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Members of the Sadler's Wells Ballet Company leave Victoria Station, London, for a tour of Holland, May 1940

Members of the Sadler’s Wells Ballet Company leave Victoria Station, London, for a tour of Holland, May 1940. Director Ninette de Valois is on the far right.

When the Germans invaded Holland on May 10, 1940, Ninette de Valois found herself trapped in The Hague. She was the director of the Sadler’s Wells Ballet Company from England. She and her 42 dancers had been on a Dutch tour. On the day of the invasion, de Valois had been sitting at a sidewalk café with two members of the dance company. It was noon. Suddenly, a stray bullet ricocheted from the pavement, passed between their heads, and crashed through the café’s plate glass window behind them. The bullet had been fired from a German plane swooping over the city square. The diners were rushed inside to safety.

That morning, some of the dancers had flocked to the rooftop of their hotel to watch German parachutists float down and land in the area around the Hague, where Queen Wilhelmina resided.  Thousands of leaflets also fluttered down from the enemy aircraft, some landing on the rooftop, that proclaimed:

Strong German troop units have surrounded the city. Resistance is of no use. Germany does not fight your country but Great Britain. In order to continue this battle the German Army has been forced to penetrate your country. The German Army protects the life and goods of every peace-loving citizen. However, the German troops will punish every deed of violence committed by the population with a death sentence.” 1

For five days, the Dutch army fought bravely, but it was no match for the German war machine. The Netherlands had a policy of neutrality and had had no recent experience of resisting outside invading forces. Queen Wilhelmina and the Dutch Royal Family from the Royal House of Orange-Nassau refused to accept the Nazi offer of protection and sailed to England on the HMS Hereford sent by King George VI.

The Exiled Royals with the King and Queen of England, WWII (photo undated). From left to right: Queen Marie of Yugoslavia,Miss Benesj,Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands,Miss Raczkiewicz,King George VI of England,King Peter of Yugoslavia,King Haakon of Norway, Queen Elizabeth (The Queen mother) of England, the President of Poland, M. Raczkiewicz and Dr. Benesj, President of Tsjecho- Slovakia.

The Exiled Royals with the King and Queen of England, WWII (photo undated). From left to right: Queen Marie of Yugoslavia,Miss Benesj,Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands,Miss Raczkiewicz,King George VI of England,King Peter of Yugoslavia,King Haakon of Norway, Queen Elizabeth (The Queen mother) of England, the President of Poland, M. Raczkiewicz and Dr. Benesj, President of Tsjecho- Slovakia.

The Netherlands surrendered on May 15.

For the next seven weeks, the citizens of Holland did not resist the German occupation. They buried their dead and mourned their losses. They were shocked and demoralized. They felt abandoned by their queen.

Audrey Hepburn-Ruston, ca. 1941 (age 12)

Audrey Hepburn-Ruston, ca. 1941 (age 12)

Audrey Hepburn was eleven years old when the Germans took over her town of Arnhem, Holland:

“The first few months we didn’t quite know what had happened.”

But Queen Wilhelmina reached out to her subjects across the North Sea via newsreels and BBC radio broadcasts, revitalizing Dutch hope for Allied liberation, and condemning German aggression. She urged them to resist the moffen (German Huns). For the next five years, the radio voice of the Queen would be the main source of inspiration for the Dutch Resistance Movement.

Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard celebrate their engagement 1936. Note the white carnation in the Prince's lapel.

Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard celebrate their engagement 1936. Note the white carnation in the Prince’s lapel.

An opportunity for the Dutch citizens to protest the German occupation arrived on June 29. It was the birthday of Prince Bernhard, the Queen’s son-in-law. Since he had been a student, the Prince had worn a trademark white carnation in his lapel.

So, on June 29, the Dutch people demonstrated their loyalty to Queen and country and their defiance of Nazi rule. People participated all across the country, but the activity was strongest in Amsterdam and The Hague.

People displayed vases full of carnations in the windows of homes and stores. Women and girls wore orange skirts, orange being the national color, symbolic of the Royal House of Orange. The Dutch flag was flown. Men pinned white carnations in the buttonhole of their coats, in imitation of Prince Bernhard, a German who was anti-Nazi.  Some people rode bicycles around town all dressed in orange.

Crowds gathered at the statue of Queen Emma, Wilhelmina’s mother, in Amsterdam to lay flowers.

The Queen Emma monument is festooned with flowers on Carnation Day, 1940

The Queen Emma monument is festooned with flowers on Carnation Day, 1940

At first, only single flowers were placed on the statue’s lap. Then others arrived carrying great pots of flowers. Soon the area at the base of the statue was covered in flowers. On the nearby lawn, the letter B was formed with a clever flower arrangement. People brought cut-out pictures of the royal family and laid these beside the flowers.

A street organ began to play the national anthem. Softly at first, people began to sing. Shortly, though, more people lifted their voices in patriotic song. Emotion was running high.

Men belonging to the WA, the military arm of the Dutch Nazi organization (NSB), shoved into crowds and started fights. The WA goons wore black shirts. Many people were injured.

