By Patricia Treble - Friday, May 10, 2013 - 0 Comments
Six cities in seven days—Prince Harry’s whistle stop tour of the United States may not leave much time for princely touristing, or partying (insert naked Las Vegas joke here). For one thing, this trip is dripping in serious events, such as a visit to Arlington Cemetery and meeting wounded soldiers (an itinerary is at the bottom of this post). So it’s Harry at his most solemn and most charming, not revealing the most skin.
“He is a soldiers’ soldier and will bring a spotlight on what’s being done to help these outstanding men and women,” said Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, Harry’s private secretary during the pre-tour media briefing. There will certainly be no shenanigans on Lowther-Pinkerton’s watch—the ex-SAS officer is known for being very close to Harry, as well as William and Kate, and for running a very efficient, very photogenic royal tour (see Harry’s 2012 Jamaica trip—JLP is the man in the check shirt sitting beside Harry—and William & Kate’s Canadian adventure from 2011). Even New Jersey Governor Chris Christie got in on the act, saying, “Believe me, nobody’s going to get naked if I’m spending the entire day with Prince Harry” inspecting areas hit by hurricane Sandy.
By Patricia Treble - Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 2:21 PM - 0 Comments
Call the royal household what you will–prim and a tad proper are common descriptors–but don’t call it inefficient or methodical.
Merely a day after Buckingham Palace announced that the Queen would not attend the upcoming Commonwealth leaders summit in November and Prince Charles would go in her place, the monarch and heir were together at the State Opening of Parliament in London. When the joint appearance was announced a few weeks ago, it caused only a murmur among royal watchers, since the Prince of Wales hasn’t attended the annual event since 1996. Now it’s clear that yesterday’s announcement and today’s appearance at Parliament were part of a greater scheme. As the Daily Mail stated, “Charles’ presence at Parliament today suggests it is also part of the carefully-choreographed plan to share the burden of responsibility.”
But don’t think that this shift means there will be co-monarchs or it’s a sign that “after more than 60 years, the Elizabethan era is drawing to a close, and the Charlesian age is dawning” as Time intoned. That’s jumping the gun. The Queen is firmly in control. Instead, it’s a recognition that Elizabeth, 87, and her husband, Philip, 92 in June, can’t continue their crushing schedule of 300-400 engagements a year without help. As the Independent said, “But–taken together–the moves highlight the increasingly high-profile role that Prince Charles is expected to take supporting his mother in state affairs in the coming months and years. It will involve increasing co-ordination between the diaries of senior royals–with the duke and duchess of Cambridge taking on many more official duties.” The Windsors rarely do anything quickly or in haste. Instead, incremental–even glacial–change is their preferred modus operandi. Charles has been taking on more and more of the Queen’s duties for years, including holding investitures (as does Princess Anne).
Even Camilla got into the supporting act, wearing a fabulous Boucheron tiara and a rather regal looking white gown (royal women only wear white to this event). Though Charles has officially stated that she’ll have the title of “Princess Consort” when he accedes the throne, in part to dampen anger left over from the Diana years, there seems to be a slow shift in perception that Camilla will actually take the title of queen. As the Daily Mail caption stated, “Camilla dressed the part of a queen-in-waiting in a sparkling tiara that has been in the royal family for over 90 years.”
Still, given the Queen’s good health–even with the occasional gastro bug–it could still be more than a decade before we see a King Charles III on the throne.
By Patricia Treble - Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 10:15 AM - 0 Comments
She’s visited her northern realm 23 times, including her last visit in 2010. But in a clear sign that Queen Elizabeth II is seriously scaling down overseas visits, she’s bowed out of the Commonwealth leaders conference scheduled for November in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo.
“I can confirm that the Queen will be represented by the Prince of Wales,” a palace spokesman told the media today. ”The reason is that we are reviewing the amount of long-haul travel that is taken by the Queen.” They are also dropping strong hints that long-distance foreign visits are a thing of the past, which is bad news to realms such as Australia and New Zealand.
For the Queen, who is deeply committed to the Commonwealth, not to attend the conference is a sign that she’s finally heeding her advisers and easing up on a schedule that would exhaust someone half her age. She’s now 87 and though she undertook 425 engagements last year, all were in Britain. During 2012, the royal household hit upon a clever idea: she and Philip stayed in Britain while the rest of the Windsors were sent to the Commonwealth to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee.
