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Joint Coat of Arms Released Along with Christening Date

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom

I love coats of arms. I love how beautiful they are, I love how much they can tell you, and I love their roots that stretch deeply back to the Middle Ages. Unlike the mass-produced family shields that you can buy on coasters and tea towels at your average tourist shop, coats of arms are meant to be very personal and tell someone quite a bit about the either the person whose arms you are looking at or certainly their family.

Obviously, these identifying shields date back to a time long ago when warriors wanted to identify themselves in battle. Heralds were trained to recognize the shields on the field.  Steeped in symbolism, they really are works of art, conveying meaning through colors and positioning. Edward III quartered the lions of England with the fleur-de-lis of France to mark his claim on the French throne.  

I remember the first time I ever visited Paris, walking into the lower chapel at Sainte-Chapelle. The pillars are covered with the lilies of France, AND the gold castles of Castile against the deep red background. I wondered why Louis chose to decorate with the coat of arms of Castile, and it turned out his mother was Blanche of Castile. Before visiting, I didn't know who his mother was, but I instantly recognized the Castilion arms. Arms/shields instantly identify.

William's personal shield starts with the royal arms of Britain--England, Scotland, and Ireland quartered-- and he is marked as the eldest child of the Prince of Wales by the three white points. The red scallop is a nod to his ancestry on the Spencer side.

Harry has a very similar shield, but with the five points of a grandchild of the Monarch:

Kate's arms are the arms of her spouse, William, impaled with the Middletons' arms. The Middletons' arms, as you are no doubt aware, are absolutely lovely and filled with interesting symbolism. Most prominent are the three acorns symbolizing the three Middleton children, the gold chevron in the center to symbolize Carole and a play on her maiden name, Goldsmith, and I even read that the with smaller lines are meant to evoke snowy mountains and the Middletons' passion for skiing, but I am not sure f that was the original intent or not. :)

The arms can then be placed at the center of a full blown coat of arms incorporating many other symbols. William's personal crest is below:

Obviously, all the excitement is over the newly released conjugal crest of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. I would have to do some polishing up of my heraldry study to identify all the elements, beyond the obvious garter belt around William's arms, and the oak branch around Kate's. The crown above the crest should be able to tell you William's rank in terms of succession, etc. Heraldry is very interesting, but I am currently rusty.

Also released was the date of Prince George's christening--October 23rd!  It will be a private christening at the Chapel Royal of St. James's Palace. William and Kate chose the venue, which is obviously historically rich. St. James remains the official residence of the monarch and the so the seat of the British Court, the Court of St. James, and was built by Henry VIII! You can certainly expect some historic photos!

The Cambridges, by all reports are still in Scotland, but I expect they will be back in London soon. I think they are staying there until their KP apartment is ready to be occupied, and all accounts are saying that they can move in any time now. The Queen will be returning to London soon, as well, and I think we can expect some engagements in short order! 

Celebrate Is an Insight into The Duchess of Cambridge as Well as Pippa

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

It was my birthday just this past week, and I want to thank everyone who sent birthday wishes my way via Facebook and Twitter!  I was very touched and each one brightened my day just that much more! I was very excited to receive Pippa Middleton's Celebrate as a gift from my parents!  I know I am way late to the game on this one, but life has been busy. It was on my list of books to buy.

I LOVE it. Pippa has broken up the book into sections by season, and highlights classic British holidays or parties. This book received a lot of flak, but frankly, after paging through it I can only assume the bad reviews were based on the deeper prejudice against the Middletons. Pippa gives plenty of simple tips that may be easy, but in most cases were things I hadn't thought of. She provides plenty of instruction if you want to follow her plan to the letter, but the book is also a great source of inspiration if you use it as a platform from which to create a more personalized event.  

I also enjoyed the insight into Pippa as a person and into her family life, which ultimately is also a little window into who the private Kate Cambridge really is. Pippa begins the introduction with, "It’s a bit startling to achieve global recognition (if that’s the right word) before the age of thirty, on account of your sister, your brother-in-law and your bottom." She goes on to comment that this kind of unusual celebrity has its ups and downs, but she honestly--and I believe humbly--points out that one of the positive sides was the opportunity to indulge her creative side and publish Celebrate

She gives a recipe for a rum punch she calls Mustique and mentions that the rum used on the Middleton's holiday island of choice is 80-proof Sunset rum.  She reminisces on memories of creeping up the stairs with a breakfast tray for her mother with her brother and sister as they stifle excited giggles, her memories of vacations in the Lake District, and her grandmother's signature dessert.  Obviously the sister she refers to is Kate, and these childhood memories are ones the girls share. Perhaps this is why the palace put the kibash on a follow up book, it really is a very intimate window into the early and very private life of the Duchess of Cambridge. 

