28 August 2012

Programming Note

We are on hiatus, my friends, because I am squeezing in my summer vacation before the summer leaves for good. I will see you in two weeks!

To tide you over in glitter and gowns, indulge in this fantastic documentary on the ultimate glittering event: Queen Elizabeth II's coronation.
Hat tip to The Royal Correspondent blog for posting about this one!

Feel free to chat on this post if you like! Play nice, don't do anything I wouldn't do, etc....

26 August 2012

Things That Make You Go Hmm...: Enough with the Fascinators Already, I'm Begging You

Crown Princess Victoria was present for the ordination of a new bishop at Uppsala Cathedral on August 26th.
Dear Victoria,

That is not a hat.

A posh dreamcatcher, maybe, but definitely not a hat.

Just thought you should know.

Concerned about your facial tan lines,

Photos: Svenskakyrkan/Skovdenyheter/Sodor

24 August 2012

Flashback Friday: A Few of Diana's Sapphires

The end of this month marks the 15th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. And since you know I like to do my commemorating in frivolous fashion, I thought a look at the late princess' signature stone was in order. Sapphires and Diana are inseparable in my mind - not only did she have a magnificent collection of them, she had the eyes to bring them out. These are just a few of my favorites from her sapphire stash.

Obviously, we must being with The Ring.
Diana's engagement ring was not a bespoke piece, oddly enough for a royal engagement ring, but rather available from the Garrard catalog to anyone (anyone that could afford it, of course). With its enormous sapphire and surrounding diamonds, it's far from a unique design but yet it's instantly recognizable. Prince William chose to give Kate Middleton his mother's trademark ring to mark their engagement in 2010.

Diana's wedding yielded one of her most impressive sets of jewels, a sapphire suite from the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. The Asprey set included a massive sapphire pendant in a diamond sunray frame suspended from a diamond necklace, a watch with a sapphire and diamond band, a bracelet, a pair of earrings, and a ring. Diana eventually had the watch and the ring reset into new jewels, including another pair of earrings and a choker she famously used as a headband.

She had other pairs of sapphire and diamond earrings in addition to those from the Saudi set. It's been reported that the Duchess of Cambridge's sapphire and diamond earrings are a modified pair from Diana's collection.

The choker seen above is yet another piece out of Diana's sapphire collection, but none will ever quite hold a candle to The Choker to End All Chokers, if you ask me.
Bliss. This egg of a sapphire surrounded by diamonds was a brooch given to Diana by the Queen Mother as a wedding present. Though she wore it a couple times as a proper brooch, she soon performed some jewelry magic and stuck it in the center of seven strands of pearls. Of all Diana's jewels - even the tiaras - I honestly think this is the piece I'd most like to see in use again today. Et toi? What are you hoping to see again?

Photos: Getty Images/Tim Graham/Suzy Menkes/Corbis

23 August 2012

Tiara Thursday: The Greek Ruby Parure

We’ve covered one of her trademark tiaras, the large topper for her grand emerald parure, but Queen Anne-Marie has another fantastic parure at her disposal as well: her rubies.
The Greek Ruby Parure Tiara
The flexible Greek Ruby Parure includes a tiara in an olive wreath motif, with berry-colored rubies and diamond leaves. It belonged to Queen Olga of Greece, who likely received at least parts of the parure from her husband King George I. (Some also cite her Russian roots – she was born Grand Duchess Olga Constantinova of Russia – as a possible source for the rubies.)
Left to right: Queen Olga, Princess Olga, Princess Marina, Queen Frederika
Olga left the rubies to her son, Prince Nicholas, and they were worn by his daughter, Princess Olga of Yugoslavia. Olga’s sister Princess Marina, the Duchess of Kent, borrowed the rubies at least once. Eventually they came back to the main Greek royal family and were worn by Queen Frederika, consort of King Pavlos I.
The tiara, necklace, and two brooches displayed with Anne-Marie's wedding gifts
The rubies were among the jewels Frederika turned over to Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark when she married Frederika’s son King Constantine I, and the set has been worn by Anne-Marie ever since. These days, she prefers a shortened version of the necklace.
Queen Anne-Marie
Of the tiaras she now wears regularly – including the Greek Emerald Parure Tiara and the Khedive of Egypt Tiara – this is my favorite on Queen Anne-Marie. Rubies aren't my favorites (neither are wreath tiaras, to be honest), but there's something about the way this one nestles in her hairstyle that just works.

