Saturday, April 30, 2011

He Liked It So Much He Put a Ring on It: The Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton

This is not a recap of the wedding of the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge per se. After watching about a zillion hours of royal wedding programming leading up to yesterday's nuptials, I'm a little burnt out.  Seriously, I felt I had waited almost as long as Kate for the wedding.  When Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, there was hoopla, but nothing like this.  I don't remember quite as many books or TV specials. Of course it was a different world. No internet, no Twitter, Facebook, or blogs.  What did we do back then in the stone age?

The only thing that was the same between that wedding and this was the sense of anticipation.  The biggest difference is here we have a royal couple who are genuinely in love with each other and enjoy each other's company.  The secret smiles they shared during the service, and the slight smirks from Prince William proved that this was an altogether different wedding. Not to mention the best man Prince Harry's stated intention to party all night long!

The night before the wedding, Catherine was at the Goring Hotel, spending her last night as a single woman in the bosom of her family.  Contrast that with Lady Diana who was alone at Clarence House with the Queen Mother. No friends, and no family to soothe any anxieties she might have had.  Prince William also spent the night with his family, Prince Charles and Prince Harry doing some male bonding.

I was lucky enough to be there in England when Prince Charles married Diana, and I remember thinking how surreal it was that a 19 year old girl was marrying a much older Prince and settling down before she had barely lived.  William and Catherine however have grown up together, he's eased her into the family, he's protected her from the beginning.  They are best friends as well as lovers.

However it didn't disappoint. What I loved about Catherine and William's nuptials was how they were able to make it seem like a family wedding, albeit a family with 1,900 guests.  It was royal yet it felt intimate at the same time. I loved that Catherine was able to keep her wedding dress a secret until the day of the ceremony (although already there's apparently backlash against Sarah Burton and the House of Alexander McQueen because they denied making the dress when they were asked. Seriously? What did the press expect them to say?).  I also loved that she didn't want William to see her until she was actually walking down the aisle. Loved that Prince Harry couldn't hellp turning around and then telling his brother that she looked fabulous. How sweet was that?

There were some nice moments during the ceremony. I liked that they both looked at each other when they said their vows.  Although who didn't get the giggles when William said for 'richer or for poorer'? How about just for rich? The whole thing with the wedding ring though, didn't he have that sized before they made it? Watching him having to shove her wedding ring on her finger kind of ruined the moment. Brother James Middleton's rather dramatic reading was a hoot, particularly since I think the Queen slept through it. He looked like he was auditioning to be the 2nd spear carrier in the new RSC production of Antony & Cleopatra.  I don't know what is orientation is, but I bet you he pulled last night at the evening reception at Buckingham Palace.

Love this photo taken on the balcony as the planes flyo overhead, little Grace van Cutsem was just not having it. The planes were too loud and it hurt her ears.

Official Family photo of the happy couple, Windsors on one side, Middletons on the other.  You just know the Pipster knows how gorgeous she looks.

The happy couple drive off in a vintage Aston-Martin with the vanity licence plate of JU5T WED on the back and a big L for learner's permit on the front. Love that Prince William was driving the car himself. Not too thrilled when he kept taking his hand off the wheel to wave to the crowds.  William, you now have a wife, let her do that while you drive.

Royal bridesmaid Pippa Middleton has apparently rocked the Internet after her appearance yesterday at the nuptials. It just goes to show you how confidant Kate is that she had no problem having her sister look as hot as she did in her dress.  According to the Daily Mail there are now Facebook pages devoted to her posterior.  Commenters yesterday were speculating that since it's something of a tradition for the maid of honor and the best man to hook up, that Prince Harry might try to hit on Pippa at the reception.  Two problems with that. One, I just don't think she's into him judging by this photo.

Doesn't it look like Harry just farted or told some really filthy joke? Pippa is clearly not amused by whatever he's saying.  Anyway, Pippa is dating Alexander Loudon, who was her date at the reception, where she showed up looking like this.

If you thought she looked hot at the wedding, just look at her now! Seriously what a gorgeous dress. It's an Alice Temperley and I can tell you, there are going to be knockoffs in the stores before the week is out.  The color looks amazing on Pippa, but I think she needs to lay off the self-tanner a bit. Not that it matters, because Pippa Middleton is now the most eligible bachelorette in the UK.

Ah, Chelsy Davy, Harry's on/off and apparently on again girlfriend, wearing one of the two Alberta Ferretti outfits that she bought for the day's festivities.  I'm sorry but she looks like Prince Harry pulled her into the vestibule for a quickie before the ceremony. (Come on, you totally know he's capable of it). The color totally doesn't suit her, it makes her look too pale and washed out.  It's also too tight in the wrong places, and her fascinator blends in with her hair. Not a good choice Chelse.

Speaking of bad fashion choices, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson looks like she bought her dress from the Elmo Collection. It's just too much blue. Seriously, blue shoes, blue hat, blue gloves, way too matchy-matchy. The dress on it's own might not have been bad with a pair of nude shoes, but right now she looks like a giant blueberry.

Ah, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, I see they inherited their fashion sense from their mother. There is so much wrong with both their outfits, I don't know where to start. Eugenie, on the left, is wearing Vivienne Westwood which would normally be a good thing but this time, her outfit makes her look like a Watteau shepherdess looking for her lost flock. The hat is hideous and her hair looks like she just rolled out of bed. Beatrice is wearing a Valentino which she has ruined by wearing a satellite dish on her forehead.

Catherine's dress for the dinner that Prince Charles threw for the couple at Buckingham Palace. Not as thrilled with it as I was with the dress, but god her waist is miniscule isn't it?

The royal couple leave for their weekend mini-honeymoon from the lawn at Buckingham Palace.  They look relaxed and very happy. Nice to see them holding hands! So different from when Charles and Diana left after the wedding breakfast on the day of their wedding.  Diana was wearing a pink dress and hat that wouldn't have looked out of place at Royal Ascot and Charles was in a stiff suit. They took a carriage to the station, before they headed off to Broadlands. I think I much prefer this casual but happy photo of William and Catherine.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Honeymoons

So the day finally arrived, Prince William and Kate Middleton are now HRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Didn't Catherine look lovely in her Alexander McQueen dress, designed by Sarah Burton, wearing the Halo tiara borrowed from the Queen (as her something borrowed)? Did you gasp when it looked like Prince William couldn't get the ring on her finger? And what about those two kisses? Now the question on everyone's mind is, where are these two crazy kids going on their honeymoon?

When it comes to packing for their royal honeymoon, might the couple be taking along swimwear and scuba gear?  The Sunday Mirror reported that the couple could be enjoying their honeymoon on Lizard Island – one among a chain of islands along the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland, Australia. Transportation to the island, "tipped as the most likely destination," according to the Mirror, requires a scenic hour-long flight from Cairns. The white sandy paradise isn't an unlikely post-nuptial destination for the pair. While speaking to Aussie locals last month on a trip to visit towns affected by Cyclone Yasi, William, 28, said, "I love scuba diving. I have always wanted to dive the [Great] Barrier Reef." He added: "I will have to come back – maybe we'll have a honeymoon in Cairns?"

The Duchess sparked that someplace warm might be their destination last week after she was spotted out shopping at Warehouse in London, scooping up $350 worth sundresses and tops. Another suggestion is that they could wind up in Jordan, where Kate spent part of her childhood, or they could return to the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, hop the pond to Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands, or visit the island of Corfu in Greece. Perhaps the island of Mustique where Princess Margaret used to have a villa or Eleuthera where Princess Diana was famously photographed wearing a bikini when she was pregnant with Prince William. All these places have been talked about but Palace sources have yet to confirm an official royal honeymoon destination which is driving the paparazzi crazy. How can they get those exclusive honeymoon shots which will no doubt net them a fortune (enough to retire on maybe) if they don’t know where the happy couple are going?

