By Patricia Treble - Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - 0 Comments
Royal Ascot’s fashion police bans fascinators
Royal Ascot has had its fill of the current less-is-best fashions. After years of hemlines creeping ever upward and hats shrinking into little more than feathered pompoms, the taste arbiters at Britain’s grandest racetrack are getting out rulers to enforce more conservative clothing requirements at the five days of racing in June that is Britain’s top social event.
Now fascinators, those tiny head-top confections so beloved by Kate, duchess of Cambridge, are strictly verboten—headpieces have to have at least a 10-cm base to be allowed into the exclusive invitation-only royal enclosure. In addition, all dresses and skirts are to be of “modest length, defined as falling just above the knee or longer.” Even tops and dresses concealed by jackets have new rules: they can’t be strapless, halter-neck or have a strap of less than 2.5 cm. And Ascot’s fashion police will also be casting their critical eyes over the men—cravats are banned, as are coloured bands on top hats and any shoe colour that isn’t black.
By Patricia Treble - Monday, January 9, 2012 at 5:54 PM - 0 Comments
Get ready for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, but don’t expect a baby for Kate (yet)
If 2011 sent royal watchers into a frenzy with six glittering weddings, Prince William and Kate’s smash tour of Canada plus a titillating scandal involving a sex club and, allegedly, Sweden’s king, then the events already crowding the 2012 calendar will send monarchists into orbit. Here are the top five happenings of the year:
1. Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee
The year-long celebrations to honour the sovereign’s 60 years on the throne promise to include some must-see events, including a 1,000-boat flotilla on the Thames and the lighting of 2012 beacons from one tip of Britain to the other. The country gets a four-day holiday in June for all the events, which will see millions lining the route to St. Paul’s Cathedral for a service of Thanksgiving. The last time a sovereign hit the big 60 was in 1897. Then Queen Victoria was so fat and unwell she remained seated in her carriage for a blessing at the cathedral. That’s not likely to happen with her über-healthy great-great-granddaughter. However, in a concession to her age—she’ll be 86 this year while Prince Philip will be 91—the regal couple is staying in Britain while the rest of the family will visit every realm country in the world, as well as some big Commonwealth republics.
2. Kate, year two
The duchess of Cambridge turns 30 today, a milestone she celebrated in advance on Sunday by attending the London premiere of Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse”–wrapped in a fabulous, floor-length lace gown by Alice Temperley–followed by “low-key and private” celebrations. London’s tabloids were taking turns guessing what William got for his wife. The latest had it being a watch–a very, very nice watch. There were also reports the Queen would give her a family tiara, though that will only be confirmed when she wears it in public. But so far, the royal family has kept everyone guessing.
After a massive debut in 2011—wedding, royal tour etc.—Kate’s expected to keep a much lower profile this year, so as to not overshadow the Queen. Expect a continuation of her ultra-neutral, ultra-simple fashion. As for a baby, the stork isn’t likely to come until after the summer’s Jubilee festivities and the London Olympics.
3. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark’s Ruby Jubilee
A cousin to most of Europe’s royal families, “Daisy,” as she’s been known since birth, celebrates 40 years on the throne this year. Not only is she beloved—her popularity stands at more than 80 per cent—but so is the monarchy itself, which Margrethe, who turns 72 in April, has done an enviably good job of modernizing. People like royals to act royal, but not too royal, and Denmark’s queen has figured out how to successfully walk that tightrope. Her dynasty is ancient—traced back to Gorm the ?—and the sovereign at times wears a crushing amount of historic jewelry. But she also has an artistic streak–she illustrated a Lord of the Rings edition; sketched sets and costumes for the 2009 film The Wild Swans, based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale; and even designs some of her own clothes. And she is often seen doing her own shopping in Copenhagen.
And don’t expect her to abdicate any time soon to plunk her photogenic progeny, Crown Prince Frederik, and his equally glam wife, Mary, on the throne. Margrethe recently told the Danish daily Politiken, “My view has always been that it is an assignment that you have for life.”
4. Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden’s upcoming bundle of joy
After a year marked by scandal gossip about her regal father’s alleged frequenting of sex clubs, along with revelations about her mother’s Nazi family secrets, the future queen will likely enjoy this year a lot better. In March she’s due to give birth to her first child, who, under Swedish law, will succeed Victoria on the throne.
