Thursday, 31 December 2015

The Royal 2015: the year in black and white

The old year is almost done, a new one is about to begin. 2015 leaves behind many royal memories - here, in black and white, are some of the standout moments of the past twelve months.

The marriage of Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia of Sweden
June 13th 2015, Stockholm

The christening of Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella of Monaco
May 10th 2015, Monaco

Queen Margrethe of Denmark celebrates her 75th birthday with a gala dinner
April 15th 2015, Copenhagen

The christening of Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge
July 2015, Sandringham, Norfolk

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima meet President Obama at the White House
June 1st 2015, Washington DC, USA

Prince Nicolas Paul Gustaf of Sweden
Born June 15th 2015, Stockholm

First boat launch for Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway
May 4th 2015, Honor Bryggen, Norway

Prince Harry tours New Zealand
May 2015

King Philippe and Queen Mathilde lead commemorations for the 200th anniversary of Waterloo
June 15th 2015, Waterloo, Belgium

King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain's first State Visit
Paris, June 2015

The Queen becomes Britain's longest reigning monarch
September 9th 2015, London

Prince Henrik to retire

The Prince Consort of Denmark, Henrik, is to radically reduce his royal engagements. The decision, taken by the prince, was announced by Queen Margrethe in her New Year's speech.

Henrik, Prince Consort of Denmark is to retire with immediate effect

Henrik is now 81 and earlier this year he had to miss his wife's 75th birthday celebrations because of illness. The queen said in her speech that her husband had decided to 'slow down' and used the word 'retire'.  The change will take effect almost immediately although it isn't yet known if that means the prince will miss the annual New Year's celebrations set for tomorrow.

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark during her 2015 New Year's speech during which she announced that her husband is going to 'retire'

Henri Marie Jean Andre de Laborde de Monpezat was born on June 11th 1934 in Talence in the Gironde in France.  His parents, Count Andre de Laborde de Monpezat and Renee de Laborde de Monpezat, took him to the country now known as Vietnam as a baby where his father ran a business. The man who would become consort of Denmark spent his early years in the Far East before moving to Paris when he was 18 to study at the Sorbonne.  Henri de Laborde de Monpezat served in the French Army before beginning a career at the French Foreign Ministry.  It was while he was doing this job that he met and fell in love with a Danish woman called Margrethe - who was heiress to her country's throne.  The couple married in Copenhagen in 1967 and Henrik's life changed completely, overnight.

Henri de Laborde de Monpezat with his bride, the then Princess Margrethe of Denmark, in 1967

Everything that the new prince had known until then underwent an alteration.  His French name, Henri, changed to Henrik and the religion he had known all his life was altered too - he had been raised a Catholic but now became a member of the Church of Denmark.  He left his job and changed his nationality as well. He learned to speak the language of his new country and to walk a step behind his wife, who became Queen of Denmark less than five years after their marriage and when the couple had two young sons, Frederik (who was born 1968) and Joachim (born in 1969).   

Henrik of Denmark with his wife and some of their grandchildren in 2014

The prince carved out a role as consort, with a string of causes to which he is devoted - among them wildlife.  He is also known for his love of culture and has written a memoir as well as several volumes of poetry and musical scores.  He is also known for his strong personality - in 2002, he fled to France after claiming he had been snubbed and demoted to 'number three'.  When the queen fell ill and couldn't host the traditional New Year receptions that start the royal year in Denmark, Henrik and his sons took charge.  But when the guests were called forward to meet their royal hosts, it was the Crown Prince who was given precedence.  Henrik was said to be unhappy but that changed to rage when it was reported widely afterwards that it had been Frederik who had hosted the whole event. Henrik's spent several days in France with Margrethe and Frederik there to try and appease him.  He eventually returned to Denmark.  And his unhappiness was partly calmed by the decision to cal his sons and grandchildren 'Count of Monpezat' as one of their titles.

Queen Margrethe II and Henrik, Prince Consort of Denmark

Now, a new role awaits as he retreats into a more background life. His wife has said how grateful she is for his support through her long reign. It may not be on display so much now but there is little doubt that Margrethe will still be counting on her husband as her reign continues.

The Royal 2015: 5 fab fashion moments, August 2015

August is traditionally a quiet month on the royal front with summer holidays taking over. But there are still some fabulous fashion moments to enjoy as the royal wardrobe hits the height of the season. Here are 5 looks worth remembering from August 2015.

