Friday, February 25, 2011

Bombshell Study

Tea makes you feel better and is good for you. Gosh, if only it tasted nice and was also refreshing, tea would be the perfect drink.

Five O'Clock Tea by Mary Cassatt, 1880

A Visit to St. Andrews

Prince William and Kate Middleton returned to their alma mater earlier today, launching the University of St Andrews 600th anniversary celebrations.The university announced they are creating a scholarship in their honour as a wedding gift for the couple who have requested charitable donations in lieu.

Radiant: Kate was wearing a dazzling red outfit while William was in a blue suit as they were led round the university by Sir Menzies Campbell
Prince William, Kate Middleton, and Sir Menzies Campbell, Chancellor of St. Andrews 

The £70,000 scholarship will cover the costs of tuition, if payable, accommodation and living expenses for a four-year undergraduate degree in science, arts, medicine or divinity. Applicants of all nationalities will be able to apply for the award which will be given annually to a student who would otherwise have been unable to attend St Andrews.

Professor Louise Richardson, the university's principal and vice-chancellor, said: 'This will be the first scholarship of its kind at St Andrews and a reflection of this university's commitment to ensure that we find, attract and support the most gifted students from anywhere... It will guarantee that a high quality Scottish higher education can be available to any citizen of the world, that a lack of means need not be a barrier to study, and that bright students who might otherwise have been unable to go to university can fulfill their potential.’

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Will and Kate in Wales

Prince William and his bride-to-be, Miss Catherine Middleton made their first official appearance as a couple at at Trearddur Bay in Anglesey, Wales near where William works as a RAF search and rescue pilot. They were there to launch the 25ft-long Hereford Endeavour, one of the Royal Navy's most advanced  craft, with "a  tough carbon-fibre hull and capable of 35 knots – 40 mph.Carrying four crew and with room for 20 survivors, it has  special engines that work even after a capsize." Of course, all eyes were on lovely Kate as she navigated her way through her very first royal walkabout.

Prince William applauds as Kate Middleton pours champagne over the new lifeboat. The bottle was not smashed, as is tradition, because the vessel is inflatable

Of course she did brilliantly, even singing the Welsh national anthem perfectly - something that seems to have impressed everyone - along with her ease with the crowd.

A young girl is held back by her mother as Prince William and Kate Middleton greet the crowds

Of course, there are the expected comparisons with Prince William's mother and chit chat about what Kate wore including her fascinator, a fashionable little headpiece, in this case, designed by milliner Vivien Sheriff (and not Philip Treacy as reported by the London Evening Standard):

Appropriately for the Welsh visit, it was decorated with an insignia of the Royal Welch Fusiliers – given to Kate ‘some time ago’, aides said – and two military tunic buttons. It was designed for the 29-year-old by Vivien Sheriff Millinery, a small company based in rural Wiltshire which makes all of its hats by hand.  And the design team was just as delighted to see the piece atop the bride-to-be’s head as anyone. ‘We saw it on the internet and we were extremely happy,’ said Maddie O’Mahony, of the design team. ‘She has quite a few of our pieces and luckily she wore one of ours today.’

Smiling and waving for the crowds, Kate Middleton performed adeptly on her first official appearance

I think the military buttons were an inspired choice. But here's what I think is really impressive - Kate sang  the anthem  in Welsh

Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau
(Pennill Cyntaf - First stanza)
Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi,

Gwlad beirdd a chantorion, enwogion o fri;

Ei gwrol ryfelwyr, gwladgarwyr tra mâd,
Dros ryddid collasant eu gwaed.

(Cytgan - Chorus)
Gwlad, gwlad, pleidiol wyf i'm gwlad.
Tra môr yn fur i'r bur hoff bau,
O bydded i'r hen iaith barhau.
(Ail Bennill - Second stanza)
Hen Gymru fynyddig, paradwys y bardd,

Pob dyffryn, pob clogwyn, i'm golwg sydd hardd;

Trwy deimlad gwladgarol, mor swynol yw si
Ei nentydd, afonydd, i mi.

(Cytgan - Chorus)
(Trydydd Pennill - Third stanza)
Os treisiodd y gelyn fy ngwlad tan ei droed,

Mae hen iaith y Cymry mor fyw ag erioed,

Ni luddiwyd yr awen gan erchyll law brad,
Na thelyn berseiniol fy ngwlad.

