Category Archives: Royal wedding

When Harry Met Meghan: Why Meghan Markle May Be Perfect for Harry (and for the British Monarchy)

harry_meghan

Full disclosure: When rumors started circulating a couple weeks ago that Prince Harry was dating an American television actress named Meghan Markle–and that she was teasing her social media followers with coy Instagram shots of Buckingham Palace and spooning bananas–I thought it was a publicity stunt, a very bad plan hatched by her media team to get some better name recognition for an actress few Americans know of.

Was I ever wrong.

I think I was more shocked with Prince Harry’s strongly worded statement to the press to leave his American girlfriend alone than I was by the outcome of our U.S. presidential election. After all, I’ve spent the last several months warning my liberal east coast friends that they were underestimating the depth of dislike for Hillary Clinton in other parts of the country, thus why I awoke Wednesday morning not at all surprised we have a Trump presidency awaiting us in January.

Like the pundits here and abroad have said, this very public declaration is an extraordinary move for anyone in the royal circle to make. Look how long it took Prince William to stand up to the press with his long-time girlfriend (and now wife) Kate MIddleton– years!–and Prince Harry stood up to it in mere months. It certainly signifies the relationship between the British prince and the American actress is very serious, and my gut says an engagement announcement is forthcoming.

I’ve thought a bit about this, and my opinion is that a Princess Meghan is just what the Royal Family needs to move forward and stay relevant. Why?

  1. She’s a working woman. Ok, she may not work in an office or be on the cusp of discovering the cure for cancer, and her day job is probably a bit more glamorous than the one you or I have, but Markle does support herself with her acting and shows some entrepreneurial spirit with her website and a clothing line. The loudest complaint I heard about the Duchess of Cambridge, and now about Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, is that she was “work shy.” Before she married Prince William, the Duchess did hold a few jobs, but not for long, and she had to rely on her parents for housing and an eventual temporary position in their own company. Bea and Eugenie are objects of ridicule for their relentless job hopping and the number of cushy vacations they manage to take each year. If Markle does become a member of the Royal Family, she’ll probably have to give up her career, but at least no one can accuse her of taking any free rides to the palace balcony.
  2. She’s philanthropic. I suspect this is one of the major attractions Prince Harry has for his new girlfriend…beyond the obvious, that she’s absolutely gorgeous! Princess Diana was revered for her charity work, and Markle looks like she has the energy and star-power to continue her legacy. As a young child, Markle traveled with her mother to developing countries, where she saw poverty up close, and this seemed to drive her philanthropy as an adult. In college she double-majored in theater and international relations (Northwestern grad, too, a great school!), and has most recently traveled to places to Rwanda and Afghanistan on behalf of UN-based organizations. If she and Prince Harry marry, she’ll be totally comfortable and passionate with the royal charity obligations she’ll undoubtedly have. Moreover, it seems that both she and Harry have similar charitable interests … a double win!
  3. She’s biracial. Markle’s mother is black, her father white. A few newspapers have made issue of this and snobbishly wondered if the very white Royal Family was ready for her. My feeling is that the Royal Family is far more welcoming and liberal than we give them credit for; it’s the old-school courtiers and the media rabble-rousers who will make race into an issue. So many families today are made up of different races that it’s time to let our institutions reflect that reality instead of holding them to a standard that’s antiquated and frankly racist.
  4. She’s American. I’ve read some snobby comments about Markle’s common American roots, but the flip side of this is that Americans are going to be far more aware and interested in the British Royal Family than ever. I wasn’t around when Grace Kelly married Prince Ranier, but I’m guessing that most Americans had never heard of Monaco until Grace became Princess Grace. The British may see the Royals as “royal scroungers” but Americans have nothing like them, so they’re what we think of when we think of England. Having one of us in their midst will make us love you a little more than we already do.
  5. She’s an actress. The press seems to think Markle’s acting background is an impediment (mostly because of some risque scenes she’s done) but I think it’s an incredible skill she’ll bring to the family business. Everyone rolls eyes about the Royal Family’s endless ribbon-cutting and wreath-laying itineraries, but after watching all ten hours of The Crown on Netflix last weekend, I got a taste of how hard it must be for the royals to always be smiling, pleasant, and conversational for hours at a time. (If you saw the mini-series, there’s a funny scene where the Queen has to have a relaxant injected into her cheek after the muscle freezes from smiling too much during a Commonwealth tour.) Markle’s acting background means she can put on a show, deliver a speech, smile, act interested, and have less of a chance forgetting her lines than someone who hasn’t had that kind of training.

