Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

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

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Royal Weddings, Gowns and Hats, Oh my!

William and Catherine and those adorable children!
OK, now that life is getting back to normal after the "Wedding of the Century!", it's time for a recap and a little historical perspective. First of all, it was wonderful to watch and the dress was gorgeous. My sister called me the moment Kate appeared in her dress and we yakked on the phone until they were on their way out of the church. It was much more fun in the company of my sister with our running commentary on the whole event just like we did as teens for Chuck and Di's wedding. And now the bride and groom appear happy and let's hope they make lots of royal babies soon so that Kate doesn't get bored sitting around in Anglesey, Wales waiting for her helicopter pilot to come home (remember Andrew and Fergie?)

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge-modern but timeless

Now, did anyone else notice how the men at the wedding all looked like they could have stepped out from the history books while the women (except for Catherine and Phillipa) looked really modern? I mean there was gold braid and swords and top hats and tails for the guys. And then there were the women in the spike heels and the weird hats. There was an occasional retro look, reminiscent of the 1940s or 1950s but those weren't always pulled off with style. Are the milliners of Britain really misogynists or is it a way for the ladies to get some attention in the press? Perhaps this is a cultural difference watching from across the pond, as we don't really get the hat thing. I mean even a small intimate wedding in England demands a hat from the ladies. Now, some obviously pull it off better than others. And Kate can really rock a hat, never mind a tiara!

I mean, here is Princess Beatrice at the big wedding:
Princess Beatrice-toilet seat and flying TP?
And here is Catherine at a recent wedding:
Kate Middleton in a gorgeous blue hat
And now here again is poor Princess Beatrice:

Princess Beatrice in butterfly hat
And again back to Kate:

Kate Middleton's feather hat
Kate knows how to wear a hat!  One of my fave comediennes, Tracey Ullman was on Canadian telly and said something to the effect that many of the guest of the royal wedding, instead of wearing fascinators, had opted for horrifiers instead!

If you want to check out the website of Philip Treacy the creator of many of the more unusual hats here it is: Philip

OK, now it's time for a whirlwind tour of royal weddings since Queen Victoria's day. Now there were no cameras at the time of Queen Victoria's wedding, so I have opted for a later photo of the two.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert-hereditary baldness?
Now check out the head gear on the ladies in the actual painting of the ceremony, which was not at Westminster Abbey but at St. James' Palace (where Wills and Kate had their engagement photos taken).

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert on their wedding day 10 Feb 1840
King Edward and Queen Alexandra's wedding (when they were only 21 and 18 and called Prince Edward and Princess Alexandra) was a small affair at Windsor Castle and apparently the public was not really happy that it was out of London and not a public spectacle. Likely this had to do with the fact that Edward's (Bertie's) father Prince Albert had died 2 years previously and his mother was still in mourning.

Princess Alexandra of Denmark married Bertie (the future Edward VII) on 10 March 1863
The marriage of Bertie and Alix was a fairly happy one, owing partly to the fact that they both enjoyed a party and partly to the fact that she looked the other way when he had his many affairs. Their second son, George married his brother's fiance Princess Mary of Teck after eldest son Prince Albert Victor died of pneumonia. Apparently they comforted each other after their loss.

Princess Mary of Teck and Prince George (future King George V) wedding day 6 July 1893
Apparently this was a very happy union. No hanky panky in this marriage and they were pretty boring by all accounts. George just liked to shoot things (birds, big game) and stick stamps in albums. Oh, well, whatever it takes. As we all know now, their first son known to the family as David, became King Edward VIII for a short time before abdicating to be with his paramour the divorced Mrs. Wallis Simpson. So the next big wedding had occurred a few years before between Prince Albert (another Bertie, the future King George VI) and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (the future Queen Mum), the Duke and Duchess of York.

Bertie and Elizabeth's wedding 26 April 1923 at Westminster Abbey
And we also know that their eldest daughter Elizabeth has been on the throne since 1952 having married Prince Phillip of Greece and Denmark in 1947 at Westminster Abbey. It was recorded on newsreel and on the radio for the adoring public to follow.What a treat for the war weary Brits.

Princess Elizabeth and Prince Phillip on their wedding day, 20 Nov 1947
I love the story that Elizabeth's tiara snapped on the day of the wedding and they had to get the royal jeweler in to repair it before the ceremony.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana on that iconic day, 29 July 1981
Well, in hindsight, this may not have been the best of the royal matches, but then the world would be a bit different if it hadn't happened. So let's just hope that Kate and William make a go of it and keep up the good part of the monarchy without the negative side. Well, the press will give them a honeymoon period of a few years anyway one would think before they start, know...that stuff that the British press do.

So, if you are in the royal mood, and you want a bit more royalty without William and Catherine this time, consider a few of my favorite films with royal themes below.

I guess we all like to watch the fairytale about the Princess getting her Prince. Don't we???

Victoria & AlbertThe Young VictoriaElizabeth (Spotlight Series)The QueenBertie and Elizabeth: The Reluctant Royals - The Story of King George VI & Queen ElizabethEdward & Mrs. Simpson


  1. Terrific recap! I didn't get up early but I caught about an hour of it before I left for work. How wonderful that you shared it with your sister. I called my mom later in the day and we compared notes!

    I like Kate very much, I love her style and she seems very down-to-earth. I hope there are little ones on the way soon too!