If it were me, I would head to Venice or Paris, but I have a feeling this couple are headed somewhere they can relax before they come back to the daunting task of sending out thank you notes (or emails in this modern age) to all their guests. But what about Scotland, a popular honeymoon destination for the Royal Family and where the couple famously met at university. Prince Charles took Princess Diana on a cruise on the royal yacht Britannia for their honeymoon, after spending the night at Broadlands, the estate that belonged to his great uncle Earl Mountbatten of Burma. However, he chose the Queen Mother's home, Birkhall, for his honeymoon with Camilla Parker-Bowles. Earlier on, Prince Philip and the Queen also had their honeymoon here. Also, Princess Alexandra and Angus Ogilvy had their honeymoon in Birkhall. In 1999, Prince Edward and his bride Sophie Rhys-Jones flew to the family's Balmoral Castle in Scotland for the first leg of their honeymoon, according to The Times of London. The word is that they also spent their wedding night at Birkhall Lodge.

Chances are William and Kate will be spending at least part of their summer when the Queen decamps to Balmoral for the summer, but my bet is still someplace quiet where they can enjoy their first few days of married life. Whereever they go, I hope that they get to spend at least part of it without having to worry about photographers following their every move.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Royal Wedding: David, Viscount Linley and Serena Stanhope

"My children are not royal," Princess Margaret once said. "They just happen to have an aunt who is the Queen."

Technically this is only a royal wedding because Viscount Linley's late mother was the Queen's sister, Princess Margaret Rose, Countess of Snowden, but it's my blog and I really thought this wedding was lovely.
Princess Margaret's son, David Armstrong-Jones or Viscount Linley, married the Hon. Serena Stanhope on 8th October 1993 at St. Margaret's Church. The bride, 23, is the daughter of the Earl of Harrington, who owns a 700-acre estate in County Limerick and vast chunks of Kensington. Her mother, Virginia Freeman Jackson, was a debutante.

From the radiant looks on Viscount Linley and his bride, no one would have guessed that there was any tension behind the smiles. Indeed, the House of Windsor was on its best behavior, which was billed in the British tabloids as the Wedding of the Year. The grooms parents, Princess Margaret and the Earl of Snowdon, who had a particularly acrimonious split,  managed to play nice by arriving together for the 3 p.m. wedding. The Queen looked relaxed as she stepped out of her Rolls with Prince Edward and the Queen Mum. And Princess Anne, who never really warmed to her wayward sister-in-law Princess of Wales, greeted her with a kiss. The wedding, however, was noticeable for who didn't show up.  Allegedly eager to avoid his estranged wife, Prince Charles hightailed it to Turkey on official business. For some reason, Prince Philip chose to be at a carriage-driving event in Gladstone, N.J. Prince Andrew at least had a legitimate excuse, he was on naval duty in Gibraltar, and of course Duchess of York was probably not invited beginning her years in the Royal wilderness.
What I find so interesting about this wedding is Serena's dress, whicch was designed by couturier Bruce Bobbins at a cost of $9,000, was reminiscent of Princess Margaret's 1960 wedding gown but reflected her own personality and taste.

As you can see from the pictures, both dresses featured a v-neck, long sleeves, tight waist, and very full skirt.  However Serena's was actually in two parts: a satin 'coat-dress', which buttoned down the front, and continued half-way down the skirt which was made out of silk, covered by multiple layers of tulle.  Princess Margaret's wedding dress, on the other hand, was made from silk organza with thirty  metres of fabric in the skirt alone. However, the embellishment on the dress was minimal which suited Princess Margaret’s delicate frame. Hartnell’s designs were much admired by the Princess, as she explains in The Englishwoman’s Wardrobe, he was ‘always so good at getting the balance right.’  Neither gown featured a long train which was unusual given the long trains featured on the wedding dresses of Diana, Princess of Wales and Sarah, Duchess of York. Since both women are petite, a long train would probably have overbalanced them.

Both Princess Margaret and Serena wore their hair up, enclosed by a tiara, from which a veil fell to the same length as the gown's train. Serena's  upswept blond hair was arranged by hairdresser Nicky Clarke for a reported $1,500.
The Poltimore tiara (see below), made in 1870 for Lady Poltimore, and was bought at auction especially for Princess Margaret.  Unfortunately, her children sold the tiara at auction after her death, which is such a shame because it is gorgeous. It would have looked lovely on Kate Middleton for her wedding, or even as an heirloom for little Margarita Armstrong-Jones to wear at her wedding.

Serena is wearing the Papyrus Motive Tiara. This tiara was bought by Queen Mary from Garrard's. She later gave it to Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Mother), Duchess of York. She in turn gave it to her daughter Princess Margaret. Serena Linley borrowed the tiara on the day the wedding.
Sources:  People Magazine, Hello Magazine, Majesty Magazine.
Viscount Linley goes professionally by the name David Linley, and is currently chairman of Christie's UK, the international auction house. He is the queen's only nephew and is also fourteenth in line to the throne, and the first person in the line of succession who is not a descendant of the queen. The couple have two children, the Honorable Charles Armstrong-Jones, born in 1999, and the Honorable Margarita Amstrong-Jones, who will be a bridesmaid at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Happy Birthday Queen Elizabeth II

Today marks the 85th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She was born on April 21, 1926 as HRH Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of York at her parents home in Picadilly (Royals didn't give birth in hospitals until the 1960's). Until the age of ten, she was fourth in line to the throne. Things changed of course, when her uncle Edward VIII bagged the throne to marry Mrs. Simpson. All of a sudden, Princess Elizabeth found herself not only second in line to throne, but facing the very real prospect that she would be Queen one day. Her idyllic childhood changed in that moment.  Not that the Queen has ever complained about her life. She has a strong sense of duty (comes from being a Taurus).  According to the April issue of Majesty Magazine, the Queen actually likes the structure and the routine of monarchy, every day regimented, knowing her schedule six months in advance. It's not just that she was brought up with it. No doubt, if Edward VIII had done his duty and married and sired a son (although there is speculation that he was probably sterile), she would have married some nice aristocrat and settled down to a life in the country with her horses and dogs, only occasionally fulfilling royal duties.

Although the Queen will have been on the throne for 60 years next year, there is still so much we don't know about her, and that's as it should be. She has actively cultivated the mystique of the monarchy. We do know that she keeps her breakfast cereal in Tupperware, eats her dinner on trays when she's home, and goes around turning out the lights in Buckingham Palace. We also know that she's worn the same hairstyle for the past 50 years, and wears neon colors so that she can be easily seen by the crowds in public. Beyond that, she is unknowable. Only three people in the world probably know the Queen intimately, her sister Margaret, her mother, Queen Elizabeth, and her husband Prince Philip. Even her children don't know her that well. They are always conscious that their mother is not just their mother, but also their Queen.

The Queen has been married for almost 64 years (Whoa) to Prince Philip. Royal Watchers know that she met her future groom when she was 13 and he was an 18 year old cadet at the Dartmouth Naval College. Apparently from that moment on, she had decided that he was going to be her husband (that stubborn Taurus Sun). Lucky for her, Prince Philip went along with the program and they were married when she turned 21.