5. Spain’s unsexy scandal
If there is a royal family guaranteed to have it rough in 2012, on the other hand, it is Spain’s. On Feb. 25 the king’s son-in-law, Inaki Urdangarin, the duke of Palma de Mallorca, is slated to appear before a judge over allegations of corruption. The husband of Infanta Cristina is under investigation for misusing fund given to his foundation to organize sporting events. Spanish papers allege he siphoned the money into his private businesses and it’s widely believed he’ll be criminally charged in the affair within months.
By Anne Kingston - Thursday, December 1, 2011 at 9:50 AM - 21 Comments
Will and Kate give the monarchy new blood and relevance. They gave everyone else a love story to remember.
In a year riven by political turmoil, economic malaise and rioting in the streets, a young, fresh-faced couple formally titled the duke and duchess of Cambridge (but affectionately known as Will and Kate) provided ongoing romantic relief—and distraction. The photogenic pair delighted the masses and were a boon to the media that tracked their every move, real and speculative. Their wedding gave the British economy—along with fascinator sales—a bump. More, it injected a much-needed adrenalin boost to the British royal family itself. Dutifully, smilingly, the duo restored a patina of glamour and vitality to an institution tarnished by divorce, scandal and tragedy.
Details of the preparations for their April 29 nuptials were meted out like a slow IV morphine drip on www.princeofwales.gov.uk: the Westminster Abbey venue, the guest list, the name of the wedding cake decorator. An estimated two billion people tuned in to watch the ceremony, a pitch-perfect spectacle of royal pomp amid government-mandated austerity. Millions clogged the streets, among them Jean Seaton, a professor of media history at the University of Westminster, who views the occasion as a rare moment of British unity: “People were enjoying it as a kind of celebration of themselves,” she says.
Part of the cheer stemmed from the faith that the couple’s love match was real, not staged like the prince’s parents’. The union of the blond son of a beloved princess to a comely commoner also suggested Buck House was evolving with the times. There was no discussion of virginity: the couple had lived together for eight years. The bride, derisively dubbed “Waity Katie” by the press before her engagement, proved her mettle over the years, coping with paparazzi and gossip. Her unwavering determination to play the role she now has, once a source of criticism, is her greatest strength—one necessary to navigate an institution known to destroy the women who enter it. “It’s a much more negotiated, tested entry [than Diana’s],” says Seaton, the BBC’s ofﬁcial historian. “She knows—to the extent she can—what she’s getting into.”
By Patricia Treble - Friday, November 18, 2011 at 8:00 AM - 2 Comments
Filled with items that are less than $100 apiece, Pippa Middleton’s wardrobe is easy to emulate
Every day that Pippa Middleton goes to her office in London, she runs a gauntlet of photographers eager to snap her picture. Because her older sister Kate, a.k.a. HRH the duchess of Cambridge, is often secluded on a rainy Welsh island with her husband or behind palace walls getting a private introduction to royal life, it is Pippa who bears the brunt of tabloid fascination, something she does with the trademark Middleton silence and polite smile.
While the public is curious about her love life (the latest rumour has her breaking up with boyfriend Alex Loudon) and her work in the party planning sector (reports are swirling that a publisher wants to hand her $1.5 million for a book on the subject), those areas are dwarfed by interest in her clothes. That hasn’t diminished since she wore that plunging, form-fitting bridesmaid dress at her sister’s wedding to Prince William.
Interestingly, while big sister mixes the occasional inexpensive outfit—such as a $300 Reiss dress to chat with the Obamas at Buckingham Palace—into her increasingly high-end fashion rotation, Pippa eschews couture houses and instead buys the bulk of her daywear in the affordable retail stores that dot the main streets and malls of almost every country in the world, including Zara, French Connection and H&M.
By Patricia Treble - Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 14 Comments
Kate’s recent seclusion has gossip mills churning. But it’s all part of the plan.
William and Kate’s appearance last Thursday at the Royal Marsden hospital was the most ordinary of royal engagements. The duke and duchess of Cambridge opened a new children’s cancer centre. It’s the sort of duty that royalty undertake every day. Yet the visit was accorded superstar treatment by the world’s media, largely because it was just the second public engagement for the couple since completing their tour of Canada and America on July 10.
