Not in Front of the Corgis Book Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On how the Royal Family addresses staff:

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

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

On an award ceremony mishap:

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

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

On quirks of the Royal Household:

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

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On dinner conversation:

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

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

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

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


The George VI Victorian Sapphire Tiara Suite

In honour of it being the last day of September, we thought we would focus on one of the newer sapphire tiaras belonging to HM Queen Elizabeth, the George VI Victorian Sapphire Tiara Suite. This post comes from our guest royal poster Sarah Taylor, who is quite the jewelry expert!!

Let’s dive in.

HM Queen Elizabeth had this tiara commissioned in 1963 to match a sapphire suite that was given to her as HRH Princess Elizabeth by her father HM King George VI on the occasion of her marriage to Prince Philip in 1947.  This set of sapphire jewels and tiara belongs to HM Queen Elizabeth’s personal jewelry collection.

The Sapphire Suite was created in 1850, and consisted of a long necklace of linked oblong sapphires surrounded by diamonds, and a pair of oblong sapphire earrings surrounded by diamonds in a chandelier style. In 1952 the Queen had the necklace shortened by removing the largest sapphire, and in 1959 she had that central sapphire made into a gorgeous sapphire pendant, which can also be worn as a brooch.

The Queen wore the necklace and earrings many times before she had the tiara commissioned.

Midnight Matinee, 1951

At the premiere of the film Rob Roy in 1953

The tiara and a matching bracelet were commissioned by Her Majesty in 1963 to complete the parure.

The tiara and bracelet was debuted in 1969 when the Queen wore them to a charity event with Prince Philip

It is believed that the tiara was constructed out of a necklace that the Queen bought in 1963 that originally belonged to Louise of Belgium, Princess of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (daughter of King Leopold II).

Here is Louise wearing the necklace. If you look carefully you can see many similarities between the tiara and the necklace, specifically the floral motifs.

The Queen has also worn the George VI Sapphire Suite Tiara more recently, including memorably in 1994 when Bill Clinton was visiting London, prior to a banquet in honour of the 50th anniversary of D-Day.

What do you think of this tiara?

As promised, we have some posts on our recent visit to Kensington Palace to follow. See you then!

In the meantime, you may also like these other posts by Sarah Taylor:

The Emerald Parure of the Netherlands

Wessex Aquamarine and Diamond Tiara

Queen Juliana of the Netherlands Aquamarine Tiara and Parure


Queen Elizabeth’s Brazilian Aquamarine and Diamond Parure and the Boucheron Diamond Clips

In honour of aquamarine being the birthstone of March, we here at the Royal Post thought it would be interesting to focus on tiaras that feature aquamarines. This post will focus on Queen Elizabeth’s Aquamarine Tiara and her Boucheron Diamond Clips, and we have a couple of more posts to follow on other aquamarine tiaras. Stay tuned!!

Queen Elizabeth’s Brazilian Aquamarine and Diamond Parure and the Boucheron Diamond Clips

This is a modern tiara story. In 1953 Queen Elizabeth was given a necklace and matching pendant earrings in aquamarine, diamonds and platinum by the President and People of Brazil, as a Coronation gift. It had taken well over a year to locate the perfectly matching aquamarines that are featured in the pendant earrings, as well as the nine oblong aquamarines in the necklace and even larger aquamarine in the necklace pendant. They were made by Mappin & Webb, Rio de Janeiro in 1953. These are very large aquamarines and they certainly make an impression! Queen Elizabeth has now altered the pendant drop so it is a detachable and slightly aquamarine surrounded by a cluster of diamonds.

Queen Elizabeth so liked this aquamarine set that in 1957 she commissioned Garrards & Co, London to create a matching tiara for her. This tiara originally was in the form of a bandeau with 3 upright detachable aquamarines (they could also be worn as brooches), on a platinum band. The central large aquamarine was the original necklace pendant drop given to the Queen in 1953. Queen Elizabeth had the tiara redesigned in 1971. It was believed that she had incorporated pieces from a smaller aquamarine tiara gifted to her by the Governor of São Paulo in 1968.

Here’s Queen Elizabeth wearing the aquamarine tiara from the Governor of São Paulo, which Sophie, Countess of Wessex wore to the wedding of Prince Guillaume of Luxembourg and Countess Stephanie Lannoy in October 2012. Click here for our post on that wedding!

Here’s Queen Elizabeth wearing the original tiara in bandeau form, with the matching pendant earrings and necklace

Here you can see Queen Elizabeth wearing the tiara in its original form and the altered final form. Note that in the first photo, you can also see the original, unaltered form of the necklace. The final, altered form is in the second photo.

Here’s a photo showing the HM Queen Elizabeth wearing the necklace without the detachable pendant

Here’s Queen Elizabeth wearing the altered and final version of the tiara

The Brazilian Aquamarine and Diamond Bracelet was given to her by the Government of Brazil in 1958 to complete the original coronation set. The bracelet consisted of seven oblong aquamarines with diamonds – it was later shortened to five aquamarines with diamonds.

