If you aren’t lucky enough to be heading to Windsor on May 19th, the next best way to join in the fun is to gather a group of girlfriends and host a royal wedding viewing… More
It’s a diamond fuelled week for the Royals, with Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge stepping out in a diamond print Kate Spade dress the day after the big announcement was made regarding her brother in laws engagement to Meghan Markle.Embed from Getty Images
Kate was out to visit the Foundling museum in London, which explores the interesting history of the Foundling hospital, the UK’s first children’s charity and first public art gallery. The hospital was founded in 1739 by philanthropist Thomas Coram to care for babies at risk of abandonment. Today the charity continues as Coram, among their programs is a creative therapies program which uses music and art to enable vulnerable children to express themselves and make sense of their world.
Kate, who was an art history major at the university of St Andrews has been a long-term patron of similar program The Art Room, which works in British schools to use art as a therapeutic tool to help children facing emotional difficulties thrive and visited Inner city arts at Skid Row in LA during her first Royal tour where she painted a snail.Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
Upon arrival the press immediately greeted Kate with questions regarding the engagement of Harry and Meghan. She responded with ‘William and I are absolutely thrilled. Its such exciting news. Its really a happy time for any couple and we wish them all the best and hope they enjoy this happy moment’Embed from Getty Images
Kate then toured the galley before taking part in an arts and crafts class with the children. She wore a new Kate Spade diamond dress from Kate Spade. Items in the same print have been found in a skirt, jacket and pants but the exact dress has not yet been located, giving some hope that it may be in an upcoming collection, will be music to the ears of replikaters who have found this year to be increasingly difficult to source available and affordable replikate outfits. She accessorized with her Gianvito Rossi ‘Gianvito 105’ Royale Burgundy suede pumps and a cranberry colored suede Mulberry clutch. She wore her familiar diamond and sapphire drop earring which previously belonged to Princess Diana and were remodelled for Kate and gifted to her by William after their engagement.Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
When the news that Prince Harry was dating American suits actress Megan Markle broke, I completely disregarded the story. I saw the headlines and the posts on twitter and Instagram but didn’t click on a single link. With nothing against Megan, who I hadn’t heard of having never seen Suits, I thought it was just more tabloid fodder, like the stories linking Harry in the preceding months to actresses such as Emma Watson and Margot Robbie.
That was until ‘that’ statement by Harry was released by Kensington Palace. Not a polished official announcement put together by the Kensington Palace PR team, the statement showed a very upset boyfriend wanting to protect someone he was very much in love with, perhaps with some fear as well that his new girlfriend would decide that the intrusion into her privacy, along with the racist undertones many of the stories were along the lines of, would be all too much and she may decide to not continue with the relationship. Luckily for Harry that was not the case. Despite the pair being rarely seen in public, they have not spent more then two weeks apart at a time. Retreating to the privacy of their homes and a camping trip in Africa, the two have been able to develop a relationship largely out of the public eye. Culminating in hearts breaking all over the world yesterday as their engagement was announced, starting with an official statement released by the palace, followed by a photo call and official interview to mark the occasion.Embed from Getty Images
Stepping out hand in hand in a stunning white wrap coat by Canadian brand Line, into the sunken gardens of Kensington Palace, a favourite spot of Princess Diana’s, Megan glowed as she waved for the cameras and showed off her engagement ring, containing a large diamond Harry sourced from Botswana, flanked by another two diamonds taken from Diana’s personal jewellery collection, which the Price had designed himself and proposed to the actress with one night at home whilst they were roasting a chicken.Embed from Getty Images
The two later gave their official engagement interview. With Megan’s experience in front of the camera, it is no surprise that she gave an incredibly polished, professional and personable interview. She has shown right from the start she is more then capable of handling the official duties which will now be required as she becomes a member of the Royal family. With a long-standing interest in charity work, having worked with the United Nations on gender equality and the empowerment of women and travelling to Rwanda for World Vision Canada’s clean water campaign, she is no doubt currently reviewing the charities and organisations she wishes to become involved with. Being much more used to public speaking and the spotlight then Kate Middleton was at the time of her engagement/wedding, I would expect to see Megan quite quickly out of the gate promoting the charities and issues she is passionate about. It was lovely to see prince Harry, who has not always had an easy relationship with the media. Looking happy and relaxed in front of the camera.
