Friday, December 14, 2018

How to cover the royals -- as in stick to facts.

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 Full disclaimer here:  I am not royal journalist.  I am a royal historian who writes articles for this blog and for several magazines  ... on royalty.

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I am a careful observer of coverage of the British royals in the British newspapers.  A number of reporters (no names) have largely strayed from the who, what, where, how and why in writing about the Duchess of Sussex, the former American actress Meghan Markle, who married Prince Henry of Wales - now the Duke of Sussex, last May.

The reporters have preferred to rely on innuendo rather than facts.  They like throwing around the word "protocol" without knowing what it means.

FYI: protocol has nothing to do with nail polish or off the shoulder gowns.  It has everything to do with diplomatic and state events or in medicine.

Nor has the Queen ever issued a decree or a Letters Patent regarding what color nail polish a distaff royal is allowed to wear.  The Queen wears Essie's Ballet Slippers polish.  That her is choice, her go to polish when she has a manicure.

I have checked the Gazette and have not found a Letters Patent that offers direction on what nail polish other royals can wear.  This means there are no rules. 
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This also applies to pantyhose (tights) as well.

There is also no need to keep mentioning that Duchess' father is white and her mom is black.  These are facts.  We know these facts.  The Duchess is a bi-racial American.  This is a fact.  There no need to write around it -- and try to make being bi-racial a bad thing.  It is not.  It is a good thing.  Diversity is good.  Celebrate it.

Adding color to a story does not mean writing about one's skin color.  It means filling in the who, what, where, how and why of a story.

It is okay to describe the Duchess as a former actress.  The late Diana, Princess of Wales was described as former nursery school teacher, which of course she wasn't.  She was a teenage  assistant who worked part time, wiping noses, playing with the kids, but she was not a teacher.  Grace Kelly was an American actress who gave up her career when she married the Prince of Monaco in 1956.  She did not have easy time adjusting to her new life in Monte Carlo. 

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 Princess Grace was described as a former actress throughout her married life and she maintained contact with many of her Hollywood friends.

Unless a reporter has a direct quote from one the royals or has received information from one of the royal's staff, who was authorized to speak for that royal, don't try to write stories about alleged family disputes.

I am not surprised that the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex are not best buds.  They are two totally different women with different personalities and backgrounds.  Both come from middle class families.  Both attended private schools.  Catherine's parents are self-made millionaires.   The Duchess of Sussex worked hard to achieve success in television.  Acting is not an easy profession to break into and remain and build a career.  Most actors will not win Oscars, star on Broadway or have their name above the title in movie ads.  The Duchess was what many would call a "middling actor."  This is not an insult.

She also used her position to support numerous charitable and humanitarian causes.  The Duchess of Cambridge's entry into the charitable world largely began after her marriage when she began to take on several patronages.   Her patronage list -- and the Duchess  of Sussex's -- will continue to grow in the next few years.

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The late Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, was rather scathing about her two sisters-in-law, the Duchess of York and the Duchess of Gloucester.   (This was before Edward VIII abdicated in favor of the Duke of York,  and married Wallis Warfield Simpson.)   She described the two women as "those common little Scottish girls."  Ouch.  Marina was the daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark and Grand Duchess Helen of Russia.   Great titles, a few good jewels, but the Russian monarchy ended in 1917 and Marina spent a good part of her young life in exile in France due to the fragility of the Greek monarchy.

The Duchess of York was the daughter of the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne and the Duchess of Gloucester's father was the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensbury.  Nothing to sniff at.   These are ancient peerages with large estates and large back accounts.  Both titles were much older than the Greek monarchy.

The Duchess of York became the Queen consort in 1936 when her husband succeeded Edward VIII.  (Marina was a bit of snob.  I can only imagine how she reacted to learning that the Hon. Angus Ogilvy turned down a peerage from the Queen and her daughter, Princess Alexandra, would have Mrs. in her title.  Smelling salts anyone?)

Reporters asserted that the Duchess of Cambridge cried during a fitting of Charlotte's bridesmaid dress.  This was followed by suggestions that Catherine broke down and cried during the fitting and it was Meghan who made her cry.

Several things here:  we do not know if Meghan was present for the fitting.  Is it not possible that Catherine cried because she was post-partum having giving birth to Prince Louis less than a month before?   Did Charlotte have a meltdown?    Little girls, even cute little Princesses, have temper tantrums?

We don't know why?  But the reporters have written their articles to give the impression that a "difficult" Meghan was the reason for Catherine's tears.

