By Jaime Weinman - Friday, April 29, 2011 - 0 Comments
As we wait for the big moment or moments, I’m reading this list of the pieces of music selected for the royal wedding. Some of us were speculating that the couple might shake things up a bit by including some pop music, but I suppose they decided that such a tradition-bound event still demands traditional music at most points. The list hits most of the great English “classical” composers: Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Britten, Delius, Walton, and some composers who are popular in England but less so outside it, like Finzi and Parry, whose “I Was Glad” is the bride’s processional music, and has been used in many other events of this kind:
By Cathy Gulli - Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 5:20 PM - 0 Comments
Forget official royal invites. You’d rather watch with these ladies.
Patti Renihan and her best friends have always watched the British royal weddings together: when Prince Charles married Diana Spencer in 1981, and when Prince Andrew married Sarah Ferguson in 1986, the women huddled around a tiny TV inside a screened porch at a family cottage in northern Ontario. They had a similar plan for when Prince William marries Kate Middleton. But when other friends heard about the early-morning gathering, they wanted to join them. “It’s ballooned to 14 people,” laughs Renihan, 65, who made gold invitations that match the official ones—“except instead of HRH we put my initials” and instead of “Westminster Abbey” they wrote “the abbey” at Renihan’s home address in Toronto. Upon arrival, each guest will be introduced by her new name: duchess or lady of the area where she lives. “This party has snowballed,” Renihan admits. “It gets grander by the day.”
The spectacle of a British royal wedding has inspired many Canadians, especially women, to host their own extravagant receptions. No detail will be overlooked: food, drink, flowers, party favours and attire have been planned in celebration of this rare event. And despite the time difference (Will and Kate exchange vows at 11 a.m. British time, and media coverage begins three hours earlier), or perhaps because of it, people like Renihan and Jane Francis of Mississauga will welcome guests to their houses in the middle of the night—starting at 3 a.m.
“I got a new big TV for my birthday, and I was going to watch the wedding regardless,” says Francis, 64, before her friend Marg Shaver, chimes in. “And we were going to be lonely in our basements,” Shaver explains, adding that she had British-flag bunting and serviettes that were crying out to be used for such an occasion. “So we decided to get some others in!” finishes Francis. Over the last few weeks, the self-described “mature, fun-loving women” have traded scores of emails and calls in preparation for the big day. The latest news: “The ﬁne jewels from China have arrived,” exclaims Shaver, who turns 61 the day after the wedding. “Blue sapphire engagement ring replicas for everybody!”
By macleans.ca - Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 5:05 PM - 0 Comments
Your royal wedding timetable, from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace
8:15 a.m. GMT (3:15 a.m. EDT): The general congregation arrives at the Great North Door of Westminster Abbey
10:10 a.m. GMT (5:10 a.m. EDT): Prince William and Prince Harry depart from Clarence House for Westminster Abbey
10:25 a.m. GMT (5:25 a.m. EDT): Members of the extended royal family leave Buckingham Palace for Westminster Abbey
10:40 a.m. GMT (5:45 a.m. EDT): The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh depart from Buckingham Palace for Westminster Abbey
10:48 a.m. GMT (5:48 a.m. EDT): The bridesmaids and pages leave the Goring Hotel
10:51 a.m. GMT (5:51 a.m. EDT): Kate Middleton, accompanied by her father, departs from the Goring Hotel
11:00 a.m. GMT (6 a.m. EDT): The marriage service begins
12:15 p.m. GMT (7:15 a.m. EDT): The bride and groom travel by carriage to Buckingham Palace
1:25 p.m. GMT (8:25 a.m. EDT): The Queen and the newlyweds, together with their families, appear on the balcony
By Patricia Treble - Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 3:40 PM - 1 Comment
Anne loathes Camilla, Edward and Andrew are ‘volatile’: the Windsors are just like any large family (except for the royal bit)
Joining the royal family involves more than marrying a prince. Kate Middleton has to figure out a complex web of relationships, including who’s in and who’s out (hint: Sarah Ferguson’s name is permanently on that list). While she’s comfortable with Prince William’s immediate family, the Waleses—she’s known them for years—she’s seen far less of the rest of William’s relations.
Luckily for Kate’s nerves, the Windsors aren’t into weekly Sunday dinners en famille. The reason is simple, author Penny Junor explains: “Each member of the royal family is a star in their own firmament and they have to be treated as such.” Like movies stars, Windsors and their egos don’t like being overshadowed—not even by other family members. “Everyone who works for the royal family is advised not to put them together,” says Junor. Still, there are enough Windsors to fill a very, very large table. In addition to the Queen’s immediate relations—husband, four kids and their three spouses, eight grandkids plus another spouse and a great-grandchild—there are another 40-odd Windsors who form the larger “descendants of George V” royal clan.