That's her dress on the left. Isn't it beautiful? Seriously, I think it's much more beautiful then the dress that Diana wore for her wedding. It's simple but classic. If you shortened the sleeves, it could be worn today, and the color is stunning, from the picture it almost looks like a champagne color. And I adore the embroidery on the dress. It was designed by Norman Hartnell, who designed many of the Queen and the Queen Mother's clothes over the years. Can you imagine being couturier to the Queen of England?

Here is a picture of the happy couple on their wedding day.  The war had been over for only 2 years when the then Princess Elizabeth married her dashing Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, who renounced his Greek titles and citizenship to marry the Queen. The King made him the Duke of Edinburgh on their wedding day, so that she became HRH, the Duchess of Edinburgh. It had to have been hard for such an Alpha male like Prince Philip to know that he was going to have to walk 3 paces behind his wife for the rest of his life.

It would be interesting I think to see a TV movie about the Queen's early years, from the time of the war through the coronation. It would have to be carefully cast, like The Queen or The King's Speech. Otherwise, you end up with something like the Lifetime movie William and Kate.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Royal Bachelor: Prince Amedeo of Belgium

Ah, Belgium, land of delicious chocolate, fruity beers, and mussells and pomme frites (mayonnaise on the side!). Belgium is also the home country for this week's royal bachelor, Prince Amedeo, who just turned 25. The monarchy in Belgium is a young one, the first King of the Belgians was Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, uncle to both Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and widower of Princess Charlotte of Wales.

Prince Amedeo, who is 7th in line for the throne, is the son of Princess Astrid of Belgium (once tipped as a potential bride for Prince Charles if it hadn't been for her religion, she's Catholic) and Archduke Prince Lorenz of Austria-Este.  The heir to the House of Austria-Este is reputed to be serious, thoughtful and ambitious (he certainly looks it in the photo on the left). Educated at London School of Economics, he is a reserve officer in the Belgian army.

American Princess wannabes take heart.  Prince Amedeo works for Deloitte in New York, where he ran the marathon in 2008. No need to book a plane to Brussels, you can just hop one to New York. I'm sure that job applications for the New York office of Deloitte went off when Prince Amedeo was recently featured in The Fresh Princes of New York article in Page Six magazine of The New York Post. Not to mention, all those girls who previously had never put on a pair of running shoes, are probably jogging around the resevoir in Central Park as I write this, hoping to catch a glimpse of him. Like most Princes, he also enjoys rugby, and speaks several languages fluently.

Rumor has it that he has a girlfriend but nobody has been able to confirm it. He doesn't look like a party animal, but no doubt he hangs out at cultural institutions in the city. One could do worse than to read The New York Social Diary, Town and Country or Quest Magazine to see where the Prince might be located or just hang out in any of the trendy bars and restaurants in the Financial District or the Upper East Side. Belgian consulate events n'est pas?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Royal Review: William and Kate

SERENA SCOTT THOMAS as Carole Middleton
BEN CROSS as Prince Charles
TRILBY GLOVER as Margaret Hemmings-Wellington
RICHARD REID as Derek Rogers
THEO CROSS as Trevor Watson
LOUISE LINTON as Vanessa Rosemont Bellows
MARY ELISE HAYDEN as Pippa Middleton

Synopsis: “William and Kate” tells the story of how the friendship between Prince William, second in line to the throne of the British monarchy, and future princess Kate Middleton, the stunning daughter of upper-middle-class commoners, blossomed into a romantic love affair, charming the world with their recent engagement and eagerly awaited royal wedding. The film chronicles the history of William and Kate — from the moment they met at Scotland’s prestigious University of St. Andrews, through the ups and downs of their nine-year courtship complicated by social and royal-family pressures, and intense global media attention surrounding their storybook nuptials.

Gotham Gal says:  You knew I was going to watch this movie didn't you? How could I resist? I have watched every single TV movie good or bad (and mostly bad) since the very first movie starring Catherine Oxenberg as Diana back in the day. So I parked myself in front of my telly with a glass of port, and some Stilton cheese. Actually it was a glass of Diet Dr. Pepper and some popcorn but you get the idea.  I'm happy to report that "William & Kate" was just as cheesy and horrific. I loved the fact that they claim that the movie is based on 'true events.' Where, on Mars? Apart from the fact that Prince William is in it, and Kate Middleton, nothing in this movie resembles 'true events.' Did the filmmakers not read the myriad of books and articles written about this couple in the past 10 years? Of course not.

Rather than go through a blow by blow account of this film, I'm just going to pick out some of the cheesiest moments.

1) Ian Musgrove shows up at Prince William's dorm room and shoving his CV underneath the door, claiming that he's applying for the position of William's wingman.

This is the one scene in the film that I actually wish had happened in real life. It was awesome in its awfulness but pretty ballsy at the same time.  Seriously who wouldn't want a friend like that? The filmmakers then ruined it by having William tell his new friends how he tries to trick people by feeding them false information to see if they're loyal. Great now they know your secret, you dumb ass. I can't believe that the real William would reveal something like that after knowing someone for all of 5 minutes.

2) Prince William makes a move on Kate Middleton after the fashion show and she rebuffs him with almost a sneer.

Okay, first of all can we talk about the fact that they didn't even remotely get the dress right that she actually wore that night. Come on, it has to be one of the most iconic images of the 21st century. Someone actually spent almost $70,000 to buy it. How hard could it have been to fashion a replica. Loved how Kate just sashayed down the runway like a professional.

3) Kate Middleton sucks up to Prince Charles by telling him how she's read his articles on the environment for "years."

There's flattery and then there's blatant sucking up, and fake Kate crossed the line in this scene.

4). Kate has etiquette lessons after one too many Brittany Spears-like 'crotch shots' in the press.

The paparazzi would have loved if this had actually happened.  Still why worry about authenticity when you can mime comedy gold out of Kate learning how to curtsy, and getting in and out of limousines.

5) Kate and William sneak in and out of each other's bedrooms in the flat that they share with roommates.

Again more comedy gold to be had. Just the thought of Prince William creeping around on tip-toe into Kate's room was priceless, as was the scene where she hid under the covers when their other roommate came in.

6) Kate storms out of William's birthday party when he spends too much time with Jecca Craig and not with her (even though they are supposedly keeping their relationship a secret).

After being treated to a bit of snobbery at the party by one of their classmates who plays on Kate's insecurities about her background, a miserable Kate storms out with her girlfriends, and then refuses to speak to William for weeks. This is where the timeline gets wonky.  Prince William's birthday is June but Kate and William make up while skiing weeks later. Now either we, the viewers, are supposed to believe that she refused to talk to him for months even though they were living together, or somehow they found a ski resort that still has snow in July. However, we now come to the cheesiest scene of the evening.

7) William serenades Kate in a bar in Switzerland to win her back.

I'm telling you this made up for the hour of awfulness that I had to sit through to get to this scene. It was priceless watching faux Wills get his karaoke on. And he was dreadful which make it ten times better. If this had actually happened, the paparazzi would have had a field day. Seriously this would have hit YouTube before the end of the evening.

8) Kate and her friends drive in downtown Los Angeles, as the same London street scene goes by like on a loop as they discuss her relationship with William.

9) Kate and William break up in his car, and she gets out and goes storming off through the streets of London.

10) William comes to get Kate back while she is in the middle of a lake. 

The best part of this scene was when Kate dove into the water to swim back to shore. The only thing that would have made it better would have been if he had dove in at the same time and they had met in the middle. Seriously, this movie was such a steaming pot of fondue why not go all in? After all if Faux Wills can serenade Fake Kate in a bar, it wouldn't be beneath his dignity to swim to her to get her back. After all, he was the one who broke up with her.

