picker to trim tree limbs away from electric lines at the home next door to suspend their work, the workers said.
Security men patroled the grounds while others kept watch offshore in rubber dinghies.Other hotel guests seemed to be ignoring the presence of the royal couple, although a few area residents admitted they had come to the hotel in the hope of catching a glimpse of the pair. About two dozen members of the news media, most of them British, waited outside the hotel. Several photographers aimed high-powered lenses at the upper-floor windows where they believed the couple might be staying.
This photograph was taken on the grounds of the Hilton Kahala Hotel where their entourage took over 100 rooms. That little hula girl was gifting them with t-shirts for William and Harry.
Thanks for visiting us here at The Royal Post over the past two and a half years. We plan to write oodles of interesting posts for you this next year, from Kate and William’s upcoming trip to Australia to who knows what else.
This Royal Poster recently adopted the CUTEST puppy from the Pasadena Human Society. She’s named Ruby and is some sort of beagle/ chihuahua and possibly Jack Russell mix.
Ruby has got us thinking about royals and their pets so today’s post is a rundown of a few favourites.
The Queen’s Corgis
Shall we start with the obvious?
Corgis are probably the first royal pets that come to mind for most of us royal watchers. They have been faithful companions of the Queen since she was a child, starting with a wee little guy named Dookie who was brought home in 1933. He was named for the Duke of York. Cute, eh?
That’s him below. LOOK AT THAT FACE!!
They have been a constant fixture, as you can see from this video taken from Prince Harry’s Christening in 1984. This is one of my all-time favourites and worth a watch or re-watch. In it, you see the Queen explaining to Zara, Peter, and William that her new puppy’s name is “Dash.” Zara asks “Does it bite?” and the Queen replies “No, not yet. But it might after it’s finished with you.”
Lots more corgi info can be found here. Also, this article over at the Daily Mail all about the Queen’s graveyard at Sandringham for her pets is worth a read.
Prince Charles & The Duchess of Cornwall
Prince Charles is also a big fan of dogs and seems to favour Jack Russell terriers.
One of his pet dogs was named Pooh (he was originally named Roo but was renamed by William after the favourite A.A. Milne character). He was a Jack Russell Terrier who sadly went missing on the Balmoral estate in April of 1994. Charles was devastated and put out an ad in the local paper and sadly poor Pooh wasn’t found.
In happier news, the Duchess of Cornwall also loves Jack Russell Terries and has had several over the years. One of them came from the same litter as Pooh, and she currently has two rescue dogs, Beth and Bluebell.
Beth and Bluebell were adopted from the Battersea Dogs Home, and Camilla took them back there for a visit in December of 2012. Hats off to Camilla for being dog resucer! During the tour she told a reporter that ‘”Beth is the sweetest dog with the nicest temperament, she so laid-back. Bluebell is much more feisty but lots of fun. She seems to think she is a lot bigger than she actually and is a bit of a toughie. They are very happy and love each other, though, which is the main thing…I love Jack Russells. They are so intelligent.”
Next up: a guinea pig!
This picture of Lady Diana with her pet guinea pig Peanuts has made the rounds a lot over the years.
Turns out it was taken by photographer John Hocknell in 1972 when Diana was showing her pet at the Sandringham pet show. Here he is proudly showing off the photo:
As you may recall, Diana grew up in Park House before her father became Earl and inherited Althorp, the Spencer Estate. Park House is on the Sandringham estate and the Spencers were often invited over to “the big house” by the royal family. More info on all that can be found here.
This delightful black lab who joined in on this August 1997 photocall at Balmoral was named Widgeon, and she belonged to Prince William.
Back in 2000, Prince William gave an interview to mark his 18th birthday and Widgeon came up, though it wasn’t too enlightening. The full interview can be read here, but here is the Widgeon bit:
Q: How is your dog, Widgeon, and do you have any other pets?
A: Widgeon had eight pups about 18 months ago. I have no other pets.
Oh, you sure had a way with words, William. Anyway, I love the name. Widgeon is a type of duck and it seems very suitable for all the hunting and whatnot that I’m sure she joined in on. Like here on a shoot at Sandringham back in 2009:
Widgeon passed away sometime in 2010, and now of course William and Kate have Lupo!
Princess Mary and Prince Frederick of Denmark
Now over to Denmark. Ziggy is a Danish-born Border Collie who was a gift from the Danish Kennel Club to Mary and Frederick back in 2005. Here he is as a puppy walking with Mary in Copenhagen:
And here he is later with the family:
And I love this photo which was taken to celebrate Mary’s 40th birthday. So dynamic.
