Tag Archives: the Queen

Kate Middleton’s Masks

“Virtue has a veil, vice a mask.”
-Victor Hugo

Kate Middleton is a woman with multiple pairs of nearly identical court shoes and even more virtually indistinguishable masks she wears to her official engagements, casting them off and forgetting about them until she needs to show up in public again to convince the masses she is keen on doing whatever her Communications Secretary proclaims is close to her heart.

Tom Sykes wrote a piece recently in which he discussed growing disenchantment with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.  Sykes noted, “If William and Kate do slip up, the press, who have showed Olympian levels of restraint in their coverage of the royals in recent years, will eat them alive, so heavily built up is the resentment from a series of sleights, non-co-operation and attempts to cut them out of the picture.”

At Kate’s last two engagements on Wednesday for Action for Children, a patronage passed to her by the Queen, there was a curious lack of royal correspondents discussing the events on Twitter.  I wasn’t the only one who noticed.

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Rebecca English from the Daily Mail was supposed to be there but had to cover an event at Clarence House instead because of a “childcare crisis” but overall the general Twitter hum generated by a Kate engagement was more of a ho-hum.

Kate wore a burgundy suit by Paule Ka which she first debuted in 2012.

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Not only is the skirt surprisingly short for official engagements requiring a lot of crouching down, it looks surprisingly like my Christmas tree skirt that disappeared several years ago.  Now, I’m not accusing the designer of breaking into my home and raiding my holiday decorations, but it’s good to know there are replacements out there for it.  Quite frankly, it might be best covering the base of a tree because I noticed a number of photos with this happening on Kate.

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Once dubbed a modern fairytale princess, Kate no longer draws crowds like she once did.

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Comments on the Daily Mail article about Wednesday’s engagements made observations that Kate “seems like an empty soul” and “looks so insincere”.

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Despite the usual photo props of cute children and lovely bouquets, all was not grins and roses.  BBC Wales News posted a video with the kind of kid hug footage that’s usually instant PR gold.

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Unfortunately, they missed the frames in which Kate was switching masks, like when Kate turned away from the cute cuddlers and made an annoyed face with her eyes shooting daggers.

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And of course there was the face she made when she realized she would have to turn back to the adorable tykes to say goodbye and thank you.

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I’m not sure why becoming a Disney princess ranks highly for so many, but I guess I’m cool with it as long as becoming a Disney villain ranks lower.

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If Kate can’t handle these mini bursts of engagements without being able to convincingly feign an appearance of not being resentful towards her duties, there’s little hope for the monarchy marathon.  Kate got her prince but it seems it never occurred to her that after her wedding she wouldn’t be able to disappear into the words “and they lived happily ever after”.

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Cambridge to Nowhere

Once again, Prince William and Kate Middleton begin a new year being criticized for their lackluster performance and putting in far less work than other members of the Royal Family, including the Queen and Prince Philip who are in their 90s.  Prince William only managed 188 engagements in 2016 while Kate only showed up for 140.  The Cambridge’s numbers for 2016 are impressively low considering they undertook two tours which are big numbers-boosters because all of those airport greetings and “private” touristy experiences from which the press was banned counted as official engagements.

Since joining the British Royal Family in April of 2011, Kate has only undertaken a grand total of 484 engagements to date.  In 2016 alone, Prince Charles handled 530 engagements while Princess Anne had 509 so Kate still hasn’t cumulatively pulled off in almost six years what other members of the family manage in one.

The Daily Mail ran an article detailing how Prince William and Kate only do half the work Prince Charles and Princess Diana did at a comparable stage in their married lives when they were raising young children.

Not surprisingly, the public was reminded on Friday Prince William has another job he pretends to do sometimes with a series of photos taken by the same photographer who managed to track down the future king on the job last year when the press and public were grumbling loudly about Work-shy William.

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Prince William’s contract with East Anglian Air Ambulance  ends in March, the fact that he’s still in the co-pilot seat shows he puts in as much effort there as he does with his royal role.  It’s not that big of a deal, though.  Most air ambulances just have the one pilot, the government had to purchase a special helicopter for EAAA so Prince William could play co-pilot because he was unqualified for the job.  Once William decides he wants to be a cowboy or open a fake psychic detective agency, the EAAA just has to make a minor software adjustment to switch their air ambulance freebie back to a one pilot helicopter.  Or Prince William may decide to extend his contract, after all he’s able to dictate his EAAA schedule claiming royal duty while using the job as an excuse as to why he can’t do more royal engagements.

Something seems off about these photos in the Daily Mail piece.  Maybe it’s just Prince William’s stiff posture as he tries to emulate someone who does stuff or his getting the EAAA photo op out of the way so early in January that’s throwing me off, but there are two side by side pictures where the foliage doesn’t seem consistent at the same portion of the tail boom.

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Of course it could just be the angle.  Just like the strange violet hue at the top of William’s head could be explained by lighting conditions.

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But it got me thinking.  It’s hard to juggle both holidays and PR photo ops.  I mean, those poor Cambridges have to fit in both sandy beaches and snowy slopes not long after their time off at Christmas.  Instead of going through all the trouble of having to go work and try to remember what it is he supposedly does so it can be captured by a photographer like Geoff Robinson, why don’t they just shoot Prince William in various poses against a green screen?  That way he can easily be dropped into heroic scenes while he’s working on his tan or hitting the slopes or playing video games in the Fortress of Solitude.  Then whenever there’s word of a taxpayer torch and pitchfork mob forming, the Palace Press Office can release photos of Prince William in various heart-warming scenes like rescuing a box of kittens…

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Saving the Earth from an asteroid…

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Defeating the Kraken…

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Or even diverting attention away from any of his wife’s future flashing with a Marilyn moment of his own.