Princess Marie chose a pretty black and white dress when she opened Copenhagen Cooking on August 21st 2015

There was another super summer look in black and white as Crown Princess Victoria joined her parents and husband to mark 90 years of Swedish Radio

The casual white blouse and green trousers chosen by Queen Letizia for the traditional summer photo call at the Marivent Palace in Mallorca was sleek and on trend

For a service to mark the 70th anniversary of VJ Day, the Countess of Wessex chose a black and white suit with hat that was pure elegance

It doesn't come much more summery than this sherbert mix sundress and hat chosen by Queen Maxima for an engagement at a home for young people with autism on August 26th 2015

The Royal 2015: 5 fab fashion moments, July 2015

Royal dressing in the height of summer can be a tricky one. The balance between staying cool and staying regal can be hard. But this July produced some vintage royal looks, beginning with another regal wedding dress.

And the bride wore Valentino - for her civil marriage to Pierre Casiraghi in Monaco on July 25th, Beatrice Borromeo chose a pale pink and gold dress by Valentino. Another beautiful royal bride for 2015.

The prize for looking totally cool in warm weather went to Queen Letizia of Spain who wowed in white on a visit to Expo 2015 in Milan on July 23rd.

For the christening of her second child, the Duchess of Cambridge chose a cream creation by McQueen which stunned at Sandringham on July 5th

To celebrate her country's national day, and the second anniversary of her husband's accession to the throne, Queen Mathilde of the Belgians picked a floaty frock in palest dove grey and conquered Brusselson July 21st


Princess Charlene of Monaco chose a fabulous red trouser suit for the Red Cross Ball in Monaco on July 25th, almost stealing the whole fashion month in less than a second.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

The Royal 2015: 5 fab fashion moments, June

June brought the big royal wedding of the year and as Europe's reigning houses got out their best frocks and diamonds, it seems churlish not to make this fashion flashback all about the dresses worn to the marriage of 2015. Glitzy, glamourous and glittering, it was a sparkling occasion all round and led, of course, by a beautiful bride.

The wedding dress worn by Sofia Hellqvist was fit for a princess. The white gown with lace overlay, designed by Ida Sjostedt, featured a cascading train and lace trimmed veil kept in place with a brand new diamond and emerald tiara. 

Add in mounds of peachy pastel flowers and a groom who couldn't have been more besotted if he'd tried and you have the perfect royal wedding look.

Sofia's wedding guests didn't disappoint on the fashion front either. The prize for total princess dress went to Mary of Denmark who chose palest purple and looked about as pretty as could be. Princess Perfection.

Queen Maxima brought out the rubies but they played second fiddle to a dream of a red lace dress which was beyond beautiful. 

Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden led the fashion pack at the pre-wedding dinner in a sparkling grey dress that put the glam in glamour.

It's that bride again. For her pre-wedding gala, Sofia of Sweden chose a baby blue dress that left everyone else in the shade. This is one royal bride who really knows how to dress for the occasion.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

The Royal 2015: 5 fab fashion moments, May 2015

There was only one dress that really mattered in May 2015. When Kate of Cambridge stepped out of the Lindo Wing looking stunning just hours after giving birth to her second child, the yellow print dress by Jenny Packham that she had chosen for this seemingly impossible feat of public appearances became just about as famous as a frock can be. There were some other great looks but they have to take a back set in the round up of five fab fashion moments from May.

When she left hospital with George in July 2013, Kate chose a blue dress for her baby boy. She had said before the birth of Charlotte that she didn't know her baby's gender and that seemed to be the case as Kate carried her little girl home in a yellow dress with not a touch of pink anywhere to be seen. What we did see was a woman looking totally fabulous having delivered a baby less than ten hours earlier. Mother and daughter were healthy and this mummy really did look yummy.

Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden usually excels at relaxed daywear for her engagements but in May 2015 she was cracking out the hats left, right and centre for a series of official events. Her pale lilac creation with feather topper stole the show as the banns were read for the wedding of her brother, Prince Carl Philip, and Sofia Hellqvist.


The kiss her husband gave her as they arrived at the event in Germany was cute but the dress that Crown Princess Mary chose to wear for it was super chic. Pale oatmeal or cream? Does it matter? Fluid, sleek and elegant, this is a royal daytime winner any month of the year.


This outfit became a firm favourite of Queen Letizia - and everyone else - throughout 2015 but its first appearance was in May and although it was just a fleeting glimpse it was more than enough to put it on the 'want it, want to see it again, right now' list. 

