Friday, April 29, 2011

My wedding hats

I promised a post with photos of my hats, so here they are. I bought them from, so it was a real feat of trust that they would look as good on my head as they did online because there's no brick and mortar store. But Mia at NY Fashion Hats in Bainbridge NY gave me great advice over the phone; we chatted for over an hour and she helped me winnow down my selections; and by the time we hung up, I felt like we were already old friends.

I wore the black hat on Wednesday in front of Buckingham Palace and was interviewed by an Italian TV journalist (it pays to dress well!). She was surprised to find out that she'd snagged a royalty expert. When I gave her my card after the interview, she indicated that she'd heard of me ... several of my books have been translated into Italian.

The mood on the Mall was like one giant block party -- with half a million of your closest friends.

Here I am with Melanie (English) and Cavell (Scots), who broke out the pink champagne after William and Catherine said their vows. I was standing diagonally opposite Clarence House. The wedding ceremony was broadcast on speakers and people sang along with the hymns (when they sang "Jerusalem," I became all choked up. It was the favorite hymn of my dear friend Patrick Tull, an actor with the Royal Shakespeare Company, fellow Player, and Lord Nelson aficionado. Needless to say, I became all teary during the vows as well. I always cry at weddings (except for my own, where I was beaming throughout the ceremony).

I wore my turquoise hat to the royal wedding -- along with my late paternal grandmother's antique garnet necklace. Her family was English (she said that long after her father emigrated to the States he referred to George VI as "our king"), and she would have wanted to be here today.

Here's my wedding suit -- it's a similar color to Carole Middleton's!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Royal Wedding Fever Grips London!

So far the naysayers and the republicans have kept their snark under wraps. If you walk the streets of London (providing you have sharp elbows and a lot of patience to brave the tight-knight crowds), in the areas of Buckingham Palace, the Mall and Wesminster Abbey where Prince William will wed Catherine Elizabeth Middleton tomorrow, it is nothing but a love-fest, a jolly-holiday spirit, replete with tent cities, flags, and creative costumes.

This man was the first to arrive outside Westminster Abbey, staking out a spot with his teddy bear early in the week. His shirt says "Diana Would Be Proud."

We're staying around the corner from the Goring Hotel, where Kate Middleton will spend her final night (tonight) as a single woman, staying with her family. With so much making news every moment, perhaps one of the few secrets left is what her wedding dress looks like. We may have seen it off-loaded from a van yesterday, along with the Middletons' other wedding wear -- but everything was discreetly concealed inside garment bags.

My husband Scott and I strolled along the Mall this afternoon and I came across a very touching homage. On the Mall not far from Clarence House (where Princes William and Harry lived with their father Prince Charles after the death of their mother Princess Diana, and where their great-grandmother, known to our generation as the Queen Mum, lived), is her statue as well as one of her husband George VI. For those who get their royal history from Hollywood movies (rather than from my books, she half-joked), George VI is the stammerer from "The King's Speech," who ascended the throne in December 1936 after his elder brother Edward VIII abdicated after Parliament presented him with the choice of remaining on the throne or marrying his twice-divorced American inamorata Wallis Simpson.

His queen consort Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the mother of the current queen, was very close to William and he adored her. Below her statue, a few people had laid bouquets; and one person placed a little box of what looked to me like mums, with a photo of Wills and Kate on it, a touching homage and a nice way of including William's great-gran in his wedding festivities.

I'll post a photo in one of my hats soon!

Monday, April 25, 2011

I'm Off to the Royal Wedding!

As soon as Prince William and Kate Middleton announced their wedding date right around Thanksgiving weekend, my husband and I made plans to be in London for the royal "I do's." Having written four books on royal romances, relationships, and scandals thus far*, with a fourth under contract (and which will have a chapter on William and Kate's romance), it was a dream to be able to soak up the atmosphere and pageantry of the grand event.

We lucked out on renting an apartment. Not only will we be right around the corner from Buckingham Palace, abutting the royal mews,

but we are also a stone's throw from the elegant Goring Hotel where Kate Middleton will be joining her family, spending her final night as singleton and as a commoner.

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind for me, giving numerous interviews to radio and television stations across the U.S. about the royal wedding plans, William and Kate's relationship, and about past royal weddings and marriages. It's a dream job, and the cherry on the sundae is that I will be appearing on national television from London as a guest expert on CBS nightly news, interviewed by the lovely Michelle Miller. Air date is likely Monday, April 25.

It's been thirty years since the last major royal wedding -- that of William's parents, then thirty-two-year-old Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, barely twenty. Theirs was really an arranged marriage as most royal unions throughout history were, and bore all the hallmarks of one, starting with the fact that the groom was still in love with his longtime inamorata, Camilla Parker Bowles. As the Waleses' marriage became rocky and Diana would become unfaithful as well, she publicly lamented on broadcast television, "There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded." She and Charles were divorced in 1996, and one year later, she was tragically killed in an automobile accident in Paris.

The marriage of her oldest son, a young man whom she described when he was just a little boy as being an old soul and so much like herself, to a lovely woman of his own choosing, a woman who is his own age, his former college classmate, housemate, and for all we know, his soulmate as well, brings a sense of closure to the wounds the world felt at Diana's passing, leaving behind a teenage son (and his younger brother Prince Harry of course), whose one-word bereavement card that read "Mummy," placed atop her lily-bedecked coffin told you all you needed to know about the depth of feeling William had for his mother.

