Have you heard about the new series that will debut later this year exclusively on Netflix? It’s called The Crown and Netflix did not create this show on the cheap; the budget is a reported $156 million dollars, far more than they’ve ever spent on an exclusive series.
This past summer some pictures were revealed showing the filming of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding and the attention to detail is so impressive. Check out the bridesmaids dresses in the photo from the production..
and then compare them the photo from the actual wedding day. Princess Margaret is on the far left next to Lady Mary Cambridge and the bride and groom on the Buckingham Palace balcony on November 20, 1947.
And here comes actress Claire Foy as Princess Elizabeth in a gorgeous carriage.
Check out the replicas of the fringe tiara and her Norman Hartnell wedding dress Princess Elizabeth wore. Our post the dress can be found here and is full of information on the detail that went into the gown.
For this scene, Ely Cathedral stood in for Westminster Abbey.
John Lithgow plays Winston Churchill and Harriet Walter is Clementine Churchill – love her as Fanny Dashwood in the 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility. Another Sense and Sensibility costar is in the series as well; Greg Wise (aka Willoughby) plays Louis Mountbatten.
The exact date the show will be released hasn’t been made public, but Netflix has just released an official trailer which is creating plenty of buzz. Check it out here.
Queen Mary looks AMAZING, right? Prince Philip looks so convincing as well. Looking forward to devouring this show as soon as it comes out. Will you be watching?
17 years ago today, on January 6 1999, the press was notified on the Queen’s behalf that Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones were engaged. Later that morning, a photo call was held in the St. James’s Palace. The couple emerged to greet the waiting press for pictures and a look at the ring.
During the photo call, Prince Edward revealed that when he proposed, “I managed to take her completely by surprise, she had no idea it was coming.” He was also pretty thrilled with the ring and told the journalists “If it catches the sun, you’ll all be blinded.” One of our first posts when we launched the blog in 2011 covered Sophie’s engagement ring here.
On that day in January 1999, Prince Edward was 34 to Sophie’s 33 years of age and they had been dating for a solid five years. To answer why the wait was so long, Edward said “It’s impossible for anyone else to understand why it has taken me this long but I don’t think it would have been right before and I don’t think Sophie would have said yes if I had said before. Hopefully, by the fact that she did say yes, I must have got the timing right.” (source). You can check out a video of the photo call here here.
We went into detail on their chance royal meeting in a previous post. In a nutshell, they met thanks to a charity event that the company Sophie worked for had helped to put on. She first met him at a preliminary meeting in 1992 and then things really got rolling at the event itself when Sophie asked him to play a round of tennis with her. A rather gossipy article with more on that can be found here if you are in the mood for more.
Fun fact: Television presenter Sue Barker was also on the invite list for the event that day, however she was unable to take a promotional photograph with Prince Edward, so Sophie was asked to step in and the results are above. When the couple sat down to a pre-wedding interview a few days before the wedding, Sue was the journalist asked to do the honors.
A good chunk of the interview is included in the footage below. It took place on the grounds of Bagshot Park, the stately home that Prince Edward had begun to lease two years before the engagement (and, really, the house and grounds deserve their own lengthy post so will add that to the list). The interview begins at 27:30 and a detailed transcript can be found here.
It’s been reported that Prince Edward proposed to Sophie while they were on vacation before Christmas. They spoke to their parents over the holidays and made the announcement when everyone was getting back to work in the New Year which gave them some time to decide a few things. For example, they shared with the press that they would like to have a smaller wedding than Edward’s siblings had had and would instead have their wedding ceremony at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor. Both Princess Anne and Prince Andrew had chosen Westminster Abbey for their weddings and Prince Charles of course famously married Lady Diana Spencer at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
They also shared their intention to continue their careers after the wedding instead of taking on full time royal duties. This AP video has some interesting snippets including a quote from Sophie’s business partner saying that “it’s business as usual…the intention always was that we’d sent the company up and after the engagement she’d continue to work.” Interesting that Sophie was that candid in expecting the engagement, right?
A former boyfriend is also interviewed in the video. His soundbite is quite something. He says, “She’s a capable girl and I always think she had her eye on the main chance. I think that although she went out with the likes of me I think that weekends are very much spent in the country homes of Lord This and Lady That and I think that that is what she always felt was the kind of area that she would want to move into…and good luck to her…I think she’ll be a breath of fresh air.” Cue the screech of the record stopping on Lord This and Lady That. Sheesh- she can’t have been too thrilled with that interview!