So an event that lasted a few hours generated stories well past the weekend—he’d pulled a 24-hour shift as a search and rescue pilot in Wales before rushing to the Surrey hospital, her engagement ring vanished during the visit! (She’d removed it and washed her hands before meeting patients with low immunity.) WhatKateWore.com, a site devoted to Kate’s fashion, saw its visitors on Thursday jump from an average of 8,000 a day to more than 20,000.
While gossips postulate Kate’s seclusion is because she’s either pregnant with twins or depressed because she’s too thin to conceive, the reason is more prosaic: it’s a long-term strategy by the royal household to ease her into a life of duty and unceasing attention by a curious world. Earlier this year, Judy Wade, the royal editor of Hello!, said, “We were told she’s not going to do much in the way of official engagements at all in the first few years because they want the marriage to work and they want her to have a gentle introduction into royal life.” (The recent royal tour is seen as a one-off variation from that plan.)
By macleans.ca - Friday, September 16, 2011 at 9:40 AM - 0 Comments
Kate is pregnant (or not), Diamond is engaged (again), and Manning gets a new uniform (of sorts)
Peyton Manning played his first professional football game in 1998. Over the next 13 years, the Indianapolis Colts quarterback didn’t miss a single start, suiting up for 227 consecutive kickoffs. But that gridiron streak—and his team’s hope for a Super Bowl berth—were tackled last week when Manning underwent a second round of neck surgery that is certain to keep him on the sidelines for the rest of the season. (For those fans who won’t recognize him without a jersey, he’ll be the guy wearing a cervical collar.) Who will replace Manning on the line of scrimmage? One name being bandied about is Brett Favre, the legendary quarterback who holds the record for consecutive starts (297). Favre, of course, says he is happily retired. But we’ve heard that before. Twice.
On the ropes
When Arturo “Thunder” Gatti was found dead in a Brazilian vacation home two years ago, local police concluded that the Montreal boxer had committed suicide. But a recent re-examination of the evidence—and some stunning courtroom testimony—have pointed the finger at someone else: Gatti’s widow, Amanda Rodrigues. In a report now being reviewed by the original investigators, a team of U.S. experts says the boxer’s body contained severe head wounds consistent with a beating, and that the official finding (that Gatti hung himself with a purse strap) is “pure, unadulterated fiction.” Meanwhile, during a court battle over Gatti’s $6-million estate, one friend testified that Rodrigues was an abusive wife who threatened her husband, sucker-punched him on numerous occasions, and forced him to rewrite his will just three weeks before his death.
If Bob Dechert was smiling on the evening of April 19, 2010, as he stood to vote in the House of Commons, he was apparently not simply delighting in the democratic process. “If you have time, watch on TV or on your computer . . . and I will smile at you,” he wrote to Shi Rong, a journalist with China’s Xinhua News Agency. The parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs was forced to acknowledge that note and a series of other “flirtatious” emails after his missives were distributed around Ottawa last week. Dechert’s official biography describes him as a married man and he says his relationship with Shi was “innocent,” but security analysts fret that his correspondence with a member of China’s state-run news service raises concerns about national security and espionage. The Prime Minister’s Office says it has no information to indicate Dechert did anything inappropriate.
By Cynthia Reynolds - Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 11:40 AM - 0 Comments
The new foreign minister is young, female and stylish—cause for celebration and controversy
The appointment of Pakistan’s new foreign minister is dividing opinion across the conservative nation. Hina Rabbani Khar is the first woman to ever hold the position in that country and, at 34, she’s also the youngest. While some argue her selection is a sign of hope for a new, more moderate direction for the hardline nation, others see the appointment of the wealthy businesswoman—and a member of a powerful Punjabi family—as business as usual. Some also consider her vastly inexperienced. Khar, who’s held mostly junior portfolios, slipped into government after a 2002 ruling required politicians to have a college degree; she ran for office after the rule disqualiﬁed her veteran politician father. Pakistan’s archrival India, meanwhile, is offering its own take on Khar: for the moment, it appears to have settled on style icon.
During her first official visit to Delhi last month, part of the new efforts to revive relations between the long-time foes, the press had little to say about Khar’s political skills. Instead, the media gushed over her black Hermès Birkin bag, Roberto Cavalli sunglasses, and classic strand of pearls, comparing her to Michelle Obama, Carla Bruni, even Kate Middleton. One columnist referred to her as Pakistan’s “weapon of mass distraction.” It’s not the first time the press has seized upon her image; pictures of her in trendy slim-fitting jeans have raised eyebrows throughout Pakistan, prompting traditionalists to question whether the co-owner of Polo Lounge, a trendy restaurant on downtown Lahore’s polo grounds, is out of touch with the conservative—and poor—country. Regardless, she now helms one of the most volatile relationships in world politics.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 27, 2011 at 11:25 AM - 34 Comments
John Baird redecorates the Foreign Affairs building.
