Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Jock Who Would Be King

Thirty-six-year-old Daniel Westling, former personal trainer to Crown Princess Victoria Ingrid Alice Desirée of Sweden, wed the princess on Saturday, June 19. He will henceforth be known as Prince Daniel, Duke of Vastergotland.

A rather vocal minority in Sweden believes the monarchy is passé and anachronistic, with 22% wanting the monarchy abolished entirely, up from 15% just six years ago. And a Facebook group called "Refuse to Pay for Victoria's Wedding" garnered popularity.

The thirty-two-year-old Crown Princess is currently next in line for Sweden's throne, although it wasn't always the case. In 1980 the succession law was changed, making King Carl XVI Gustaf's heir his oldest child, regardless of gender. Poor Prince Carl Philip, Victoria's younger brother. So close ... and yet so far.

Though I can guess how this is going down (after all, it's a royalist sort of blog), what's your opinon of this royal wedding -- and of monarchies in general?

Should taxpayers have been burdened (no matter how insignificant the share to the individual citizen of Sweden) with the cost of the flowers, booze, and royal wedding band?

Do you think monarchies are outdated? A charming relic of the past? Part of the continuity of a kingdom's history that is great for tourism and should continue indefinitely?

None of the above? Please share your thoughts. And what do you think of the fact that a gym rat whose father was a postal employee will one day sit on the Swedish throne? Very cool? Or very appalling?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Of Royalty, Polo, and Champagne

Courtesy of the Widow Veuve, polo returns to NYC on June 27 with a charity event sponsored by Veuve Clicquot champagne to benefit the American Friends of Sentebale, the US arm of a charity that Prince Harry of England founded to help underprivileged children in Lesotho.

Like his mother, the renegade redheaded prince is philanthropic and socially aware (except, umm... for those little hiccups where he forgets all lessons in World History and wears Nazi uniforms to fancy dress balls, or insults Pakistani comrades in arms with a derisive nickname related to their headgear).

Like his father, the Windsor spare plays polo.

I wish I could attend this event, and I do have a lovely pastel-colored suit and a large picture hat, so at least I can dress the part; but I think I'd need a charitable trust of my own to finance the excursion. However, as much as I write about royal scandals and scandalous royals, I'd be very tempted to root for Prince Harry's opponent, the Argentine heart-throb, polo player, and erstwhile Ralph Lauren model, Nacho Figueras.

Okay, ladies, which one would you choose to root for?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Grace Kelly: movie star, princess, fashion icon

If you're lucky enough to be in London this summer, and you're a big fan of all things royal, and you consider yourself something of a fashionista, or even a film buff -- if I were you, I'd run-not-walk to the Victoria and Albert Museum, which has on exhibition a retrospective of Grace Kelly's wardrobe.

Born in November, 1929, Kelly grew up near Philadelphia's mainline, a princess of privilege, although her charismatic and entrepreneurial father Jack, a bricklayer by trade, was quite the self-made man. She studied acting in NYC at the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts on Madison Avenue, a conservatory that also produced the likes of Spencer Tracy, Robert Redford, and a starry-eyed kid who wasn't yet named Leslie Carroll.

First Broadway beckoned, then Hollywood, and the slender, blond, athletic golden girl, the quintessence of All-American beauty (although the fact [in the post WWII years] that her mother was German-born was either downplayed or suppressed by the media) became a film star by the time she was in her early 20s, winning an Academy Award for her leading role in "The Country Girl." At the age of twenty-six, believing that she'd done it all, and that the glamour of the silver screen would soon turn to tinsel (“Each year my makeup call is a lot earlier. And when I look at the other ladies who’ve been there since dawn, do I want to live like that? Get me out.”) she agreed to take time off from film promotion in Cannes to meet the thirty-one-year-old neighboring prince of Monaco, Rainier III.

The rest, as they say, is history: an archetypal fairy tale wedding (in truth funded by Jack Kelly and MGM; even her wedding gown, hair, and makeup was done by studio personnel), followed by three children and a jet-setting lifestyle in the ultimate gilded cage.
Grace Kelly's wedding suit (worn during her civil wedding, the day before the grand church wedding. Her formal wedding gown was deemed too fragile to travel to the V&A exhibit)

But of course, beneath the glittering surface all was not perfect -- and you can read the true story of the marriage of Grace and Rainier in my book, NOTORIOUS ROYAL MARRIAGES: A Juicy Journey Through Nine Centuries of Dynasty, Destiny, and Desire.>

Are you familiar with the life of Grace Kelly? What's your impression of her?