By Patricia Treble - Sunday, May 5, 2013 at 6:00 AM - 0 Comments
… and why a backlash may be the best thing to happen to the actress/author/celebrity
In the midst of the hoopla over People magazine’s selection of Gwyneth Paltrow as the most beautiful woman in the world, and the Star tabloid’s selection of her as one of the world’s most hated, BBC Radio 5 ran a revealing interview with Paltrow. Though she was promoting Iron Man 3, the actress made it clear to a rather stunned interviewer that she knew very little about the film. “I actually haven’t seen the movie yet,” she said. “I find it difficult to follow the sci-fi stuff.” A few seconds later: “I never understand what’s happening—I say, ‘Please tell me where to stand’ and I learn my lines.”
The interview was less illuminating about Paltrow than about her critics and fans. This was either the kind of Gwyneth candour that some find so refreshing, or else the thinly veiled superiority others find so off-putting. “The subtext is, ‘I’m so huge, I don’t need to pretend to have an interest in the film,’ ” says Ellis Cashmore, a professor of culture and media at Staffordshire University, who was listening. “I’m not sure there would be many actors who would have the gall to say that.”
Paltrow has become a polarizing figure, a successful woman some audiences love to hate, and others just love. Recently, she’s been dishing out fodder for both sides. Her movie opens Friday, her new cookbook is No. 1 on bestseller lists, there was the most-beautiful-woman title, the most-hated title—not to mention the scandal over what she wore to her movie premiere: a dress with two sheer, full-length strips that precluded the wearing of undergarments. Go Fug Yourself said “it looked like someone slaughtered several pairs of L’Eggs.” Every time Gwyneth Paltrow says something or does something, there’s vitriol and praise all over the Internet.
By Patricia Treble - Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 11:12 AM - 0 Comments
Anyone watching the coverage of the abdication of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and the investiture of her eldest son, Willem-Alexander, as the nation’s first king in 123 years was struck by the cozy flavour of the day’s proceedings. Though it was an elaborate affair (the royal website has an exhaustive timetable of events) there was no doubt that, at its heart, this was a transfer within a family firm from a beloved mother to a loving son.
Amid the kisses, hugs and hand squeezes were some teary moments, especially when Beatrix signed away the throne. “Wherever the path leads, your wisdom and your warmth I carry with me,” said her son. “Thank you for the many wonderful years in which we were allowed to have you as our queen. She stood for the values anchored in the constitution. Dear mother, you were queen in full knowledge of the duties you had you were also a wife and mother, and you were fully aware of your duties there too. You were a great support to us all.”
It’s also a joyous moment. The Dutch monarchs have a long standing tradition of abdicating when the time is right. And Beatrix, a widow of 75, is clearly ready to pass on the torch to her son, his wife Máxima and their three daughters. And they did it on Queen’s Day (now King’s Day), a national holiday when the entire nation is drenched in orange, to honour the royal house of Orange.
By Patricia Treble - Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 5:03 PM - 0 Comments
That everything Kate, duchess of Cambridge, wears is an instant retail hit has been such a long-proved commercial reality that it’s got its own moniker, the “Kate effect.”
Now the fairy dust that rubs off on everything Kate touches is doing more than just boost corporate profits. It’s benefitting charities as well.Organizations lucky to have her as a patron report big increases in interest.
By Patricia Treble - Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 3:34 PM - 0 Comments
He’s been the colonel-in-chief of the 3rd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment since 1953, so when the RCRs wanted to replace its Colours from 1973, the duke of Edinburgh hopped on a plane for Toronto. On Saturday morning he oversaw the presentation of the new Colours–a ceremonial flag embroidered with the battalion’s battle honours that soldiers used to follow in combat–in front of Queen’s Park, the provincial legislature in Toronto. The Royal Canadian Regiment is the country’s senior infantry regiment. Formed in 1883, it’s been involved in every large conflict since then. The 3rd Battalion is based in Petawawa, Ont.
And given it’s a royal event, the temperamental spring weather was as well behaved as the crowds, with only a nip in the air to remind everyone they were outside, in April, in Canada. Until the sun started generating a bit of heat the only people who looked properly dressed were soldiers who took part in a “military capability” demonstration for the prince and Lieutenant-Governor David Onley. The snipers, who looked a bit like Star Wars Wookies in their camoflague outfits, appeared downright cozy. Yet though they were in full combat gear, surrounded by officers in formal red wool uniforms, the fashion contest was won by Philip, who wore a perfectly tailored blue suit, his medals and a spiffy straw fedora.