The movie ends obviously with William proposing to Kate in Kenya before the final fade-out smooch.  It's almost beside the point to say that Camilla Luddington and Nico Evers-Swindell only bare the faintest of resemblances to Will and Kate, or that I've seen better acting in a high school play. We're not watching it for the acting. Beyond the dreadful script, what struck me about this TV movie was that Fake Kate dresses worse than real Kate. And the scenes of her working at Jigsaw were hysterical. There were three scenes in the film that smacked of any authentic emotion: 1) when Carole Middleton tells Kate not to mope and to show Prince William what he's missing and 2) when Prince William and Prince Charles have an honest conversation about Charles, Camilla and Diana and 3) Prince William in the kitchen cooking at University and mucking it up.

What's missing? No scenes with Camilla, no Prince William playing polo, no scenes of them traveling together or even having a conversation beyond him changing his major or wanting to fly. We get no sense from this movie as to why William was attracted to Kate beyond seeing her in her underwear. Still despite it's flaws, it was cheesy good fun. I will definitely be watching Hallmark's take on the romance in June. In the interest of blogging.

A little bit of trivia:  Serena Scott Thomas who plays Carole Middleton is not only Kristin Scott Thomas's sister but she also played Princess Diana in a TV movie.

Some other reviews:  Anglotopia, World of Royalty, The Daily Beast, The Daily Mail, The Guardian

Monday, April 18, 2011

Royals Behaving Badly: Prince Ernst August of Hanover

Twelve years ago this past January, the people of Monaco rejoined that their Princess after years of heartache (a divorce, widowhood, broken relationships) had finally seemed to find love.  Her groom was HRH Prince Ernst August, Prince of Hanover, Duke of Brunswick, Prince of Great Britain and Ireland.  And none too soon, their daughter Princess Alexandra showed up in July of 1999! The marriage seemed a dream come true, not only was Princess Caroline marrying up (going from Her Serene Highness to Her Royal Highness) but she was also marrying the man that her mother had once thought would make an ideal husband for her headstrong daughter. At the time of the wedding, Princess Caroline's father Prince Rainier declared, "Thank God, at least he is one of us."

The couple had a rocky start, Prince Ernst was still married to his first wife, Swiss heiress Princess Chantal, who was a good friend of Princess Caroline's.  At first the couple claimed just to be friend, even after it was reported that they were seen on holiday together in Thailand and Burma. The stress caused Princess Caroline's hair to fall out, she brought back the turban into fashion during this time. Princess Chantal was incredibly vocal that she considered that Caroline had stabbed her in the back, taking her husband. Not a great way to start off a marriage. Since Prince Ernst at the time was something like 35th in line to the British throne, he had to ask Queen Elizabeth II's permission to marry (Ernst is a direct descendant of Sophia, Electress of Hanover and mother of George I, he's also a first cousin of Prince Philip, Queen Sophia of Spain, and King Constantine of Greece.  According to Wikipedia, he could petition the British government to restore his title of Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale). Since Caroline is Catholic, he had to renounce his right to the throne, although his daughter with Caroline, HRH Princess Alexandra is being raised Protestant.

Things started to go wrong for Ernst when he was spotted publicly urinating on the Turkish Pavilion at the Expo 2000 event in Hanover, which caused a diplomatic incident. The Turkish government accused him of insulting the Turkish people. Clearly he didn't learn from that incident because the tabloid Bild-Zeitun also photographed him urinating outside of a hospital in Austria. Seriously, they do have actual bathrooms in Europe! The next year the Prince, who was rumored to have a drinking problem, was fined over $300,000 and given an eight month suspended sentence for threatening behavior, verbal abuse, and causing bodily harm in 2001, in three seperate incidents. Not very Prince-like behavior.  Especially someone who is supposedly worth over $10 billion dollars in property and investments. Even Prince Philip, who has made his share of gaffes over the years would be appalled.

But it wasn't just the violence, which included kicking a female photographer in Austria, and hit a bar owner on a Kenyan holiday island with a pair of brass knuckles (one has to wonder why he was carrying brass knuckles!). The German tabloid Bild accused his family of being Nazis, claiming that Ernst's grandfather had profited by Hitler's plunder of Jewish businesses in the 1930's. The tabloid also claimed that his grandfather had urged his loyalists in Northern German to follow the Fuhrer, and that Ernst's own father had joined the SS (Prince Philip had to deal with this same issue, his older sisters all married German aristocrats who had Nazi ties. None of them were invited to his wedding to the Queen in 1947).

One has to wonder what Princess Caroline saw in this boorish Prince. He must have some sort of personal charm besides just his title. Reports say that although Prince Caroline loved him, she was getting increasingly disturbed by the dark side of his nature. Friends say that his drinking was exacerbated by the media spotlight that has been trained on the Grimaldis ever since Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier in 1956. 'Unfortunately, Ernst found living in teh Grimaldi spotlight almost impossible to bear," says one of his circle. "He's become obsessed with his privacy and his drinking just got worse." In 2004, he missed the wedding ceremony of Prince Felipe of Spain because he'd been partying so hard the night before. He only turned up later during the reception. How much worse became apparent when the Prince ended up in the hospital in 2005 suffering from acute pancreatitis.  He was put into a medically induced coma to help his body recuperate. At the same time,  Prince Rainier died.

After Ernst came out of the coma, things seemed to have settled down between the couple, but the first signs of a problem occurred when it was noted that they only appeared together in public 3 times in 2009. By that Christmas, Caroline was off skiing, and Ernst was photographed in Thailand in a compromising position with an unidentified woman. But Caroline had already moved out of their Fontainebleu home in September of that year, moving back to Monaco with their daughter Princess Alexandra while Ernst was off celebrating the 40th anniversary of Colonel Khaddafi's reign in Libya (nice friends he has!).  A spokesperson in Monaco told reporters that the Palace had no comment.  Still, people speculated it was only a matter of time before Princess Caroline filed for divorce from her wayward husband who had done nothing but embarass her during the 12 years of their marriage.

Last fall when Ernst was spotted with a 22 year old former nightclub dancer named Simona from Romania who models for brothels in Austria in northern Italy, there was still no formal declaration of seperation or divorce. Royal watchers believe that the couple have come to an 'understanding', that they are both free to live seperate lives but no divorce.  That might seem a little strange, particularly in America where celebrities get divorced after only a few months, but a divorce would mean that Ernst would have to pay Caroline a significan chunk of change. Call me madcap, but Prince Ernst doesn't look like someone who finds it easy to part with a farthing. For Caroline, a divorce would make her a three time loser at love. She's already had one divorce, and been widowed once (although there is speculation that if Stephano Casiraghi had lived, there might have been a second divorce).  Her sister Stephanie has already been married and divorced twice, and had a child out wedlock.  Her brother is finally getting married at the age of 53, after having two illegtimate children. By all accounts Caroline doesn't want to add to the list. Nor does she want to add credence to the myth that the Grimaldi's are cursed when it comes to love.

Of course, who knows what the future holds? If Ernst continues to be a liability ro an embarassment, Caroline may just have to cut the marital chord.