Is this your favorite Anne-Marie tiara, or does your heart belong to another?

Photos: Corbis/EOA

22 August 2012

Wedding Wednesday: Valentino Gowns

Have you made your nominations for your Top 10 Best Royal Wedding Gowns yet? (It's actually shaping up to be a close battle, interestingly, so get to it!) If not, perhaps this will serve as a little random inspiration for you: a sampling of some of the wedding gowns out of Valentino's studio over the years.

Valentino is forever popular in the royal set. Several royals have chosen to start their royal marriages with a couture Valentino creation...with mostly good results? Mixed results? You be the judge.
Perhaps the two most famous Valentino gowns belong to Marie-Chantal Miller, worn for her 1995 wedding to Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece, and Máxima Zorreguieta, worn for her 2002 wedding to the Prince of Orange. Put the two side by side, and they have more in common than you might think - but Máxima wins it for me (and will she win it for you? We shall see when your list is complete).
Another bride from the Valentino School of Adornment is of course Sibilla Weiller, who chose the dust ruffle to end all dust ruffles for her 1994 wedding to Prince Guillaume of Luxembourg.
Simpler, but still working that hem detail, was the Valentino creation for Paola de Frankopan's wedding to Lord Nicholas Windsor in 2006 - an Italian designer for a Vatican religious wedding. The dress is a one-shouldered affair covered with a shrug for the church and a long veil.
Archduchess Sophie of Austria picked another relatively simple Valentino for her 1990 wedding to Mariano Hugo, Prince of Windisch-Graetz. I've seen my fair share of dresses with bow overload, but this one gets special marks for nearly accomplishing it with two simple shoulder bows alone.
Clotilde Courau's Valentino gown at her 2003 wedding to Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy had to accommodate the couple's daughter too, born just a few months later. The dress is okay...but it's the colorful tiara I'd rather look at anyway.
And on that expectant note we have one final Valentino wedding creation, and it's my favorite of recent years: Countess Matilde Borromeo's gown for her 2011 wedding to Prince Antonius zu Fürstenberg. The bride (half sister of Pierre Casiraghi's girlfriend Beatrice Borromeo, and at the time expecting the couple's first child) looks lovely in that dress, with just enough detail to keep interest but not enough to compete with that mega tiara (from the groom's family). Love.

Which is your favorite Valentino royal wedding gown?

(Feel free to add others in the comments!)

Photos:  Purepeople/Abaca/Vogue/Hello/Point de Vue

21 August 2012

Week in Review: Crown Princess Victoria, 12-18 August

  1. At a palace reception, 15 August. Loving the color, obviously, but it's not enough to win the Pretty in Blue award this week...
  2. ...since a new picture was released for Estelle's name day. I'll just leave that here for you in case you need some help getting through your Tuesday.
Photos: Kongehuset

20 August 2012

Week in Review: Crown Princess Mary, 12-18 August

  1. Opening the Odense Flower Festival, 15 August. Bit of a sack, this...no? Best to focus on the kaleidoscope print.
Photo: Fyens

17 August 2012

Another Important Question

Waaaay back in 2010, right after I started this blog and before Crown Princess Victoria's wedding, I whipped up a list of my personal top 10 royal wedding gowns. Since then, I’ve gotten two frequent questions:
  1. Are you nuts?! Where is {so and so's} gown and why is {whatsherface's} gown on there?!? (Answer: yes, I am nuts, are you new here? And also: Oy! It’s my list, man! I wouldn’t get mad at you for your list...ahem.)
  2. There have been so many royal weddings since then, do you ever want to change it?
And the answer there is, yes, I would change it now, but how about we hear from you instead? Much as we polled your top tiaras, it's time to poll the wedding gowns. So, tell me...

What are your personal top 10 best royal wedding dresses?

