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First, please be sure you have read this post: “Princess Margaret’s Trip to America, 1979, Part One

It was August in 1979, a time when almost every Briton took a holiday to some faraway family home or destination. Queen Elizabeth II loved to go to Balmoral Castle in Scotland. This year, as in many years, she was spending the late summer with her sister, Princess Margaret, and some of the children. Princess Margaret had celebrated her 49th birthday at Balmoral on August 21. She was resting up for her October U.S. tour. The Queen Mother stayed nearby at Birkenhall. The Queen’s husband Prince Philip (the Duke of Edinburgh) was in France. Prince Charles (the Prince of Wales) was fishing in Iceland.

Every year Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom spends the summer break at Balmoral Castle, where she is joined by other members of The Royal Family. Queen Victoria bought the Castle in 1852. The original castle was built in the Fifteenth Century.

Aberdeen Press and Journal (Scotland)

Monday, August 27, 1979

Braemer’s Royal guessing game

Although Balmoral [Castle] is the holiday base for the Royal family at this time of year, individual members are constantly coming and going to attend public and private engagements. This always leads to interesting speculation on who will occupy the Royal Pavilion at the Braemar Gathering. On current information, Saturday, September 1 looks like being pretty much a ladies’ day.

At Balmoral at present are the Queen, Princess Margaret, Princess Anne, and Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones. The Queen Mother has been at Castle of Mey….On the male side at Balmoral are Prince Edward, Prince Andrew, and Viscount Linley [David Armstrong-Jones].

Royal visitors are a treasured tradition at the gathering but no one knows who will be present or when. It adds an intriguing touch to an already fascinating day.

“Uncle Dickie,” Prince Philip’s uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten, 79, was at his usual summer haunt, the family’s home in Ireland, Classiebawn Castle.

Louis Mountbatten with his daughter, Lady Patricia Brabourne, and her children, from left, Joanna, Philip, Norton and Amanda, in front of Classiebawn Castle, County Sligo, Ireland. (Getty Images)

 

Lord Louis Mountbatten, white-haired and wearing a black turtleneck, is boating with his family and friends aboard his wooden cabin cruiser, Shadow V, probably in Donegal Bay, Ireland.

Lord Mountbatten was a prominent member of Britain’s Royal Family with an impressive record as a war hero and elder statesman. In 1947, as the last Viceroy of India, he negotiated that country’s independence from the United Kingdom. On September 12, 1945, he received the Japanese surrender in Singapore, signaling the end of World War II. Since the age of 16, he saw active service in the Royal Navy rising to its highest rank—Admiral of the Fleet. He was very popular and gregarious. He is credited with having brought together his nephew Prince Philip with the then-Princess Elizabeth when she was only a teen. Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth were friends of his daughters, Pamela and Patricia.

Princess Elizabeth (Queen Elizabeth II) dances with Lord Louis Mountbatten during a fundraising dinner at the Savoy Hotel in London. July 3, 1951. Photo by Jimmy Sime/Central Press/Getty Images)

 

Charles, Prince of Wales and Lord Louis Mountbatten (Louis, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma)  cutting a ribbon to allow the public to enter Lord Mountbatten’s home, Broadlands in Romsey, Hampshire. May 22, 1979 (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

Prince Charles considered “Uncle Dickie” to be the grandfather he never had. He served as Charles’ mentor. By 1978, Mountbatten had grown concerned with Charles’ playboy behavior. He had hoped that Charles would settle down and marry his granddaughter, Amanda Knatchbull, but she turned down Charles’ proposal. Mountbatten warned Charles that he was “beginning on the downward slope that wrecked your Uncle David’s [Edward VIII, later, Duke of Windsor’s] life and led to his disgraceful abdication and futile life ever after.”

800px-Lord_Mountbatten_Naval_in_colour_Allan_Warren

Lord Louis Mountbatten, Earl Mountbatten of Burma

Aberdeen Press and Journal (Scotland)

Tuesday, August 28, 1979

Anger grows over killing of Lord Louis Mountbatten

Earl Mountbatten of Burma was killed yesterday when a bomb blew apart his boat as it sailed from a quiet harbor in the Irish Republic. A grandson and a teenage boatman died with him as terrorists struck at Mullaghmore, County Sligo.

Lord Mountbatten, 79, a second cousin of the Queen and uncle of the Duke of Edinburgh, was setting off on a holiday trip on his 29 ft. motor vessel Shadow V when the blast occurred.

The former Viceroy of India and wartime leader, known affectionately as “Uncle Dickie” to the Royal Family was already dead when he was brought ashore.

His 14 year-old grandson Nicholas was dead. So was 16 year-old Paul Maxwell, who was with the family as a crew member.

Lord Mountbatten’s daughter, Lady Patricia Brabourne, her husband, Lord Brabourne, and their son, Timothy, Nicholas’ twin—and the Dowager Lady Brabourne—were all badly injured.

After the blast the I.R.A. issued a statement in which they claimed responsibility for “the execution today of Lord Mountbatten.”

As fury over the latest violence mounted, the British Prime Minister [Margaret Thatcher] said, “By their actions today, the terrorists have added yet another infamous page to their catalogue of atrocity and cowardice. 

If reports of their involvement in the death of Lord Mountbatten prove true, they will earn the condemnation and contempt of people of goodwill everywhere.”

Speculation is that Mountbatten was checking the lobster traps on his boat when the fifty-pound bomb was set off by remote control by a terrorist at a distance. He did not die instantly, as was initially reported. His legs were blown off. Locals were carrying him out of the water but he died before reaching shore.

Belfast Telegraph (Northern Ireland)

Tuesday, August 28, 1979

Murder Toll Climbs

The death toll from the bomb explosion which killed Lord Mountbatten rose to four today. The latest victim was the Dowager Lady Brabourne, 82-year-old mother-in-law of Lord Mountbatten’s daughter. It was also learned today that three medical experts from Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital went to Sligo Hospital following a personal request from Buckingham Palace to give advice on the care of the survivors of the explosion.

Flags flew at half-mast throughout India today as a mark of respect for the country’s last Viceroy.

The Royal undertakers J. H Kenyon’s today flew in a chartered plane to prepare for the removal of the bodies of Earl Mountbatten and the Dowager Lady Brabourne.  A police spokesman said: “With the tides the wreckage has been scattered. There’s still quite an amount over Donegal Bay and on the shore. It’s a difficult job.” And it was also learned today that the bomb which destroyed Earl Mountbatten’s boat may have been left on the seabed in a lobster pot he [Mountbatten] checked each day.

There are reports that on Sunday holiday makers saw two skin divers emerge from the water near the line of lobster pots owned by Lord Mountbatten. This has strengthened the police theory that the bomb was in a lobster pot and not attached to the boat.

Viewpoint: Mountbatten: the glory and the grief

The murder of Lord Louis Mountbatten of Burma and the killing of 18 British soldiers by the Provisional IRA in one day marks a watershed. The horror of Irish affairs and the cold ruthlessness of Republican terrorists has been shown to the people of these islands in a starker dimension than at any time during the past ten years….

