26 November 2010

This Week in Princesses

Several royal ladies were flying their flags all over the globe this week, from Hong Kong to Peru to the Middle East. In the Netherlands, a royal wedding brought together a small crowd of royal ladies, but nothing like you'll see when Prince William marries Kate Middleton on April 29, 2011 at Westminster Abbey.

NOVEMBER 20, 2010

Prince Carlos of Bourbon-Parme, nephew of Netherlands' Queen Beatrix, and Annemarie Gualtherie van Weezel exchange a kiss after their wedding at the Ter Kameren (La Cambre) Abbey in Brussels, November 20, 2010. REUTERS/Sebastien Pirlet (BELGIUM - Tags: ROYALS)
What better way to start the week than with a royal wedding! Prince Carlos of Bourbon-Parma, nephew of the Dutch Queen and the Carlist claimant to the Spanish throne, and his wife, Annemarie Gualtherie van Weezel celebrated their religious wedding ceremony four months after their civil wedding. The ceremony was postponed this summer because of his father's death.

Princess Maxima (L-R), Queen Beatrix and Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands leave the Ter Kameren (La Cambre) Abbey after attending the wedding of Prince Carlos of Bourbon-Parme, nephew of Queen Beatrix, and Annemarie Gualtherie van Weezel in Brussels, November 20, 2010. REUTERS/Sebastien Pirlet (BELGIUM - Tags: ROYALS)

Many royal relatives attended the wedding including the groom's aunt, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands (center), his cousin Crown Prince Willem Alexander and the Crown Princess Maxima.

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - NOVEMBER 20: Prince Lorentz of Belgium arrives for the Royal Wedding of Princess Annemarie Gualtherie van Weezel and Prince Carlos de Bourbon de Parme at Abbaye de la Cambre on November 20, 2010 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Renders/Getty Images)

The groom's sister Princess Carolina Marchioness of Sala was pretty in purple on the arm of Prince Lorenz of Belgium, who is also an Archduke of Austria. Although the princess is single, her escort is married to the Belgian king's daughter.

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - NOVEMBER 20: Prince Carlos de Bourbon de Parme and Princess Irene of the Netherlands arrive for the Royal Wedding of Princess Annemarie Gualtherie van Weezel and Prince Carlos de Bourbon de Parme at Abbaye de la Cambre on November 20, 2010 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Renders/Getty Images)

The mother of the groom, Princess Irene of the Netherlands, also chose purple. She looked very proud arriving with her oldest son. (For more pics from the wedding, visit Mad Hattery.)

NOVEMBER 22, 2010

Spanish Crown Prince Felipe and his wife Princess Letizia greet the media as they arrive at the military airport in Lima November 22, 2010. Prince Felipe and his wife are in Peru for a three-day official visit. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares(PERU - Tags: POLITICS ROYALS)

Princess Letizia and Prince Felipe arrived in Peru for a three-day visit to promote trade between Spain and its former colony. At the end of the trip, Felipe called the visit "especially gratifying and fruitful."

Princess Marie of Denmark attends a luncheon in Hong Kong November 23, 2010. Princess Marie is in Hong Kong with her husband Prince Joachim to attend Danish business promotion events. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu (CHINA - Tags: ROYALS)

Meanwhile French-born Princess Marie of Denmark and her husband Prince Joachim were spending a few days in Hong Kong promoting Danish business. Ironically, Joachim's first wife, the former Alexandra Manley now Countess of Fredriksborg, was born in Hong Kong. Wonder if that was awkward for second wife, Marie?

NOVEMBER 23, 2010

MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 23: Spanish Second Vice-President and Finance Minister Elena Salgado (L) and Queen Sofia of Spain (R) attend 'Museo Reina Sofia' 20th anniversary on November 23, 2010 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)

Queen Sofia of Spain attended the 20th anniversary celebrations of the Queen Sofia Museum (Museo Reina Sofia). She looks lovely, but the Spanish royal ladies seem to be wearing a lot of gray lately.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 23: Queen Elizabeth II 'Exchanges the Peace' with the Archbishop of York John Sentamu at the ninth Inauguration of the General Synod at Westminster Abbey on November 23, 2010 in London, England. Queen Elizabeth II attended a service of Holy Communion at the inaugration of the ninth General Synod of the Church of England, an event which takes place every five years. (Photo by Dan Kitwood - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