By Bookmarked and Patricia Treble - Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 9:50 AM - 0 Comments
It took six years for Henry VIII to divorce wife No. 1, Catherine of Aragon. While England was being torn apart by the scandal, the king relied on Gregorio Casali, an Italian diplomat employed to look after England’s interests at the Vatican, to persuade Pope Clement VII to end the marriage. Aside from the odd mention—Shakespeare calls him “Gregory de Cassado”—Casali had vanished from history before Catherine Fletcher brought him back in an absorbing investigation of the diplomat’s ultimately failed attempt to fulfill his employer’s wishes.
As she explains, part of Henry’s problem was timing. Italy was in turmoil. When the king started down the road to divorce in May 1527, Rome and the Vatican were being sacked by unpaid troops of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. The pope was besieged. For Clement’s family, the Medicis, to get back into power in Florence, they needed the increasingly victorious army of Charles V, who just happened to be the nephew of Catherine of Aragon. The pope would do anything rather than rule on a divorce that was splitting Europe into factions and threatened the Church, already under attack from Martin Luther’s Reformation movement.
Still, Casali, not even 30 years old yet already a seasoned diplomat, soldier and well-connected Vatican power player, and his relatives—diplomacy was a family business—never gave up. They entertained lavishly, played patrons against each other and tried to follow Henry’s evolving tactical position. And pursue their own interests, which often conflicted with Henry’s, including getting a Venetian bishopric, fending off the relatives of Gregorio’s rich bride, and even an alliance with Suleiman the Magnificent, who was pushing his Turkish empire to the gates of Vienna. There are so many plot twists that it can be difficult keeping track of the cast of characters. Indeed, the only boring part of this book is the title.
Visit the Maclean’s Bookmarked blog for news and reviews on all things literary
By Patricia Treble - Friday, April 26, 2013 at 4:43 PM - 0 Comments
On Tuesday, the Netherlands gets a new monarch when Willem-Alexander exchanges his current title of crown prince for that of king. His mother, Beatrix, 75, is abdicating after 23 years on the throne.
On Queen’s Day (Apr. 30), a formal investiture will be held in Amsterdam, where the prince swears allegiance to the nation’s charter and constitution. It’s going to be a day packed with pageantry and pomp. But for all the excitement over getting its first king in 123 years, what a lot of people want to see is his new queen, Máxima. She’ll be the first queen from Argentina and comes with baggage. Daddy was a cabinet minister when a military junta ruthlessly ruled the South American country. Though he’s denied knowing about the torture and disappearances under the junta, he was barred from his daughter’s wedding and will watch the investiture on the telly. And the events keep haunting Máxima.
Máxima herself is immensely popular in the Netherlands. She’s vivacious, beautiful and has a knack for making ordinary folk feel comfortable. And she’s completely fluent in Dutch, which isn’t one of the easiest languages to learn. She’s also got a rather eclectic dress sense. There are times when she’s beautifully turned out, and times when she looks like she woke up late and ran out the door in a panic.
One thing is sure: she’ll be wearing one of the royal family’s tiaras—they have an unbelievable collection. The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor has a great listing of all the ones she’s worn, and those of the family (scroll down on this link to the Netherlands section, then get ready to ooh and ahh).
She’s the first of a new generation of modern, fashionable queen consorts about to flood onto European thrones. Coming in the upcoming years are: Denmark’s Mary, originally from Australia; Letizia of Spain; Mette-Marit of Norway and Mathilde of Belgium. And of course Victoria of Sweden who will one day be upgraded to queen in her own right. Sure, some of their clothes choices are questionable (Mette-Marit: step right up) but they’re not afraid to be stylishly adventurous, and mix traditional designers with high street fashions.
So brace yourself, because Tuesday marks a whole new era for royal Europe.
By Patricia Treble - Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 3:25 PM - 0 Comments
So after weeks of being consigned to the bargain basement of possible royal baby names, Alexandra has surged in recent days from 10:1 odds to a 2:1 favourite. (Even “Barack” makes an appearance, at 200:1, mind you.)
Well, way back in December–when the pregnancy was initially announced–everyone was plumping for Elizabeth, or possibly Diana.
Here was the list from Ladbrokes, the betting agency:
Yet, within hours of the news that Kate was in hospital with acute morning sickness, I’d created a list of my favourite names for the future monarch—five for a girl and the same number for a boy, along with my reasonings. The first choice? Alexandra (Philip was my top pick for a boy).
While no one is going to know who’s right and who’s wrong until the baby is born—Kate recently said it’s due mid-July—it’s kinda nice to think the world is coming around to my way of thinking. At least in Britain’s gambling shops.