In many ways they are like any large family, complete with in-laws who barely tolerate each other, squabbling siblings and unexpectedly close friendships. Though “they are called the most dysfunctional family in the land, they do function quite well,” says royal expert Brian Hoey. Herewith, a primer:
By Jessica Allen - Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 2:30 PM - 0 Comments
The bride-to-be ‘has guided us right from the beginning with very strong ideas,’ right down to mood boards
Queen Victoria’s stood two feet tall, had a nine foot circumference and weighed 300 lb. Queen Elizabeth II’s was nine feet high and weighed 500 lb. But the Queen Mum’s—tipping the scales at 800 lb. and towering at 10 feet—made the others look like cupcakes.
Whether Kate Middleton’s wedding cake will surpass these saccharine predecessors is anybody’s guess: just like the dress, details of the celebratory confection’s final design have not been revealed. Palace officials and cake makers alike, however, have handed out a few crumbs. For starters, the royal couple has decided that there will be two official cakes: a traditional multi-tiered fruitcake made by celebrity cake maker Fiona Cairns for displaying at the Buckingham Palace reception, and a chocolate biscuit variety assembled by McVitie’s, a popular British biscuit-making company, for the wedding breakfast’s 600 guests to actually eat. Excessive? Not at all: Prince Charles and Diana, princess of Wales, had 27 official and unofficial cakes at their wedding reception.
And besides, it’s tradition—albeit a 17th-century one that died out quickly in Britain—to make wedding cakes in pairs; a more feminine one for the bride and a less ornate version for the groom. If you haven’t figured out whose is whose, consider this: the chocolate biscuit cake is one of Prince William’s favourite sweets, often enjoyed when visiting his grandmother at Windsor Castle on Sundays for afternoon tea while he was a student at Eton. The version that McVitie’s head chef Paul Courtney will prepare—along with the help of another 10 company employees—will be made according to slightly different proportions: no fewer than 1,700 McVitie’s Rich Tea biscuits and 18 kg of dark chocolate will be required to make this groom’s cake.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 12:30 PM - 2 Comments
Syrian ambassador’s invitation withdrawn due to protest crackdown
Prince William and Kate Middleton will be tying the knot tomorrow, and say they have been “incredibly moved” by the outpouring of affection shown to them since they got engaged, the BBC reports. Their official wedding programme includes a message thanking “everyone most sincerely for their kindness.” Friday’s ceremony at Westminster Abbey will include vows from Midleton to “love, comfort, honour and keep” Prince William—but not to obey him. More than 600,000 people are expected to be in the streets, with several hundred already camping out in tents and sleeping bags nearby. The bride is to walk up the aisle to coronation anthem “I Was Glad,” from Psalm 122, which was composed for the crowning of Prince William’s great-great-great grandfather, Edward VII. The Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Harry, and Middleton’s family will be witnesses and sign the marriage registers. Prince William will be spending Thursday evening with the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and Harry, while Miss Middleton will be with her family at the Goring Hotel. The Queen will host an event for British and foreign royals at the Mandarin Oriental hotel, and will be leaving for a weekend away after hosting a wedding day lunchtime reception, giving Buckinham Palace over to the royal couple’s black tie party for the night. Meanwhile, the invitation to Syria’s ambassador in London has been withdrawn after reports that up to 400 pro-democracy protesters have been killed there by security forces in recent weeks.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 11:46 AM - 0 Comments
Strings of patriotic decorations sold out ahead of Royal Wedding
Patriotic Britons are faced with a deepening crisis ahead of the Royal Wedding: supplies of “bunting” (strings of Union-Jack-coloured triangles) have been exhausted in shops from Leeds to London. “Even Party Pieces, the website set up and run by Kate Middleton’s parents, said that it had sold out of all of most of its bunting,” reports The Telegraph. Tesco, Britain’s chain of mega-markets, has nearly run out of its 120-mile supply. But despite the shortage of bunting, the Royal Wedding is still on.
By Nicholas Köhler and Patricia Treble - Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 8:20 AM - 0 Comments
Her duty was to be the Queen, his is to become king. In this they are perfectly united, in love and honour bound.
Few remember it, but it was an instant that captured the whole story. It happened at Buckingham Palace after the 1986 wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson—a great beginning to a sad union. William, four years old and dressed as a 19th-century sailor for the occasion, had run after the newlyweds, tottering dangerously close to their carriage’s big rear wheels. Then the Queen spotted him and scrambled after her grandson, running for several metres before pulling him back. “It was an incredible sight,” one palace employee later said. “Many of us have worked here for years and we have never seen the Queen run before.”