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Since Kate rarely speaks and when she does, she’s difficult to understand, they can try to beef up her numbers by having her assistant carry around a life-size cardboard cutout of her to her various patronages and see if anyone even notices.

Of course, the Cambridges might just opt to send everyone in the UK a photo from their next holiday with the message “We’re just not that into you.” especially since Prince William (the future Head of the Church of England) and Kate skipped sending out a Christmas card this year. (Instead they mailed out a photo from the Canada tour thanking those who sent them warm holiday wishes.  Other royals adhered to tradition with Prince Harry’s holiday card featuring children of an Invictus Games veteran while Prince Charles’ and Camilla’s holiday card included a photo from their Croatia tour).

Prince William and Kate deciding to spend Christmas at Bucklebury for the second time, a year after they skipped the Queen’s Christmas lunch in order to host the Middletons at Anmer Hall, suggests they don’t really feel strongly bound to the Royal Family or its traditions.  While there have been no repercussions, even the Royal Family must be wondering about the future of the monarchy under William the Reluctant.

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2016 Diplomatic Reception

Tonight was the Diplomatic Reception held at Buckingham Palace and while normally royal watchers just get the backseat Bentley shots, this year a formal portrait was taken of the three generations of the British Monarchy.

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The Queen is wearing the Royal Family Orders of King George VI and King George V, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Prince William are in the Order of the Garter, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall is wearing the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II and Kate looks like a little kid who wandered into the shot, still with no royal order and her crotch clutching preserved for posterity.  Poor Kate, always in some state of disorder.

The Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II is an honor bestowed on female members of the British Royal Family at the Queen’s discretion.

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Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II

Being born royal or marrying into the family doesn’t guarantee the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II, it is an honor that is earned.  Princess Diana and Katharine, Duchess of Kent received theirs during their first year of marriage.  Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester received theirs during their second year of marriage.  Sophie, Countess of Wessex received hers in her fifth year of marriage.  And after 5 1/2 years of marriage, giving birth to an heir and a spare, Kate, a future Queen Consort, is still playing the Waitying Game.  I guess Kate’s Christmas chutney wasn’t impressive enough to nab that Royal Family Order from the Queen, but maybe McQueen can bedazzle her an Order of Bad Bespoke so she can have something shiny to wear at the Anmer Hall Fortress of Solitude while filling in all that duty-ducking time with her Secret Garden coloring book.

Of course, Kate has had very few occasions to even wear a royal order.  This is only Kate’s fifth time in a tiara.  She wore the Cartier Halo tiara on her wedding day, the Papyrus Lotus Flower tiara at the 2013  Diplomatic Reception and 2015 State Banquet honoring Chinese President Xi Jinping, and the Cambridge Lover’s Knot tiara to the 2015 Diplomatic Reception which was repeated again tonight.

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The Jenny Packham gown Kate wore tonight was also a repeat from the State Banquet honoring Chinese President Xi Jinping last year.

So while the Palace gave the public an unprecedented Diplomatic Reception portrait, once again we get nothing from Kate that we haven’t seen before.

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Back to the Future Heir & Hair

Lately I’ve  been a little  quiet on the topic of Prince William and Kate, there are only so many ways you can describe beige paint drying.  The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge seem far less into the whole being royal thing than the ninety-year-old  monarch who endlessly shows up in my Twitter feed at various engagements.   But here’s a  little catch-up.

Queen Elizabeth II has said, “I have to be seen to be believed.”  According to an April 20th Telegraph article, the only color “she avoids is beige, which does not allow her to stand out in a crowd”.   In contrast, Kate appears to go to great lengths not to even stand out on her own beige couch.  Except of course when it counts.

On Saturday June 11 at Trooping the Colour, Kate managed to make her way  to the front of all the royals waiting to join the Queen and Prince Philip on the balcony.

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When  Kate stepped out on the balcony, she wound up causing a pile-up as she vied for a  prime spot.  Prince Charles had to take Camilla by the hand and gently ease her to the side.

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Because what’s the point of going to Trooping the Colour if you can’t be seen  on the balcony?

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Kate’s efforts not to be obscured because of royal protocol paid off for her.

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For the Trooping  the Colour celebrating her 90th birthday, Her Majesty wore  a nuclear  green coat and dress by Stewart Parvin and matching Rachel Trevor Morgan hat.

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It was the hue equivalent of the toon-killing Dip in Who Framed Roger Rabbit and the vat of chemicals  that turned Red Hood/Jack Napier into Batman’s nemesis The Joker.

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That’s kinda badass.  And the Queen did go a little Her Royal Honey Badger on William on the Trooping the Colour balcony, reminding William that taxpayers do expect to see members of the Royal Family.

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At the Order of the Garter on June 13th, royal-watcher Jennifer @Chic_Happens_ noted that after five years, Kate was finally taking standard royal precautions  against  the elements.

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Given how long it’s taken, did perhaps the Queen have a stern word  with the Serial Flasher?

Her Majesty is known to take a laissez-faire approach to running her family.  With the revelation this week that scandal-prone Andrew took a £5,000  helicopter ride to play a round of golf with the World Bank president (added to the Court  Circular the day after the press inquired about it), the Queen really needs to go full-on honey badger with certain members of her family.

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One of the Queen’s black patent leather loafers should be aimed at the heir to the heir. At a June 22nd EACH charity gala, Prince William could barely hide his boredom.