As Head of the Church of England, Queen Elizabeth II attended the ninth inauguration of the General Synod. She drew praise for her speech, which included the following: "In our more diverse and secular society, the place of religion has come to be a matter of lively discussion. It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue and that the wellbeing and prosperity of the nation depend on the contribution of individuals and groups of all faiths and of none. Yet, as the recent visit of His Holiness The Pope reminded us, churches and the other great faith traditions retain the potential to inspire great enthusiasm, loyalty and a concern for the common good."

NOVEMBER 24, 2010

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 24: Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Andrew, Duke of York (right) arrives at the Sheikh Zayed Mosque on November 24, 2010 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh will soon arrive on a State Visit to the Middle East. The Royal couple will spend two days in Abu Dhabi and three days in Oman. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

84-year-old Queen Elizabeth II started an official tour of the Gulf States with her husband Prince Philip, who will be 90 in June, and their second son, Prince Andrew The Duke of York. Her hat-and-scarf combo drew a lot of favorable attention for its cultural sensitivity, but it does look a little warm for a visit to desert lands.

NOVEMBER 26, 2010

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - NOVEMBER 26: Sister Leontine and Queen Fabiola of Belgium attends a tribute to Sister Leontine at Clinique Saint-Jean on November 26, 2010 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Renders/Getty Images)
Queen Fabiola of Belgium, widow of King Baudoin, still looks fabulous at 82 in a bright red scarf. The devoutly Catholic royal was attending a tribute to Sister Leontine, who is considered the founder of palliative care in Belgium. The event marked the 20th anniversary of her unit at the St. John Clinic. She and the English queen favor similar hairstyles.

Charlene Wittstock, fiancee of Prince Albert II of Monaco, arrives to attend the 10th Monte-Carlo film festival in Monaco November 26, 2010.  REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (MONACO - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT ROYALS HEADSHOT)

Finally, future princess Charlene Wittstock, fiancee of Prince Albert of Monaco, was on hand for the Monaco Film Festival. Despite the somber color of her outfit, she was positively glowing. No jealousy I guess about Kate Middleton's royal wedding trumping her own by two months, I guess.

22 November 2010

Queen Victoria as a Child

In response to search queries, here is a little tidbit about Queen Victoria as a child. Born in 1819, she was the only daughter of King George III's fourth son, the Duke of Kent. Her father died when she was an infant and she was raised at Kensington Palace by her German mother, who did not get along well with the royal British in-laws.

Through a series of tragically young deaths among her cousins, Victoria succeeded her uncles George IV and William IV when she was barely 18 years old. (Read my post about the "Royal Baby Race" at the Unoffical Royalty Site.)

21 November 2010

Catherine: An Unhappy Queen?

Kate Middleton enters a room with her fiance, Britain's Prince William, to pose for a photograph in St. James's Palace, central London November 16, 2010. Britain's Prince William is to marry his long-term girlfriend Kate Middleton next year, after an on-off courtship lasting nearly a decade, bringing months of speculation about his intentions to an end. REUTERS/Paul Hackett (BRITAIN - Tags: SOCIETY ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT)
With the announcement of the royal engagement between Prince William and Kate Middleton, speculation has run rife about every imaginable topic. Where will they marry? What will she wear? When will they have their first child? What will her new title be? All of these things are unclear for now, but there is one thing we can know for certain: When William becomes king, Kate will be his Queen Catherine.

But, the name Catherine has not been a joyful one among British queens. There have only been five, but when you learn that three of them were wives of Henry VIII, you will immediately understand the sad history of the name.

Catherine of Valois

Catherine of Valois was the daughter of King Charles VI of France when her husband essentially won her in battle. King Henry V, Shakespeare’s famed ‘King Hal,’ insisted on the long-discussed marriage after his victory at the Battle of Agincourt, and he was even more urgent once he saw how pretty the young French princess was. As a royal ‘love’ match with good political benefits—Henry was also named heir to the French throne—the marriage was destined for success. Of course, it hardly had time to fail: Henry died just two years later, leaving his 21-year-old widow with an infant son, King Henry VI.

