29 July 2014

Programming Note: Hiatus Open Post

The blog is taking a short break for the rest of the week. We'll return on Monday.

Those of you that would like to discuss royal book recommendations, keep scrolling. If you'd like to discuss other topics, feel free to use this post!

Royal Splendor 101: Your Royal Book Recommendations

I'm frequently asked to share book recommendations or to offer a place for readers to share their favorite royal books, so today we have a post just for that!

I do have a bookcase full of royal books, but you might be surprised to learn that I don't do a lot of royal reading in my spare time. I'm not a big fan of biographies, generally speaking - it's hard to find really good ones, in my opinion - but I enjoyed Gyles Brandreth's Philip and Elizabeth: Portrait of a Royal Marriage and Charles and Camilla: Portrait of a Love Affair. Brandreth knows his subjects and their world well, and writing about a couple instead of a single person makes for an interesting take. On a somewhat similar note, Julia Gelardi''s Born to Rule: Five Reigning Consorts, Granddaughters of Queen Victoria combines five lives in a fascinating read. I'll also give a mention to James Pope-Hennessy's Queen Mary, probably the definitive account of the life of our patron magpie saint.

Unsurprisingly, I do love a good royal jewel book. Having a blog about Queen Elizabeth II's jewels, The Queen's Diamonds by Hugh Roberts (my review here) and The Queen's Jewels by Leslie Field are indispensable to me. Prince Michael of Greece's The Jewels of the Tsars is an excellent starter book if you're interested in the Romanov jewels, with loads of pictures and plenty of background on the characters at play, which is very helpful if you're not already an expert on imperial Russian history. Geoffrey Munn's Tiaras: A History of Splendour is big and lavishly illustrated, giving the history of tiaras in general and covering some royal tiaras (mainly British, but a selection of international pieces too) along the way. It's an essential book for tiara lovers, and no recommendation list of mine would be complete without it.

Those are just a few favorites off the top of my head, but obviously a terribly small sample. Please use the comments to share your favorites and ask for recommendations from others!

(I will ask that the comments on this post stay on the topic of royal books, and any off topic conversations remain on the open post. Thanks!)

28 July 2014

Royal Repeat of the Day: July 28

The King and Queen of Spain visited Santiago de Compostela last week.
A gorgeous dress in the softest of pinks for Letizia last week, a color that I love almost every time because it flatters almost anyone.
And if it looks familiar, that's because this is a repeat from one very notable occasion: the 2011 wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. I have to say, I have grown to love the fact that when Letizia wears a hat (which is pretty much only at foreign royal occasions, because the hats-n-gloves thing really isn't the way the Spanish royal family operates) she wears a hat - back in 2011, she stuck just about every kind of hat ornament on the thing she could manage. But still, without the matching accessories, I'm able to pay attention to all the little details on this dress, and I'm appreciating it so much more this time around. Well played.

Photos: Carlos Alvarez via Getty Images

25 July 2014

Royal Family Outing of the Day: July 25

The Danish royal family posed for their annual photocall at the start of their summer vacation at Gråsten Palace.
Luckily a whole family affair offers us a large selection of potential focal points, including a very sharply dressed Princess Benedikte (my personal best dressed for the day), because I don't know what's happening right here:
This is just...I mean...what?! Does it get better in motion?

Video, above
No. No it does not. Le sigh.

Photos: Billed-Bladet video/Robin Utrecht Photography via Getty Images

24 July 2014

Tiara Thursday: The Russian Large Pearl Pendant Tiara

The Russian Large Pearl Pendant Tiara
One of the most imposing pieces in a collection full of imposing pieces, this pearl and diamond tiara was referred to as the Diadem of Ancient Pearls in Russia's imperial family. Made in the early 19th century, it is a complicated structure of Brazilian diamonds and ancient pearls, with a graduated top line and a center row of dangling pearl drops. As originally worn the tiara is shaped tightly and forms a near-complete circle.
Alexandra Feodorovna
The pearl diadem was last worn by the last tsarina, Alexandra Feodorovna. Some have referred to it as her favorite tiara, which I've always found an intriguing statement as she was known for her rejection of the grand court life, a point of contention between the empress and the ladies of the court. Whatever her feelings on this piece, its grand scale was certainly fitting for her place. That same scale would probably make it a very rarely worn tiara if it existed in an active royal family today - but we'll never know, as it was collected with the rest of the imperial jewels by the Bolsheviks when the revolution hit and it's been lost ever since.

