31 July 2012

Royal Olympic Update: Day 3

While I had to sadly go back to my real world at work on Monday and abandon my manic daytime Olympics watching streak, the royals kept going, with an extra dose of British in the mix for Royal Olympian Zara Phillips.
A little leftover from day 2, just heat it up in the microwave and it’ll be fine: there was some Wills n’ Becks bromance happening at the football on Sunday night. Yum.
On Monday, the Brits multiplied their family support for Zara Phillips in her second day of Olympic competition, and their unified secret agent sunglasses vibes worked! Miss Z had a faultless cross-country run on High Kingdom.
Princess Anne and Mike Tindall were there as well, around the course I gather, and Anne caught a bit of badminton on day 3 too. (Bonus: it just so happened to be Zara and Mike’s first wedding anniversary. Awwww.) And it looked like Princess Benedikte was once again hanging at the equestrian venue for the show, no doubt sizing things up before Princess Nathalie rides.
Later, the Brothers Wales hit up the men’s gymnastics team final where they celebrated Team GB’s silver medal…and watched as it was downgraded to the bronze after a scoring inquiry from Japan. (Still can’t quite believe that one myself.)
Whilst all caught up in her British pride, Kate later stopped by the reception for the GREAT Campaign, where she brought home a gold medal for Team Updo in the tricky Tiara Hair (Non-Tiara) event. This feat was accomplished while wearing her repeated Roksanda Ilincic dress from last year’s grand tour.
Back to the sporting events, Crown Prince Haakon showed up for a rifle event clearly indicating that the Windsors aren't the only ones that can werk a pair of shades.
The Oranges took in some field hockey, still soaked to the max in their citrus hue. (Don’t miss Willem-Alexander’s
New royal alert! The Swedes have joined in the fun. Crown Princess Victoria cancelled her planned trip to stay in Sweden with Estelle, but Princes Daniel and Carl Philip turned up in time for some handball. Naturally, they were clad in Swedish blue and yellow.
The Luxembourg royals added to their clan too, with Prince Sébastian and future princess Stéphanie attending a reception alongside the rest of the family. They also enjoyed a spot of tennis, as did their Belgian cousins.
And I tell you, the Belgians must have realized they were lagging behind their fellow royals in the shenanigans category, because they turned up the enthusiasm a notch: Mathilde’s not going to let her pals Máxima and Mette-Marit sneak away with the title of Most Enthusiastic Royal, oh no! And even Philippe got in on the action, giving Grand Duke Henri a run for his money when it comes to cuteness with your kids. Bless.

By the way, my friends, there are so many royals (and so much adorableness), there's no way I can be comprehensive in these updates. So feel free to add your own favorite sightings in the comments!

Photos: Getty Images/Wort/Belga/AP/Reuters

30 July 2012

Royal Olympic Update: Days 1 and 2

The royals didn’t just come for the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games, oh no. Some meandered around London pre-Games and most have played the cheerleader in the first two days of heavy competition. Let's take a quick peek at a few of the things our royals have been up to, shall we?

Prior to the Games, William, Harry and Catherine capitalized on Olympic Fever to launch a sporty new initiative for their charity and then donned their official gear to greet the Olympic torch at Buckingham Palace. I like Kate’s dress at the first event, but obviously I like her escorts even better.
Other members of the host royal family have been out and about so far. The Queen paid a quick visit to the Olympic Park on Saturday before heading off for her Balmoral break – you can see those details on my other blog. Charles and Camilla met some cyclists while Mike Tindall checked out the equestrian venue on Saturday. A full royal turnout was in order on Sunday for Zara Phillips’ Olympic debut, including the Duke of Edinburgh and the Princess Royal. Something tells me Anne’s running her own Olympic contest for the number of Olympic-themed pieces of clothing and accessories she can get on at one time. Can she top this upturned cupcake wrapper of a hat in the days to come? Oh, the suspense is just too much. (Yes, that’s Princess Benedikte there, in the middle of the Windsor sandwich. Her daughter Nathalie will be competing in the days to come. Princess Haya could also be spotted around the horse events, only fitting as she is the President of the FEI.)
Benedikte joins a large Danish contingent of Margrethe, Henrik, Frederik, and Mary who are bopping around to as many events as possible and are bunking on their royal yacht which they’ve parked on the Thames. (You know, as you do.)
(Not to be missed as well are Mary’s fun with Charlene and her most excellent shoes from the second day. WANT.)
Hanging out near the rest of the royal crew were the Greek royals. King Constantine (a former Olympic gold medalist himself) and Queen Anne-Marie had their son Philippos with them on the first day.
More former Olympians – Albert and Charlene – have been out and about as expected. A cocktail party shindig yielded a somewhat, erm, interesting dress for Char while yesterday’s poolside gear was far more typical.
Perhaps the most impressive turnout so far comes from Luxembourg, a family full of cuteness like father/daughter cuddles and dads armed with cameras. (The royals: they’re just like us! Their dads make them take family photos in public too!)
Philippe and Mathilde from Belgium have been in London since a bit before the main competitions started with their brood of four little cherubs in tow. They used the opportunity to give their annual family photo call a British backdrop before hitting the events.
The expressive and cuddly Norwegians, Haakon and Mette-Marit, are also in the house in their Team Norway gear. But they have competition in the field of the most enthusiastic royal family, because the Oranges are in the house too.
Not only are Willem-Alexander and Máxima hanging around with their three daughters, they’ve also been spotted bringing Luana and Zaria – daughters of injured Prince Friso and Princess Mabel – along. (Heartwarming.) And, bonus, they ran into their Belgian friends!