The Swedish Royal Family
Labradors are the dog of choice for the Swedish Royal Family. They have had a succession of them over the years and in 2010 they had to say good bye to Jambo, a golden lab who joined the family in in 1998.
Here are a few pictures of the familyd Jambo over the years. What a cutie!
In the palace with Princess Madeleine during a photocell for her 18th birthday. Apparently it was all a big yawn:
And here was his balcony appearance:
And out on the town in Swedish colours:
Princess Grace of Monaco
We’ll end with Monaco.
Princess Grace loved poodles, and had several over the years. One was named Oliver and he was given to Grace by Cary Grant when she left Hollywood to marry Prince Ranier. Oliver joined in on Grace’s cruise to Monaco on S.S. Constitution in April of 1956 and seems to have been quite a hit.
A weimaraner also made the journey. He was a wedding gift from Grace’s brother Jack but I haven’t been able to figure out what his name was. Does anyone know?
It’s been awhile since we talked about a royal wedding dress, so today is all about the future Queen Mum’s gown,for her 1923 wedding.
At that time, Madame Handley Seymour was a London coutourier who made numerous gowns for Queen Mary and other royal and aristocratic ladies. It’s unfortunate that her name has pretty much been lost to history since she had such a thriving fashion house. She made both Elizabeth’s wedding dress and, later, her coronation robes.
Here’s a look at seamstresses hard at work before the 1937 coronation:
As we discussed in our post on one of the Queen Mum’s letters to Prince Bertie, they were engaged on January 14, 1923. This formal portrait was taken shortly afterwards, on the 18th of January. They sure look serious, even a little forlorn.
When it came to picking out or designing a dress, Elizabeth didn’t spend much time deciding, not that there was much time since the wedding was on April 26. Thanks to the book Counting One’s Blessings, we have her diary entry from March 19, 1923 to reference and she makes only a quick mention of it. Keep in mind that this was a little over a month before the actual wedding!
Diary: Monday 19 March 1923
Woke at 9. Breakfast 10…[…] Bertie came round, & we went & looked at furniture at Harris & also went to Carrington. […] Then mother & I went to Handley Seymour & looked at hundreds of lovely clothes. Chose my wedding dress.
And there we have it. So simple! Interesting when you think of how much time and effort and thought went into Lady Diana and Kate Middleton’s dresses what with the months and months it took to get everything just right. It’s interesting to know that Lady Elizabeth’s dress wasn’t designed from scratch, but came straight out of the shop, with perhaps just a few changes here and there. I suppose we should remember that this laissez faire attitude could be attributed to the fact that Lady Elizabeth had no expectation that she’d ever become Queen. She was marrying the younger brother and expected to stay the Duchess of York.
The gown is certainly of its time, and we can’t say it did much for Lady Elizabeth’s tiny frame. Love the train, however, and how she wore an elaborate white fur in the carriage to Wesminster Abbey. This photograph shows Elizabeth leaving her family’s London home at 17 Bruton Street. The future Queen Elizabeth was born in the home a few years later.
She wore fur on the balcony as well! It’s a shame she didn’t wear one of her tiaras (come on!), and chose to wear a circlet of fabric flowers instead.
Now, whatever you do, DON’T SMILE!
Recently, a prototype of the dress was auctioned off and sold for 3,500 pounds. That seems like a relatively small sum for a dress that has so much historic value. It’s the closest thing that you could get to a royal wedding dress!
Here’s a better look at the intricate beadwork. Ultimately Elizabeth’s dress was floor length:
So what do you think of this dress? Yay or nay?
Here are some more royal wedding dresses that might strike your fancy:
I do enjoy taking a good look at every tiara royal tiara out there, and I know many of you do, too! This post focuses on one of the Queen Mum’s tiaras, the Lotus Flower Tiara (this beauty also goes by the name Papyrus Leaf Tiara sometimes, too).
As we know, Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon did not choose to wear a tiara on her wedding day though she already had at least two at her disposal. She decided to keep things simple, and go for flowers instead which was more in vogue at the time.
Honestly, I think she really missed a great tiara wearing opportunity here. I mean, come on!!
Side Note Fun fact: James Pryce, Kate Middleton’s hairdresser for her wedding day, has confirmed that Kate did originally plan to wear flowers in her hair but by February had switched to a tiara.
However, after the wedding, she started to get her tiaras out and the Lotus Flower Tiara became one of her go-to’s in the early years. According to the fabulous book Tiaras, A History of Splendour by Geoffrey C. Munn, Queen Elizabeth let it be known that this tiara was originally owned by Queen Mary.
It may very well have been made from the diamonds and pearls of this necklace and was said to have been made by William Davis of E. Wolff & Co., who were suppliers to Garrard.