In the tightly scripted world of the British royals, such rare unstudied moments—a brief sprint to collect a beloved boy in danger—are all we have to go on. Everything else lies rich and hidden. And so it is with that most private of relationships, the one between William and Elizabeth II—the second in line to the throne and the Queen herself. The pair are said to be close, yet we have just the slightest of hints to suggest that that’s the case: unlike the pyrotechnics of his mother Diana, princess of Wales, William has somehow managed to lead a life largely sheltered from the prying eyes of the press, and the Queen is a study in circumspection.
Although it’s often Diana who’s cited as the main proponent behind giving William and his younger brother Harry as normal a childhood as possible—lunches at McDonald’s, visits to Disney World—the Queen also encouraged the boys to behave as normal boys do, but in her own way: against the rustic backdrop of her beloved Balmoral Castle, in rugged northeastern Scotland. There, William was free to explore the private 20,000-hectare estate and, under his gruff grandfather’s tutorship, learn to fish for salmon.
By Leah McLaren - Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 8:20 AM - 1 Comment
What the bride’s mother is doing to slim down for the big day
When Carole and Michael Middleton were spotted having shooting lessons on the Queen’s Scottish estate of Balmoral last October, the British media flew into a tizzy: surely news of a royal engagement could not be far behind? In fact, a rather more obvious clue may have popped up earlier, when Kate’s mother reportedly let slip to an interviewer that she was on a diet and pleased with the results. “I’ve been doing it four days and I’ve lost four pounds!” she was quoted as crowing.
While there was no official confirmation she was on a diet, the already slim 56-year-old former flight attendant had every reason to want to look her best—she was about to become the most scrutinized mother of the bride in modern British history. Her crash regimen of choice, according to British sources, was the Dukan diet, by French nutritionist Pierre Dukan. This was followed by a frenzy of unsubstantiated speculation that Kate herself might also be on the diet—despite her naturally thin physique.
The extreme low-carb plan, in the vein of Atkins, Montignac or South Beach, has swept Europe and Britain, where The Dukan Diet is currently the top-selling diet book in the country, sitting at number five on Amazon.co.uk. It has recently hopped the pond to Canada and the United States, where The Dukan Diet was published earlier this month. And in Britain, rarely does a week pass these days without some new Dukan story making headlines. Earlier this year, the nation learned that Jenni Murray, the host of Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio 4’s venerable morning show, had been on the diet since September and lost 40 lb. and counting. She has chronicled her journey in a bimonthly newspaper column, in which she recounted her struggle to give up chocolate and wine in favour of prawns and low-fat yogourt. “Any fantasies I may have had about a Frenchman being sympathetic toward the odd glass or three of wine were quickly dispelled,” she grumbled.
By Patricia Treble - Wednesday, April 27, 2011 at 3:00 PM - 0 Comments
Precedence is a carefully observed royal rite
Just before the wedding starts, the royal family will arrive at Westminster Abbey. As they always do at such glittering events, members of the house of Windsor will automatically recreate the line of succession in reverse for the long walk to their grade-A seats. The supporting cast of lesser royals—the Kents and the Gloucesters and children of the late Princess Margaret—go first followed by the Queen’s immediate family, also in backwards order of importance—Anne, Edward, Andrew and Charles with their spouses and children. Elizabeth II, with Prince Philip, takes the best spot, at the end. “The star of the show comes last,” explains Brian Hoey, an author with an encyclopedic knowledge of royal protocol. Once the service is over, the family leaves, this time with the Queen in the lead with everyone else following.
Precedence is a carefully observed royal rite that can be a minefield for the uninitiated. And part of the confusion is of the Queen’s making. In 2005, Charles married Camilla Parker Bowles, which automatically placed his former mistress, now wife of the heir to the throne, ahead of all other royal women except the Queen on the royal pecking order. “Technically, the other ladies below [Camilla], when she’s with her husband, should curtsy to her,” Hoey explained. Courtiers reported that the two senior princesses, Anne and Alexandra of Kent, the Queen’s cousin, staged a mini revolt. “Anne? She is never going to curtsy to her,” Hoey said. “That’s not going to happen.”
To calm the waters, the Queen changed an internal household document called “Precedence of the Royal Family to be Observed at Court.” While male precedence remained that of the line of succession, the ladies’ rules were upended to put those born royal ahead of Charles’s wife. Now, when Camilla attends communal royal events with her husband, she gets the customary No. 2 spot, behind the Queen. But if she’s solo, then the female rules kick in and she plummets to No. 6, behind Anne, then Beatrice and Eugenie—daughters of Andrew, duke of York—and next Alexandra of Kent.
