domenica 8 giugno 2014

The Christening of Princess Leonore of Sweden

Today, on her parents' first wedding anniversary (you can read my post on the wedding here), Sweden's Princess Leonore, the daughter of Princess Madeleine and Chris O'Neill, was christened  in the palace chapel of Drottningholm, Stockholm.

Princess Leonore's cousin, Princess Estelle, was christened a little over two years ago, on 22 May 2012 at the Royal Chapel in Stockholm.

Princess Estelle's christening.
Princess Madeleine attending her niece's christening.
For today's ceremony, Princess Madeleine choose a powder pink lace dress and veiled hat:
The Archbishop of Stockholm, Anders Wejryd, officiated.
The adorable little Princess was kept calm during the ceremony with a pacifier (photo via Daily News about Crown Princess Mary of Denmark on Facebook).
I adore the miniature Order of the Seraphim the Princess is wearing on her christening gown! (via Prince Carl Philip of Sweden - Fans & Friends on Facebook).
Princess Estelle was also present:

After the ceremony, the family posed for photographs outside the chapel:
Official photographs with the proud parents:
And grandparents:

sabato 7 giugno 2014

70th Anniversary of the D-Day Landing: The Queen's Looks

During the past three days a number of world leaders gathered in Normandy to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landing, which took place on 6 June 1944.
Among those present, where the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and other members of the British Royal Family.
Her Majesty has taken part in many previous commemorations. Below at the 40th anniversary, in 1984, with US President Ronald Reagan:

In 1994:


And in 2004:
During this year's three-day State visit, we saw the Queen don an impressive array of gorgeous outfits - let's have a closer look at them, and at the jewels she accesorized them with!
Departing St Pancras International station in London on Thursday, 5 June, on her way to Paris, the Queen wore a white coat and a navy hat with white bow, complemented by her sapphire-and-diamond grapes brooch, a piece she inherited from the Queen Mother:
Upon arrival at the Gare du Nord in Paris, Her Majesty had swapped her white coat for a white jacket with black trimming and pewter-coloured sequins, to match her dress, and matching hat:
The outfit was completed with the addition of a gold and diamond brooch in the shape of a spray of sorghum (a type of millet), a gift to Her Majesty from the President of Botswana in 2007, when the Queen led the meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government in Kampala, Uganda:
Then it was time for another change of outfit, when the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were received by French President Hollande at the Arc de Triomphe, where a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior took place. The Queen looked pretty in a pastel pink, Chanel-style tweed suit with matching hat (a rather peculiar, sort of inverted-toadstool kind of thing, the tell the truth...), accessorized with her Williamson diamond brooch:
As she does only on special occasions (she did so at the weddings of both Prince William and Zara Phillips), the Queen completed her outfit with cream-coloured accessories: her trademark Launer handbag and a pair of shoes with a cute bow!

 Probably one of the most easily recognizable brooches in Her Majesty's collection, this stunning sparkler was made by Cartier in 1953 and features the Williamson pink diamond, weighing a rather impressive 23.6 carats and considered the finest pink diamond ever discovered. The stone was a wedding gift to Princess Elizabeth from Canadian geologist Dr Williamson: it was then cut and set as the centrepiece of a new platinum brooch, designed by Frederick Mew of Cartier in 1953.
The Queen has notably worn the brooch at the weddings of the Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer and of Prince Edward.
It was also one of the pieces in the Queen's collection on show at the "Cartier - Style and History" exhibition held in Paris earlier this year (for my post on the exhibition, see here).
Later in the day, the Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, attended a Queen's Birthday Garden Party hosted by Sir Peter Ricketts, Her Majesty's Ambassador to the French Republic.
For this occasion, the Queen donned a white dress many will recall she first wore for the Diamond Jubilee Thames Pageant in June 2012, accessorized with a piece I'm not familiar with, a floral brooch in what appears to be a yellow, rose and white gold setting (most probably with diamonds).

The following day, 6 June, Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh departed Paris for Normandy, where they attended the Service of Remembrance at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery at Bayeux and met veterans. Afterwards, it was time for a lunch for Heads of State and Government given by the President of the French Republic at the Château de Bénouville and then, in the afternoon, for the actual D-Day commemoration at Sword Beach (Ouistreham).
For the day's events, the Queen chose a chartreuse green coat and flower printed dress by Stuart Parvin, with a flower embellished hat in a matchin shade of green by Rachel Trevor Morgan.
The addition of the impressive Queen Victoria's Fringe brooch completed the outfit.

