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.
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.

Kylie XOXO


My Favourite Royal Moments of 2016

2016 was a great year for Royal watchers, with multiple tours from our favourite Royals and a multitude of festivities planned in honour of the Queens 90th birthday, there was no shortage of the Royals being out and about. In today’s post I’m taking a look back at my top 5 Royal moments of 2016.


5. The Cambridge’s at Christmas

With the announcement that the Cambridge’s would be attending a private christmas with the Middleton’s and not be releasing a christmas portrait there were many of us who thought we would not see the family at all, however those who stayed online with hopes of a morning church appearance were heavily rewarded when the cambridges not only attended church with the littlest members of the family in tow but when Kate wore a $20 faux fur mini slot through collar from online retailer ASOS which was still available. A big shout out to Gemma from Food, Fash & Fit,  who so quickly made the ID and the christmas of everyone who was able to purchase it!


The christmas appearance was also significant as it was the first time Prince George and Princess charlotte had attended the christmas day service with their parents which was not expected until the children were a few years older.



4. Kate appears on the cover of Vogue

There aren’t many things that stay a secret in todays technological age without at least a few whispers or rumours leaking first but Kate’s collaboration with Vogue and the British National Portrait Gallery was a complete surprise when Vogue released the first images.

The collaboration came about as the gallery was holding an exhibit of portraits commissioned by Vogue in their 100th anniversary year. After many years of attempts to have Kate pose for the cover of Vogue she finally agreed, in support of the gallery of which she is a patron and to support the art of photography and portraiture which she has a long-term interest in. The photos were a wonderful collection of images which showcased her private country life and not the ball gown and glamour images many of us would have expected of a Royal featuring in Vogue.  What was most inspiring was to see how Kate’s confidence since becoming a Royal has grown to not only enable her to take on a projet such as this but to drive it so it remains true and authentic to herself and her personal style and life.



3. The Queen turns 90

Last year provided many specials moments in celebration of the Queens 90th birthday, from the release of special portraits with the Queen and her heirs, the 90th birthday spectacular held at Windsor castle, a documentary where we found out what Kate gave the Queen for christmas her first year as a Royal and the fabulous street party held at Buckingham Palace.


2. Kate hikes up a mountain and still looks perfect

Proving she was a great choice to star in this years London marathon ad as she is definitely fit enough to run one, Kate was left with not a hair out of place and barley broke a sweat during a 3 hour hike to a remote monastery during the Royal tour of Bhutan whilst Will appeared out of breath.



1. The Cambridge’s take a family vacation to the snow

My favourite Royal moment of 2016 was right at the start of year when they surprisingly released images taken on a private family vacation to the French Alps which was the first time the children had seen snow. Showing how much the children had grown and what a cheeky, playful and affectionate relation ship Will and Kate have, I think these photos are my favourite ever of the two as a couple.


Well that wraps up my favourite Royal moments of 2016. With Kate’s first appearance of the year scheduled for Tuesday  and with her taking on extra patronages as the Queen scales back i’m definitely looking forward to seeing whats in store for 2017!


My Favorite Royal Tour Outfits

Whilst we patiently wait for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to commence their second tour of Canada on Saturday (or Sunday morning if you happen to be in my time zone) I am taking a look back on my favorite outfits and moments from the previous Royal tours.

I cannot think of an event that I have looked forward to with more excitement than Will and Kate’s first tour of Canada and Los Angeles, including the Royal wedding. As magical and special as the wedding had been this would be not one, but ten full days of constant outfit changes, fabulous hairstyles and an endless supply of photos. At the time of the wedding I would say I had a renewed interest in the British Royal family that I had not had since the death of Princess Diana however it was not the full-blown Kate specific obsession which had developed within the two month period from the wedding to the tour.