Go ahead, let me hear it: your top 10 ranked gowns. Leave your votes in the comments below, email me (orderofsplendor {at} hotmail {dot} com), or tweet at me (@orderofsplendor). I’ll leave it open for about a week.

But before you get busy, here’s another thing to consider: I didn’t ask what your favorite dresses are, but what the best dresses are. Maybe the two are the same, and that’s okay. But there’s another component to think about: what makes a great royal wedding dress? Food for thought.

If you need inspiration, check out the Royal Wedding Headquarters page, and go list crazy!

Update: Voting is now closed. Thanks everyone for your contributions!

16 August 2012

Tiara Thursday: The Congo Necklace Tiara

As we approach the October wedding of Luxembourg's Hereditary Grand Duke, tiara speculation will be running high. We might as well chat about this one first and foremost, as it is the best known wedding tiara the family has:
The Congo Necklace Tiara
This necklace, convertible to a tiara, features rows of large round diamonds attached to a row of baguette diamonds. It was made by Van Cleef and Arpels and was a gift to Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium on her marriage to Hereditary Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg in 1953. It's often said to have been given by the Belgian colony of the Congo, though others report it as a gift of Congo diamonds from another source, perhaps the bride's father.
Left to Right: Joséphine-Charlotte, Maria Teresa, Marie Astrid, Margaretha
Joséphine-Charlotte wore the tiara on her wedding day (she also wore the Belgian Scroll Tiara for wedding portraits) and the tiara continued to be part of the Luxembourg wedding tradition when it was worn by Joséphine-Charlotte's daughter-in-law Maria Teresa (now the Grand Duchess) as well as her daughters Princesses Marie Astrid and Margaretha for their respective weddings. Apart from weddings, Joséphine-Charlotte used the piece mostly as a necklace, which makes sense. It's very much a bandeau in tiara form, best backed by a veil I'd say.
As a necklace on Joséphine-Charlotte
When she died in 2005, this piece was among the personal possessions left to divide up among her five children. Apparently they had some trouble with the dividing, because in 2006 this tiara was included in a selection of her jewels and personal property offered for sale at Sotheby's. The auction caused outrage and all sorts of questions regarding the reasons behind the possible need for a sale. In light of the controversy, Grand Duke Henri ended up cancelling the auction. (The Belgian Scroll Tiara was another notable piece from that almost sale.)
As a necklace with bracelet, on auction display
The question now is, will this tiara be used as a family wedding tiara in the future? It hasn't been used as such since the early 1980s. (Other brides have not worn tiaras; when Marie Astrid's daughter married, she borrowed one of the Luxembourg floral tiaras instead.) And something about offering it for sale doesn't scream a desire to keep this particular tradition alive to me. We will see come October, I suppose.

Would this be your pick for a wedding tiara?

Photos: Sotheby's/Point de Vue/Corbis

15 August 2012

Wedding Wednesday: Luxembourg’s Almost Double Wedding

 HRH Princess Marie Astrid of Luxembourg and HI&RH Archduke Carl Christian of Austria
February 6, 1982
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

HRH Princess Margaretha of Luxembourg and HSH Prince Nikolaus of Liechtenstein
March 20, 1982
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Luxembourg in the early 1980s was experiencing a full on royal wedding boom. In 1981, Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte’s oldest son, Henri, married. Just a year later, both of their daughters were married – and only a few weeks apart!
The oldest child of the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess' brood of five was Princess Marie Astrid. As an eligible princess, her name was tossed around as a possible match for the Prince of Wales in the press (rumors, rumors). Instead, she married Archduke Carl Christian of Austria, and she did so in a voluminous white gown with an asymmetrical ruffle wrap cinching her waist and additional detail on the skirt and sleeves.
Marie Astrid’s younger sister Margaretha married Prince Nikolaus of Liechtenstein, the third son of reigning Prince Franz Joseph II, the following month. Another white confection was in order, this time with ruffles clinging tightly to the bride’s neck and wrists.
Both gowns are clearly of their time, so to speak, with their use of ruffles and volume. But despite their early 1980s flair, they also manage to recall a bit of their mother’s wedding style from the 1950s. They also echo her in tiara choice, as they both wore the Congo Diamond Tiara just like Joséphine-Charlotte. (More on that tomorrow.)
Both couples are still married; Marie Astrid and Carl Christian have five children, Margaretha and Nikolaus have three (a fourth – their first child, a son – tragically died the same day he was born). And now the family finds itself once again in a royal wedding boom: two of Marie Astrid’s sons announced engagements on the same day last year and will both marry this year, while their cousin Guillaume will marry in October. While we await new Luxembourgish brides, tell me…

