Thursday, August 31, 2006

Nine years ago today



Where were you when you heard the news?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Royal Profile: Princess Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood

She was born on April 25, 1897 in Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee year. Queen Victoria called her "My dear little Jubilee baby" and her grandfather, the Prince of Wales suggested calling her Diamond. Instead she was christened Victoria Alexandra Alice Mary, however, she was always known as Mary, after her maternal grandmother Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck.

She was born at York Cottage, on the Sandringham estate, the third child and only daughter of the Duke and Duchess of York, the future King George V and Queen Mary. Her siblings were Prince Edward (later Edward VIII and Duke of Windsor, Albert (later King George VI), Henry, Duke of Gloucester , Prince George, Duke of Kent and Prince John. Her christening took place on June 7, 1897 at St. Mary Magdalene Church on the Sandringham estate. Her godparents were Queen Victoria, King George I of Greece, the Dowager Empress of Russia, Princess Victoria of Wales and Prince Francis of Teck.


She was extremely shy but she was her father's favorite child. Cooking was a favorite pastime and she enjoyed working the model dairy that her grandmother Queen Alexandra had set up at Sandringham, milking the cows, churning the milk, and making little pats of butter for her father's breakfast. She had her own school room, sharing her lessons with the younger daughters of the Duke of Devonshire. She studied piano and singing and shared drill classes with her brothers. Quick and intelligent, she was an excellent rider, and a good linguist, fluent in French and German.

During the First World War she was active in welfare organizations, particularily involved in projects to provide comfort to troops. This concern led to the creation of the Princess Mary gift box which was sent out to troops in Christmas 1914. These boxes contained one ounce of pipe tobacco, twenty cigarettes, a pipe, a tinder lighter, a Christmas card from the King and Queen and a photograph of Princess Mary. Non-smokers received a box containing a packet of acid tablets, a khaki writing case containing pencil, paper and envelopes together with the Christmas card and photograph. Princess Mary also took a nursing course and in 1918 went to work at the Great Ormond Street Hospital.

In 1922 she married Henry, Viscount Lascelles, a man 15 years her senior at Wesminster Abbey. At first they made their home at Goldsborough Hall, near Knaresborough. Seven years after their wedding, Lord Lascelles succeeded his father as the sixth Earl of Harewood and they moved into Harewood House. Princess Mary loved Yorkshire and she was known as the 'Yorkshire Princess'. They had two sons, George the present Earl of Harewood, born in 1922 and Gerald born in 1923.

Her public duties reflected a particular concern with nursing, the Women's Services and the Girl Guide movement. She was appointed Commandant in Chief of the British Red Cross Detachments in 1926 and she also became Colonel-in-chief' of a number of regiments. Following the death of her aunt, Louise, Princess Royal and Duchess of Fife, she was created Princess Royal by her father on January 1, 1932.

At the outbreak of World War II, the Princess Royal became chief controller and later controller commandant of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS, renamed the Women's Royal Army Corp in 1949). In that capacity she travelled Britain visiting its units, as well as wartime canteens and other welfare organizations.

After her husband's death in 1947, she continued to live at Harewood house with her son and his family. She became Chancellor of Leeds University in 1951, and continued to carry out many duties at home and abroad, representing the Queen at the independence celebrations of Trinidad in 1962 and Zambia in 1964. During a trip to Canada in 1962 she became the first woman to be installed as an honorary bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada. Upon receiving this honor she said 'I have not been a great lawyer, but I'm fast becoming one'. One of her last official engagements was to represent the Queen at the funeral of Queen Louise of Sweden in early March 1965.

She died suddenly of a heart attack on March 28, 1965 while walking in the garden with her eldest son and his family. She is buried on the Harewood estate.

© Marilyn Braun 2006

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Royal Gastronomy

Royalty have their image on stamps and commemorative items. Some more notable royals have buildings, docks, and streets that bear their names. At one point it was even fashionable to honor royalty, by naming a food dish after them. Although some of the stories behind the names of these items are unsubstantiated, here are some examples I've located:

Many dishes are named for Queen Victoria: Victoria Pea, Victoria Plum, Victoria Apple, including sole, eggs, salad, a garnish, several sauces, a cherry spice cake, a bombe, and small tarts. The Victoria sponge cake (or Victorian Sandwich, Victorian Cake) was so named because the Queen was known to enjoy a slice with her afternoon tea.





Prince Albert: Albert Sauce, Filet of Beef Prince Albert, Prince Albert Pea, Cobourg Loaf and the Prince Albert Apple. The Apple, thought to have originated in Berkhampstead, Herts, raised by Mr Thomas Squire, as a cross between Russet Nonpareil and Dumelow's Seedling and named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who reputedly visited Berkhampstead on the very day that Mr Squire planted his seedling in his garden. He initially named the apple tree Victoria and Albert. However it was renamed Prince Albert some time later when it was grown commercially.



