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Queen Elizabeth II and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, took a preview tour of Buckingham Palace’s royal wedding exhibit on Friday. 

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and her grandmother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, are on their way to view Buckingham Palace's royal wedding exhibit, July 22, 2011. Uncharacterically, the Queen is not carrying her trusty handbag.

The Royal Collection show, called “The Royal Wedding Dress: A Story of Great British Design,” opened to the public today. It brings together the Duchess of Cambridge’s Alexander McQueen white and ivory Irish lace wedding dress, shoes, tiara, earrings, and a replica bouquet for the public to view up close.

Among the items displayed at the Queen's London residence include the Cartier Halo tiara, worn by Kate Middleton on her wedding day. The understated headpiece was made in 1936 and purchased by the Duke of York (later King George VI) for his wife, Elizabeth's mother (also Elizabeth). Queen Elizabeth received it as an 18th-birthday present, at which time she was Princess Elizabeth. The delicate diamond tiara was lent to Kate by the Queen.

The Palace expects over 500,000 people to buy tickets to the ten-week exhibit. Both at home and abroad, Prince William and Kate are wildly popular, as evidenced by the overwhelmingly warm reception they received earlier this summer on their 2011 Royal Tour of Canada with a detour to Hollywood.

Kate Middleton's bridal shoes will be on display at Buckingham Palace this summer. Custom made by Alexander McQueen's Sarah Burton to match her wedding dress, Kate's elegant pumps are made of ivory duchesse satin with lace hand-embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework.

Kate and William’s wedding cake was a fruit cake designed by Fiona Cairns. It was covered in cream and white icing, decorated with over 900 sugar paste flowers and elaborate scrollwork. Fiona Cairns’ cakes are in huge demand; Sir Paul McCartney orders one every Christmas.

Kate designed her wedding cake to match its surroundings. She took into account that her wedding reception was to be held in the Picture Gallery in Buckingham Palace. The room has high ceilings so she chose a cake that towered but was not too tall or thin. She wanted something with presence. Architectural elements in the room, for instance, garlands on the walls, were reproduced loosely on the fourth tier piping: roses, acorns, ivy leaves, apple blossom and bridal roses. The cakemaker would not reveal her exact recipe but did disclose that she used a range of produce from dried fruits such as raisins and sultanas to walnuts, cherries, grated oranges and lemon, French brandy and free-range eggs and flour to create her historic confection.

Of course, the centerpiece of the exhibit was Kate’s wedding dress and veil. An ongoing tradition, viewing royal wedding gowns has wide public appeal. For instance, Princess Diana‘s 1981 Elizabeth Emanuel wedding gown continues to be viewed and is currently part of a travelling exhibition. 

Kate and the Queen view Kate's wedding gown display in Buckingham Palace. July 20, 2011.

Upon viewing the installation of Kate’s wedding dress and veil, the Queen was heard to exclaim, 

“Horrid, isn’t it? Horrid and dreadful!”

 

The Queen is not amused.

The ivory and white Alexander McQueen gown is displayed in a dark and gloomy fashion with the veil and tiara hovering eerily above. 

The Duchess of Cambridge's wedding gown is displayed without a mannequin.

It appeared the mannequin’s lack of a head may have upset the Queen.

Source: HuffStyle 

Readers: For more on Lisa’s History Room about the British Royal Family, click here.

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Princess Charlene beams with joy at her new husband, Prince Albert II of Monaco, following the religious blessing of their marriage.

July 4, 2011

The Daily Mail:

“The new Princess Charlene of Monaco tried to flee home to South Africa three times before her ‘arranged marriage’ to Prince Albert, it was alleged yesterday.

The former Charlene Wittstock, 33, reportedly made her first escape attempt when she travelled to Paris in May to try on her wedding dress.

The allegations, which are surprising considering she went ahead with the wedding on Saturday, emerged in the French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche , It went on to report that later in May, Charlene made a second apparent attempt to escape during the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix.

Monaco Grand Prix along the Monaco Harbor.