Sources:  Vanity Fair (10/2/09), People (1/7/10), Daily Mail (4/16/05, 10/28/10)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Royal Wedding: Prince Nikolaos of Greece and Tatiana Blatnik

Groom: Prince Nikolaos of Greece and Denmark
Bride:  Tatiana Blatnik
Date:   August 25, 2010
Where:  The Cathedral of Ayios Nikolaos, Spetses, Greece
Guests:  380, including Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia of Asturias, Prince Phillipe and Princess Mathilde of Belgium, Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel of Sweden, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.
Wedding Gown: Angel Sanchezwith a chantilly lace overlay, teamed with a matching bolero and full-length veil. Made from 40 metres of French Chantilly lace, the strapless dress featured a moulded bodice that showed off her slender waist, before falling to her feet and finishing in a sweeping train. Completing the regal yet feminine look was a pair of diamond drop earrings and the antique corsage tiara, lent by her new mother-in-law (Tatiana's sister-in-law Princess Pavlos wore the same tiara at her wedding in 1995).
Engagement: December 2009, proposed in Greece on a boat.
His parents: King Constantine and Queen Anne Marie of Greece and Denmark
Her parents: Ladislao Blatnik (deceased) and Blanche Bierlain, stepfather Attilio Brillembourg
Engagement Ring:  stunning engagement ring, topped with a sapphire that was given to Nikolaos by his mother, who received it from her own parents, King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid of Denmark.

The wedding of HRH Prince Nikolaos of Greece and Denmark to Tatiana Blatnik was an international affair with guests coming to the island from all over the world. It was the first royal wedding to be held in Greece since the Prince's parents were married in the 1960's, and would have been all most impossible 15 years ago.  It wasn't until 1992 that the family was actually allowed to travel in Greece freely.  Prince Nikolaos was born in Rome after the family was forced into exile and never set foot in Greece until 1981 when the family were allowed to return for his grandmother's funeral. Despite being brought up in England, Prince Nikolaos and his brothers and sisters grew up speaking Greek as well as English and Spanish (King Constantine's sister Sophia is married to King Juan Carlos of Spain). He went to Brown University where he studied International Relations, and Sandhurst Military College (alma mater of Princes William and Harry).  Tall, and good-looking with slicked back dark hair, and an English accent tinged with Greek, he was one of the most sought after bachelors in the world.

His 29 year old bride, Tatiana Blatnik was born in Venezuela to a Slovenian father and a German mother, and grew up in Switzerland. There was a rumor going around on the Internet that she was related to an American politician but that has proved to be false. Gorgeous, standing almost 6ft tall, the blonde beauty met her future husband in Gstaad at a club. It turned out that he was friends with her older brother Boris, but didn't recognize her since hadn't see her since she was a child. According to the March issue of Vanity Fair Espana, he turned to Boris and siad "How are you letting of that girl, who is the fairest of all?" to which Boris replied, "Dude, that's my sister," (or something like that!).

Tatiana was 20 at the time and studying sociology at Georgetown, but the Prince persisted with flowers, calls, invitations. The Prince was living in London and it was almost two years before the two finally started dating. "His background is quite traditional and courted me like old times. It took more than a year to decide but from 2003 to our wedding we were never seperated by more than 10 days.)  When they first started dating, the Prince was living in London at The Blake Hotel. The new Princess loves joking, cooking and hiking and is described by friends as 'funny, modest, and can be really clueless." Apparently she once sat next to Prince Andrew at a dinner and had no idea who he was!

The Prince was determined to have the wedding in Greece, although Tatiana apparently had Dr. Zhivago fantasies of horse drawn sleds. Greek to the core, the Prince got his wish.  The happy couple gleefully mixed royalty with their commoner friends at the reception. Despite her new title of HRH*, Tatiana says "I do not feel like a Princess. I feel like I have married a Prince with a title. Well, actually yes, he is my prince, but nothing more." The Princess, who worked as an event planner for Diane von Furstenberg before the wedding, has continued as a consultant for the brand while the Prince works for his father and brother.

Sources:  Hello Magazine, Vanity Fair (Espana)
* Although Greece now longer has a monarchy, the Greek royal family are also Princes of Denmark due to the fact that the brother of Queen Alexandra (born Alexandra of Denmark) of England was offered the throne of Greece. Prince Philip is also related to both the Greek and Danish royal houses.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Royal Sister-in-Law: A Look at Pippa Middleton

On April 29, 2011 all eyes will be on the bride, as Catherine Middleton walks down the aisle to become HRH Princess William of Wales (unless the Queen makes William a Duke or decides that she will be known as Princess Catherine), but by her side will be the woman who some are calling the most eligible singleton in Britain. No one was surprised when it was announced that Kate’s younger sister Pippa, 27, would be her maid of honor. The two sisters are incredibly close, and Pippa is widely tipped to become her sister’s lady-in-waiting. The two women have made a formidable double act on the London social scene over the several years. Some snobs, who are not quite so enamored, have dubbed them the ‘wisteria sisters’ (highly decorative, terribly fragrant and with a ferocious ability to climb). Ouch! The closest double act America has would probably be Jacqueline and Lee Bouvier. Jacqueline married the closest thing America has to royalty when she married Jack Kennedy in 1983, and Lee married actual royalty when she married Prince Stanislaus Radziwill. But the two sisters are more akin to the Miller sisters who took center stage in the 1990’s when middle sister Marie Chantal bagged Prince Pavlos of Greece, and her two sisters Pia and Alexandra bagged a Getty and Alexander von Furstenberg respectively.

So who is Pippa Middleton exactly? She was born Philippa Charlotte Middleton on September 6, 1983. Like her sister, Pippa attended first Downe House School and then Marlborough, the tony boarding school where they both started to make the right connections. Friends say that while Kate and Pippa were close, they were also incredibly competitive which has continued to this day. ‘Kate was jealous of Pippa – in fact, I think Kate feared being eclipsed by her a bit,’ a friend told the Daily Mail in July of last year. ‘The two sisters are close, but there was always a sense of rivalry between them. Probably still is.” Growing up, Pippa was considered the more outgoing, sassier, and prettier of the two sisters. It wasn’t until Marlborough that Kate began to come out of her shell, turning into the confident and elegant woman that Prince William fell in love with.

Well, there is no chance of Pippa eclipsing her sister now that Kate has accomplished the get of the century, marrying the second in line to the throne! Still Pippa was voted in 2008 as top of Tatler magazine’s most eligible bachelor list, and there is no reason that when she does marry, she shouldn’t bag someone at the top of the heap. By the time Pippa arrived at college (Edinburg University), she was already cultivating the right people. At Edinburgh, she cultivated the country set, people who go to each other’s country houses for the weekend, rather than the fast crowd who headed to London every weekend to party. By her final year, she could count sons of two Dukes as her flat mates (George Percy, heir to the Duke of Northumberland, and Lord Ted Innes-Ker, the second son of the Duke of Roxburghe). According to her frenemies, Pippa is one of those charming people who are constantly looking over your shoulder to see if someone more important was in the room. She is also considered the prettier and sexier of the two sisters. While Kate looks like fun and a good laugh, Pippa is the one in the slinky dresses with the come hither look.

While Kate played the waiting game with Prince William, Pippa plunged into the London social scene. Moving into the £850,000 Chelsea flat with her sister, she took a job with an events planner. Soon invitations to fashion shows and launch parties filled her mailbox. But it wasn’t all parties and premieres. Pippa took her role as gatekeeper for her sister seriously, booking restaurants for Kate and William and sorting through their invites, sort of an unofficial social secretary. There are two people that Kate trusts implicitly, her mother and her sister. Neither of them has let her down during the years of her relationship with William.