A pair of historic paintings by Quebec modern master Alfred Pellan were removed from their decades-old spot and replaced by a 2002 photo portrait of the Queen late last month. The change was ordered before the visit of Prince William and Kate in late June, and took some staff by surprise when they entered the Lester B. Pearson Building after the long weekend.
The large, brightly-coloured Pellan paintings, called “Canada West Canada East,” show two coasts — one with details such as totem poles and the Coastal Mountains, the other featuring fishermen, moose and sailboats. They have hung in the spot above the reception desk since the Queen opened the building in 1973, and the faint outlines of the works are still visible on the brown stone wall around her newly-hung photograph.
Shortly after Stephen Harper moved into the Prime Minister’s Office, a member of his staff similarly ensured a picture of Her Majesty was found and hung.
By Anne Kingston - Friday, July 15, 2011 at 12:25 PM - 18 Comments
The pressure to be thin is true for a duchess and women in the public eye
When an already slender Kate Middleton lost an estimated 20 lb. between her November 2010 engagement and April 2011 wedding, the reaction from a society that upholds size 00 as a fashion ideal was predictable: however did she do it? Rumours that her mother introduced her to a low-carbohydrate regime devised by French doctor Pierre Dukan catapulted the 30-year-old The Dukan Diet onto bestseller lists worldwide.
But Middleton’s rapid weight loss also gave rise to concern, particularly among those who remembered Prince William’s mother’s struggle with bulimia. Back in March, Belfast resident Heather Lindsay reportedly advised Prince William’s fiancée “not to lose any more weight” when she shook hands with her during a walkabout. Lindsay later reported Middleton laughed and said it was “part of the wedding plan.” At the time, few questioned that logic. The spectre of brides dropping several dress sizes before their big day is part of the wedding script, one even encouraged by reality TV shows like Bridal Bootcamp. And no bride was under more scrutiny than Middleton.
But the duchess of Cambridge’s disturbingly rail-thin appearance during her Canadian tour, one not fully captured by cameras, suggests the weight loss was more than wedding jitters. It was a subject of rabid discussion among journalists covering the tour, though rarely mentioned in their reports, primarily because the topic is not part of the fairy-tale narrative that William and Catherine embody—one that sells newspapers and magazines. One British journalist, a veteran royal watcher, puts it thus: “Her weight is simply not discussed.” Some reporters, especially women, are reluctant to engage in “body-snarking,” the common practice of criticizing women in the public eye for their physical appearance, and they’ve chosen not to add to the immense pressure the duchess already is under.
By Patricia Treble - Friday, July 15, 2011 at 9:20 AM - 0 Comments
In California, even celebrities had to make a charitable donation to meet William and Kate
If the Canadian trip by Prince William and Catherine was focused on meeting the people of the Crown’s northern realm, then their 48-hour jaunt to Los Angeles was, in the words of one tabloid, “the ultimate pay-per-view.”
All the headline events were to support organizations or to raise money for charities that the royals either oversee or back. And in a city used to ladling out freebies to celebrities, this time everyone had to pay for the opportunity to be star-struck. On Saturday alone, William and Kate raised an estimated $7 million. First up was a polo match. A $100,000 cheque (and the ability to ride a horse) got a donor onto a polo pony, $4,000 bought lunch in the royal tent, while $400 got wannabes a seat in the stands and a brown-bagged meal. William “let loose,” as he put it, and scored four of his winning team’s five goals. All proceeds went to the American arm of the Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry that backs charities focused on youth, military families and the environment. That night he and Kate chatted up Hollywood’s equivalent of royalty, including Tom Hanks, Barbra Streisand and Nicole Kidman, at a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) gala where a table cost $16,000.
Though the trip was tightly scripted with few chances for informality, a mob of camera crews and reporters stalked the couple’s every move. Every moment of the celebrity-laden visit—William with David Beckham, Kate talking to Reese Witherspoon, the newlyweds studiously averting their eyes from J. Lo’s abs, visible in her cutaway dress—was photographed. The Today show devoted its prime slots to chef Giada De Laurentiis’s minute-by-minute recollection of serving lunch at the polo match. Her beef tenderloin crostini recipe appeared in People. Even the state of California cashed in on the visit, rushing a “what William and Kate should visit” commercial onto TV.
