Adventures in Design: I Love London Part 2
Yes, I'm craaaaazy about London! The royals, the wedding, the shopping. It's all brilliant!
If you've read my earlier post about my recent trip to London, you know I had the great honor of attending a luncheon at Buckingham Palace honoring ARKive and Wildscreen, hosted by their patron Prince Philip.
It was a wonderful experience, made even better by the discovery of the Palace gift shop on the way out!
The shop window was filled with items commemorating William and Catherine's upcoming royal wedding. I love that she chose light blue (a personal favorite of mine) as her wedding color.
So much to choose from! I found a few things that needed to come home with me.
I love the Union Jack and especially liked their light blue interpretation on the chenille pillow above. And frankly, the china pattern in the shop is more handsome than the Queen's china used at our luncheon at the Palace! The Queen's was very simple (see my drawing in my first London installment) while this one had more color and a more interesting overall pattern.
The couple's wedding monogram is elegantly simple; however, it doesn't follow British royal tradition. In the US we use the bride's and groom's first initials surrounding the last initial. The royal family traditionally uses only two letters, the couple's first initials, with the senior-most person's initial (in this case William's) listed first. However, in this case the result would be WC - the abbreviation for water closet (or toilet)! A real royal flush!
So the quick-thinking designers flipped the initials - with the blessing of the Queen - and stacked them vertically, creating this beautiful motif for the couple.
It looks superb on the must-have souvenir for any British royal event: the tea towel. The commemorative tea towel is a veritable British institution yet they almost didn't have one for Will and Kate's wedding! The Palace didn't want a repeat of the tacky ones created for Charles and Diana's wedding - remember the famous line from Diana's sister, "Too late Dutch (the family's name for Diana), your face is already on the tea towel" - so there was talk of their not allowing tea towels for the event. Public outcry stopped that nonsense!
The monogram even looks good printed on the label!
The coffee cup (or as they call it, the "Commemorative Tankard") is so pretty.
And since they've incorporated hearts into the design (look inside the tankard above), I had to have the monogrammed velvet ornament.
The shop also had a great selection of books. The official souvenir guide is chocked full photos and details of the history of Buckingham Palace. This is the book where I found the photo of the Centre Room, mentioned in my first London entry.
This little book features spectacular table settings for events held at the Palace.
I couldn't resist this book on tiaras. I want one of each of them! Did you know that non-royals aren't allowed to wear tiaras to the wedding? Thank goodness for eccentric English hats!
This postcard from the Palace shop features the Diamond Diadem made in 1820 by Rundell, Bridge and Rundell. It was sold to support the Royal Collection. Stunning!
And the trip would not have been complete without the official William and Kate wedding souvenir book!
Needless to say I was thrilled with my purchases, but was even happier when I read that I was contributing to a worthy cause. From the gift tag tucked in the tankard box:
"Your purchase contributes to the Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity responsible for the entire upkeep, conservation and presentation of the Royal Collection. One of the largest and most magnificent collections of paintings and works of art in the world, the Royal Collection has been built up over five centuries of successive British monarchs. The works of art are owned by The Queen as Sovereign in trust for her successors and for the Nation and it is the only major collection of its kind that receives no public funding."
Since I was a little girl I've loved the royal family and the romance we associate with them. Princesses, castles, ballgowns. As an adult, I was, and still am, a huge fan of Princess Diana. She was close to my age, was raising two boys at the same time I was, loved fashion and worked for charitable causes close to her heart, so I felt she was a kindred spirit. Plus she was gorgeous, elegant and fun to watch. My family and I had the great pleasure of meeting Diana and she more than lived up to her image. A true princess in every sense.
William has been a wonderful son, giving his mother's ring to his beloved fiancee and getting married in the same church where her funeral was held. According to tradition, the Queen gave William his own royal coat of arms on his 18th birthday. However, he broke with tradition by having an emblem from his mother's family's crest, "escallop gules" (red scallop shells), added to his crest to honor her memory. Most coat of arms honor only the paternal family.
William and Kate have an official wedding web site, with information about the service, procession, reception and lots more. The Royal Collection has launched a wedding app (!) featuring seven royal weddings, starting with Victoria and Albert. And the couple is asking people who'd like to give them a gift to instead please make donations to several charities they support. How lovely!
I'm so excited about the wedding yet a little sad Diana's not here to enjoy it and share this special time with her son. All the more reason for the rest of us to celebrate this day of love!
And if you're hosting a royal wedding party, check out these adorable downloadable party decorations from Design Editor. She's royal-crazy and is hosting a wedding brunch/watching party and created invitations, banners, crowns and more. So clever!