The book is full of pictures of Pippa, all of which I loved, and some of the dresses and outfits she has been spotted around London make it into the photo shoots, including the red Issa that Kate also has in black, and the gorgeous dress Pippa wore to Ascot this year.  

The Daily Beast had a very interesting piece that highlighted how Celebrate, despite some bad press, was actually a commercial success, and that Pippa continues to "shift product." 
The papers can slam her all they like, but for now, at least, the public still wants to hear what she has to say, even if that is only how to make crispy duck pancakes or what to wear at Wimbledon, and it is the much-mocked Pippa—and her employers—who is having the last laugh.
I am disappointed that there won't be a follow up book, but it has wet my appetite to try and get a hold of some of Pippa's other ventures in Vanity Fair, Waitrose, and now the Telegraph. I found her absolutely charming and there is no one I would rather get party tips from, except perhaps, the Duchess of Cambridge herself. I am cheering Pippa on, and I know Kate is, too. 

Earl and Countess of Strathearn Accompany the Queen to Crathie Kirk

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Thank goodness for Sunday church attendance. It has given us our first glimpse of Kate during this holiday at Balmoral. The royals were pictured driving to Crathie Kirk for Sunday services. I haven't seen a picture that shows George, and there are conflicting reports. I don't see him, but that doesn't mean he isn't tucked into the second seat of that Range Rover.

Kate was wearing the Molah tartan coat that she wore mid-way through her pregnancy. I very much disliked it at the time, and that opinion hasn't softened, but I think it may look very different on her when she isn't pregnant, so I am interested to see a rewear where we have a full length shot.  Obviously, these are photos of Kate in the car, where she looks absolutely lovely. I do love tartans!  I was flipping through the Brooks Brothers catalogue and noticed they have introduced a signature tartan to their line. Perhaps I attribute too much to Kate, but I think she is a trend setter. Tartans are very popular this year and who was wearing tartans on some high profile occasions last year? That settles the verdict for me. :)

Kate also recycled that gorgeous hat she wore on her outing with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to start the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. (I love this particular shot. She looks so confident and majestic--definitely a future queen.)

I am interested to see if more news on whether George was there or not surfaces. I just didn't see anything in the pictures, but he very well could have been.

Boodles Boxing Ball Pulls Royals, But Lacks Old Faithfuls--The Cambridges

This evening, while William and Kate enjoy the the autumn weather in the Scottish Highlands at the Queen's Balmoral retreat, the annual Boodles Boxing Ball went ahead as usual in London.  Pippa Middleton was of course in attendance, joined by Harry, Beatrice and a pregnant Zara.  It was a star-studded affair. As usual, the Mail has pretty thorough coverage--see photos here.

Pippa has been writing for the Telegraph and one of her columns focused on her boxing workouts.  She trains at the same gym as the contestants in this evening's match. It sounds like a workout I could not complete. Sometimes I wonder if I can make it through my Pilates class. I am always impressed by Pippa's athletic prowess.
Next Saturday, I’ll be present at the Boodles Boxing Ball, a fundraising event in which 12 young guys who’ve been trained to box over nine months at Fitzroy Lodge will fight each other in front of an audience of 1,000. It’s a great cause.
I really have enjoyed Pippa's various forays into writing.  It is interesting to hear from the Duchess of Cambridge's sister in the first person, giving us some insight into the real personality of a woman often maligned as many easily attach their own judgements to her actions. I think it is wonderful that she is able to find a voice, be it through the Telegraph, Waitrose, Vanity Fair, or any other publishing medium. You might enjoy her full article here

I didn't love Pippa's dress tonight, but not every event can be a winner. Orange and black are tricky to pull off in my mind, without looking like you are attending a Halloween function. More importantly, she looks fit and happy...with Nico by her side.

Boodles is, of course, more known to many of us--and loved--as one of the events we would get to see pictures of William's girlfriend, Kate Middleton.  The two were regulars at this annual society staple. I LOVED her pink Issa in which she wowed and it still surfaces as one of her best looks pre-marriage. I have to say, not to sound like an old granny, but those were the days. 