The English were concerned that the young Queen Catherine would marry again and, thereby, give control of the king and the kingdom to her new husband, so they passed a law that a widowed queen could not marry without the king’s permission. And, to make sure Catherine had no options, the king was not allowed to consent until he had reached his majority. Catherine would have to wait more than a decade.

She didn’t. As a healthy young woman, she was, as one chronicler wrote, “unable to fully curb her carnal passions” and she began a secret liaison with the Welshman, Owen Tudor. She bore him five children before anyone noticed. (Fashions must have been loose-fitting!) Her son Edmund Tudor married a girl from the House of Lancaster and became the grandfather of Henry VII.

Catherine died as a result of childbirth shortly after her affair was discovered. She was entombed at Westminster Abbey, where Kate and William may marry, but her coffin wasn’t sealed. It was opened many years later to reveal that her corpse had mummified. For hundreds of years, special visitors were allowed access to it and, in the 17th century, diarist Samuel Pepys even kissed her on the mouth. (And to think, the Queen Mother never liked Jimmy Carter because he kissed her on the mouth while she was still living!)

In addition to her Tudor progeny, Catherine allegedly left an even longer-lasting legacy to the British royal family. Some believe that porphyria entered the family through her. This metabolic disorder is thought to have affected many British royals including her descendants Mary Queen of Scots and “mad” King George III. (See her funeral effigy: http://bit.ly/ae4sQ6)

Catherine of Aragon

The next Queen Catherine was a bright and beautiful blonde teenager when she arrived in England to marry the future king. The daughter of the “Catholic Kings” Ferdinand and Isabella, Catherine was expected to seal an alliance between the nouveau regime of King Henry Tudor, whose dynastic claim to the English throne was slight, and the powerful Spanish kingdoms of Aragon and Castile. After a lavish wedding at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Catherine and her teenage groom, Arthur Prince of Wales, were sent to live in Wales—incidentally where Kate and William will live after their wedding (and before it, too!) Soon after arriving, they both fell very ill. Catherine survived but Arthur did not.

Catherine was now in a state of limbo. She could have returned to Spain and been married off again, but instead, King Henry, lusting after her hefty dowry, kept her in England and began negotiating for her to marry his second son. When King Henry’s wife died, he even thought about bedding the princess himself, but Catherine’s mother was shocked and irate. Over the next several years, Henry delayed returning Catherine (and her money). After Queen Isabella died and the Spanish kingdoms were no longer united, Catherine became less politically appealing and almost lost her chance to be Queen of England.

Then, fate intervened. Old King Henry died and his 16-year-old heir, Henry VIII, played knight errant to his 23-year-old sister-in-law’s damsel in distress. The two were in love with the romance of their situation and, perhaps, even with each other. Well-educated and charming, Catherine showed herself an excellent consort. During her widowhood, she had served for a period as her father’s ambassador—the first woman to hold such a position—and, after her second marriage, she served as her husband’s regent while he was fighting in France. The Scots, taking advantage of his absence, attacked in the north and Regent Catherine was able to report that the troops she sent not only routed the enemy but that the Scottish king did not survive the battle. Henry was not nearly as successful in France.

The marriage slowly deteriorated due to fertility problems. What we see today in scientific, medical terms experienced by many people, King Henry saw as a sign that God was displeased with him marrying his brother’s widow, despite the fact that God didn’t seem to mind giving them a perfectly healthy daughter, the future Queen Mary I. As Henry fought the Church to divorce Catherine, she steadfastly maintained the validity of the marriage and proclaimed her love for Henry. After he took over as head of the Church of England, Henry’s ministers declared the marriage void and he married his mistress, Anne Boleyn.

Catherine was sent away and was even eventually denied the company of her young daughter. When she died at the age of 50, Henry and Anne dressed in bright yellow and held a party to celebrate. Four months later, Anne was no longer celebrating when she became the first of Henry’s wives to meet the executioner. (Read my profile of Catherine of Aragon.)

