Thursday, May 19, 2011


Day three of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth's visit to Ireland began with, I am sure, a highly anticipated visit to the National Stud at Kildare followed by a private visit to Coolmore - the world-renowned international thoroughbred racehorse stud in Tipperary.
Unflinching: While others instinctively took a step back from the horse as it reared up on its hind legs, the Queen was unfazed - most likely due to her familiarity with the animals
The Daily Mail has excellent coverage of the visit and I especially noticed one section in particular: 
The monarch's familiarity with horses was revealed at one point when a nervous thoroughbred reared up on its hind legs when paraded in front of its stables. Some of the entourage standing near her instinctively moved back but she did not flinch and the stallion was soon brought under control.

Oh no, she does not flinch, our beloved Monarch and I believe it is due to more than a knowledge of horses. At age 85, HM continues to demonstrate the exceptional poise and resolve that have, in part, defined her life and reign. She is one of the most remarkable people that has ever been and I am thrilled the State Visit to Ireland is going well both for her and for the Irish people. I hope and pray all continues as smoothly.

Meeting royalty: Emma Osbourne presents Queen Elizabeth II with a bouquet of flowers

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Favorite Royal Tiara

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II very appropriately wore the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara at the State Dinner in in Ireland this evening.

The tiara, also referred to as “Granny’s Tiara”, is one of Queen Elizabeth’s favourite pieces of jewelery. It was a wedding gift to Elizabeth by her devoted grandmother Queen Mary in 1947 along with a number of other pieces. However the tiara had originally been given to Princess Mary of Teck (later Queen Mary) as a wedding present in 1893 by a committee started by Lady Eve Greville. The committee was established to raise money to purchase a wedding gift from the ‘Girls of Great Britain and Ireland’. They collected over £5,000 and bought the diamond tiara from Garrard.
In the original form (1893) the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara was in a diamond festoon and scroll design with nine large upright pearls on diamond spikes. This was set on a diamond lozenge patterned bandeau base and in this configuration the tiara could also be worn as a necklace.
The tiara was altered in 1914 when Queen Mary choose to remove the upright pearls and replaced them with large diamonds. At this stage the bandeau base was also removed thus allowing her to use this as a headband following the styles of the 1920s. 
In 1947, Queen Mary gifted Princess Elizabeth the tiara in 2 separate pieces as a wedding present. (The tiara and bandeau displayed separately in 1947 at St James’s Palace). There are no reports or photographs of the Queen ever wearing the bandeau separately as a headband.
In 1969, the Queen decided to have the bandeau reattached to the tiara and this is how it remains today. Known to be incredibly light it has become the tiara most associated with the Queen. In the summer of 2007, Buckingham Palace put on a display of a selection of presents given to the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1947 to mark their diamond wedding anniversary. The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara was one of the highlights of the display. 

The Queen's Speech

The Queen gave a moving and very sensitive speech at a State Dinner in Dublin Castle, on day two of her historic and unprecedented visit to Ireland

Reconciliation: The Queen received a round of applause as she opened her speech by addressing her host, President Mary McAleese, and the other guests in Irish
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (wearing The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara) and Irish President, Mary McAleese 

A Uachtaráin agus a chairde (President and friends).
Prince Philip and I are delighted to be here, and to experience at first hand Ireland’s world-famous hospitality.
Together we have much to celebrate: the ties between our people, the shared values, and the economic, business and cultural links that make us so much more than just neighbours, that make us firm friends and equal partners.
Madam President, speaking here in Dublin Castle it is impossible to ignore the weight of history, as it was yesterday when you and I laid wreaths at the Garden of Remembrance.

For the large majority of Irish people the sight of the British sovereign laying a wreath was a profound and welcome shift in the bilateral narrative

Indeed, so much of this visit reminds us of the complexity of our history, its many layers and traditions, but also the importance of forbearance and conciliation. Of being able to bow to the past, but not be bound by it.
Of course, the relationship has not always been straightforward; nor has the record over the centuries been entirely benign. It is a sad and regrettable reality that through history our islands have experienced more than their fair share of heartache, turbulence and loss.

The bodies of nine British officers killed in Dublin five days earlier are taken back to England for burial on the destroyer 'HMS Seawolf'

These events have touched us all, many of us personally, and are a painful legacy. We can never forget those who have died or been injured, and their families.

To all those who have suffered as a consequence of our troubled past I extend my sincere thoughts and deep sympathy. With the benefit of historical hindsight we can all see things which we would wish had been done differently or not at all. 

The Queen and Irish president Mary McAleese emerge from the tunnel with Gaelic Athletic Association president Christy Cooney

But it is also true that no-one who looked to the future over the past centuries could have imagined the strength of the bonds that are now in place between the governments and the people of our two nations, the spirit of partnership that we now enjoy, and the lasting rapport between us. No-one here this evening could doubt that heartfelt desire of our two nations.