Still while her sister has found her Prince, Pippa is still looking for hers. She’s had a long-term relationship with Jonathan ‘J.J.’ Jardine Patterson, heir to Hong Kong Jardine Matheson (think James Clavell’s Noble House), Scottish aristocrat Bill More Nesbit, diamond heir Simon Youngman, nightclub entrepreneur Charlie Gilkes, and a close friend of William and Kate’s, Guy Pelly. Currently she’s dating former cricket player Alexander Guy Rushworth Loudon, and according to royal reporter Katie Nicholls the relationship is serious. Rushworth works in finance, he’s dashingly handsome, and his family have a stately pile in Kent called Olantigh.

Currently Pippa divides her time between the events company Table Talk and editing ‘The Party Times,” the newsletter for her parents company. If royal insiders are correct, and Pippa does become her sister’s lady-in-waiting, her job at Table Talk will have to go. Her days will be filled with helping her sister with her calendar, and following her around to royal engagements, making sure to keep her on schedule. “Pippa is a great networker, like her mother,” says a friend. No doubt those skills will come in handy in the years ahead.

Sources:  Vanity Fair, Daily Mail, The Telegraph

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Other Royal Wedding: Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall

With so much attention focused on the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, it’s easy to forget that the Queen has another grandchild who is getting married this summer. Perhaps that is on purpose given the low key lifestyle of Zara Phillips and her fiancĂ©, Mike Tindall. As royal watchers know, William is not the first of the Queen’s grandchildren to get married. Peter Phillips married first almost three years ago when he married Canadian Autumn Kelly. Now this summer it will be his sister’s turn. While Peter married at Windsor Castle, Zara surprised many by choosing Edinburgh for her wedding instead of more expected sites like her home county of Gloucestershire or Hampton Court where Lord Frederick Windsor was married.

The happy couple, who were introduced by Prince Harry in a bar in 2003 during the Rugby World Cup in Sydney, has been dating for seven years. They were first spotted at the swank Met Bar in London, although they just claimed to be friends, and then on a date at the Badminton Horse Trials before making their relationship public. Before meeting the 6’2” 224 plays outside centre for Gloucester Rugby who she calls a ‘gentle giant,’ Zara had been involved in a tempestuous four year relationship with jockey Richard Johnson. Since meeting Tindall, the pair have settled down first on a rent free cottage on her mother’s Gatcombe estate but moved into a £800,000 three-story Georgian house in April 2009.

At first glance, Tindall seems like an unlikely choice for a royal son-in-law. Tindall is from Leeds in Yorkshire, he served fish and chips from a van while at school. He also has 2 criminal convictions for drunk driving, the second led to him losing his license for three years and paying a fine of £500. Tindall, 32, has claimed that it was his "pure charm" that won her heart. Princess Anne has been adamant since her children’s birth that they are not royal; they just happen to have a Queen for a grandmother. They get no money from the civil list and have no royal duties. Considered a bit of a wild child, Zara famously pierced her tongue, and is known for her short skirts and fab tastes in hats. .Although 12th in line for the throne, Zara is more concerned with making the Olympic team in 2012.

It was sport that brought them together. They seem to have appreciation for the trials and tribulations of their chosen sports. Tindall is often seen at Zara’s events, and she is a regular at his rugby matches. Zara is one of Britain's top equestrians and a former world three-day Eventing champion. Her fiancĂ©, who plays for club side Gloucester, has been capped more than 60 times by his country and was part of the England team that won the 2003 Rugby World Cup. Speaking to HELLO! Magazine last year, Mike, said "I don’t think it’s about whether we will get married but when. There's no doubt that I love Zara but it has to be the right time…And yes it probably will be a white wedding, although sometimes I can see the attraction of sneaking away without telling anyone." Reflecting on their relationship, "I just really liked her. It wasn't love at first sight - I wasn't looking for romance. But, naturally, I wasn't unmoved by her. She is a stunning woman. There was something there."

According to the Daily Mail, Zara said back in 2008, “I’m old-fashioned. I think they should ask you. Everyone at the rugby club seems to be getting married and having babies so they keeping asking me, ‘What about you?”

Zara and Mike have decided to get married in Scotland this summer on July 30th. This won’t be the first royal wedding north of the border. Princess Anne had her second wedding to now Vice-Admiral Timothy Laurence in 1992 at a church near Balmoral. That decision had more to do with The Church of Scotland allowing divorced people to remarry in the church, while the Church of England does not.  Sources say Zara and Mike are under pressure not to follow in her brother’s footsteps by selling the rights to the wedding to a tabloid like Hello!

Marrying in Scotland is in keeping with the couple’s low key approach. While Kate and William had a formal press conference to announce their engagement, Zara and Mike wore jeans and winter coats for their informal announcement in December. The church, Canongate Kirk, is where the Queen worships when she is in town. Palace sources day that the wedding will be a private affair with the costs covered by the families. It has been announced that It has also emerged that Tindall's best man will be fellow rugby player Iain Balshaw, who was part of England's rugby World Cup-winning squad. The wedding reception will be held at The Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s official residence in Scotland (which she rarely uses). It is also the palace where Mary Queen of Scot’s private secretary David Rizzio was famously murdered.

The busy couple has postponed plans for a honeymoon due to their careers and might even put it off until next year. Tindall has confirmed he intends to play rugby for England just a week after the couple get married, meaning he has to be back in training two days after the ceremony. Zara, meanwhile, will compete at the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park, the same weekend.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Royal Bachelor: Prince Carl Philip of Sweden

Prince Carl Philip of Sweden, Duke of Varmland

Full name: Carl Philip Edmund Bertil

Born: May 13, 1979 (making him a Taurus)

Hair: Dark Brown

Eyes: Brown

Age: 31

Background: Carl Philip is the only son of King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, but prepare yourself to be disappointed if you are imagining yourself as his Queen; his big sister Victoria is next in line to the throne. As well as Victoria, he's also got another sister, Madeleine, which means he's definitely in touch with his feminine side. With Prince William out of circulation, Prince Carl Philip ranks after Prince Harry and Prince Guillaume of Luxembourg as one of the most eligible bachelors in the world. He was #9 on the Forbes Top 20 Hot Royals List in 2010. Don’t worry ladies, although he’s no longer heir to the throne, there’s still plenty of palaces and jewels to go around.

With a degree in graphic design from the Rhode Island School of Design, this Swedish meatball (you know I had to do it!) is artsy and creative. He has designed his own range of cutlery as well as the cover for a CD of the music of Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker which was released to honor his mother’s 60th birthday. Professionally, he's a lieutenant in the army, a captain in the Naval Reserve (meaning he looks good in a uniform). He also undertakes royal duties on behalf of his father, King Carl XVI Gustaf. Currently, he’s studying agriculture and forestry at Prince Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Alnarp.

“He comes across as the black sheep of the family,” a royal watcher told The Daily Telegraph last year. “Now that he is no longer next in line for the throne, he does his own thing. He’s a racing car driver and a bit of a wild child.”

Hobbies: avid skier, soccer player, swimmer and car racer. He's also a bit of an adrenaline junkie, thanks to a passion for both winter sports and motor racing. In 2003, he completed the historic Swedish ‘Vasaloppet,” the longest cross-country ski race in the world. So if you don’t ski, you might want to take lessons. Waiting in the ski lodge with a couple of hot toddies is not going to cut it with this Prince.

Past relationships: He's recently split up with his girlfriend of 10 years, PR executive Emma Pernald and is now dating underwear model Sofia Hellqvist who he met back in 2008. (That's Sofia on the left. Hmm, he appears to like brunettes!) His relationship with Hellqvist has apparently shocked even the unshockable Swedes. Hellqvist became famous or infamous when she posed naked with only a python for company. She’s also appeared in the Swedish version of the reality TV show ‘Paradise Hotel,’ which consisted of fights, lies, sex, orgies and alcohol. She’s even shared a kiss with American porn star Jenna Jameson. Needless to say, the Palace is not amused. No doubt they would be happy to see their son settled with someone more suitable and clothed. Recently the couple moved into together, but despair not ladies, this could just be a phase.