Where does this rank on your list of favorite pearl tiaras?

Photos: Fersman/Wikimedia Commons

Royal Birthday of the Week: July 24

Prince George of Cambridge turned 1 this week, and new pictures were released.
No, I didn't forget that Prince George had a birthday. I just like to save up my doses of cuteness for when I really need them, like on a Thursday, when I need one last push to get me to the end of the week. I'm strategic like that.
Just to throw some fashion into the mix: the proud mum wore this cute green Suzannah dress, which we've previously seen her wear under her green Erdem coat.
Photo: John Stillwell/WPA Pool via Getty Images and Suzannah

23 July 2014

Royal Outfit of the Day: July 23

The King and Queen of Spain visited France yesterday, part of their introductory visits to nearby countries.
I do believe I like this one! It's tremendously blergh - some are saying pink, I see beige - but I'm getting something of a balletic feel here, no? Just me? At any rate, we can definitely add anything that reminds me of ballet to my long list of weaknesses.

Video, above

Photo: Antoine Antoniol via Getty Images

22 July 2014

Royal Hat of the National Day: July 22

The Belgian royal family celebrated National Day yesterday. Among other events, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde led the way at the Brussels Te Deum with their four children. The Te Deum was followed by a military parade.
King Albert and Queen Paola stayed away from the first National Day after Albert's abdication, presumably to make sure focus remained on the new faces of the royal family. But, well...
...I think Mathilde had a back up plan to grab that focus, just in case.
(This is a Máxima hat to be sure, and indeed she does have similar models in her closet - though I'm sure she's just as surprised as we are that she wasn't the first to own it in orange. Obviously outfits like this are a long time in planning, but I do suppose some might interpret donning the Dutch national color as a nod to a country in mourning after last week's flight tragedy. Donning it in such an exuberant fashion, however, is all Mathilde.)

Photos: Mark Renders via Getty Images, RTBF video, @MonarchieBe

18 July 2014

Royal Flashback of the Day: July 18

I stumbled on this little gem of a documentary on YouTube the other day, and was quite merrily transported back to London, 1960. It's too good not to share (well, I don't think I've shared it before...), so here's your dose of Friday pretty:

A documentary on Princess Margaret's wedding, in color. Part 1 is above; click here for Part 2 and here for Part 3.
I'm making this a bit of a long weekend, so enjoy one of the best royal wedding gowns of all time in action, and I'll see you back here on Tuesday!

17 July 2014

Tiara Thursday: Princess Alexia's Diamond Tiara

Princess Alexia's Diamond Tiara
Today's tiara belongs to Princess Alexia of Greece and Denmark, oldest child of King Constantine II and Queen Anne-Marie. It is said to have been a gift to Alexia from her parents. The tiara is a densely packed design of varied motifs that form ovals around a center line of round diamonds. The largest diamond in the diadem is a pear-shaped diamond mounted at the very top.
In her early years, Princess Alexia borrowed her mother's Antique Corsage Tiara (on at least one occasion), and she followed family tradition as a descendant of Queen Ingrid of Denmark and used the Khedive of Egypt Tiara on her wedding day. But for the most part - exclusively, in years since her wedding - Alexia wears her own tiara. She loaned it for the first time to her younger sister Princess Theodora for Princess Madeleine of Sweden's wedding in 2013 (which Alexia did not attend); at that wedding, their sister-in-law Princess Tatiana was also present, wearing the Antique Corsage Tiara that Theodora usually borrows.
I've always thought this was a great medium-sized tiara for someone that only uses one (and wouldn't we all love to have just one...). The design is, as I said, densely packed, so that from afar it blends together and creates rather solid looking piece; yet when the light catches the tiara just right, the design takes on a delicate lacy feel. Despite the fact that the Greek royals were deposed long ago and hold no tiara events of their own, they have close ties to other monarchies and so their tiara collection still gets a lot of use (particularly in Denmark, as Queen Anne-Marie is one of Queen Margrethe's sisters). And it's always a treat to see Alexia give this one a show.

How do you rate this tiara?

Photos: AOP, Dominique Charriau/WireImage and Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP via Getty Images

Royal Hat of the Day: July 17

Video: Last week, Queen Mathilde christened a new naval vessel.
Oh dear. Mathilde seems to have gotten her head stuck in a roll of masking tape. That's awkward.

