Tuesday, June 28, 2016

HRH Marvin the Royal Hamster

 She told People magazine: "This hamster is a totally normal hamster living in a ridiculous world.  I was thinking, 'If it's a normal hamster, maybe he's normal like me, and he's obsessed with the royals like I am." http://www.theroyalhamster.com.

 You can follow Marvin on Twitter and Instagram.

And now, Christine has opened a store, where you can order prints of several of her drawings.


Christine lives in Columbia, MD

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Official funding for Romanian royal house: proposal

According to a draft project initiated by the Romanian government,  the Romanian Royal house will become an "autonomous  legal entity of public utility," reports a Romanian news service

The Royal House's headquarters will be the Elisabetha Palace, which will be used "free of charge for 99 years."

The Royal House's "operational costs" will be covered by the State Budget.  The head of the Royal House "will be paid as a former head of state."

The Romanian Royal House has "endorsed" the plan.


Saturday, June 25, 2016

Royal guests at Alexandra Knatchbull's wedding

The Hon. Alexandra Knatchbull was married to Thomas Hooper today at Romsey Abbey in Romsey, Hampshire, in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II and other British and European royals.

[A bit about the Mountbatten Star Tiara, worn by the bride.  http://www.thecourtjeweller.com/2014/08/saturday-sparkler-mountbatten-star-tiara.html]

Alexandra, 33, was escorted into the Abbey and walked down the aisle, by the Prince of Wales, and her father, Baron  Brabourne, who is said to be in ill health, which may have been the official reason.   He has not been close to his daughter, since he left her mother for another woman.

Lord Brabourne did accompany Lady Brabourne to the wedding.  The couple is estranged, due to Lord Brabourne's adultery (and other issues).  He has since broken up with his former mistress and now lives in a house on the Broadlands estate.  Lady Brabourne runs the house and estate.

The ties between the British Royal Family and Lord Brabourne's family are strong.   Lord Brabourne (Norton Knatchbull) is the eldest child of the Countess Mountbatten of Burma and the late Lord Brabourne.  (Norton succeeded his father in 2005.  Until his father's death,  Norton was styled as Lord Romsey, the secondary title for the Mountbatten earldom.  He is also the heir apparent to the earldom).

Lady Mountbatten and the Duke of Edinburgh are first cousins as Lady Mountbatten's father,  Louis, the 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, was the younger brother of Prince Philip's mother, Princess Alice.  Lady Mountbatten and her younger sister, Lady Pamela Hicks, were childhood friends of the then Princess Elizabeth, who was a bridesmaid at Patricia's wedding in 1946.   Prince Philip was an usher.

Elizabeth and Philip were married a year later.  Six weeks before their wedding,   Lady Brabourne gave birth to a son, Norton Louis Philip, who was baptized at the Mersham Parish Church on November 18, 1947.  Prince Philip, the Crown Princess of Sweden, Lady Pamela Mountbatten, and Thomas Dugdale, were the godparents.  

Lady Brabourne (now the Countess Mountbatten of Burma) is one of the Prince of Wales' godparents.    Norton and Charles, a year apart in age,  grew up together, attended Gordonstoun in Scotland,  and their friendship flourished.   Several months after Charles's engagement to Lady Diana Spencer,  Lady Romsey (now Lady Brabourne) tried to caution Charles about Diana, as she did not think Diana was ready for marriage.

The newly married Prince and Princess of Wales spent their wedding night at Broadlands, just as his parents did.   The Prince of Wales is the godfather of Lord and Lady Brabourne's only son, the. Hon. Nicholas Knatchbull, who was born in May 1981.  The late Diana, Princess of Wales, was one of Alexandra's godmothers.

The Queen and Prince Philip attended Norton and the former Penelope Eastwood's marriage at Romsey Abbey on October 20, 1979, nearly two months after the assassination of Norton's grandfather, Lord Mountbatten.   Norton's younger brother, Nicholas, and his maternal grandmother, were among the other victims.   Lord Brabourne and Lady Mountbatten suffered serious injuries in the bombing of Lord Mountbatten's fishing boat but were able to attend their son's wedding.  Both were in wheelchairs.

The Prince of Wales served as Norton's best man.  The Duke and Duchess of Kent,  Princess Alexandra and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester also attend Norton's wedding.

Lord and Lady Brabourne's son, Nicholas (named for Norton's murdered brother), is a year older than the Duke of Cambridge.  Both were at Eton, and it was expected that the family friendship would extend another generation.  Lord Brabourne is one of William's godparents.

On June 25, 1986,  Lady Brabourne (at the Lady Romsey) gave birth to a third child, Leonora Louise Marie Elizabeth.   Leonora suffered from kidney cancer, and died on October 22, 1991, and is buried at Broadlands.    It seems significant that Alexandra has chosen to marry on what would have been her sister's 30th birthday.

The friendship between the Duke of Cambridge and Nicholas Knatchbull no longer exists.  In January 2000,  18-year-old Nicholas was pulled over by police officers in Winchester at a traffic stop for what was described as an alleged drug bust.

Cannabis was found in the car, and the young heir was grounded by his parents.
Ecstasy and cannabis were found in a wooden box under the passenger seat.  Drugs were also found in the socks of two male passengers.   Six months later, in June 2000, Nicholas was arrested by Royal Protection officers guarding Prince William, as he was found in possession of drugs.

Nicholas's life continued to spiral downward.  A year later, he was sent to rehab. Kensington Palace, in response to requests from the press, said at the time that Prince William knew Nicholas in his first year at Eton in 1995, but was no longer in contact.