The Games are rolling on…days and days of sporty royal sightings remain. Delightful. What's your favorite sighting so far?

Photos: Getty Images/Reuters/Belga/PA

28 July 2012

Royal Fashion Awards: The 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony

Oh man, I love me some Olympics! Last night’s Opening Ceremony was perfection, yet another excellent event out of Britain in this Jubilee year. While I suspect the true fashion discussion rests with the outfits adorning those fantastic athletes (spoiler alert: most countries still haven’t figured out how to express their national pride without looking like they’ve sent their sexiest bunch of flight attendants to the Games), I’ll stick to our purview and rate the royals. In addition to wondering around London, some attended the reception for the Heads of State given by the Queen at Buckingham Palace and the Opening Ceremony after.

Best in Uniform
Crown Princess Mette-Marit
Left to Right: the Princess Royal, Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway and Crown Prince Haakon
See, this is what I like to see: a little Olympics uniform action! I mean, what better way to show your support? Princess Anne, ex-Olympian and IOC member extraordinaire, went all out with her blazer, pins and even her necklace – but she still can’t beat an accessory like Haakon. You win, Mette-Marit.

Best in Non-Uniform Spirit
Princess Máxima
L to R: Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, Princess Máxima of the Netherlands, Queen Margrethe of Denmark
If you aren’t going to go for a uniform of some sort, I say go with a strict interpretation of your country’s theme! A giant scarf, à la Anne-Marie, or an oh-so-clear adaptation of your flag in your color scheme, à la Margrethe. Máx has her country’s fave color, orange, plus a brooch of the Dutch flag. All sported while looking excellent all over, which makes this an easy win.

Best in Tangentially to Totally Unrelated
Crown Princess Mary
L to R: Princess Mathilde of Belgium, Princess Charlene of Monaco, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg, Queen Sofia of Spain
If I can’t look at you and know straight away which country you’re representing, then you should at least look fantastic, right? Mary takes the win, with Mathilde in her red dress a close second. An honorable mention goes out to Queen Sofia, who was so enthusiastic when the Spanish athletes came marching in she even got some face time on American television (and that’s saying something, because American broadcasts usually only care about royals named Liz, Kate, Will, and Harry). I give Maria Teresa a meh and Charlene an eh?! (As in, how did you find the one outfit that might be equally desired by an early era Britney Spears and the Golden Girls, eh?!)

Best in Assorted Brits
Princess Beatrice
L to R: the Duchess of Cornwall, Princess Beatrice of York, the Duchess of Cambridge
Very low key on the national pride front, those Windsors, which I found disappointing. (Not forgetting that they have other teams to cheer besides Team GB, perhaps? Eh.) Simple outfits for both Camilla, who did sport a patriotic brooch, and Kate, in a tame custom Christopher Kane. I have to give this one to Beatrice for bringing a little interest to the party, even if I can’t understand why she went for bronze and not gold. (I mean, if you’re gonna go for a medal, go for a medal, am I right?)

Best in Awesomely Overdressed
Queen Elizabeth
What better way to assert yourself as THE QUEEN, and the DIAMOND JUBILEE QUEEN no less, than to show up splendidly overdressed with your saucy little fascinator and diamonds galore? I mean, she had to dress to the level of her tuxedo-clad escort James Bond anyway. In case there was any doubt left in your mind, I think this event should settle it: QEII is awesome. (Details on her diamonds can be found on my other blog.)

Who won the Opening Ceremony in your eyes?

And PS: There were other royals present not pictured here. 

Photos: PA/Suomen Kahvelti/Getty Images/Reuters

25 July 2012

A Tiny Hiatus

We're taking a short break around here, just a couple days. I'll meet you back here with some Olympic shenanigans, mmkay?