At the same time, the Government of Brazil finished the Parure by contributing the Brazilian Aquamarine and Diamond Brooch.

Queen Elizabeth wears other pieces of aquamarine jewelry, including the Boucheron Aquamarine and Diamond-Clip Brooches given to her in 1944 as an eighteenth birthday present by her parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. HM The Queen often wears the Boucheron clips. They seem to be a favourite of hers!

Here is HM Queen Elizabeth wearing the Boucheron Aquamarine and Diamond Clips during her and HRH Prince Philip’s historic visit to Ireland in 2011:

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth decked out at Buckingham Palace, March 2006

Stay tuned for an upcoming post on HRH Princess Anne’s Cartier Aquamarine Pineflower Tiara…

UPDATED: The Royals at the Cenotaph for Remembrance Sunday

The Queen traditionally leads the annual Remembrance Sunday commemorations at the Cenotaph in London. Today the sun is shining here, nice for the elderly servicemen. This year, there are no more veterans from WWI. The two minutes of silence was begun and ended with a shot, which we could hear from where we are just four seconds later.

Here is the Queen laying the first wreath. The members of the royal family, not their spouses, each lay a wreath. This year, The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, Prince William, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward, Princess Anne, and the Duke of Kent all lay wreaths. Here is the Queen laying hers:

Here’s a look back at the Royal Family on the Foreign Office balcony overlooking the cenotaph during the Remembrance Sunday commemoration last year. There’s the Duchess of Cornwall, the Countess of Wessex, and the Duke of Gloucester. Their spouses were below laying wreaths.

This year, Kate was on the balcony as well, between the Duchess of Cornwall and the Countess of Wessex which leads us to believe that they stand in the order of succession. That’s Princess Anne’s husband Sir Timothy Laurence on the far right.

Here is a close up of just Camilla and Kate:

Kate is wearing two poppies, which likely represents two family members or friends killed in battle. The Queen wears five poppies each year. Kate is also wearing a black jacket,  her Kiki Mcdonough ‘Grace’ earrings and a black hat we believe to be from milliner Jane Corbett, as the bow embellishment resembles the hat she wore to the service for Prince Philip’s birthday back in June of this year. Jane Corbett is sold in Roxtons in Hungerford, Berkshire where Kate is often spotted with her family. Check out the Jane Corbett website here.

UPDATED: we received confirmation from Jane Corbett today that Kate’s hat is indeed one of her designs. She wrote: “Thank you for your email, I can confirm that the black hat worn by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge was indeed one of my hats.”

The British certainly put on a respectful service; it is so important to remember the extraordinary sacrifices that continue to be made.

What Kate Was Wearing When She FIRST Met the Queen

Daily TelegraphThis is it, folks. Kate wore this sheer Issa dress with pink buttoned jacket and black hat to Peter Philips and Autumn Kelley’s wedding at Windsor in May 2008. As she and William revealed in their official engagement interview, this was the first time that Kate met the Queen. No doubt William wanted to bring this up to diffuse the rumours that Kate had met the Queen either at their graduation from St. Andrew’s in June 2005 or at William’s passing out parade at Sandhurst in December 2006. As you may recall, there were some mean spirited comments that when Carole met the Queen she had said, “pleased to meet you” and was chewing gum. Clearly this wasn’t the case.

Of the meeting, Kate said “Well I first met her at Peter and Autumn’s wedding and again it was in amongst a lot of other guests and she was very friendly.” Interesting how she down plays it.

William does, too when he added, “She was very welcoming. She knew it was a big day and everything was going on with Peter and Autumn, she had wanted to meet Kate for awhile, so it was very nice for her to come over and say hello…had a little chat and got on very well.” Very nice of the Queen to come over and meet his grandson’s girlfriend of seven or so years! It really is a different world.

William wasn’t there for what must have been a rather nerve wracking meeting for Kate. William he had already committed to the wedding of close friend Batian Craig in Kenya (brother of rumoured flame Jecca) so was unable to attend his cousin’s wedding. So, Kate had to handle this all of herself and by all accounts did a fantastic job, though I feel that the sheer dress she was wearing was jut not appropriate for a meeting with the Queen. I just can’t imagine ever having chosen it for an occasion where that could happen. Let’s hope she hadn’t taken her jacket off by the time the Queen came by.

Here are some more pictures from Hello magazine which give us a better idea of the outfit. Looks like Kate has taken her hat off…do you think it’s just sitting on her chair? Hmmm….

Kate must have felt quite comfortable with this dress as she pulled it out again this past January for the wedding of friends Harry Aubrey-Fletcher and Louise Stourton (picture below). She wore it under the Libelula Dulwich coat that time. UPDATED: We found the jacket in a London boutique and tried it on. The construction and velvet fabric didn’t actually seem to be the best quality for the price (310 pounds) which was a bit of a surprise. It did have a beautiful silhouette, though.

In any case, Kate really does seem to like the dress so we’ll probably see it again!

The Daily Mail

If you’d like to read more about Kate’s closet, click on our “Kate’s Closet’ link on the left:)