The gravity of events has been such that, internationally, the busy world has had to stop and stare….The impact in Britain is literally incalculable. Lord Mountbatten was more than a mentor to the Queen and the Royal Family. He was a father figure to the nation and an embodiment of all that was best in the British character….

The British public and the public in Northern Ireland are absolutely clear about the reality of terrorist firepower within the Irish Republic. It is a firepower that must be faced and faced down.

There is no doubt that Mr. Jack Lynch and other political leaders in the Irish Republic are deeply shocked and ashamed that such evil can spring from their midst….[W]ords are not enough, messages of condolence are not enough….Terrorists should no longer be able to hide behind the lack of extradition for so-called political crimes. Extradition must become a reality.

Prince Philip flies home

The Duke of Edinburgh is flying back to Britain tonight, arriving at London’s Heathrow Airport at 8 pm. on board an Andover of the Queen’s Flight….The aircraft will go to Iceland to bring Prince Charles home from a fishing holiday….Arrangements for Lord Mountbatten’s funeral at Westminster Abbey on September 5 are being worked out by Lord Chamberlain’s office…the Queen drove from Balmoral Castle to nearby Birkenhall to tell the Queen Mother personally of the tragedy.

Reading Evening Post (England)

Friday, August 31,1979

Round Up—100 arrests in police purge on the IRA 

POLICE CELLS were bulging today as a massive round-up of IRA sympathizers continued in the Irish Republic in the wake of the “Bloody Monday” killings. More than 100 people with terrorist links have so far been arrested. But although two men have been charged with the Mountbatten murder, another two are still eluding police.

Mourners Expected in their thousands

Earl Mountbatten is home. His body lies in the marbled Sculpture Hall at Broadlands, his estate near Romsey at Hampshire….Prince Philip and Prince Charles stood in silence…as the bodies flown home by the RAF were gently carried to the hearses.

 

The Funeral Of Lord Mountbatten of Burma following his murder by the IRA (L-R), Reverend Edward Carpenter, HM Queen, Prince Philip, the Queen Mother, Prince Andrew Prince Charles, Princess Margaret (at far right, straining to see something), Princess Anne, Captain Mark Phillips, the Dowager Duchess of Gloucester, gathered outside Westminster Abbey, London, September 5, 1979. (Photo by Central Press/Hutton Archive/Getty Images)

Click here to read:  “Princess Margaret’s Trip to America, 1979, Part Three.

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Lady Diana Spencer reads a romance novel by her favourite author, Barbara Cartland. Diana is probably 16. Photo ca. 1977

Lady Diana Spencer reads a romance novel by her favorite author, Barbara Cartland. Diana is probably 16 years old. Photo ca. 1977

Princess Diana (1961-1997) loved to read romantic fiction. She devoured novels by British author Barbara Cartland, of which there was an endless and steady supply. In her lifetime, Cartland (1901-2000) is credited with having written 723 books. In 1983 alone, she wrote 23 of them. She holds The Guinness Book of World Records for writing the most books in a single year.

Reclining on a chaise lounge at her home, Cartland dictated her hundreds of stories to her secretary. They both wore pink. Pink was Cartland’s signature color.

British romance novelist Barbara Cartland dictates stories to her secretary while relaxing with one of her Pekinese pets.

British romance novelist Barbara Cartland dictates stories to her secretary Jean Smith while relaxing at home in Camfield Place in Essendon, U.K.

Cartland, self-styled as the “Queen of Romance,” was a celebrity favorite with journalists as she was always holding forth on topics of the day, and sometimes saying outrageous and unprintable things such as speculating on the private parts of the exiled Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

She was well-known for her flamboyant appearance, resembling a fairy queen with cotton candy hair. Her dresses were ultra-girly, adorned with feathers, frills, flounces, fluff, and froth. She was heavily perfumed and glittered with jewels. Her thick make-up was more suited to the stage, and the end result was often clown-like. To achieve a more youthful look, she pulled back her cheeks with the application of sticking plaster (which, sadly, often showed). Her “forests of false eyelashes” were legendary, jet black, and preposterous. Her secret? In 1959, she wrote to a fan that, instead of mascara:

I use Meltonian black shoe cream for my eyelashes.” (1)

Barbara Cartland up close and personal

Barbara Cartland up close

In her writing as well as her appearance, Cartland was an accomplished illusionist. Her books were fairy tales of the most fantastic nature. In them, the young virgin heroine – usually with an exotic name like Vada, Lalitha, Syringa, Fenella, Kamala, or Anthea – always marries Prince Charming. They live happily ever after. They never quarrel, they don’t have affairs, and they certainly don’t divorce.

More than one of Diana's Spencer's acquaintances remarked on her dreamy nature. Photo ca. 1977

More than one of Diana’s Spencer’s acquaintances remarked on her dreamy nature. Photo ca. 1977

Not so in the Spencer household. From her earliest years, Princess Diana’s parents had had a troubled marriage, and her home was a scene of violent quarrels. Diana’s mother, Frances, felt as if her husband Johnnie Spencer, Viscount Spencer, treated her like a brood mare, sending her to fertility experts to explain why she had given birth to three girls in a row. He wanted a male heir to carry on the royal family line. Diana listened behind the door when her parents had a shouting match and her sister turned up the record player volume.

Frances did give birth to a boy, Charles, but the breach in the marriage had become, by then, an unbridgeable chasm.

When Diana was six, her mother left her four children and husband to pursue an affair in London with Peter Shand Kydd, also married. In 1968, she divorced Diana’s father, Johnnie Spencer, who, surprisingly for the times, was granted custody of the children. It is not surprising once you know that a surprise witness at the divorce hearing provided the damning testimony that decided in his favor. Testifying to Johnnie’s superior parenting skills was Frances’s own mother, Lady Fermoy, testifying against her daughter.

Three months after the divorce, Frances married Kydd and they moved to Scotland. With her two older sisters away at boarding school, only Diana and her younger brother Charles remained behind at Park House on the Queen’s royal Sandringham estate. Her father holed up, silently, in his study, abandoned.

The spirit of gaiety was gone from Park House along with Frances’s furniture.” (2)

A Hazard of Hearts (1948) by Barbara Cartland

A Hazard of Hearts (1948) by Barbara Cartland

Cartland’s novels provided young Diana Spencer with an escape into a fantasy dream world. Diana came to believe in the magical rescue power of princes, waiting for her prince to ride up and take her away to her own happy ending. Her life view was shaped by this unreality and it would pitch her into a cold marriage to a man whose heart already belonged to another.

No fairy tale is complete without a wicked stepmother, and, in July, 1976, Diana got one. Her name was Raine, Countess Dartmouth. By this time, the Spencers had moved into the family’s stately home of Althorp, as Diana’s grandfather had died, passing the earldom on to Johnnie. He became the 8th Earl Spencer and Diana became Lady Diana. Raine began an extensive remodeling of Althorp, proving unpopular with Diana and her siblings, who hated their new (wicked) stepmother, calling her “Acid Raine.” Johnnie, however, became very happy after his marriage to Raine.