Catherine Howard

In one of those strange twists of history, Henry VIII’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard, was first cousins with his unfortunate second wife, Anne Boleyn. They were both nieces of the powerful Thomas Howard Duke of Norfolk, who, no matter how many of his kinsman met the axeman, always managed to keep his head (literally!) The Howard clan was very large, but as the daughter of a younger son, Catherine’s prospects were not very good. She was sent to live with her step-grandmother in a kind of girls’ home for similarly unfortunate aristocratic girls. The young ladies slept all together in a large chamber, but some, including Catherine, were apparently rather good at sneaking in companions of the opposite sex. It’s unclear how far Catherine’s pubescent explorations went, but she certainly experimented with a couple of fellows.

When Henry VIII married his fourth wife for diplomatic reasons, young Catherine was sent to be one of her ladies-in-waiting. Disgusted by his “Flanders mare” of a wife, Henry soon took a fancy to the buxom and flirtatious Catherine. As the fourth wife was more compliant than the first, Henry peacefully and quickly left her after just six months of marriage. Weeks later, he made Catherine his new queen.

While it is uncertain how old Catherine was, since no one bothered to document her birth, she was no older than 20, while her husband was nearly 50. He was no longer the handsome and athletic prince who had married Catherine of Aragon. He was bloated and ill and increasingly despotic. Nevertheless, he was positively besotted with his lovely bride and showered her with gifts and attention.

He even allowed her to continue music lessons with her old music master, completely unaware that the man had already “tickled her ivories” as it were. When Catherine started an affair with one of her husband’s companions, she was indiscreet and the affair was soon discovered. Henry at first refused to believe the accusations against his “rose without a thorn,” but when love letters she had written were produced, he sulked in anger and disgust. As her illicit past was revealed, Henry was disconsolate—Catherine, unlike any of his other wives, had truly broken his heart.

With her cousin’s fate in her mind, Catherine was nearly hysterical. One apocryphal tale has her running through the palace and banging on Henry’s door while he stubbornly ignores her cries. Unlike Anne Boleyn, who was probably innocent of adultery, Catherine earned her traitor’s title since it was treasonous to cheat on the king. She was beheaded after being queen for only 18 months.

Catherine Parr

A year later, Henry VIII decided to give marriage another shot, but this time, he chose more wisely, thinking more practically and less romantically. His sixth bride was no lusty teenager. In fact, the thirty-ish Catherine Parr had the perfect background for the aging Henry and his three motherless children. She was used to nursing older husbands, having already been widowed twice, and for looking after stepchildren, some of whom were older than herself.

Catherine had made other plans for herself after her second husband’s death. She wanted to marry the dashing Thomas Seymour, brother of Henry’s third wife, Jane, and a boon companion of the king. However, Thomas dawdled too long in the asking and the king beat him to the punch. Catherine had no choice but to accept.

Well-educated and clever, Catherine was a worthy companion for Henry and his erudite children. She managed to reconcile the far-flung family, which had been divided due to Henry’s turbulent matrimonial choices. As mater familias, Catherine created a more domestic relationship and was loved and respected by them all. She also was an able nursemaid for the king, uncomplainingly changing the bandages on his oozing, ulcerated leg.

Catherine’s only fault was her devotion to Protestantism. Despite common belief today, Henry VIII was staunchly opposed to the Reformation. His break with the Catholic Church was political, not religious. In fact, he earned the title “Defender of the Faith,” which English monarchs have used ever since, by refuting the doctrines of Martin Luther. In his kingdom, it was deadly to espouse any kind of Reformation thinking. Catherine was devoted to the cause, however, and did not exercise enough caution in hiding her reading materials or in posing theological arguments with the king. When councillors became concerned, they convinced Henry to issue an arrest warrant. But, the warrant was accidentally dropped on the ground, and friends of Catherine found it and brought it to her. She was able to reach the king before the guards got to her and she sweet-talked her way out of a very dangerous situation.

Henry’s faith in Catherine was never shaken again. After three and half years of marriage, she outlived the king and then secretly married Thomas Seymour. As the widow of the king, her marriage was considered an affair of state and the couple was strongly criticized when it was revealed. Nevertheless, Catherine was contented to have, at last, a husband of her own choosing and at 36, for the first time in her life, she became pregnant. Tragically, her happiness was short-lived: Catherine succumbed to childbed fever and died days after the birth.