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EACH-2While Kate still can’t hold a wine glass properly, at least she didn’t look like she deeply resented children with life-threatening illnesses for making gala attendance necessary.

The event was part of the efforts to raise £10million for a new hospice in Norfolk launched in November 2014.  To date, only a quarter of the goal has been reached.  In contrast, a May 27th CNN article indicated Ben Ainslie had already reached £50 million of the £80 million target for his bid to win the America’s Cup.

Both William and Kate looked like a lifetime has passed since Kate  last wore the blush pink Jenny Packham gown she had on at the EACH gala back in 2011.

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How hard  is it being royal?  It’s not like the Cambridges do a whole lot of royaling  anyway.   At the Battle of Somme tribute, they looked like a couple that sits on porch rockers with blankets tucked  around them as they forecast the weather by the aches  in their joints.

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They are 34  years  old, the same age as Anne Hathaway and Eddie Redmayne, William’s Eton classmate.

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In this screen grab side-by-side, the picture of Anne was taken one month  after she gave birth.

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Kate is a fashion pendulum swinging in between sexy and elderly.  At the Battle of Somme tribute, Kate sported a hair net which have only been worn by cafeteria workers and fast food employees in the last 80 years.

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On Wednesday Kate glammed it up at the National History Museum, presenting the Art Fund of the Year award.  She wore a  stretch jersey dress with mesh insets by Barbara Casasola.

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I love this dress and thought it looked gorgeous on Kate.  Not sure what the two buttons are, maybe Kate had panic buttons installed on her bum.

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This level of cling on me would provide the kind of visual horror that would forever haunt anyone who happened  to see me in it.  This dress is not cellulite-friendly but on Kate it looks great.

The off-the-shoulder dress had a  front zip which added both an element of  sexiness and sportiness to it.

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According to Rebecca English’s Daily Mail piece, Kate accessorized with a pair of pink heels that were so high, she wobbled in them.

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And  these were some of the expressions Kate wore in the pics from the same article.

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I would take this entire blog down in exchange for whatever pharmacological grab bag Kate’s got her hands on.  I mean drugs are bad, kids, stay in school.

Kate was back to what she does best on Thursday, sitting in the Royal Box at Wimbledon and meeting celebs.  The Sun has a photo from her Venus Williams Snapchat video, pics of some of the celebs with whom she rubbed shoulders as well as an amusing comparison between Kate and Sansa, listing Kate’s occupation as “Mum of Two”.   It’s always refreshing when the media doesn’t try to pretend she does much in the way of duchessing.

Hope all of you are having the loveliest of summers! Thanks to all who have inquired about me.

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One if by Land Rover, Two if by Sea

Land Rover, Land Rover send the British Monarchy on over.

On Saturday at the Royal Windsor Horse Show held on the grounds of Windsor Castle, royal photographer and Land Rover owner, James Whatling, was treated poorly by Land Rover, an official partner of the event.   A respected member of the British press, James Whatling has been working as a photographer for nearly two decades and was nominated for Royal Photographer of the Year at the Picture Editors Guild Awards in 2003.  Known for his wit and candor, James Whatling’s Twitter account @JWhatling is a favorite among those who follow the British Royal Family.  Even those who aren’t avid royal watchers and wouldn’t recognize James Whatling by name would have likely seen photos from his impressive portfolio.  So his treatment by Land Rover at the Royal Windsor Horse Show as detailed on his Twitter page is extremely disappointing.

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Not cool, Land Rover.

While there are twenty-eight corporate sponsors for this year’s show. Land Rover is the only one that gets its logo next to that of the Royal Windsor Horse Show throughout their website.  That’s the kind of placement you only get if you shell out the big bucks.

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Ironically the Royal Windsor Horse Show touts media presence at the event on its website as an incentive for companies to become sponsors.

RWHSSponsorshipAnd yet as a member of the media whose presence the Royal Windsor Horse Show uses to entice sponsors, James Whatling was banned from the lounge because of his occupation.

The Windsor Horse Show had Tweeted the admittance policy.

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No mention that the keys to gain admittance had to belong to owners of certain occupations.

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Land Rover has faced a number of discrimination accusations over the years.  On November 17, 2014, a current employee of Jaguar Land Rover working in Birmingham accused the company of “extreme racism” and noted promotions aren’t based on merit or qualification but because they are the “managers own friends and family.”   In an article on birminghampost.co.uk, the company was described as “an aggressive, bullying culture” by Chris Shot who won his case against them for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination.  Shot also noted, “Land Rover puts on a big front about their being an equal opportunities employer but the reality is it’s all about whether your face fits or not.”

Discrimination accusations by customers  tend to be far less common than those made by employees which makes Whatling’s experience all the more surprising.  To quote Warren Buffet, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”

James Whatling noted that his experience at The Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials  was an extremely positive one.

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So why such a difference in  treatment at the two events?  Could it have something to do with the Royal Family’s special relationship with Land Rover, the terms of which are unknown?

It’s been reported that members of the British Royal Family have a deal with Land Rover, getting their luxury vehicles for a small fraction of the cost in exchange for being unofficial brand ambassadors simply by being seen in their vehicles.  Media outlets questioned if Prince George being driven home from the hospital in a £140,000 Range Rover was part  of an agreement.  As one nbcnews.com article pointed out, “The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s emergence from London’s St. Mary’s Hospital was captured by the world’s TV cameras with the Range Rover logo prominent as the royal tot was tucked into his car seat.”  A historic moment makes for impactful product placement.  Several months later, the Daily Mail ran a piece on Carole, Pippa and James Middleton being given luxury Range Rovers at a deeply discounted rate.  Does Land Rover really need Carole, Pippa and James spotted driving around in their vehicles to boost sales  or was it the result of a provision worked out by the Cambridges so the in-laws could benefit from their special deal with Land Rover?