By John Fraser - Wednesday, April 27, 2011 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
It’s time for a different sort of trust
The amiable, articulate priest was standing outside his church after the 11:15 a.m. Eucharist, greeting his varied flock one by one, with warm words for those from far away and an easy familiarity for his regulars. He was not exactly an ordinary priest, though. In a week or so, he will be presiding over the service at his “church”—Westminster Abbey—that will join Prince William and Catherine Middleton in holy matrimony.
There’s a lot riding on this marriage, like the future of the monarchy, but the Very Rev. John Hall, dean of Westminster, wasn’t revealing any important secrets. One visitor wondered if he knew what “the gown” would look like. The dean laughed. “No,” he said, “but I am sure she’ll be wearing one.”
The dean was open about what will happen to his former Benedictine monastery on April 29. There will be no scaffolding built, as it is during a coronation, but the “sardine tin” element will be to the fore. “We can get more than 2,000 in here if we have to, and we will really have to.”
By Charlie Gillis - Wednesday, April 27, 2011 at 10:10 AM - 0 Comments
‘She’s not put a foot wrong’
Every outing is a minefield, every greeting a potential made-for-YouTube train wreck. Take the woman who turned up last month to Kate and William’s whistle-stop appearance in Belfast: she drew a laugh with her vain attempt to get the couple to don silly caps labelled “bride” and “groom.” But her too personal remark about Kate’s recent weight loss—well, that wasn’t so amusing. “It’s all part of the wedding plan,” the bride-to-be replied gamely, stifling any urge to tell the woman to mind her own body mass.
Being Kate Middleton is not easy. The former art history student has made four public appearances in ofﬁcial capacity since Prince William proposed, each time drawing a frenzy of scrutiny. Her hemlines have been measured, her posture checked, her smiles reviewed for width and authenticity. If, heaven forbid, she were to utter an offensive word in public, it would travel the globe at warp factor nine.
Yet unlike Diana, who appeared stricken in her first official outings, Kate moves naturally under the public gaze. “She’s not put a foot wrong,” says Claudia Joseph, the author of Kate: Princess in Waiting. Her poise suggests not only intuition but studiousness, says Joseph, as “Kate the commoner” has reportedly undergone rigorous training over the past five months in the myriad anachronisms known as royal protocol. An archaic requirement to stay two steps behind the prince can be trying: she’s as great an attraction as her fiancé, and gets held up by admirers while William is forging down greeting lines.
By Chris Sorensen - Wednesday, April 27, 2011 at 10:10 AM - 0 Comments
TV, live streaming, iTunes, Google, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Web managers, and more
In many ways, the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton is a story that writes itself. The groom: a future king, whose mother’s life ended in tragedy, but only after her own marriage provided years of salacious tabloid fodder. The bride: a brown-haired commoner with a down-to-Earth reputation—one that promises to keep the high-profile union anchored firmly in reality, or as close as you can get in the rarefied world of British royalty.
Even so, the monarchy isn’t taking any chances. With the scandals involving Prince Charles and Diana, princess of Wales still fresh in people’s minds, the royal family has spotted a rare opportunity in William and Kate’s walk down the aisle to reinvigorate a tarnished royal brand that contributes not only to Britain’s global prestige, but an estimated $800 million annually to the national economy.
Buckingham Palace has gone to great lengths to make sure the feel-good nature of the upcoming wedding is experienced by as many people as possible—and they’re relying heavily on the latest in digital technology to do it. In addition to being televised, the royal wedding is expected to be streamed live on the Web. The happy couple have also used Twitter to release details about the big day, including news of the engagement itself, while an official royal wedding album will be available “almost instantly” on iTunes, with a portion of the proceeds going to charity. The entire package is being wrapped together with a dedicated website that was set up with the help of no less than Google. “The buzz value on this wedding is global and huge,” says Alan Middleton, a professor of marketing at York University’s Schulich School of Business, who grew up in Britain (but bears no relation to the bride). “And the palace is all over it.”
The modern monarchy has a history of using the latest communication technologies to further its public relations aims. In 1953, the Queen wanted her coronation widely televised, marking the first time in British history that a major royal event—from the swelling crowds that lined the procession route to the solemn ceremony inside the abbey—was viewed live by tens of millions of people in Britain and parts of Europe (part of King George VI’s was also broadcast in 1937, but it only reached about 10,000 people). North American audiences only had to wait a few more hours until RAF Canberra jet bombers sped high over the Atlantic, delivering kinescope recordings of the day’s pomp and circumstance to local networks. In the end, more than 200 million people watched the historic proceedings, helping to boost the image of the monarchy even as its actual importance continued to wane.
