December 19, 2014

The Princess Bride: Part 1

This will be the first of a three-part series, in which we will be discussing Princess Charlene’s wedding – you know, since that happened back when this site didn’t exist, ha! This series will, in all likelihood, be happily interrupted by posts on different subjects, depending on what Charlene, the twins, and the royal family are doing in the next few weeks. But until then, let’s go back in time to re-live the wedding!

We all love a good royal wedding. Even those people who don’t like going to weddings enjoy a good royal wedding. What’s not to like: you get to watch it from the comfort of your own couch, in your jammies, eating whatever leftover cake you have in the fridge, all without having to hold back your honest opinions as they pop into your head. In person, it’s much harder to do any of those things. My husband and I have a code language when we go to weddings, with which we discuss the minutiae of every excruciating detail. It works out fine until we are caught muttering something like, “the cantaloupe really makes her waist look huge.”

The stakes are so impossibly high for a royal bride. Not only does she have to face her family – and any criticism they might be thinking or signaling to each other – but she faces the entire world. That’s a lot of people to please. Kate Middleton certainly hit it out of the park with her Alexander McQueen gown, reminding many viewers of Monaco’s preceding royal lady, Princess Grace. After both of those brides taking similar approaches, the bar was set pretty high. But Charlene did not even try to replicate the look, and while risky, I think we all heaved a secret sigh of relief: something different, hoorah!

Instead of covering up with lace, the soon-to-be Princess donned a jaw-dropping, off-the-shoulders, silk Armani gown to her nuptials which featured two – count ‘em, TWO – trains. I love a good train, so when more than one actually makes an appearance on one dress, color me impressed. Instead of talking cantaloupes or other things from the produce section of the supermarket, I think my exact words were “Dayum!”

The thing I love about this dress is the seeming simplicity of it (even with two trains, yes). On camera, all you see are the lines, and perhaps some faint hint of embroidered detail. But in the photos (and I’m sure in person), you can zoom in and see that the faint embroidery is actually very intricate, filled with sparkly crystals and dripping with mother-of-pearls. Please the crowds around the world with those immaculate lines; dazzle those who attend the wedding (not to mention your new hubby) with the exquisite details. Leave it to Armani: it was a stroke of sheer genius.

I also loved that Charlene wasn’t afraid to 1) show a little skin, and 2) show off her figure (tastefully). Not that all royal brides in recent history haven’t been blessed in the same ways – they certainly have – but let’s be real. As a former Olympic swimmer, Charlene’s figure is dynamite, and I’m so glad she didn’t get swallowed up in a great big skirt. I think it would be classified as A-line with a slight trumpet, quite flattering. And the off-the-shoulder thing, for me, made loads of sense for the season, the setting, and the fact that Charlene had an enviably perfect tan. Look at her, she glowed. My only slight critique would be that the shoulder-line drew attention to her most prominent feature – her broader shoulders, with which many skilled swimmers are blessed – but it was still delicate, feminine, and quite becoming on her. What do you think? Am I way off the mark on that one?

Now for my favorite part: the hair. Unfortunately, we didn’t see a tiara at this royal wedding, but we did see some definite sparkle: the hair ornament was a “something borrowed” from Princess Caroline, a piece that dates way back to the 1800s and is in stunning condition. It looks to be a floral design loaded with diamonds, wrapped around Charlene’s low chignon. I do wish she had chosen a tiara…but this was very tasteful, beautiful, and appropriate for the occasion nontheless.

I once again yipped, “hoorah!” when I saw the cathedral-length veil. People are very particular about the style veils they like: fingertip-length, short, birdcage, blusher or no, embroidered, lace, studded, etc.. For me, as long as it matches the style and tone of the rest of the ensemble, I’m happy. This veil in particular was a cathedral-length silk tulle, lightly embroidered, and the blusher looked quite light on her head/face. A heavier blusher can have a nice effect, too – do we all remember Kate Middleton’s heavier blusher? It was glorious. And while the Duchess of Cambridge’s veil/blusher polished off her entire ensemble and setting perfectly, Charlene’s did the same thing. The double trains commanded a cathedral-length veil; the season commanded a breezy blusher. Each element fit together like the pieces of a puzzle.

But enough of my thoughts – what did you think of Charlene’s bridal ensemble? Feel free to share your thoughts, and spare no details! Part two of the wedding throwback is coming soon, and we’ll be talking about the rumors that surrounded the wedding. Oh, don’t we all love a good scandal? Bring along a snifter of brandy or a Cosmopolitan and join in the gossip for that one!

December 16, 2014

Going Home?

Reports have been fluttering around the internet as of late, indicating that Princess Charlene and her babies are headed home from the hospital. Are they true or false? Your guess is as good as mine, but I’ll roll up my sleeves, put on my thinking cap and try to reason out this one. Let’s speculate, just for fun! I’m going to go with false: they’re not home just yet.

First of all, let’s get back to basics: this pregnancy/birth was centered around twins, which means several different things in terms of recovery, both for the children and for mom. In a singleton pregnancy, the gestation usually lasts around 40 weeks; however, with a twins pregnancy, the babies almost always arrive early (some docs in the US won’t let a twins mama go beyond 38 weeks before they induce labor and get the babes the heck outta there). Charlene gave birth at 38 weeks, according to a recent interview (read it here). Induction or no, they came early, bless their prompt little hearts.