(Cytgan - Chorus)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Condolences for New Zealand

A message from The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall to The Prime Minister of New Zealand and The Governor-General of New Zealand

22nd February 2011
My wife and I were horrified when we heard the news early this morning of a second major earthquake to hit an already damaged Christchurch. The scale of the destruction all but defies belief when we can appreciate only too well how difficult it must have been struggling to come to terms with last year’s horror.
At such a terrible time I realize that these words count for very little, but I did so want you to know immediately just how much we feel for all the families and friends of those who have so tragically lost their lives or are still missing. Our deepest sympathy and constant thoughts are with you and all New Zealanders at such an agonizing time for the whole country.

The following message was sent by The Queen to New Zealand Prime Minister John Key:

I have been utterly shocked by the news of another earthquake in
Christchurch. Please convey my deep sympathy to the families and
friends of those who have been killed; my thoughts are with all those who
have been affected by this dreadful event. My thoughts are also with the
emergency services and everyone who is assisting in the rescue efforts.


Hope and Heartache

A message from Prince William to The Prime Minister of New Zealand

22nd February 2011
I was truly saddened to learn of the horrendous loss of life and damage that another earthquake has brought to the people of Christchurch. I join The Queen and The Prince of Wales in sending my deepest condolences and sympathy to those affected by this tragedy. I do so admire the bravery and commitment of all Cantabrians, particularly all those who, at this time, are working so hard to save the lives of others. It is particularly cruel that your famed resolve and strength are being tested yet again.

Let us all  pray that the 300 currently missing are found alive and well.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Not Invited? Not Surprising

It seems there is a certain amount of controversy - read, fodder for column inches - in regard to Sarah, Duchess or York not being invited to the April wedding of Prince William and lovely Kate Middleton.

Sarah, Duchess of York

Poor Sarah, she has not been invited to The Wedding.  Some write, that she is being treated like a leper(!) while Carole Middleton's younger brother, Gary Goldsmith, the proverbial black sheep with a highly dubious perhaps, even criminal, past has been invited. What? Mon Dieu! But why?

Gary Goldsmith

According to Sarah, we are not to be bothered, since she wouldn't have been able to make it anyway... plans... private plans... overseas... As if she wouldn't have tripped over herself a hundred times to be there next to her beloved girls, the most remarkably tolerant ex-husband in the history of marriage, and the rest of the royal family for the greatest photo opp of the 21st Century. If Sarah is not part of the thrill and the glamour, not part of the family she has only herself to blame. After all, she came, she saw, she had it all.

Royal Wedding, 1986

And then she lost it all... in blazing colour... more than once...

There's no need to go into detail - Sarah has done that more than enough herself which is, indeed, part of the problem. She lacks judgment and has demonstrated over and over that she has neither discretion nor discipline. She has embarrassed herself almost as much as she embarrassed the Royal Family. The time for second and third and fourth chances is long over. Her daughters seem to have a close relationship with their mother, as they should.

Princess Beatrice, Sarah, Duchess of York, Princess Eugenie

Sarah is fortunate to have whatever position she has; whatever opportunities* she has; whatever support she has from Prince Andrew

Sarah Ferguson was caught on tape trying to sell acess to her ex-husband, Prince Andrew, for approximately $700,000. WATCH VIDEO below.

As for the errant Uncle Gary? Who knows? He may fade quietly into the background; he may be the source of obnoxious, highly profitable news items for years to come. The Middletons, as a family, have shown good sense and discretion and have generally behaved very well - perhaps Uncle Gary can, and will, be managed. Perhaps not. For now, he's on the list of invitees and will be there in April, an unknown if dubious character, while Sarah, whom we do know, will be... overseas.

*I was very tempted to write "oprahtunities".

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Big Hampton Court Palace Poster Competition

Yes, that's right, it's 

The BIG Hampton Court Palace poster competition

If you are under age 16 you too may enter the BIG Hampton Court Palace Poster Competition! Prizes include a party at the palace AND a starring role for the winning poster in the next Hampton Court Palace advertising campaign. So get your creative hats on and get drawing! 