By Ken MacQueen - Friday, July 15, 2011 at 9:15 AM - 0 Comments
With canoe, chopper and charm, the duke and duchess set a new course
By the time William and Catherine waved au revoir from Calgary’s airport, they’d set a new standard for royal tours, shredding the fetters of precedent, protocol and stifling formality. From the first event in Ottawa to wheels-up in Calgary nine days later, the duke and duchess signalled that past practices were made to be broken. Let us count the ways:
Royals don’t apologize: That one went by the wayside with the duke of Cambridge’s first credible attempt at speaking French in Ottawa. “It will improve as we go on,” he said, with a self-deprecating grin. In Quebec there was another winning smile: “Thank you for your patience with my accent, and I hope that we will have the chance to get to know each other over the years to come.” The fact that William and Catherine, in her rookie performance as a touring royal, would visit both Montreal and Quebec City, tells you all you need to know about the confidence the palace places in the young couple. The largely positive reception there, while allowing the inevitable anti-monarchist protesters to make their point, also ended the myth that Quebec is a royal pain for the Wales family.
Royals like to watch: Aside from tree plantings and ribbon cutting, touring royals generally limit their activity to bland small talk and limp handshakes. No one expects 85-year-old Queen Elizabeth II to become an action hero, but grandson William and his bride are not above plunging into activities. They donned chef outfits in Montreal and helped prepare their dinner. William skimmed one of Canada’s aging Sea King helicopters atop a lake in Prince Edward Island, where he and Kate also proved adept and competitive as dragon boat racers. Granted, William’s hockey shootout attempt in Yellowknife was lame, but they looked comfortable and strong paddling a canoe across choppy Blachford Lake in the territory. In Alberta they stole away to rustic Skoki Lodge above Lake Louise to hike the high alpine. The next day they donned cowboy duds for a preview of events at the Calgary Stampede, with William clambering up the rails of the metal chute for a perilously close look at a massive, snorting rodeo bull.
By Anne Kingston - Monday, July 11, 2011 at 12:20 PM - 7 Comments
Kate revealed a preference for ladies-who-lunch dresses
Catherine, duchess of Cambridge isn’t making any public addresses during her Canadian tour. Not that she needs to. Her clothes have been speaking volumes for her.
The tone was set with her travelling outfit—a navy blazer by Toronto-based label Smythe Les Vestes over a navy sheath dress by French designer Roland Mouret and Manolo Blahnik stilettos. It offered foreshadowing of the diplomatic, politically correct, safe choices to come, evident in her arrival outfit: a navy lace “Cecile” sheath by another Canadian—Erdem Moralioglu, the popular Montreal-born, U.K.-based designer.
Occasional nods to her Canadian hosts have been carefully inserted: a flag-red fascinator topped with a fabric maple leaf worn to Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill along with a diamond maple leaf brooch borrowed from Queen Elizabeth II. In Charlottetown, fittingly, there were natty nautical details on a cream knit Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen dress.
By Anne Kingston - Monday, July 11, 2011 at 8:50 AM - 0 Comments
Well-wishers outnumbered protesters 10 to one
If Ottawa provided the Kodachrome picture-postcard royal welcome, Quebec offered William and Catherine a more complex cinéma vérité depiction of the country they claim to want to know. Canada’s two solitudes collided during the couple’s two-day, two-city Quebec sojourn as separatist and anti-monarchist protesters, though in the minority, determined the agenda. Fear of a repeat of Prince Charles’s 2009 visit to Montreal, when eggs were hurled at his car, prompted organizers of William and Kate’s tour to not schedule walkabouts in the cities. Their concerns appeared founded, as several dozen protesters from pro-independence group Réseau de Résistance du Québécois appeared at Ste-Justine Hospital, the first stop of the couple’s eight-hour swing through Montreal. Chants of “Will and Kate, Will and Kate” vied with “royals go home” in French and English. And a few eggs were thrown, one landing on the back of an older woman who had waited hours in the sweltering heat.