A month before their royal wedding, Charlene Wittstock and Prince Albert II of Monaco attend a dinner following the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix. May 31, 2011.

Then, last week, royal officials are said to have confiscated her passport en route to Nice airport via the helicopter service that runs between the Mediterranean principality and France. She was then persuaded to go on with the marriage.

‘Several sources have confirmed that an arrangement was reached between the future bride and groom,’ reported Le Journal du Dimanche.”

The reports followed confirmation by palace sources while the wedding was in full swing that Prince Albert, 53, was due to have DNA tests because of claims by at least one woman that he has fathered another illegitimate child. He already has a 19-year-old daughter and six-year-old son. Le Journal du Dimanche quoted Monaco “policy advisers” among those discussing “two illegitimate children -one already born, the other to come.” (The Vancouver Sun)

Jazmin Grace Grimaldi, the child of Prince Albert II of Monaco and Tamara Rotolo, was born in Palm Springs, California, on March 4, 1992.

Alexandre "Alex" Coste is the natural son of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and former flight attendant from the African Republic of Togo Nicole Coste. He was born on August 24, 2003.

“Sources said the Monaco palace had hoped the glitzy wedding – attended by a host of celebrities and European royalty – would ‘overshadow’ new claims about secret children fathered by Albert.

The Monaco Palace

Instead, Charlene was in floods of tears at one point, while her 53-year-old husband looked on impassively.

Princess Charlene weeps at the religious ceremony blessing her marriage to Prince Albert II of Monaco.

Meanwhile, the reception that followed provoked ridicule with tacky features such as a giant wedding cake that towered over the couple and a mirrored dance floor.

Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene cut a small cake while standing by their enormous (leaning?) wedding cake at the Gala Dinner at the Opera Garnier in Monaco, July 2, 2011. Pink Proteas flowers from Princess Charlene's native South Africa adorn the many-tiered confection. The wedding cake was redcurrant and vanilla. Charlene is radiant in her second Armani gown of the day.

Among the guests were Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, actor Roger Moore and Topshop boss Sir Philip Green and his wife, Tina.

Fireworks light the sky over the Monte Carlo Casino after the gala dinner to celebrate the wedding of Prince Albert II to Charlene Wittstock of South Africa. July 2, 2011

Tomorrow the couple are due to fly to South Africa on honeymoon, presenting Charlene with her best chance yet of ‘escaping’ Monaco.”

Source: The Daily Mail

Readers, for more on the Monaco Royals, Princess Albert II and Princess Charlene, on Lisa’s History Room, click here.

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Peterhof Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia

They first met at the 1884 wedding of his uncle to her sister. She called him Nicky; he called her “Alix” or “Sunny.”  Although Alix was only 12, she knew at that moment that Nicky was “The One.” It was on this occasion she carved their names on the window of the Peterhof Palace.

Alix of Hesse as a young girl ca. 1878

After the wedding, Alix bid her sister and Nicky goodbye, returning to the Darmstadt Palace in Germany which was her home. Alix was a royal princess.

Alix of Hesse ca. 1888

Young Nicholas II of Russia, before he ascended the throne in 1894

Five more years would pass before Princess Alix would return to Russia and see Nicky again. During that visit, the two fell even more deeply in love. Nicky was determined to make Alix his bride.

But Nicky’s parents wouldn’t hear of Nicky marrying a German princess. They hated Germans as did almost every Russian. But Nicky’s parents weren’t just any Russians.  Nicky’s parents were the Romanov rulers of Russia: Tsar Alexander III and Tsarina Marie Feodorovna . They were the Royal Emperor and Empress. Nicky – Nicholas Alexandrovich- being their oldest son – was the Tsarevitch – the heir to the Russian throne.

Alix returned to Germany.

Princess Alix of Hesse, seated, prepares for her first ball. 1889.

More years passed. Love letters written in English flew back and forth between the lovesick pair.

Meanwhile, Nicky carried on a torrid and scandalous three-year affair with the famous Russian ballerina, Mathilda Kschessinska.