Madam President, you have done a great deal to promote this understanding and reconciliation. You set out to build bridges. And I have seen at first hand your success in bringing together different communities and traditions on this island. You have also shed new light on the sacrifice of those who served in the First World War. Even as we jointly opened the Messines Peace Park in 1998, it was difficult to look ahead to the time when you and I would be standing together at Islandbridge as we were today.

That transformation is also evident in the establishment of a successful power-sharing Executive in Northern Ireland. A knot of history that was painstakingly loosened by the British and Irish Governments together with the strength, vision and determination of the political parties in Northern Ireland.

What were once only hopes for the future have now come to pass; it is almost exactly 13 years since the overwhelming majority of people in Ireland and Northern Ireland voted in favour of the agreement signed on Good Friday 1998, paving the way for Northern Ireland to become the exciting and inspirational place that it is today. I applaud the work of all those involved in the peace process, and of all those who support and nurture peace, including members of the police, the Gardaí, and the other emergency services, and those who work in the communities, the churches and charitable bodies like Co-operation Ireland

Taken together, their work not only serves as a basis for reconciliation between our people and communities, but it gives hope to other peacemakers across the world that through sustained effort, peace can and will prevail.

For the world moves on quickly. The challenges of the past have been replaced by new economic challenges which will demand the same imagination and courage. The lessons from the peace process are clear; whatever life throws at us, our individual responses will be all the stronger for working together and sharing the load.
There are other stories written daily across these islands which do not find their voice in solemn pages of history books, or newspaper headlines, but which are at the heart of our shared narrative. Many British families have members who live in this country, as many Irish families have close relatives in the United Kingdom.
With the Irish tricolor at half mast and the wreaths laid, the Queen, Duke and Irish President pay their respects

These families share the two islands; they have visited each other and have come home to each other over the years. They are the ordinary people who yearned for the peace and understanding we now have between our two nations and between the communities within those two nations; a living testament to how much in common we have.

These ties of family, friendship and affection are our most precious resource. They are the lifeblood of the partnership across these islands, a golden thread that runs through all our joint successes so far, and all we will go on to achieve. They are a reminder that we have much to do together to build a future for all our grandchildren: the kind of future our grandparents could only dream of.

King George V with Queen Mary in Dublin

So we celebrate together the widespread spirit of goodwill and deep mutual understanding that has served to make the relationship more harmonious, close as good neighbours should always be.

For her part, addressing the Queen and other guests, President Mary McAleese said the visit was a culmination of the success of the peace process:

It is an acknowledgment that while we cannot change the past, we have chosen to change the future. The relationship between our two neighbouring nations is long, complex and has often been turbulent. Like the tides that surround each of us, we have shaped and altered each other. This evening we celebrate a new chapter in our relationship that may still be a work in progress, but happily, has also become a work of progress, of partnership and friendship.

Éirinn go Brách with a Perfect Pour

Day two of Her Majesty's historical trip to Ireland begins with a trip to the Guinness Storehouse, billed as Ireland's number one visitor attraction.

Looks tempting: Prince Philip eyes a pint of Guinness as he and the Queen tour the storehouse in Dublin

One of the highlights of the visit is a "windows tour" of Dublin from the Gravity Bar at the top of the Storehouse. I found video of what this view might be like for the Royal Visitors - no wonder the Storehouse is such a popular destination.

There's more about the Queen's visit to the Guinness Storehouse in the press release here.
Today, HM Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by HRH, The Duke of Edinburgh, visited the Guinness Store

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Steadfast Consort

My friend Thomas Moore Sr., also known as The Anglophile, has the full text of a good piece from the Daily Mail about Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and the Queen's husband of 63 years. The article precedes the broadcast of an interview, Prince Philip at 90 (which will be shown on ITV1 at 8pm on Tuesday, May 24). Interviewer Alan Titchmarsh, spoke with the Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor Castle last week in anticipation of his birthday, June 10.

Reported highlights from the interview include the Duke's admission that it was difficult to leave behind naval career when his wife became Queen but he was determined to be dutiful if his role as consort. It cannot have been easy. 

"Well, I mean, how long is a piece of string? I don’t know how difficult it was, it was naturally disappointing. I had just been promoted to commander and the fact was that the most interesting part of my naval career was just starting. But then equally, if I stopped and thought about it, being married to the Queen, it seemed to me my first duty was to serve her in the best way I could."

And serve Queen and Country he has, despite the ups and downs faced in any life, even the most privileged. The Duke has been criticized extensively in his life and perhaps not all unfairly. During the interview, Alan Titchmarsh asks the Duke whether there is anything in his life that he would have done differently,

"Well yes, I would rather have not made the mistakes I did make, but I'm not telling you what they were."
Instead we will consider the Duke of Edinburgh as we should all like to be considered, for the best of his deeds.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Still the Biggest Star

While P-Middy may be the girl of the moment, fashionista Hilary Alexander reminds us that Her Majesty Elizabeth II is more than simply Queen of the Realm. She is, at age 85, still setting fashion trends.