The wedding went off on June 19, 1999 with just a few small glitches like the sound of airplanes en route to Heathrow drowning out the vows and Edward struggled to get Sophie’s ring on. They will celebrate their 17th wedding anniversary this year and while they did go back to work after the wedding it proved to be too difficult to continue indefinitely what with Edward’s production company ignoring a media ban when William started at St. Andrew’s University and Sophie’s being taken in by a fake sheikh. They announced in December 20o1 that they would be wrapping up their careers in order to focus full time with royal duties and supporting the Queen.
It seems to me that they’ve been fulfilled their promise and are actively involved with a number of charities and interests so it must be mildly frustrating that the press glosses over them for features on more glamorous royals. Sophie is a favorite of mine, she seems quite down to earth and hardworking despite all the crazy around her. What do you think?
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!
In keeping with the festive spirit of the holidays, today we have a round up of Christmas related royal tidbits for your enjoyment, including some Royal Christmas Cards!
First up: a Royal christmas card out of Spain. Thee King and Queen of Spain’s Christmas card features this festive and cozy looking this photograph of Leonore, Princess of Asturias (age 10) and Infanta Sofia (age 8).
Out of England, we have two christmas cards that have been publicly released so far. Charles and Camilla chose this warm and down to earth snapshot, which was taken by a friend at a private estate in August. They look so relaxed and normal. I love it.
Perhaps seeing the warm response Prince Charles’ card received inspired William and Kate to make their own Christmas card public for the first time. Their chosen picture also has a nice, relaxed air to it and shows off the cuteness of Prince George and Princess Charlotte. It was taken in the grounds of Kensington Palace in October ’15 by Chris Jelf. Check out what appears to be Charlotte’s shoe on the grass in front of her – or is that part of the wooden train toy?
Thanks to this interview that William gave, we know that William and Kate will be at their country home Amner Hall this Christmas. That means we can expect to see them walk to Church with the Royal Family on Christmas morning (hurray!). The Middleton family will likely not far behind to attend the same service like they did last year.
We don’t have the Queen and Prince Philip’s card yet, but here’s heartwarming story about a man and his son who kept a tradition of sending the Queen a Christmas card every year since 1952. It turns out the Queen first reached out in 1972 saying “So it’s you who keeps sending me these lovely Christmas cards.”
Also, the Queen and Prince Philip hosted their annual Christmas lunch for extended family at Buckingham Palace on December 16. The lunch is a way to see and include extended family (like the Kents) who are not invited or able to make it to Sandringham for Christmas. You can read more about this year’s event here if you like.
On December 17, the Queen and Prince Philip took the 10:44 train from London to Norfolk to begin their annual winter break at Sandringham. Every year I look forward to seeing the Queen at the train station ready to begin her holidays. It makes me feel like Christmas has truly begun, you know?
And here they are arriving at the train station.
No cards yet from Denmark but know that Crown Princess Mary is in her native Australia for a Christmas visit with her family. It sounds like they are on an educational road trip around Western Australia; they have been spotted popping into an IGA and a bakery along the way. In the bakery, Prince Frederick took a selfie with an employee. More on that and their adventure here.
We are guessing they will be back in Denmark for the New Year’s festivities, one of the most formal and important nights of the year for the Royal Family.
Check out our post on some of the Danish Royal’s past Christmas cards here.
Earlier this month, an interview with Princess Madeleine and Chris O’Neil was aired (you can check it out here). They were interviewed (in English!) along with Adele and Jamie Oliver.
As far as I know, this is the first extensive interview they have done since they were married and it revealed such tidbits as the fact that they are now living in London where Chris works and will be spending Christmas with Chris’ family in England, after spending some time in December in Sweden. They were both there for the Nobel Prize dinner, so it makes sense that at least Madeleine would have stayed on with their two children for a longer visit.
As for Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Daniel, and Princess Estelle, they have carried on the tradition of releasing an adorable Christmas video – they were filmed baking traditional Swedish treats. In Swedish, Estelle comments “Dad, I think this is very cozy” and at the end she wishes everyone a Merry Christmas.
Not to be left out, Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia received several Christmas trees on behalf of the Royal Family (Victoria and Estelle did the honors last year). The trees come from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and the gift of Christmas trees carries on a tradition that began in the 1960s.
The Norwegian Royals have also gotten into the fun of media relations at Christmas. The King and Queen gathered together with Crown Prince Haakon, Crown Princess Mette-Marit, Princess Ingrid, Prince Sverre, and Marius Hoiby to decorate a tree and have their picture taken.
All that hard work calls for a lie down and some cookies, am I right?
There must have been a discussion where the Queen said, “I’ll wear red and you wear green” to Mette-Marit.