NSB members (Dutch Nazis or collaborators) show up at a statue of Queen Emma on Carnation Day, giving the straight arm salute.

NSB members (Dutch Nazis or collaborators) show up at a statue of Queen Emma on Carnation Day, giving the straight arm salute.

People gathered at the Queen’s residence in the Hague, the Noordeinde Palace, to lay flowers on the balcony and to sign the birthday register.  The German commander of the Wehrmacht feared a riot. He ordered German fighter planes to fly above the city, diving now and then, but not to shoot, to get the crowd to disperse.

This day became known as Anjerdag, “Carnation Day.”

German propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels is shown at the entrance to Queen Wilhelmina's residence, the Noordeinde Palace in The Hague on Carnation Day. The nonviolent protest demonstration by the Dutch citizens greatly alarmed their German occupiers. Hitler was informed and the Nazis began their crackdown on Dutch life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

German propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels (center) is shown at the entrance to Queen Wilhelmina’s residence, the Noordeinde Palace, in The Hague on Carnation Day. The nonviolent protest demonstrations by the Dutch citizens greatly alarmed their German occupiers. Hitler was informed and the Nazis began their crackdown on Dutch life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The Germans were furious with this civil act of disobedience. They ordered images of the Dutch Royal Family to be removed from all public places. Street names were renamed. The Prince Bernhard Square, for example, became “Gooiplein.” The Royal Library was soon referred to as the National Library. On the first of August, the top Nazi in Holland, Reichskommissar Seyss-Inquart, announced that it was forbidden to celebrate a birthday of a member of the Dutch Royal family.

Postnote:  In early 1941, a baby girl was born to a Mr. and Mrs. Niehot of The Hague. They wanted to name their newborn baby Nelia after their midwife, Nelia Epker, but she suggested they give their child an ‘Orange‘ name. The result was announced in the newspaper in a birth advertisement: Irene Beatrix Juliana Wilhelmina Niehot.

This announcement was met with great joy. Irene and Beatrix were the young daughters of Crown Princess Juliana.

May 1940, London. Elizabeth Van Swinderen, wife of the former Dutch minister to Great Britain, points out London barrage balloons to Princess Juliana of the Netherlands. Juliana is with her children, Beatrix by her side and Irene in the baby carriage.

May 1940, London. Elizabeth Van Swinderen, wife of the former Dutch minister to Great Britain, points out London barrage balloons to Princess Juliana of the Netherlands, who is pushing the stroller. Juliana is with her children, Beatrix is by her side and Irene is in the baby carriage.

Perfect strangers sent cards, flowers, cakes and even money to the Niehot family. When the midwife Nelia Epker placed a thank-you advertisement in March 1941, listing the baby’s royal names once again, Nelia was arrested. She would not return to the Netherlands until August 1945, a survivor of Camp Ravensbrück. 2

1 Gottlief, Robert, ed. Reading Dance: A Gathering of Memoirs, Reportage, Criticism, Profiles, Interviews, and Some Uncategorizable Extras. New York: Pantheon Books, 2008.

2 Dutch Resistance Museum

 

 

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George VI (Albert Frederick Arthur George; 14 December 1895 – 6 February 1952) was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death. He was the last Emperor of India, and the first Head of the Commonwealth.

George VI (Albert Frederick Arthur George; 14 December 1895 – 6 February 1952) was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death. He was the last Emperor of India, and the first Head of the Commonwealth.

It was Christmas, 1939, and Great Britain was at war with Nazi Germany. Like his father before him, King George VI would continue the holiday tradition of addressing the British Empire in a live radio message. That year, he would broadcast from the royal country house at Sandringham, where he and his family would spend Christmas.

The Royal Residence at Sandringham, England

The Royal Residence at Sandringham, England

King George VI and his family leave Buckingham Palace, 1939, to spend Christmas at their country house at Sandringham. Pictured are the King and his wife Queen Elizabeth, daughters Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose. Princess Elizabeth would become Queen Elizabeth upon the death of her father in 1952.

King George VI and his family leave Buckingham Palace, 1939, to spend Christmas at their country house at Sandringham. Pictured are the King and his wife Queen Elizabeth, daughters Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose. Princess Elizabeth would become Queen Elizabeth upon the death of her father in 1952.

You will remember that King George VI was not a man comfortable with public speaking. His struggle to overcome a debilitating speech impediment – a stutter – was immortalized in the 2011 American Academy Award-winning film for Best Picture, “The King’s Speech.” A shy, nervous man, a heavy smoker and drinker (it would kill him at 56), King George VI would have preferred to have remained the Duke of York, living a quiet, out-of-the-public eye life with his sturdy wife and two rosy-cheeked daughters.

British Royal Princesses Elizabeth (l.) and Margaret Rose. February 1939, 7 months before the outbreak of WWII

British Royal Princesses Elizabeth (l.) and Margaret Rose. This photo was taken in February 1939, seven months before the outbreak of WWII.

King George VI – born Albert, called Bertie - never wanted to be king. He wasn’t supposed to be king. He was only king because his brother David had abdicated the throne in 1936 and he, Bertie, was next in line. Nevertheless, unwillingness aside, this unlikely monarch would rise to the occasion and be the very king the British people so sorely needed in a time of great trouble.