Princess Diana, at right, stands with stepmother, Raine, Countess Spencer, middle, and a friend. Undated photo, ca. 1977

Princess Diana, at right, stands with stepmother, Raine, Countess Spencer, middle, and a friend. Undated photo, ca. 1977

Now that you have seen this photo of Raine (above), you will not find it hard to believe that her mother was Barbara Cartland, Diana’s favorite novelist! That made Cartland Diana’s stepgrandmother. She learned of Diana’s love for her books and sent them to Diana by the cartload.

In 1977, Diana moved into Coleherne Court in South Kensington, London. Her roommates remember that she always got up before the meal was finished to clear the table. She hated dirty dishes. Diana loved to do the washing and ironing of shirts for friends. Her big sister Sarah paid her to clean her apartment. Diana was Cinderella, sweeping the hearth free of ashes.

Diana first revealed her crush on Prince Charles when on a ski holiday with friends in Val Claret in the French Alps. She surprised her friends one evening, saying that she was going to marry Charles AKA Prince Charming. According to those who knew her well, Diana kept herself chaste for her husband on their wedding night. (3)

Oxford student Adam Russell sits with Lady Diana Spencer. They are vacationing with a group in the French Alps. Russell is said to have had a ‘galumphing’ crush on Diana. Nothing, however, happened between them. According to royal author Andrew Morton, Mr Russell went travelling for a year, and when he returned to the UK in 1980 and told a friend that he liked Diana, he was told: ‘You’ve only got one rival, the Prince of Wales’. Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2257321/Revealed-Mystery-rival-Prince-Charles-pictured-relaxing-Lady-Diana-1979-Old-Etonian-aristocrat-Adam-

Oxford student Adam Russell sits with Lady Diana Spencer. They are vacationing with a group in the French Alps. Russell is said to have had a ‘galumphing’ crush on Diana. Nothing, however, happened between them. According to royal author Andrew Morton, Mr Russell went travelling for a year, and when he returned to the UK in 1980 and told a friend that he liked Diana, he was told: ‘You’ve only got one rival, the Prince of Wales’. Source: The Daily Mail

And Lady Diana did indeed marry Prince Charles on July 29, 1981. Her fairy tale unfolded as she had imagined. Her father gave her away. She wore a confection of a dress with a 25 foot-long train. She rode to St. Paul’s Cathedral in a carriage. She became Her Royal Highness, Diana, Princess of Wales. When Charles became King one day, she would become his queen, and their son, a king, too.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana smile for their wedding photo. July 1981

Prince Charles and Princess Diana smile for their wedding photo. July 1981

As we all know, Diana’s life with Charles did not have a happy ending. Her marriage was miserable, ending in a nasty divorce (1996) which led to her disastrous loneliness and tragic death (1997). Diana’s story was a fractured fairy tale of the worst imaginable kind.

By the way, stepmother Raine attended the royal wedding. However, stepgrandmother Barbara Cartland – the fairy queen who nurtured this fairy tale of Diana’s – did not attend.  Someone – maybe the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret – considered her an embarrassment and did not want her there. We don’t know if she wasn’t invited OR was offered an invitation but declined because her seat was behind a column! Anyway, not being present at Diana’s wedding proved to be the biggest humiliation of Barbara Cartland’s life.

In 1993, Barbara Cartland remarked:

The only books Diana ever read were mine, and they weren’t terribly good for her.” (2)

In 1996, Cartland had figured out why the marriage had failed:

Of course, you know where it all went wrong. She wouldn’t do oral sex.”

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned….

For more about Princess Diana, click here.

(1)

(2) Brown, Tina. The Diana Chronicles. New York: Doubleday, 2007.

(3)

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In 2009, British Esquire named Prince Charles the World's Best Dressed Man. "He is perfectly turned out in a double-breasted suit," they claim. "Admirably, the prince keeps his wardrobe in appropriate style: we're told he has a room laid out like a tailor's shop."

Not in Front of the Corgis,  a new book to be released in June 2012 by biographer Brian Hoey, gives us a “behind closed doors” look at the British Royal Family.  Here’s a preview of a section on Prince Charles and Camilla:

Prince Charles employs 133 staff to look after him and Camilla, more than 60 of them domestics: chefs, cooks, footmen, housemaids, gardeners, chauffeurs, cleaners, and his three personal valets—gentleman’s gentlemen—whose sole responsibility is the care of their royal master’s extensive wardrobe and choosing what he is to wear on any particular day. A serving soldier polishes the prince’s boots and shoes every day—he has 50 handmade pairs each costing over £800 ($1275) by Lobb of St James’s—and a housemaid washes his underwear as soon as it is discarded.

Nothing Charles or Camilla wears is ever allowed near a washing machine. Particular attention is paid to handkerchiefs, which are monogrammed and again all hand-washed, as it was found that when they were sent to a laundry, some would go missing—as souvenirs. HRH’s suits, of which he has 60, cost more than £3,000 ($4780) each, and his shirts, all handmade, cost £350 ($558) a time (he has more than 200), while his collar stiffeners are solid gold or silver. Charles’s valets also iron the laces of his shoes whenever they are taken off.

Source: The Daily Beast

Readers: For more on the British Royal Family on this blog, click here.

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The U.S. Secret Service provided security for Pope Benedict XVI at the Papal Mass in Washington, D.C., on April 17, 2008. Although the agents have no official uniform and can be seen wearing anything from tuxedos to blue jeans, they are often identified by their dark sunglasses, listening devices, and lapel pins bearing the agency's gold star logo.

The United States Secret Service uses code names to refer to the President of the United States, his family, other officials, and places. Originally, these code names were designed to protect sensitive communications, back in the day before restricted communications were routinely encrypted. Nowadays, there is no need to keep these names secret. Nevertheless, The Secret Service who guards the First Family and other U.S. officials continues to use the code names for clarity, brevity, and tradition. (1)

The U.S. Secret Service Star Logo. The U.S. Secret Service protects the President and First Family, other officials of the U.S. government, and visiting dignitaries.

General Code Names

President of the United States:  POTUS

First Lady of the United States:  FLOTUS

Vice President of the United States:  VPOTUS

The Obamas

Barack:  Renegade

Michelle:  Renaissance

Malia:  Radiance

Sasha:  Rosebud

The Bushes

George W.:  Tumbler

Laura:  Tempo

Barbara:  Turquoise

Jenna:  Twinkle

The Clintons

Bill:  Eagle

Hillary:  Evergreen

Chelsea:  Energy

The Bushes

George H.:  Timberwolf

Barbara:  Tranquility

The Carters

Jimmy:  Deacon

Rosalynn:  Dancer

Amy:  Dynamo

Secret Service agents respond to the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan by John Hinckley Jr. on March 30, 1981. President Reagan took a bullet in the abdomen but made a full recovery.

The Reagans

Ronald:  Rawhide

Nancy:  Rainbow

The Fords

Gerald:  Passkey

Betty:  Pinafore

The Nixons

Richard:  Searchlight

Pat:  Starlight

The Johnsons

Lyndon:  Volunteer

Lady Bird:  Victoria

Lynda Bird:  Velvet

Luci Baines:  Venus

 

A motorcade carries President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy through the streets of Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. Texas Governor John Connally and wife Nellie ride in front of the Kennedys.