In Kate’s recent Vogue UK appearance,  it was noted she drove herself to the location in her Land Rover Defender.   With Vogue indicating  Kate had selected everything from clothes to “the locations used as a backdrop”, a number of people wondered if Kate’s Land Rover visible in one of the shots was product placement, fulfilling some kind of contractual  obligation.

On Sunday, 90th birthday celebrations for the Queen continued at Windsor.  The evening featured 900 performing horses, musical performances and celebrity-narrated highlights from Her Majesty’s life.

Gordon Rayner had predicted a heavy Land Rover presence and he was right.

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And sure enough, a Land Rover appeared hauling a giant  birthday cake.

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Land Rover seems to be using its ties to the British Royal Family to remind the world that despite being owned by India’s Tata Motors which purchased it from Ford in 2008, and with factories in various countries including India, China, and a new facility being built in Slovakia slated to be finished in 2018, it’s still a British brand.  In a Tweet on Monday, it stated, “Rain, mud, horses and royalty. Celebrating Britain at its best.”   It included  a photo of  the Queen appearing to emerge from a royal  Range Rover.

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The relationship between Land  Rover and the British Royal Family becomes even more curious with a quick glance at the automobile manufacturer’s Sponsorship page.  First listed is Land Rover’s support of Ben Ainslie’s bid to return the America’s Cup to Britain, the only cause in which Kate seems genuinely interested.  The next Land Rover sponsorship mention is of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.  As noted in an Express article written by Richard Palmer, “The Queen and her family have taken a close interest in the tournament. The 89-year-old monarch is patron of the RFU, while her grandsons, Princes William and Harry, are are vice-patrons of the Welsh Rugby Union and RFU respectively. Princess Anne is also patron of the Scottish Rugby Union.”  The fourth listed Land Rover corporate sponsorship is Invictus, the driving force behind which is Prince Harry.   The sixth is equestrian sponsorship which is basically everyone in the British Royal Family, minus Kate who is pretend-allergic to horses.

Corporate sponsorship is wonderful but Land Rover’s mirroring the sports-centered interests of members of the British Royal Family suggests there could be far more complex dealings between the British Royal Family and Land Rover than just steeply discounted luxury cars in exchange for the royals being seen in them.  Beyond Prince Harry’s Invictus Games which does tremendous work for wounded, injured or sick service personnel, the rest aren’t humanitarian endeavors.  No one at Land Rover has a soft spot for any of the many worthy causes to help those suffering?

With Land Rover acting as the corporate sponsor of the British Royal Family, what exactly is Land Rover getting for their financial support?  And what are members of the British Royal Family getting in return?  In the Cambridge’s Anti-Press Crusade, will Land Rover-sponsored events become increasingly more unwelcoming to the media under the influence of the royal family, even if it means losing customers?

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The Hair Menagerie

“She lives in a world of her own – a world of – little glass ornaments…”
― Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie

A somewhat belated Happy Easter or a more timely Happy Monday!  My funny bunny, Nightwing, sends his love.

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I’m a little behind on royal news due to technical difficulties.  But Apple has reunited me with my resurrected laptop, so time for a little catch-up.

To no one’s surprise, Prince William wound up jetting off to attend the wedding of rumored first love Jecca Craig in Kenya, leaving a fairly impressive amount of pissed off people in his cloud of cartoon smoke.  At least one of William’s co-worker spouses was displeased her husband had to spend yet another holiday away from his family when William got to take both Easter and all of December off.  Many taxpayers were peeved about having to pick up the pricy tab for Prince William’s security detail and private secretary for another international jolly.  And it’s assumed Kate isn’t too happy either that Wills missed out on their daughter’s first Easter to attend the wedding of his ex, although having watched Kate being interviewed for the Queen at 90 documentary, I suspect it’s possible Kate is being kept so heavily sedated, someone probably just stuffed a pillow into that blue sweater William always wears and Kate thinks she and her hubby just had the best Easter ever together.

The bulk of Kate’s contribution to the documentary on the Queen had already been released and discussed by the press: George calls Her Majesty Gan-Gan, the Queen leaves little gifts for her great-grandchildren in their room when they visit and Kate made the Queen chutney for her first royal Christmas.  Not terribly riveting stuff, this is more the sort of information that might be exchanged during small talk at an official engagement, if Kate actually bothered with small talk or engagements.  The Shetland pony featured in the documentary probably offered more insight on Her Majesty than the future Queen Consort did.  The documentary can be viewed in its entirety here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD7dAsNxmrQ

While the Countess of Wessex and the Duchess of Cornwall provided glimpses into the Queen as a woman, most of what Kate had to offer was more on Kate.  In one clip, Kate noted:

“I think she’s so… so engaging.
And I think she’s got the most fantastic smile.
I think even if the Queen says nothing at all but just smiles, she gives people an enormous amount of pleasure.”

Notice a pattern?  I, I, I.  There was an abundance of Is all throughout Kate’s segments.  “I was worried…”, “I thought back…”, “I noticed…”, “I think…”.  I, I, I.

Contrary to popular belief, over-usage of the pronoun I in speech isn’t a mark of narcissism, it’s one of insecurity.  In the documentary, Our Fair Waity sounded like Eliza Doolittle raided Paula Abdul’s medicine cabinet and then tried to leave a trail of pronoun breadcrumbs to help her find her way back to her own thought process.  Kate’s affected posh accent somehow managed to get even plummier and she appeared to be somewhat disoriented trying to maintain its consistency, with words lost in her own nervous laugh or in a rush to make sentences be over.