"Launer London has seen a 60 per cent increase in sales of more traditional styles since The Queen arrived at Westminster Abbey carrying a cream leather handbag hand-made by the luxury heritage brand and royal warrant holder... The Royal Wedding, the handbag's first public appearance, has generated a wave of must-have envy amongst younger customers. In sharp contrast to Launer's appeal amongst the 50-plus establishment; 20 per cent of the sales increase has been caused by stylish women in the 35-50 age bracket."

We hope Pippa's increased celebrity doesn't turn her pretty head and offer this gentle reminder, the brightest and longest-burning stars shine from within. 

Diana's Real Legacy

Writer A.N. Wilson takes apart the new "documentary" film, Unlawful Killing. Here are some highlights:

"Of course, a documentary film that said Princess Diana died as a result of a tragic accident is not going to be as exciting as one that repeats the old conspiracy theory that she was murdered as a cover-up by the so-called Establishment.  The film overlooks the fact that British taxpayers spent £12 million in 2008 because Dodi’s father Mohamed Fayed refused to accept the verdict of two inquests. After 250 witnesses had been called, not a shred of evidence was presented that made anyone believe the deaths were anything other than an accident."


"In the film, Haseler makes the ridiculous claim that no judge would tell the truth about the death of Diana because judges have all sworn oaths of loyalty to the Queen. Let me repeat: the French police and a French coroner — who had not sworn oaths of loyalty to the Queen — concluded that the reason for Diana and Dodi Fayed’s deaths was simple: Henri Paul, their chauffeur, was blind drunk. This verdict was repeated by two British inquests. The cases were heard by coroners and not by judges who had somehow sworn to a royal cover-up."

"The true legacy of Diana is not to be found in comments she made when she was in the desperate state of misery that marital collapse brings to any of us who have undergone it. No, her real legacy, as she would have always been the first to say, is ‘her boys’, two delightful young men whom the British public have taken to their heart."

Go here for the full article.

Country Living

Horses are wonderful animals. I love them and I love to ride. There's a particular feeling one can only have on a horse and it is a supremely good thing. This photograph of the Queen with her grandchildren, shows that good feeling very well. Don't they look happy? So sweet.

Touching moment: The Queen looks every inch the proud grandmother alongside Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn, during a ride in Windsor Great Park over Easter
James, Viscount Severn, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, Lady Louise Windsor 

Speaking of  favorite royals - Zara Phillips is currently featured on the "girls in pearls" page of Country Life. 

Outdoor girl: Zara poses with her labrador, Storm, for the magazine

Wonderfully  accomplished and independent, Zara has eschewed pearls for a fleece jacket from her ZP176 line of Musto clothing. The handsome fellow next to the bride-to-be is her dog, Storm. He looks very noble, doesn't he?

You can read more here and here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Off and Away

According to the Daily Mail, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have left for their honeymoon (maybe) on a remote island in the Seychelles (perhaps).

They report the prince leaving Anglesey in Wales followed by a police car piled with luggage and that he has taken two weeks leave from his job as a search and rescue pilot.  "We are not confirming and we are not commenting on speculation on where they may be going on their private honeymoon, we are just confirming that they have gone," said a spokesman from St. James Palace.

When they return the prince will be going to the Falkland Islands for ten weeks of additional flight training without his new wife, "Partners are banned from joining those serving in the South Atlantic, so Kate is unable to travel with William to the remote post." 

I hope they have the private honeymoon they are hoping for - bon voyage, be safe.

Monday, May 9, 2011

New Film, Old Story - Update

The Daily Mail has published an article with more information about the film, Unlawful Killing. The film is set to screen this Friday, May 13, in Cannes.

This whole thing is dreadfully misguided.  

Similar But Not the Same

While we're on the subject of coincidence (please see the previous post) - there's this poor lass, Clare Cushman. Clare is up in arms because "Waity Katie stole [her] dress!". Really? Really.

At least this explains how of the Duchess of Cambridge kept the highly prized details of her wedding gown top secret: she cleverly sought out and copied an off-the-rack dress from Kleinfeld's Bridal shop in Brooklyn, NY, bought in 1991, on sale. Yes, that sounds highly likely, doesn't it? 

As I mentioned to Mr. Fizz when he sent me this item, both women also have brown hair. And Clare's husband and Prince William are both men... Perhaps we've found the topic for Keith Allen's next film- Unlawful Copy.

New Film, Old Story

Poor Mr. Al Fayed.

Keith Allen's new film, Unlawful Death is set to premiere in Cannes this week. The film attempts to expose a conspiracy surrounding the inquest of Diana, Princess of Wales and is funded, in part, by Mohammed Al Fayed. 