Of course, if Markle marries into the Royal family, it won’t all be rainbows and unicorns. Surely she’ll have to give up her (paid) acting career, her social media presence, and I assume her American citizenship. And then there’s the relentless media scrutiny she’ll have to deal with, although her acting career will have prepared her for that somewhat.

What do you think? Has Harry met his match? Is she the breath of fresh air the Royals need, or a right royal headache? Please feel free to comment below. P.S. I’ll be back next week with a more personal post; I haven’t been able to log into WordPress until today because of a technical issue, but that has been fixed. Yay!

 

 

That’s Bond, Sir James Bond

Yesterday I spent another dreary, rainy day with my knitting, watching Casino Royale (the remake) and Quantum of Solace, both for the nth times. And yes, I can’t wait until November 9th, when the next Bond film, Skyfall, will hit the big screen here in North America. (You lucky dogs in Britain get it two weeks ahead of us.) I’ve got a lot of anticipation riding on this installment: Sam Mendes directing, starring roles for Ralph Fiennes (!!!) and Javier Bardem, not to mention more of broody, rough Daniel Craig and the always-a-pleasure-to-watch Judi Dench.

I’ve also been catching up on my show biz reading this weekend, and just learned there’s another guest star scheduled for the film: Queen Elizabeth! According to The Telegraph, Bond will be receiving a knighthood in Skyfall, and the Queen has agreed to participate in filming the scene. How cool is that? I’m also loving that the London Olympics will somehow play a part in the film.

I hate to get my hopes up — I’ve had some big Bond disappointments (A View to a Kill*? The Living Daylights?). On the other hand, with all this great casting and a top director, how can they miss?

 

*A View to a Kill, imo, has one of the best Bond songs. Duran Duran rocks it 4 ever … just don’t judge the song by the video. That hi-tech Walkman, LOL!!!

Much ado about Kate’s shrug

Wedding stylist Clare Mukherjee writes in the Huffington Post today that her most oft requested bridal garments lately aren’t panties that give brides a Pippa Middleton derrière, but Angora boleros or shrugs like the one the Duchess of Cambridge wore to her wedding reception (above).

Mukherjee writes about her search, “I tentatively Googled ‘angora white bolero’ with my fingers/legs/arms/toes crossed. I was met with a plethora of links to eBay and other auction sites screaming various self-selling headlines, such as ‘Kate Middleton hand knit angora bolero’ and ‘Be a princess in your own knit wedding shrug-100% ANGRORA’ (sic). Clicking on these links led me to photographs of middle aged women proudly sporting their carefully hand knitted ‘princess shrugs’. I sighed, I appreciated these women’s efforts and they had clearly put a lot of time and love into their creations, but they were undeniably hand-made and did not have a sleek enough appearance for a bride on her big day.”

I haven’t seen the pictures of these middle-aged women who proudly sport their hand-knitted  “princess shrugs,” but I sense a bit of snobbery with the “middle-aged” and  “undeniably hand-made.” The author, panicked that her Googling has gone for naught, finally finds what she’s looking for: “A dear stylist friend back in London provided me with a web link to a British store called Monsoon that shipped internationally (phew) and had the most perfect, affordable ($100) simple, neat, tidy, polished, slick and sleek little white 100 percent angora bolero that any stylist or bride could possible dream of! I was in bolero heaven and the relief I felt was indescribable.”

Now the simple sleek $100 white bolero is very pretty and a stylist probably doesn’t have the kind of budget for hand-knit, but really? An angora sweater serged together in a factory Lord-knows-where is the winner? (Last year the Guardian called out Monsoon for its child labor and low-wage practices, despite the company’s fair trade claims .) That’s kind of amusing since Kate’s certainly didn’t come from a High Street chain, but was probably hand-knit by a craftsperson on the Alexander McQueen team.

Here, some sleek hand-knit boleros that are Kate — and young bride — worthy.

Bolero/Shrug #1

Bolero/Shrug #2 (not angora)

Bolero/Shrug #3 (Vogue Knitting)

 

The shawl

So, for the last two weeks it seems like everyone has been talking about The Dress. Actually, scratch that. They’re talking about The Dresses, both Kate Middleton’s and her sister Pippa’s. (I liked both. Kate’s was pitch perfect for a princess-to-be, and Pippa’s … well, that girl rocked her dress.)