Photos: Belgian Defense video

16 July 2014

Royal Visit of the Day: July 16

This week, King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia have been on an official trip to Morocco, visiting King Mohammed VI and Princess Lalla Salma. On day 2, the ladies visited a cancer research center.
They were a study in contrasts on day one - Letizia sleek and cool in her gray arrival suit and button-down shirt with fancy skirt for the dinner, Lalla Salma exuberant in her pink trousers followed by a majestic turn in her caftan and jewels - but they were a perfectly matched pair the next day as they took on Rabat in their monochrome outfits. Hilariously well-matched, actually, each with their own little retro flair. They're like two-thirds of a time-traveling royal Charlie's Angels remake waiting to happen. (Someone needs to make that happen.)

Photo: Chris Jackson via Getty Images

15 July 2014

Royal Birthday of the Week: July 15

Crown Princess Victoria turned 37 yesterday and was joined by the rest of the Swedish royal family for their traditional celebrations at Solliden Palace, Öland.
Happy birthday Victoria! Accompanied by the King and Queen, Prince Daniel, and Princess Estelle, the birthday girl started out by greeting crowds dressed elegantly in white with a cardigan, but the fashion "news" belonged to WEE ESTELLE and her WEE PONYTAIL:
That's right, they did it again - another family dress pulled out and given a new life. Love it.

Later, the crew (minus Estelle) was joined by Prince Carl Philip, Sofia Hellqvist, Princess Madeleine, and Chris O'Neill for the annual Victoriadagen concert. As always, Victoria and Queen Silvia wore traditional dress (and they are the only two that do, for this event).
And they promptly got drenched. The concert's been rained on in the past, so everyone comes prepared to model the finest in plastic rain gear. You'd think they could ask for a canopy or something if they really wanted to, but nope - they just embrace the opportunity to laugh at each other as they get trapped inside their ponchos. (And I kinda love that about them. Right?!)

For the concert and some video from earlier, click here.

Photos: Luca Teuchmann/WireImage via Getty Images, and SVT video

14 July 2014

Royal Outfit of the Day: July 14

Make that Princely...er...Casiraghi Outfit of the Day, I suppose.
Charlotte Casiraghi attended the Vogue Foundation Gala in Paris last week.
Well, I do believe Ms. Casiraghi has found the absolute perfect gown to match her nonchalant couture-wearing image - a gown every bit as sleek and cool as she seems to be. Absolutely perfect, no?
Charlotte's gown is from Gucci Resort 2015. She has a long-standing relationship with the label; Gucci designs her equestrian wear and she is the face of Gucci Cosmetics.
Photos: Richard Bord/WireImage via Getty Images, and Gucci

11 July 2014

Potential Royal Couture of the Day: July 11

The Fall 2014 Couture shows happened this week in Paris. Let's do what we do and gaze at some prettiness while making our wish lists for what we hope to see on our favorite royal ladies, shall we? (Click the designer names to see the whole collection.)

Wouldn't be a couture week without Elie Saab doing what he does best. Ornamentation galore combined with lots of ombré effect gowns (as though Elie Saab alone isn't enough of a weakness for me, I have a peculiar fondness for anything ombré, so I'm all over this). As always, the Luxembourg ladies are our best bet to see this in action, and if we cross our fingers maybe a Swedish princess will dip into the pool too.

Valentino put out a very romantic, Pre-Raphaelite-inspired collection. Keep an eye out for Crown Princess Mette-Marit, Princess Madeleine, Princess Marie-Chantal, Queen Máxima, Sheikha Mozah, and more.

Chanel delivered a typically artistic collection with inspiration from Karl Lagerfeld as intriguing as ever ("brutalist and baroque"). I include the video above for one purpose only: the very last look. I wouldn't be mad at all one of the ladies of Monaco wanted to don that fabulous train, wouldn't be mad at all. Pick any occasion, opening a yacht club, I don't even care. That is amazing.

Giambattista Valli's been rather popular with Crown Princess Mette-Marit of late, and Charlotte Casiraghi's been a fan in the past. I wouldn't mind this collection spreading to some other royal ladies too, with its bright florals and affection for full skirts and capes. You can look no further than the styling to see that it's practically screaming for some attention from Sheikha Mozah (head wraps and sunglasses, hello!).