George Munn describes it as being “one of the prettiest of Queen Elizabeth’s tiaras…was Egyptian in inspiration, arranged as a band of stylized lotus flowers and overreaching arches, with the graduated pinnacles surmounted by a single pearl…The lotus flower tiara was given to Queen Elizabeth by Queen Mary.”
The then Duchess of York sat for a series of portraits in 1927 which were taken to mark her tour of Australia that year. As you can see, she chose to wear it low on the forehead as was the fashion at that time. (Check out our posts on Tiaras worn in Untraditional Ways for more, here, here, and here).
Apparently, she also took the tiara to Canada on her trip there in 1939 and wore it for the Opening of Parliament. Still hunting for a picture, and will post one if or when it is unearthed!
Later, the Queen Mum gifted the tiara to Princess Margaret, who wore it on numerous occasions, and with great aplomb.
Margaret also chose to wear it when she sat for this portrait by John Gilroy. The portrait is owned by The National Portrait Gallery:
Later, Princess Margaret’s daughter-in-law the Hon. Serena Stanhope wore it on her wedding day, which unfortunately is the last time it was actually seen on top of anyone’s head (at least in public!). She also wore a wedding gown that was inspired by Princess Margaret’s wedding dress.
It seems to still be owned by the family since this tiara was not included in the action of Princess Margaret’s personal effects after her death, so here’s to hoping we see it out again soon.
I think that this tiara is a real treasure because of it’s history (it started out as Queen Mary’s necklace!) and it’s appearance at key events over many decades. Plus, it’s elegant and does well with many different hair do’s (total bonus!). What do you think of this taira?
UPDATED December 2013: Kate was photographed wearing this tiara to a ball at Buckingham Palace. Hurrah! This is only Kate’s second tiara appearance and it’s a fabulous choice of tiara for her, don’t you think? Check out our post on Kate and this tiara here.
Today let’s chat about a formidable lady who was affectionately known to friends as “Mrs. Ronnie.”
The daughter of Scottish brewer, philanthropist, and MP William McEwan and Margaret Anderson, she was born Margaret McEwan in 1863. Hilariously, she would freely announce she’d “rather be a beeress than a peeress” and married the Hon. Ronald Greville in 1891. She quickly earned a reputation for her spirited personality and for throwing enormous parties.
Though she was quite a bit older than the Duke and Duchess of York, she became a good and loyal friend to both of them. When she passed away in 1942, she left her extensive collection of jewels to HM Queen Elizabeth “with my loving thoughts” in their entirety.
This short video entitled “Have You Heard About Mrs. Greville?” gives some more insights into her life.
In fact, fact one of the first letters that Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon wrote to Prince Albert alludes to her. In a letter dated to 13 December, 1920, she wrote:
Dear Prince Albert,
Thank you so much for your letter. I am looking forward very much to Mrs Ronnie Greville’s party – though the thought of it terrifies me! I haven’t been to a proper dinner party for months and months, and have quite forgotten how to behave! I expect it will be great fun though…”
Notably, the new Duke and Duchess spent their honeymoon in 1923 in Mrs. Greville’s home Polesden Lacey in Surrey.
This photograph shows the Duke and Duchess on their honeymoon there.
We now jump ahead many years to September 1942 when she wrote to Osbert Sitwell (a write that she got to know through Mrs. Greville) of a recent visit she had with their ailing friend. Her letter reads:
“I saw Mrs. Ronnie about three weeks ago. She was at Braemar and quite miserable there. She came over to Balmoral, & it was too pathetic to see this little bundle of unquenchable courage & determination, quite helpless except for one very bright eye. I had not seen her for a couple of months, & was very shocked and sad at the change. But with all her weakness there was just the same tenacity of purpose, & I felt full of admiration for such a wonderful exhibition of ‘never give in’.
After she passed away that month, the Queen wrote another letter dated to Mr. Sitwell. It is dated to 27 September 1942 and gives a sense of Mrs. Ronnie’s sense of humour:
“I shall miss her very much indeed..she was so shrewd, so kind, so amusingly unkind, so sharp, such fun, so naughty (‘amn’t I naughty’), that must be very Scotch to say ‘amn’tI’, and altogether a real person, a character, utterly Mrs. Ronal Grenville and no tinge of anything alien”
The first mention of her jewels comes in a letter dated to 13 October 1942 when she wrote to her mother-in-law Queen Mary from Balmoral Castle. She says:
“…I must tell you that Mrs. Greville has left me her jewels, tho’ I am keeping that quiet as well for the moment! She left them to me “with her loving thoughts”, dear old thing, and I feel very touched. I don’t suppose I shall see what they consist of for a long time, owing to the slowness of lawyers and death duties, etc, but I know she had a few good things. Apart from everything else, it is rather exciting to be left something, and I do admire beautiful sones with all my heart. I can’t help thinking most women do!”…
There has been some conjecture that Queen Mary, who certainly loved beautiful stones with all her heart, may have had her eye on Mrs. Greville’s collection, so knowing that I read Queen Elizabeth’s letter a little differently. She must have had an inkling that there may be a case of ‘green eye’ on Queen Mary’s part!
