December 26, 2014

Joyeux Noël!

Now that Christmas is behind us, with the pounds of gingerbread and chocolate safely in our bellies, we can all go back to royal watching in full force. Let’s collectively enjoy those post-holiday, sweets-induced comas with our feet up on our sofas and our laptops on our knees, talking about Monaco’s annual Christmas celebration!

The Children’s Christmas Party is a yearly tradition in Monaco, one that was started by the late Princess Grace, and continues to this day with Prince Albert and Princess Charlene as the usual hosts. It takes place at the Prince’s Palace, complete with Santa and LOTS of little kids wearing Santa hats. Customarily there are a slew of events that take place outdoors and indoors – including a trip to visit with the elderly – creating prime opportunities for the press to get coverage and photos. They’ve been enjoying getting shots of the royals for YEARS…

…and we’ve been enjoying it too, ha!

Since Charlene has been rather busy this year from, you know, having just GIVEN BIRTH, she obviously couldn’t partake in any festivities this year. But she has in the past, and so today we will be strolling down memory lane and looking at her previous years as hostess since becoming the Princess of Monaco. Be forewarned, I am not a great ID-er of fashion labels, but I’ll share any info if I happen to know it.

Let’s work our way backwards. 2013: Charlene donned a beautiful bespoke tartan and black velvet dress by 21st Century Kilts (I got that one, hooray!).

Very festive, especially with the snowflakes fluttering around them and the extra yards of skirt that flare with her stride. I personally love tartan, though I think people are divided on this particular ensemble. It is quite heavy on the tartan, which is rather risky with such a bold pattern. I think the fashion world tends to lean toward “less is more” with regards to plaids – just think of Kate, who usually adds tartan in the way of a scarf or in more subdued colors. Charlene has never been one to be afraid of fashion risks, though, and she carries them off with an unmatchable confidence. She can turn anyone into a believer. (How appropriate for Christmas!) I, for one, found good faith on this one.

2012: We saw a fully-black ensemble of leggings, boots, and a turtleneck under a military-style camel coat.

I flip flop on this outfit when I see it from different angles. I do like the coat, the camel color is lovely and the military style is quite fashionable. The black leggings/boots are DYNAMITE and offset the camel in just the right way. And dang, the lady can make anything look amazing. But the coat just looks a bit bulky for my tastes. Just slightly unfitted in the wrong places – does anyone else feel that, or is it just me? And the turtleneck style of the coat doesn’t seem to sit well with the fact that there’s another turtleneck underneath the coat. I feel like two turtlenecks repel one another, like magnets. Not that I dislike turtlenecks or anything (I know some people do!), but they are wild cards for me. And while this ensemble worked, it was a bit too similar to her ensemble from the previous year…

2011: Camel coat, with nude pumps.

This is one of those outfits that I love, but that gave Charlene her stigma for wearing too many nude colors too frequently. I feel like a pop of color would have helped here – perhaps some accessories like a scarf, clutch, or hat – because it just feels monotone, and that feeling made its way to many royal watchers. But I MUCH prefer the neckline of this to the other camel coat, it seems to frame her neck and jawline at just the right angles. That, and the tailoring is impeccable. It certainly has elegant lines, and the nude pumps are quite complementary. She really did look lovely…even if the color is a bit ho-hum to some bystanders. We all have shades that we favor, and I’m sure Charlene isn’t immune to that just because of her status.

Which ensemble was your favorite? For me, the most recent is the winner, probably because it’s just so Christmas-y and surprising. Truth be told, I’m not as captivated by her fashion as by Charlene’s ability to be so interactive and fun with the children. She really seems to enjoy them and partake in the activities completely. Once in awhile it appears that she just forgets about the cameras and, in those moments, her joy with children seems to shine through. How joyful it will be to watch her interact with her own little royals as time goes on!

I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas and that your New Year is full of joy, love, and laughter!

December 23, 2014

First Pics of the Twins!!!