In one segment, Kate noted, “There’s a real art to walkabouts, everybody teases me in the family that I spend far too long chatting.”  Yeah, I don’t think the walkabouts which Kate rarely does are the problem.  Supposedly, the Royal Family finds Kate’s affected accent to be frustrating because she has to think about how each word should sound and it can take her a while to stammer through a complete thought.  They’re known not be fans of people putting on airs so a middle class girl constantly being a conversational speed bump in an attempt to sound like the poshest one of all naturally wouldn’t go over well.

In two clips, Kate made reference to the Queen taking care of her in a maternal nurturing way, by making sure she was okay at the Leicester engagement when she was without William and by putting out the chutney Kate made her for Christmas which Kate felt, “shows her thoughtfulness, really, and her care in looking after everybody.”

Why does a woman in her thirties and a future Queen Consort need the Queen to look after her as if she’s a child?  If someone as busy as a Head of State needs to stop what she’s doing like the Queen did at Leicester and ask if you’re okay, in all likelihood you are very far from okay.  Maybe the reason Kate usually doesn’t take her coat off at official engagements is because Kate’s Mum has to pin a note inside of them reading, “If found, please return to Carole Middleton’s umbilical cord.”

If there was any doubt before, Queen at 90 solidifies my suspicion that Kate is a walking Tennessee Williams play.  Kate ticks a lot of the same boxes as Laura, the mentally fragile daughter from the Glass Menagerie.  Both need to be taken care of, live in seclusion, become nervous speaking, drop out of commitments, have social circles limited to siblings, have mothers overly intent on making strong matrimonial matches for their daughters, and judging by Kate’s bad tailoring, it’s likely she puts her elongated torso on the same exaggerated level of physical deformity as Laura views her limp.  Substitute glass animal figurines with a wiglet collection and you’ve got a play… just not a woman suited to a role she aggressively pursued for over a decade.  The most striking difference is that Laura is a far more sympathetic character than Kate, Laura was trapped by circumstance whereas Kate built hers brick by boring brick.

The Daily Mail ran an article over the weekend indicating that it’s likely Kate and William will be ditching Anmer life and returning to London so Prince George can attend Wetherby next year.  Maybe the suggestion that the Cambridges will be returning to both London and duty is merely a PR ploy so the masses will think their seemingly endless gap year will be drawing to a close soon, but if they are moving back to London, how exactly is that going to work?  They can’t keep their criticism-provoking actions from the public’s awareness with Anmer Hall’s seclusion acting as a cloaking device and London affords far fewer places to hide the more unflattering aspects of a fairytale that’s looking increasingly Grimm.

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Is Jason Knauf Fur Real?

This is Jason Knauf, Communications Secretary for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

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He looks like the kind of well-groomed, non-threatening generic American model that J. Crew uses to sell cardigans.  While it’s true that pr reps can only be as effective as their clients are cooperative, in recent weeks Jason has started looking like he is either a complete idiot or the most deliciously evil adversary the British Monarchy has ever faced, the kind that from a historical perspective could ultimately make Rasputin look like Funshine Bear.

The Cambridge’s spin doctor has a background in crisis management and started his royal gig in the beginning of 2015.  Jason Knauf replaced former BBC producer, Ed Perkins, who had joined the Palace in 2007 working for the Duke of York, managing his scandals and overseeing the Diamond Jubilee before being assigned to Princes William and Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge where he lasted two and a half years before deciding on a new career path.  The search for Perkins’ replacement lasted six months, reportedly Prince William wanted someone whose loyalties weren’t divided by connections to other members of the British Royal Family.  So basically, William’s criteria was finding someone who couldn’t be influenced by the guiding wisdom of his father or grandmother.  And really, Her Majesty has only built one of the most globally recognized brands in the world, what could she possibly know about public relations.

Recent pr mistakes by Jason Knauf’s office have led to even more media backlash towards the  Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.  The latest likely made both Jesus and Darth Vader facepalm.

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The force of Captain Picard’s facepalm probably blew the Enterprise off course.

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I didn’t even catch this latest goof, but the press sure did.  The Daily Mail ran an article on the mittens Kate wore in the photos released this week  by Kensington Palace on Twitter showing the Cambridges on a ski getaway from all that work they’re not doing.  Kate’s Alexski gloves are lined with possum fur.

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While it’s not surprising a woman who has been photographed wearing a fur hat while hunting pheasant bred for the royally lazy version of the bloodsport would wear fur-lined gloves, it’s shocking that the Palace would release photos of Kate wearing them to the world.  Could they not find a clubbed baby seal for Kate to put a cigarette out on?

The ski glove’s possum fur comes from New Zealand where the marsupial is widely considered a pest because it is a non-indigenous species that was introduced in the 19th century by the fur industry and having no natural predator, possums have wreacked considerable havoc on New Zealand’s flora and fauna.  One land’s pest is another’s protected species, there are even people who (mostly illegally and definitely ill-advisedly) keep possum as pets.  Usually what separates aww from ugh is how much destruction a species causes, in Australia where possums are indigenous, sometimes foxes are regarded as pests even though they bring the internet this kind of snuggle buddy cuteness.

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In NYC, our pests are rats and mice.  Given their plague-spreading history, most wouldn’t put them on their most cuddly list but still wouldn’t stick their hands in the skinned remains of one.