For Nicholas, there would be more time spent in clinics as he battled his demons: drugs and alcohol addiction.    By 2009, he was living in a "squalid crack den" in London.   Lord and Lady Brabourne are reported to have put the Broadlands estate in a trust, similar to what the late Duke of Marlborough did for Blenheim, due to Nicholas' drug issues.

The death of Leonora and Nicholas' battles with drugs certainly affected the marriage of Lord and Lady Brabourne.  By 2010, Lord Brabourne had left the marital home and was living in the Bahamas with his mistress, Jeannie McWheeny, the widow (and 4th wife) of Sir Nicholas Nuttall, Bt.  (One of the guests at the wedding was Princess Florence von Preussen and her husband, the Hon. James Tollemache.  Florrie's aunt Miranda, the Countess of Stockton, was Sir Nicholas' third wife.)

The Queen and Prince Philip and other members of the Royal Family have rallied around Lady Brabourne.  She shares a common interest in carriage driving with the Duke of Edinburgh and is often invited to Sandringham.  Alexandra has also been invited to Sandringham.

In December 2010, the Daily Mail reported that Alexandra was "being groomed" to take over the Broadlands estate, which is not entailed.  She cannot inherit the Mountbatten or Brabourne peerages, but she can take over the running of the Broadlands estate.

A goddaughter of the late Diana, Princess of Wales,  Alexandra is a forensic accountant and studied theology at Regent's Park College, Oxford.  She has a master's degree from Georgetown University.

Today the family celebrates Alexandra's wedding to Thomas Hooper.    The Queen was accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Princess Royal, and Princess Alexandra, the Hon. Lady Ogilvy.  Queen Sofia of Spain, King Constantine II and Queen Anne Marie of the Hellenes, Princess Irene of Greece, Prince Hassan and Princess Sarvath of Jordan were among the foreign royal guests.   Other European cousins who attended the wedding included the Prince and Princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg (the Prince's grandmother, Princess Margarita of Greece and Denmark, was the Duke of Edinburgh's eldest sister) and the Landgrave and Landgravine of Hesse.

The Countess Mountbatten of Burma was able to attend her granddaughter's wedding, as was the bride's older brother,  Nicholas.

What a nice touch (and honor)  ... and speaks volumes of about the relationship between the Prince of Wales and Alexandra Hooper.   Lord Brabourne arrived with his estranged wife, looking frail, but I doubt illness played a role in Alexandra's choice.  Lord Spencer, recovering from a stroke, managed to walk his daughter,  Lady Diana, down the aisle, when she married the Prince of Wales.

The Hon. Mrs. Hooper chose to ask the Prince of Wales to walk her down the aisle ... and I bet he was chuffed.


Friday, June 24, 2016

Alexandra Knatchbull to marry Thomas Hooper

Expect an array of British and foreign royals at the wedding of the Hon. Alexandra Victoria Edwina Diana Knatchbull and Mr. Thomas Hooper.

Miss Knatchbull, 33, is the daughter of Lord and Lady Brabourne, and a great-granddaughter of the late Earl Mountbatten.

The wedding will take place tomorrow (June 25) at 11:30 a.m., at Romsey Abbey.    June 25 is the 116th anniversary of the birth of Alexandra's great-grandfather, Lord Mountbatten, and the 30th birthday of Alexandra's younger sister, Leonora, who died from kidney cancer on October 22, 1991.

She met her fiance through her work at FTI Consulting, where she is a senior director    Alexandra is active in the local Romsey community.  She is patron of the Mountbatten school, succeeding her father.  She is also the first female president of the Romsey and District Scouts and patron of the Romsey Sea Cadets.

Alexandra studied theology at Regent's Park College at Oxford and International Security at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Lord Brabourne is the godson of the Duke of Edinburgh and is one of the Duke of Cambridge's godfathers.   The Prince of Wales is one of the godparents of Alexandra's older brother, the Hon. Nicholas Knatchbull and Alexandra is one of the godchildren of the late Diana, Princess of Wales.

The ties between the Knatchbulls and the royal family remain close.  Lady Brabourne and Miss Knatchbull have been guests of the Queen at Sandringham, and Lady Brabourne shares an interest in carriage racing with the Duke of Edinburgh, who is a first cousin of Lord Brabourne's mother, Countess Mountbatten of Burma.

Tom Hooper is the Founder and CEO of Third Space Learning.






Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Duke of Calabria and family meet the Pope

At the Vatican on June 9, the TRH Duke and Duchess of Calabria with their seven children, and the Duke's widowed mother, HRH Princess Anne, Dowager Duchess of Calabria, met with Pope Francis. The eldest son is the Duke of Noto

all three photos HRH The Duke of Calabria

King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia recreate engagement photo

King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary on June 19. For an upcoming feature in the Swedish royal magazine Kungliga Magasinet, editor Roger Lundgren has graciously allowed me to use three photos he took today. The official photo was taken by David Sica.

Thank you, Roger!   The three photos are his copyright, and cannot be used without his permission.


all three photos @Roger Lundgren

Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia were also at the palace when the photos were taken

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A visit to Hever Castle

Hever Castle in Kent (Anne Boleyn's childhood home)  was on my must-see list for some time.  My friend Katrina and I visited the castle when I was in the UK earlier this month.  Of course, it rained, on and off.   The house and estate were restored by the American-born William Waldorf Astor, 1st Viscount Astor. Since 1983, the property has been owned by Broadland Properties Ltd.

The rose garden is absolutely breathtaking.    So happy that I could check Hever off my bucket list.


Henry VIII