The Countess of Wessex chose green as a nod to her hosts in the Channel Islands when she visited in May to mark the 70th anniversary of their liberation. The only reason she chose this Fifties style dress must be because she knew it looked as fabulous as this. A stunning look and the start of a seriously stunning summer for Sophie.

Monday, 28 December 2015

The Royal 2015: 5 fab fashion moments, April 2015

The Easter break didn't put the royal women of Europe off their game when it came to style. April proved a vintage month for dresses, coats and hats not to mention hair. Here are 5 of the best looks.

It was her birthday and she'll look fab is she wants to. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark showed the world how to turn 75 in style when she stunned in a red dress and her very best diamonds at the gala dinner for her big day.

One of the royal looks of 2015 was Queen Letizia's new bob which made its debut at a Madrid awards ceremony in April. The dress it was first worn is pretty stunning too even if it does emphasise the queen's slim physique. Put the hair and the sparkles together and you get a winner.


It's been many years since the Netherlands had a King's Day but the reign of Willem-Alexander has brought that change. It doesn't really matter because this year it was still a queen's day as Maxima reigned supreme in a lipstick pink dress and killer hat. Sensational.

It was the spring of the white coat and among the best was the one chosen by Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway for the ongoing birthday celebrations in Copenhagen for Queen Margrethe II. Somehow, as only she could, the skull earrings and red headband only added to the look which is one of Mette-Marit's best ever.

Another white coat that caught plenty of eyes was the one chosen by Princess Marie of Denmark as she accompanied the birthday queen to Aarhus. With its sixties vibe, black trim and fab hat, this is one outfit well worth a repeat. Or two. Or three.

The Royal 2015: 5 fab fashion moments, March 2015

March was an embarrassment of riches when it came to royal style. It was State Visit season which meant diamonds aplenty while the weather started to warm up which meant coats off and a bit more variety in the royal wardrobe. It was hard to pick five standout looks but here goes with five times the royals stunned us with their style in March.

When you bring your best blue evening gown and spectacular sapphires to the game, no one else stands a chance. Queen Maxima is truly regal in royal blue at the Gala Banquet held in honour of the Dutch State Visit to Denmark in March. Who cares that she got off the plane in what looked like a bamquet when the evening style is this good?

March for Mathilde was all about the crutches after an accident left her needing support for much of the month. But what March should really be all about for Mathilde is this super pretty dress worn for a visit to RTBF in Brussels. On Kate, this would have started a stampede to the nearest retailer. It's royal fashion gold.

Queen Rania of Jordan wore this stylish colour clock shirt and leather skirt for a conference on social media. The photos posted to Instagram show just what a winning look it is.

Princess Caroline has wowed at the Rose Ball for many years and in March 2015 it was business as usual as she showed off a stunning art deco style dress which wiped the floor with just about everyone else there.

Crown Princess Victoria had a good fashion month and her sheer but sensible navy blue dress worn on a hospital visit in South Korea was an elegant addition to the royal wardrobe.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

The Royal 2015: 5 fab fashion moments, February

February traditionally sees the royal year really get going with an increase in engagements and public appearances. Oh, and a little bit of ski-ing as well. There were plenty of fashion statements in February this year and here are five of my favourites.

Queen Letizia scored a total hit with her geometric three colour dress on a visit to ARCO 2015. The best bit of this outfit for me is the shoes which match the minor colour on the dress to perfection. And, let's face it, Letizia has her fair share of shoes issues so to see her score a hit on this one is a bit of a win.

The Duchess of Cambridge looked downright stunning in a white coat with matching skinny belt and black accessories on a visit to Portsmouth in February. Quite possible the queen of Kate's looks for the year. Perfection.

Crown Princess Mary finished off February in a leather jacket with textured skirt and looked about as good as a royal looks. 

What does a princess wear to the Oscars? Marie-Chantal of Greece went for white satin for the Vanity Fair party following the Academy Awards and walked off with the prize for best dressed.

For an engagement to help mark Chinese New Year, the Duchess of Cornwall showed off one of her most modern looks in years. The white suit with black trim and very Kate black boots worked a treat. Rather lovely.
And you can catch up with five fab royal fashion looks from January 2015 here. March and April will follow on December 28th...

Tweed for Kate at Sandringham Sunday service

There is a clear vibe for the Duchess of Cambridge this Christmas. After a muted sage green coat (albeit topped off with a Christmas cracker of a hat) on the big day itself, Kate has toned it down even more with a tweed two piece for Sunday service at Sandringham.