Unfortunately, we haven't seen Wills and Kate at Boodles in some time. I suppose life moves past certain things, but I am hoping that they will pop in every year or so, just for old time's sake.

I am definitely hoping we will see Kate again soon. She always shines in cooler weather with her coats, boots, and scarves. Fingers crossed that after their Balmoral rest she will put an event or two on the calendar! 

William Pictured With His Grandparents at Balmoral

Friday, September 20, 2013

No sooner do I sit down and start a post with, "All is currently quiet on the Scottish front" than news breaks on the Scottish front. Unfortunately, no pictures of Kate surfaced, but William, the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, and unidentified others, were pictured heading out for what is described as a grouse hunt.

Apparently Royals really like to be the ones at the wheel, that or they couldn't decide who would drive, because all three senior members of the BRF in the group were driving their own vehicles. The Queen was at the wheel of one Range Rover, very à la The Queen movie, and William appeared to be driving another. Check it out at the DM here. It was reported that the Cambridges may stay at Balmoral through the weekend, and since William doesn't have any military commitments to hurry back to, that seems likely. Their KP apartment should be ready sometime very soon.

The royal hunting party were all smiles, and William especially looked relaxed and beaming. It would seem Scottish vacations agree with him. 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...Harry joined many members of his mother's family to see his cousin Alexander Fellowes married. The original post I was writing will wait until tomorrow.

The Cambridges Fly to Scotland With Baby George

Monday, September 16, 2013

I am sorry for the delay in posting. It was a busy, busy weekend with limited ability to connect! Kate did not go to the wedding Saturday, but my gosh was it a back and forth. Someone spotted her shopping at Peter Jones in London and tweeted a picture, while locals at the Norfolk village were saying that William, Kate, and Harry were all at the wedding. I wasn't sure, because the Peter Jones picture could have been taken earlier, and it seemed like a wedding Kate wouldn't want to miss. She did miss it, though. I think the confusion arose because Pippa was at the wedding and that sparked the Kate rumors.

Kate Shopping at Peter Jones for Baby Items

It seems Kate might have been doing some last minute shopping for George so that he could look his best to meet his great-grandfather William, Kate, and George flew to Balmoral by private jet on Saturday early Sunday morning, the Daily Mail reports. Presumably, they left as soon as they could after the wedding?  It has been confirmed they left early Sunday, which makes quite a bit more sense.
The future king's first flight was in a £14million Cessna 750 to Scotland yesterday afternoon, so he could go to see Prince Philip at Balmoral.
Renting the jet would normally cost up to £12,000 a day, but it is owned by the billionaire Duke of Westminster, Prince William's godfather, who is understood to have loaned it to them.
Well, that worked out well. Charles and Camilla are also at their Highland home, and so it will be a proper family gathering. Now that William has left the military, he is free to spend a more extended period of quiet time with his family. I am sure he is excited, and I bet Kate is too!  Read the Daily Mail's full report here.

The Cambridges Land in Scotland via Daily Mail
Please note a very important change to the earlier post on Kate's Tusk appearance here.

Kate's Post-Baby Debut is All Glitz and Glamour in $6,000 Jenny Packham

Thursday, September 12, 2013

[Updated]  I am going to leave the entire post below as I originally wrote it, but give an update. Although we all decided it was a cheap dress at first, Jenny Packham released that the gown Kate actually wore was a custom made Jenny Packham costing over $6,000!

To me this is good news and bad news. The good news is that Kate took this event very seriously. Her first red carpet appearance in almost a year, a new chapter in her royal life, Tusk's Inaugural Gala. All solid reasons to have a custom dress--to really shine, which she literally did. Bad news for me is that for $6,000 I would expect more. I didn't like the visible panels at all. I think it looks cheap, bare it or don't, but the nude panels make it look more like a Walmart knock-off than Packham perfection.

This does not change the fact that I think she looked great. She did. I think a deeper neckline would have helped this dress enormously, and her hair should have been up. THAT would have made it $6,000 worthy.

Original post:

I don't know about the rest of you, but I have been waiting for this date with anxious anticipation for some months! Kate's first appearance on a red carpet since giving birth to George, and her first "floor length appropriate"engagement since she made a very brief appearance at the BBC Sport's Personality of the Year Awards not long after her release from hospital due to severe morning sickness. 