This is just a selection from some of the designers already in the royal mix. Others to consider:
  • Christian Dior has dressed Queen Mathilde a couple times this year (for her French introductory visit and for the D-Day commemoration - both events in France, a perfect marriage since the French label is currently designed by a Belgian, Raf Simons). What we've seen on Mathilde so far has been totally bespoke and not from the runway, but others like Sheikha Mozah and Princess Haya are runway fans.
  • Armani Privé has been a go-to in the past for some of our royal ladies (Queen Mathilde and Queen Paola for special occasions, for example), though again, it's often totally custom work.
  • I'm still waiting for Ralph & Russo (a British label from two Australians) to make an appearance on our British royals, but Sheikha Mozah's already a fan.
What's on your royal wish list?

Photos: Style.com

10 July 2014

Tiara Thursday: The Norwegian Gold Bandeau

During this year's state visit from Germany to Norway, Princess Astrid of Norway wore a tiara that I would say is one of the most unusual tiaras currently in use in a European royal house. Let's give it some attention for an off-the-wall Thursday treat, shall we?
The Norwegian Gold Bandeau
In low bandeau form, this tiara is primarily gold. The gold is studded with a variety of stones in different shapes and colors: green, red, white. It looks petite, but is a complete circlet when viewed from the side, and it's part of a parure with a set of earrings and a brooch. Astrid is said to have inherited this set from her maternal grandmother, Princess Ingeborg of Sweden (1878-1958, a princess of Denmark who married into the Swedish royal family).
Princess Astrid, with close ups on the brooch and earrings
Jewels from Ingeborg can be found in several countries these days, as her descendants reign in Norway, Belgium, and Luxembourg. But I can't help but think that this particular set is lucky that it was passed to Princess Astrid. It doesn't really fit in with current tiara trends, if you will, and I have to imagine that many would leave this one in the vault. Not Astrid, though; she possesses one of the most eclectic collections around, and she wears even the wackiest pieces with regularity. She has exactly the right spirit for it, and I find it hard to imagine a piece like this on anyone else.

How do you rate this unusual bandeau?

Photos: NTB Scanpix/Kongehuset

Royal Outfit of the Day: July 10

Princess Beatrice attended the Serpentine Gallery Summer Party last week.
I didn't have time to cover this one last week, but you knew it was going to come up here at some point, right? I mean, look at this: a full skirt, accent accessories, and PURPLE SHOES. Please. This is 95% of my favorite things, all in one. Plus, she's wearing Nicholas Oakwell Couture, a designer I've been hoping would get some love from the British royal ladies. Oh yes. Gold star worthy, this one.

Photo: Stuart C. Wilson via Getty Images

09 July 2014

Royal Sporting Event of the Day: July 9

The Men's Singles final at the Wimbledon Championships was held this weekend, with a variety of royals in attendance.
I'm not really a tennis fan, to tell you the truth. Well, I'm not much for the sports to start with. (Except for, like, the Olympics, which is different. Don't ask me why, it just is.) However! I happen to be a big fan of the following things: cheery little Jonathan Saunders dresses, Secret Agent Wills, and other assorted royals in shades. And that's how we arrive at Wimbledon.
The Duchess of Cambridge's Jonathan Saunders dress, repeated from their 2012 tour in Asia
If one averts one's eyes from the likes of David Beckham and Chris Hemsworth in the royal box (I know, life is hard, have a chocolate), the Cambridges were joined by other royals too:
Three cheers as always for a Princess Alexandra sighting! She was with her brother, the Duke of Kent, who is president of the club and does the trophy presentation. Just down the row, the Duchess of Gloucester (Honorary President of the Lawn Tennis Association) was in attendance, and the Kent sibling trio was rounded out nicely by Prince Michael, accompanied by Princess Michael. When ranking the royals and their sunglasses game - my kind of sport, right here - I'm going to say Prince Michael comes in second only to the Duchess of Cambridge. Agree?