It was December 25, 1939, the day of the broadcast. Dressed in the uniform of the Admiral of the Fleet, the tall and too thin sovereign approached the table where two radio microphones were set up, taking his seat.

King George VI addresses his people on September 19, 1939, at the outbreak of WWII.

King George VI addresses his people on September 19, 1939, at the outbreak of WWII.

Taking a few deep breaths, he began to speak, slowly yet solidly. Measuring his words carefully, he spoke from the heart:

“A new year is at hand. We cannot tell what it will bring. If it brings peace, how thankful we shall all be. If it brings us continued struggle we shall remain undaunted.”

Toward the end of his nine-minute broadcast, he said:

“I feel that we may all find a message of encouragement in the lines which, in my closing words, I would like to say to you:”

He then read from a poem given to him by his 13-year-old daughter, Princess Elizabeth,

I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year,
‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’
And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be better than light, and safer than a known way.’”*

He finished by saying,

“May that Almighty Hand guide and uphold us all.”

For a king not known for compelling speeches, this one would be a landmark. It united King and Country in common cause and inspired the people to hold fast. After all, at this point in history, no one knew that the Allies would triumph. Britain was to face five more years of war and brutal bombing by Hitler before the day of liberation would arrive. The end of 1939 was a shaky time and great leadership by King, Queen, and Prime Minister Winston Churchill would hold Britain steady against the Nazi aggressors.

Queen Elizabeth and King George VI of Great Britain stop at Vallence Road, Stepney, in the East End, London, to examine the debris following an air raid in the Second World War. October 4, 1945

Queen Elizabeth and King George VI of Great Britain stop at Vallence Road, Stepney, in the East End, London, to examine the debris following an air raid in the Second World War. October 4, 1945

King George VI pins a Distinguished Service Medal on Chief Petty Officer C.L.Baldwin in December 1939.

King George VI pins a Distinguished Service Medal on Chief Petty Officer C.L.Baldwin in December 1939.

Listen to the last four minutes of the King’s Christmas 1939 message here:

For more about the British Royal Family on this blog, click here.

Click here for the full text of the King’s 1939 Christmas Message plus The REAL austerity Christmas: How a nation gripped by fear kept calm and carried  on three months after outbreak of war in 1939

*“The Gate of the Year,” by Minnie Haskins (1908)

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Is Kate pregnant? While William, 29, plus the Danish Crown Prince and Princess tasted peanut paste at a recent visit to a global supply center for Unicef, Kate politely refused -- and reportedly gave her husband of six months a knowing look.

Tabloids are abuzz with speculation that Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, is expecting her first child with Prince William. Buckingham Palace refuses to deny or confirm such a statement but there are hints that there may be some truth to the rumor.

It is all started with Kate refused to sample some peanut paste in a Unicef food packet in a royal visit to Copenhagen. (Doctors warn expectant mothers against eating nuts.) She further fueled speculation  on another occasion when she refused a glass of champagne while hosting a charity dinner on behalf of Prince Charles. (Expectant mothers shouldn’t drink alcohol.)

In Touch magazine claims that Kate is six weeks pregnant. In Touch‘s sources have been reliable in the past, having correctly revealed both the couple’s honeymoon plans and the Queen‘s wedding gift to Kate.

Learn more at The Daily Beast.

Readers: For more on Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, on Lisa’s History Room, click here.

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In 2009, British Esquire named Prince Charles the World's Best Dressed Man. "He is perfectly turned out in a double-breasted suit," they claim. "Admirably, the prince keeps his wardrobe in appropriate style: we're told he has a room laid out like a tailor's shop."

Not in Front of the Corgis,  a new book to be released in June 2012 by biographer Brian Hoey, gives us a “behind closed doors” look at the British Royal Family.  Here’s a preview of a section on Prince Charles and Camilla:

Prince Charles employs 133 staff to look after him and Camilla, more than 60 of them domestics: chefs, cooks, footmen, housemaids, gardeners, chauffeurs, cleaners, and his three personal valets—gentleman’s gentlemen—whose sole responsibility is the care of their royal master’s extensive wardrobe and choosing what he is to wear on any particular day. A serving soldier polishes the prince’s boots and shoes every day—he has 50 handmade pairs each costing over £800 ($1275) by Lobb of St James’s—and a housemaid washes his underwear as soon as it is discarded.

Nothing Charles or Camilla wears is ever allowed near a washing machine. Particular attention is paid to handkerchiefs, which are monogrammed and again all hand-washed, as it was found that when they were sent to a laundry, some would go missing—as souvenirs. HRH’s suits, of which he has 60, cost more than £3,000 ($4780) each, and his shirts, all handmade, cost £350 ($558) a time (he has more than 200), while his collar stiffeners are solid gold or silver. Charles’s valets also iron the laces of his shoes whenever they are taken off.

Source: The Daily Beast

Readers: For more on the British Royal Family on this blog, click here.

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At a 1968 British society wedding in Kent, Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor snaps a souvenir picture of the Queen Mum (seated), mother of Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen Mum

At a 1968 British society wedding in Kent, Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor cannot resist snapping a souvenir picture of "the Queen Mum" (seated), mother of Queen Elizabeth II.