Like his parents, Edward VII had several foods named for him: Poularde Eduoard VII, King Edward VII Potato, and the King Edward VII Apple. Possibly the most famous example is Crepes Suzette. Said to have been created for then-Prince of Wales Edward VII on 31 January, 1896, at the Café de Paris in Monte Carlo. When the prince ordered a special dessert for himself and a young female companion, Henri Charpentier, produced the flaming crepe dish. Edward reportedly asked that the dessert be named after his companion Suzette (reportedly the daughter of a friend) rather than himself.

Battenburg Cake: Supposedly named in honor of the marriage of Queen Victoria's granddaughter, Princess Victoria of Hesse-Darmstadt to Prince Louis of Battenberg in 1884. A two colored, chequered sponge cake, four quarters of sponge honour the four Battenberg princes, Louis, Alexander, Henry and Francis. During the war with Germany the family decided it should anglicize its name in the face of anti-German feeling and the Battenberg family name was changed to Mountbatten, thankfully the cake kept its original Battenberg name.



Pizza Margherita: This pizza is dedicated to Queen Margherita of Savoy. She was interested in the popular dish that her French chefs could not prepare so the famous "pizzaiolo" Raffaele Esposito was invited to court and suggested three pizzas, this one reflecting the colours of the Italian Sabauda flag, the Marinara and a white cheese pizza. Garlic, considered improper for the delicate palate of the Queen was avoided. So on the 11th June 1889 Pizza became a dish fit for Royalty.



Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother: Queen Mother's Cake. The story is that Jan Smeterlin, the eminent Polish pianist, loved to cook. And he collected recipes. This is one that was given to him on a concert tour in Austria.When the Queen Mother was invited to tea at the home of the Smeterlins, the hostess baked the cake according to Smeterlin's recipe. The Queen Mother loved it and asked for the recipe. Then--as the story goes--she served it often at her royal parties. Including the time she invited the Smeterlins to her home.

Some other examples of food named for royalty:

Queen Alexandra: Gâteau Alexandra, consommé Alexandra, soup, sole, chicken quail

Consommé Princess Alice: Named for Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, one of Queen Victoria's granddaughters.

Christian IX (of Denmark) cheese: also called Danbo. Named after the "Grandfather of Europe"

Queen Charlotte (wife of George III): Apple Charlotte, named in her honor because she was a supporter of apple growers.

Queen of Sheba Cake (or Reine de Saba)

Consommé Marie Stuart: Named after Mary, Queen of Scots

Queen Mary (consort of King George V): Twinings Queen Mary tea

Prince of Wales Twinings tea

© Marilyn Braun 2006

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Royal Baby Names

I'm expecting my second child in early December (when I'll have time to update this blog, and look after a toddler and newborn is something I have to figure out, but I digress) and one of the most important things to consider is the name of the baby. You may not have guessed yet but I'm a bit of a royalty buff and I named my first child after a princess. She happened to have been born on the same day as Princess Grace Patricia of Monaco so, with my husband suggesting the name Grace (just because he liked it), I decided to add Patricia for good measure - it will make a nice story and maybe some of my fascination with royalty will rub off on her.

I don't actually know the sex of my baby but I've been considering some regal names. Hoping it's another girl I have Elizabeth, Alexandra, Diana, Alice, Beatrice and Victoria on my list. With the exception of Elizabeth, none of these names currently exist in my husband's family or my own. I could be like royalty and simply choose all of these names, not completly unheard of (see Royal Christenings), but it might not fit very easily on a birth certificate or cross stitch sampler. And also my daughter might get jealous (Why does my sister have six names and I only have two?). Yes, best to just limit it to two.

As for a boy, my choices are somewhat more limited. William and Harry are current family names. I'm not a huge fan of Albert, or Edward and Charles Braun might invite comparisons to Charlie Brown. I haven't considered Philip or Andrew but now that I think about it, they're not bad names at all. Right now I'm leaning towards Erik (my husband likes Eric) - a good, solid Scandinavian name with Danish royal connections - it also happens to mean 'All-Ruler'.

Unlike royalty, I'm not constricted by historical precedent (see The Christian Tradition Continues) or having to please someone like Queen Victoria, whose edict was for all of her decendents to have Victoria or Albert amongst their given names. Of the names I've chosen, only Elizabeth has conflicts; it's the name of my mother-in-law. She goes by Betty, but it didn't stop her from suggesting it the first time. Would she be capable of telling people the baby was named after the Queen and not her? I doubt it.

Unfortunately, my husband doesn't like names with more than two syllables, names that can be misspelled, have multiple spellings, or can be abbreviated, so most of the female royal names are out of the question unless I wear him down between now and December. Maybe after the baby comes, a lack of sleep might just do the trick and I'll get Erik or Elizabeth Alexandra.

Fingers crossed.

© Marilyn Braun 2006

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Royal Profile: Marcus Adams

His name may not be as well known as Cecil Beaton, Patrick Lichfield, or Snowdon, but as a photographer Marcus Adams did his part in contributing to royal iconography.