Secret Service agent Clint Hill stood on the running board of the car behind the Kennedy’s limo.
Agent Hill heard the first shot that hit President Kennedy. Mr Hill is the figure in the famous Zapruder film of the killing which shows him climbing onto the back of the president’s limousine. “I heard the first shot, saw the president grab his throat, lurch left, and I knew something was wrong,” recalled Hill in the book, The Kennedy Detail. Jackie Kennedy can be seen crawling out the back of the car onto the trunk to get help for her slain husband, slumped in the seat.

Agent Hill got in the back seat with Mrs. Kennedy and the president and shielded them with his body on the way to Parkland Hospital.

The Kennedys

John F.:  Lancer

Jackie:  Lace

Caroline:  Lyric

John Jr.:  Lark

Other Individuals

Queen Elizabeth II:  Kittyhawk, Redfern

Prince Charles:  Unicorn

Frank Sinatra:  Napoleon

Pope John Paul II:  Halo

Sarah Palin:  Denali

John McCain:  Phoenix

Places

The White House:  Castle

The Capitol:  Punchbowl

 

(1)  Source: Wiki “Secret Service Codename

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May 6 1985: Princess Diana, Prince Charles and their sons Harry and William on board royal yacht Britannia in Venice.

It’s 1985. Prince Charles and Princess Diana have been married close to five years. He’s 37; she’s 24. They have two young and healthy sons. Charles and Di have everything. They are rich and famous and, by all rights, should be happy. They seem happy in most photos. But they are not. Their marriage is in trouble but it will be another 11 years before it crashes for good.

Princess Diana arrives at the Royal Opera House, London. Dec. 1985

It’s December – Christmastime – and the two of them are out on the town together in London. It’s a special night. They are seated at the Royal Box at the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden. It’s a VIP evening for “Friends of Covent Garden,” composed of skits and entertainment for special patrons. Silly things happen at this event – dancers sing, singers dance, and, occasionally, a celebrity might turn up on stage unexpectedly and wow the audience. Just the previous year, matter of fact, Charles and Di had done that very thing. They had performed a skit together – as Romeo and Juliet –  and the Prince had sung an ad jingle, “Just One Cornetto.”

Back to December 1985. The show is drawing to a close. Imagine Charles’s surprise when, just two numbers before the end of the show, Diana slips from the Royal Box and, minutes later, emerges on stage. She is going to perform! She wears a slinky white dress and begins dancing seductively to Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl.” 

Princess Diana and Wayne Sleep dance to Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl" at Covent Garden, December 1985.

Uptown Girl

She’s been living in her uptown world

I bet she’s never had a backstreet guy

I bet her mama never told her why

Diana – at 5’10” – towers over her dance partner, Wayne Sleep. At 5’2″, Sleep is the shortest dancer ever admitted into the Royal Ballet School. He recalled his pas de deux with the princess that night

The Prince nearly fell out of his chair, especially when [Diana] did the kicks over my head….I was worried she’d fall apart under the spotlight, but she totally carried it off. Not many people could handle being under such scrutiny in front of an insiderly audience on that huge Covent Garden stage. She showed natural star quality.” (1)

Everyone – except Charles – is thrilled by Diana’s performance. She receives a standing ovation and eight curtain calls. At a reception afterwards, Sleep recalled that Charles was aloof, making it embarrassingly clear that he disapproved of Diana’s performance (or was he just plain jealous because he wasn’t asked to participate?). Diana had rehearsed for weeks in secret and was performing just to please Charles. Again, her efforts fall short. Of course, we know now why she couldn’t please him. He didn’t need her. He had Camilla.

Where did Diana get the personal courage to perform a seductive dance in front of 2,600 people?  Well, thank Nancy Reagan for giving Di the opportunity to shine at something she was good at. Just a month before, Diana had danced with John Travolta (at Nancy’s request) at a gala White House dinner given by the Reagans, dazzling Washington and the world with her youthful beauty, dancing grace, and sex appeal.

John Travolta and Princess Diana dance in the East Room of the White House, November 1986. Standing up to welcome Prince Charles and Princess Diana, President Reagan, in after-dinner remarks, flubbed the princess's name. Standing up in welcome, the president offered a toast to Prince Charles and "his lovely lady, Princess David."

By the time she returned to London, everyone was abuzz with Diana’s splashy American visit:

The Princess of Wales had become a walking monument – British opinion polls said she was the country’s greatest tourist attraction….One national survey calculated that from 1983-1985, she had generated $66.6 million in revenue from magazines, books, and tourists.” (2)

“Shy Di looking up through the eyelashes” had gone off to America but Confident Di had returned in her place. She made Buckingham Palace nervous – and with good reason. It could no longer control her.

(1) Brown, Tina. The Diana Chronicles. New York: Doubleday, 2007.

(2) Kelley, Kitty. The Royals. New York: Warner Books, Inc., 1997.

Readers: For more on Princess Diana and the British Royal Family, click here.

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What’s Prince Philip’s favorite drink? Check out our quiz to see how much you know about the Royal Family:

1. In which battle did George VI fight?
A. The First Battle of Ypres
B. The Battle of Loos
C. The Battle of Jutland
D. The Battle of Tumbledown

Queen Elizabeth II loves corgis.

2. What was the name of the first royal corgi, which was given to the Queen on her 18th birthday in 1944?

A. Sinbad
B. Susan
C. Senator
D. Sonata 

 
 

Queen Victoria celebrates her fiftieth year on the throne in 1887 at her Golden Jubilee. Queen Victoria lived from 1819-1901.

3. Who succeeded Queen Victoria?
A. Prince Albert
B. Edward VII
C. George V
D. Edward VIII

4. Of how many countries is the Queen head of state?
A. Four
B. Eight
C. 16
D. 21

5. What title did the British monarch also have until 1947?
A. King of India
B. Imperial Sovereign
C. Monarch of Asia
D. Emperor of India

6. In which naval engagement during World War II was Prince Philip mentioned in despatches?
A. Battle of Cape Matapan
B. Battle of Cape Potsandpans
C. Battle of Cape Cod
D. Battle of Barents Sea

The Duchess and Duke of Windsor in exile in France, years after the Duke AKA King Edward VIII abdicated the British throne in 1936.

 7. What was Edward VIII’s relationship to his successor, George VI?
A. First cousin
B. Father
C. Elder brother
D. Younger brother

8. What was the Queen Mother’s maiden name?
A. Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
B. Lady Elizabeth Glamis
C. Lady Elizabeth Bows
D. The Countess of Strathmore

9. Which king reigned throughout World War I?
A. Edward VII
B. George V
C. George VI
D. George VII

 
 
 

King George VI sits with Prince Charles of Wales. Charles was just 3 when the King died of lung cancer on Feb. 6, 1952.