Mathilde Kschessinska (1872-1971)

Nevertheless, Nicky’s heart still belonged to Alix.  He wrote in his diary:

It is my dream to one day marry Alix H. I have loved her for a long time, but more deeply and strongly since 1889 when she spent six weeks in Petersburg. For a long time, I have resisted my feeling that my dearest dream will come true.”

Nicky’s parents continued to wage a fierce campaign to find Nicky a suitable bride. The Tsar hoped to land a bigger catch for his son than Princess Alix (even though she was his godchild!), parading a series of royal princesses in front of his son. But Nicky stood firmly against each proposed match, declaring flat out to his folks that he’d become a monk rather than marry anyone ugly and boring when he could have the tall and lovely blue-eyed beauty Princess Alix as his wife and royal consort.

Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom comforts her German granddaughters, the Princesses of Hesse; left to right, Victoria, Ella, and, the youngest, Alix. Their mother, Princess Alice, had just died. Alice was Victoria's second daughter.

Meanwhile, alone in Germany, Alix was equally resolute to marry Nicky, doing her own bit in  turning down royal suitors. She even stood up to her domineering grandmother, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, when the Queen tried to marry her off to her grandson, the Duke of Clarence. Alix declined to marry the Duke stating to “Granny” that she did not love him. Victoria – notorious for her royal matchmaking – surprisingly

“was proud of Alix for standing up to her, something many people, including her own son, the Prince of Wales did not do.”

 
For five years, Tsar Alexander III had stood firmly against his son’s wishes. But, in 1894, he became ill and relented, the couple announcing their engagement in April of 1894.

1894 official engagement photo of Princess Alix of Hesse (later Alexandra Feodorovna) and Tsarevitch Nicholas (later Tsar) of Russia

Princess Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt and by Rhine & Tsarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich, London, 1894

Alix, as a requirement for the engagement, converted from Lutheranism to the Russian Orthodox religion and took the Russian name “Alexandra Feodorovna” to strengthen her appeal to the Russian people. Nicholas and Alexandra planned a spring 1895 wedding.

But their plans were thrown in disarray by Alexander’s sudden death in November and Nicholas’s subsequent ascension to the throne as His Imperial Majesty, Tsar Nicholas II. Nicholas insisted that the wedding date be moved forward, as he wanted Alix by his side to help him rule. They married a swift three weeks later. He was 26.  Alix, now called Empress Alexandra,was 22.

Wedding of Russian Emperor Nicholas II (1868-1918) and Grand Princess Alexandra Fedorovna (1872-1918) by Laurits Tuxen, 1895

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William and Kate drive Prince Charles' Aston Martin through the streets of London on their wedding day, thrilling the crowds.

Following a post-nuptials luncheon buffet for 650 guests given by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, Prince William took his new bride Kate out for a spin in his father’s vintage Aston Martin. The crowd in the street was taken by surprise to see the royal couple, the newly-christened Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, appear on the streets so spontaneously, and sent up mighty cheers, applause, and laughter as the 41-year-old blue sportscar rolled by. William and Kate waved and smiled as they passed the wildly exuberant crowds lining the curbs, waving British flags.

On the front of the car was a large red letter “L”  which stands for “learners permit” bordered by 4 red hearts. Red, white, and blue ribbons and bows decorated the front bonnet. White bows and colored party balloons -two bearing the initials C and W and others shaped like hearts and stars – fluttered gaily from the rear bumper. The novelty license plate proclaimed JU5T WED.

Prince William is distracted from his driving as an RAF helicopter salutes him overhead. Note the special license plate for his wedding day.

The royal car is said to have been specially decorated by that fun-loving prankster Prince Harry.

Best man Prince Harry waves to the crowd as he makes the journey by carriage procession to Buckingham Palace following the Royal Wedding of his brother, Prince William, to the lovely Miss Catherine Middleton.

A Range Rover followed close behind the snazzy convertible. Overhead a yellow Sea King Search and Rescue helicopter with the B Flight 22 Squadron did a flyby to honor the Prince on his wedding day. Prince William is an RAF Search and Rescue helicopter pilot with the same squadron based in Anglesey, Wales.  

