Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)
Oh, to be in England...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Duchesses and Princesses- Georgiana, Grace, Diana and Kate

Georgiana Cavendish, The Duchess of Devonshire
I was pondering a few aristocratic ladies of the past two centuries recently and came up with an interesting theory. And that is that a smart commoner can make a much better Princess or Duchess than an ill prepared aristocratic beauty.  For instance, take Georgiana Spencer Cavendish, The Duchess of Devonshire who was portrayed by Kiera Knightley in The Duchess 2008. Although she was a teen member of the aristocracy, and expected from an early age to marry another aristocrat, she was wholly unprepared for her life as the wife of The 5th Duke of Devonshire. Sad, wasted life of a very promising young woman.  Her enormous intelligence and charm didn't save her from a fairly unhappy life.

Grace Kelly, The Princess of Monaco

Grace Kelly on the other hand was rather a self-made woman. She went to New York City at 18 to study acting and got her first film role at age 22 in Fourteen Hours. She had worked on her elocution and used a tape recorder to perfect her speech while at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She consciously molded herself into a graceful, poised actress. She coped well with the attention she received for her roles in Rear Window, Mogambo, To Catch a Thief, and when she won an Oscar for The Country Girl.  In short, she was made to be in the public eye. And she made a very successful princess. Yes, her life was not long, but she handled her role well and was beloved by the world.

Diana, the Princess of Wales

Then we have the tragic story of Lady Diana Spencer. Unbelievably, she is actually the great great great great niece of Georgiana Spencer Cavendish above. Same story, 200 years later. Wow! Again, we have a teenager, born into the aristocracy yet totally unprepared for the responsibility of being the wife of a rather cold older Prince. Well, we know how this ended up don't we? She didn't have to stay married like Georgiana did as it was the 20th century but happiness certainly eluded her, except that which she found through her children and the odd lover.  That does sound like her great (x 4) aunt Georgiana, doesn't it?

Catherine, The Duchess of Cambridge
So you see where I am going with this? Here we have another young lady from well heeled but common stock. She gets her butt into St. Andrew's University which just happens to be where Prince William will be attending. She befriends him and they date during their university years. She basically grooms herself to be a princess, or a minor royal at least if it didn't work out with William. She will do fine because she has consciously pursued this path. She is a grown-up and has her eyes wide open. And guess what? We the public love to see what she is wearing, what she is doing and what she has to say, just like we did with her predecessors. 200 years hasn't changed that much in a Duchess' life!

Thanks to the TIFF exhibit "Grace Kelly- From Movie Star to Princess" which my sister and I saw this past weekend during our girl's weekend in Toronto and which inspired this post. If you are in Toronto between now and January 22, 2012 I highly recommend it. Lots of Princess Grace's clothes including a replica of her wedding dress. Mmmmm....

P.S. If you are like me and can't get enough of the new Duchess Catherine, I can recommend a blog called "What Kate Wore" which dishes on her clothes and style in a respectful, almost reverent way. We all just love looking at photos of her don't we? It is going to get insane when she has kids. But at least she will be prepared!

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