We do not know.  So don't write it.  Stick to facts.

If I had been reporting about the move to Frogmore Cottage, I would have omitted the alleged tensions between the two brothers.  Why?  These are alleged and have not been backed up with real facts.    How many brothers live next door to each other?  It is possible that in the fullness of time that the Sussexes will have a London residence, especially after Charles succeeds to the throne.   Clarence House, perhaps.

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The Duchess of Sussex has barely put a foot wrong since coming out of St. George's Chapel.  Okay, she didn't wear a hat when she went to Chester with the Queen for a master class in royalty 101, but the Queen did not seem to mind.  There were no orders to send the Duchess to the Tower after they returned to London.

Who:  the Duchess of Sussex.  What:  the British Fashion Awards.  Where: Royal Albert Hall, London.   How:  a few things here.  The winner was the designer of Meghan's wedding gown. The event honored British designers.  That sort of thing.   Why:  So Meghan could present an award to the designer Clare Waight Keller.

It is all right to describe Meghan's gown, which was designed by Keller, who is Givenchy's designer.  I am not usually keen on what a royal wears, but there are others who take pride in maintaining reference points on royal clothes.  It is also important to acknowledge that fashion designers benefit (more jobs) from what royal women wear, especially the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex.

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But there was no need to mention over and over again that the Duchess of Sussex cradled her bump. It is a very natural thing.  Moms-to-be do it all the time.  Catherine was photographed often patting her bump.    Baby Sussex may be very active and mom was trying to calm her little one.  Meghan's back might have been hurting and holding the bump may have offered a bit of comfort.

Cradling a  baby bump is not important to a story unless you are writing about women cradling their bumps.

Meghan and Catherine are the same rank, royal highnesses.  Meghan does not curtsy to any royal lady apart from Sovereigns and female consorts.  If some one says or writes that a HRH curtsies or bows to another royal highness,  look them straight in their eyes, take their hands to comfort them, and tell them they are WRONG.  Period. Full stop.   Smile politely and tell them to order a copy of Debrett's Correct Form because they need it.

Don't go to Compton.   If you wrote that, you are being racist and ignorant.  Meghan never lived there.  Meghan grew up in a nice middle class area in Los Angeles. 

Meghan is learning how to be royal and she has the support of her in-laws (Charles and Camilla) and her husband.   The Queen, too.   Royal staff were not keen on Prince Philip, who was born a Prince of Greece and Denmark.  He was seen as a foreigner even though most of his childhood was spent in the United Kingdom, he attended British schools, his mother and maternal grandmother were born at Windsor Castle and his grandmother resided at Kensington Palace.

I realize that the reporters are writing for particular audiences, but do we want to continue to encourage racist and anti-foreign sentiment in the press.   I hope not.  Would it not be better to celebrate what the Duchess of Sussex is bringing to her role as a member of the Royal family?

If your editor tells you to write with a particular slant that does not ring true, but will appeal to the readership, just say no. 

I hope that these reporter will not be finding coal in their stockings this Christmas.

Here is another idea:  how about more diversity in tabloid newsrooms?  Britons are white, black, mixed race, Arab, European, Asian --- it is time that the newspapers' reporting staffs reflect this growing diversity.  Employing and training a diversified workforce can only help with better coverage all all subjects, not just British royals.

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Autopsy ordered for von Goess victims

From Facebook - other media also using this photo

A court in Mistelbach, Lower Austria, has ordered autopsies for the three victims of a family shooting at Schloss Bockfliess.  The autopsies will take place next week.

Count Anton von Goess, 54, has confessed to killing his father, Count Ulrich, his stepmother, Countess Margherita and his younger brother, Count Ernst.  The murders took place yesterday afternoon.     He was interviewed today by the police.  The interview took place in the presence of a lawyer.

It is understood that a family dispute led to the murders, although until the count is tried and found guilty, he remains an alleged murderer.

He married Barbara Grüber in 1997 but none of the reports his wife.  One of the photos on the Schloss' site show Anton with a young man?  Perhaps he has a son.

The dispute may have been over money.

Count Anton will undergo psychiatric, toxicological and forensics tests.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Count Anton von Goess arrested in three murders

Count Anton "Tono" von Goess was arrested earlier today in Mistelbach, Lower Austria, following the shooting deaths of three members of his family.

The three family members who have been killed are Anton's father, Count Ulrich von Goess, 92,  his stepmother, 87-year-old Countess Margherita von Goess (nee Cassis-Farone) and his younger brother, Count Ernst. 52.   Count Anton is 54 years old.