Which is your favorite: Marie Astrid’s or Margaretha’s gown?

13 August 2012

Royal Olympic Update: The End

Oh, sadness. The Olympics are over. Let's take one last long lingering gaze at our royals in their sporting finest before we kiss the Games goodbye (picking up where we left off)...

The end of the Games finally brought appearances from some of the royals you've been longing to see, including Spain. Well, someone had to give the Cambridges a run for their PDA money.
The Spaniards proved to be most enthusiastic Olympic fans. At times, the suspense was just too much to bear: Which one of us will have to take one for the team and wear the aggressively loud Spain shoes???
And he wears them with aplomb. (Disclaimer: they may not have been as concerned with the shoes as I was. Ahem.) The only thing louder than those shoes is the King of Sweden.
Look at this display of royal team spirit, so ferocious the crowd had to take cover and Queen Sil had to bust out her best side-eye. Can you believe it?
I KNOW. I can't believe it either. But they had those obnoxious official Sweden shirts to live up to, and we don't all have hair to hold us when things get rough.
(Side note: Grumpy Spectator #1 in front of Carl Gustaf apparently had no idea the annoying man behind her was the King of Sweden. When they crossed paths again - she, this time, seated a noise-appropriate distance from the royal couple - they exchanged a merry wave.)

Anyway, back to Kate.
She was everywhere, naturally. In addition to, you know, watching sports, she resisted the urge to steal some medals along with Prince Harry, and spent some quality time catching up with Prince Albert. (Why the covered ears, hmm? It's not like Carl Gustaf was in the house.)
Harry made his much anticipated visit to beach volleyball. Obviously, he came for the bikinis and stayed for the cuddles. And HOLD UP: he's either stolen Aunt Anne's ubiquitous shades...or they're becoming a family epidemic {shudder}.
Naturally the Danish (with support from the Greeks) were in this until the bitter end, giving Christian time to take on his sister in the personality stakes by throwing up his own Bolt. 
Just in time for the end, Mette-Marit returned to take one last stab at the title of Most Enthusiastic Royal - kids included for good measure - and Joachim and Marie put in a brief appearance (they also brought their two young ones).

On Sunday night, it was all over. The Closing Ceremony was not just an opportunity for Princess Anne to get one last shot at adorning every single item of her outfit with the Olympic rings, it was a glimpse of Very Serious Harry.
Harry - or Henry, rather, as he was announced which I'm sure confused a large chunk of the audience - was Her Majesty's official representative, meaning he got the big intro and plenty of shots to show us just how seriously he was taking the whole thing. And he didn't check his nails once. (The Queen is already up at Balmoral, if you were wondering.)

And that's the end. Hopefully someone will throw a tiara event soon to put a smile back on my face, but until then, let's reminisce:

What was your favorite Royal Olympic Moment?