Oh dear. 

The inquest, which ended in 2008, concluded that: "Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed were unlawfully killed due to the "gross negligence" of driver Henri Paul and the paparazzi, an inquest has found. The inquest jury also specified that Mr Paul's drink-driving and a lack of seat belts contributed to their deaths"
Read more here.

Apparently, Mr. Allen and Mr. Al Fayed don't agree with the findings - to say the least.
I feel dreadfully sorry for Mr. Al Fayed, who lost his son Dodi in the accident, but I do wish he'd please, please, PLEASE let it go. I can't imagine how painful it is for Diana's boys, the rest of her family, and her friends to have anything related to this tragic accident dragged before the public once again.
Mr. Allen claims the film will not be shown in the UK which is, among other things, a great promotional tool. I can find no other reference to the film being banned anywhere. I include a clip below for the sake of interest, not because I support any part of the argument.  
A scene from the Unlawful Killing documentary, left, and, right, Mohammed Al Fayed with Princess Diana in 1996

Trailer for Unlawful Death, 2011

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tough Love

There's an article in the Daily Mail about how Prince Andrew's daughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie have been stripped of their round-the-clock protection detail. Following so soon after their appearance at their cousin's wedding, one is tempted to think this move might have something to do with their, how shall I put it, fashion faux pas. After all, Her Majesty has also made it clear the girls will not be joining their father on the Civil List and will have to pursue their own careers. Is concern for the maturity and quality of their judgement at the root of the the Queen's decision?

Whether HM has made her decision based on the girls' and/or their parents' sometimes questionable choices, it is my hope that they will grow into women that realize that their grandmother did them the greatest of favours. If they're not sure, they can look to their cousin Zara, a successful, high profile member of the equestrian sports world and, despite her lineage, neither HRH nor Princess. While they're at it, they might also look to her for a little fashion advice before the next big family wedding, this July.

Furious: Prince Andrew is said to have fought to keep the protection officers as he feels they are different to other minor Royals because of their HRH status

Horror: Zara Phillips's horse begins to fall after jumping the fence
The crowd gasp in horror as Miss Phillips is flung into the air from her falling horse

Friday, May 6, 2011

What About the Groom?

When it comes to the Royal Wedding (it now seems weeks ago) we've all had a lovely time discussing the ladies: The Dress; how graceful and beautiful Catherine was on her wedding day; the unexpected elegance of Pippa Middleton; and how wonderful and happy Her Majesty looked in yellow. (And I had been betting on blue...)

Queen Elizabeth II The royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton held at Westminster Abbey.

Her Majesty The Queen is wearing an Angela Kelly designed single crepe wool primrose dress with hand sown beading at the neck in the shape of sunrays. Matching double crepe wool tailored primrose coat.
An Angela Kelly designed matching crepe hat with hand made silk roses and matching apricot coloured leaves.
Jewellery:  Queen Mary’s True Lovers Knot broach

Although there were other royal guests that chose poorly (perhaps there are no mirrors in the Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park?) there are several that also deserve mention, namely, The Duchess of Cornwall who always looks very stately (in a good way) but at the wedding wore sumptuous and beautifully cut embroidered silk:
Royal Wedding Arrivals

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall is wearing an outfit designed by Anna Valentine to the wedding of Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton.
The outfit consists of a champagne silk dress and a duck egg blue and champagne coat, which is hand-embroidered. The dress and coat are both designed by Anna Valentine.
The Duchess of Cornwall is wearing a Philip Treacy hat and shoes made by Jimmy Choo. The clutch bag is by Anna Valentine
Zara Philips chose a wonderful grey-blue that fitted perfectly and she is a model of how to really wear a dramatic hat.
Zara Phillips
Sophie, Countess of Wessex also made an excellent choice in hats - elegant, subdued, but still very striking.
Princess Letizia The royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton held at Westminster Abbey.
And Letizia, Princess of Asturias, stunning as always.
But it is time to pay tribute to the men, in particular His Royal Highness Prince William. The Daily Mail has an interesting piece about the gorgeous Irish Guards uniform Prince William wore on his wedding day, technical information about the material, well as the charming detail of the special pocket sewn into the cuff or Prince Henry's uniform to hold the ring he was apparently nervous of misplacing. Worth reading but it doesn't capture how handsome and regal the prince (and his brother) looked. Imagine what it was like for both members of this darling young couple to behold each other at the altar. I'm just a terrible romantic with a mile-wide soft spot for a military uniform - especially worn by a handsome prince on his wedding day.
Hands-on approach: The Prince worked closely with the tailors to get the look he wanted for the wedding
Specially made: Prince William's wedding outfit was customised from a heat-absorbent material to prevent him passing out in the Abbey
The Royal Wedding Prince William and Catherine Middleton