Now, as then, the royal family often behaves exactly like a corporation with a product to sell. How else to explain William and Kate’s recent pre-wedding tour—those in the corporate world might refer to it as a marketing “road show”—of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where they participated in a series of speaking engagements and other public events before giddy crowds?
It’s also telling that the royal family turns to some of the same places as companies do when looking for public relations help. For example, a British consulting firm called Bang Communications Ltd., which specializes in “public sector branding, corporate and digital communications,” was brought in to work on the relaunch of the monarchy’s official website in 2009. A Bang representative declined to speak with Maclean’s about the firm’s special client, but the unveiling of the new royal site was a suitably splashy PR affair. The Queen herself flipped the “on” switch, and Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist who is considered the inventor of the World Wide Web, was on hand to talk to journalists even though he didn’t appear to have any actual involvement with the project. As for the site itself, which receives roughly 250,000 visitors a month, it has a surprisingly clean, modern look despite the stuffy subject matter, ranging from official residences to royal pets.
These days, though, there’s more to being a techno-savvy monarch than just staking out a spot on the Internet for you and your corgis. Just as corporations ranging from General Mills to General Motors have incorporated social media tools into their marketing strategies, the royal family has also ventured into the Web 2.0 world, albeit somewhat cautiously. The royal household worked with Google to launch a Royal Channel on YouTube in 2007, recording 10.6 million video views over the last four years. In 2009, a Twitter account was added, followed by Facebook and Flickr accounts in 2010.
Of course, it’s not like the royals are uploading videos to YouTube and banging out tweets on their mobile devices (although there are persistent rumours the Queen owns a BlackBerry). “On a daily basis, it’s very much run by staff,” says a spokesperson for the official royal Web team, which consists of one part-time and two full-time employees at Buckingham Palace, another two at Clarence House (the official residence of the Prince of Wales, his wife Camilla, duchess of Cornwall, Prince William and Prince Harry), and one more employee who works with the Royal Collection, the art collection of the British royal family. “But the Queen is obviously consulted before any big initiative is launched.”
In anticipation of intense public interest surrounding the upcoming royal wedding, the royal household approached Google and consulting firm Accenture to help create a dedicated website for the event. It has so far been crammed with details about William and Kate’s pre-wedding tour, information on how to make a charitable donation as gift to the bride and groom, and the status of the flower beds near Buckingham Palace. It’s also expected that the site, powered by Google’s App Engine, will live stream the wedding to a large global audience. “It’s a great way to run apps quickly, more securely, and at a scale which makes it ideal for such an important international occasion,” says Wendy Rozeluk, a spokesperson for the search giant. “The site will be regularly updated by St. James’s Palace in the run-up to the wedding day.” A spokesperson for Accenture did not return a call seeking comment.
All of these tools give the royal family more ways to reach the public directly, ostensibly giving them more control over their message. They also promise to help neuter the paparazzi by satiating the public appetite for candid photographs with approved Flickr photos and YouTube videos of royal family members, including William and Kate. “What we learned with the previous generation, with Charles and Diana, is that the media exposure went overboard,” says Estelle Bouthillier, a royal expert and information and documentation analyst in Concordia University’s office of the president. “I’m sure that Prince William will not want his wife to face all of the same problems.”
Yet there are limits to what the royal family can achieve, from a social media marketing standpoint, by attempting to wrest complete control of the message. Contrary to what most social marketers preach, the royal family’s tendency has been to restrict two-way communication with the public on sites like YouTube videos and Flickr, where comments have been disabled. Middleton, the marketing professor, cited business case studies which show that corporations that embrace social media’s unique capacity for public engagement typically generate far more Web traffic—and therefore public interest—than those that maintain a top-down approach, although they do risk exposing their carefully protected brands to some negative publicity in the process. “You’ve got to be prepared to let go,” he says.
This is particularly true in the case of Facebook, which is all about community. That may be why the royal family was convinced to allow comments on its official page, a decision that helped to boost traffic (the page boasts some 26 million “interactions,” which refers to users who click “like” or post comments), but, predictably, also created a minor controversy after some posters used the forum to criticize the monarchy or argue for its abolishment. The site’s moderators stepped in and took down some of the more abusive posts, although they argued that they didn’t single out republicans. “We’re aware that when we launch these channels, it’s riskier than it is for a lot of other organizations,” a spokesperson for the Web team says.