  2. Every wedding is such a hopeful event. So rare that the whole world gets to share in that hope and happiness. I think the kids will be pretty cute!

    Glad you got to see some of it before work. At my office, we kept going online to look at the hats whenever it got quiet! And my sister emailed me about 4 times from her office (mostly about hats!)

  3. Hi Jenny! I'm envious that you were able to watch with your sis while on the phone. I only had brief conversations with my daughter and sis who were not yet quite awake before I had to rush off to work.

    I also questioned the motives of the British milliners. Just like the fashion failures found on Hollywood's red carpets, is it really worth having a headline if your design is scoffed at?

    Thanks for the Philip Treacy link! I had time to ooh and ahh over such great designs on his site...why oh why didn't he send the ladies off in those creations?!

  4. Apparently some of the Irish are proud of Philip Treacy and some are quite happy that he seems to be assumed to be English!

    It has been fun to look at all the different hats and outfits on the ladies. The uniforms and gold braid were pretty amazing too. Now, how long before Harry gets married and will Kate give Chelsy some fashion tips????

  5. I was able to watch the wedding on CBC before I got ready for work. I didn't get up early just to watch, I'm always up that early. It put me in such a great mood though.
    I loved how Harry looked back to see her come down the aisle when Will couldn't- he's the typical younger sibling. Too fun!
    When I got to work, even the men admitted to watching the wedding. I celebrated by watching "Four Weddings and a Funeral" I thought it'd cap the day off well- and it did.

  6. Hi Ladytoesocks

    Sounds like we all had fun at work after watching the wedding. My sis and I were both watching on CBC too but her feed was 5 seconds later than mine, so she would have to wait to see what I was oooing and ahhhing about while we gabbed on the phone!

    I love your idea about the Four Weddings and a Funeral. It's been a while since I have seen that one and I'd get to see Rowan Atkinson do his holy spigot and holy goat routine! Maybe tonight...

  7. Poor Eugenie, and Beatrice, too. Betatrice's hat wasn't as disastrous but her dress was worse. As for Eugenie's hat, for some reason, possibly the camera angle, when I first saw it I focused on the top two loops and the circle and it looked like--Mickey Mouse ears!

    Bless 'em. They just weren't lucky in the looks department (not that I have any room to talk), yet they have to be in the public eye. It really isn't fair. They probably don't have the budget for dresses and hats and fashion advisors that the other royal ladies do, either.

    Watched the whole thing, from about 8:30 local time until they left the church, then tapped back in for the balcony bits. I've scanned through some of the material in between, but it doesn't seem to be of much interest, but since I knew I'd be blogging on the day, I thought I might need to capture those bits, too. But as there was only one runaway horse, and the verger or canon or whatever who did cartwheels down the Abbey is all over the internet, I figure I've seen all I need to see...

    Thanks for all the great photos and commentary here -- great stuff!

  8. Hi Mary Ellen,

    Don't you wonder what Prince Andrew was thinking escorting his girls in those outfits? Someone was comparing them to Disney's wicked stepsisters which I though wasn't nice!

    My sister thought that maybe their outfits were Fergie's idea of revenge as she knew they would be sitting right behind the Queen during the service.

    I think they were just young girls without fashion advice trying to get a little attention. If so I think they succeeded!

  9. I loved the pic of Princess Mary's wedding. Wow was that dress gorgeous. The latest royal wedding was fascinating. I loved watching their faces. How stressful for the brides family I'd imagine. I loved the movies listed above as well. suzan

  10. On Thursday the 8th September, mum and dad took me to London for the first time I was very excited! They took me to St Pancras train station which has a champagne bar inside! Mum and I shared a glass of champagne and it was very nice! Yum! We stayed in a hotel right next to the London Eye which looked wonderful at night all lit up. I also saw Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, etc.

    On Friday we went to Buckingham Palace and The Ritz! The staff at Buckingham Palace were really friendly and helpful. Catherine's wedding dress was absolutely beautiful and to see it up close was a treat! The detail on the dress is gorgeous, also on display was her bouquet, shoes, wedding cake and earrings. I also visited some other rooms too and before you enter the Palace you get given a pair of headphones with an audio guide which gives you lots of information about everything you see. I am planning to go back to Buckingham Palace next year as it is The Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the exhibition will be wonderful! The Ritz was very grand inside, the tea, sandwiches and cake were all very nice & again the staff were great.

    Kate, from Leeds. xx

  11. Hi Kate,

    Sounds like a great trip to London. Tea at the Ritz and seeing inside Buckingham Palace are both on my Bucket List! Hoping to get to London in the next year or two. I have been twice, but it is such a great city! Glad you got to see Kate's dress. Looked gorgeous on TV. I got up really early for Will and Kate's wedding and chatted with my sister on the phone the whole time. My husband wondered who I was talking to at 6 in the morning! Then I went to work and we looked up the hats on the computer all day and giggled at the strange ones. Tee hee!
    Glad to hear you are going back next year. Have fun!

  12. Yes, it was all lovely and I highly recommend going to Buckingham Palace and afterwards having tea at the Ritz! My Mum, my brother Paul and I all sat in front of the TV and watched The Royal Wedding together. We all had cucumber sandwiches and a slice of my mum's homemade lemon cake. Yum! I love Cathrine and William. They look perfect and very happy together!

    Kate, from Leeds. xx




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