Photos: Karwai Tang/WireImage via Getty Images, Matches Fashion, ESPN video

08 July 2014

Royal Outfit of the Day: July 8

The King and Queen of Spain made an introductory visit to Portugal yesterday.
With all the throne switcheroos (technical term) in the past year or so, we've seen a lot of these little one day visits, and Letizia's handling the style front pretty much just as you'd have guessed: new Felipe Varela outfits, but nothing too special, nothing out of character. For Portugal, simply a trench coat style done in a different fabric. Probably the best possible way for her to play the situation, really, and I think she's got a quiet winner here. And I appreciate the contrast of the handbag, as I shut down another rant on overly matchy shoe colors. (Oh, personal pet peeves.)

Photo: Europa Press via Getty Images

07 July 2014

Royal Wedding Gown of the Day: July 7

This year's not shaping up to be huge on big royal weddings, but this weekend did give us a nice wedding tidbit: Prince Amedeo of Belgium, Archduke of Austria-Este, married Elisabetta (Lili) Maria Rosboch von Wolkenstein on Saturday in Rome. Prince Amedeo is the eldest child of Princess Astrid of Belgium and her husband, Prince Lorenz (Archduke Lorenz of Austria-Este), and is therefore the nephew of the current King of the Belgians.
In proper royal wedding style, the bride walked down the aisle in Valentino Haute Couture. Her dress was made from ivory point d'esprit tulle with rebrodè lace embellishments, and she topped it with a point d'esprit tulle veil, 5 meters long, accented with motifs of Chantilly lace.
I'm not always the biggest fan of point d'esprit; the scattered dots can sometimes be a little twee, depending on the design. But in this case, I thought it was perfectly deployed, lightening the spirit of the dress so that it didn't weigh the bride down.
Glittering on top of her veil was Queen Elisabeth's Diamond Bandeau Tiara, borrowed from her new grandmother-in-law Queen Paola, and her pearl and diamond earrings perfectly matched the tiara's Art Deco design. The tiara was also loaned to Queen Mathilde on her wedding day, but I think I like it here better - the position with the veil seems to soften the solid line of the bandeau nicely.

This wasn't a big official international royal event, but there were quite a few familiar faces among the family and friends invited. Princess Astrid sported some fantastic pearls (focusing on the pearls...I am focusing on the pearls), Queen Mathilde was half-caped and head-bandaged, and Princess Beatrice was elegant if a little bit blergh, to name a few. Click here for a gallery.

Photos: Elisabetta Villa via Getty Images, VTM video, Maison Valentino

03 July 2014

Royal Wedding of the Long Weekend: July 3

It's a holiday weekend where I live, and I'm making it a holiday weekend here too.

In lieu of a tiara post today, I offer you instead multiple tiaras! In action! A wee royal wedding flashback, to Princess Madeleine of Sweden and Christopher O'Neill's ceremony last summer. Many of you requested a chance to relive the event during their daughter Princess Leonore's christening, and it now has bonus added significance with a new Swedish royal wedding on the horizon. So here you go:

Enjoy! We'll be back on Monday.

02 July 2014

Royal Outfit of the Day: July 2

Video: The Duchess of Cambridge visited a project addressing addiction in families at Blessed Sacrament School yesterday.
COLOR. That's my first reaction. My only reaction, really. COLOR!
The dress is from the label Goat. Perhaps someday she will wear this brand to an engagement involving actual goats, and then we can reach our maximum cheesy headline potential.

Photo: Goat

01 July 2014

Royal Outfit of the Day: July 1

King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia started their first introductory visits abroad yesterday with a visit to Pope Francis at the Vatican.
It's Letizia's first privilège du blanc appearance, aww. Vatican protocol traditionally requests black or dark outfits from most ladies meeting with the Pope, but privilège du blanc allows select few Catholic royal ladies to wear white. Spanish queens are among those with the privilege, so the new Queen Letizia got in on the act in her white tailored skirt suit with subtle white embroidery on the cuffs and bottom of the jacket. She did not wear a head covering for the couple's audience with Pope Francis (and neither did Queen Sofia when she and King Juan Carlos visited back in April).
You  never quite know what you're going to get, dress code-wise, when royals visit the Vatican. The old protocols that included gala dress, veils, and even tiaras in some cases, is fading especially fast under the current pope. This visit, sartorially, was a huge change from Felipe and Letizia's first visit as a married couple, ten years ago:
I actually find the relaxing of the dress code refreshing - although anytime Letizia wants to bust out her mantilla and peineta, I'm all for it - and for this visit, I think she played it just right.

Photos: Vatican Pool/Getty Images News and Eric Vandeville/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images