Marcus Adams was born in 1875, the seventh child of Walton Adams, a pioneer photographer in the 1860s. His studio in Reading was renowned for its portraits of English and European royalty and he could count amongst his clientele Queen Victoria and General Charles Gordon. Marcus came from an artistic family, his elder brother Christopher was a portrait painter and distinguished minaturist, and his sister Lilian was a well-known painter.

Marcus left school in 1890 and joined the Wesleyan Church, becoming attached to the Methodist religion. By day he worked in a solicitor's office copying documents. He was trained in art at Reading Art College and later in Paris. In 1892 he apprenticed at his father's Reading studio, polishing the floor and brass, preparing negatives for proofing, eventually graduating to proofing and retouching. He was also commissioned to take photographs and assisted in producing illustrations. His first royal photography was a commission of a visit by King George V to the Sutton seed factory.

During his years in his father's studio, he gained a reputation for portrait photography. However, Marcus had a particular talent for photographing children, possessing an affinity and rapport with children rare at the time in photographers. In 1911 his first portraits were accepted by the London Salon of Photography and two of his studies were published in Photograms. During the First World War, when business photographing children was slow, he photographed men in the services, as well as drawing and painting aircraft in battle.

In 1919 he decided to leave his father's studio and with Bertram Park, and his wife Yvonne Gregory, formed the "Three Photographer's" Studio in London. While Bertram Park concentrated on photographs of society beauties, Marcus' Nursery Studio focused on children.

Although he would gain some reknown as a photographer of royal children, he refused one of his earliest royal commissions. When the Countess of Strathmore, mother of Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon asked him to photograph her daughter, he declined because she was over sixteen. But, he said "if she marries and has children then I should be delighted to photograph her with her children." In 1926 he would take the first official photographs of Princess Elizabeth with the Duchess of York. His portraits of Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret were reproduced throughout the world in magazines, stamps and commemorative items. His career as a royal photographer would last thirty years and span four generations, ending with portraits of Princess Anne in 1956.

He and his wife, Lily Maud, had a son named Gilbert, born in 1906, who would become successful in his own right as a photographer, specializing in photographing the ballet. Gilbert would also direct the lighting in Westminster Abbey for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

He travelled extensively with his wife and sometimes with his brother Chris. Gardening was a passion, he planned and landscaped gardens and planted tress wherever he lived, and won prizes for his sweet peas. He had a studio workshop where he would manufacture his own woodwork tools and he carved, sculpted stone, painted in oil, watercolor and pastel. He had an interest in phrenology and palmistry, as well as psychology, something which was particularly helpful in working with his young subjects. In his later years he spent many hours at his home, Lavender Cottage, near Wargrave, Berkshire, designing pictures made from his collection of wildflowers and grasses.

He died at the age of eighty-four in 1959.

© Marilyn Braun 2006

For examples of his work visit The Royal Collection and the National Portrait Gallery.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Royal It Girl

Ahhh...the first blush of youth. Enviable and uncapturable once gone.

A recent photo of Princess Beatrice, released to celebrate her 18th birthday, shows her in all of her youthful, stunning glory. Not since the coming of age of her grandmother and late great-aunt Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, has there been such wonderful potential on the horizon. For unlike male royals, it's hard to resist a beautiful princess. After all, how many fairy tale books are written about Prince Charming? One has only to look at Hello magazine in order to see the appeal of a beautiful and glamourous princess (something I wrote about in Royal Glamour Girls).

You might notice that royalty that doesn't have this asset doesn't get nearly the same amount of media attention. Were it not for the succession crisis in Japan, or that Nepal's ruling family were murdered several years ago, would we pay much attention? For the less superficial royal watchers, it's possible. But yet nothing competes with beauty (or even an 18 year old). Dedication and stoicism simply aren't sexy and don't sell newspapers.

Since the departure of Princess Diana, the position of royal glamour girl has been vacant and Princess Beatrice could indeed fill the void. However, unlike her grandmother (who was heir when she came of age in the 1940's), as fifth in line to the throne Princess Beatrice's profile may not be nearly as high and therefore the attention may not nearly be nearly as great, but for now she's the one. Every royal generation seems to have an "It" girl: Princess Margaret (1950's), Princess Alexandra of Kent (1960's), Princess Anne (1970's), Diana and Fergie, Lady Helen Taylor (nee Windsor) (1980's), Diana (1990's), Lady Gabriella Windsor, Zara Philips, Princess Beatrice (2000's). Whether they take up the mantle is another question.

Unlike other 18 year olds, Princess Beatrice exhudes class. Unlike Paris Hilton, Princess Beatrice will not simply fade away. She may get less attention as she gets older, or until Prince William marries, but like previous royal "It" girls, her place in the family tree of the world's best known royal family is assured.

So dear Bea, enjoy your time in the spotlight. Kate Middleton might be waiting to take your place.

© Marilyn Braun 2006