By Patricia Treble - Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 10:24 AM - 0 Comments
There’s no such thing as a final resting place when it comes to royal remains
The coffin containing the remains of the last king of Yugoslavia, Peter II, was dug out from a tomb in the floor of St. Sava Monastery in Libertyville, Ill., on the evening of Jan. 16 on the order of his son, Alexander, before being put on a plane to Belgrade. Instead of the old marble grave marker, a new layer of concrete indicated where the monarch had lain for nearly 43 years. Only a handful of people knew the royal bones were being taken for internment in the family crypt in Serbia.
The thousands of Serbian-Americans who visited the U.S. tomb each year believed Peter asked to be buried near the Chicago-area diaspora. “It was cloak and dagger,” John Bosanac, who’d attended Peter’s funeral in 1970, complained of the removal. He would have liked a public farewell, a sentiment echoed by Vera Dragisich, 50, a University of Chicago lecturer who often visited Peter’s tomb. “We weren’t allowed to say goodbye. There was a more formal and respectful way to do the exhumation, where those who wished to be present at this historical event could do so.” Such was the uproar that the king’s son issued a press release saying the exhumation and transfer “was strictly done following legal advice.” The reason for the haste, Alexander told Sky News, was that the last in a series of obstacles, including decades-long Communist objections, had finally been overcome.
The state funeral for Peter II, scheduled for May 26, is coloured by recent history. Peter has been a nationalist hero ever since the 18-year-old monarch fled then-Yugoslavia in 1941 after the Nazis invaded. After the war, the Communists abolished the monarchy, and in recent decades, the country has endured instability, war and breakup. The official line of the nationalist government is that Peter’s burial will contribute to national reconciliation, explains Srjdan Milosevic of the Institute for Recent History of Serbia in Belgrade. It also, he says, boosts Alexander’s pushy efforts to get the monarchy restored. Though “the monarchy isn’t deeply rooted in the popular consciousness,” Milosevic says, Alexander’s strategy might succeed as an “act of political compromise among the political elite, the Church and intellectuals.”
By Patricia Treble - Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
Beckham takes China, Jennifer Capriati resurfaces, and George W. Bush shows off a new skill
The Internet issued a collective gasp last week at news that the creative force behind its favourite science page, I F***ing Love Science, is a woman. Elise Andrew’s deﬁant, funny and profane manner had apparently led the site’s more than 4.2 million fans to believe it was the product of a male mind. Predictably, her reveal prompted an onslaught of sexist comments, from “Are there kitchens in space?” to endless threads on her looks. “EVERY COMMENT is about how shocking it is that I’m a woman! Is this really 2013?”Andrew tweeted in response—but her case is hardly unique. Legions of female tech writers and bloggers are posting under male pseudonyms; the issue has even forced academic panels on the “perils of blogging as a woman under a real name.” It’s been more than 150 years since Mary Anne Evans wrote as George Eliot to ensure her work was taken seriously. On the web, Evans’s act of desperation is the apparent norm.
Knocking on heaven’s door
Justin Welby’s installation as archbishop of Canterbury last week was traditional, but his rise to lead the world’s 77 million Anglicans was anything but. The Eton-educated former oil executive didn’t become a priest until 36, then used his business moxie to grow a succession of dying congregations. While preaching a strong commitment to Christianity, he also trekked through the world’s hot spots, including Nigeria, promoting conciliation. He’ll need those skills when dealing with a fractious Church, split on issues like gay marriage and female bishops. As pundits have quipped, today’s religious leaders need to be “Jesus Christ with an M.B.A.” The Anglicans may have found just that.
By Bookmarked and Patricia Treble - Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 7:33 AM - 0 Comments
Winston Churchill’s 90-year life was so stuffed with adventures that Michael Shelden has the luxury to start in 1901, Churchill’s first year as a politician, and end in 1915, with his career in ruins. During those 14 years, his twin qualities of brilliance and recklessness would make headlines. The book starts in frigid Winnipeg, as the 25-year-old regales a theatre with his adventures as an officer and war correspondent during the Boer War. He’s already famous, but desperately needs the $150,000 (in today’s currency) that he’ll make from a two-month lecture tour: his job as an MP has prestige but no salary.