Kate joined the Royal Family at St Mary Magdalene Church, Sandringham this morning

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge joined other members of the Royal Family for the Sunday service, walking to St Mary Magdalene as they had done on Christmas Day. Only the Queen took the car.


 There was no Duchess of Cornwall either and no word on why she didn't attend although with a growing brood of grandchildren she may have had granny duty. Kate walked alongside Prince Charles but it was her father-in-law whose coat stood out in the crowd. Kate went for a dark brown tweed effect print that was so muted as it be almost silent. The brightest thing about the whole outfit was the black hat and that jarred with the coat. A bit of a Christmas letdown from the duchess.


Which left the way clear for the Countess of Wessex to end 2015 as she began it - owning the royal wardrobe. Sophie chose a white coat with a real eye opener of a red hat and showed just what a style icon she has become by making an outfit which really shouldn't have worked a total winner.


Red was clearly the colour because Zara Phillips scored the other big fashion success of the day with a scarlet topper to go with her black and white check coat. Bright and beautiful and perfect for a grey Norfolk day.


Zara's mum had less success with red. The Princess Royal chose a jolly coat and hat and for some reason added a navy pleated skirt. Perhaps Mia spilled her brekkie on what Anne wanted to wear.


Meanwhile, Beatrice was in blue again - today's coat was closer to the royal shade of that colour than her Christmas Day selection and all the better for it.


A very toned down appearance from the royals - a real post Christmas feeling.

The Royal 2015: 5 fab fashion moments, January

The end of the year is always a time to look back and remember what has been and as far as 2015 is concerned, there's been some great royal fashion to recall. There's also been a few duds along the way but let's start with the good stuff. Here are my top 5 outfits for each month, starting with January. It's totally my opinions, just the looks that caught my eye, made me look twice, the ones I wanted to wear myself. If I could. Which I can't. So instead, let's take a look.

When you're a Crown Princess heading off to your country's main fashion week you need something casual but classy, sleek and chic, on trend but not so out there everyone laughs at you. Step forward Mary of Denmark who rocked Copenhagen fashion week in a dress that anyone would want to wear.

When Queen Letizia of Spain had to attend an audience at the Zarzuela Palace before heading off to an evening event she decided to show the night time look off a few hours early and were we glad she did. The tux styling was stunning and suited her to perfection. Letizia often attracts criticism for styles deemed slightly too fashion forward and not quite royal enough for her role. This one raised eyebrows too and questions like should queens wear tuxes or look this sexy? Who cares, it's fabulous.
Most women in the month after they gave birth stick to jammies, leggings and big baggy tops but then most new mums don't have to present an heir and a spare to their nation with the world's media coming along for the ride as well. Less than four weeks after delivering twins Jacques and Gabriella, Princess Charlene stepped out into the cold sunshine of Monaco to present her son and daughter to the world. And did she look good doing it. A cream dress and coat with knee length boots are a hard enough style to pull off at the best of times. A month after a C-section it's a massive order but Charlene did it and then some. Pure class. 
The Countess of Wessex also chose white for a big event in January when she wore this super stylish coat to engagements held on her 50th birthday. Yes, that's right, Sophie is 50. Yep, 50. We can't give all the credit to the coat although it is fabulous. This countess looks amazing. And it was the start of a fashion year to beat all others for Sophie who ended up as the highest placed royal on the Vanity Fair best dressed list too. Expect to see more of Sophie in the 2015 countdown.

As if Kate wouldn't feature. It wasn't a vintage fashion month for the Duchess of Cambridge but she was six months pregnant and looking after an eighteen month old to boot so the fact she was a) dressed and b) not covered in yoghurt deserves a top five all of its own. For a trip to a primary school to hear about art projects in January, the duchess showed off a black shift with print effect pocket flaps and hem and looked really rather good. Add in a pair of high heels and you have a look anyone would be proud of, six months gone or not. January down, roll on February's five fab fashion moments...

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Christmas at Sandringham: festive red and green

It's the most festive colour combination and the women of the House of Windsor made sure it starred at their royal Christmas this year. Wellwishers at St Mary Magdalene Church at Sandringham were treated to a royal vision of red and green as they gathered to see the Queen and her family attending Christmas Day service.

The Queen arrives at St Mary Magdalene Church, Sandringham on Christmas Day
December 25th 2015, Norfolk

The Queen led the way in bright red with both hat and coat adding a festive feel to proceedings. She is known to prefer clear umbrellas so that people can catch a glimpse of her and the one selected for her trip to church on Christmas Day had a matching red trim to keep things seasonal.