This Tusk Trust Awards Gala has been on the calendar about a month and I was very interested to see if Kate's style would shift at all post-baby. Of course, she has gone through fashion fazes as we all do. While dating William, Issa reigned supreme and so Kate was often in the soft and flowing dresses for which Issa is so famous. After her marriage to William we have seen a fairly broad selection from shimmer to lace to flowing, and most recently, more structured sheaths with thigh slits. 

I predicted glitz, I did not expect head to toe sequins. This is certainly a shake-up for Kate. She hasn't worn something this sparkly since, I don't know, the black clubbing outfit (that I LOVE) or, dare I say it, the 80's rollerskating get-up:

Kate has experimented with glitzy before in a more classic Kate Middleton approach. Same designer, but more subdued, Kate shimmered in Jenny P at her first formal outing with William after their wedding--the ARK Gala:

This was a No. 1 by Jenny Packham dress, so it's kind of like when a big designer does a less expensive collection for a store, in this instance, Debenhams. I think this underscores that Kate is not willing to invest in an expensive dress while she continues to drop baby weight on her way back to her super-slim frame. I can understand that. This dress was a little over $300 as opposed to a full fledged Jenny P coming in anywhere over $1,000.

I like this dress, it is not my favorite at all, but I like it on her. She pulls it off, which is impressive. It isn't my favorite dress ever, but it has a punch. It was a hotly anticipated debut and she obviously adheres to the "go big, or go home" theory, of which I fully approve. With all that glitzy glitter going on, Kate kept it pretty simple. The dress was beautifully fitted, with a flattering bust and she was wearing that gorgeous diamond bracelet. Interestingly, she did not even carry a clutch and her hair was more layered and straight, not a single voluptuous curl in sight.  I will just note that sequined dresses like these tend to feel more substantial and structured while still giving that streamlined body fitting look. In many ways, a very clever move on Kate's part. She looks incredible. See video of their arrival here.

Although Kate probably outshone it, her dazzling appearance was not the only royal highlight of the day. Kensington Palace announced news that surprised many.  William, whose duties at RAF Anglesey are officially over, will not be taking up another post in the Armed Forces as was expected. We had hypothesized that he would take a post, perhaps in the Blues and Royals, of which he is a member, and serve in a more subdued capacity in London close to his family. Instead, he is calling this a transition year in what will more than likely end seeing him become a full-time royal.

This is much bigger news than I expected and I am sure it was a very difficult choice to come to, which may be why the announcement that was supposed to be made months ago dragged on so long before coming out. I suppose that he and Kate have decided that it's time to let go. Their "normal" life had to end someday, and as time passes it just gets more and more difficult to keep it normal and hold it all together. I imagine that with the disappointment, there is also a certain relief in resignation.  They will be full-time royals someday and they probably both felt like it was time to move forward. So many life-changing events from the end of a seven year stint in the RAF to the birth of George, the move into the permanent KP apartment... It fits, so I am sure there is a lot of peace, and probably excitement. It truly is a new chapter.

William's transition year will include more public engagements as he puts his energy toward personal causes like Tusk. We know the Australia tour is on the books, as well. All in all, for Kate watchers, this is an exciting move!

Kate Pops into McDonalds While Nanny Jessie Webb Watches George

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A month or so ago, there were rumors that William wanted to hire his former nanny, Jessie Webb, to help Kate look after George. The Cambridges are very jealous of their private life given how high-profile they are, and a nanny is a pretty intimate job. The thought was that Jessie Webb was already known and trusted and would be the perfect fit for the new family.  We didn't really have much evidence to confirm the story and it seemed that Carole and Antonella were handling the situation pretty well. But, then yesterday E! reported that Kate was snapped at a McDonald's in London with George and "the nanny."  At first people assumed it must be Antonella, but when the pictures were released it was in fact Jessie Webb!

Kate was pictured driving up to the service station was the McDonald's was also located.  Kate was wearing a fairly snug white T, skinnies, and her Sebago flats. She threw her Ralph Lauren jacket--most recently seen on her Anglesey farewell with William--and headed into McDonald's alone. Kate was not pictured with any purchases, and I think she probably just used their facilities. She looks a-mazing and she isn't that trimmed down so fast by indulging in French fries, no matter how tasty. Plus, she has the Tusk Gala in a matter of days, and I am sure she is anxious to look stunning on her first formal appearance since her pregnancy, so again it seems unlikely she was eating at the fast food store. 