A very happy holidays to you all and best wishes for a fantastic year ahead.
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!
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!
As of Wednesday September 9, 2015 at 5:30 London time, Queen Elizabeth officially becomes the longest reigning monarch in British history, passing her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria who reigned for 23,226 days, 16 hours and 23 minutes.
The Queen has chosen not to greet this milestone with any great fanfare. Can’t really blame her- the rain soaked 2012 River boat cruise marking the Diamond Jubilee ended with Prince Philip in the hospital for days (when asked if she’d enjoyed the celebrations she said something like “Enjoy isn’t the right word.”). My take is that there’s already so much hoopla around her, she doesn’t feel the need for more.
Doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun. In honour of the occasion, we’ve rounded up some happily spontaneous quotes and moments from Queen Elizabeth II’s life and are giving a nod to Queen Victoria as well. Because while we often remember Queen Victoria all somber and serious like this…
…we have photographic proof that she wasn’t only about black dresses and admonishing looks. She smiled sometimes! This carriage ride photo was taken in February 1892.
We already know that Queen Elizabeth II can be a hoot herself. Photobomb!
She also enjoyed it when something planned goes a little off in her highly scheduled and formal public life, and that’s something that Prince William’s talked about on occasion.
Take, for example, when she was in Canada in April 1982 for the signing of the Constitution Act and then Justice Minister (and later Prime Minister) Jean Chretien had a broken pen. In his words:
“I picked up the pen and I start to try to sign and it was not working and I said to myself ‘merde’ and she had a big, big laugh,” he said. “Everybody was asking me what the hell you told her that she had such a spontaneous laugh and I refused to say so for years.” (source)
More recently, she was totally into partaking in the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. Sebastian Coe was an instrumental part in helping to make the idea happen, and as he reported in his biography, she had kept it a secret from her family.
He said that when the film cut to the back of the Queen, the Prince of Wales had “exactly the same reaction” as the rest of the world, which was to assume it was “the lady who does the impersonations”.
He added: “But the moment she turned around, and everyone realised, ‘my God! It really is the Queen!’ he began roaring with laughter. As for his sons, they were beside themselves. (source)
Every year she also seems to have a fantastic time watching the Braemar Games underway during her visit to Balmoral, and it always results in photos like this.
She was there again this year and it was no different as you can see in the photo below (our post from 2012 on the Games has even more pictures of hooting and hollering at the Games, if you’d like to see).
On a pheasant shoot gone awry: “‘I was picking up after the guns as I always do when a wounded cock pheasant scratched me and drew blood. The detective assumed I’d been shot, threw himself on top of me and began giving me mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. I consider we got to know each other rather well.’ ‘
A side bar in a Daily Mail article caught my eye earlier today and inspired me to dust off the computer and dive back into the Royal Post, which I’ve been wanting to do for quite sometime! The article in question is a tidbit about the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II.
That is the Order we see Diana wearing pinned to her pink dress in the photo below.
Here is the sidebar article in full:
The Queen plans to celebrate her milestone next month – when she becomes the longest-reigning Monarch – by honouring the Duchess of Cambridge. Kate will receive the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II – the highest honour that can be bestowed upon a female member of the family. The 33-year-old Duchess is the only senior member not to wear a family honour. A source said: ‘It is an honour reserved for first division female Royals.’ Sophie Wessex has one, as does the Duchess of Cornwall and Princess Anne. The insignia is a diamond- encrusted brooch featuring an ivory plaque of the Queen wearing the Order of the Garter and bearing the Royal cypher. It is worn on a yellow ribbon. Kate is expected to wear hers to a State dinner when the Chinese president Xi Jinping visits the UK in October. (source)
I’m wondering about the source here. Traditionally this honour isn’t announced in advance – it’s something that only becomes public when the royal in question starts to wear the Order out and about. The Daily Mail isn’t providing anything concrete and a quick Google search shows that this information hasn’t been picked up anywhere else as of yet. That being said, it seems like the Daily Mail does have some reporters in cahoots with legit sources behind palace walls so…could it be true?
I think it could be. Kate and William have been getting criticism lately for being work shy and maybe this is intended to help push things in an another direction.
Let’s look a little more at the history. For the British Monarchy, the Royal Family Order is a tradition that was formalized by George IV when he became King in 1820. It used to be that both men and women wore Orders, but now it is solely given to female members of the family and is given at the discretion of the sovereign in recognition of service.
The Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth is a portrait of the young Queen surrounded by diamonds and on a yellow ribbon. The front and back can be seen in the image above; it comes from the wonderful blog From Her Majesty’s Jewel Vault.