Enter Now!

More Diamond Jubilee Excitement

Buckingham Palace and the BBC’s Blue Peter programme has announced details of the official emblem chosen for Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The emblem is the winning design following a national competition for children aged between 6 and 14. The competition received almost 35,000 entries with youngsters competing in three age categories – six to eight-year-olds, nine to 11-year-olds and 12 to 14-year-olds. It was designed by 10-year-old Katherine Dewar, from Chester. Just imagine the pride and excitement young Katherine Dewar and her family and friends must be feeling, “I’m looking forward to seeing people waving flags with my design on to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.” Indeed. Congratulations Katherine, well done!

Katherine Dewar shows off her winning Diamond Jubilee design to Blue Peter presenter Barney Harwood (BBC)

We're All Invited

Even though there may not be a gold embossed invitation in the mail,

Busy lady: A member of the Lord Chamberlain's Office inserts Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding invitations into envelopes at Buckingham Palace

we will all be able to share in the happiness and optimism that a royal wedding inspires. It's a good thing too, since Philip Treacy, hat maker extraordinaire, will be very busy making "headgear" for the wedding party from now until the big day.

"The Royal bride – who is keeping her dress a state secret – is a big fan of Treacy and wore a broad-rimmed hat of his to Prince William’s passing-out parade at Sandhurst in 2006. Kate, 29, recently met Treacy after the Duchess of Cornwall recommended his designs for the senior members of the wedding party, including mother-of-the-bride Carole."

Apparently, Kate wants Treacy to help her look fabulous in the evening on her big day too - this from a young woman who would look spectacular in a flour sack.

On other fronts, Pippa Middleton has been in the news lately, although, thank goodness, she too has enough poise and common sense to behave well and attract column inches simply as part of general interest in the up-coming nuptials.

Sister act: Pippa (right) is thought to be more outgoing than sibling and Kate but, for the moment, is living for her sister

The hard-working Middletons seem to have just the right combination of good genes and good sense. I've commented before that I think Kate seems to have exactly the right sense of decency and appropriateness needed both for success in married life and her new job in The Firm.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Royal Tour

Prince William and Kate Middleton will be going to Canada for their first official visit, June 30 to July 8. Their itinerary will take them from sea to shining sea and to the Northwest Territories. Apparently,  "He [Prince William] was keen to be able to visit Canada for himself as an adult, and to be able to show his wife a country that is close to his family's heart." Brilliant.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Busy Valentine's Monday

First, there's the official release issued by the Prince of Wales' media centre with an update on Maid of Honour, Pippa Middleton, and Bridesmaids, Best Man, Prince Harry, and Page Boys. Well, it's good to have it confirmed but was there ever any doubt that Will and Kate would want anyone else by their sides on their wedding day? Both bride and groom are very close with their younger siblings - a good thing for both.


Then there's an interesting item about the Duchess of Cornwall and whether or not she will or would even want to be Queen when Charles is King. On the heels of two stories involving Camilla last week, one regarding her performance on The Archers and the other about a very public lunch with Kate at Koffman's, this coverage has my former PR lady antennae tingling. 

Of course, it is not unwise nor inappropriate to present the Duchess in a positive light - she has behaved very dutifully since her marriage and, most importantly, her husband seems very happy and contented. If these stories are, as they appear to me to be, trial balloons in the campaign to advance Camilla's progress to the throne - beware. While a royal wedding between two lovely and decent young people may put most royal watchers in good spirits, it will take very careful, very tender stepping not to tread on the memory of the groom's beloved mother. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Keeping it in the Family

Young Lady Louise Windsor, daughter of Prince Edward and Princess Sophie, has been asked by Kate Middleton and her cousin Prince William to accompany Kate down the aisle as  bridesmaid. Apparently the 7 year old is beside herself with excitement - well of course! What little girl wouldn't be thrilled?

Little Louise Alice Mary Elizabeth bears a striking resemblance both to her aunt, the Princess Royal and her grandmother, Queen Elizabeth when they were little girls.