Clearly forewarned, the duke and duchess exited their car briskly upon arrival, barely acknowledging the crowd. After an hour touring the neonatal, high-risk pregnancy and cancer wards, they exited under heavy security as black SUVs blocked the crowd of some 500—much to the crowd’s disappointment, including 11-year old Victoria Sicurello, who had hoped to hand Kate roses and a handmade card.
A similar 10-to-one well-wisher-to-protester ratio was evident at their next destination, the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec, where they took part in a cooking lesson with students and dined on Brome Lake duck, Charlevoix lamb and an Îles-de-la-Madeleine lobster soufflé.
By the editors - Friday, July 8, 2011 at 11:20 AM - 0 Comments
A letter from the editors
They just might be the most redundant pictures ever taken. While the national and international media lavished attention on Prince William as he repeatedly practised a water landing in a Canadian Forces Sea King helicopter in Prince Edward Island this week, his wife, Catherine, insisted on snapping some pictures of her own.
Getting a few shots for the family scrapbook is the sort of thing a young couple might do on holiday. But during an official state visit it seems delightfully out of place. All of which suggests a royal tour—and a royal couple—that’s refreshingly different and new.
The event at Dalvay by the Sea this past Monday saw William, the duke of Cambridge instructed in “waterbirding,” a unique Canadian emergency technique in which a helicopter pilot lands on water during an engine failure. Prince William specifically requested this personal tutorial, given that he flies helicopters at his day job as a Royal Air Force search and rescue pilot based in Anglesey, Wales.
By Andrew Coyne - Friday, July 8, 2011 at 11:00 AM - 224 Comments
COYNE: Perhaps we’ve grown out of our insecurities—and growing into the monarchy
Even before Prince William and his bride Kate had arrived in Canada—before they had visited their first cancer patient, or listened to their first war vet, before they had thrilled hundreds of thousands in Ottawa or talked with street kids in Quebec or surveyed the efforts to rebuild Slave Lake, Alta.—the nation’s newspaper columnists were sounding the alarm at the invasion. When, they sighed, would Canada grow up? Wasn’t it time to slough off these last vestiges of colonial rule? Of all the irrational, outmoded ideas: to choose a head of state on the basis of heredity.
As the trip wore on—as the prince greeted crowds in English and French and Dene and Inuvialuktun, visited the cradle of Confederation in Charlottetown, played road hockey in Yellowknife—the pundits’ mood only seemed to grow sourer. These hicks waving happily at the couple as they passed: was it not obvious they were simply in the thrall of celebrity? Could they not see the prince and his glamorous consort for the foreigners they are?
Nothing new here. The same party-poopers write the same diatribes every time royalty comes to town. But they have seldom seemed quite so out of step with the times, so…dated. In truth it is not the monarchy that is outmoded, it is the critics, invariably of a certain age, who seem unable to escape a time when asserting the country’s identity meant rejecting not only monarchy, but a long list of things that were supposedly holding us back. Perhaps what we are discovering on this tour is that the country has grown out of such adolescent insecurities. Perhaps we’re growing into the monarchy.
By Paul Wells - Friday, July 8, 2011 at 11:00 AM - 16 Comments
WELLS: Picking the Canada Day lineup was a delicate task
From 2003 to 2006, Fox Television carried a strange TV comedy called Arrested Development. It featured a story arc involving a failed actor named Tobias Fünke who auditions for the theatre troupe Blue Man Group because he thinks it’s a support group for depressed men. For several episodes, Fünke wears blue body paint, which comes in handy when he realizes he can blend in with the blue parts of outdoor billboards, allowing him to spy on the rest of his family.
For a while, on July 1, I wondered whether Kate Middleton was inspired by Tobias Fünke when she decided to show up at the big Canada Day celebration on Parliament Hill dressed as a Canadian flag.
In a release to the Ottawa press rabble, “the Press Secretary to TRH the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge” described Kate’s outfit as “a cream dress by Reiss, with The Queen’s Maple Leaf brooch and a hat by Sylvia Fletcher at Lock and Co.” From any distance, however, the most striking thing about Kate’s outfit was that it was red at both ends—hat and pumps—and whitish through the middle, except for the reddish purse where the maple leaf would be if she were flapping sideways from a mast, not that I would ever advocate such a course of action.
By Barbara Amiel - Friday, July 8, 2011 at 9:00 AM - 37 Comments
Lotsa luck Kate. Enjoy those bandage dresses while you can.