Even before he entered the House, he was marked as a politician to watch. His hard work was legendary. After Churchill was made undersecretary of the Colonial Ofﬁce, a bureaucrat sought out some aristocratic advice before signing up to work with the mercurial, demanding politician. “The ﬁrst time you meet Winston, you see all his faults,” advised the dowager countess of Lytton, “and the rest of your life you spend in discovering his virtues.” By 1906, he was in trouble with his boss when what Churchill had claimed was a private fact-finding mission to the colonies turned into an official tour, involving the use of a naval cruiser. Naturally, he turned the journey into a book, My African Journey. That same year, he got permission to attend German army exercises as a guest of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Even then, warning bells were being sounded about Churchill’s impulsivity. “The king asked me to warn you against being too communicative and frank with his nephew,” the prime minister warned Churchill. His upward political trajectory ended as first lord of the admiralty, destroyed by the disastrous Gallipoli campaign. In one of his typical sweeping gestures, he left his political life and rejoined the military full-time, as a major in the trenches of France. Fortunately, he’d rise again. In 1939, he was back at the Admiralty. And this time, his brilliance would outweigh his recklessness.
By Patricia Treble - Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 5:24 PM - 0 Comments
Recently the health of the older generation of royals has been under a microscope. First the Queen all but disappeared from view after she was admitted to hospital with gastroenteritis on March 4. Big public engagements were cancelled, including a trip to Italy, though she did continue with those that were in the safe confines of royal residences.
Finally, on Wednesday, she moved back into the limelight, going to the Baker Street Station of the London Underground for the 150th anniversary of the oldest subway system in the world.
Then today, Buckingham Palace confirmed that her cousin, HRH Prince Edward, duke of Kent, was admitted to hospital. He’d suffered a minor stroke, sources said. All of his engagements have been cancelled.
And that brings up a demographic time bomb placed at the heart of the Windsor team. For, according to Tim O’Donovan’s meticulous accounting of annual royal duties, members of the family undertook 4,470 engagements in 2012. And of those, 25 per cent were done by Windsors over the age of 76, including the Queen, Prince Philip, the duke of Kent and his sister, Princess Alexandra. Extend the group of royals to those age 60 and older and the number jumps to 3,019 or 67 per cent.
By Patricia Treble - Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 11:25 AM - 0 Comments
What Francis has to look forward to, sartorially speaking
A PRIMER ON PAPAL FASHION:
Red is the colour of martydom, and thus used for papal footwear. A few years ago, the Vatican newspaper quashed the rumour that Benedict’s were made by Prada, stating, “The pope, in summary, does not wear Prada, but Christ.” Since he was a cardinal, he had frequented the tiny shop of Antonio Arellano (below)—a Peruvian-born shoemaker with a shop close to Vatican City—for handmade footwear, size 42. Arellano also did any repairs: Benedict’s shoes often wear out in the toes from kneeling in prayer. As pope emeritus, Benedict can no longer wear red, so on his first day of retirement, he switched to brown loafers purchased during a trip to Mexico.
By Patricia Treble - Friday, March 15, 2013 at 12:25 PM - 0 Comments
Royalty have a lot of fussy rules governing etiquette—for example they should start a conversation, not the person being introduced to them—but there are times when having those traditions makes sense. One is that royal families always travel with black clothes in their luggage, just in case someone dies and they have to show respect by wearing the colour of mourning.
When Diana’s father died while the Waleses were on a skiing trip to the Alps, they hastily dug out their black clothes and then got on a plane back for England. And when the Queen’s father died while she and Philip were looking at wild animals in Kenya–far away from their base and their luggage–the accompanying cameramen stood on the road, with their cameras down at their sides, to show they were respecting her privacy and wouldn’t take a picture until the royals were wearing black. Even Downton Abbey has an episode of mourning this season.
And it isn’t just royals who observe such rituals, it’s part of diplomatic life for every head of state. You either pack mourning wear or be prepared to quickly buy something suitable.
Yet the Turkish president and his wife clearly didn’t get a briefing on the topic. That’s really the only explanation for what happened this week in Sweden. On Sunday, March 10, Princess Lilian, 97, died and the nation went into mourning. So it wasn’t a surprise that the king, queen and rest of the family wore black when they greeted the president of Turkey, Abdullah Gül and his wife, Hayrünnisa, at the start of their state visit on Monday.
What is surprising is that Hayrünnisa Gul, a religiously conservative (and ultra fashionable) woman wore such a bright blue outfit. But perhaps she was travelling when word of the death reached her. Then, that evening at a glittering royal dinner, she again wore a dramatic dress—a shiny silver number complete with crystals—while the royals were all in black, though with glittery diamonds and tiaras since anything “white” is also acceptable. Crown Princess Victoria wore a broach given by Lilian. Even if she didn’t have black clothes, she could have pulled out her most subdued outfit from her luggage.
It must have taken a while for word to reach them that they should, perhaps, be a bit more respectful. On day 2 she wore a black outfit but a red head scarf. On day 3, as they left, the Turkish couple were finally in head-to-toe dark clothes.