I leave you with some Danish royal cuteness, from the annual family photo call last week:

24 July 2012

Week in Review: The Duchess of Cambridge, 15-21 July

  1. a) Visiting an Olympic exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, 19 July, in b) Stella McCartney with c) a Cartier necklace. Loving the Stella, obviously (what’s not to love about a simple dress in a vibrant color – plus, she designed the kit for Team GB, so there you go). But sadly, I’m not digging the necklace. I know, serious jewelry, I ought to be in lurve…but instead of an Olympic ring tie-in, I think it looks like she brought her own medal. Eh. (The cost doesn't bother me, though. It’s not what I’d spend my £49,000 on, but I don’t care what you do with your £49,000. And if you think that’s “too much” to wear during the day, then you must turn a seriously blind eye to what the Queen wears each and every day, because the cost on any of those brooches would blow this necklace out of the water.)
Photos: AP/Stella McCartney/Cartier

23 July 2012

Royal Fashion Awards: Belgium's National Day

Saturday was National Day in Belgium, and as always the morning Te Deum and afternoon military parade brought hats, uniforms...and some slightly rambunctious children.

Best in Quick Changes
Princess Mathilde
Mathilde sported something like a crepe paper streamer version of those forward tilting hats the Duchess of Cambridge is so fond of (alas, I do not share their enthusiasm). And it drew particular attention to her hair, which I couldn't help but notice changed in the middle of the day. Just as her husband made a quick change between military uniforms, Mathilde took her hair down.

Best in Fab
Queen Fabiola
Yup, there she is, still trucking. What more can you say?

Best in Class Acts
Queen Paola
Very understated outfit from Paola today, but it's working. I suppose she's busy making sure her husband keeps his impaling to grates and not people, she doesn't need to fuss with the outfit.

Best in Standard
Princess Astrid
She always wears her uniform and she always wears it well, plus she brought along her smartly dressed hubby, Lorenz, and daughter, Laetitia Maria. End of the story, really.

Best in Hats
Princess Claire & Co.
Now that's a hat I can get down with - a real, proper hat. Love. Side tip of my own hat to the mischievous twins, Nicolas and Aymeric, who commandeered some chapeau action of their own. (Their father's sword was also commandeered for a moment...and we thought King Albert was hazardous with the weaponry! Cheeky monkeys, these two.)

Who's your best dressed at this year's National Day celebrations?

Photos: Belga/Isopix/Reuters

20 July 2012

Flashback Friday: A Few of Camilla's Sparkliest Things

The Duchess of Cornwall turned 65 this week, on July 17th, and you know I can't pass up any excuse to delight in sparkly things. Camilla has quite the spectacular jewel collection, so why don't we gaze upon a small selection of them in honor of the birthday girl? (Birthday cake while jewel gazing is optional but highly recommended.)

First up we have the engagement ring, a huge diamond affair that once belonged to the Queen Mum. Just the tip of the iceberg, as it turns out, when it comes to the number of jewels from the late Queen Elizabeth's collection that Camilla wears.

Tiaras! We've spotted three on Camilla so far: usually the Boucheron Honeycomb or Greville Tiara, but also the massive Delhi Durbar Tiara once and her own family's tiara once (called the Cubitt Shand Tiara, or some variation thereof usually). Both the Boucheron and the Delhi Durbar came from the Queen Mother's stash. Fun fact: according the Hugh Roberts in The Queen's Diamonds, the Teck Crescent Tiara - also formerly in possession of the Queen Mum - is also on loan to Camilla.

How about some major neck bling to go along with those tiaras? No problem, Camilla has every flavor you need. This major ruby necklace - it's practically a breastplate, let's be honest - came from the Saudi royals, as likely did the emerald and sapphire necklaces (all given in the course of one visit, mind you).
Aquamarine! Turquoise! Even my beloved purple amethysts, which gives me great hope that we will one day see the luscious Kent amethysts back in use.
If it's straight diamonds you prefer, there's always the massive necklace from the Greville stash which in its full form is 5 sparkling strands (or 2 separate necklaces of 2 and 3 strands). She also has a necklace reportedly made from a dismantled tiara bought by her husband (second from left). Again dipping into the Queen Mother's collection, the collet necklace given by George VI and worn for the 1937 coronation is on loan to the Duchess (she has shortened it). There are so many diamonds here, I'll even forgive her one creepy snake necklace.

For a little day sparkle, there's always one of her many pearl chokers with their various decorative clasps. I'd gladly take any of them off her hands should she find herself with too many...
...though if I could place a request, it'd have to be the pink one (usually said to have been a gift from Charles - the man does have superb taste). The aquamarine, said to be a family heirloom, isn't too shabby either!