What can we expect from here? We know the wedding will be held in the British spring. With the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s third baby due in April, we may be looking at a May wedding, though no official details have yet been announced including the venue. Will the wedding be televised? Again, we do not know. Whilst there is much international interest, Harry is not really in line for the throne anymore, pushed further down the line with each Cambridge baby so he may be allowed to have a more private wedding as his cousin Zara Phillips did when she married rugby player Mike Tindall. If it is a televised event I look forward to hosting a Royal wedding viewing tea party just as I am sure many of you are already planning as well.Embed from Getty Images
What we know we can expect from here though until there are more official details is lots of tabloid stories comparing Megan to another American actress who married a Prince, Grace Kelly. No doubt there will be comparisons as well to the last American divorcee to marry into the British Royal family, Wallis Simpson. Then eventually there will no doubt be the stories of a jealous Kate, pushed out of the spotlight by her new glamorous sister in law. Harry has confirmed in the couple’s engagement interview that Kate and Megan get along very well, and she has been very supportive of them. Kate has always been a bit of a homebody, preferring life out of the spotlight so I am sure she is more than happy to share some of the media attention normally lavished onto her with Megan. With the media engaged elsewhere it may even give Kate a bit more freedom to hit the shops at High street or walk the kids through Kensington Park, as she used to.Embed from Getty Images
I have been surprised by the number of messages I have received since news of the engagement broke, from both Royal watchers and non-royal watchers asking me how I feel about the engagement and expressing a dislike for Megan or surprise thinking the two weren’t that serious. I am thrilled with the news, particularly after seeing how happy Harry is. I look forward to seeing how Megan adapts to Royal life and the charities she will champion. I look forward to seeing Prince George and Princess Charlotte taking an official part in Uncle Harrys wedding just as they did with Aunt Pippa. I can’t wait to see what Kate will wear to the wedding! I am sure after seeing how confident and happy the two were during the interview, some people who believed Megan might not be a good fit for the Royal family or capable of fulfilling the role, have changed their opinion. Possibly there was some surprise from non-regular royal watchers due to how infrequently the two were seen in public, however the privacy of their relationship was a signal to regular royal watcher just how serious the relationship was. I’m sure as the public get to know Megan more they will warm to her, at least once we all get over our broken hearts now that Harry is off the market………..
What was your reaction when you heard about the royal engagement?
As much as I use the #britishatheart I am just as obsessed with Paris. Paris was my first love and as I child I dreamed of visiting, climbing the Eiffel Tower, seeing a show at the Moulin Rouge and visiting endless patisseries. So, it seems did fashion illustrator Megan Hess. It is the opening statement in her new book ‘Paris through a fashion eye’. A guide book with stunning illustrations, it is a must have for any fashionable lady.
If you cannot place the name Megan Hess, you are probably already familiar with her work. Her big break came in 2008 when she illustrated the front cover of Candice Bushnells new book. What was this book? None other than sex and the city, it was Megan who first gave a face and a look to Carrie Bradshaw.
Since then Megan has illustrated for everyone who is anyone in the fashion world. Her clients include Prada, Vanity Fair, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Yves Saint Laurent, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. She has also gone on to produce her own fashionable lines of scarves, coffee cups and cushions which are available through her website along with a range of her prints.
Her books are my favourite products. Previously I have purchased The Dress: 100 iconic moments in fashion, in which two of the Duchess of Cambridge’s gown are featured and Coco Chanel: The illustrated world of a fashion icon.