The murders took place at the Schloss Bockfliess in Mistelbach, the Goess' family home.

Count Johann Anton Adam von Goess is the second child and elder son of Count Johann Ulrich Anton Maria Josef Konrad Nikolaus von Goess and his first wife, Countess Maria Margarete von Abensberg und Traun, who died in 2010.  A year later, Count Ulrich, married Margherita Mautner von Markhof.

In 1997, Count Anton married Barbara Grüber.

Count Anton was arrested "without resistance" at Schloss Bockfliess.   It was about 2 p.m. when a neighbor heard the shots and immediately called the police.

The motive for the murders is believed to be a dispute over money.  A hunting rifle was allegedly used to kill all three people, according to the police.

One local resident, an elderly woman, told police that she had never of domestic conflicts within the family.  She said they were very social people.  A family member who lives near the the schloss told the police that family was active in the community.  "They've done a lot, especially for the church," she said.

Countess Margherita is the grandmother of Sophia Mautner von Markhof, who is engaged to marry Otto-Friedrich, the 6th Prince of Castell-Rüdenhausen.

Count Anton also has an older sister, Countess Marie Jeanne, who is married to an African American Arthur Peoples. Marie-Jeanne converted to Islam when she married.  They had four children, Mohammed,  Alia, Alawia and Alisha.  The family lived in Saudi Arabia for some years.   Anton offered congratulations on Marie Jeanne's Facebook account, following the birth of Alawia's son, Noah, who was born on June 25, 2018.   Alawia is married to Hani Othman.   Alia is married to an American, Leslie Lincoln. 

Count Ulrich's niece, Countess Maria Theresa von Goess, the daughter of Count Johann Zeno von Goess, is married to Hayo Wilms.  Their son, Antonius, is the husband of Princess Marie-Gabrielle of Nassau, daughter of Prince Jean of Luxembourg.

Another first cousin of Count Anton von Goess is Count Moritz von Goess -- son of Count Ernst-Friedrich von Goess -- who is married to Duchess Fleur of Württemberg. 

Counts Ulrich, Johann Zeno and Ernst-Friedrich are three of 10 children of Johann Anton Douglas , Count von Goess, (1892-1970) and Countess Marie Valerie von Meran (1902-1990).

Less than 24 hours, Count Tono posted several times on his Facebook account about security due to increased terror during the holiday season, the riots in Paris and immigrants.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Duchess of Abercorn (1946-2018)

The Duchess of Abercorn, the wife of the 5th Duke of Abercorn, an Irish peer, has died "following an illness."   She was 72 years old.

The Duchess was born Alexandra "Sacha" Anastasia Phillips on February 27, 1946 in Tucson, Arizona, the eldest of five children of Lt. Col. Harold Pedro Phillips and Georgina Werhner, who was the second of the three children of Sir Harold Werhner Bt., and Lady Anastasia  (Zia) Torby,  second of three children of Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich of Russia and Countess Sophie von Merenberg.

The Countess of Merenberg was a granddaughter of the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin.

Her baptism took place at St. Margaret's Westminster, and her godparents included the Duchess of Kent and Lord Mountbatten.

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Sacha made her debut in society in the summer of 1964 at a dance hosted by her grandmother Lady Zia Werhner.  The date was held at at the Werhners' home Luton Hoo and the guest list was rather impressive:  Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh,  Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, Prince Michael of Kent, Earl Mountbatten of Burma, the Margrave of Baden and Prince Ludwig of Baden,  Princess Margaret and the Earl of Snowdon and Princess Alexandra and the Hon. Angus Ogilvy.

The dance was held in Luton Hoo's ballroom and the "grounds were floodlit, according to The Times."

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Lady Zia  was certainly pleased when Sacha, then only 20 years old, became engaged to the Marquess of Hamilton, the elder son of the 4th Duke of Abercorn.

The wedding took place at Westminster Abbey on October 20, 1966.   It was a true royal occasion as Prince Andrew served as a page and the guests included the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, the Duchess of Gloucester,  Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, and Lord Mountbatten.

The reception was held at St. James's Palace.

Lord Hamilton served as a Member of Parliament for Fermanagh and South Tyrone from 1966 until 1970.  He succeeded in his father as the 5th Duke of Abercorn in 1979,  As the dukedom of Abercorn is in the Peerage of Ireland, the Duke took his seat n the House of Lords (until 1999), sitting with a subsidiary title, Marquess of Abercorn, which is in the peerage of the Great Britain.