Catherine of Braganza

When Catherine of Braganza was born, the Spanish king was still king of Portugal. By the time she was two, the Portugese had instituted a coup d’etat and placed her father on the throne. Now an infanta, the toddler became a major commodity on the royal marriage market. Not only did she come with a huge dowry that included the ports of Tangier and Bombay, but she also represented a strong alliance against Spain. So, any prince who wanted to oppose the still-powerful Spanish king was interested in young Catherine.

During her childhood, England seemed an unlikely alliance since the English had abandoned the monarchy and beheaded their king. But, that changed when the dashing King Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660. Catherine’s mother saw an opportunity and seized it immediately. Within a year, Charles had agreed to accept the money he desperately needed and the wife that came with it. Despite its obvious economic advantages, however, the marriage was hardly popular because Catherine was staunchly Catholic, a fact that kept her from being crowned in the now-fervently Protestant England.

As a fun-loving, playboy King, Charles II may have been less than impressed with his pretty but dowdy wife. At 23, she had spent much of her life being raised by nuns and her Portugese fashions were demure and prim in the raunchy atmosphere of Restoration England. Charles may have been a rascal, but he was no cad. He might privately have remarked that “they had brought him a bat” instead of a bride, but officially and publically, he was always gracious. A self-proclaimed connoisseur of women, he declared, “she hath as much agreeableness in her looks altogether as ever I saw.”

Despite the fact that Charles installed his mistresses in Catherine’s household and that he readily acknowledged his numerous bastards, he always insisted that Catherine be treated with respect. He always took her side over the mistress du jour and even defended her when presented with (fabricated) evidence that his Catholic wife had plotted to have him murdered.

Her religion was not Catherine’s only difficulty in England. Far more personally disappointing and politically dangerous was the fact that she had no children. She suffered several miscarriages and still births, but produced no living heir. Although Charles could have followed his predecessor Henry VIII’s example and found a way to rid himself of his wife, Charles was never even unkind to Catherine. Her quietly affectionate and tolerant personality made it easy for him to genuinely like her. Once, when she was deathly ill, he even indulged her delusion and told her that she had given birth to healthy children.

The combined issues of heir-lessness and Catholicism made the situation volatile. Charles wished to be tolerant of all religions, including Catholicism. However, when his brother and heir, James Duke of York, converted, Parliament was infuriated and passed legislation which forced James to resign as Lord High Admiral. By the time Charles died, religious tensions were prevented from exploding only because James’ presumed successors were his two Protestant daughters, Mary and Anne.

When Charles’ illegitimate son, the Duke of Monmouth, led an unsuccessful Protestant revolt against James, Catherine put aside her religion and any natural jealousy she could have felt for husband’s bastard. Instead, she demonstrated her continuing loyalty and affection for her late husband by pleading for his favorite child’s life. His Uncle James was less sentimental: he executed Monmouth.

As the anti-Catholic fervor grew more intense, Catherine decided to return to Portugal, where she acted as regent for her brother, King Peter II, on a couple of occasions. She died after an illness at the age of 67 and was buried in Lisbon.

Although she mothered no kings, Catherine of Braganza had an impact perhaps greater than many other English queens. Not only did she introduce the nation to the “English” tradition of drinking tea, but her dowry of Bombay became one of the major keystones to British imperial power.

19 November 2010

This Week in Princesses

While Britain was announcing its next princess, other royal ladies had busy schedules that did not necessarily include 24-hour news coverage.

NOVEMBER 14, 2010

Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (L) and Sophie, Countess of Wessex attend the annual Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, in central London November 14, 2010.  REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (BRITAIN - Tags: ANNIVERSARY MILITARY SOCIETY ROYALS)
Camilla Duchess of Cornwall and her sister-in-law Sophie Countess of Wessex were appropriately somber at the Remembrance Sunday ceremony in London honoring those who have died in war. The bright poppies popped up on British notables around the world--including at "Harry Potter" events--prompting speculation from American media. The red flower is a tribute inspired by the famous WWI elegy "In Flanders Field" where the bright flower populates the ground where so many died.