Kate dazzles at the BAFTA Brits to watch ball

As exciting as the tour was for Royal watchers can you imagine how nervous (or possibly terrified?) Kate must have been? To be under constant international scrutiny for ten days, meeting everyone from heads of state to US movie stars, thousands in the crowd all calling out for her alone. I remember watching an interview a few weeks after the tour where Weeds actress Mary Louise Parker had talked about her experience of attending the BAFTA Brits to watch ball that Will and Kate had attended during the tour in LA. The event had been attended by many celebrities including Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Garner and Blake Lively. Mary Louise Parker had stated that she, along with everyone else in attendance were incredibly excited to be meeting the Royals especially Kate and were waiting very patiently for the Royals to work their way through all the guests in attendance for their turn to greet the couple, that is until just before it was Mary Louise’s turn, when Jennifer Lopez barged her way through the crowd, knocking Mary Louise out-of-the-way and stealing her turn! It’s impossible to imagine this room full of celebrities, used to being the centre of attention and stealing the spotlight everywhere they go to be so enamored with the newest Royal of only two months.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Attend BAFTA Brits To Watch Event
LOS ANGELES, CA – JULY 9: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (R) and Jennifer Lopez attend the BAFTA “Brits to Watch” event held at the Belasco Theatre on July 9, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Baron-Pool/Getty Images)

The Tour to Canada was the first time we would really see how much effort the Duchess put into planning her wardrobe and the special touches she adds to her outfits to pay homage to her host country, from the inclusion of Canadian born designer Erdem, to the diamond maple leaf brooch and the red Lock and co maple leaf hat, this thoughtfulness has become a true part of her charm.

My favorite outfit on this tour though would be the Whistles navy and cream crochet top and skirt  that Kate wore on the final day in LA. Simple pieces put perfectly together with complementary jewellery,  Kate simply shone. It’s easy to see why blue is one of her most go to colors.


Approx fourteen months later we were to be treated to another tour, this time in Asia and the South Pacific as part of Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee celebrations. The Duchess was making headlines at the time for more than just the tour, it was at this time french magazine Closer published the now infamous topless photos taken of Kate whilst she was vacationing in France. She was about to wear an outfit on the tour though which would also make front page controversial news! Whilst attending a dinner in the Solomon Islands to celebrate the nations culture, Kate ditched her planned outfit in favour of a beautiful tiered pink bandeau dress that had been left in her hotel room which she believed had been a gift from the local government and was made by a local designer.It turns out however that the dress was by a designer from the Cook islands and had been placed in the room as a private gift by  Kethie Saunders, a local resident who had been chosen to be a part of the Royal couples welcoming committee, who had been let into the Cambridge’s hotel room to leave official gifts of flowers, chocolates and soaps but in a official statement from the Solomons islands government, had ‘smuggled’ in the dress for Kate and a shirt for William. Kate of course looked stunning and despite the gaffe this dress is my favourite outfit she wore on this tour.


Fast forward to April 2014 and we were treated to a  wonderful collection of 24 outfits during the Royal tour to New Zealand and Australia. This tour was highly anticipated world wide as it was the first time the couple would tour as a family with Prince George, who had rarely been seen at that point in Britain but would be undertaking the first of his official Royal engagements and proved to be a delight with each sighting! With so many wonderful outfits it is difficult to choose a favorite however for so many reasons my favorite from this tour would be the white Zimmermann broderie dress Kate wore on good friday when she visited the Royal Easter show and Manly beach.


Next was the mini tour of New York and this time Kate was pregnant with Charlotte and we were all keen to see how she would hold up after being so ill at the start of her pregnancies and how the pregnancy would affect her fashion choices. Kate did not disappoint on this tour when it came to glamour, the first outfit she wore whilst arriving at their New York hotel was the most glamorous, sparkly purple boucle coat from Seraphine maternity paired with an equally glamorous pair of Cornelia James wool gloves with bows at the wrist. I instantly fell in love with this coat and I am sure it was bought all over the world by both pregnant and non pregnant women alike.


The last tour that we were treated to was  earlier this year in India. Kate’s wardrobe choices were more boho then we have previously seen featuring maxi style dresses by local and British designers that featured the bright designs associated with Indian sari’s. My jaw literally dropped to the floor when Kate wore the Temperley jade green dress at her meeting with the Indian Prime Minister in Delhi.