The Abercorn's family seat is Baronscourt in Newtownstewart, County Tyrone.

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 The Duchess of Abercorn is survived by her husband, their three children, James, Marquess of Hamilton (& his wife Tanya), Lady Sophia and Lord Nicholas (and his wife Tatiana) and five grandchildren,  James, Viscount Strabane, Lord Claud Hamilton, Soraya and Caspian Arouzi, and Miss Valentina Hamilton.  She is also survived by her three younger sisters,  Fiona Burnett of Leys, Marita Knight and Natalia, Duchess of Westminster.

The late Duchess's genealogical connections are fascinating.  Her maternal great-grandfather, Grand Duke Michael of Russia, was married morganatically to Countess Sophie von Merenberg, who was herself the the daughter of Prince Nikolaus of Nassau and Natalya Alexandrovna Pushkina, the daughter of the famed Russian poet Alexander Pushkin.   Prince Nicholas was the brother of Grand Duke Adolphe of Luxembourg, who gave the title Countess Torby to Sophie von Merenberg after her marriage.  This title was passed to Sophie and Grand Duke Michael's children.

Countess Zia married Sir Harold Werhner, Bt.  Their family seat was Luton Hoo, now an exclusive hotel.   Zia's younger sister, Nada, married Prince George of Battenberg, the elder brother of the future Earl Mountbatten of Burma.  Within a year of their marriage,  Prince George of Battenberg became the Earl of Medina as their father, Prince Louis of Battenberg, renounced his German titles and was created Marquess of Milford Haven, Earl of Medina and Viscount Alderney.

George, the 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven was the young Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark's guardian, although it must be said that Philip spent more time with the Wernhers than with the Milford Havens.  Philip was close to Lady Zia's three children,  Alex (who was very much the older brother to Philip) and his two younger sisters, Georgina and Myra.  This circle of friends included Philip's first cousins, Patricia and Pamela Mountbatten (the daughters of the then Lord Louis Mountbatten) and David, the 3rd Marquess of Milford Haven and Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret of York.

Sacha's father's maternal first cousin, Janet Mercedes Bryce, was the second wife of David Milford Haven, who died in 1970.

The Duke of Abercorn is a first of the late 8th Earl Spencer, father of the late Diana, Princess of Wales.

This post will be updated after I get home and can access more information on the late Duchess. She was interviewed by the Financial Times in 2017.


Monday, December 10, 2018

Less Saves the Planet

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Archduke Imre and Archduchess Kathleen were among the guests at the Less Saves the Planet gala at Three Crowns Hotel in Vevey, Switzerland.   The event was organized by Fadi Joseph Abou.

Other guests included the Duke of Vendome, Crown Prince Leka of Albania and Prince Gabriel de la Rouchefoucauld.

Less Saves the Planet is an environmental organization.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Empress Friedrich arrives at Palace

December 7, 1888

Empress Friedrich arrived at Buckingham Palace today, according to the Chicago Daily Tribune,  She received a deputation of Greeks, "who  expressed their pleasure at the betrothal" of Princess Sophie, the Empress' daughter, to the Crown Prince of Greece.

The Empress thanked the visitors, "expressing her desire to identify herself in every way" of her late husband's country.  Later, the Empress visited the Throat Hospital, where she met with Drs. Mackenzie and Hovel.  She spent some time speaking with the patients.

Netherlands will give up Wilhelm

December 7, 1918

The Netherlands will hand over former German Emperor Wilhelm II and his eldest son, the former Crown Prince, to an international court of justice, if the Allies insist, reports the New York Times.

However, the Dutch will suggest that "Herr Hohenzollern and his son be placed on an island in either the East or West Indies, where they will be guarded by a Dutch fleet."

The former Crown Prince was interviewed by the Associated Press today.  The interview has "drawn out displays of anger" from the local press in Munich. 

In the interview, Wilhelm wrote to a friend last March that he had "witnesses with great anxiety how Ludendorff undervalued the power of the United States."  The Crown Prince did not have any influence although he tried several times to "get a conference on important matters, but was prevent by Ludendorff.

It was no secret that there was a "conflict between Wilhelm II and his son.

One German newspaper wrote in response to Crown Prince Wilhelm's interview: "if the former Crown Prince really made such statements he has done his reputation a bad service.  His belated excuses and attempts to clear himself make such a disgusting impression that no one will need to grieve over his flight to Holland."