Because of the exposed cruelties of the fur industry and the increased trendiness of its condemnation, spin doctors go to extraordinary lengths to shield their clients from the barrage of criticism that comes from being photographed in fur.  Even celebrities who unabashedly wear fur like Kim Kardashian are aware it’s a controversial topic many feel passionately about.  North West has gotten some serious shade for being papped in it and she’s only two.  Based on the fact that in this photo she’s dressed like her first word was “Nevermore”, I think it’s safe to assume most of North’s fashion isn’t self-selected and we should give the kid a pass.

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For a small child to even be unfairly called a “fur hag” by some illustrates why most in the public eye steer clear of the fur debate, regardless of their personal feelings, it is a hotly debated topic.

Bella Thorne recently posted a photo of herself on Instagram in a fur jacket and in response to the enormous backlash, claimed it was faux fur.  When Instagram fashionistas identified it as an alice + olivia rabbit and fox jacket, the actress quickly deleted her faux fur claim and her reps dealt with the fall-out, releasing the statement Thorne “was told it was faux fur” with the promise she would never wear it again.

The Queen also provoked widespread criticism with her fur-clad Christmas appearance prompting many to take to social media to express their disappointment Her Majesty would even wear her vintage fur, especially since she is a representative of the UK which passed laws over a decade ago prohibiting “the keeping of animals solely or primarily for slaughter for the value of their fur”.

When public figures are already the subject of negative focus, it’s generally not a good idea to serve up more to find fault with on a gilded platter.  Really the only thing the Palace has as a selling-point for Kate is the so-called Kate Effect when people who want to dress like Kate snatch up whatever inventory is left on items Kate waits to wear so people can’t Copy-Kate her.    Every single outfit Kate wears is broken down and written about because she offers such little substance with which to work.  Considering how contrived and manipulated these snaps are, how did no one even think to make sure the Paper Doll Duchess wasn’t committing a pr fur pas?

While I find these pr goofs highly amusing, the British Royal Family might want to check Jason Knauf’s bank account for large deposits coming from the Republican Party because it’s hard to believe anyone with pr experience could screw up this royally.  Especially an American, we invented pr.  Technically, the founding father of spin was Austrian-American Edward Bernays but we staked the claim convincingly enough that the rest of the world bought it.  Quite frankly, the way the pr is being handled for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is utterly un-American.

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Kate Keen in McQueen

On Sunday February 7th, Kate Middleton finally reported for duty for 2016.

The event marked the 75th Anniversary of the RAF Air Cadets of which  she is now Honorary Air Commandant, an appointment she took over from Prince Philip in December.

Perhaps to prove she knew the  event was for some  kind of military-type flying thingy, Kate wore the Alexander McQueen coat in Military Blue she debuted on the 4th day of the New Zealand tour, the one that reminded me of a Pan Am coat from a time when flight attendants were called stewardesses.

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Kate’s dolly-curled hair was curiously longer than the three quarters of an inch it should have grown since her December chop.  Did Santa give someone shiny new hair extensions for Christmas?  Kate’s hair was so long in fact, it kept covering up the Dacre brooch which had  been awarded each year to the best female cadet and given to Kate to wear upon its retirement.  Now that the best female cadets receive the Dacre sword just like the male cadets, it was only fitting the brooch should be worn by a duchess who is the embodiment of a modern woman of the 19th century.

Kate on February 7th on left and on December 9th on right

Kate on February 7th on left and on December 9th on right

Kate’s hair wasn’t  the only sudden change, her skin seemed to have obtained a deepened glow since January 10th that one would not typically associate with British winters.  Of course,  between PhotoShop, lighting and equipment variables, such a comparison isn’t exactly conclusive evidence Kate was able to make a Caribbean escape, but Our Fair Waity does seem to be less fair in the photos the Daily Mail ran.

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Kate Middleton on February 7th on left and on January 10th on right

The most striking difference was Kate’s thick black magic marker eyebrows which to the casual observer might look like Kate confused a pencil case with a cosmetics case, but could also indicate Kate has been afflicted with Muppet Madness.

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Of course, with Kate being so keenly keen on keenness, she couldn’t wait to get to this year’s first event on February 7th and took the Queen’s helicopter from Anmer Hall for Sunday’s RAF Air Cadet event at a cost  the Daily Mail estimated to be £3,000 (around $4,318  USD) while the Queen traveled back to London the same day via train at a cost of £54.90 (around $79.03) for her first class ticket.

The Queen prefers trains to helicopters and I can see why she wouldn’t  want to helicopter-pool with Kate but this is one of those examples of the additional costs that came with the Anmer move.  By car, the trip would have taken Kate around  two hours and fifty minutes each way but if the Queen can take a train for an hour and forty-four minutes, then why can’t her grandson’s wife who is so keen on being a stay-at-home Mum?   Instead of a lazy duchess taking an environmentally unfriendly helicopter ride to the first official engagement she could be bothered with this year, perhaps that money could have been better applied to say the upkeep of those crumbling palaces and castles  which is supposed to come out of the Sovereign’s Grant.

If the so-called “thrifty duchess” didn’t want  to commute, she shouldn’t have moved out to the country. At this rate, the monarchy will fall into a state  of complete disrepair before the crumbling Buckingham Palace will.

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The Duchess Who Cried Keen

Despite a flurry of reports towards the end of 2015 that Kate Middleton is “keen to demonstrate an increased commitment to the charity sector” as the Daily Mail indicated, Kate has performed exactly 0 official engagements to date this year and hasn’t done an official engagement since December 16, 2015.  While the British Royal Family has padded Kate’s engagements in the past, the brief wreath laying on January 10th was not included in the Court Circular as an official event.