Each sovereign chooses a different colour for their Order’s ribbon. Queen Elizabeth’s dad George VI chose a pretty pink shade, for example. Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret wore theirs to the coronation in 1939. If you look closely, you can see them pinned to their dresses below.
And here’s the Queen wearing it in 1969 with a dress that matches the ribbon perfectly. Below the pink, you can see the light blue order given to her by her grandfather King George V.
For her Order portrait, the Queen chose an image taken during a sitting with Dorothy Wilding in 1952, so it was done before her 1953 coronation. I wonder if the Queen knew she wanted a yellow ribbon and chose her dress for the portrait accordingly? These are the things I think about!
Anyway, Princess Anne has worn the Order for decades.
We also know that Princess Diana received a Family Order quite early on. Here she is wearing it in 1983.
It’s a bold piece and doesn’t necessarily always go with the evening gowns it is worn with, but as The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendour put it “you’d wear your mother-in-law’s portrait on your best dress because it is considered an honor to do so.” 😉
Sophie and Edward got married in 1999 and Sophie began to be spotted wearing the Order in 2004. Here she is at the May 2004 wedding of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Mary Donaldson.
Camilla and Prince Charles got married in 2005 and she started being seen with hers in 2008.
So Kate could be receiving the Order in advance of the President of Singapore’s state visit in October, or it’s possible she already has it and just hasn’t been photographed wearing it yet.
It’s also possible that the Queen is holding off on bestowing this honour for awhile yet. Kate is far from a full-time working royal – here is the tally of engagements she’s done each year since her wedding
2011: 34 (granted, the wedding was in April of that year)
2012: 111 (The Queen did 425, Prince Philip 325, Princess Anne did 566, and Prince Charles 592)
2013: 44 (Prince Philip at 92 did 184 and Prince Charles did 537)
The Queen is all about work and duty and might want to see a little more elbow grease first.
Also, I wonder about Beatrice and Eugenie and if or how they factor into this at all. What with Princes Charles’ plans for a more streamlined monarchy, they are not full time working royals though they do the odd engagements here and there and both work for various charities. Will they be left out and all ‘”Hey, Gran where’s my Order? I was born a princess!”
And what about Zara? I’m thinking since she doesn’t have a title or do charitable engagements on behalf of the Queen, that’s an easy no. She became a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to equestrianism back in 2008 so she has her own thing going on.
All that being said, if this little Daily Mail tidbit turns out to be true, that’ll be very telling as to who their sources are!
So what do you think? Will Kate be picking out a dress that complements the yellow ribbon of the Order for the state visit in October? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
While not technically royal jewels, the Ducal Devonshire tiaras and parure are, shall we say, significant pieces of jewelry so let’s give attention where attention is due!
#1Devonshire Diamond Coronet
Let’s start with the biggest, which is suitably described on the official Chatsworth website as a Diamond Coronet rather than a tiara. In her delightful book Home to Roost, the late Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire (‘Debo’ to family and friends) includes an amusing chapter to tiaras in general. It was originally an article written for The Telegraph in 2002. Here are some excerpts (shown in bold) that highlight this tiara of all tiaras:
My grandmother-in-law, Evelyn Duchess of Devonshire, was Mistress of the Robes to Queen Mary for forty-three years from 1910. Together they weathered long hours of tiara’d evenings, including those during the fabulous Indian Durbar in Delhi in 1911. The magically beautiful but relentless program, carried out in torrid heat, was exhausting for all concerned, and after one particularly lengthy evening Granny Evie was heard to say, ‘The Queen has been complaining about the weight of her Tiara…The Queen doesn’t know what a heavy tiara is.’
Evelyn knew what she was talking about. The larger of the two Devonshire diamond tiaras in indeed a whopper.
It was made in 1893 for Louise, the 8th Duke of Devonshire’s wife. She was formerly married to the Duke of Manchester and was known as ‘the Double Duchess.’
Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire did wear ‘the big tiara’ on a few occasions. I’ll let her tell the story…
I remember going to…an entertainment in London in the early 1960’s, by myself as Andrew had an engagement elsewhere. With…confidence I wore the big tiara…When I ran out of partners and wanted to go home, I went out to look for a taxi. It never occurred to me that it might not be a good idea to stand alone in the street, long after midnight, with a load of diamonds around my neck and 1,900 more glittering above my head.
One memorable evening we were staying at Windsor Castle for a dance given by the Queen. I came down to dinner, got up as I thought our hostess and the other guests would be, the big tiara firmly in place. To my horror none of the other women wore theirs. It is far worse to be overdressed than underdressed a I sat through dinner wishing I was anywhere else. When the dancing began, I took it off, put it under a chair and enjoyed myself enormously. I suppose Windsor Castle in the only house where you could be sure of finding the blessed thing still there at bedtime.