NOVEMBER 15, 2010

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - NOVEMBER 15: Queen Fabiola of Belgium, Crown Prince Philippe of Belgium and Princess Mathilde of Belgium attend the Te Deum in the Brussels' Cathedral on Kings Day on November 15, 2010 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Renders/Getty Images)
Crown Prince Philippe escorted two royal ladies to the King's Day Te Deum at Brussels Cathedral: his wife, Crown Princess Mathilde, and his aunt, Queen Fabiola. The annual celebration is a thanksgiving for the life of the king, but the king himself does not attend.

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - NOVEMBER 15: Princess Astrid of Belgium leaves the Brussels' Cathedral on Kings Day after attending the Te Deum on November 15, 2010 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Renders/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - NOVEMBER 15: Princess Claire of Belgium leaves the Brussels' Cathedral on Kings Day after attending the Te Deum on November 15, 2010 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Renders/Getty Images)
At the same event, Princess Astrid of Belgium wore an old-fashioned hat of orange and black feathers that Britain's Queen Mother would have loved, while her sister-in-law Princess Claire looked fresh and lovely.

NOVEMBER 17, 2010

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 17: Designers Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta and Queen Sofia attend a private preview of the exhibition 'BALENCIAGA: Spanish Master' at Queen Sofia Spanish Institute on November 17, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Queen Sofia Spanish Institute)
Queen Sofia of Spain was in the United States promoting an fashion exhibition about Spanish designer Balenciaga. Not only do queens get to play with pandas, they also get to be dressed by the best designers. I'm sure Her Majesty's companions, Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera have dressed their share of royal ladies!

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 17: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall sits on the top of an old routemaster bus as it drives down the Strand on the way to the London Transport Museum on November 17, 2010 in London, England. The Duchess was travelling with the children from St Augustine's CE school and attended a reception hosted by the National Literacy Trust (NLT) when she arrived. (Photo by Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Is Camilla Duchess of Cornwall economizing to save money for her stepson's wedding by taking the bus? Not exactly, the jaunt was part of an official visit to the transportation museum.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 17: (L to R) Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Barry Humphries as Dame Edna Everage, and singer Paloma Faith arrive at The Prince's Trust Rock Gala 2010 supported by Novae at the Royal Albert Hall on November 17, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
That evening, the future queen met a queen of another sort. The Duchess of Cornwall brushed up against a host of celebrities at a fundraiser for her husband's charity, The Prince's Trust. And, yes, I'm saying it much more unequivocally than Charles did in his recent interview: I have no doubt that if Charles becomes king, Camilla will be queen.

NOVEMBER 17-18, 2010

In Belgium, Queen Paola hosted a conference about "vulnerable children" on the run. Of course, children at risk are a favorite cause for royal ladies everywhere, so the conference had almost as many princesses in attendance as a royal wedding.

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - NOVEMBER 16: Her Royal Highness Infanta Cristina of Spain, Queen Silvia of Sweden, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Gloucester and King Albert of Belgium pose for a photo before attending a concert at Laeken Castle at Laeken Castle on November 16, 2010 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Renders/Getty Images)
Infanta Cristina of Spain, Queen Silvia of Sweden, and HRH the Duchess of Gloucester with King Albert of Belgium

BRUSSEL, BELGIUM - NOVEMBER 18: Princess Claire of Belgium and Queen Paola of Belgium attend a reception after a conference about ' Vulnerable children on the run' at The Royal Palace on November 17, 2010 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Renders/Getty Images)
Queen Paola enjoyed a wee nip in the company of daughter-in-law Princess Claire at the end of the successful conference.

NOVEMBER 18, 2010

THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS - NOVEMBER 18: (L-R) Princess Maxima of the Netherlands, German President Christian Wulff and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands pose for a photograph at the balcony room at Huis ten Bosch Palace on November 18, 2010 in The Hague, Netherlands. German President Wulff is on a one-day-visit to the Netherlands. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
Meanwhile, across the border, Queen Beatrix and Crown Princess Maxima of the Netherlands were on duty at The Hague to welcome the German president for an official visit. He must be a charming fellow because they both seem genuinely delighted.

NOVEMBER 19, 2010

MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 19: Princess Letizia of Spain attends 'Feriarte 2010' at the IFEMA on November 19, 2010 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)
I must admit, I'm loving the softer styling of Letizia Princess of the Asturias hair. She wore this very contemporary and flattering look at a Spanish fashion event.