A deeply romantic and keenly sensitive young man, one reason he waited so long to propose to Kate was that he wanted to ease her into the family and try as much as he could to make sure that she would not become a victim of the media frenzy that he felt had murdered his mother; that she understood what sort of a lifelong lifestyle commitment she would be making; their marriage would not be just the two of them, and perhaps a few kids, like other couples. Giving Kate Diana's 18-carat sapphire and diamond engagement ring was another way of including his mother in the celebration. At first I wondered about his judgment; after all, Diana had a miserable marriage -- mightn't the ring be bad luck? But Diana chose that ring herself (and took a lot of flak for it initially, from the Windsors). So, good on William (and Diana)!

I've been telling all these broadcast journalists that Kate and William's story is not a Cinderella story, as some of the press would like to spin it. For one thing, Cinderella went from rags to riches. Kate, although she is a commoner (as was Diana; a commoner is anyone not of royal blood -- although Kate was born into the middle class and Diana was the daughter of an earl). Kate is going from riches to royalty, thanks to an entrepreneurial mother and a father who was game enough and wise enough to stand beside his spouse and support her goal to build a mail order party planning business after the pair of them enjoyed careers in aviation.

I have a soft spot in my heart for Carole Middleton. For starters, we share a maiden name: Goldsmith. I applaud her enterprising spirit, her talent, and her ambition, even if she does have a bit of Jane Austen's Mrs. Bennet (Pride and Prejudice) in her. And besides, just as Mr. Bingley genuinely fell in love with Jane Bennet after her mother sent her over to Netherfield in the rain, William genuinely fell in love with Catherine Elizabeth Middleton after her mother encouraged her to enroll at St. Andrew's (rather than the University of Edinburgh, which had a better History of Art program), because the prince was going to St. Andrews.

Kate had been a fan of William throughout her girlhood. And her grades from the posh Marlborough College (a private high school) were good enough to permit her to enroll anywhere. So why begrudge her the opportunity to befriend England's heir presumptive? Kate in fact makes history as the first college-educated future Queen of England.

Another reason William and Kate's romance isn't a fairy tale is that it's all too real and relatable. In fairy tales the handsome prince and beautiful princess barely know each other before they get married and; so the story ends, "live happily ever after." In Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, the poor girl receives a kiss while she's non compos mentis and that passes for courtship. Even poor Diana got more than that. But Kate and William's relationship developed organically over time and weathered two breakups with the eyes of the world upon them as well as tremendous pressure to wed on the media's timetable rather than their own. They met nearly a decade ago and have been a couple since 2002, living together while they were in college. Kate is practically a decade older than Diana was when she married Charles and has more maturity and life experience. She's also had several years, rather than a few dates (and always within a crowd), to get to know her prince.

And William is not Charles. He is an atypical Windsor, more "warm and fuzzy," like his mother was. Against Charles's wishes, Diana insisted that their sons go to school with other children from their earliest years and that they always be keenly aware of the less advantaged. This lesson has paid off. William is a mensch.

Here's the link to my interview with Michelle Miller that aired on CBS Nightly News with Katie Couric on Monday, April 25. The text is a mashup of what was voiceover narration and actual interview quotes, but I believe you can click to play the video of the footage that actually aired.

Here's a link (I think). The text takes what was narrated in voiceover, plus what was actually said in the interview, but I believe you can click to play the video footage of what actually ran on air tonight.

So, what about you? Are you looking forward to the royal wedding on April 29, 2011 and will you be watching it? Did you watch Charles and Diana's wedding?

*for NAL, ROYAL AFFAIRS (2008), NOTORIOUS ROYAL MARRIAGES (2010), and ROYAL PAINS (just published last month); and exclusive to Barnes & Noble, THE ROYALS: The Lives and Loves of the British Monarchs (a big, illustrated "coffee table" volume containing facsimiles of historical memorabila that you can take out of envelopes and peruse, due out this October, I believe. The last section is on William and Kate); and my wip, ROYAL ROMANCES: Titillating Tales of Passion and Power in the Palaces of Europe (also for NAL)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

ROYAL PAINS now on sale

Hear Ye, Hear Ye!

Leslie Carroll’s third nonfiction title about scandalous royals,

A Rogues’ Gallery of Brats, Brutes, and Bad Seeds

is now available wherever books are sold!

In a world where sibling rivalry knows no bounds
and excess is never enough, meet some of history’s boldest, baddest, and bawdiest royals!

The bad seeds on the family trees of the most powerful royal houses of Europe often became the rottenest of apples. In an effort to stave off wrinkles, sixteenth-century Hungarian Countess Erzsébet Báthory bathed in the blood of virgins, and for kicks and giggles devised even more ingenious forms of torture than the über-violent autocrats Vlad (the Impaler) Dracula and Ivan the Terrible had ever imagined. Lettice Knollys strove to mimic the appearance of her cousin Elizabeth I and even stole her man. The Duke of Cumberland’s sexcapades and subsequent clandestine marriage led to a law that still binds England’s royal family. And the libidinous Pauline Bonaparte scandalized her imperial brother by having herself sculpted nearly nude and commissioning a golden drinking goblet fashioned in the shape of her breast.

Chock-full of shocking scenes, titillating tales, and wildly wicked nobles, Royal Pains is a rollicking compendium of the most infamous, capricious, and insatiable bluebloods of Europe.


Praise for Leslie Carroll’s 2010 title, Notorious Royal Marriages

“For those who tackled Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, and can’t get enough of the scandal surrounding Henry VIII’s wives, [Notorious Royal Marriages is] the perfect companion book.”—The New Yorker

“Carroll writes with verve and wit about the passionate—and occasionally perilous—events that occur when royals wed.”—Chicago Tribune (5 stars)