My Afternoon With Paul Burrell

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.
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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.
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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.
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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’.
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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.
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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.


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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.

Kylie XOXO

Teddies n Sweets British Tea Rooms

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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.
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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?

Kylie

Inside My Walk In Wardrobe/Dressing Room

What is a repliKater to do when she has a large and beautiful collection of Kate inspired clothing spilling out of every closet in the house and an underutilised guest bedroom. The answer was simple and obvious- create a beautiful walk in dressing room where my collection could be displayed and enjoyed every day, not just on the day I happened to be wearing that item. The application was a bit more difficult. It took about 6 months of research and planning to come up with a practical solution that suited my needs and lifestyle but in the end, I created the perfect space that suited all my needs and come in at well under $500. Read on to see my dressing room and hear my tips on how to create your own……

The idea for my dressing room was planted about 12 months ago when I had a team from Australian Womans Day magazine come to my home for a photo shoot to accompany an article on repliKating. At the time, we had emptied out the spare room temporarily and 2 stylists created a walk-in wardrobe.

About 6 months later I began to take the idea a bit more seriously and had two IKEA systems recommended to me. The first was the stolmen system. This system offered mix and match shelving and racks you could piece together to suit your needs using a tension-mounted pole system that you install inside a closet or against a blank wall. This system was quite budget friendly and left all your clothing displayed which I loved but seemed quite labour intensive to get up initially and would put a lot of holes in the walls which we couldn’t do as renters, who need to move interstate every 3 years for my husband’s work.

The second Ikea system I considered was the Pax system. Again, you could mix and match to suit your needs, but this system pieces together traditional wardrobes which would leave my clothes hidden away (out of sight, out of mind) and would be difficult to move and we are due to move at the end of the year.

Finally, I settled on using simple clothing and shoe racks, with a bed side table for hosiery, a full length portable mirror and a feature piece which is my stunning dressing table, given to me as a 5th year wedding anniversary gift in December last year (5 years is the traditional wood for gift anniversary). If you can create a permanent space though I would highly recommend considering either IKEA system.

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Below are my tips for creating your own walk in wardrobe space;

  • Do your research so you can pick the perfect solution for your needs. Know exactly how many shoes, bags etc. you need to store and are you likely to add more in the future so need a system you can add to. With my simple shoe racks, I can just keep adding them on top as needed. Select your budget. What are your living circumstances? Is it possible you will need to move in the next 6-12 months or can you make your room a bit more permanent and solid
  • Matching coat hangers go a long way towards making everything look prettier and neater and saves a lot of room.
  • If using portable racks such as mine you will need to come up with an alternative option for heavier items like winter coats. The bedroom I used had a small built in robe where I have my coats and gowns hanging.
  • Pick one feature item. If you are using a smaller space, a large vintage full body mirror or a large fashion illustration would be perfect. If you have the room you might want to think about adding a small lounge or day bed near a window so you can also use it as a sanctuary to hide away, drink tea and read. I love my room so much I will use any excuse to be in there for 5 minutes. The inclusion of my dressing table also means I have a little desk space so I also like to use the room to blog and study. I feel really inspired to write about Kate and repliKating when I am surrounded by her clothing.
  • Decorate according to your tastes. This room is 100% yours so whatever your obsession is, go for it, no need to worry about upset partners/flatmates is your tastes are wildly different. Paint the walls pink, put up your pictures of Audrey Hepburn or Paris or, like me, fill it with little collectables and trinkets associated with Kate Middleton.
  • Even if you can’t create a full room wardrobe like mine, you could probably use a little extra space. You could look at adding a portable rack or two, or some shoe racks to your existing bedroom where you can have a few of your favourite things out on display.

A Closer Look At The Heads Together Campaign & My Own #oktosay

If you are a regular follower of mine, you will be aware that I am a big supporter of the Duchess of Cambridge. I love her fashion, regularly purchase some wonderful British products that she has been associated with, such as Emma Bridgewater and Jo Malone, that I would not have heard of without her association and I like to think that I support her causes and work. Of course, I have heard of the Heads Together campaign, when the surprise video came out announcing that it was this year’s partnership charity with the London marathon I watched it, I loved the informality of the video and rushed to the J Crew website to buy my own breton sweater as Kate had worn in it. I knew the campaign had something to do with mental health. For the next twelve months, I eagerly awaited each appearance associated with the campaign by the Royals. However, it was not until well after the marathon had actually commenced that I had a real understanding of what the campaign was actually about. For today’s post, I am going to be taking a much closer look at the campaign and share my own personal #itsoktosay

Whilst I have come a bit late to party on this important campaign, the hard work that William, Kate and Harry have done in promoting the cause for the last year will be wasted if we all move onto the next issue and stopped having the conversation!

The Heads Together Campaign is the biggest project that Kate has tackled so far. She has spent the last year, along with Princes William and Harry spearheading the campaign to end the stigma surrounding mental health. The campaign brought together key charities from the trios work in areas such as homelessness, veterans and addiction, such as place2be, the Anna Freud center and contact.