Since joining the British Royal Family five years ago, Kate  Middleton  has undertaken a grand total of  342 engagements.  In 2015, the Queen carried out 341 engagements.  So basically it takes a 34-year-old-duchess five years to rack up the  same number of events an 89-year-old-monarch knocks out in one year.

Duchessing comes with some pretty impressive job security.  With most jobs, if you don’t bother showing up for work for over a month, your framed pictures, plants and the marshmallow shooter  you got as a Secret Santa gift probably won’t still be on your desk whenever you  decide to make a  special guest appearance at your workplace.

With no Kate Middleton engagements to report on and space to fill, media outlets have been rehashing Joanne Froggatt’s appearance on Conan during which the actress revealed she had made an “accidental sex pun” to Kate Middleton when she visited the Downton Abbey set on March 12, 2015.  Joanne Froggatt recounted that Kate had said, “It feels strange. Being in your bedroom.”  to which the actress responded, “Yeah, not many people get to come in Lady Mary’s bedroom.”

Kate Middleton’s tour of the Downton Abbey set counted as one of her 62 engagements  in 2015.  When Kate “popped  in”, Downton Abbey was already shooting its final season so there really wasn’t much of a point to Kate’s visit other than getting to tour the set of one of her favorite shows.  It certainly didn’t seem to have any  effect on the  show’s ratings.   In fact, when the first episode of season six debuted in the UK on September 20, 2015, it was the lowest rated debut  in the series run with 7.6 million viewers tuned in, down from the previous year’s 8.43 million.  (Source: Deadline).  The US  season six  premiere on January 3rd drew 9.9 million viewers, down from the previous year’s 10.1  million. (Source:  Variety).

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And why would Kate’s visit have any effect?  Would anyone suddenly start watching the tail end of a show just because Kate Middleton walked around the set, saw costumes  being  made and watched a scene being shot?  Would mainstream critics suddenly be swayed by the show’s quality because a woman who waited  almost a decade for a man to marry her met the show’s cast?

Kate was positively beaming during the tour as photos featured in the Telegraph revealed, showing the kind of interest normally absent from events when she has to pretend to care about sick kids or art or being a representative of the UK:

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Eight days prior to Kate’s Downton Abbey visit, Sophie, Countess of Wessex toured the set with Angelica Rivera, the First Lady of Mexico.   Sophie’s hosting duties did not count as an official engagement and yet Kate’s did.

So not only did  Kate’s set tour count as work, her desire to visit the set  of one of her favorite shows  wound up  costing the taxpayer  quite a bit in undisclosed security costs.  As Joanne  Froggatt revealed on Conan,  “But — and obviously there’s a lot of security that comes with it as well. She’s royalty. The days before we have the police around, sniffing dogs. It feels like a huge event.”

Note that Joanne Froggatt indicated the days before.   Securing a set is a massive endeavor.  There are the cameras, audio equipment, lighting, monitors, the sets, prop storage rooms, hair and make-up departments, wardrobe for every character,  etc.  The  taxpayers footed the bill for days of security teams doing sweeps, bomb sniffing dogs, and most likely background checks by Scotland Yard on each and every cast and crew member affiliated with the show.

Joanne Froggatt may have made an  accidental sex pun  that day, but Kate managed to screw over the taxpayers twice.  And it looks like she’s starting this year off just like the others, with much ado about nothing.

At this point, Kate has cried “keen” far too many times.  If she ever does decide to do the job she accepted on April 29, 2011, no one will actually believe it.

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Blue Monday-Busting BRF

According to a quasi-scientific  study released back in 2005, the third Monday of January is the most  depressing day of the year.  Despite the questionable criteria used  to determine the calendar’s biggest bummer, it’s not that big of a stretch.   Fully detoxed from holiday highs and doggie-paddling in the dashed optimism of New Year’s Resolutions,  those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are at the peak of winter dreariness, dreading the walk to the mailbox in  the cold barren grey stillness for credit card statements made thicker by holiday shopping.

Fortunately, the British Royal Family is maintaining a high  level of ridiculousness to distract us from  short days, wind chill factors and the ho ho humdrum of January.

On Friday, an announcement was made that Kate Middleton will be serving as Guest Editor for Huffington Post UK for a day in February.

Kensington Palace released a statement saying:

“The Duchess of Cambridge has made the mental health of young people a key focus of her work in recent years. She is delighted that The Huffington Post will help put a spotlight on this important issue.

The duchess will be commissioning contributions from a number of leading figures in the mental health sector as well as from young people, parents, and teachers.”

Royal correspondents were  Twitterly  unamused.

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In addition to running the same kind of pap pics that make Prince William threaten to huff and puff and blow  the house down, Huffington  Post UK hasn’t always treated the Cambridges in a dignified manner, recently insinuating that Kate confused royal semen with hair gel to achieve Something About Mary sperm hair.

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Huffington Post seems to spend an inordinate amount  of time pondering royal trouser trout.

Following the birth of Prince George, the  US version of Huffington Post speculated that the 150-year-old tradition of circumcising British  royals ended with Prince William and Prince Harry whose foreskin was not removed due to Princess Diana’s wishes and surmised that  Prince George’s royal scepter would remain intact.  Going one step further, Huffington Post UK declared the idea of a circumcision total tosh, accusing  circumcision-happy Americans for starting the rumor.  Sure, blame the Americans, everyone knows the  Declaration of Independence originally included “life, liberty, pursuit of happiness and freedom of foreskin” but had to be modified because the signers couldn’t keep a straight face adding their signatures below the president of Congress’ enormous Hancock.