To catch a Prince: Anyone wanting to be his princess will have to get used to living in Sweden, land of Abba, Ace of Base, Ikea and Strindberg. Not to mention Absolut Vodka. Being multi-lingual would also help; like most European royals Carl Philip is multi-lingual, speaking English, French as well as his native Swedish. One criticism of Crown Princess Victoria's husband, Prince Daniel was that he had no small talk or knowledge of history. Brushing up on the royal houses of Europe and how everyone is related to each other would be a good idea (hint: it all goes back to Queen Victoria) for any potential princess. Watching past seasons of Top Gear would probably be a good idea as well. Being able to change a flat tire and a carburator and then change into an evening gown and a tiara would all be top skills for Carl's future princess.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How to Bag A Prince

Newsweek magazine recently published an article called 'Invasion of the Harry Hunters' about young American women who have set out to capture Prince Harry's heart, hoping to become Princess Henry or whatever dukedom the Queen sees fit to give him.   The article details the lengths that these women are going to, hanging out in his favorite bars, reading gossip blogs, magazines like Royalty Monthly and Majesty like they are prepping for their final exams. The Brits have even given them a nickname, calling them the 'Throne Rangers.'  While I hate to rain on anyone's parade or make light of someone's dreams, I have to ask myself if this is really likely to work?

Think about it for a second, out of all the women who sent off applications to St. Andrew's, hoping to capture Prince William, who did he eventually end up with? A young woman who had the same major as he did, and who just happened to end up living in the same residence hall. Kate Middleton didn't set out to capture Prince William, it just happened. When Prince Frederik of Denmark met his future wife Mary Donaldson in a pub in Sydney during the Olympics, she didn't even know who he was. Neither did Crown Princess Maxima when she met Crown Prince Willem-Alexander in Spain.

And let's not forget that Chelsy Davy is still in the picture and she has a long history with Harry. He doesn't seem ready to let go of her yet. I have a feeling that Harry probably has quite the bullsh*t detector, he can probably smell these young women a mile off, as can his friends.  One of the women in the article is actually rather smart, she's decided that if she can't bag a royal prince, she might as well bag a peer of the realm, and at least have a chance at being invited to the next royal wedding! A stately pile and family jewels is just as good as being a princess in Britain, and you don't have the pesky paparazzi following your every move.

But if one is determined to bag Prince Harry, instead of hanging out in his favorite bars, why not get involved with the charities that he supports? This way one is killing two birds with one stone, you are showing Harry that you care about the things that he does, as well as actually doing something productive as well as Princess-like.  Check out Princess Palace for other ways to bag a royal husband.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Royal Pain: Gary Goldsmith

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any modern woman seeking to become a princess will have at least one skeleton in the closet. In Kate Middleton’s case, her skeleton is her paunchy middle-aged uncle Gary Goldsmith. Goldsmith is Carole Middleton’s younger brother, and he would give any family a headache, let only one that will soon be royal by connection. Like his sister, Goldsmith is a self-made millionaire; he sold his computer staffing business “Computer Futures,” for $275 million back in 2005. Since then he’s divided his time between a $1 million mews cottage in London and a $5 million villa in Ibiza with the lovely title Maison de Bang Bang which is French for ‘House of Sex.’ A six foot high mural outside the house reads “It’s Gary’s world, you just live in it,” (which is also tattooed on his body along with his initials). According to gossip, since moving part-time to Ibiza, Goldsmith had slowly gotten sucked into the party scene. The larger than life Goldsmith, 45, is thrice divorced with one child, whose last girlfriend was a lap dancer. His third wife, Julia Leake married him in 2007 in a civil ceremony but dumped him a few months later before the church blessing because she couldn’t take his lifestyle. “He is a lovely guy in his heart of hearts but I just can’t help him anymore. He needs to go to into rehab and sort his life out,’ she reportedly told a friend. According to the Daily Mail, Carole Middleton actually begged Julia not to leave Gary (the plan didn’t work).

But the man who was once described as an accident waiting to happen, and a ‘waste of space’ by his own sister has reportedly cleaned up his act in time for the wedding this month. He’s sobered up, lost weight and grown his hair back, after sporting the cue ball look for several years. “Gary has turned his life around. He’s realized that money and a lavish lifestyle in the sun aren’t necessarily the answer to happiness,” a friend told the Daily Mail. “He brought great shame on the family and regrets it. He and Carole aren’t especially close, but Gary wants to be forgiven. He has had a real makeover, inside and out.” He has been on his best behavior since 2009 when two undercover reporters from tabloid The News of the World set up a sting. Goldsmith was caught on camera doing cocaine and offering to set up the reporter with $1200 a night prostitutes. He boasted openly about his connection to the royal couple (Kate and William stayed with Goldsmith back in 2006. He rented a yacht for the couple where the famous photos of Kate in white bikini were taken) describing the Prince as ‘lovely’ and talking about his group of ‘MI6 bodyguards.’ The tabloid claimed that Goldsmith smoked pot with his then girlfriend, and gave one of the reporters a small bag of cocaine. The only comment he’s made since then was to congratulate the couple on their engagement. The proof will be in the pudding or the wedding cake, when Goldsmith shows up as one of the 1,900 guests at the ceremony on April 29th which is also his birthday. Now the man who once allegedly kept a box of cocaine the foot of his bed has also been invited to both the intimate banquet at Buckingham Palace as well the reception Prince Charles will be throwing for the happy couple later that night.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Royal Wedding: Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles

Today marks the 6th anniversary of HRH Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, pictured here on their wedding day, leaving St. George's Chapel after the blessing of their union.  It was a day over 30 years in the making, starting from the infamous day that the royal couple met in 1970, through the ups and downs (her marriage to Andrew Parker Bowles, his to Lady Diana Spencer, Camillagate, Andrew Morton's book, the Jonathan Dimbley interview, Diana's death and their mutual divorces).  For awhile it looked like it would never happen, but Prince Charles was determined to make Camilla his wife.  With the help of Mark Bolland who was hired to make Camilla more palatable to the British people, the day finally came.

The engagement was announced in February 2005 that Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles would be wed initially on April 8, 2005 (Pope John Paul II's death meant that it was postponed by one day). Camilla's engagement ring is a Windsor family heirloom that once belonged to Charles' beloved Grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.  It is a 1920's platinum setting with a square-cut central diamond flagged by six diamond baguettes (see the picture above). Stunning isn't it? After the engagement announcement, the couple were congratulated by the Queen and Prince Philip ending speculation that Charles would be marrying Camilla over the Queen's dead body.  I suppose the Queen finally gave her consent because it would be churlish to refuse.  Camilla wasn't going to go away no matter how much the Queen might want her too. It probably helped that Prince William and Prince Harry were resigned to the marriage.  Apparently they get on well with her, because she never tried to replace their mother, and they could see that she made their father happy. Public opinion which had unanimously been against Camilla just after Diana's death had subtly changed. The couple were no spring chickens (the groom was 56, and the bride 57) when they wed, and no doubt most people thought led the two lovebirds get married.