“The Queen Mum,” born Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (1900-2002), was the beloved British Royal Family matriarch from 1953 until her death at age 101. Of Scottish birth, she served as Queen consort to her husband King George VI from 1936 until his death in 1952, when their daughter Princess Elizabeth took the throne as Elizabeth II.

During the London Blitz in WWII, the Queen Mum – who was then naturally referred to as Queen Elizabeth - insisted that she and the King remain in Buckingham Palace after it was bombed by the German luftwaffe. The Queen remarked to her mother-in-law that she was more affected by the bombing of the East End of London than by the bombing of the Palace:

“I’m glad we have been bombed,” she said. “Now, I can look the East End in the eye.” (1)

British King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth (later Elizabeth, the Queen Mother) survey the damage to Buckingham Palace from German bombs. Both the King and Queen were in the Palace when the attack hit the palace grounds and chapel on the morning of September 13, 1940. As they made their way to the palace shelter, they felt the Palace shake under the assault of high explosive and incendiary bombs. They were unhurt. Undeterred by the danger, the royal couple vowed to stay in London in the Palace.

I am still just as frightened of bombs as I was at the beginning,” the Queen wrote to a favourite niece. “I turn bright red and my heart hammers….I’m a beastly coward but I do believe that a lot people are, so I don’t mind! Well, darling, I must stop. Tinkety tonk old fruit and down with the Nazis.”(2)

Her indomitable spirit in the face of German aggression boosted British morale to such a degree that Adolf Hitler called her “the most dangerous woman in Europe.”

Her scary skinny sister-in-law, Wallis, the Duchess of Windsor, hated and mocked her, calling her by the unflattering nickname “Cookie” behind her back, mocking her love of sweets and resulting plumpness. The Queen Mum, however, did not hide her love of fun, jokes, champagne, and good food. In the 2010 movie, “The King’s Speech,” the Queen Mum, played by Helena Bonham Carter, is shown eating candies in the backseat of a car.

Her ultimate accolade for anyone or anything was “delicious.”(2)

Elizabeth, the Queen Mother

A new book by British monarchy chronicler, Brian Hoey, gives us yet another “behind the palace walls” glimpse of the Queen Mum enjoying her sweets.  Not in Front of the Corgis, scheduled for a June 2012 release, relates this anecdote: 

Lord Callaghan, when he was prime minister (1976-1979), was a frequent guest of the Queen Mother’s at Clarence House. Once, when just the two of them were present, she was eating from an enormous box of chocolates when he arrived.  She asked him if he would like one. He said, “Yes.” She then pointed to one in the middle of the box and said, “Have that one.” During the time he was eating his one specified chocolate, she ate three more. 

She then invited him to take another, once again selecting the one he should have. This went on for the remainder of the morning, with Her Majesty always pointing to the ones he could have.

As Callaghan left, he spoke to The Queen’s Page, asking why he was offered only particular chocolates by the Queen. The Page let him in on the secret:

“Those are the ones with hard centers. Her Majesty only eats the chocolates with soft centers.”(3)

(1) Source: BBC

(2) Source: The Daily Beast

(3) Source: The Daily Beast

Faithful readers:

  •  For more on the Queen Mum on this blog, click here.
  • For more on the British Royal Family on this blog, click here.
  • For more on Elizabeth Taylor on this blog, click here.
  • For more on Wallis, the Duchess of Windsor on this blog, click here.

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British Prime Minister David Cameron’s government is moving ahead with plans to change succession laws so that if Will and Kate have a daughter, she will be able to ascend to the throne. Under existing rules, if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge‘s first child is a girl but their second child is a boy, the son would pass over his sister and inherit the throne. Cameron wrote,

We espouse gender equality in all other aspects of life, and it is an anomaly that in the rules relating to the highest public officer we continue to enshrine male superiority.”

Read more at People.

For more on this blog about Will & Kate, click here.

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Queen Elizabeth II and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, took a preview tour of Buckingham Palace’s royal wedding exhibit on Friday. 

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and her grandmother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, are on their way to view Buckingham Palace's royal wedding exhibit, July 22, 2011. Uncharacterically, the Queen is not carrying her trusty handbag.

The Royal Collection show, called “The Royal Wedding Dress: A Story of Great British Design,” opened to the public today. It brings together the Duchess of Cambridge’s Alexander McQueen white and ivory Irish lace wedding dress, shoes, tiara, earrings, and a replica bouquet for the public to view up close.

Among the items displayed at the Queen's London residence include the Cartier Halo tiara, worn by Kate Middleton on her wedding day. The understated headpiece was made in 1936 and purchased by the Duke of York (later King George VI) for his wife, Elizabeth's mother (also Elizabeth). Queen Elizabeth received it as an 18th-birthday present, at which time she was Princess Elizabeth. The delicate diamond tiara was lent to Kate by the Queen.

The Palace expects over 500,000 people to buy tickets to the ten-week exhibit. Both at home and abroad, Prince William and Kate are wildly popular, as evidenced by the overwhelmingly warm reception they received earlier this summer on their 2011 Royal Tour of Canada with a detour to Hollywood.