Prince Albert II of Monaco's fiancee Charlene Wittstock (L) and Princess Caroline of Hanover sing the national anthem during Monaco's national day's gala evening in Monte Carlo November 19, 2010.  REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ANNIVERSARY)
The future Princess Charlene showed that she fully plans to emulate her late mother-in-law's sartorial vision of princess-hood: elegance with a touch of glamour. She and Princess Caroline of Monaco were at a concert celebrating Monaco's national day.

Charlene Wittstock (L), fiancee of Prince Albert II of Monaco and South African Olympic swimmer, smiles as she talks with Princess Stephanie at the Palace balcony during a parade for Monaco's National Day in Monte Carlo November 19, 2010. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ANNIVERSARY)
Earlier in the day, Charlene Wittstock also looked very Grace-like, and was apparently witty, judging by the look on Princess Stephanie's face.

MONACO - NOVEMBER 19: (L-R) Princess Caroline of Hanover, Princess Alexandra of Hanover and Charlotte Casiraghi attend the Army Parade as part of Monaco's National Day celebrations on November 19, 2010 in Monaco, Monaco. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
For me though, one of the best part's of Monaco Day is the opportunity to see Princess Caroline with both of her daughters, Princess Alexandra of Hanover and Charlotte Casiraghi.

16 November 2010

Congrats to William and Catherine

Embed from Getty Images

After many years of speculation, the British royal family has announced the engagement of HRH Prince William of Wales to his longtime love and college sweetheart, Catherine Elizabeth Middleton, who is better known in the media as Kate.

William presented his future princess with his late mother Diana's engagement ring, an 18-carat sapphire and she wore a stunning blue dress to show it off during an official photo call. The pair will wed in the spring or summer of 2011.

So, now all the guessing about dates, dresses, locations, honeymoons and babies will be consuming all of the consumer tabloids for many months to come.

Watch the Sky News interview with the newly engaged couple.

12 November 2010

Things I Missed

Thanks to everyone for continuing to support The Princess Palace blog with your visits and links! After neglecting my blog for a few months (having taken on a couple of extra jobs to pay the mortgage!), I have returned to keep you updated on the world of princesses. Here are a few things that happened during my period of blog silence.

QEII went social
The Facebook page of Britain's Queen Elizabeth is shown on a computer screen in London November 8, 2010. Queen Elizabeth has joined Facebook, adding a presence on the world's most popular social network to the royal family's accounts on Twitter, photo-sharing site Flickr and YouTube.  REUTERS/Dylan Martinez  (BRITAIN - Tags: ROYALS SOCIETY)
Having joined Twitter some time ago, the British Monarchy finally launched a Facebook page earlier this month. I'm a "fan" and I definitely like this interaction better than the Twitter feed. (It's the pictures!)

Queen Sofia played with pandas
Spanish Queen Sofia holds one of a pair of recently born twin pandas at the Madrid Zoo & Aquarium November 5, 2010. The twin pandas were born on September 7, conceived through artificial insemination in a joint effort by Spain's National Research council and scientists from China. The cubs are the first of their species to be born in Spain since 1982, and only the third litter to be born in Europe, according to Chinese veterinarian Yuan Bo, who travelled from Beijing to assist with the birth and the first months of the newborns. REUTERS/Susana Vera (SPAIN - Tags: ROYALS SOCIETY ANIMALS)
In a moment designed to make my little sister cry with jealousy, Queen Sofia got to feed and handle two baby pandas. My sister never wanted to be a real princess more than when she found out royal ladies get to play with pandas instead of visiting them religiously from a reasonable distance at Zoo Atlanta (where, by the way, we had a brand new panda cub born this month.)

A Sheikha shook up fashion watchers
Britain's Queen Elizabeth (R) poses with Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned, the wife of Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, before a banquet held during their state visit at Windsor Castle near London October 26, 2010. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty  (BRITAIN - Tags: ROYALS)
Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned, wife #2 of the three wives of the Emir of Qatar, showed Western style moguls that the modesty required in traditional Muslim societies, doesn't have to be humdrum. During official visits with her husband to France and England, she drew a lot of press attention, including favorable comparisons to Jackie Kennedy. Of course, drawing attention to oneself may not fit some people's definition of modesty.