It may be uncharted territory for the monarchy, but it’s not entirely unfamiliar. The Queen’s insistence that television cameras be allowed to record her coronation was met with stiff protest from conservatives and traditionalists, including prime minister Sir Winston Churchill. There was a fear that broadcasting such an important regal ceremony would somehow cheapen it. “People were saying no, it wouldn’t be proper to have television cameras in the abbey because people might be drinking beer while they are watching at home,” says Bouthillier. “Her grandmother, Queen Mary, was really against it.” One can only imagine how Mary, a stickler for royal formality and propriety, would have reacted to the possibility of a royal wedding YouTube mash-up.
By Rosalind Miles - Wednesday, April 27, 2011 at 9:40 AM - 3 Comments
Courtesy of queen-to-be Catherine, ‘Diana’s frail spirit at last may cross the Styx.’
The wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton is warmly welcomed in Britain and elsewhere. A young couple deeply in love, a much-needed fillip for the royal family, a handsome prince, a stylish young bride and, in time, the patter of tiny feet—what’s not to like? In corporate terms, the Windsors are refreshing the brand. And everybody wants in.
Gossip columnists from Lake Louise to Louisiana are buzzing about who’s been invited to the wedding, and who’s not. Leaks have revealed old lovers of both groom and bride, new staff discreetly supporting both, and various chums of various older royals, present for various reasons, don’t ask why. One name did not appear on any list, or any roll call of the living for the last 14 years. But she’ll be there, invited or not. Who’d be more welcome than a mother at the marriage of her elder son? Hence the need of the young couple to call up Diana’s shade, and honour her plangent absence at the feast.
And hence the brilliant and simple idea to bring her back into the fold—by recycling the ring. Someone in royal circles foresaw this as a major part of the story—even in the “informal” Mario Testino snaps, the ring takes centre stage, almost eclipsing the two lovers. Formerly one of the most famous sapphire rings in the world, it had lain unseen and forgotten for a decade and a half. Bringing it to light was a startling and unexpected PR coup, which officially launched a new season of Diana marriage coverage. It gave the media royal permission to revisit every detail of her wedding preparations from the gown to the honeymoon, thereby recalling and enshrining Diana, princess of Wales at the highest point of her value to the monarchy, when she’d attracted huge affection as Charles’s bride, and before she undermined it by upstaging him.
By Patricia Treble - Wednesday, April 27, 2011 at 9:30 AM - 2 Comments
The tight-knit Middletons have thrived through hard work and strong family values. The Queen approves.
At the marriage of the century, two families will be seated at the front of the ancient sanctuary of Westminster Abbey. On the left will be Kate Middleton’s family; the royal relatives of Prince William will be on the right.
But make no mistake: this isn’t a typical marital merger. It’s a takeover. When commoner Kate Middleton enters the house of Windsor, the rest of her family will stay on the periphery, associated with the royal family yet never part of it. All the milestones of her life from April 29 onward will be celebrated from within the gilded conﬁnes of her husband’s world. There will be no sharing of big family get-togethers like Christmas Day—one year with her family, the next with his. She will spend her holidays with her husband’s family on their estates. Forever.
Yet Kate and her family have a huge ace in the hole in this particular corporate takeover—call it the middle-class advantage. For all their ambitions, the Middletons are staunchly middle class, and so are their values. And those values are shared by the most important Windsor: Queen Elizabeth II.
By Katie Engelhart and Julia Belluz - Tuesday, April 26, 2011 at 1:00 PM - 0 Comments
The April 29 ‘overlap’ couples are making an important decision: stop whining and join the fun
Jane Barber of York, England, heard the announcement at work, listening to the 1 p.m. news on the radio. She cursed out loud at her desk. “I thought, ‘Noooo!’ ” the 35-year-old blond told Maclean’s. “They’re stealing my thunder!” Minutes later, her phone was going non-stop. “Everyone was ringing me up saying, ‘Do you realize what day you’ve chosen?’ ”
It was the end of November, and Prince William had just appeared before the press to announce that he and his fiancée, Catherine Middleton, had set a date for their wedding: Friday, April 29, 2011—the same day that, months earlier, Barber had carefully selected for her own nuptials. The realization that her walk down the aisle would be shared with one of the world’s most prominent couples was not a happy one.
For dozens of other couples, the news hit even harder. The country’s broadsheets were thick with tales of British brides turned bitter. “Brides-to-be are filled with dread that their day in the spotlight could be overshadowed,” the Telegraph reported. “Watch out, Kate. Britain’s bridezillas are out to get you,” said the Guardian. In London, couples rushed to the registry office to switch their wedding date. Within days, North Americans were doing the same. MSNBC extended sympathy to brides and grooms who’d been “royally hosed”; Time magazine called it their “royal pain.”