Kate Middleton's bridal shoes will be on display at Buckingham Palace this summer. Custom made by Alexander McQueen's Sarah Burton to match her wedding dress, Kate's elegant pumps are made of ivory duchesse satin with lace hand-embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework.

Kate and William’s wedding cake was a fruit cake designed by Fiona Cairns. It was covered in cream and white icing, decorated with over 900 sugar paste flowers and elaborate scrollwork. Fiona Cairns’ cakes are in huge demand; Sir Paul McCartney orders one every Christmas.

Kate designed her wedding cake to match its surroundings. She took into account that her wedding reception was to be held in the Picture Gallery in Buckingham Palace. The room has high ceilings so she chose a cake that towered but was not too tall or thin. She wanted something with presence. Architectural elements in the room, for instance, garlands on the walls, were reproduced loosely on the fourth tier piping: roses, acorns, ivy leaves, apple blossom and bridal roses. The cakemaker would not reveal her exact recipe but did disclose that she used a range of produce from dried fruits such as raisins and sultanas to walnuts, cherries, grated oranges and lemon, French brandy and free-range eggs and flour to create her historic confection.

Of course, the centerpiece of the exhibit was Kate’s wedding dress and veil. An ongoing tradition, viewing royal wedding gowns has wide public appeal. For instance, Princess Diana‘s 1981 Elizabeth Emanuel wedding gown continues to be viewed and is currently part of a travelling exhibition. 

Kate and the Queen view Kate's wedding gown display in Buckingham Palace. July 20, 2011.

Upon viewing the installation of Kate’s wedding dress and veil, the Queen was heard to exclaim, 

“Horrid, isn’t it? Horrid and dreadful!”

 

The Queen is not amused.

The ivory and white Alexander McQueen gown is displayed in a dark and gloomy fashion with the veil and tiara hovering eerily above. 

The Duchess of Cambridge's wedding gown is displayed without a mannequin.

It appeared the mannequin’s lack of a head may have upset the Queen.

Source: HuffStyle 

Readers: For more on Lisa’s History Room about the British Royal Family, click here.

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Prince William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, braved temperatures in the nineties as they continue their Royal Tour of Canada at a stop in Ottawa. Kate wore a striking red hat adorned with the Canadian maple leaf as well as a brooch loaned from the Queen. In his speech, Prince William referred to his grandmother as the “Queen of Canada.” Queen Elizabeth II remains Canada’s head-of-state.Prince William waves to the Ottawa crowd as Catherine steps out in a striking red hat adorned with red maple leaves, a symbol found on the Canadian flag. July 2011  

Kate flashes a smile as we get a close-up of her red hot fascinator by Sylvia Fletcher for Lock and Co.

Kate wears a family heirloom loaned to her by Queen Elizabeth II: a diamond brooch of a maple leaf, Canada's national emblem.

Queen Elizabeth II wore the maple brooch when she toured Canada 60 years earlier, in 1951.

The flag of Canada features a red, 11-tipped maple leaf against a white field, flanked by vertical red bands. Canada is a federal state that is governed as a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. It is a bilingual nation with both English and French as official languages at the federal level.

Readers: For more on the British Royal Family here on Lisa’s History Room, click here

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Center, Prince Albert of Monaco and his fiancé Charlene Wittstock pose with the band The Eagles, performing in Monaco to celebrate the wedding of Albert and Charlene. June 30, 2011.

Prince Albert of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock of South Africa are scheduled to wed today in Monte Carlo despite revelations in the French Press earlier in the week that the never-before-married Prince Albert, 53, may have fathered a third love child. Upon learning of the Le Monde article, Miss Wittstock, 20 years Albert’s junior, reportedly tried to flee the tiny Riviera principality.

As reported in The Daily Mail, “the couple’s lawyers have furiously denied a rift, while police have claimed that Miss Wittstock even

had her passport confiscated at the Nice airport to stop her getting on a flight.” 

Despite this hiccup, the wedding is going ahead as planned. The engaged couple put on a happy show of unity last night as they attended a concert by The Eagles. The free show was held at Monaco’s stadium and attracted thousands of fans from the principality and neighboring areas.

The wedding nuptials include a civil ceremony today and a Catholic Church ceremony tomorrow. 

In this June 2011 photo for Vogue magazine, Charlene Wittstock shows off her impressive physique. She was a South African Olympic swimmer who will become Princess Charlene of Monaco on Friday, July 1, 2011, when she weds Prince Albert of Monaco. Prince Albert is the son of the late Grace Kelly, American film actress, and Prince Rainier III of Monaco.

Charlene Wittstock stands on a precipice in Monaco.
To see a gallery of Charlene Wittstock photos at the Daily Beast, click here.  

The nuptials at Monte Carlo may rival the British royal wedding in lavishness and excess. While newlyweds William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, are unable to attend the festivities because they are currently in Canada on a North American tour, the guest list is still expected to be impressive. Shrouded in secrecy, it is rumored to include crowned heads of Europe, politicians, and glitterati such as international supermodel Naomi Campbell, German haute couture designer Karl LagerfeldFrench President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, First Lady Carla Bruni.