RAF colleagues of Prince William did a flyby over Buckingham Palace on his wedding day.

The couple, who had just that morning exchanged televised wedding vows at Westminster Abbey before a worldwide audience of millions, were on their way up the Mall, 500 yards away, to Clarence House, where they would change their clothes for the night’s festivities.

William had already changed clothes once. He had worn a red Irish Guards tunic as he tied the knot but, for the drive down the Mall, had swapped the tunic for an Irish Guards frock coat. In the open auto, Kate still wore the Alexander McQueen wedding dress 

Prince William and the former Miss Kate Middleton, now known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, pose joyously for their official wedding pictures in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace. April 29, 2011

“a glorious sweep of ivory and white silk gazar with hand-embroidered English and French Chantilly lace and 58 organza-covered buttons snaking up the back. It had a discreet v-neck, long lace sleeves and a train that measured nearly nine feet long. Middleton’s slender waistline was emphasized by the gown’s narrow bodice and slight padding at the hips—a nod to Victorian style.”

As for that spiffy sportscar….

Queen Elizabeth had given the Seychelles blue Aston Martin Volante DB6 MKII to her son Prince Charles in 1969 as a 21st birthday gift. The Prince of Wales -who is environmentally sensitive – converted it to run on sustainable fuel in 2008. It now uses E85 bioethanol, made from English wine wastage. The car is said to be roughly valued at £350,000.

Below is an old photo of Prince Charles taking his wife at the time, Princess Diana, William’s late mother, for a spin in the same Aston Martin convertible.

In this undated photo, Prince Charles and Princess Diana are seen driving away in the Prince's blue Aston Martin.

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

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Newlyweds William and Kate pose in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace with his family on our left, her family, the Middletons on our right, and members of the wedding party. On Kate's right include at far right, Kate's sister Philippa, brother James, mother Carole, and father Michael. To the far left of the picture is William's stepmother, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, father, Charles, Prince of Wales, brother Prince Harry, and grandparents, seated, Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II.

On April 29, 2011 at 8 a.m., the day Prince William of Wales married Kate Middleton, officials at Buckingham Palace announced that, in accordance with royal tradition and on recognition of the day by Queen Elizabeth, William was created Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus. The Queen gave Kate a new princess title: Her Royal Highness Princess William Arthur Philip Louis, Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn, Baroness Carrickfergus. 

Even though Kate now has an official princess title, she will not and cannot be called Princess Catherine. Why not?  Unlike the majority of royal brides, and in contrast to most previous consorts-in-waiting for over 350 years, Catherine does not come from a royal or aristocratic background and therefore has no title of her own. Some of the royals — Princess Margaret, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, for example — can use the designation because they were born into blue blood clan. 

 

May 6, 1985: Princess Diana holds baby Prince Harry, Prince Charles holds toddler Prince William.

Princess Diana was a blue blood when she married William’s father, Prince Charles. She was never officially declared “Princess Diana.” She styled herself in this fashion, much as the Queen’s mother became “Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother” when he daughter assumed the throne. 

None of this is set in stone, however, as the Queen could make Kate a “Princess of the United Kingdom,” which would then entitle her to be called Princess Catherine. 

Could we then call her Princess Kate? 

Readers, for more on the British royal wedding and family, click here.

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The Royal Wedding: Britain's Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, travel to Buckingham Palace in the 1902 State Landau, along the Procession Route, after their wedding in Westminster Abbey in London, April 29, 2011. Kate is wearing the Queen's Cartier "halo" tiara, on loan for the occasion.

Every bride wears something borrowed and, for Kate Middleton, that special something belongs to the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, who became Kate’s grandmother upon marriage. On loan for her royal wedding, the newly ennobled Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, anchored her veil with the demure diamond sparkler.

Royal Wedding: Kate Middleton's veil was of silk ivory tulle with hand-embroidered lace flowers.