My favourite though is the newest, Paris through a fashion eye which was released this week. Broken up into chapters such as do/play, shop, sleep and eat/drink it covers all the stylish shops, bars and cafes that would be a must visit on the trip itinerary of Carrie Bradshaw herself. Browsing through the illustrations of the Eiffel tower, bottles of champagne, the peonies, the chic ladies on bicycles, I am instantly transported back to Paris, to the carousel just near the Eiffel tower or sitting on the Champs Elysse eating French onion soup with the Arc de Triomphe in full view. There are plenty of new places suggested though that will be on my wish list for next time, the Ritz club, the Dior Museum and Coco Chanel’s apartment.
Whether you are dreaming of your first trip to Paris or a seasoned visitor you will find something in Paris through a fashion eye to inspire your own case of wanderlust.
Last weekend, on a very hot early spring day, the husband and I made the 3-hour round trip to Toowoomba to enjoy their annual Carnival of flowers event. The carnival of flowers is a ten-day event held each September with various food, wine, market and music events held each day, with a stunning floral backdrop as the city’s parks and private gardens all explode with colour.
I had really wanted to go the first weekend, when Queens Park comes to life with a food and wine festival, the grand floral parade and side show alley featuring all your show favourites but we were both ridden with bronchitis so attended the second weekend. The second weekend features the annual polo match and local markets.
The first stop in Toowoomba was the local visitor information center where even the toilets were dressed up in their festival best! This is a must stop as it is not only the cities public parks and gardens that put on a show but also the citizens of Toowoomba themselves who enter each year into the Chronicles garden competition. At the visitor information centre, you can get a map of all the private garden winners so you can stop by the overall best or see the winners from a category of interest, with categories including best Australian native garden, best display of flowering annuals and bulbs, small garden/courtyard, floral garden and acreage garden among others.
The next stop was Queens park where we enjoyed the local country markets featuring beautiful handmade crafts and wooden furniture before enjoying ice cream and a Devonshire tea from the local country women’s association while a 1920’s jazz band played in the background. The botanical gardens within the park contain the biggest floral display within the city and there is also a look out for a complete park view.
The next stop was Laurel Park. The park contains family friendly floral displays such as train made from topiary clipped hedges, a Chinese garden and gardens beds with flowers grown in different shapes for the children to hunt for, such as a round garden bed containing a knife and fork out of flowers and Big Ben clock hedge. Devonshire tea can be enjoyed at the local croquet club and their perfectly manicured lawn lies within the park, they are missing a prime opportunity for promoting the sport by not having games of croquet running.
Finally, we took our map and headed to some of the private gardens in the area. For anyone who loves to head to open homes on the weekend when they aren’t looking to buy a house, the carnival provides the opportunity for you to enter private properties, back yards and gardens and it is inspiring to see what some people have managed to do with their space in a city garden. I left with lots of ideas that I am wanting to implement in my own home but these will need to wait for 8 weeks until we are in our new home in Sydney.
I would recommend staying overnight and having the opportunity to attend some of the events one day such as the food and wine festival, garden tours or one of the progressive food tours then enjoying visiting the many private gardens and homesteads the next day.
Onto the fashion, I was wearing the girls wanna have fun dress from Australian designer Review which is currently on sale and the Admire bag in black. If you are into vintage inspired ladylike looks you should definitely check out the brand. They currently have an extra 30% off sale items as well.
On a personal note, my Instagram account @theladywallace has fallen victim to the recent bug which has been randomly deleting accounts. Last night I lost my entire account. I have started another one which is @theladywallacediaries so I hope you will follow me their if you are interested in what I get up to each day. Thank you also to everyone who had such kind words to say about my old account and I hope to connect with all of you again soon.
On Wednesday, this week I had the absolute pleasure of heading to the Palazzo Versace Hotel on the Gold Coast for a charity fundraiser high tea which was also attended by a very special guest speaker, Paul Burrell, former butler to the late Princess Diana. A controversial figure within Royal watching circles, whilst I understand he is not everybody’s cup of tea, he did show me how to pour the perfect cup in case I ever have the pleasure of hosting her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II for tea.
The high tea was in support of Young care, an organisation which helps young people with high assisted living needs exit or avoid admissions to aged care facilities.