But here’s what I’m obsessed with:

If there was ever a piece of knitwear with my name on it, this is it. Cozy warm. Check. Cashmere. Check. Feminine without looking old ladyish. Check. IT’S GREEN! Check. (For those of you who don’t know me IRL, I have green eyes and wearing green makes them look even greener. Startling green, I’ve been told. Actually, I get a lot of “You’re wearing contacts, aren’t you?” On top of this, my hair is auburn and, well, green is just my color.)

So I’ve been stalking the net to get info on this shawl. It looks like it comes knitwear designer Minnie Rose and retails for nearly $300 at Saks Fifth Avenue. Forget that … I’ve got knitting needles. Cashmere knitting wool is quite pricey, but luckily there are blends of cashmere and merino wool that will give me the drape I’m looking for without the steep cost.

Apparently I’m not the only knitter/fan obsessed with The Shawl. There’s a Ravelry group for it, and as I write this, dozens of knitters around the world are working on a knock-off pattern.

Till then, I’ve started Kate Gagnon Osborn’s Oscilloscope Shawl, which appeared in the Fall 2010 issue of Knitscene. It’s a fun knit, a nice break from the two fussy lace projects currently on the needles. I started this on Friday, which is why I’m calling it my Friday the 13th shawl:

(Apologies for crap photo. Taken with cellphone under incandescent lighting on a dismal Sunday afternoon.) The yarn is Cascade 220 superwash in a dark, foresty green — I think the colorway is called Shire or something like that. When I do my “Kate” shawl, I’m going to look for something more olive green.

 

Thoughts on the royal wedding

Today my friend Peg wrote on my Facebook wall, “Why oh why have we not seen more from you on the royal wedding? Are you not buying into the hype? Too busy? Will you be watching LIVE at 5 AM?”

I’ve been thinking about this a lot. The truth is, I’m just not into it. But why? You’d think that a rabid Anglophile such as myself would be all in a tither over this — the fanfare, the pageantry as only the British can do, the sense of history being made, the fashions, and whether or not William and Kate/Catherine will smooch on the Buckingham Palace balcony as his parents so famously did in 1981? — but I’m not. And this week I finally figured out why.

You see, I was 16 when Charles and Diana got engaged and married and thought it was all so romantic. Diana was just a couple years older than I was, and seemed so innocent and yes, very princess-like in that there was a lot of talk about her excellent bloodline (because back then you had to be an aristocrat to marry a prince) and whether or not she was a – gasp! – virgin. And we all know how that marriage worked out. Thirty years later, the world has changed. William led a very different life from his father and his courtship of Kate was thoroughly modern. They lived together in college, have lived together after college and during their engagement, and while there’s some snarky talk about Kate’s humble origins, there’s no talk about her “purity” (or his, sheesh). They’re just a young couple, like many others, who seem well suited to each other.

When I was 16 and watching Charles and Diana marry, I was starry-eyed about men and marriage. Today, I know that marriage is a lot of work, even for royals. (Men, too, are a lot of work. Many are a piece of work, but I digress.) This week will be all pomp and ceremony, but the real road is ahead of them. I’ll be more interested in how they relate to the public in the coming years, given that anti-monarchy sentiment is high. Will they continue to live a normal-ish existence in the coming years? How will the monarchy change as a result? Those, to me, are the interesting questions … not who’s designing Kate’s wedding dress.

So will I be up at the crack of dawn on Friday to watch the festivities? Probably not. Instead I’m going to sleep in (my son has the day off from school) and I’ll come down and watch all the videos posted online at the BBC, CNN, and more. I’ll be in my jammies, drinking chai, and no Philip Treacy millinery in sight.

What about you? How do you feel about the wedding? Do you plan to watch it live or will you catch the highlights when it suits your schedule?

Music for a Royal Wedding Giveaway

Sorry I’ve been MIA for the past couple weeks. I have some health issues that have been taking up precious time, and when I do sit at the computer, I need to play catch-up with my paying work.

A couple weeks ago, the folks at Silva Screen Records contacted me with news about a CD they were releasing — Music for a Royal Wedding — and asked if I’d be interested in a copy. If you’ve got an upcoming wedding, or you’re simply looking to get in the mood for the upcoming royal wedding, this is the CD for you. It includes 16 selections of music, including Pachelbel’s Canon, Princess Diana’s personal favorite, I Vow to Thee My Country, and, of course, God Save the Queen.