For awhile, it looked like the marriage might be cursed. First the venue for the ceremony was changed from Windsor Castle to Windsor Town Hall (it turned out that if the castle had been licensed for a civil wedding, that meant that they had to open it up to other couples for at least 3 years). Then it was announced that the Queen would not be attending the civil service, although she would be attending the blessing.  Rumors flew that the Queen wasn't attending the civil ceremony because of her hatred of Camilla. The palace stated that the engaged couple wanted to keep the ceremony low-key but nobody was buying it.  The real reason was that the Queen is the Head of the Church of England, and it wouldn't do for her to be seen at a civil ceremony. Then came the final hit, the death of John Paul II on April 4th.  Since Prince Charles would be attending the funeral as the Queen's representative, the wedding was postponed until the next day.

Finally on April 9th, 2005 at 12:30 pm BST (7:30 our time), the wedding took place at the Windsor Guildhall.  Although the crowds weren't quite as large as those when Charles married Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, people began to gather in the streets starting at dawn to greet the happy couple.  The Duchess looked lovely in a cream-colored dress and matching coat with a wide-brimmed hat, while the groom wore morning dress. The couple's witnesses were Princes William and Harry, and Camilla's son and daughter Tom and Laura Parker-Bowles.  Continuing a royal tradition, the rings were crafted from 22 k Welsh gold (nothing but the best for royalty!)  The Prince wears his wedding ring on his pinkie finger underneath his signet ring. 

For the blessing later at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle (where Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones were married), Camilla wore a stunning floor-length embroidered pale blue and gold coat over a matching chiffon gown with a dramatic spray of gold flowers in her hair.  Both of her wedding ensembles were designed by Antonia Robinson and Anna Valentine.  Her hats were by the go-to milliner for British aristocrats and society Philip Treacy.

The wedding was televised both in the UK and in the States on WE!. Since the wedding was not a state occasion, the usual plethora of royals were not in attendance. The guests were mainly friends and family of the royal couple.  To placate people, it was announced that Camilla would not be known as the Princess of Wales (although that is automatically her title on marrying the Prince of Wales) but as HRH The Duchess of Cornwall. It was also announced that when Charles becomes King, Camilla will be the Princess Consort but by the time that happens (if it happens) no doubt Camilla will take her place alongside Charles as Queen Camilla.

Since the wedding, Camilla has undertaken royal tours with Charles to the United States, Spain, India and the Middle East as well as solo engagements around the UK. She seems to have relaxed into the role of royal Duchess, although she still keeps the home that she had bought after her divorce as a kind of bolthole whenever she needs to get away from all the royal pomp and circumstance.  A place where she can put her feet up on the furniture and let her hair down.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Royal Girlfriend: Chelsy Davy

Now that Prince William is getting marriage, attention is naturally being paid to the spare, Prince Harry and when he will walk down the aisle. Specifically will he walk down the aisle with his long time on/off girlfriend Chelsy Davy or will there soon be someone else on the horizon? If Kate Middleton is in the Princess Diana mold (but without the emotional baggage), royal watchers speculate whether Chelsy Davy is in the Sarah Ferguson mold (jolly, loads of fun but hopefully better able to manage her money). While Kate Middleton worked briefly as an accessories buyer for Jigsaw and then for her parents company, Party Pieces, while waiting for her Prince to propose, Chelsy Davy is pursuing a law career. Which would make her more Cherie Blair than Fergie!

Chelsy and Harry have had a famously tempestuous relationship ever since they met in 2005 when Chelsy was attending the posh Cheltenham Ladies College when she was 19 and Prince Harry was 20.  The pair managed to keep the relationship under wraps until that November when they were seen on holiday together at a remote polo lodge near Buenos Aires (Harry like his brother, father and grandfather is mad about polo!). Shortly after, Prince William in an uncharacteristic moment of candor admitted that his brother was madly in love (basically he threw him under the bus to keep reporters off his back about his own love life). The couple maintained a long-distance relationship for 3 years while Chelsy attended college back at the University of Capetown where she studied economics. The Zimbabwe born Chelsy grew up at her family's homestead in the Lemco Safara Area, where her father runs his safari companies. Luckily for Chelsy, Prince Harry like his brother, adores Africa.

By this time, the couple had already weathered rumors of the Prince's alleged cheating after Harry celebrated the end of his military training at Sandhurst by blowing off steam at nearby lapdancing club. That wasn't the only instance where the media reported that the Prince had a roving eye. After university and several months traveling extensively in the US, Chelsy moved to the UK to study law at Leeds in 2007 in order to spend more time with her prince. The couple seperated for the first time that fall when Harry missed Chelsy's birthday party to attend the Rugby World Cup final in Paris. Chelsy reportedly told her friends that she 'needed space to carve out her own identity' and that Harry needed to do some growing up but the pair reconciled a few weeks later.

Unlike Prince William and Kate Middleton who made a pact not to show affection in public, Harry and Chelsy were always very tactile with each other. If fact, it could be said that they couldn't keep their hands off each other. The two certainly had alot in common. Unlike Kate Middleton who is a lightweight when it comes to drinking, and is always perfectly coiffed and ladylike, Chelsy was known to drive around Capetown in college in a silver Mercedes coupe, designer shades holding back her fringe. She likes to live hard, play hard, and study hard.

The biggest fly in the ointment of the relationship (besides Harry's immaturity) was the fact that Chelsy wasn't keen on the media scrutiny. FYI - if you are dating a Prince whose mother is an icon, there is going to be a great deal of media scrutiny. If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.  In an interview published just before his 21st birthday in 2005, the Prince said, "I would love to tell everyone how amazing she is. But, you know, that is my private life and once I start talking about that, then I've left myself own self open, and if anyone asks me in the future, then they'll say 'Oh well hang on, you told them but why aren't you telling us?" Unlike Kate Middleton, who in unprecedented move agreed to provide a royal protection officer, Chelsy was not afforded the same protection. That's the difference between dating the heir and the spare.

In 2008, the couple split up again. This time Chelsy posted the news on her Facebook page when she changed her status to 'Not in a Relationship,' indicating just how serious this breakup actually was. The break-up apparently came about because Harry decided to join the Army Air Corps to train as a helicopter pilot, a minimum 2 year course, meaning that the couple would be spending increasing time apart (Sarah, Duchess of York cited the constant seperations as the reason for her break-up with Prince Andrew, the Duke of York during their 6 year marriage). Reports also surfaced that the Prince preferred to spend his free time with his army buddies than with his girlfriend. You know the one who had moved across the world to be with him.

This time the couple were apart for about eight months. During that time Prince Harry was briefly linked to Sky sports reporter Caroline Flack, but a friend told the Daily Mail's Katie Nicholl "Harry has had a few flings but they have not been serious. He still holds a flame for Chelsy, but they both have to work out whether the relationship can work." Chelsy wasn't lonely for long either, she was linked to several men incuding a property developer named Dan Philipson and nightclub promoter Dominic Rose.  Soon the estranged couple were meeting secretly to try and see if they should make another go of it. By September 2009, they were a couple again but the romance didn't last and once again they split up in 2010. Chelsy left England to go back to South Africa to practice law and to travel. It appears, that unlike Kate Middleton, Chelsy wasn't prepared to wait for Harry to grow up or to propose to her.

By 2011, she was back in the UK, to being training at London law firm Allen & Overy. It wasn't long before the couple were spotted around town and speculation has been rife that Chelsy will be Harry's date to big brother William's wedding on the 29th. That is if he makes it back from the Artic in time! Recently Chelsy was seen at the wedding of the Duke of Northumberland's daughter along with Kate Middleton's sister Pippa.

Soon the question remains, will Harry grow up and propose to Chelsy finally? Will Chelsy every learn to deal with the media attention that comes along with being a member of the Royal family.