3317515800000578-3535429-image-m-8_1460450858505.jpgThe dress was the most exquisite shade of green and had the most intricate lace and details. Kate had the dress altered from the original Temperley design by inserting modesty panels over the chest area, making the dress an appropriate, fresh and lovely outfit for the occasion. It was lovely to see her using an old favourite LK Bennett clutch, with recycling clothing and accessories being another part of the Duchess’s signature style and charm.

Now that brings us up to the present day with less than 24 hours to go til the Royals arrive in Canada for the first time on tour as a family of four. Whilst we wait to see what new outfits we will add to our list of favourites, what is your favorite outfit Kate has worn on her previous tours?






The Amazing Day I Saw Kate!

Whether you have a Kate Middleton specific obsession or are an avid long-term Royal watcher, you had better be getting some early nights and eating your greens as in a little over a week we will be n the midst of the most anticipated event for any royal watcher, the olympics for all Royal fans, the Royal tour. If you are lucky enough to be in Canada this means long hours standing in all elements of weather to catch a glimpse of our favourite Royals or if you are outside of Canada it means very late nights or possibly setting your alarm for the middle of the night so you can cath a glimpse of our favourite Duchess’s newest outfit whilst hoping it is both affordable and still available! This also seemed liked the perfect time to share my own Royal watching experience of seeing Kate and Will during the Australian Royal tour in 2014.


My good friend Rachael and I headed to Manly beach at 5:30 am despite the Royals not being due til 4pm as they had other engagements earlier in the day of visiting the Royal Eater show and Bear cottage. It appeared we were the first people there so promptly headed to a local cafe for some breakfast (this would be the only thing we would consume all day, the unglamorous side of Royal watching is that if you do bag that front row spot you will lose it immediately if you need to go to the bathroom so we actually went the next 8 hours standing in the sun and not drinking, even water, about 10 minutes before the Royals arrived a woman actually fainted and was tsken away by Ambulance). After fuelling up for the day ahead we headed down to the beach where we ran into another two Royal watchers who had made the welcome Cambridge’s sign pictured and Talitha Cummins, a Australian news presenter who was doing the Channel 7 weather feeds live from the beach. We were promptly recruited to be the ‘royal fan crowd’ in the background of her segment which was a really fun start to the day. 

Around 10am the security and police teams arrived to set up the barriers and secure the area prior to the Royals arriving. Being the first two to arrive we were able to seure a front row spot in the best location, we had the only spot where you could see the Royals arrive and also whilst they were down on the beach. The whole day had a really fun and carnival like atmosphere, we met lots of lovely Royal watchers and local media celebrities and the long wait was more than worth it.


My first glimpse of Kate was very exiting and quite emotional, i actually cried a little. Both William and Kate got out of the cars and walked straight past us to the beach. The above photos are not zoomed in at all, she was that lose. I was so excited at seeing Kate, i completley missed Will, i had to ask Rachael if she had seen him and she said ‘he has been standing next to Kate for the last 10 minutes’. They mingled on the beah for around 40 minutes and many will remember the outing is famous for Kate running on the sand in heels! After the Royals left we were approached by Kate’s PA Rebecca Deacon we took the gift we had for Prince George, it was quite exiting to meet Rebecca! As we had placed our names and addresses on the gift about 2 months after the tour we both recieved the loveliest thank you notes from the palace.

If you are lucky enough to be in Canada and planning to see the Royals here is my best advice;

  • Be as early as possible, if you don’t get the front row your view will constantly be obstructed by other people’s cameras, ipads et
  • Try and find a friend to go with who loves the Royals as much as you do, the enjoyment of my experience would have been muh less I’m sure if I had not been with a good friend who was just as excited as i was
  • Take a gift, the Royals are much more likely to approach members in the crowd with gifts
  • Dont forget to write your name and address on the card to recieve a lovely post tour souvenir in the form of a thank you note
  • It will be a long wait so be prepared, have snacks, water, headache tablets, sunscreen, rain protection