I have three copies of this CD to give away to Hail Britannia readers. All you have to do to enter is tell me below a. what was your favorite piece of music played at your wedding or b. if you’re not married, what would be the music you’d pick for your big day? Oh okay and c. if you never plan to marry, what do you think Kate and William should play at their wedding next week? I’ll pick winners with my super-duper random number generator on Friday, April 22, 2011.

As for music at my wedding, my favorite piece was Scotland the Brave, played by a bagpiper who led us down through the estate where we had our reception. Our guests didn’t know where we were until they heard the strains of the bagpipes drifting across the lawns and they spotted us. Quite the entrance we made that day, and my dad was thrilled — he’s of Scottish ancestry, loves bagpipes, and we managed to get a smile out of him. (He’s kind of cranky. Damn Scots!)

Showing the spirit

My son would rock that Union Jack jumper!

Last week at a bookstore, I pointed out a boys’ sweater (jumper) in the latest issue of Simply Knitting, a British magazine, to my son. Said sweater had an intarsia Union Jack. I adore any clothing/household items/cheap souvenirs that include the Union Jack. I am a total slut for the Union Jack.

“I could knit you one,” I said, tamping down the hope from creeping into my voice.

“I hate blue,” he said. True.

“You like flags,” I reasoned.

“I like the German flag best … and it has no blue.”

I’m sorry, but knitting a German flag into a sweater just doesn’t do it for me.

I finally threw in the towel and gave in to the pleading. “But you could wear this Union Jack sweater to school on April 29 … that’s when Prince William, who’s going to be the king of England someday — the KING — is getting married. I could whip this out in no time. You’d be so cool.”

Oliver fixed me with a disdainful look. “I have no interest in being cool, mom. Give it up.”

And that is that.

Snoop Dogg pens song for Prince William — free download!

Word is that Prince Harry is trying to get rapper Snoop Dogg to perform at his brother’s stag party. Snoop Dogg has recorded a song in honor of Prince William, who reportedly likes rap and hip hop music. Snoop put the song, “Wet,”  up on his website this afternoon, where it’s a free download. Check it out! The lyrics are definitely Doggy Style, but it’s a catchy tune. What do you think? Can you see Charles getting his grove on with this music throbbing in the background? Hee!

And if you feel like getting your groove on to “Wet,” Snoop is giving away a trip to London for two. All you have to do is post a video on YouTube of you dancing to “Wet,” and the video with the most views wins the trip. More details on Snoop Dogg’s site.

Good luck! This is one contest I’ll be sitting out.

Burning questions about the royal wedding

I’ve been thinking a lot over the last 12 hours, since hearing about the royal engagement, of how much time I want to spend writing about this subject on Hail Britannia, and the answer that feels right to me is Some. I mean, I can’t ignore it, but the truth is I’m not very interested in British royalty, except a. to discuss the pros and cons of a monarchy; b. to look at it through the lens of history and c. to gossip about salacious and scandalous escapades some of the colorful members of the family seem to fall into. Prince William and his fiancee seem like a nice, pleasant young couple and I wish them all the best in their marriage, but beyond that, I’m just not interested enough to turn this blog into a breathless series of posts about what Catherine (what Kate prefers to be called) will be wearing on her wedding day and who Prince Harry’s date will be. So sorry — if you’ve come here for that, you won’t find reams of it.

That said, occasionally I’ll post about small details that interest me. For example, I’m very curious what Catherine’s title will be once she marries Prince William. She’ll get the HRH title, of course, and she’ll become Queen Catherine if William ever takes the throne, but what will she be called until then? It looks like it’s up the Queen, but until then, links here and here have some ideas.

Commentators have made much ado about this wedding boosting tourism to the UK, perhaps as an argument to the republicans (that’s republicans in the British sense, not the guys who sit across from the Democrats) who are grousing about how much this wedding will cost British taxpayers. Certainly it will put the spotlight on Britain, but I’m doubtful it’ll motivate droves of tourists to descend upon the country. Which leads me to another question: who will pay for this extravaganza? Both William and Catherine come from wealthy families — how much will they contribute, given that the British economy is about as bad as the US economy? I can’t imagine how pissed off Americans would be if they’d had to foot the bill for, say, Chelsea Clinton’s wedding … indeed, there was enough grumbling of how much it was costing taxpayers to provide security for the wedding party in Rhinebeck that weekend. Any ideas, or will this be a “state-supported” wedding as decreed by law and/or tradition?