Not like mother-in-law
DOHA, QATAR - OCTOBER 31: H.E. Sheikha Al Mayassah Bint Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani presents Kim Clijsters of Belgium the Billy Jean King trophy after her win over Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark in the singles final on day six of the WTA Championships at the Khalifa Tennis Complex on October 31, 2010 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Sheikha Mozah's daughter-in-law, Sheikha Al Mayassah Bint Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, apparently does not aspire to the same Western-influenced sartorial style as her mother-in-law.

We ARE amused
BRAEMAR, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 04: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales laugh as they watch the tug-of-war during the Braemar Highland Games at The Princess Royal and Duke of Fife Memorial Park on September 4, 2010 in Braemar, Scotland. The Braemar Gathering is the most famous of the Highland Games and is known worldwide. Each year thousands of visitors descend on this small Scottish village on the first Saturday in September to watch one of the more colourful Scottish traditions. The Gathering has a long history and in its modern form it stretches back nearly 200 years. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
The queen is often represented as lacking a sense of humor, but she clearly was amused by something at the annual Highland games at Braemar in Scotland. She also obviously enjoyed sharing the moment with her oldest son, Prince Charles.

A new princess arrived
SPETSES, GREECE - AUGUST 25: Prince Nikolaos of Greece and Princess Nikolaos of Greece and Denmark (Tatiana Blatnik) leave in a horse drawn carriage after getting married at the Cathedral of Ayios Nikolaos (St. Nicholas) on August 25, 2010 in Spetses, Greece. Representatives from Europe s royal families will join the many guests who have travelled to the island to attend the wedding of Prince Nikolaos of Greece, the second son of King Constantine of Greece and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece and Tatiana Blatnik an events planner for Diane Von Furstenburg in London. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Prince Nikolaos of Greece finally ended his long bachelorhood by marrying the gorgeous Tatiana Blatnik on a gorgeous Greek island surrounded by other gorgeous royals on Aug. 25. If only my life were half as gorgeous...

Back to school
MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 15: Princess Leonor (L) and Princess Sofia (R) arrive at 'Santa Maria de los Rosales' School on September 15, 2010 in Aravaca near of Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)
Little princesses, like Infanta Leonor and Infanta Sofia, went back to school like millions of other youngsters.

Princess with a pen
ANTWERPEN, BELGIUM - NOVEMBER 06: Princess Martha Louisa of Norway signs her book 'discover your Gardian Angel' at the Antwerp Book Fair (Boekenbeurs) at on November 6, 2010 in Antwerpen, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Renders/Getty Images)
Princess Martha Louise of Norway, who is looking more and more like her mother, wrote a book about guardian angels.

Remembering 9/11
NEW YORK - OCTOBER 29: Crown Princess Mette-Marit and Crown Prince Haakon of Norway visit Ground Zero on October 29, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Henry S. Dziekan III/Getty Images)
Crown Princess Mette-Marit and Crown Prince Haakon of Norway visited Ground Zero during a trip to New York City.

Not pregnant
OVIEDO, SPAIN - OCTOBER 22: Princess Letizia of Spain attends 'Prince of Saturias awards 2010 Laureates' audience at the Reconquista Hotel on October 22, 2010 in Oviedo, Spain. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)
Despite my insightful analogies between the lives of Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and Crown Princess Letizia of Spain, Letizia has not announced a pregnancy to coincide with the impending arrival of Mary's twins in January. The two princesses each had their first two children within a month of the other's. (Read my faulty prediction.)

No engagement
Photo by: MC/AAD/starmaxinc.com  2010  10/23/10 Prince William and Kate Middleton attend a wedding at the St. Peter and St. Paul church in Northleach. (Gloucestershire, England)  Photo via Newscom
Kate Middleton went to a wedding with Prince William, but alas it wasn't her own. I'm with other royal watchers, however, in predicting a 2011 wedding, but I think it will be a lower-key affair than Charles and Diana's extravaganza in 1981. I certainly don't think it will be at St. Paul's. Look for Westminster Abbey or St. George's Chapel.