 The Duchess of Cambridge provided the green, choosing a dark sage coloured coat and a deep green velvet hat on top of a very sharp and sleek updo.


But Kate has either chosen a different umbrella path from her grandmother in law or she forget to bring one with her because when the rain really started as she was enjoying a walkabout, her husband provided the shelter with his one size fits all, standard black umbrella. To be fair, it went rather well with the coat and hat.


Kate wasn't the only royal lady to add the green to the Queen's festive red. The Princess Royal chose a paler shade but her coat might just have edged Kate in the chic and simple stakes. Shame about the hat which appeared to match nothing on her or anyone else in the party.


Keeping it modern with a touch of silver was the Countess of Wessex whose pale grey ensemble almost worked. The cutting edge hem, however, looked like it just needed cutting otherwise this would have been a total win for Sophie.


Also in grey was the Duchess of Cornwall and while her smart coat with geometric print was very Camilla it wasn't really very anyone else and certainly wasn't very Christmas Day at Sandringham. Probably the least chic of the royal outfits on offer this Christmas.


Meanwhile, the York girls kept a low profile but did a good job of colour contrasting with each other as they chose different shades of blue and a regulation huge umbrella.


The royal women of Windsor gave us all the favourite Christmas colours (perhaps bar a bit of gold but there was probably some of that on Anne's hat) but the stand out shades were red and green. Very festive, Happy Christmas.

The Queen at Christmas: gathering round the tree

It was all about a Christmas tree. The Queen linked past, present and future in her traditional festive speech by doing what everyone likes to do at this special time of year - getting others to gather around the tree and celebrate the season.

The Christmas Day Broadcast of the Queen, December 25th 2015
Buckingham Palace

It was an appropriate theme in this truly historic year for Elizabeth II. For the Christmas tree was brought to Britain in the 1840s by her great, great grandmother, Queen Victoria, who this year passed into history as her descendant claimed her crown as longest reigning monarch in her country's history. And by keeping the tree at the centre of her speech, the woman who now holds the title of longest reign kept the memory of the woman she surpassed to take that record at the very heart of her Christmas message.

There were other reasons for the tree being so integral to the Queen's Christmas Speech this year. As Elizabeth II reminded her audience, it is a big part of festive family celebrations and she shared her joy at being able to see her children, grandchildren and their children decorate its branches before reminding us all, as if we could forget, that this year she had a new descendant to join in the fun.

Princess Charlotte of Cambridge wasn't mentioned by name but still featured in the Queen's Christmas speech this year

It was also a sign of remembrance as the Queen reflected on the tree given every year by the people of Oslo to the people of Britain as thanks for their support in World War Two. And the Queen also remembered the other significant anniversaries that had happened in 2015, a past that still informs the present and the future.

And it was to the future that she looked, reminding her audience that there are many in the world who bring light and hope to others and asking us all to be grateful for them. Elizabeth II made her first Christmas speech as a young woman in 1952. Sixty three years on, she is a great monarch with her very own place in the history books but her festive message was still a simple one of joy and hope. Like her reign, her Christmas message remains constant.

A Tale of Two Christmases: Aarhus and Byron Bay

It was a tale of two Christmases for Denmark's royals this year. While Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik attended church in Aarhus, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary were tens of thousands of miles away in Australia spending the festive season with her family.

Margrethe II of Denmark and Prince Henrik leaving church in Aarhus on Christmas Eve 2015

Margethe wrapped up warm for the Christmas Eve service. She and Henrik were joined by Prince Joachim, Princess Marie and their two children, Henrik and Athena. Marie rocked a red coat in keeping with the spirit of the season and the gathering gloom of a late December evening added a sense of Christmas to the whole scene.

Princess Marie of Denmark holds her daughter's hand as they leave church in Aarhus with Prince Joachim on Christmas Eve 2015

But in Australia, it was very different. In warm weather and with not a hope of a snowflake in sight, Crown Princess Mary went hot with her fashion appearing in a bright yellow shirt and white shorts as she walked around parts of Byron Bay as Christmas Day approached. 

The decision of Frederik and Mary to spend Christmas with her family was seen as a bit of a surprise in some quarters and there has been lots of media attention in the royal stay in Australia, especially when Prince Christian had to be rescued by lifeguards when he was caught by a current while swimming off the Gold Coast earlier in December. This little royal family had Christmas Day with the princess' family and will head back to Denmark in time for the traditional New Year events. Two Christmases, one family and a traditional start to 2016.