There were two events on the day. The Royal afternoon tea and conversation with Paul Burrell was the main event however prior to that there was a VIP event for only 12 people which I attended.
Nervously ushered into an elevator we had no idea where we were going until we ended up in Paul’s very own room, the hotels Imperial suite, a luxurious three-room suite which boosts possibly the best view on the Gold Coast. With mellow music coming from a guitar player/singer in the corner and Versace staff circulating with trays of champagne and cucumber finger sandwiches, Paul Burrell emerged into the lounge. Just as synonymous with Diana to me as her ‘boys’ Princes William and Harry, Kensington Palace or that pearl and sapphire choker, it is quite a thrill when he appears, almost like catching up with an old friend as his image is so familiar. The presence of Diana lingers around him, almost to the point you expect her to pop through the door at any second.
Much like a cocktail party on an episode of the Bachelor, everyone breaks off into small groups where we wait for our own private ten minutes with him where we can take a photo, have him sign a copy of his bestselling biography ‘A royal duty’ and ask a few questions each.
My first impressions of Paul Burrell, he has a smile which is larger than life, he radiates warmth and personality, he is slightly embarrassed when you ask him for a hug but always obliging, he is skilled at putting people at ease and calming their nerves, he effortlessly drawers you into conversation. His sunny disposition and megawatt smile are what directly led to him getting the job as the Queens personal footman after only two years of service at Buckingham Palace. That and an uncanny knack at being effortlessly able to pinpoint someone’s needs and fulfil them before they ask. Summoned to see the Queen from the breakfast table one morning as she was interested in the ‘footman who always smiles so much’ he thought the only thing a footman could be summoned for at this time of the day was to walk the Queens beloved corgis. Slipping 2 sausages in his back pocket he went to see the Queen. ‘Would you like to walk my Corgis?’ she asked, ‘of course’ he replied. Out in the gardens of Buckingham Palace the Queen peeked through the curtains as her 8 corgis, normally terrors to control were enthralled and chasing down the footman, or his two sausages at least. Upon his return, the Queen commented ‘They do seem to love you, I think I will keep you’ and promoted he was to be one of two of the Queens personal footman.
In a world where we are so used to seeing commentary from friends and family of Diana’s or the Royals being split firmly in two different camps and loathing the other side, it is surprising to see someone talk about both the Queen and Princess Diana with the same love and affection. But he does. Possibly the only member of Diana’s camp who didn’t want to cheer during Charles Spencer’s eulogy inside Westminster Abbey, he wanted to tell people to stop clapping, to look at the Queen, that the Queen was heartbroken. Always respectful of the entire Royal family he cannot be baited to speak poorly of even Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall. When asked of his opinion of Camilla and Charles’s relationship he simply replies, ‘I can never speak warmly of Camilla, I am Diana’s man, she was not my mistress, she was somebody else’s mistress, Diana was my mistress and it is with her my love and loyalty will always lie’. In fact, I kind of get the feeling that he wishes people would stop mentioning both Camilla and Diana in the sentence. That he does not want Camilla to become as synonymous with Diana as her boys, Kensington Palace and her style. That he hopes when we focus our discussion on Diana we will focus on her legacy, her charity work, the way she changed the Royals and the world, her sons and grandchildren and not be fixated on the parts of her life which brought such pain and heartache.
It is surprising how little gossip and scandal he does discuss. When he talks of Diana he discusses their friendship, her charity work, her love for her sons all peppered with personal memories of their day to day interactions with one another. Topics such as previous lovers including Hasnat Khan and Dodi Al Fayed, preparing for her funeral, her divorce with Charles only come up when he is asked directly and ask him we do constantly. When asked if he wishes that Diana had never married Charles he replies it is impossible ‘it was Diana’s destiny to marry Charles, to have those two boys, to change the monarchy and the world today, to pave the way and go through the hardships she did to create a better life for her boys and grandchildren, it was her destiny’.