By Cathy Gulli - Tuesday, April 26, 2011 at 12:50 PM - 5 Comments
No expenses have been spared for this shindig
For rich and royal individuals like William and Kate, the idea of setting a wedding budget seems contrived. But the couple say they want to balance the extravagance expected of them with a sensitivity to the troubled economy affecting Brits. It’s a sweet sentiment—and an unlikely reality. Estimates put the cost of the April 29 festivities at between $15 million and $68 million, a far cry from the $20,000 that a typical Canadian wedding costs. Most of Will and Kate’s wedding bill will be covered by the royal family, but the Middletons have insisted on paying for certain items, though nobody is saying what. At minimum, the two clans will pick up the tab for the church service, music, flowers, decor, reception and honeymoon. There is, however, one thing taxpayers will foot the bill for: security and street cleaning. The upshot? The big day should boost the British economy by $1 billion through tourism and merchandise. Now that’s a wedding favour.
By Jessica Allen and Patricia Treble - Tuesday, April 26, 2011 at 9:50 AM - 0 Comments
For the 300 guests invited to Charles’s wedding dinner, picking up the right fork is just the beginning
Those lucky enough to have one of those gilded and burnished invitations dropped into their mailboxes will soon be off to the most exclusive, most talked-about event of the year—and also the most challenging in terms of etiquette. Wondering what to wear, how to act and talk, is surely costing some their sleep, and adding to the pressure is the knowledge that more than a billion people are likely to follow the day’s events. Luckily, invitees have been given instructions for the day, in the spirit of the Middle Ages when special courtesy books were often distributed at formal banquets reminding diners not to scratch flea bites or pick their noses. This time, of course, the rules are more genteel.
It’s worth mentioning the obvious. First, guests must remember to bring the invitation, plus ID. Security will be incredibly tight. And they must get there early. Really early. Only the great and good arrive in the last hour before Kate Middleton and father start their walk down the aisle.
For the male half of the species, clothing advice is on the invite itself. Women get no such help, but precedence dictates a formal dress or suit. Luckily they’re not being asked to wear evening gowns, as guests were to Sophie Rhys-Jones’s daytime wedding to Prince Edward in 1999. Since this is a religious, as well as royal, event inside an ancient, cold abbey, ixnay on anything too short or skimpy. Yes, royals like their hats and this is a chance to sport a spectacular one—but not too grand, or those in the seats behind won’t see a thing. And women shouldn’t panic if they find themselves wearing something similar to one of the regal frocks. After Margaret Thatcher committed that sin at an event in the ’80s, she called the Queen’s household to ask whether the two women should coordinate colours on future joint outings, only to be told not to worry—Elizabeth II never notices what others are wearing.
By Nancy MacDonald, Julia Belluz and staff - Tuesday, April 26, 2011 at 9:10 AM - 0 Comments
Madonna’s newest epiphany, Stephen Harper’s women problem, and signs of sanity from Jan Brewer
Harper: Monarchy is a man’s job
Queen Elizabeth II only came to the throne because she had no brothers, and Prince William and Kate Middleton’s first son will leapfrog any older sisters to become king, thanks to a 300-year-old act. Now Britain’s deputy PM, Nick Clegg, wants to reform the law. The move requires the agreement of Commonwealth countries directly affected. New Zealand’s PM, John Key, supports the change. Not Stephen Harper: “The successor to the throne is a man,” he said this week. “The next successor to the throne is a man. I don’t think Canadians want to open a debate on the monarchy…at this time.” It’s the same unerring instinct that’s characterized the treatment of female Tory cabinet ministers—think Lisa Raitt, Helena Guergis—and which observers say has limited Harper’s appeal among female voters. Good man, Mr. Harper, good man.
A rapidly Freying narrative
Bestselling Three Cups of Tea author Greg Mortenson is facing buckets of bad press following a 60 Minutes report that questioned his work with his charity, the Central Asia Institute (CAI), for schools in remote Pakistan and Afghanistan. It alleged some schools don’t exist, or haven’t received support from CAI, and that Mortenson uses the charity as a “private ATM machine.” Then there are allegations Mortenson was never kidnapped by the Taliban in Waziristan, as he wrote. Mansur Khan Mahsud told The Daily Beast he played host to Mortenson in Waziristan and was shocked to get a call from Into Thin Air author Jon Krakauer (a former Mortenson supporter) telling him the author had described the experience as a kidnapping. Mortenson’s publisher is investigating.
By Leah McLaren - Monday, April 25, 2011 at 10:10 AM - 1 Comment
Why Kate’s middle-class roots matter, how she’s like the Queen Mum, and ranking William
Andrew Roberts is a British historian who has written a dozen books, the most recent of which is The Royal House of Windsor (available exclusively on Amazon Kindle). He is a staunch monarchist and expert in British military history.