The Fringe brooch is a piece attributed to Garrard & Co., made in 1856 for Queen Victoria using diamonds she had received as a gift from the Sultan of Turkey. It is a personal jewel, not an heirloom of the crown, and as such it has been passed through the generations, first to Queen Alexandra, then to Queen Mary, to the Queen Mother (who wore it at her daughter's coronation in 1953) and thence to the Queen at the Queen Mother's death in 2002.
In the evening, it was time for a State banquet in Her Majesty's honour, given by President Hollande at the Elysée Palace.
For this evening engagement, a black tie affair, the Queen wore a white-and-silver sequinned evening gown, with the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara and the Coronation necklace and earrings. The red riband of the Order of the Legion of Honour was held in place with another brooch from the Queen Mother's collection, in the shape of a posy of ruby and diamond stylized flowers tied with a diamond bow (the Queen was appointed Grand Cross of the Order of the Legion of Honour in 1948, when still Princess Elizabeth).
The look was set off with dainty T-bar evening silver shoes and a silver Launer evening bag:

This morning, 7 June, there was time for a couple of other engagements, before the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh departed for London to attend the Epsom Derby this afternoon - first the couple paid a visit to the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, at the Hotel de Ville. Afterwards, they visited the
Marché aux Fleurs, Paris' historic flower market, which was dedicated to Her Majesty.

The Queen was in a pale heather boucle suit with lace trim and matching hat and a brooch in the shape (quite appropriately!) of a spray of six diamond flowers:

As worn at Ascot in 2009.
The Queen departed Villacoublay Aiport in the same outfit:

Let's now have a quick glimpse at what other royal ladies present at the D-Day anniversary ceremonies chose to wear:

The Duchess of Cornwall (chatting to the wife of British Prime Minister, Samantha Cameron).

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.

Queen Maxima of the Netherlands with US President Obama.

The Duchess of Cambridge.

Queen Mathilde of the Belgians.


lunedì 2 giugno 2014

The Wedding of the Duke of Windsor to Mrs Wallis Warfield

Tomorrow marks the anniversary of the wedding of the Queen's uncle, the Duke of Windsor (formerly King Edward VIII) to American divorcée Wallis Warfield, which took place privately on 3 June 1937, at Château de Candé, near Tours, in France.

The Windsors' wedding venue.

Although no members of the Royal Family were in attendance (the new King, George VI, having expressly prohibited it), the wedding was nonetheless an extremely stylish affair: photographs were taken by Cecil Beaton, the photographer of the moment, flower arrangements were by leading florist Constance Spry and the bride's dress was by American couturier Mainbocher.


Wallis Simpson’s wedding ensemble, 1937. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

The dress was originally pale blue, a shade called "Wallis blue", said to match the Duchess of Windsor's eyes, with matching hat and silk gloves, although it has discoloured with age and now looks cream, as can be seen below. The Duchess donated her wedding ensamble to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1950.

Wallis Simpson’s wedding hat by Caroline Reboux and shoes by Georgette, retaining the original pale blue colour, 1937. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Jewellery worn by the Duchess included this stunning sapphire-and-diamond Van Cleef & Arpels bracelet, which had been a pre-wedding gift from the Duke, on 18 May 1937:
...and another stunning bracelet, a particularly famous piece in the Duchess' collection, this Cartier charm bracelet, adorned with precious stones crosses, each a memento of a special occasion:

If you are, like me, interested in the British Royal Family and the events surrounding the abdication of Edward VIII in 1936, I highly recommend a delightful little novel (400 pages that fly by!) by British author Laurie Graham, "Gone with the Windsors".

Available from Amazon UK, this brilliant, highly-entertaining novel is written as the fictional diary of Maybell Brumby, a wealthy Baltimore widow and one-time school friend of Wallis Simpson.
Maybell and Wally are made for one another. One has money and a foothold in high society, courtesy of a sister who married well. The other has ruthless ambition and enough energy to power the National Grid. Before the year is out, Wally has begun her seduction of the Prince of Wales, and as she clambers towards the throne she makes sure Maybell and her cheque book are always close at hand.
So Maybell becomes an eye-witness to the Abdication Crisis. From her perch in Carlton Gardens, home of her influential brother-in-law Lord Melhuish, she has the perfect vantage point for observing the anxious, changing allegiances for and against Queen Wally, and the political contours of pre-war London. The gowns, the parties, the diamonds...all is described in delightful detail - truly a highly recommended read for the history bunnies out there!

Interested in learning more about Constance Spry, the flower designer at the Windsor-Warfield wedding (and at the Queen's coronation, and at innumerable other society weddings, among them that of Princess Elizabeth in 1947, and events)? Then head no further than this fascinating biography by Sue Shephard, "The Surprising Life of Constance Spry", available to buy from Amazon UK.

The blue plaque to Constance Spry, on the site of her hugely successful Mayfair shop, Number 64 South Audley Street © English Heritage

What do you think of the Duchess' wedding ensamble? A timeless classic, or a don't?