Musician and former model Carla Bruni is expecting her second child, her first with Sarkozy.

The June 2011 issue of French magazine Elle features First Lady of France Carla Bruni Sarkozy with her growing pregnancy bump. Carla Bruni is a former model, and has graced the cover of Elle many times.

Before she was the First Lady of France: Carla Bruni models a designer bikini and pearl-rimmed sunglasses.

READERS: For more on Lisa’s History Room about Carla Bruni, click here  

 

In the photo above, Prince Albert’s mother, Princess Grace of Monaco, is shown climbing the stairs of the Princely Palace in Monaco, ca. 1960. Princess Grace is the Hollywood actress Grace Kelly who gave up her film career to marry Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, in 1956. Together they raised three children: Caroline, Princess of Hanover, Albert II, Prince of Monaco, and Princess Stéphanie of Monaco.

Readers: For more on Lisa’s History Room about Princess Grace, click here.

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Landing in Ottawa, Canada, Prince William and Catherine begin the Royal Tour of 2011, their first tour as husband and wife.

Prince William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, are in Canada today, the first leg of the Royal Tour 2011 of North America. For more, click here.

For more about the British Royal Family on this blog, Lisa’s History Room, click here.

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This week's current Newsweek cover featuring a fantasy image of what Princess Diana, had she lived, might have looked like at age 50. The image has sparked tremendous backlash.

The Daily Beast has provided a photo gallery of Princess Diana over the years. Had she lived, she would have turned 50 today, July 1, 2011: “Princess Diana’s 50th Birthday.”

Newsweek’s Tina Brown has written a really strange futuristic look at what Diana might have been like at 50: “Diana at 50.”

For other posts on Diana on this blog, Lisa’s History Room, click here.

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Peterhof Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia

They first met at the 1884 wedding of his uncle to her sister. She called him Nicky; he called her “Alix” or “Sunny.”  Although Alix was only 12, she knew at that moment that Nicky was “The One.” It was on this occasion she carved their names on the window of the Peterhof Palace.

Alix of Hesse as a young girl ca. 1878

After the wedding, Alix bid her sister and Nicky goodbye, returning to the Darmstadt Palace in Germany which was her home. Alix was a royal princess.

Alix of Hesse ca. 1888

Young Nicholas II of Russia, before he ascended the throne in 1894

Five more years would pass before Princess Alix would return to Russia and see Nicky again. During that visit, the two fell even more deeply in love. Nicky was determined to make Alix his bride.

But Nicky’s parents wouldn’t hear of Nicky marrying a German princess. They hated Germans as did almost every Russian. But Nicky’s parents weren’t just any Russians.  Nicky’s parents were the Romanov rulers of Russia: Tsar Alexander III and Tsarina Marie Feodorovna . They were the Royal Emperor and Empress. Nicky – Nicholas Alexandrovich- being their oldest son – was the Tsarevitch – the heir to the Russian throne.

Alix returned to Germany.

Princess Alix of Hesse, seated, prepares for her first ball. 1889.

More years passed. Love letters written in English flew back and forth between the lovesick pair.

Meanwhile, Nicky carried on a torrid and scandalous three-year affair with the famous Russian ballerina, Mathilda Kschessinska.

Mathilde Kschessinska (1872-1971)

Nevertheless, Nicky’s heart still belonged to Alix.  He wrote in his diary:

It is my dream to one day marry Alix H. I have loved her for a long time, but more deeply and strongly since 1889 when she spent six weeks in Petersburg. For a long time, I have resisted my feeling that my dearest dream will come true.”

Nicky’s parents continued to wage a fierce campaign to find Nicky a suitable bride. The Tsar hoped to land a bigger catch for his son than Princess Alix (even though she was his godchild!), parading a series of royal princesses in front of his son. But Nicky stood firmly against each proposed match, declaring flat out to his folks that he’d become a monk rather than marry anyone ugly and boring when he could have the tall and lovely blue-eyed beauty Princess Alix as his wife and royal consort.

Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom comforts her German granddaughters, the Princesses of Hesse; left to right, Victoria, Ella, and, the youngest, Alix. Their mother, Princess Alice, had just died. Alice was Victoria's second daughter.

Meanwhile, alone in Germany, Alix was equally resolute to marry Nicky, doing her own bit in  turning down royal suitors. She even stood up to her domineering grandmother, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, when the Queen tried to marry her off to her grandson, the Duke of Clarence. Alix declined to marry the Duke stating to “Granny” that she did not love him. Victoria – notorious for her royal matchmaking – surprisingly

“was proud of Alix for standing up to her, something many people, including her own son, the Prince of Wales did not do.”

 
For five years, Tsar Alexander III had stood firmly against his son’s wishes. But, in 1894, he became ill and relented, the couple announcing their engagement in April of 1894.

1894 official engagement photo of Princess Alix of Hesse (later Alexandra Feodorovna) and Tsarevitch Nicholas (later Tsar) of Russia

Princess Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt and by Rhine & Tsarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich, London, 1894

Alix, as a requirement for the engagement, converted from Lutheranism to the Russian Orthodox religion and took the Russian name “Alexandra Feodorovna” to strengthen her appeal to the Russian people. Nicholas and Alexandra planned a spring 1895 wedding.