Ushered from the private event to the foyer outside the ballroom for the afternoon tea we are greeted by doorman dressed as Queen guards and trumpeters announce the event officially open. Walking into the ballroom we are greeted with candle light and over 5000 flowers, mostly roses in tribute to England’s rose. My own outfit, a dress from Australian brand Review, covered in a rose pattern blends in with the décor.
After some on stage introductions Paul joins our table for a traditional afternoon, the menu includes delights such as English cucumber finger sandwiches, candied lemon and sultana scones served with balsamic strawberry jam with cream, guava and passionfruit mousse and finishes with a chocolate dome etiquette smash, so called as it contains a small take home guide book on etiquette.
Halfway through the tea Paul takes to the stage for an hour presentation where he talks of his life pre-Royals, how he was studying a hospitality and hotel management course and dreamed of working at sea with Cunard cruise line. He applied to Cunard at the same time he applied at Buckingham Palace. In a secret, he only found out from his younger brother on the day of his mother’s funeral, his mother had received two letters on the same day, one from Cunard and one from Buckingham palace, both offering him employment. She took the letter from Cunard and tossed it on the fire telling his younger brother that if he went far away to sea they would never see him again. It seems just as much as he believes it was Diana’s destiny to marry into and change the Royal family and touch people the world over by becoming ‘the people’s princess’ it was just as much his destiny to enter a life service with the Royals and to be there for Diana, the princess needed her rock. He talks of her work, their trips overseas, her joy at connecting with the common people and making a real difference on issues such as land mines, her legacy of her sons and grandchildren. Through William, he feels the Monarchy is in safe hands and will flourish in the future. He advises he has no inside special knowledge but he sees Harry being happy in a way he hasn’t seen since before his mother’s death and he predicts another Royal wedding next year. I’m sure we all have our fingers crossed for that one! He addresses the charges of theft of Diana’s personal items and the intervention by the Queen which stopped the trial, the only time the Queen has intervened in such a legal matter. He says his favorite memory is of Diana, in her robe, her hair in a towel, playing her piano, finally having a moment to live her life like she doesn’t have cameras pointed on her at every second.
What did I learn most from my afternoon with Paul Burrell? A little kindness goes a long way, life is precious and can change at any second, a sunny disposition and a smile can get you far in life and the importance of a thank you note, in fact I am off to write one now.
Luckily for the British at heart, there are many people looking for a comforting British fix so one can find a tea room or British pub just about anywhere these days. I am always on the lookout for authentic British themed places to visit and one of my favourites must be Teddies N Sweets British tea rooms in Brisbane.
A quaint little cottage style tea room and traditional British sweet store I have had the pleasure of visiting a few times for high tea and lunch and popped by this weekend for their reopening after undergoing a recent renovation where they added a sitting room area complete with decorative fireplace.
Post renovation the tea rooms have retained their British charm, the shop is still filled to the brim with Teddies that are on sale, British and royal themed souvenirs, think the Queens 90th birthday memorabilia and double decker bus teapots and a thank you note from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is framed proudly on the wall from where the owners sent a children’s book as a gift upon the birth of Prince George.
They serve breakfast, lunch and tea 6 days a week from Tuesday to Sunday. The food is simple home cooked British fare, with staples such as bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie and my favourite the ploughman’s lunch. They offer a full dessert menu with delectable sweets such as bread and butter pudding, apple crumble and a traditional knickerbocker glory, always a delicious treat that I love after a beach front stroll along the Redcliffe pier which is just across the road from the tea rooms. For more special occasions you can even enjoy high tea. On my next visit, I plan to book the new sitting room area for just that.
With a full belly and smile on your face you can then browse through the gifts and teddies section, before purchasing some British sweets and grocery items to take home so you can keep enjoying your British fix once you return home.
Teddies n sweets is in the Cominos Arcade on Redcliffe Parade in Brisbane and you can phone them for bookings on (07) 3283 7327. You can also check out their website on http://www.teddiesnsweets.com.au/
Did you do anything to get your own British fix this weekend?