Given the fact that 1) there are two babies in there, and 2) they are delivered early, twins are usually on the smaller side at birth. Many twins spend some additional days in the hospital to make sure that they’re healthy, thriving, and gaining weight steadily.

That being said, Charlene did carry the twins to 38 weeks, which is actually quite a lengthy gestation for twins. My guess would be that they were right as rain when they were born, and probably didn’t need extra time in the hospital at all. But since they were early and they were twins, it would be safe to assume that the docs wanted to keep an extra eye on them for another few days.

As for Charlene, it was reported that she had a Caesarean section instead of a natural birth, which would also indicate a different sort of recovery on her end. C-sections are no joke, that is major surgery. (I have one doctor friend who only once ever got close to passing out at work: it was the first time she witnessed a C-section.)  Charlene probably has spent enough time in the hospital at this point – after all, it has been almost a week – and she’s probably strong enough to go home. But she may decide to hang around the hospital until the twins are released – assuming she is able to do so, because hospitals can be funny about that sort of thing. But she’s the Princess, right? Can’t she tell them what to do?!

The best thing I’ve read thus far, though, has nothing to do with the hospital: Charlene is quoted in the above-linked interview as saying, “Every second with them is magical…I’m crazy in love with them.” So sweet. How much do you want to bet that her next thought was, Now if they would only just take a nap

Here’s wishing Charlene, Gabriella and Jacques a speedy and comfortable hospital stay – if they’re still there! – and a very welcome home whenever the time may be. (But we want to see those babies, so come on already!)

December 13, 2014

Welcome! Let’s be friends!

Let me be the first to welcome you to this site, which will follow the life and style of Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco. I am so looking forward to sharing my enjoyment of royal watching with you, and I hope we can become a wonderful community of friends. (Just as a sidenote: I know I promised baby pictures in the last post, but I have since learned that the twins won’t be introduced to the public until early January. So those pics are coming, just not quite as soon as I’d hoped!)

This blog is an extension of Jane Barr’s blog, From Berkshire to Buckingham, which follows HRH the Duchess of Cambridge. For all of us Kate watchers, that site is an absolute treasure-trove of the Duchess’s engagements, fashion, and her life as a royal. It is my hope that this space can be an additional watering hole for those of us who delight in those very topics, with the slight shifting of our gaze from Britain to Monaco.

And after spending some good time strolling the chilly, rain-slicked, romantic English streets that surround Kate, it will be such fun to look at how the other royal-half lives. We shift from the UK’s rolling, magical clouds, to the rocky coast of the warm Mediterranean, sun-soaked and with the tingle of seaspray on our skin (or on our laptops, as it were).

Ah, Monaco. The Riviera, Monte Carlo, hypnotic French accents and the deep-blue sea, all in one fell swoop. Bonjouuuuur to the glamour, excitement, beautiful vistas, and bikini-clad starlets (with their impossibly impeccable suntans). God certainly gave with two huge handfuls when he carved out that little piece of paradise, and it is an idyllic backdrop for royalty. When Prince Albert II was looking to settle down, Charlene arrived in gorgeous perfection, like a real-life mermaid splashing out of the sea. Given the fact that Charlene is a former Olympic swimmer, is breathtakingly beautiful, and married a Prince from a seashore principality, it’s actually not such a far fetch. And for those of us who already were waxing poetic about the beauty of Monaco, well, Charlene just became the jewel in Monaco’s crown.

Just a little backstory, in case you’re curious: HSH Princess Charlene was born Charlene Wittstock, and spent the first portion of her life living in Zimbabwe and South Africa. As previously mentioned, she is a former Olympic swimmer, and represented South Africa in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. As far as her life with Prince Albert II goes, she reportedly first met the prince at Monte Carlo over 13 years ago, but the two have been officially an item since 2006. They were married in July of 2011, just a few months after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were wed. A few years later (read: this year!) it was announced that Albert and Charlene were expecting twins, which she delivered on Decmeber 10, 2014 (see the previous post for further details!). Now the Princely Palace is abuzz with excitement in welcoming the newborn heir to the throne, Hereditary Prince Jacques Honoré Rainier, and his twin sister, Princess Gabriella Thérèse Marie.

All that being said, I still can’t figure out what it is exactly that draws me to Charlene…all I know is that I just really, really like her. Charlene is so intriguing, and her eyes always seem to hold something behind them, giving her an air of mystery. Perhaps it’s her beauty that draws us so, or perhaps – and let’s just call a spade a spade here – it’s the fact that she is filling the shoes of Princess Grace that does it. After all, Charlene’s predecessor lived such a fairytale life of icon-turned-Princess that we all were taught to find so romantic. Maybe it’s the fact that Kate and William were in the spotlight at around the same time, upping the royal ante and the interest in royal everything. Or maybe it’s all of the above, none of the above, a pinch of this and a dash of that, or something else entirely. But as long as that intrigue is coming from a good place, it doesn’t really matter.

Whatever the case may be, I’m sure we’re all drawn to this experience for different reasons, and I’m excited that you’re here with me! Please share your thoughts if the spirit moves you, introduce yourselves, and make yourselves at home. Check back soon, so together we can get acquainted with Monaco’s princess!