The 1936 tiara, which was purchased by King George VI for the Queen Mother, was presented to the Queen on her 18th birthday, Buckingham Palace confirmed with the Daily Mail.

Royal Wedding: Kate Middleton dazzles with her smile and diamond sparklers.

Other sparklers, besides her beautiful smile, were Kate’s earrings:

With her hair swept behind her ears, Middleton wore leaf-shaped diamond earrings by Robinson Pelham, which were made to match her tiara. They also featured a diamond set drop and pavé set diamond suspended in the center.
The earrings were a gift from her parents, Carole and Michael Middleton.

 

Pelham’s design for the earrings was inspired by the Middleton family’s new coat of arms, which includes acorns and oak leaves.

In advance of her marriage to Prince William of Great Britain, Catherine "Kate" Middleton and family were granted a new coat of arms.

The three acorns represent Mr. and Mrs. Middleton’s three children (Catherine, Philippa and James). Acorns were chosen because the area in which the children were brought up – West Berkshire, England – is surrounded by oak trees, a symbol of both England and strength.

The gold chevron at the center of the design represents Kate’s mother, Carole,  whose maiden name is Goldsmith. The two thinner chevrons flanking the gold chevron represent hills and mountains, symbolizing the family’s love for the great outdoors. The colours blue and red are the principal colours from the flag of the United Kingdom.

Approved by the Queen, Miss Middleton’s personal Coat of Arms has been presented in the form of a ‘lozenge’ and is shown suspended from a ribbon, which indicates that Kate, at the time, was an unmarried daughter.

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

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On January 6, 1956, the long leading story on page one of the New York Times read:   

PRINCE OF MONACO TO WED GRACE KELLY

Prince Rainier of Monaco and Grace Kelly of Philadelphia announce their engagement on January 5, 1956.

The fairytale romance was front page news! It had captured the public imagination “to the point of intoxication.” (1) There was to be a wedding – a royal wedding ! It would be the “Wedding of the Century,” it was predicted.

Grace Patricia Kelly was an Academy-Award-winning actress and America’s #1 box office star. Prince Rainier was Europe‘s most eligible bachelor. It was a marriage made in heaven – it seemed.  Behind the scenes, though, a rather down-to-earth business arrangement had preceded the finalizing of the engagement.

The public was swept away by such a whirlwind courtship. After all,  Grace and the Prince barely knew one another. Just the previous May, the two had met at a Paris-Match publicity shoot at the Prince’s palace in Monaco.  They had exchanged polite words, nothing more. But after that chance encounter, Rainier and Grace began a vigorous correspondence. For the next seven months, letter flew back and forth across the Atlantic.

The Royal Palace at Monaco

Over the course of time, Grace and Rainier discovered that they had much in common – their Roman Catholicism particularly and their dissatisfaction with their lives. Both were looking to get married and start a family. 

 

Grace Kelly, Life magazine, ca. 1955.

The two were nothing more than pen pals when the Prince, his doctor, and his priest arrived at the home of Grace’s parents, Jack and Margaret Kelly, in Philadelphia on Christmas night, 1955. Grace had flown in from Hollywood for the special dinner visit. Bear in mind, Grace had not laid eyes on the Prince since the spring.  Three days later, they were engaged, with Grace’s parents’ approval.

Before Rainier and Grace could officially announce their engagement, though, there were several obstacles to overcome – matters of state, as Grace was marrying into the House of Grimaldi. First, Grace had to submit to a physical exam to determine if she could bear children – heirs to the throne of Monaco. She passed the fertility test.

Secondly, it was the custom among the European aristocracy for the bride’s family to pay the groom a dowry. Jack Kelly, an Irish millionaire whose family was the cream of Philadelphia society, flew into a rage at the very idea. In the end, though, as the marriage of his daughter was thrown in jeopardy, he agreed to pay the Prince a dowry of $2 million.

Finally, Grace had to accept that, in the event of a divorce, any children of the marriage would remain in Monaco with their father.

(1) Glatt, John. The Royal House of Monaco. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998.

Readers, for more on Grace Kelly on this blog, click here.

 

 

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