Tag Archives: Prince William

Life in London Part IV: Royal Wedding Mania

7 Jun

You should have seen this one coming. And now that I’ve had a month to bask in post-wedding tabloids, entertainment news programs, and Barbara Walters specials, it’s my turn to write about the Royal Wedding.

William and Catherine. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Future Prince and Princess of Wales (once Charles is finally king). Future King and Queen (once the current Queen dies, Charles becomes king and dies). Quite a lot of titles and future titles. I like to think of them as Will and Kate, this blog tends to be informal (see: awkward statues, nerdgasms, my new boyfriends).

How adorable is this photo? Answer: too adorable.

I’ve always been in awe of royalty, it kind of comes with being a girly girl. Then I went to London in 2005 and, in two short days, I was hooked on all things House of Windsor. Add an obsession with Shakespeare and the History Plays and a fascination with all things “sparkly” and my current obsessions are warranted.

One of my favorite things that was shown to me so graciously by my dear friend Sam, is this blog:

Kate Middleton for the Win

Now, I love Kate Middleton. I think she’s an incredibly classy lady who will do wonderful things for the British monarchy just like Diana before her (but in much better clothes and hair, naturally). But this Tumblr takes images of Kate and slaps snarky phrases on them, such as this:

What makes these so funny to me is I don’t picture her to be at all like this, and I doubt the blog’s creator does either. But nonetheless, they’re good for a laugh.

I was lucky to be in London during the lead up to the Wedding, and saw much of the preparations…

Like people camping out and camera crews setting up at Westminster Abbey two days before.

Some of my friends joined the chaos by camping out by Buckingham Palace! I flew out the day of the wedding (no lines, no waiting!) but I waited to leave for the Tube until Will and Kate were officially married. I couldn’t leave without seeing that part of the ceremony.

And now for the moment we’ve all been waiting for: What did I think of the dress(es)?

Kate wore a dress by British designer Sarah Burton, the late Alexander McQueen's protege. She took over the label after his tragic suicide last year. To start, I love the modest train. Diana had a 25 foot train which was, let's say it, RIDICULOUS. A tradition of respect at Westminster Abbey mandates that shoulders be covered, which is why the dress has sleeves. I love that Kate went with a lace overlay for the sleeves and collar of the dress. It gives the look a classic feel while still being a little sexy underneath. As for the veil it's quite sheer, which I like as I detest most veils. Plus that loaned tiara suits her.

Notice the detail of the lace: it is completely sheer at the sleeves but a bit denser at the shoulder/collarbone. The edging is lovely. Her makeup is flawless, and as most people (well, most royal wedding obsessees like myself) know, she did her own makeup. Is there anything she can't do?

For the after party Kate changed into another Sarah Burton design. The overall silhouette is similar to the first dress, but this is a little less church and a little more party. The shrug is playful (but looks kind of itchy to me) and the crystal belt highlights her slim figure. As usual, her hair is glorious.

Pippa Middleton in Sarah Burton. Who wouldn't want to look this good in a dress this beautiful? She (almost) upstaged her sister. I want this dress. Also, perfect hair clearly runs in the Middleton family.

How can I resist posting a picture of the ever-charming Prince Harry? Especially when he is in uniform...

I should note that, since being back in the states, two people have told me I look like Kate. The highest of all compliments, if only my hair looked like hers every day…

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National Portrait Gallery

14 Mar

On Sunday it was drizzly so a few friends and I went for a walk to Trafalgar square to see the St. Patrick’s Day festival. We took a bus to Hyde Park and walked past Buckingham to the square. Our walk took us down the Mall (rhymes with pal) which gave wonderful views of St. James’s park.

Buckingham

Parliament is just visible through the tree's along the Mall

A sure sign that spring is here in London

There were a few kids running through the flocks of pigeons, it was adorable.

The Eye just visible beyond the park. London is beautiful in the spring.

The festival was a bit lame…

St. Patrick's Day festival stage

Irish donut stand; Abby was once told by another of our friends "You smell like a nice, fresh daisy."

A giant ship in a bottle

After we got bored with the festival, we went around the block to the National Portrait Gallery. Photography wasn’t allowed inside, but we got to see portraits of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Victoria, the Bronte Sisters, John Donne, Paul McCartney, Prince William and Prince Harry, Princess Di and Shakespeare, just to name a few.

 

St. Andrew’s: A castle, cathedral, and cupcakes

27 Feb

On the 10th, Jack and I set off on an adventure to the north: Scotland. We hopped a train at King’s Cross (just like in Harry Potter, it was packed with Muggles) and enjoyed an almost six hour ride to Leuchars where we got on a bus to St. Andrew’s.