Oh, soooo many jewels - and a lady that can pull them off. (And this, needless to say, is just a sampling.) Happy birthday to Camilla, and may it bring her even more treasures for us to covet!

What's your favorite piece from Camilla's collection?

Photos: Getty Images//Clarence House/Reuters

19 July 2012

Tiara Thursday: The Kent Diamond and Pearl Fringe Tiara

Today’s tiara has some mystery to its origins. I don’t believe any confirmation has been offered, so off on a speculation safari we go…
The Kent Diamond and Pearl Fringe Tiara
The Kent Diamond and Pearl Fringe Tiara is a comb-style take on a fringe tiara that includes diamond uprights of alternating heights – the tallest ones topped with a single pearl each – set on a bandeau of round and lozenge-shaped diamonds. It goes by many names, and there are at least two theories about its provenance. One popular explanation is that it was a gift from the Duchess of Kent's parents and could have been a Worsley heirloom, but an alternate explanation is that it is a transformed piece from Queen Mary.
The diamond bandeau on (from left to right) Queen Mary, Princess Alexandra of Kent, and the Duchess of Kent
Queen Mary owned this petite bandeau tiara, which she purchased in the 1920s and later had altered so that she could use some of her Cambridge cabochon emeralds on top (these same emeralds are also used as pendants for the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara). She left the bandeau – without the emeralds, obviously – to her daughter-in-law Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent. It was worn by Marina’s daughter, Princess Alexandra, and then ultimately passed on to Marina’s daughter-in-law, the current Duchess of Kent (Katharine). Katharine wore this on her wedding day and for other engagements in the early years of her marriage.
The bandeau (above) and the fringe (below)
But the bandeau tiara disappeared after a time, and hasn’t been publicly seen in decades. By the late 1970s, the Duchess was wearing the Kent Diamond and Pearl Fringe Tiara, and so one theory has it that the bandeau tiara was reconfigured to create the fringe tiara. There are distinct similarities between the two, particularly the fact that the base bandeau is the same design.
The Duchess of Kent
Personally, I believe that it is the transformed bandeau. The switch off between the two tiaras makes sense in this context, especially when you consider that the Kents sold the largest tiara in their inheritance – the Cambridge Sapphire Tiara – leaving Katharine without a grand tiara at her disposal (they reconfigured the parure to maintain a sapphire tiara, but it is not so grand).
Lady Helen Taylor
Either way, the Kent Pearl and Diamond Fringe Tiara became very popular with the Duchess of Kent and was worn by her daughter Lady Helen for her 1992 wedding to Tim Taylor. It hasn’t been seen in quite some time now (not since the mid-1990s, I believe), since the Duchess has mostly retired from the royal life and no longer attends tiara events. 

Which theory of origin do you believe?

Photos: Getty Images/Corbis/Tinyo

18 July 2012

Wedding Wednesday: Lady Helen Taylor's Gown

 Lady Helen Windsor and Timothy Taylor
July 18, 1992
Windsor, England

In her autobiography, designer Catherine Walker wrote of this gown: "When Lady Helen Windsor walked down the aisle I knew I had given her my best." She's not alone in that sentiment; the unique features of this gown have given it enough fame it's often a top bullet among the listed highlights of of Walker's career. And when the very top bullet is being a well-known couturier for Diana, Princess of Wales, that's saying something.
Walker was riding high on the Diana wave when Helen, the Duke and Duchess of Kent's daughter and reformed royal wild child, commissioned her to design the gown for her wedding to art dealer Tim Taylor. The venue was set for St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, and the ornate architecture inspired the designer who drew from the arches in the creation of the unique wide neckline and sleeves. Those arches are the defining characteristic of the dress, and a large part of what makes it memorable. The embroidery was chosen after investigating the diamond and pearl tiara the bride was to wear.
The creation of the dress, assembled from 10 full length panels, was technically complicated - so much so, that Walker writes that she nearly had to bribe her talented team to work on it. Getting the right fit was key to the success of the dress shape, and Walker even decided to re-cut the bodice frighteningly near the wedding after the bride had lost a bit of weight and it wasn't sitting just right. (This occurred unbeknownst to Lady Helen.)
The bodice flared out to a full skirt with a cathedral-length train and tulle veil to match. Helen accessorized with a diamond and pearl necklace and matching earrings. She also sported a modified fringe tiara of diamonds and pearls which will be our topic tomorrow.
Helen and Tim have four kids: two sons, Columbus and Cassius, and two daughters, Eloise and Estella. The girls were born after Tim successfully fought cancer. Though they live a largely private life, we see them at major royal events and out and about on the London social scene.

Where does Helen's gown rank on your list of favorite royal wedding gowns?

Photos: Getty Images/Hello/Catherine Walker