10. What relation is Prince Charles to George VI?
A. Maternal grandson
B. Paternal grandson
C. Maternal nephew
D. Paternal great-grandson

11. How old was the Queen when she came to the throne?
A. 55
B. 45
C. 35
D. 25

12. Who did the Duke and Duchess of Windsor meet at Berchtesgaden in 1937?
A. Adolf Hitler
B. Charlie Chaplin
C. Tsar of Russia
D. Winston Churchill

13. In which war did Prince Andrew fight as a helicopter pilot?
A. Gulf War
B. Iraq War
C. Falklands War
D. Korean War

14. What was the name of the royal yacht decommissioned in 1997?
A. Britannia
B. Queen Elizabeth
C. Elizabeth and Philip
D. Queen Mary

15. What is Prince Philip’s favorite drink?
A. Bass
B. Brandy (Greek, of course)
C. Boddingtons
D. Bacardi

16. In which war did the Royal Family change their dynastic title from Saxe-Coburg to Windsor?
A. Boer War
B. World War I
C. World War II
D. Cold War

 
 
 

Princess Diana, spring 1997, photographed by Mario Testino

17. What was the maiden name of Diana, Princess of Wales?
A. Lady Diana Spencer
B. Diana, Lady Spencer
C. The Lady Diana
D. The Lady Spencer

18. Why is Prince Michael of Kent not in the line of succession to the throne?
A. He converted to Islam
B. He married a Roman Catholic
C. He became a Zoroastrian
D. He married without the Queen’s permission

19. What was the name of the most famous of Edward VII’s mistresses when he was Prince of Wales?
A. Lily Crabtree
B. Nell Gwynn
C. Mary Robinson
D. Lillie Langtry

20. Which monarch of the House of Windsor has reigned the longest?
A. Edward VII
B. George V
C. George VI
D. Elizabeth II

 
 
 

Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, as portrayed on a commemorative stamp

21. How old was the Queen Mother when she died in 2002?
A. 90
B. 95
C. 75
D. 101

22. Where was the then Princess Elizabeth staying when she heard of the death of her father George VI in 1952?
A. Treetops Game Reserve in Kenya
B. Stardust Casino in Las Vegas
C. Government House in Auckland, New Zealand
D. Ice Station Zebra in Antarctica

23. What post does the monarch hold in the Church of England?
A. Supreme Pontiff
B. Senior Governor
C. Supreme Ruler
D. Supreme Governor 

Queen Elizabeth's little sister, Princess Margaret, enjoying her bath.

24. Who did the Queen’s sister marry?

A. Antony Armstrong-Andrews, Lord Snowdon
B. Andrew Armstrong-Jones, Lord Mountbatten
C. Andrew Armstrong-Jones, Lord Snowdon
D. Antony Armstrong-Jones, Lord Snowdon 

25. What was Prince Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick, later Edward VIII, called by his family?
A. Edward
B. Bertie
C. Albert
D. David

26. Who was prime minister at the time of the Abdication Crisis?
A Stanley Baldwin
B Neville Chamberlain
C Winston Churchill
D Ramsay Macdonald

Queen Elizabeth II is greeted by Winston and Clementine Churchill as she arrives for a dinner given at 10 Downing Street on April 4, 1955. In leading his guests in the loyal toast to Her Majesty, Churchill noted that as a young cavalry officer he had proposed similar toasts during the reign of her great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria. He resigned as Prime Minister on the following day.

27. How many prime ministers have served under the Queen?
A. 13
B. 10
C. 14
D. 12

28. Who is The Keeper of the Royal Conscience?
A. The Archbishop of Canterbury
B. Prince Philip
C. The Prince of Wales
D. Ken Clarke

ANSWERS: 1 C. 2 B. 3 B. 4 C. 5 D. 6 A. 7 C. 8 A. 9 B. 10 A. 11 D. 12 A. 13 C. 14 A. 15 C. 16 B. 17 A. 18 B. 19 D. 20 D. 21 D. 22 A. 23 D. 24 D. 25 D. 26 A. 27 A. 28 D (as Lord Chancellor).

Source: The Daily Mail, Jan. 11, 2011

Readers: For more on the British Royal Family on this blog, click here.
11th January 2011

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Prince William and Kate Middleton announce their engagement at Clarence House, London, on November 16, 2010. They are both 28.

Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton have made more decisions on their upcoming wedding,” Clarence House said in a statement, which was first released in a series of messages on Twitter.

The royal wedding will take place on Friday, April 29, 2011, at Westminster Abbey.

Kate Middleton will travel by car to the 11 a.m. service passing through some of Britain’s most historic sites – Pall Mall, Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall, and Parliament Square. The ceremony will be conducted by the Rev. John Hall and the couple will be married by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

Once the pair are husband and wife, they will travel along the same route that Middleton arrived in, but this time, in a horse-drawn carriage. Prince William’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, will host a gathering at Buckingham Palace for guests. Afterward, William’s father, Prince Charles, will organize a private dinner for friends and family.

Source: Google News

Readers, for more on this blog about the royal wedding and the British Royal Family, click here.

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Kate Middleton (born Jan. 9, 1982) and Prince William of Great Britain announce their plans to marry (November 16, 2010). Kate's sapphire and diamond engagement ring belonged to the Prince's mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.

Since the November 16, 2010, announcement of her engagement to Prince William, all eyes have been on the lovely Kate Middleton, Britain’s princess-in-waiting (maybe to be titled “Her Royal Highness Princess Catherine of Wales”) and future queen. Everything from her plans to marry at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011, to her fashion picks is hot, hot news.

At the press conference, Kate looked so smashing in her sapphire blue, gathered-front engagement dress that the outfit became an instant fashion “must have.” It caused a shopping frenzy with women eager to copy Kate’s classic, ladylike, but sexy look. Only two days after she was seen wearing the silk jersey Issa London frock, the dress was sold out in London. It then became available online at Net-a-Porter.com for $535 but quickly sold out.

Within days, Tesco launched a replica version of the dress that was 20 times cheaper than the Issa, selling at £16 ($15.50). The Tesco version – in cotton – featured the same Issa length and waist-flattering, self-tie wrap style but with short sleeves. Within one hour of its availability, the Tesco knockoff design – dubbed “the Kate Middleton dress” – was sold out.

This cotton dress by the Florence + Fred line at Tesco.com emulates the blue Issa London design which Kate Middleton wore to face the press in November 2010 to announce her engagement to Prince William. This knockoff sold out online in one hour, a testimony to the power of Miss Middleton's influential fashion sense.

Peacocks, another British “high street” budget chain retailer, was not about to outdone by the competition.  They released an even cheaper version than Tesco’s – in polyester with three-quarter-length sleeves – that also sold out within hours of hitting the market. Peacocks anticipated the instant sell-out, setting up the ‘Waity Katie’ waiting list dedicated to the dress in order for customers to avoid disappointment. Kate Middleton received the  nickname ‘Waity Katie’  because she knew her fiance nine years before he proposed marriage.

Peacocks' polyester version of the Kate Middleton Issa dress, costing just £14.

It wasn’t just Kate’s dress that caused a fashion sensation. Jewelers around the world have been inundated with requests for replicas of her sapphire-and-diamond engagement ring. It is the same ring that Prince William’s father Prince Charles gave William’s mother, Lady Diana, in 1981, when they became engaged. After Diana’s death, the ring was passed down to Prince Harry, Diana’s second son and William’s younger brother. Harry decided to give William their mother’s ring to give to Kate as her engagement ring.

Kate Middleton's engagement ring

Jewelers were caught off guard by the sheer volume of customer requests for replicas of the engagement ring:

‘Our website crashed, phones are ringing like crazy,’ said Michael Arnstein, CEO of the Natural Sapphire Co. ‘We just hope we can handle the demand.'”