If only there was a picture of Debo standing there waiting for a taxi to arrive! She perhaps most famously wore the tiara for her 80th birthday party along with the famous House of Worth gown worn by Louise, Duchess of Devonshire for the Diamond Jubilee costume party she threw at Devonshire House in London in 1897.
This photo shows the Duchess at the 1897 costume ball (on the left) side by side with Debo. It appears that the sleeves of the gown were altered at some point after the ball.
Here’s a more relaxed photo. I love how it really shows that Debo didn’t take all the Duchess stuff too seriously,
This photo shows the gown in more detail. It is displayed at Chatsworth.
Let’s take another look at the tiara, I can’t resist.
This detailed description comes from the Chatsworth site and is quite illuminating.
The coronet has a row of thirteen scrolled palmettes (a fan- like shape of leaves on a palm tree), alternating with a lotus pattern. The upper section was made around 1893 and was set throughout with cushion-shaped diamonds. The base has a row of lozenge motifs set between two lines of more cushion shaped diamonds and dates from around 1897.It is mounted in silver and gold.
In order to make the coronet the 8th Duke of Devonshire removed the diamonds in the Devonshire Parure and other heirlooms, such as the 6th Duke’s Garter Star. These totalled 1041 diamonds, to which Skinner added another 840.
A.E.Skinner was the jewelry firm that made this historic piece.
#2 The Devonshire Parure
So that brings us to the Devonshire Parure. It really is quite eclectic and wouldn’t go with just any old gown.
I think Debo agreed with me. Here is her description of it from Home to Roost:
This set consists of seven monumental pieces of jewelry which, until you look closely at them, might have been pulled out of the dressing-up box. They are a bizarre combination of antique (Greek and Roman) and Renaissance cameos and intaglios carved from emeralds, rubies, sapphires, and semi-previous stones – cornelian, onyx, amethysts and garnets – set in gold and enamel of exquisite workmanship by C.F. Hancock of London. They were commissioned by the dear, old extravagant 6th Duke of Devonshire, ‘the Bachelor Duke’, for his niece, Countess Granville, to wear at the coronation of TsarAlexander II in Moscow in 1856. This tiara and its companion necklace, stomacher, and bracelet are very prickly to wear. I know because I put them all on for a Women’s Institute performance when I was cast as ‘The Oldest Miss World in the Wold.’
Here she is wearing some of the pieces in what appears to be her everyday clothes and in front of the portrait that was done by Lucian Freud when she was 34 years old. There has been some chatter that this was photoshopped. It’s possible, but my guess is that it’s a real photo and she did put it on like this, perhaps for the Women’s Institute event!
More information on the parure can be found at the official Chatsworth website here, if you’d like to see. This is the most significant (and tiara-like) of the headpieces in my opinion:
#3 The Devonshire Diamond Tiara
This is the tiara that Debo was most photographed in and you can see why she would have chosen it over the ‘big one.’ It reminds me a bit of the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara – formal but not too heavy, great upward spires, and lots of breathing room so it’s not a wall of diamonds.
This portrait was taken of the Duchess around the time of the Queen’s coronation in 1953. Information on the history of the tiara can’t be found on the Chatsworth site unfortunately, perhaps they will add it at some point.
The big tiara was worn by Debo’s mother in law the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire since she assisted the Queen during the Coronation and would have had more eyes on her. It’s been noted that Debo was likely the only Duchess at the Coronation wearing their family’s ‘second best’ tiara.
This explanation of the peeress robes she is shown wearing for the coronation comes from the Chatsworth site:
Cecil Beaton called Deborah ‘the most beautiful of all’ the peeresses in this off-the-shoulder robe, believed to have been reworked from an original worn by Georgiana, wife of the 5th Duke of Devonshire. In her memoirs, Deborah describes how she came to wear it:
“…Moucher [Mary Devonshire] was to have the robes that had been carefully put away by Granny Evie in 1937 after King George VI’s coronation. Chatsworth, as always, came to the rescue. There were a number of tin boxes…In the vain hope of finding something for me, we started going through them and, lo and behold, from beneath a ton of tissue paper in the box that had held Moucher’s, appeared a second crimson peeress’s robe. The velvet is of exceptional quality, so soft your fingers hardly know they’re touching it, and of such pure brilliant crimson as to make you blink.”
Deborah Devonshire, Wait for me! (John Murray, 2010)
So, what do you think? I’d take the smaller tiara very happily!