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The aim of the campaign was to change the national conversation on mental health and well being so we could all feel confident speaking up if we had any issues, without the fear of being stigmatised by admitting we had problems. Through a video made for the campaign and William and Kate’s recent radio interview with BBC1, we have had an unusually personal glimpse into the lives of Royals with Kate admitting she had a difficult time adjusting after the birth of Prince George and William and Harry opening up about the death of their mother, Princess Diana and how, despite the close relationship between the two, they did not talk to each other or support each other enough.

The #itsoktosay was created as a way for people to join in on the conversation surrounding mental health, by either sharing the videos and press releases from the Heads Together campaign or by encouraging their friends to reach out if they had issues or to use it reach out to others with their own issues when they weren’t sure how to start the conversation.

Which brings me to an important issue I would like to discuss which is online bullying. I don’t think there has been any replikater who has posted pictures of themselves in a replikate outfit who at one time or the other has not been targeted by trolls who want to criticise the person’s weight, their lack of own personal style or chastise them for what they see as a frivolous use of money.

At least twice a week I find myself targeted by online trolls who want to tell me I’m fat or would need to spend a million dollars on plastic surgery to come close to looking like Kate. Even the back handed compliment has come up a few times such as ‘you could be so pretty if you lost weight so why don’t you’. For the record, I know that I am overweight and should lose weight for health reasons, I have a long history of unhealthy yo yo dieting. I also don’t believe I look like Kate but I am highly influenced by her style and wearing an outfit, whether inspired by or directly copied from her gives me a confidence boost and makes me feel special and pretty so what’s the harm in that? I have turned down multiple online media opportunities in the past as I know the criticism will be mainly around my weight. I think its sad that I have let these online bullies influence my decisions in this way for what should be happy and exciting moments.

Whilst I am sure there are people who will feel that I have brought this criticism onto myself by posting a picture of myself side by side with Kate, it is the only way that a lot of us can reach out to find other replikaters or people who share our greater Royal obsession as I can’t think of many who have family and friends outside of the online community who support, encourage and understand our obsessions. Posting our replikates is a way to connect with others so we don’t feel alone, another important aspect in promoting good mental health.

I have also been criticised by one of the major Kate accounts for deleting derogatory comments and blocking the people who leave them. If someone came to your front door right now and started to call you fat or make other derogatory comments, what would you do? You wouldn’t invite them into your home, you would ask them to leave and if they didn’t you’d most likely feel threatened enough that you would call the police. Online bullying is such a problem as there is no escape from it, you essentially invite every bully into your home, your own private space, so I don’t feel there is any harm with deleting or blocking the people who are leaving personal and degrading comments. If you find yourself the target, you don’t want to constantly be seeing the degrading comment or giving that person the opportunity to come back and try to make you feel bad about yourself again so we should all encourage and support each other to block the culprits and even report people for their online bullying behavior.

The bullying has at times been so bad that I have considered shutting down both my blog and Instagram accounts and more than once I have been upset enough that I have stress eaten excessive amounts of sugar, which isn’t helping the weight issue the trolls take so much pleasure in pointing out that I need to do something about but on the flip side I have meet some great women who support and encourage each and inspire me to be completely myself. I would hate to think I wouldn’t be there to encourage or support a new Replikater who was going through the same issues as I had let the trolls intimidate me into shutting down my accounts or making them private. Please remember if you do find yourself a target in the future, the bullying says a lot more about the person making the comment then it does about you.

I have found this post quite difficult to write and I hope that by sharing the experience I have encouraged those going through similar issues to speak out and stand up for themselves and to start their own #itsoktosay conversation

My Royal Wedding Memorabilia

Earlier this week I posted on Instagram a really lovely gift that I had received from a follower, a copy of the official Royal wedding program from Will and Kate’s big day. Since then I have been flooded with requests for looks inside and it appears many people have missed out on seeing the ‘my story’ snaps I added to Instagram so I will be adding pictures of each page at the bottom of this post. First though, lets take a look at my other Royal wedding memorabilia.

William and Catherine Figurines, Hamilton Collection

These wonderful fashion figurines are part of the Hamilton collection which was sold via the Bradford exchange. They have a whole range of fashion figurines featuring Kate pre wedding, in gowns post wedding and with a baby George. Unfortunately no figurine has been made with charlotte. Whilst the figurines are no longer sold directly from Bradford exchange, they are constantly popping up on Ebay so keep an eye out there if you are interested in starting your own collection of Kate figurines.