 

Princess Diana's engagement ring, now being worn by Kate Middleton. Prince Charles proposed to Lady Diana without a ring. After accepting Charles's proposal, Diana chose her own ring from a selection at Garrard Jewelers. Set on a gold band, this 18 carat oval cluster ring features a sapphire surrounded by 16 small diamonds.

Stores and websites are flooded with fake sapphire rings for sale. Below is a photo of one store’s offering:

 

Readers, for more of my posts on Kate Middleton and the British Royal family, click here.

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HRH Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, walk along the beach on North Seymour Island on the second day of a tour of the Galapagos on March 17, 2009 in Galapagos, Ecuador.

Charles, the Prince of Wales has indicated for the first time that his second wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, nee Camilla Parker Bowles, could become “Queen Camilla” when he ascends to the throne. 

Until now, the Prince has always stuck to the line that his wife will be known as Princess Consort when he is king. 

But in an interview on the US television channel NBC, he suggested the Duchess “could be” given the title of Queen. 

The proposed title of Princess Consort was concocted under the previous Labour government to minimize controversy when the Prince married his unpopular second wife in 2005. Camilla was Charles’s mistress during his marriage to the late Princess Diana, and is blamed for the break-up of their marriage.

from multiple sources, including the Associated Press

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Prince William of Great Britain and Catherine Middleton announce their engagement on November 16, 2010, in a side room at Clarence House, London.

This is the site of Prince William's October 20 proposal to Kate Middleton: at one of Kenya's stark Rutundu Log Cabins near Lake Rutundu on Africa's second highest peak. With no electricity, the couple, both 28, celebrated their engagement by a roaring fire and a bottle of bubbly. In an interview, the prince revealed that he had been carrying around the heirloom engagement ring in his knapsack for three weeks, all the time worried he might lose the irreplaceable relic that belonged to his late mother, Princess Diana.

The interior of the rustic Kenyan cabin where William proposed to Kate on Oct. 20, 2010.

Kate Middleton attended the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where she received an Art History Degree and met her future husband, Prince William, heir to the British throne. The university claims to be "Britain's top match-making university," asserting that 10 percent of its students met the person with whom they would eventually settle down.

“Kate’s Obstacle Course” by Tina Brown:

“The future princess not only fulfilled Prince William’s requirements, she persuaded the Queen her future granddaughter-in-law is nothing like Diana. Now all the royals have to do is make the wedding of the year look thrifty.

“No one has put in harder training to become a royal bride than the glossy-haired Kate Middleton. The eight-year wait has been fraught with tests she had to pass.

“First, discretion. Prince William’s smiling hostility toward the press is his non-negotiable core value. I am told he is so protective of his privacy he has been known to plant false tips with friends he distrusts and watch the media to see if they play out. William went ballistic at Christmas last year, when he suspected Kate might have been aware the tabloid snapper Niraj Tanna was lurking near a tennis court where she was playing on the Duchy of Cornwall estate, and that she graced the interloper with a camera-ready smile. Even her family has kept mum with no unruly relatives going rogue. The only telltale sign of possible impending nuptials has been Carole Middleton’s sudden suspicious determination to shed poundage on a prawn and cottage cheese diet.

“Second, virtue. The delicate issue of premarital experience has been managed by Kate with quiet dexterity. Her one known boyfriend before William at university, 22-year-old gifted cricketer Rupert Finch, never talked. Thirty years ago, Prince Charles had to go as young as 19 to find, in Lady Diana Spencer, something almost extinct in post-feminist times, a girl with a history and no past. But Diana’s shy virginity concealed a time bomb: her wounded, insatiable need for love.

A month after announcing their engagment, Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles attend a 1981 dinner at Goldsmith Hall. Diana was 19.

“There is nothing wounded about Kate. She’s from wholesome middle-class stock. She’s great ballast for William who, beneath his royal aplomb, is wounded too. She’s mastered the art of being what seems a contradiction in terms—appropriately edgy; the odd flash of midriff or nocturnal thigh in a too-short skirt for a nightclub excursion sexy but solid; middlebrow, not elitist. The only controversial thing she has ever done is wear sequined hot-pants and take a spill with her legs in the air at a Day-Glo Midnight Roller Disco charity event in South London, for which she did about two years’ penance.

September 2008: Kate Middleton arrives at the Day-Glo Midnight Roller Disco Charity event in South London in disco sequins, tiny shorts, and ready to roller skate.

Kate Middleton falls on the floor in a most unladylike sprawl. It was rumored that the Queen thought Kate was a show-off.

Kate Middleton has been embroiled in more than one sexy fashion faux pas. A case in point: the 2002 charity fashion event for St. Andrew's College at which she modeled this see-through "frock." Both Kate and Prince William were students at St. Andrew's at the time, and "Wills" was in the audience that night. Although he had met Kate before the $325-a-plate event, when he saw her on the catwalk, he was smitten.

“In the couple’s wedding interview, you could see the outline of their successful dynamic. William said he tried to impress Kate with his cooking, but the food would start burning, and ‘Kate would come to the rescue and take charge.’

“Third, patience. It’s taken close to a decade to reel William in. Kate has had to endure the ridicule of being Waity Katie even among the royals themselves. ‘They have been practicing long enough,’ Prince Charles said heartily at Poundbury, his model village in Devon, where he was when the news broke.

‘It’s brilliant news. It has taken them a very long time,’ commented Queen Elizabeth, who, in her business-like way had tried to get this over and done with last June before the impending calendar crush of Philip‘s 90th, her Diamond Jubilee, and the 2012 Olympics.

“In order not to fuel rumors as the perpetual princess in waiting, Kate rarely emerged with William in public of late unless it was one of those innumerable country weddings of all their mutual friends. What could she possibly have been doing all those years of trying to look busy? As she put it in the engagement interview, ‘working really hard’ at the family business that sells children’s toys and paraphernalia based in Ashampstead, near their home in Berkshire. Now that she’s engaged to be married to the second in line to the throne, her life is about to get more boring still. The palace machine will take over. The portcullis will come down.

Prince William is a RAF search-and-rescue helicopter pilot.

“William is a RAF search-and-rescue helicopter pilot at RAF Valley on the island of Anglesey, and the happy couple will live in a remote farmhouse in North Wales, where there is 33 inches of rain a year. There she can tend to the urgent priority of royal wife, the speedy manufacture of the heir and the spare.

“But that’s “appropriate” too. In the dire mood of the upcoming austerity cuts, England needs the joy of a royal wedding as badly as it did 30 years ago, when we watched enthralled as Charles and Di tied the knot. But she needs it on a budget. The fact that Kate’s a “commoner” is suddenly a PR boon for the royals. With an Old Etonian prime minister and a savage round of economic cutbacks, a pedigreed royal bride would be a hard message to sell to a grumpy press and parliament. Now all the royals have to do is make the wedding of the year look thrifty—perhaps the Guards’ Chapel, where William and Harry held a service to mark the 10th anniversary of their mother’s death, instead of Westminster Abbey?—and preferably green.

“Now that she’s engaged to be married to the second in line to the throne, her life is about to get more boring still.