For those of you who don’t know, St. Andrew’s is home to the oldest golf course in the world and St. Andrew’s University, where a certain dashing young Brit goes to school. I’m not talking about Prince William as he has long since graduated. I’m talking about the ever-charming Charles. Jack and I have been close friends of Charles’s for a long time (Jack longer, but Charles loves me best) and since going off to college it’s rare that we all get to see each other. I hadn’t seen Charles since July; Jack hadn’t seen Charles since 2009. Needless to say, it was quite the happy reunion.

Our first night consisted of Jack and I building a place to sleep. We worked tirelessly into the night in order to perfect our sleeping chamber.

Sweet, cozy perfection with a 1970s flare

After a good night’s sleep we woke up early and had a light breakfast before heading out to explore. We started off walking through town, with Charles pointing out different restaurants and shops along the way, as well as explaining some St. Andrew’s tradition. The University was founded in 1613, making it much older than colleges in the States.

St. Salvatore's Church in the city center

Perhaps my new favorite street name... It looks like Butt's Wind. Like... Wind from the Butt. It is actually pronounced WHINED like... That kid whined all day.

This is the spot where Patrick Hamilton, a 23-year-old supporter of Martin Luther, was burned at the stake in 1528. He was a student at the University and to this day it is considered extremely bad luck to step on the PH whilst a student at St. Andrews. His ghost descended into the sky and...

And left an imprint in the stones of the church.

Typical St. Andrew's buildings. Basically, it feels a little like Hogwarts.

See what I mean? Turrets and bricks and medieval design elements... A lot like the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But where's Dumbledore's office?

Gotta love the views from the school

The streets in St. Andrew's are all similar to this one, except for the two main roads, which are wider and more commercial.

While Charles headed off to class Jack and I went to church. The St. Andrew’s Cathedral ruins, that is.

The Cathedral was originally built in the early 12th century after being a site of worship for about 400 years. What now remains is from the 1300s and 1400s as the original Cathedral was destroyed by a storm and later a fire.

People continue to be buried in the Cathedral cemetery so amongst the ancient tombs there are new, pristine headstones and monuments.

One wall of the chapel and a small spire

A doorway to the cemetery

An older section of the cemetery

Amazing that there are full walls standing

If you are an avid golfer, St. Andrew's is definitely a meaningful place to be laid to rest.

One of the neatest things about the Cathedral is the fact that a single tower is still standing and visitors are allowed to climb up (some pretty narrow, scary stairs) to the top for a panoramic view of the town.

The tower views…

Me (freezing!) on the tower

I like finding little doorways and windows…

Goodbye, St. Andrew's Cathedral (for now).

After the Cathedral we walked down the pier near East Sands beach.

Fishing boat

Fishing nets and buoys

East Sands beach

Steps into the water, a bit dangerous...

Someone left a scarf... Perhaps it's the Macbeth tartan?

Scottish cliffs are full of mystery and beauty

Seaside houses and the Cathedral ruins in the background

Me on the pier, with the Castle in the background

Charles met up with us after our walk along the pier and we went to the St. Andrew’s Castle ruins together. There was a group of three Justin Bieber-haired youngsters running around the grounds, which was entertaining. The castle is right on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the sea.

The original castle was built and maintained in the 12th and 13th century but little of the original castle remains. What is there now is mostly from the 16th century, like much of the town.  The great hall was actually destroyed in the 1800s by a storm.

Main entrance to the castle

One of the more intact castle walls

Stairs in a tower overlooking the beach

I can only imagine how amazing it looked in its entirety.

More stairs, leading to...

A castle toilet!

Through the window...

And a spy hole

An entrance to the mine and countermine. Enemies dug their way toward the castle and as a defense, the Scottish dug countermines to trick their enemies into getting lost and stuck. You are allowed to enter the mines at your own risk and it is rumored that they span across the town.

Final window view of the ocean

Charles and I at the Castle

After we explored the ruins we met up with Charles’s flatmates for lunch at Pizza Express. Now, I realize that a name like Pizza Express implies cheap, fast, greasy food on the go but Pizza Express is none of that. It is some of the best pizza I have had in London and even though it’s a chain restaurant it still feels intimate and classy.