Anyhow, the final letter I have to share before we dive into the jewels is from June 27, 1944. It is addressed to Princess Elizabeth and reads as follows:
My Darling Lilibet,
This is just a note about one or two things in case I get ‘done in’ by the Germans! I think that I have left all my own things to be divided between you and Margaret, but I am sure you will give her anything suitable later on – such as Mrs. Greville’s pearls, as you will have the Crown ones. It seems silly to be writing these sorts of things, but perhaps it would be easier for you darling if I explained about the jewels.
I am sure that you would find Cynthia Spencer & Dorothy Halifax very helpful over any difficult little problems & of course Granny!
Let’s hope this won’t be needed, but I know that you will always do the right thing, & remember to keep your temper & your word & be loving – sweet – Mummy.
It is a rather silly thing to be writing about! Note the allusion to Cynthia Spencer, Princess Diana’s grandmother (the lady below). They really were close!
And now, here are some of the key pieces of the collection known as the Greville Jewels:
The Greville Scroll Brooch, Cartier, 1929
We’ll start with this quite dainty and lovely brooch was made for Mrs. Greville by Cartier. It was worn numerous times by the Queen Mother, once even on a hat.
Since 2002, Queen Elizabeth has brought this brooch out a few times. More information can be found over at the always delightful blog, Her Majesty’s Jewel Vault.
Chandelier Earrings, Cartier, 1929
These beauties were apart of the exhibit Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration put on at Buckingham Palace in the summer of 2012. You can read about our visit and impression of those jewels here, if you like. Aren’t they stunning?
King George and Queen Elizabeth gifted these earrings to Princess Elizabeth when she married Prince Philip, and she wore them quite a bit in the ’50’s and ’60’s.
They haven’t made an appearance in awhile which is just all sorts of wrong. It’s about time they did, I say.
The Greville Peardrop Earrings, Cartier, 1938
These drops are comparatively dainty!
The Queen Mum kept these in her collection and also bequeathed them to Queen Elizabeth upon her death in 2002.
Ruby & Diamond Necklace, Boucheron, 1907
This necklace is not for the faint of heart and was passed along to Princess Elizabeth on the occasion of her wedding. Princess Elizabeth modified the necklace slightly by removing two of the flower clusters to shorten it.
And voila, the necklace on an outing:
Since the Queen has taken to wearing higher necklines, this necklace hasn’t been worn in some time. It really needs a good dress to work around it! I think Sophie should be allowed to give it a go.
Marie Antoinette’s Emerald Necklace
There is some conflicting information about this one, so I’ll update this if I come across some more credible information. For now, let me tell you that it is believed that this emerald necklace, which once belonged to Marie Antoinette, was also included in the gift. It was also bequeathed to Queen Elizabeth upon the Queen Mother’s death, but as far as I know the Queen hasn’t worn it publicly. Please correct me if I’m wrong.
The GrevilleTiara, Boucheron, 1921
Mrs. Greville had this tiara made by Boucheron out of diamonds that she had on a pre-existing tiara. I would love to find a portrait or picture of Mrs. Greville wearing it, but haven’t tracked one down yet.
According to Geoffrey Munn in Tiaras: A History of Splendour, Mrs. Greville had the tiara made by boucheron using stones from an old tiara. The order is dated to January 8, 1921 and this is how it orignally appeared:
The Queen Mum certainly made good use out of it, wearing it on numerous occasions and in oodles of portraits. She had it modified slightly in 1953, when she increased the tiara’s height by adding the pinnacles to the top. It really is fit for a queen and is more of a crown than a tiara.
It has since graced the head of the Duchess of Cornwall, who carries it with aplomb. This tiara needs a proper amount of hair to sit on and Camilla’s ‘do works, I think.
The Greville Diamond Necklace
Ok, this piece is a bit of a mystery to me still. Geoffrey Munn alludes to it saying that the gift included “a spectacular necklace of brilliant and baguette diamonds by Cartier.” Still working on tracking down a picture, and will post it when I do!
So, what’s your favourite piece? I’d be quite content with the chandelier earrings and would most likely take to wearing them in the bath!