Ok, so I can’t actually show these on the website yet, due to copyright issues. Argh! But if you have the power to click on links, I suggest you do so here, RIGHT NOW or ASAP in order to see the first pictures of Charlene’s adorable twins!

How much do I love these photos? They’re so cute! I really like the Christmas theme for the first formal shots of the newborns. I couldn’t help notice the red and white combo that seems to be ever-present in the photos: a subtle (or not so subtle) nod to Monaco’s flag? Perhaps. I guess it helps that those colors coordinate well with Christmas, ha!

The twins will be officially shown to the Monegasque people on January 7, 2015. Now *those* pics we’ll be able to post here, so be on the lookout. Until then, have a Merry Christmas and enjoy the linked photos!

December 22, 2014

The Princess Bride, Part 2: Haters Gonna Hate (Hate, Hate, Hate, Hate)

Now to talk about the elephant in the room: as much glow as she had on her wedding day, Princess Charlene still gets flack to this day for looking unhappy (and for crying) during the wedding. And the rumors surrounding the wedding kinda put it together (which, if you think about it, would be the job of rumors). Personally, I don’t believe the rumors are true, but it’s worth discussing since the public got so worked up about it.

Just a refresher: the speculation was that Prince Albert had been called out as being the father of an 18 month old baby, just weeks before the wedding, and that Charlene tried to skip town (and the wedding) but was then “persuaded” into going through with it. Now, the guy has a couple kids from previous relationships, but this specific one would indicate that he stepped out on Charlene during their courtship. Let’s face it, that’s not your best antidote for the normal pre-wedding jitters. And the story, topped off with the forced smile that seems to find its way onto the wedding pictures, certainly put all those pieces together nicely for a nice, juicy scandal.

I’ve got to admit, I saw it too. It was a bummer. For me, Charlene didn’t look as much unhappy as exhausted and ready-to-be-done-with-the-whole-thing-already. And I also have to admit that, if you look through my wedding album, you’ll see the exact same face on me: strained. My speculation is that Charlene was probably over the whole thing at this point. After all the planning and trekking and being nervous and pulling a giant train around – sorry, pulling TWO giant trains around – and having her hair pulled in all directions and having it be a hundred degrees outside and, to top it off, having cameras in her face every stinking second, I think she’s probably done at this point and ready to cut the damn cake already. I’m even exhausted just thinking about it. And if it were me, I probably would have cried a lot quicker than she did.

As for the kiss photos, which also look strained: I don’t really put any stock in royal kissing photos, mainly because royalty are not prone to PDA on a normal basis. Suddenly they’re expected to flaunt it to the world, and yes, it ends up looking very awkward. Additionally, if you look at the below photo and remove your eyes from their faces, you’ll see one other piece of body language that’s (to me) more telling: her hands are holding his arms, pulling him in, not pushing him away. I like to nitpick the details!

For me, the bottom line is that it really doesn’t matter whether the rumors are true or not. That’s between them, and they did end up getting married. While she might have looked overwhelmed by it all, there are also plenty of less-publicized photos that seem to show very blissful moments. In the moments where it appears that they have forgotten about the cameras, they seem to have these tête-à-têtes that are pretty darn cute.

As much as we all get kinda bummed when we see a less-than-thrilled bride, you’ve gotta admit that being a bride sucks. It looks like it would be a great gig, but it really sucks: it’s a lot of pressure, most details don’t turn out the way they should have, and nothing is really about the bride and groom. I can only imagine that the feeling is exponentially heavy for a royal bride, especially with icky rumors circulating about the relationship before they had even reached the altar.

What do you think, though? If you were about to get married, and suddenly your whole circle started gossiping about how awful your relationship was – true or not – what would you be feeling? More to the point, what do you think about this particular situation: are the smiles (or lack thereof) making you annoyed as a bystander? Please share your thoughts on the whole thing, I’d love to hear what others think!

Part 3 of the wedding series is coming soon, in which we’ll be delving into the afterparty (and that’s where we’re gonna talk tiaras). Bring a glass of champagne (or a can of beer, I don’t judge) and join us!

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!