Unlike some observers of the duke and duchess of Cambridge, I am not, to borrow the easy grammar of a Globe and Mail columnist, “conflicted” by royalty. I’m often ambivalent about eating another chocolate biscuit and I certainly have conﬂicting feelings about whether to get another dog since my husband has said one more and he’s building a house for people, but a constitutional monarchy isn’t something that bothers me. As an organizing principle of society compared to religion or tribal rule it looks harmless.
Royalty may irritate some female columnists given the infernally good-looking crop of princesses these days, all of them young, size four and about six feet tall. As if it were not enough to be sporting about the stunning former Miss Kate Middleton, now we have the wincingly gorgeous South African champion swimmer Charlene Wittstock beaming next to new husband Prince Albert II of Monaco. I saw their wedding announcement in last Sunday’s New York Times.
The Monaco royal marriage did not get the featured spot in the Times’ wedding section, which is called “Vows” and is ever a gold mine of joyous moments in courtship. This week’s “Vows” was given over to Laura Hwang, a classical viola player and former cashier at Blue Apron Foods in Brooklyn who married Steve Rosenbush, a business writer. Steve had to spend up to $100 a visit getting to know Laura because obviously it’s tricky to chat up a cashier with an impatient lineup behind you. They were married by a Universal Life minister, an unfamiliar denomination but apparently used by almost every American Jewish person who marries a non-Jewish person.
By Brian Bethune - Thursday, July 7, 2011 at 11:30 AM - 9 Comments
How a present from the Harpers—a historic copy of Maclean’s—links this tour with the one in 1939
All in all, it does make a charming souvenir gift. Just ask the Prime Minister. A copy of Maclean’s May 15, 1939, souvenir edition of the 27-day royal visit made by King George VI and his consort Queen Elizabeth—Prince William’s great-grandparents—formed part of a personal gift from Stephen Harper and his wife, Laureen, to the prince and his wife, Kate, on the occasion of their current visit to Canada. (The gift also included a copy of Chatelaine of similar vintage.) The 1939 royal tour of Canada, the first ever visit of a reigning monarch to the Crown’s senior dominion, was like no other royal visit before it, and Maclean’s, naturally, treated it as such.
In many ways the souvenir issue, with the king’s portrait on its cover, set the template for the magazine’s coverage of royal visits ever since. That included printing the Queen’s portrait first, on the cover of the otherwise business-as-usual May 1 issue: early recognition that the royal women, whether as rulers or consorts, from Elizabeth II to Diana, princess of Wales to Catherine, duchess of Cambridge, have always been the stars of the show. Photos were a huge part of the special edition, including a shot of the two royal children, who had been left at home for this arduous cross-continental odyssey: princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose, seated at a piano.
But it wasn’t just that George VI was a reigning king that infused his arrival with historical significance, but rather how—by what right—he was reigning over us. In 1937, King George, the first monarch crowned since the 1931 Statute of Westminster established the full independence of the self-governing dominions, was also the first to swear in his coronation oath to govern Canada by its own laws and customs. The monarchy was now the final institutional glue holding the Empire (soon to be Commonwealth) together. Although not yet formally king of Canada—that legal change in title didn’t occur until his daughter’s reign—George was very much coming to his dominion in that capacity. The tour marked another step, both real and symbolic, on the long road to equality between motherland and former colony that had, so far, stretched from the Canadian Corps’ victory at Vimy Ridge in 1917 through Canada’s seat at the Versailles peace treaty negotiations two years later and the Westminster statute and the coronation oath.
By Rosemary Counter - Thursday, July 7, 2011 at 8:00 AM - 1 Comment
You’d hardly know the Duchess of Cambridge isn’t tweeting judging by the number of imposters
On May 18th, @DuchessKateM published her first tweet. “Thanks for this Sweet Welcome. It’s my Official Twitter and I’m really happy to be here with you,” she wrote. Just five days later, @DukeWilliam1 was appeared on the social media site. Before long, @middletonpippa was talking fashion (“Green Dress for you? xx”) and @PrinceHarryofW was missing his mum. It’s a rare occurrence to see royal reality as such, and like most reality entertainment, it’s fake.
But like the so-called Duchess’ more than 13,000 other followers, I don’t care. For weeks I’d been enthusiastically following the (unofficial) “Real Twitter Account of The Duchess Catherine Elizabeth Middleton” and hanging off every tweet: “I really love the royal family. It’s a really good family” or “Thanks for Visit UK @BarackObama!” I even eavesdropped on a royal birthday wish to her handsome hubby (“Happy Birthday to my Husband !! You are the best of my life !! Our first birthday together after the wedding !! I Love you, Catherine xx”). Avid voyeurs rejoiced.