Photos: Getty Images/PA/Abaca/London 2012

09 August 2012

Tiara Thursday: The Mellerio Shell Tiara

The Mellerio Shell Tiara
The Mellerio Shell Tiara resembles both a shell cradling its treasures and a rolling ocean wave, complete with pearls and briolette-cut diamonds dripping below. There’s a removable diamond drop suspended beneath in the center – highlighting the waves on the base – which is not used these days. The piece comes from famed jeweler Mellerio, whose delicate work has contributed pieces to many a royal house.
Left to Right: Infanta Isabella, Queen Victoria Eugenia, the Countess of Barcelona
This one belongs to Spain’s royals. It was originally a wedding present for Isabella, the Princess of Asturias (known as La Chata) from her mother Isabella II when she married Prince Gaetan of Bourbon-Two Sicilies in 1868. This makes it a fairly old piece in the context of Spain’s tiara collection, which features other diadems originating from the time Queen Victoria Eugenia and after. This tiara ended up in Queen Victoria Eugenia’s collection as well, as the childless Isabel left it to her nephew Alfonso XIII (Ena’s husband). It was next worn by Alfonso and Ena’s daughter-in-law the Countess of Barcelona.
Queen Sofia
Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark received the tiara as a wedding gift when she married Prince Juan Carlos, and it was finally put to good use after being a little neglected in the collections of Queen Victoria Eugenia and the Countess of Barcelona (Juan Carlos’ mother). Sofia continues to wear the piece now even though the size of her collection has increased. It goes out on loan from time to time – Infanta Cristina has worn it, Infanta Elena wore it in a portrait, Infanta Margarita borrowed it once as did Princess Letizia – but it is still mostly worn just by the Queen.
Princess Letizia
This is such a fascinating tiara. There’s barely a straight surface to be seen; the top curling towards you is the major design feature, but even the base refuses to lie flat. I think this might be the rare tiara that I appreciate more when it is not worn, just allowing it to be the artwork that it is on display. (Don't get me wrong, if it was mine I'd wear it every day). But this is one of your most requested tiaras, so you tell me:

The Mellerio Shell Tiara: Yay or Nay?

Photos: Hola/Corbis

08 August 2012

Royal Olympic Update: Days 9 to 11

Newsflash: the Olympics are still happening. Hey, you can always count on me for the breaking news. Let's catch up to to yesterday (Tuesday) with a few royal highlights, shall we?

Day 9: The Duchess of the Olympics hit up gymnastics, handball (where she seems to have done the wave, which for reasons unknown to me is A Big Royal Story every time it happens) and later athletics with her two princely escorts (Wills and Harry). But the biggest surprise of all was that she missed out on Andy Murray taking home the gold in a Wimbledon rematch. Not to worry, the Duke of Kent was there to pick up her tennis-loving slack.
He's President of the All England Club, and I'm not sure he's left since Wimbledon. Maybe they just keep him there permanently, in case of tennis emergency.

On Day 10 Kate enjoyed a spot of sailing alongside trusty Anne and Tim. Those royals, they love them some boats. Good thing nautical fashion treats them well. I believe they caught the Women's Laser Radials race, which probably sounds more bionic than it actually is.
The Oranges were back at the equestrian arena as was Prince Albert and there were giggles. They also got to see all their intrepid poncho-clad cheering pay off in folds as the Dutch show jumping team adorned their amazing orange blazers with a silver medal.

That's right folks, Isabella's in town and she's got sassy shoes. (Oh, a uniformed sailor doesn't salute you when you alight from your yacht each morning? How sad for you.)
Everyone gathered to watch Princess Nathalie compete in dressage and also because those royals, they love them some horses (probably even more than boats).

Even with Isabella joining the party, my prize for Best Royal these past couple days has to go to Harry.
First of all, he sported his Bob Marley scarf (given to him by Marley's widow during his trip to Jamaica earlier this year) to watch his buddy Usain Bolt defend his title in the 100m race. This is by far the best use of festive accessories we've seen yet. (Fun fact: Harry is part owner of a racehorse called Usain Colt. Heh.)
And then on Day 11, it was buckets of adorableness between Harry and his cousin Peter Phillips as they watched Britain tear up the velodrome in cycling. There were fist pumps, hugs, and even a few burgeoning tears.
The Yorks were there; Beatrice was loving it, alongside her sister and mother.
Anne check: she's also loving it! She even got in on some of that Harry cuteness AND THEN MY BRAIN EXPLODED FROM THE AWWWWS.

And that'll bring us up to speed, though we will certainly be behind again by the time this posts. Never ending fun, these Olympics. What are you loving right now?

(By the way, this post stands in for our normal Wedding Wednesday post, since I'm basically married to the Olympics at this point.)

Photos: Getty Images/Bauer Griffin/PA/Reuters