Princess Lilian’s funeral is on Saturday. Don’t expect to see any bright colours.
By Patricia Treble - Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 8:34 AM - 0 Comments
Here’s what will happen behind closed doors as cardinals elect a new pope
Though the rules for appointing a new pope have changed over the centuries, John Paul II updated them significantly on Feb. 22, 1996 with the release of “Universi Dominici Gregis” (UDG), which allowed a pope to be elected by a simple majority if no one had been elected after 12 days of voting. Benedict XVI reversed that rule in 2007 and returned to the traditional two-thirds vote. Then, six days before he retired, he amended the rules again, permitting a conclave to start early if the cardinal electors had gathered in Rome.
Conclave: Latin cum (with) and clavis (key): a room locked with a key. Continue…
By Patricia Treble - Monday, March 11, 2013 at 2:03 PM - 0 Comments
More than a week after the Queen was admitted to hospital suffering from the…
More than a week after the Queen was admitted to hospital suffering from the symptoms of gastroenteritis, she’s still not well enough to undertake an hour-long engagement in front of 2,000 people. With just four hours notice, Buckingham Palace issued the following statement:
“The Queen will regrettably no longer attend the Commonwealth Observance at Westminster Abbey today as she continues to recover following her recent illness. The Duke of Edinburgh will attend the Observance as planned. However, Her Majesty will still attend the Commonwealth Reception at Marlborough House this evening to sign a new Commonwealth Charter. The Queen hopes to undertake some of her official engagements planned for the rest of this week.”
While the suddenness with which the royal household pulled down her engagement might give pause to those wondering about how she’s doing—this is a bureaucracy that makes the Catholic curia in Rome look positively talkative—the fact that she’s going to attend this evening’s reception for Commonwealth Day is clearly a sign that she’s on the mend, but that it’s taking longer than perhaps people thought it would. Unlike the service at Westminster Abbey, where she’s the centre of attention, this reception offers her the chance to slip away if she’s feeling unwell. As a bonus, it’s being held at Malborough House just down the road from Buckingham Palace.
According to a source in the Telegraph, “She is at the tail end of the gastroenteritis. When you’re 86 it takes longer to get over gastroenteritis than when you’re younger. Otherwise the Queen is in good health and hopes to carry out some of her planned engagements this week. It’s a matter of pacing herself, her condition hasn’t worsened at all but she is still recovering.”
By Patricia Treble - Monday, March 11, 2013 at 10:36 AM - 0 Comments
If there was ever a bittersweet royal love story it was that of Lilian and Bertil of Sweden. Born Lillian Davies in 1915, the daughter of a coalminer, the Welsh beauty dropped the second “l” from her name and set off to London for a career in showbusiness. She paid the bills through modelling and small movie roles. Then in 1943, she met the dashing Prince Bertil of Sweden. Amid the dangers of wartime London they fell in love. “He was so handsome my prince. Especially in uniform. So charming and thoughtful. And so funny. Oh how we laughed together,” Lilian recounted in her memoir. But she was married. And a commoner. Though she got a divorce, those were two obstacles that would take decades to overcome. The first problem was a dearth of eligible male princes in Sweden. Two of his brothers had renounced their rights to the throne to marry commoners, while his eldest brother, the heir, died in a airplane crash in 1947, leaving his one-year-old son, Carl Gustaf, as the future of the Swedish monarchy. Given Carl Gustaf’s age, it was likely Bertil’s father would die before he reached his majority. So Bertil would need to be regent. And he couldn’t do that if he married Lilian. With the future of the monarchy on the line, Bertil and Lilian put aside their own desire to be married.
By Patricia Treble - Friday, March 8, 2013 at 5:04 PM - 0 Comments
Did Kate spill the beans that she’s expecting a daughter? For all those not following the kerfuffle, a recap. During a visit earlier this week to Grimsby earlier, Kate was handed a teddy and thanked the lady for the gift.
A woman who overheard the exchange told reporters that Kate said, “Thank you, I will take that for my d…” Speculation flew that Kate meant “daughter,” accidently revealing that she was carrying the future queen regnant. Then, as people examined video of the incident frame by frame, doubts set in. Did she mean “dog”—her young cocker spaniel Lupo—but stopped because it would be rude to say she was going to use the gift as a canine chew toy?