It’s a far cry and welcome relief from how we usually see royalty. “With the monarchy, it’s official this and official that,” says Tom Vassos, social media expert at the University of Toronto. “But people want more than that, people want the personal touch, and someone will provide it.”
Enter the many online incarnations of Catherine Middleton: Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 1:08 PM - 8 Comments
JJ McCullough questions some of the gushing over our apparently monarchist Prime Minister.
Upon meeting Queen Elizabeth for the first time in 1999, Opposition Leader Harper said he enjoyed the experience, but nevertheless felt the need to preface his comments by warning that “I’m not a strong monarchist, I’m really not.” In his wonderfully cynical 1997 US speech on the Canadian system of government, all he could likewise muster about the role of the Crown was a dryly comic observation that “our executive is the Queen, who doesn’t live here.” At his first throne speech, Harper similarly ditched the longstanding practice of wearing a full Victorian “morning suit” with striped pants and vest, outraging some monarchists at the time for his sartorial casualness on a royal occasion.
As far as I can tell, dismissive gestures like these are every bit as relevant to Harper’s understanding of the monarchy as his other, more cloying noises of support. Like most members of the Canadian political class, Harper politely respects the monarchy to the extent he is supposed to. He has no desire to change the status quo, but is not unaware of its absurdities and ironies, either. This is a position of pragmatism and institutional conservatism, and the republican in me doesn’t care much for it. But robust monarchism it is certainly not.
That first quote from Mr. Harper is actually from a 2002 interview, in which the leader of the opposition pronounced his meeting with the Queen to be the highlight of his year. Continue…
By Leah McLaren - Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
When it comes to fashion, the duchess is already a kingmaker in her own right: whatever she wears turns to gold
When Prince William and Kate step off the Canadian Forces jet in Ottawa this week, the global fashion industry will be watching. Their laser-like scrutiny will not stem from any interest in relations between the royal family and its Commonwealth subjects, but from a far more practical concern: what is she wearing? And how can we capitalize on it?
Welcome to the incredible brand power of Kate: a young woman who can set a global trend on a whim, and a future queen who, in the world of fashion, is already an established kingmaker in her own right.
The industry-bending nature of Kate’s appeal has grown exponentially since plans for the royal nuptials were announced last fall. Back then, all eyes were on the ring, a priceless diamond-encircled sapphire, which once belonged to the late Princess Di. But while Kate flashed her new rock for the cameras, designers and retailers were rushing to knock off her outfit—a royal blue wrap dress by the then-little-known label Issa. The discount fashion retailer Peacocks produced a $22 copy, as did the grocery chain Tesco, which were reported to have sold out of their version in a matter of hours. The ring itself was replicated in every form, from gumball-machine plastic to a $50 “Princess” cocktail ring by Martine Wester.
By Leah McLaren - Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Retailers everywhere are creating cheap knockoffs of the Duchess of Cambridge’s trendsetting fashion
Click on a thumbnail to enter the gallery. And don’t forget to read the accompanying article by Leah McLaren, Brand Catherine.
By Martin Patriquin - Tuesday, July 5, 2011 at 8:20 AM - 0 Comments
Quebec nationalists are booing, but the wedding watchers may cheer
For the Réseau de Résistance du Québécois, Prince William and Kate’s visit to Quebec is a salt-in-the-wounds reminder that the province is still firmly under the thumb of the monarchy. And the group is telling the world via YouTube what it plans to do when the couple arrives on Quebec soil.
Over a soundtrack of stirring strings, the slickly produced video shows close-ups of men hewing wood and hammering nails to make protest signs. “For centuries the British monarchy has ruled over our people,” reads the copy. “Quebec will protest for democracy, for dignity, for independence.”
Hyperbole or not, the RRQ’s message presents a very real headache for organizers of the couple’s first royal tour, and it’s a reminder of how Quebec remains a thorny issue for the monarchy some 60 years after the Queen first visited the province. With the potential for embarrassment at the hands of well-organized Quebec nationalists—and with poll after poll indicating Quebecers’ collective indifference to the Canadian Crown—it begs the question: why bring the young couple to Quebec at all?