“Most important still, Kate’s perseverance and resilience has persuaded the queen that her future granddaughter-in-law is nothing at all like Her, like Diana, the golden-haired Rebecca of the Royal House of Windsor. When William chose to bestow on Kate his mother’s 18-carat oval blue sapphire-and-diamond engagement ring, it was not only a token of love but a thrilling gesture of confident daring.

Kate Middleton's engagement ring belonged to Princess Diana

“After Diana’s death in 1997, the 15-year-old prince told his father he wanted the ring for his future engagement. He said Tuesday the ring represented a time his parents were happy. Now, after all the years the royal establishment have spent trying to erase that magical disruption known as Diana, England’s future king showed the world in the strongest, most personal way he knew how that he was determined to bring his mother back.”

Source: The Daily Beast

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Lady Diana Spencer was a nanny and nursery school teacher prior to her marriage to Charles, Prince of Wales. Photo: fall, 1980

Lady Diana Spencer was understandably nervous about marrying Charles, Prince of Wales (b. 1948).  Following their February 24, 1981, engagement announcement, Diana’s whole world was turned upside down. In a flash, nineteen-year-old Diana went from part-time nanny and nursery school teacher to the future Queen of England. Two days later, she kissed freedom goodbye forever. “Shy Di” moved out of her flat at No. 60 Coleburne Court, said a hasty goodbye to her 3 giddy roommates, and moved into Buckingham Palace, where she was sequestered for the five months leading up to her July 29 wedding, protected from the press. (1)

In their first public appearance together following their February 1981 engagement announcement, Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles attended a Royal Opera benefit at London's Goldsmith Hall. Lady Diana shocked the crowd by appearing in a low-cut, strapless black taffeta evening gown. "The Dress" made headlines: "Lady Di Takes the Plunge," screamed the front page of The Daily Mirror, with splendid photos of "Shy Di" spilling out of her revealing gown.

Throughout the spring, the Palace courtiers gave Diana lessons on how to be a princess. They advised her of her royal engagements, which would average 170 a year and would include Ascot, Trooping the Color, Badminton Horse Trials, Opening of Parliament, Chelsea Flower Show, Wimbledon, hospital benefits, charities, and anything for the military. They guided her through the maze of royal rules: wear hats in public and bright colors to stand out; wave from the elbow, not the wrist; never use a public lavatory.

‘The worst thing about being a princess,’ said Diana years later, ‘is having to pee.'”(1)

They handed her stacks of history books to read about her future role as Princess of Wales.

27th March 1981: Charles, Prince of Wales, his fiancee Lady Diana Spencer, and Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, London, after she gave her consent for their wedding.

It was all too much for Diana. She longed to be with Charles, who was often unavailable, having embarked on a 5-week tour of the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, among his other royal duties.  The Royal Family – when they were at the Palace, each with their own separate apartments – did nothing to help her feel at home. In fairness, each of the royals did have their own very busy schedules. Nevertheless, Diana was cut off from ordinary companionship. She felt insecure, lonely, and afraid.

 I missed my girls [roommates] so much I wanted to go back there and sit and giggle and borrow clothes and chat about silly things, just being in  my safe shell again….I couldn’t believe how cold everyone was [at Buckingham Palace].” (2)

Lady Diana Spencer (l.) walks with Camilla Parker-Bowles at Ludlow Racecourse in 1980, where Prince Charles was competing.

Along with palace isolation and wedding jitters, Diana agonized over whether Charles was still in love with his married mistress, Camilla Parker Bowles, although Charles swore their affair was a thing of the past. How could that be true, wondered Diana. Camilla telephoned Charles constantly and he always took her calls in private. Camilla and her husband were often included as weekend house guests at Sandringham, the royal family country house. Camilla haunted Diana and Charles’s courtship days. 

Diana befriended Charles’s righthand man, Michael Colborne, peppering him with questions about Charles’s relationship with Camilla. Diana became bulimic from the worry and lost twenty pounds in just three months. She became weak and emotionally labile. 

 

Camilla Shand as a debutante in 1965. She and Prince Charles met in 1970 and considered marriage. Lord Louis Mountbatten advised Charles against marrying the love of his life, citing Camilla's wild past and lack of aristocratic lineage.

Her fears over Camilla increased when, tucked among the wedding presents in the office Diana shared with Colborne, Diana discovered a curious little parcel. Over fierce objections from Colborne, she opened it, only to discover a gold bracelet with a lapis pendant engraved with the initials “F” and “G” entwined.

Diana became enraged. She knew the significance of the two letters: earlier friends had informed her that “F” and “G” stood for “Fred and Gladys,” the pet nicknames Charles and Camilla had for each other. Diana pressed Colborne about the gift:

‘I know it’s for Camilla,’ she said. ‘So why won’t you admit it? What does it mean? Why is Charles doing this?'” (2)

Colborne refused to answer any more questions, other than to admit that he had ordered the gift at Charles’s request. Diana was livid with jealousy. 

She confronted Charles. He said he had indeed ordered the bracelet from Asprey’s for Camilla and was going to give it to her in person to signal the end of their relationship. He maintained it was a farewell gift but Diana didn’t believe him. They quarreled and she withdrew in tears.

Diana, Princess of Wales (1961-1997) in an undated photo.

The wedding day was bearing down on Diana like a freight train. Her fairytale was morphing into a nightmare. There wasn’t time enough to process all the change that was taking place in her young life.

Her weight plummeted. She became wisp-thin. Her bridal gown with its 25-foot train, puffy sleeves, and ivory taffeta was almost ready, although the dressmakers had to keep taking in the seams due to Diana’s dramatic weight loss.  Between the first and last fittings, Diana’s waist shrank from 29 inches to 23-and-a-half inches.

In June, two weeks before her wedding, Diana attended Ascot Week where she was treated by the public and the media like an international film star.

Lady Diana attends Royal Ascot for the first time, June 1981.

Everyone was fascinated with this new breed of royalty. Diana was fresh, lovely, and natural. She had a real English rose complexion. Her larkiness was such a refreshing change of pace from the stodgy Royal Family with all their rules and stiffness.

But the crush of the crowd and the press, who trailed her at every outing, distressed Diana:

‘During tea at the back of the royal box at the races she was practically in tears and had to be escorted home early.'” (3)

Lady Diana Spencer watches Prince Charles play polo at Tidworth during their engagement. The wedding is four days later. Photo: July 25, 1981

On Monday, July 28, 1981, the day before her wedding, Diana lunched with her sisters while Charles met with Camilla with the gift. Diana confided to her sisters that she didn’t want to marry someone who was still in love with his mistress.

‘It’s bad luck, Duch,’ said her sister Sarah, using the family nickname for Diana. “Your face is on the tea towels, so you’re too late to chicken out now.”” (2)

It was too late to chicken out by the time Lady Diana Spencer considered breaking her engagement to Prince Charles. Her face was on the tea-towels already.

As Sarah pointed out, it was too late. England was awash in kitchy wedding memorabilia featuring the royal couple’s photos. London was crawling with tourists and international journalists and television crews. Sadly, there was no turning back for Diana.