But their plans were thrown in disarray by Alexander’s sudden death in November and Nicholas’s subsequent ascension to the throne as His Imperial Majesty, Tsar Nicholas II. Nicholas insisted that the wedding date be moved forward, as he wanted Alix by his side to help him rule. They married a swift three weeks later. He was 26.  Alix, now called Empress Alexandra,was 22.

Wedding of Russian Emperor Nicholas II (1868-1918) and Grand Princess Alexandra Fedorovna (1872-1918) by Laurits Tuxen, 1895

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Dodi Al Fayed looks over Princess Diana's shoulder just minutes before the two of them will die in a Paris tunnel.

Keith Allen, the director of the controversial film, “Unlawful Killing,” is interviewed today by the UK Daily Mail regarding his decision to include in the “documentary” a previously unseen and graphic black and white photo of Princess Diana as she lay dying August 31, 1997.  The photo was probably sold by one of the paparazzi in the Paris tunnel with her at the time of her fatal car crash. (1)

“Unlawful Killing” debuts tomorrow at the Cannes Film Festival. Allen defends his tasteless use of the disturbing photo of the much beloved princess on the heels of the Royal Wedding:

The photo is not used in the film for the purpose of shock. It is included as evidence, because it shows clearly that, although Diana had been injured in the crash, she was alert and very much alive. I repeat: it is not a picture of a dying woman.

As medical evidence presented at the inquest confirmed, if Diana had been taken promptly to hospital by Dr Jean-Marc Martino, she could well have survived.

Instead, due to a series of delays that have never been properly explained, it took one hour and 43 minutes to get her to a hospital just a couple of miles away, by which time her life was ebbing away.

We briefly use one photograph as part of a sequence which asks: why was she not taken to hospital more quickly? What took place within Dr Martino’s ambulance (inside which she remained for well over an hour)? Why is Dr Martino’s evidence greatly at variance with the known facts? And why did no official inquiry ever interview (or even name) most of other people in the ambulance?

Surely, if the inquest and police enquiries were as ‘thorough’ and ‘open’ as the voices of authority insist, that is the very least they would have done?

My film is not about a conspiracy before the crash, but about a conspiracy after the crash, culminating in a six-month inquest which (it is my contention) sought to bury the truth, rather than reveal it. I don’t know whether I’ll convince you or not, but I hope you’ll reserve judgement until you have seen it for yourselves.

Admittedly, that’s difficult at the moment, because the film cannot be shown in the UK (mainly because the questions it asks about the conduct of the coroner and police chiefs could lead to us all being imprisoned under contempt of court laws). But it will soon be showing widely throughout the world, so many of you will be able to see it elsewhere.” (2)

Allen admits that “Unlawful Killing” is backed by Mohamed Al Fayed, the former owner of Harrods Department Store in London.  Al Fayed is the  father of  Dodi Fayed, Diana’s lover, who also died in the Paris crash.

Summer 1997: Dodi Al Fayed and Princess Diana

Mohamed Al Fayed is convinced that Dodi and Diana were murdered by a collaboration between the British spy agency M16 and Queen Elizabeth’s husband, Prince Philip.

Mohamed Al Fayed has pursued his elaborate conspiracy theory for over a decade, memorably presenting it at an official British inquest into the deaths of Dodi and Diana. (3) However, on April 7, 2008, the jury released an official statement that sharply dismissed Al Fayed’s claim:

Diana and Dodi were unlawfully killed by the grossly negligent driving of chauffeur Henri Paul and the paparazzi. Though the official verdict implicated the pursuing vehicles, the jury also named the intoxication of the driver and the victims’ decisions to not wear seat-belts as contributing factors to their deaths. Additionally, the Mercedes had been travelling at over twice the legal speed limit of that particular section of road and had long since left the paparazzi vehicles far behind by the time the accident occurred.” (4)

Princess Diana (1961-1997). Mohamed Al Fayed created many myths about his son Dodi and Princess Diana's romance, particularly that they were getting ready to announce their wedding plans. He even went so far as to claim that Diana was pregnant at the time of her death. The British inquest into Diana's death concluded that she was not pregnant at the end.

(1) The Daily Mail

(2) The Daily Mail

(3)The New York Times

(4) Wiki

Readers: Check out “Diana’s Death Photos Leaked, Part 1 “The Shrine at Harrods,” and other posts on the British Royal Family on this blog.

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Newspapers chronicle the August 31, 1997 Paris car crash that killed Princess Diana.

“A shocking paparazzi photo of a dying Princess Diana could be shown for the first time on Friday in a documentary at the Cannes Film Festival.

The 90-minute documentary about her fatal car accident, called “Unlawful Killing,” includes a graphic, black-and-white close-up of the princess taken moments after the Mercedes she was riding in crashed in a Paris underpass.

One of the movie’s financial backers is former Harrods department store owner Mohamed Al Fayed, whose son Dodi died in the car with Diana.