After our delicious pizza lunch we went to Bi Bi’s Cupcakes for some take-away (take-out) dessert. I’ve had a few cupcakes from this bakery by my school and they were okay… a bit dense in the cake part, not moist and fluffy like I’m used to but good frosting. So I was a bit weary of Bi Bi’s but enthusiastic. And with good reason. We brought our treats back to the flat, made some tea and indulged. I had a Crunchie flavored cupcake (a type of candy bar made by Cadbury that consists of milk chocolate with a honeycomb center) that was so delicious I wished I had a dozen of them.

For dinner we went to a seafood restaurant called The Tailend and had, what else?, fish and chips. The best of my trip so far: perfectly fried, thick cut chips, a perfect end to a great day.

First, Picadilly Circus. Second, I’m on a boat.

15 Jan

Friday was a great day simply because I got to sleep in. And for the first time, I slept well.

I convinced Sam that we needed to go to Picadilly Circus so that we could browse this giant tourist shop called Cool Britannia. We spent at least an hour if not two hours there. And then proceeded to hop from tourist shop to tourist shop until we had to head back to campus.

These gents greet you at the door of Cool Britannia. Yes, they are terrifying yet charming.

I didn’t do my silly gift purchasing this time, instead I got some postcards (including one of the princes, obviously) and stamps to send them off.

Harry does the "lean back" while Will breaks it down for the ladies.

And I got a phone booth keychain for my backpack, so that’s all taken care of. For those of you who don’t know, I collect phone booths. I have about ten of them in various sizes back home. I even have bookshelves that look like a phone booth. Sadly, I don’t have any that are capable of making actual phone calls.

After our Picadilly adventure we had library orientation (boring) and dinner (still gross). Then we got ready for the boat party.

Basically, the school rented this boat for us to have a dance party on. Translation: They rented a boat so that stupid biddies could get so drunk that they fell down every time the boat rocked. This was quite the source of entertainment for those of us who know how to behave around alcohol.

The best part of the boat ride was seeing London at night:

The London Eye and Big Ben/Parliament

Tower Bridge

Tower of London

Kensington loves dogs

13 Jan

Kensington is known as an affluent neighborhood in London. A typical 3-bedroom flat could cost you roughly $5 million dollars. That’s an apartment, not a house. A short walk from campus is the High Street, essentially a term for the “Main Street” of an area, also where you can shop and eat at chain restaurants. In another direction is Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, and Kensington Palace, where Princess Diana lived after getting divorced from Prince Charles.

A word about Kensington Palace:

  • The squirrels will not only walk right up to you, they will attempt to climb up your boots.
  • They currently have the entire visitors section decked out in “fairy princess themed” garb. A must-see later in the semester.
  • Princes William and Harry grew up there and it is rumored that Will and Kate will live there whilst in London.

This is just the front -- it's like a small college.

My dorm is decent, I wasn’t expecting accommodations worthy of Lady Di. The food they serve us is a bit like the reputation British food used to have: inedible. Take-away food will become a near and dear friend to us all.

After we got settled into the dorm and unpacked a bit we went to an IT information meeting and then my roommate and I went out in search of a drugstore, which we found on the high street. The main drug store in London is called Boots. And it is basically the lovechild of Sephora and CVS. When you first walk in, it’s upscale make-up brands. Then you reach the midpoint and it starts getting cheaper, and then there is the glorious CVS-like back of the store and sometimes 2nd floor of the store. Yeah. Two floors for shampoo and other goodies.

While we were walking I saw a dog that’s the same breed as mine and nearly broke down in sobs of “I miss my dog!” but I maintained my composure. A word about dogs in London:

  • They are ridiculously well-behaved.
  • They are walking accessories for their posh owners.
  • They all wear coats/sweaters/vests…etc. so that they may be as well-dressed as their owners.

Floppy ears will now perform "The Sweater Song" by Weezer.

After getting our supplies from Boots we went back to campus to meet for a guided walking tour of the neighborhood. Our guide was a tall blond named Savannah who had a lot of personality and walked quickly which was necessary as it was windy and freeeezing. We hit the high points of Kensington which I mentioned earlier: Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens, Royal Albert Hall, High Street.

A glorious concert hall built by Queen Victoria for her husband Albert. He died before it was completed but Cirque du Soleil is currently performing and I doubt he would have enjoyed that very much.

Kensington Gardens is huge and full of dogs running around which makes me happy.

As you can see by the warm, welcoming sunshine, I did not take this photo.

Also found in the park…

Geese! It's just like the Fens back in Boston, only these geese picked a nicer park to ruin.

After the walking tour we had an orientation meeting then we went out for pizza on the high street to a place called Soprano’s. Definitely a keeper. You might say it hit a high note. (It’s my blog, I’ll make bad jokes if I want to.)