I think it is really great that Jessie Webb was available to come back and help William and Kate. Kate looks rested and fit and having the extra pair of hands and eyes have got to make these early days much easier for her. As she very slowly begins to take on more engagements again, it will also be very helpful to have the help. Ultimately, Carole can't be around all the time and frankly the press would start to weave strange stories if she were. This seems like a healthy balance. I am sure Kate is enjoying all of Jessie stories from William's childhood. Read more about Jessie and her work with the royal brothers at an old Mirror story here. Read E!'s report here

Jessie Webb with a young William
William, Harry, Charles, and Camilla were among mourners this morning at the requiem Mass of Hugh van Cutsem.  Kate did not make a last minute appearance. I imagine there was more than one reason for this. First, for her own privacy, since she has been keeping a pretty low-profile since George's birth, and secondly out of consideration for the family. Having the Duchess of Cambridge there would have made the Mass a media circus and shifted the focus from Hugh and the van Cutsem family to what we all always talk about...what was Kate wearing?!!

Kate will be at the Tusk Gala tomorrow night and I am very, very excited for her appearance!  William and Kate may also attend a wedding on Saturday, which may afford more pictures. We shall see. 

We rarely bring up non-royal topics here, but the United States of America is marking twelve years since the September 11th terrorist attacks. Thoughts and prayers to families who lost loved ones, including many British citizens killed that day, and blessings and peace to the entire country on this grief filled anniversary.

Buckingham Palace Break-in and more...

Sunday, September 8, 2013

What has been going on at Buckingham Palace?!  All sorts of craziness. The Telegraph begins:
Senior officers will have to explain to the Home Secretary how a man managed to scale a 12ft fence, evade dozens of armed police, apparently kick down a door and make his way into the state rooms, which are accessed through an inner courtyard of the Palace.
Ooops. Thankfully, the Queen is still on holiday at Balmoral--maybe security was a little lax because of that? The man set a motion detector off which alerted the police to his presence.  So, the police are in hot water and have some explaining to do. It seems this guy was only on hand for some light burglary, but in these days of unrest, he could have had any number of objectives. BUT, there is more.

Yesterday, Prince Andrew, fresh from a Spanish holiday, was taking the air in the gardens when security mistook him intruder.  I have read different reports, but one said that guns were drawn and Prince Andrew quickly found himself on the ground before the mistake was realized. Not a happy prince. Scotland Yard released a statement that no guns or force were used. The police apologized and Prince Andrew released a statement thanking them for their apology.  I sense a new Johnny English plot-line on the horizon...

William with his Spencer aunts at the funeral of his former nanny in October of 2012

What does this all have to do with Kate? Nada, really. William is about to begin, by all reports, his final week at RAF Anglesey. I wonder if they will pop up to Scotland afterward?  They did not head north for the 16th anniversary of Princess Diana's death. Instead, the couple took Baby George and went and stayed the weekend with his maternal grandmother's sister, Sarah McCorquodale. 

I expect Kate will be glittering on the front page of many papers very soon as she will accompany Prince William to the Tusk Gala on September 12th. That is right around the corner!

Rumors Swirl About Possible Pippa Engagement

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Rumors have been swirling that Pippa and her boyfriend Nico have become secretly engaged.  The story started on Sunday in People, shared by Paul Harrison on Twitter.  This report wrongly states that Pippa is 30, she is only 29, but they are not the only ones to wonder if Pips is ready to take the plunge. Papers all over have been picking up the story as her 30th birthday approaches. 

In addition to Pippa's possible engagement, many are wondering if Harry and Bea will be engaged to their respective significant others soon. I don't expect Harry to beat anyone up the aisle, but I do think an engagement from Beatrice and Dave Clark could be coming sooner rather than later. If Pippa got engaged around the same time, it could make 2014 quite the year for weddings. 

As it stands, no announcement has yet been made, although Sunday People predicted it would come in a few days on Pippa's 30th birthday, September 6th. Even if she is about to announce, I don't expect them to fulfill the Friday timeline...

The Mail reported that Pippa was shopping in Kensington yesterday with no ring, which is not surprising, but she looked stunning even without a special sparkler. She has had the occasional fashion faux pas in  my book, but this is picture perfect:

At some point, Pippa will get engaged to someone, and so the next question surfaces. Will Kate stand up as bridesmaid (matron-of-honor?) for Pippa at the wedding?