British media report that he didn’t know the image of Diana’s face would be included in the movie and plans to stop it from being shown.”

This photo released in 2008 shows Princess Diana in the backseat of the Mercedes roaring away from the Paris Ritz before the fatal accident. Diana glances back at the pursuing paparrazzi. Dodi Al Fayed sits next to her. In front of Al Fayed is the driver, Henri Paul. Seated also upfront is Al Fayed's bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones (The Daily Mail)

For details and photos of the 1997 crash, click here.

Now Read: Princess Diana: Death Photo Leaked, Part  2

Readers: I have written many posts on Princess Diana and the British Royal Family. For more background on Diana’s death, please read, “The Shrine at  Harrod’s.” For other posts on the British Royal Family, click here.

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In its coverage of the fashion displayed by guests at the British Royal Wedding of William and Catherine, The New York Times wrote that the outfits of the guests “were generally tasteful and royal-friendly. A few things stuck out. The exotic costumes of foreign dignitaries, seeming throwbacks to imperial times. The hats worn by the ladies, which resembled, variously

overturned buckets, flowerpots, lampshades, fezzes, salad plates, tea cozies, flying saucers, abstract artworks or, in one case, a pile of feathers. There were also a number of fascinators, decorative shapes with flowers or feathers, that are stuck in one’s hair but are not hats.”

It now appears that 36 of the wild headpieces worn at the royal wedding can be traced to a single eccentric Irish milliner, Philip Treacy, referred to by the UK’s The Daily Mail as the man “responsible for all this fashion roadkill.” 

In this 1999 photo, milliner Philip Treacy poses with the late hat fancier Isabella Blow

Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice arrive at Westminster Abbey for the Royal Wedding in their much-ridiculed hats by Philip Treacy. Beatrice's hat was described in the Daily Mail as "beige pretzel-like" and Eugenie's as a "catastrophic confection...with a rose the color of dried blood."

For more pictures of royal wedding hats on this blog, click here.

Princess Beatrice wore this Treacy creation to another wedding. A swarm of butterflies seems to be attacking her head.

At another fancy occasion, Princess Eugenie wears a feather headpiece designed by Philip Treacy

Victoria Beckham wore one of Philip Treacy's creations to her husband David's O.B.E. ceremony. Note that Mrs. Beckham is showing her teeth, something rarely seen in her photos.

David and Victoria Beckham arrive at Westminster Abbey for the royal wedding. Victoria is wearing one of Treacy's hats, perched precariously on the front of her head. Though almost seven months pregnant with their fourth child, she opts for fashion footwear, wearing sky-high Christian Louboutin heels. David proudly wears his O.B.E. - but on the wrong lapel!

Once inside the Abbey, you can see that David Beckham has switched his O.B.E. medal from his right lapel to the left one - the correct one. Someone must have mentioned the faux pas and he made the swap. He's chatting up a Beefeater, rather nervously, I think!

While we are on the subject of propriety, let me mention that several people have remarked that Kate Middleton chose to wear a wedding gown with sleeves so that she didn’t bare her arms in the Abbey, which is firmly against the dress code.

Royal Wedding: William and Catherine are shown in the Abbey with best man Prince Harry of Wales and maid-of-honor Pippa Middleton.

I checked this out and there seems to be no such rule, at least in writing. Here is the dress code recorded on the Abbey website:

There is no specific dress code for the Abbey. For services we ask that you dress in a respectful manner, although we are aware that some people are on holiday – bear in mind that during the winter months it can become quite cold inside.

 

Besides, if Abbey rules require covered arms, then how was Pippa Middleton exempt?

Newsweek magazine clarified the matter. Royal protocol requires that the arms of a royal bride must be covered.

Prince William wore the scarlet coat of an Irish Guards mounted officer, the uniform of his senior honorary army appointment. He wore gold sword slings, but no sword. Although unconfirmed, my sources report that no weapons are allowed in the Abbey.

Back to the mad hatter and more of his crazy, over-the-top designs for The Rich and Famous:

American Actress Sarah Jessica Parker wears a Philip Treacy design. Saloon girl? More unpleasant things have been said about this hat like, "What do you get when you cross a small cowpat with a pair of yellow butterflies, a sickly green rose and a clump of brown chicken feathers?" (the Daily Mail)

British model Jade Parfit allows another Philip Treacy odd creation to rest on her right ear.

You knew it was coming.

That's Lady Gaga in the wreath by Treacy with Beyonce.

 

Jodie Kidd wears a Treacy saucer hat with pheasant feather antennae.

In this 2005 photo, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles, newly-minted as the Duchess of Cornwall, are just married. She wears a Philip Treacy "wheatsheaf halo" hat for which Prince Charles later awarded him an honorary O.B.E. Camilla is so chummy with Treacy that she sent Treacy's dog a Christmas card every year until the dog's death. At the dog's funeral, Grace Jones sang and Kate Moss sent flowers. (the Daily Mail)

Readers: 

 

On this site, read, “Kate Rocks the Fascinator.”

For more pictures of Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge (Kate Middleton) in hats, click here.

For more posts on the British Royal Family and the Royal Wedding, click here.

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