The wedding went ahead as scheduled at St. Paul’s Cathedral. The Queen had sent 2,500 invitations to friends, families, and heads of state, plus the crowned heads of Europe. The ceremony was telecast to 750 million people. On that July day, Lady Diana Spencer (1961-1997) became newly titled as Diana, Princess of Wales. She outranked all other women in the realm, except Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother. (1)

Wedding Bells chimed on July 29, 1981, when Lady Diana Spencer married Charles, Prince of Wales, at St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

Diana was right to have been worried about Camilla breaking up her marriage. Shortly after marrying Diana – some say five years later, others, that they never stopped seeing each other –  the Prince resumed his relationship with Camilla. The marriage was long over before the royal Wales divorced in 1996.

(1) Kelley, Kitty. The Royals. New York: Warner Books, Inc., 1997.

(2) Morton, Andrew. Diana – Her True Story – In Her Own Words. Michael O’Mara Books, Ltd., 2003.

(3) Bradford, Sarah. Elizabeth: A Biography of Her Majesty The Queen. New York: Riverhead Books, 1996.

Readers: For more on Princess Diana, click here.

 

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Sarah Ferguson watches polo at Windsor with Princess Diana, in 1985, the year before she married into the British Royal Family and became the Duchess of York

Sarah Ferguson –  “Fergie” –  and Princess Diana (1961-1997) knew each other for six years before Fergie married Prince Andrew in 1986 and became a member of the Royal Family. The two women had first met on the polo circuit, as Diana’s husband Prince Charles was an avid player and Fergie’s father, Sir Ronald Ferguson, was the Prince’s polo manager.

Soon after meeting, Diana and Fergie (b. 1959) became fast friends. The timid and reserved Diana was intoxicated by Fergie’s loud and breezy energy:

“The two girls would burn up the telephone wires trading gossip and irreverent royal tidbits they could share with no one else.” (1)

Since Diana’s 1981 wedding to Charles, she had been starved of fun. Diana thought about how lovely it would be to have Fergie as a mate in the Royal Family. In June of 1985, Diana decided to play royal matchmaker and make it happen. She wangled an invitation for Fergie to not only attend the Queen’s Ascot Week house party at Windsor Castle , but managed also to get the boisterous redhead seated next to the Queen’s second son, the 25-year-old Prince Andrew, a very eligible bachelor and second in line for the throne.

Sarah, the Duchess of York ("Fergie") and Diana, Princess of Wales, 1987

Within an hour of meeting Fergie, Andrew was “chatting her up” and “flirtatiously coaxing a merry-eyed Ms. Ferguson to eat every one of the chocolate profiteroles [cream puffs] on her plate.” (1) A year later, Fergie and Andrew were married at Westminster Abbey as the Duke and Duchess of York. Di had gotten her ally in the family.

This commemorative stamp was issued in Great Britain in 1986 to commemorate the Royal Wedding of Prince Andrew to Miss Sarah Ferguson. They became the Duke and Duchess of York.

 
Encouraged by Fergie’s wildness, Diana began to loosen up publicly. She became a bit of a royal daredevil. Memorably, in June 1987, she and Fergie were photographed at Royal Ascot poking Fergie’s old school friend Lulu in the behind with their umbrellas, called “brollies” in England.  (2) 

Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York (l), and Princess Diana (r) attend the Royal Ascot, June 1987.

The Ascot Umbrella Caper – dubbed “the Brolly Folly” – drew public scorn. Woodrow Wyatt recorded in his memoirs that his wife saw Diana at Ascot

fooling about in the most childish manner, pulling people’s hair and tweaking them.”

The Sun reported the incident, referring to Fergie and Diana caustically as “silly, simpering girls.” It was the first of many desperate attempts Diana and Fergie made to “unstiffen” royal protocol. 

Over time, the fallout from the bad press would affect Diana and Fergie differently. Diana would weather the public criticism better than Fergie. With Diana’s tragic death, charity work, and sad marriage, the public has been more forgiving of her wild days. The late Princess Diana is lovingly remembered today as the People’s Princess.

Fergie, however, at age 50, continues to court disaster with her impetuous ways and money woes. Matter of fact, with the latest bribery scandal and “Oprah” TV appearance, the Duchess of York is being referred to in the press as the Duchess of Disaster. 

 
 
 

An image made from video shows the Duchess of York apparently selling access to ex-husband Prince Andrew for 500,000 British pounds to an undercover reporter from the UK tabloid, "News of the World." (foxnews.com_May 24, 2010)

(1) Brown, Tina. The Diana Chronicles. New York: Doubleday, 2007.

(2) “Births, Deaths, & Marriages.” Thirty Years of Majesty. Vol. 31, No. 5.

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Queen Elizabeth's Launer handbag (4/1/09 Buckingham Palace with Obamas)

Queen Elizabeth's Launer handbag (4/1/09 Buckingham Palace with Obamas)

Since I’ve been blogging about Queen Elizabeth in general and her purse-carrying habit in particular, I’ve looked at a lot of of images of the Queen carrying purses. She seems to prefer small, unfussy black leather handbags, though she has carried a white purse before, I know. At first, the black leather handbags looked as if they could be just one bag. Closer inspection revealed slight differences in straps, patinas, and shapes. In all the bags I scrutinized, though, one theme was a constant. The clasp on the different bags was always the same. The clasp was distinctive  – covered with a gold rope emblem. The clasp looked like a string you tie on your finger to remember something. Was it a logo, perhaps? I sensed a designer lurking about.

 I was slow to catch on. Of course. The Queen doesn’t buy her purses off the rack at Macy’s; she has a royal pursemaker. That’s why the purses looked so similar. They were made by the same company.

Queen Elizabeth in Jamestown (5/4/2007) with handbag

Queen Elizabeth in Jamestown (5/4/2007) with handbag

A little further digging for the name of the designer turned up a lot of information. Evidently, not only does Her Royal Highness have a royal pursemaker to make her purses – Launer’s of London – but also a royal milliner to make her hats and a royal dressmaker to make her dresses. Currently, three British royals, The Queen, her husband Prince Philip ( AKA the Duke of Edinburgh) and their son Prince Charles (AKA the Prince of Wales) may grant “Royal Warrants of Appointment” to tradespeople who supply goods or services to a royal court or certain royal personages. The warrant allows the supplier to advertise the fact that they supply to the royal family. The Royal Warrant does not mean that these specially-honored companies must then give the Royals their goods and services for free. Rather, suppliers both continue to charge their royal customers as well as reap incredible bonuses in the marketplace courtesy of the royal endorsement.

Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth's coat-of-arms

Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth's coat-of-arms

Launer's "Royale" handbag

Launer's "Royale" handbag

Launer of London holds the Royal Warrant for supplying the Queen with her leather goods and purses. On the “About Us” page on the Launer company website, the Queen’s coat-of-arms is displayed boldly at the top left and right of the page. Under the company’s history, we read that:

photo of Queen Elizabeth II on the Launer company website

photo of Queen Elizabeth II on the Launer company website

In 1991, Her Majesty the Queen visited the factory on 4th March, spending virtually the whole afternoon with all the employees and seeing all the various stages of making both handbags and personal leather goods. This was a great honour for the company, and in the following year Launer was also given the right to add leather goods to the warrant.

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