Now the Daily Mail claims to have have the definitive answer to the vexing question—and a video taken of the exchange that the London tabloid says backs up their claim. Here’s their money paragraph:
By Bookmarked and Patricia Treble - Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 8:00 PM - 0 Comments
Fifteenth-century England was a time of constant upheaval: royal cousins fought cousins while brothers plotted to overthrow siblings. In this real-life game of thrones, the only certainty was that fortunes could and did change overnight. Two months after Cecily Neville’s Yorkist husband, son and brother were killed by Lancastrian forces, her eldest son was crowned Edward IV. Twenty-five years later, her granddaughter would marry Henry VII, the man who killed another of her children, King Richard III, at Bosworth. While most historians focus on the men of the Plantagenet dynasty who tore their families and nation apart during the Wars of the Roses, Gristwood weaves a dizzying array of Yorkists and Lancastrians into an engaging and coherent history by focusing on seven women, including Cecily Neville, who played crucial roles in the bloody feuds known as the “cousins’ war.” While the women were the family conciliators, they were also ruthless. “The business of their lives was power,” Gristwood writes, “their sons and husbands the currency.”
The backbone of the book is Margaret Beaufort, a Lancastrian heiress and future matriarch to the Tudor dynasty. She married four times, the first time when she was just 6, but usually the minute she was out of mourning for the previous husband. Each was the most politically advantageous prospect available. The most important nuptial was in 1455 when she wed Henry VI’s half-brother, Edmund Tudor. She was 12, he was 24. The following year she was a widow giving birth to the future Henry VII.
As her prospects ebbed and flowed, Margaret Beaufort never lost sight of her primary goal: protecting her only child until he could claim the throne. For much of that time mother and son were apart. In 1471 he fled to France with the Tudors and Lancastrians after a failed uprising. He didn’t return until 1485, when his forces overthrew Richard III. It was the Tudors who ended the cousins’ war by remorselessly stamping out any Yorkist threats. Still the bloody family fights continued. In 1513 Henry VII’s son-in-law, King James IV of Scotland, invaded England. He died at Flodden Field fighting England’s army.
Visit the Maclean’s Bookmarked blog for news and reviews on all things literary
By Patricia Treble - Sunday, March 3, 2013 at 12:58 PM - 0 Comments
For the first time in a decade, the Queen is in hospital, felled by a tummy bug. In its usual terse manner, Buckingham Palace announced:
“The Queen is being assessed at the King Edward VII Hospital, London, after experiencing symptoms of gastroenteritis. As a precaution, all official engagements for this week will regrettably be either postponed or cancelled.”
The statement comes three days after the palace revealed the Queen was cancelling Saturday’s visit to Wales to present leeks to the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Welsh regiment on St. David’s Day. That announcement was the first indication she had a stomach bug: The Queen will no longer visit Swansea tomorrow as she is experiencing symptoms of gastroenteritis. She will be assessed in the coming days. Her Majesty is currently spending the weekend at Windsor, as usual.” The ancient castle has been her weekend home for the last 60 years.
For anyone who has had an elderly relative felled by gastroenteritis knows this isn’t something to be trifled with. According to the Centres for Disease Control, “Gastroenteritis means inflammation of the stomach and small and large intestines. Viral gastroenteritis is an infection caused by a variety of viruses that results in vomiting or diarrhea. It is often called the ‘stomach flu,’ although it is not caused by the influenza viruses.” It can start suddenly and is highly contagious–noroviruses notoriously turn cruise ships into medical disaster zones. While gastroenteritis isn’t serious for most, it can be for those who can’t drink enough fluids to replace what is being lost. For those, recovery involves a stay in hospital so they don’t become dehydrated.
The Queen, who turns 87 on April 21, isn’t one given to cancelling engagements just because she’s a bit under the weather. It has to be something major, such as a flare up of chronic back trouble that caused her to hand over duties at an investiture to Prince Charles last October rather than spend hours on her feet, leaning over to pin medals on recipients. Indeed, in 2012, her Diamond Jubilee year, she fulfilled 425 engagements and it was the bad health of Prince Philip–three hospital admissions in eight months including one for heart trouble–that had everyone concerned.
For the Queen, this current illness was serious enough that she was admitted to hospital, but not clearly bad enough that she couldn’t travel from Windsor Castle into London to the royal family’s favourite medical centre, King Edward VII Hospital. Still, her official visit to Italy that was set to start on March 6 is off. And that may not be a bad thing. She could not have been looking forward to landing in the middle of the chaos gripping Italy–its politics are being roiled by an inconclusive election (“Send in the clowns,” is a cover line on The Economist) and Rome is fixated by the upcoming election of a new pope. Though given Prince Philip’s propensity for colourful quips (here and here), it would have been a headline-generating visit.