Q: In your new book you make an impassioned argument for why royal wedding fever is both culturally important and historically warranted—how so?
A: This wedding isn’t just about a pretty dress. It’s important to keep in mind that Kate Middleton is going to be in her new job for far longer than any democratic leader is going to be in power. The monarchy isn’t just there to attract tourists. It’s also a profoundly important constitutional factor in the way Britain is run. Of course they haven’t brought an act of Parliament since the 18th century, but nonetheless, the monarchy gets to the heart of what the country is all about.
By John Fraser - Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 9:00 AM - 1 Comment
Sarah Ferguson’s cash grab cost her an invite to the wedding. Still, she serves a higher purpose.
She’s not invited to The Wedding. Her daughters are coming, and her ex-husband, of course. But then, he’s the second son of Queen Elizabeth II and uncle of the groom. There’s no justice in this world. If there was, they would make “Fergie” a saint for helping in her own unique way to sustain the monarchy by setting standards its members can never live down to. This is not a joke. Well, not completely and certainly not in the case of the Sarah, the divorced duchess of York.
The lack of an invitation is not just a little bit of extra salt to add to her already festering psychic wounds. Her most recent caper guaranteed the no-show. Filmed in a sting operation set up by the wicked News of the World, she was caught accepting a pile of loot in return for access to Prince Andrew. Seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars to hobnob with the dullest blade in the family should have set off alarm bells, but so desperate for money was the poor woman that not much was penetrating. It may be why we love her, or why we love to hate her. At the level of public ownership for people like pathetic, beleaguered Sarah Ferguson, the two emotions are weirdly similar.
By Anne Kingston - Monday, April 18, 2011 at 2:50 PM - 2 Comments
Canadian milliner David Dunkley explains the allure of those whimsical hats
Kate Middleton may get full props for instigating the mania for fascinators, those fantastical cranial protuberances fashioned from feathers, netting, flowers and/or beaded wires, but one canny observer traces the trend to an even more common source. “I hate to say this, but we have to credit Britney Spears for some of it—she loves her little hats,” says milliner David Dunkley. “She was on it long before Lady Gaga.” So were other style-setters, including Sarah Jessica Parker and Victoria Beckham. But it took the princess-to-be to spark a mass revival in the 18th-century headpiece, not unlike Princess Di bringing back brimmed hats in the 1980s.
Dunkley, proprietor of Toronto’s KC’s Hats, saw it coming: “I predicted we’d be all about fascinators as soon as we heard about the royal wedding, and it’s definitely picking up.” His new 13-piece “Royal Wedding Collection,” a fabulous array of handmade headgear showcased at his downtown storefront-studio space, includes several whimsical examples. “It’s the new plumage,” he says.
The boyish 40-year-old is just back from London, and his most recent stint studying couture millinery with Rose Cory, the former hatmaker to the Queen Mother—a decided U-turn from Dunkley’s former career in health policy administration. He changed gears eight years ago after his partner suggested they take a hat-making course; he went on to more study before setting up a stall at Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market, a time he calls “my master’s in retail.” Dunkley’s real education came from workshops with Cory over the past three years. Last year, she shared with him the name of the royal feather supplier, a haven of exotic plumage, including “level-five” ostrich feathers at $1,000 a pop. “I didn’t know feather levels existed,” he says.
By Patricia Treble - Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 12:15 PM - 0 Comments
The fun of this project is in the details—even the medals were vetted for accuracy
The most delightful commemorative item of the upcoming wedding is also the most bizarre: a how-to book titled Knit Your Own Royal Wedding. Follow its detailed instructions and on April 29 you can have your own balcony scene, complete with a 20-cm-high Prince William kissing his new bride, Kate Middleton, while the royal family wave in front of a stiff backdrop of Buckingham Palace. Other figures in the book include the archbishop of Canterbury, palace footmen and even a troop of ubiquitous royal corgis.
Author Fiona Goble, a knitting, sewing and crafting expert based just outside London, is astounded by the book’s runaway success. The 64-page paperback sold an astounding 25,000 copies in Britain during its first month. Now publisher Ivy Press is finalizing a third printing of its fastest-selling title.
This isn’t Goble’s first hit. Last fall, Knitivity: Create Your Own Christmas Scene was snapped up by enthusiasts fascinated by the fuzzy holy scene showcasing Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes in his manger, surrounded by his parents, three wise men, shepherds, an angel and a plethora of animals including an ass, ox and sheep. Even with Knitivity‘s success, Goble was still apprehensive about tackling living subjects: “It’s one thing knitting something that doesn’t have to look particularly like someone, but it’s a bit hard to knit something that looks like someone.”