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Royal Wedding Fashion Illustration

I am a huge fan of fashion illustration in general and love the work of Brittany from Replikate It. Keep an eye on her Etsy store around special occasions such as Royal tours and you usually find new art work pop up for sale. I’m not sure what she has planned yet but she told me she is in the process of working on something special for the 20th anniversary of Diana this year.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/RepliKateIt

Royal Wedding Earrings

My lovely copy of the custom-made acorn earrings that were gifted to Kate on her wedding day by her parents were bought on my trip to London a little over a year ago from the Kensington Palace gift shop. They are the loveliest copy of these earrings I have come across and can be bought directly from the Historic Royal Palaces shops at Kensington Palace or the Tower of London or purchased online here; http://www.historicroyalpalaces.com/acorn-drop-earrings.html

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Illuminum White Gardenia Petals Perfume

The perfume that Kate wore on her wedding day has proved to be the single most difficult Replikate for me to get my hands on as it is not in stock or shipped to Australia. I was able to purchase a small bottle on Christmas eve from Fortnum and Mason department store and was extremely lucky as it was the last bottle they had in stock. I had hoped to purchase 1-2 of the large bottles. I’m not really sure what I will do when it runs out, maybe plan another holiday to London?!?!?!

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Jo Malone Products

Probably the easiest way to add a touch of the Royal wedding into your own home and daily life appears to be through the use of the Jo Malone products that Kate used in Westminster abbey as they are reliably in stock and available world-wide. In an effort to have Westminster abbey resemble a British garden wedding Kate transformed the chapel through the bringing in of trees and flowers and the use of Jo Malone Orange blossom scented candles and hand washes of grapefruit and lime, basil and mandarin.

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Official Royal Wedding Program

My newest Royal wedding memorabilia has been recently gifted to me by a lovely follower on Instagram. A local London lady who loves near Buckingham Palace, she wondered down on the day of the wedding and was able to score a couple of the programs. I feel incredibly privileged that she offered to send me this as I truly would not have been able to get my hands on one otherwise and truly cherish it.

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I would love to do a follow-up post in April over the Royal wedding anniversary  so if you have any memorabilia you would like to share or were lucky enough to be there on the day please get in touch via the contact form or send me a message over on instagram.

Kylie

Inside My Wardrobe- My Royal Tour Of Paris

 

Never have I been more excited about any Royal tour then the upcoming mini tour the Duke and Duchess are planning in March to Paris. In the lead up to this exciting event I am sharing some pictures, memories and of course replikates from my own Royal tour of Paris (or vacation as non Duchesses in training call it!)

In December 2015 I was lucky to be spending a wonderful two weeks visiting London and Paris over Christmas and new year. After arriving in Paris on the Eurostar and checking into our hotel that was marvelously positioned just near the Arc De Triomphe and the Champs Elysees we headed to a local Parisian bistro to sample the local cuisine and much to the amusement of the French locals we ordered escargot. It actually wasn’t to bad, tasting mainly of garlic and butter and I can be seen enjoying it below in one of my favorite Kate accessories, a Temperley lotus leopard print scarf that Kate was seen wearing at the Brisbane airport at the conclusion of the Asia and Pacific tour.

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Our first full day in Paris was spent exploring the city and visiting many well-known sites including the Arc De Triomphe, strolling down the Champs Elysse and stopping at Laduree for the most amazing macarons, the Eiffel Tower and the most amazing shopping mall I have ever been to, Galeries Lafayette. I can be seen enjoying the sights below in my Tory Burch Bettina coat that Kate wore during the mini tour of New York.

Completely accidentally I stumbled across a coat seen on Kate whilst shopping at Galeries Lafayette, which I had to buy as it had long been a favorite of mine and it is my favorite souvenir of the trip. Can you guess whats in the shopping bag here at this picture taken at the Moulin Rogue?

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That night I wore my Seraphine Vanessa dress to see the show at the Lido which was perfect for the middle of winter weather.

The next evening we had a booking for restaurant 58 and returned to the Eiffel tower for the most wonderful experience. When we visited the Eiffel tower on our first day we were informed the wait time to go up was 5 hours plus and nobody wants to waste a precious day of a vacation in Paris  waiting in line, with a restaurant booking though the wait was only half an hour so I would highly recommend making a booking. The food, atmosphere and views of Paris were amazing and it is really a must do experience!

The next day I wore my brand new replikate purchase from Galeries Lafayette, Kate’s Seraphine Marina coat she wore upon arrival in New York and visited the former home of that first Royal IT girl, Marie Antoinette at the Palace of Versailles.

The next day was New Years eve and we had a wonderfully full day visiting the Louvre, strolling over the many beautiful bridges of Paris and placing our own love lock on one and wandering through the Christmas markets.On this day I wore the Reiss Rubik coat that Kate had been seen wearing a few times earlier that month that I had picked up from the Reiss Covent Garden store the previous week in London.

Whilst Will and Kate won’t be in Paris to see the many tourist spots I am hoping for just one picture of Kate with the Eiffel tower in the background and am looking forward to seeing if she wears any new French designers or how she will use fashion to pay homage to the visited country as she has done during previous tours. Where in Paris would you like to see Kate visit?