By Patricia Treble - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 11:17 AM - 0 Comments
Be honest: how many of you knew something awful was going to happen to Matthew the moment the dowager countess crowed about the happiness of the Crawley family? I wasn’t sure the dastardly deed was going to strike, then he got into a fast convertible and I knew it would be an accident. And since in this season Downton Abbey creator and writer Julian Fellowes was incapable of making anyone take the blame for anything, it was the winding road, not Matthew’s reckless speeding that seemingly was the guilty party in the crash. And that wishy-washy attitude was why this was a was a dud season devoid of soap opera angst and tension. I love Downton and enjoyed moments and vignettes from this season. But the problem is no Downton fan I’ve talked to has enjoyed the entire season.
So here are some suggestions from a concerned fan:
By Patricia Treble - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 8:16 AM - 0 Comments
“Her eyes are dead.” “She appears precision-made, machine made.” “Designed to breed in some manners.” Those are a few of the harsh comments directed at Kate, duchess of Cambridge by Hilary Mantel, who’s won two Booker prizes for instalments of her popular Thomas Cromwell series. They come from a biting lecture, “Royal Bodies,” delivered on Feb. 4 but just noticed by the press, at the British Museum for a London Review of Books series. While the lecture covers the baby-making qualities of everyone from Anne Boleyn to Marie Antoinette and Diana, princess of Wales, Mantel’s criticisms of Kate are its heart.
“Kate becoming a jointed doll on which certain rags are hung. In those days she was a shop-window mannequin, with no personality of her own, entirely defined by what she wore. These days she is a mother-to-be, and draped in another set of threadbare attributions…Kate seems to have been selected for her role of princess because she was irreproachable: as painfully thin as anyone could wish, without quirks, without oddities, without the risk of the emergence of character. She appears precision-made, machine-made, so different from Diana whose human awkwardness and emotional incontinence showed in her every gesture. Diana was capable of transforming herself from galumphing schoolgirl to ice queen, from wraith to Amazon. Kate seems capable of going from perfect bride to perfect mother, with no messy deviation.”
Even Prime Minister David Cameron stepped into the controversy, calling Mantel’s comments “completely misguided and completely wrong.” The tabloids, needless to say, have gone ballistic. And, for them, the timing couldn’t be better, for they could juxtapose Mantel’s biting works with new pictures of Kate. Tuesday, she appeared at her first engagement in two months. Showing off her baby bump in a close-fitting wrap dress, she visited one of her charities, Hope House, an addiction recovery centre foe women in London.
Though seemingly harsh for the sake gaining attention when it comes to Kate, Mantel’s lecture is also a rollickingly good read, especially when she highlights the regal gilded cage–”everybody stares at them, and however airy the enclosure they inhabit, it’s still a cage”— in which the Windsors live:
“I used to think that the interesting issue was whether we should have a monarchy or not. But now I think that question is rather like, should we have pandas or not? Our current royal family doesn’t have the difficulties in breeding that pandas do, but pandas and royal persons alike are expensive to conserve and ill-adapted to any modern environment. But aren’t they interesting? Aren’t they nice to look at? Some people find them endearing; some pity them for their precarious situation; everybody stares at them, and however airy the enclosure they inhabit, it’s still a cage.”
By Patricia Treble - Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 3:27 PM - 0 Comments
Oh boy, here we go again. Five months after Italian tabloid Chi and a bunch of other rags published topless photos of the duchess of Cambridge, while vacationing at a secluded villa with her husband in Provence, they’re at it again. This time Chi has photos of Kate on a vacation with her husband and family on the private island of Mustique in the Caribbean. She’s apparently visibly pregnant and wearing a bikini.
No reaction yet from palace officials, but given Prince William’s fury at the last invasion of his wife’s privacy, you’ve got to bet that they’re consulting lawyers again. Interestingly, while the London tabloids are covering the story, they are also blacking out the relevant photo when they reproduce the Chi cover.
Still, everyone was expecting the photos. Kate is the hottest commodity in the paparazzi world, and no one has yet caught images of her expanding tummy. And lest we forget, Diana was also snapped in a bikini on a Caribbean vacation while pregnant with William. (This pinterest page has links to the snaps, or see below.) Back then, the Queen and household officials roundly criticized the invasion of what was clearly a private vacation. It’s 30 years later, and nothing really has changed.
UPDATE: From the palace via the BBC
The palace said it was “a clear breach of the couple’s right to privacy”. A St James’s Palace spokesman said: “We are disappointed that photographs of the Duke and Duchess on a private holiday look likely to be published overseas.”