Without doing any in-depth  research on the matter, the Huffington Post still found it necessary to discuss  princely staffs.  One of the readers here will just have to sleep with Prince Harry to put at least one rumor to bed.  It’s quite possible that Prince William and Prince Harry are both circumcised,  at least going by the old photos of Prince William taking a  leak on a polo field back in 2008 (photos of are not suitable for viewing at work, while eating, after eating  or if in general the very thought of Prince William makes your vagina dry-heave).  Theoretically, Prince William could have been pushing his foreskin back with his fingers, but at least to me the rounded blur looks a professionally trimmed helmet on William’s little Flight Lieutenant.  Did anyone else just throw up a little in their mouth and/or underwear?

While Kate having the Huffington Post swing by Kensington Palace  for a day  is for an important cause, many are left wondering exactly how this came about.

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Or why, especially considering the couple has been seeking to bypass the loathsome media completely with announcements and official royal baby portraits released directly on the @KensingtonRoyal  Twitter account.  As royal photographer, James Whatling pointed out, perhaps the Cambridges wouldn’t mind the media as long as they completely controlled it.

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Within reason, of course.

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Perhaps it’s all an elaborate ruse to get Pippa’s CV to Huffington Post since poor Kate is swamped according to a Daily Mail article that ran over the weekend with Kate being the Second Coming of Diana and all.  According to the article,  Kate has been undertaking secret charity visits like her deceased mother-in-law.  I wonder if the Daily Mail knows that Peter Jones is not a charity.   The article notes, “As a result she has ordered aides to fill her diary for 2016 and is keen to demonstrate an increased commitment to the charity sector.”

Maybe Kate  is keeping  these visits such a secret that even those she’s visiting don’t even know she’s there, maybe the children think she’s some kind of  fidgety mop boogyman lurking in the shadows. Considering that Buckingham Palace padded Kate’s 2015 numbers to get her up to 62 engagements for the year, including her tour of the set of  Downton  Abbey, the birth of Charlotte  and Charlotte’s private christening in the total, I am skeptical of any report that Kate is secretly doing work for which she’s not getting credit.

Last year Kate’s engagement total accounted only for 1.66% of the entire British Royal Family’s workload.  In 2014, she performed 2.23% of the royal family’s duties. Does anyone really expect us to believe that Kate is keen  on anything other than shopping?  And as for “filling up her calendar”, Kate has yet to have a  single event appear in the Court Circular for this year so clearly her calendar  is not filled considering we’re already three weeks into 2016 and her last engagement was on December 16, 2015.  That’s a five week break  from duties, so she’s not exactly hitting the ground running.

In other leg-pulling royal news, the Queen’s  eldest grandson, Peter Phillips, is organizing a celebration in the Mall for the 628 charities of which Her Majesty is Patron in honor of the monarch’s 90th birthday.   Tickets will run the Queen’s charities £1,500 for a table of 10 people but the charities are permitted to sell up to  40% of their tickets out of consideration for the burden of the cost on these non-for-profit organizations, some of which are very small. Otherwise it  would be tacky for a hostess to ask foundations barely scraping by to absorb the whole cost of going to her birthday party, at the very least, people who  aren’t involved with the charity at all should have the opportunity to go instead of those who tirelessly devote themselves to their respective causes for little or no pay. This idea could really catch on in event planning, I can see wedding guests  lining up at vending  machines punching  the appropriate button for chicken or fish and baby showers with a cover charge and two drink minimum,  the  fetus’ cost can be deducted from his or her college fund once the little tyke is born.  Peter Phillips insists nepotism  had  nothing  to with his company, Sports and Entertainment Limited, being the one  selected to organize  the event  for which he  is receiving an undisclosed sum.   The Queen’s grandson declared, “I was very conscious to make sure we did this properly, so we went through the normal channels of approaching the Palace. We had to show that this wasn’t a case of trying to cut corners because the Queen happens to be my grandmother.”

The fact that Sports and Entertainment Limited was selected to plan Her Majesty’s  90th birthday bash I’m  sure had nothing to do at all with Peter Phillips’ royal family ties, just like I’m sure it was simply a coincidence that Peter Phillips’ company Sports and Entertainment  Limited was the one that brokered the £150,000 deal to sell the first photos of Zara’s daughter, Mia, to Hello! magazine.

It’s rather unseemly to sell  tickets  to this  event, the Queen’s 90th birthday isn’t a concert.  She’s the Head of State, not Adele.   Unless Her Majesty, Prince Philip and  Prince Charles are going to put on wigs, cat ears and leopard leotards and perform as a Josie and the Pussycats tribute band, I can’t imagine paying to be part of someone’s birthday celebration.

Richard Palmer’s Twitter page has been a goldmine  of  disenchantment in recent days.  One of his latest blows was an Express article about Norfolk Country Houses From The Air  for  sale at the Sandringham gift shop containing commissioned aerial photographs of Sandringham and Anmer Hall.  The book  contains the very types of photos  that Prince William  crusaded against, petitioning to have Anmer Hall declared a no-fly zone.  I guess it’s only a privacy violation  if you’re not getting  paid.

The entertainment value of the ridiculous antics of the British Royal Family  have helped a  bit with my winter blues.   And here I thought all January would have to offer was the return of the X-files on Sunday.

The truth is out there and so is this underground  video of Bree Sharp’s David Duchovny which is a festival of 90s nostalgia. If you didn’t  get at least a bit of chuckle from those silly British royals, perhaps  this video will push you  a  bit further out of the Blue Zone.   It was made by members of the X-files crew  and shown at their holiday party. Because of the multitude of celebrity cameos, some of which were  shot on the sets of other shows on the  same  lot, it could never  be officially released.

Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wijp4-3giNw

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