Lady Louise Windsor

Princess Anne

Queen Elizabeth with her mother

Apparently, as Lady Louise suffers from exotropia, a form of strabismus, her parents have been reluctant to allow her to be photographed. One can fully understand their protective instincts but their daughter is an adorable little girl and will be a delight to watch for at the royal wedding.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Oldie of the Year

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, has been named Consort of the Year by The Oldie, a humorous publication that  acts as an "antidote to youth culture". All in good fun, this is part of the build-up to the Duke's 90th birthday, June 10th. Another tribute is an exhibition that includes photographs, some never before released,  on view at Windsor Castle,  February 12 to January 22, 2012.

First steps: The young prince hauls himself up on a stool and gives a cheeky smile for the camera
I especially like this image of the Duke as a toddler - he reminds me of Prince William at the same age.

1933: Smart in his school uniform
He was a handsome boy.

And a dashing young man - worthy of a future Queen.

One of the greatest legacies of the monarchy is their longevity.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A New Colonel for the Irish Guards

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth has given her formal approval to the appointment of Prince William as Colonel of the Irish Guards. He will take over the appointment from Major General Sir Sebastian Roberts, KCVO OBE.This is Prince William’s first honorary appointment in the Army.

HM at the Ceremony of the Queen's and Regimental New Colours at Windsor Castle

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip with the1st Battalion Irish Guards at Windsor Castle

"The current regiment was formed on 1 April 1900 by order of Queen Victoria in response to the many courageous actions performed by Irish regiments in the Second Boer War. The Irish Guards' first honorary Colonel-of-the-Regiment was Field Marshal Lord Roberts, known to many troops as "Bobs". Because of this, the regiment gained the nickname "Bob's Own" but are now known affectionately as "The Micks" (this term is not seen as offensive or derogatory by the regiment.)
The regiment's first Colours were presented by Edward VII in May 1902 at Horse Guards Parade. A few Irish Guardsmen saw action as mounted infantry in the final stages of the Boer War. Otherwise, the Irish Guards were stationed in the United Kingdom for the first fourteen years of its existence, performing ceremonial duties in London during that time until the beginning of World War I.
The Irish Guards played a major part in both World Wars, winning a total of six Victoria Crosses including the last to be presented in the Second World War and have seen armed conflict in many parts of the world since 1945.
In 2000, the 100th year of the creation of the Irish Guards, Liverpool granted them the freedom of the city. The following year the regiment took part in training exercises in Poland, BATUS in Canada and the large exercise in Oman called Saif Sareea II.
At the funeral of the Queen Mother in 2002, the coffin bearer-party was made up of Irish Guardsmen. This was a remarkable honour, given the fact that the late Queen Mother not only was not the regiment's colonel (she was, in fact, colonel-in-chief of the Black Watch), she had no official connection with the regiment at all, in spite of her long identification with it.
In 2003, the regiment deployed to Kuwait during the build-up to the Iraq War. The Irish Guards were part of the 7th Armoured Brigade (successor of the famed 7th Armoured Division, 'The Desert Rats') and began training for the war. The battalion was split up with companies, platoons and sections being attached to various units of the Desert Rats. Upon crossing the Iraq border, the Desert Rats began the journey towards the area around Basra, gradually taking control of much of the area that surrounded Iraq's second largest city.
In 2005, the 1st Battalion, Irish Guards became the first unit to be officially awarded battle honours for service in Iraq - this was to enable these to be displayed on the battalion's new regimental colour during the Sovereign's Birthday Parade."
Based in Victoria Barracks, Windsor, but currently deployed to Afghanistan, the Battalion is made up of five companies and a variety of supporting elements. This is Prince William’s first honorary appointment in the Army, and he will be the Irish Guards’ first Royal Colonel. The Queen is Colonel-in-Chief.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

From Boys to Men

I remember very well the day the Prince and Princess of Wales presented their new baby, William to the world.

He was a darling baby and his handsome parents were clearly, very proud.

Then came baby Harry.

They were a beautiful young family.

I have to say, as much as I loved to see how loving and affectionate Diana was with her boys...

it has also been lovely to see the deep affection between father and sons - especially after their tragic loss.

I've been thinking about pictures of these boys since the recent announcement that a Fergus Greer photograph taken before the 2007 concert commemorating their mother has been accessioned by London's  National Portrait Gallery.

My favorite image of these young men is Nicky Philipps' stunning portrait, set in Clarence House.