In light of the increasing number of spurious "royal experts" infiltrating the media, Princess Palace has created this online testing and training center/centre (a.k.a. trivia quizzes) to facilitate the recognition and certification of actual royal experts. Anyone receiving certification may add C.R.E. (certified royal expert) after one's name. This site is created and maintained entirely for fun. Its creator asserts no authority for certifying anyone's qualifications for anything. ;)

27 May 2011

Golden Oldies

Throughout the ages, royals have tended to live about the same life expectancy as others of their day, but on occasions, a really long-lived royal has demonstrated an excellent combination of good genes, good living and good luck. For this quiz, name these golden royal oldies. You may post your responses as a comment or e-mail them to

1. This Greek-born royal will join the nonagenarian club in June 2011

2. Both born as daughters of Scottish peers, these two ladies married royal brothers

3. This imperial heir became a pretender at age nine and a European parliamentarian at 67

4. At age 30, this empress was a widow with eight children

5. Born a Spanish aristocrat, she married a president and then became an empress

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22 May 2011

Sisterly Love Answers

With The Duchess of Cambridge (a.k.a Princess Catherine) and her sister Philippa 'Pippa' Middleton making headlines lately, I thought a quiz about royal sisters would be a nice challenge. Our Royal Experts were asked to identify the following pairs.

1. The Queen of England and the Empress of Russia
In the 19th Century, two European monarchs became the heads of two intertangling dynasties that would separately and jointly place descendants on nearly every European throne. The lines of King Christian IX of Denmark and Queen Victoria of England first intertwined when his oldest daughter Alexandra married her heir, the future King Edward VII. Christian's second daughter Dagmar (later Marie) married the Russian Czar Alexander III and the two lines crossed again in the next generation when Marie's son Nicholas married Victoria's granddaughter Alix of Hesse. Raised in a cadet branch of the Danish royal house, Alexandra and Marie grew up relatively poor for royals and only rose to distinction when the complex line of succession landed on their dad. The two girls were always very close. Even after they each married, they continued to holiday together and even bought a home together in their native Denmark. There was a remarkable likeness between their sons, King George V and Czar Nicholas II.

2. Two discarded queens: One gone mad and One who 'lost' two English husbands
Having a powerful mother did not protect these two princesses from their powerful husbands. Although Queen Isabella of Castile had clearly proven that a woman could rule a kingdom, her daughters Juana and Catalina (Catherine) of Aragon were to suffer from prejudice against female rulers. Juana married and fell in love with the heir of the Holy Roman Empire. Her jealous behavior toward him quickly became overwrought. When Isabella died, Juana inherited Castile and a power struggle ensued between her husband and her father, King Ferdinand of Aragon, for control of Juana's throne. Whether she was insane or simply highly strung, Juana's behavior was odd enough after her husband's early death to enable her dad to lock her away for the rest of her life. Meanwhile, Catherine was sent to marry the English heir, Prince Arthur. When he died soon after the wedding, Catherine was a more-or-less a prisoner of her father-in-law who didn't want to relinquish her dowry. When Juana and her husband were temporarily shipwrecked in England, Catherine appealed to her older sister for help, but Juana was too focused on her handsome husband. So, Catherine languished for seven years until her father-in-law's death and the new king, her brother-in-law Henry VIII decided to marry her. Flash forward 20 son-less years later, Henry divorces Catherine to marry the second of his six wives. Both sisters died devoted to their husbands.

3. Queens of Revolution: One who lost her head and one who led a counter-revolution
Empress Maria Theresa of Austria also ruled as monarch. She had 11 daughters, all named Maria. The most famous of these are undoubtedly the two youngest Maria Carolina, Queen of Naples, and Maria Antonia, best remembered as Queen Marie Antoinette of France. The two archduchesses were very close as children until their mother separated them in adolescence for bad behavior. Soon afterward, Maria Carolina was sent to marry the King of Naples and Sicily as a replacement for an older sister who had died of small pox. Despite an inauspicious beginning, the couple produced 18 children and Maria Carolina essentially took over the government from her ineffectual husband, who much preferred hunting to governing.
Unfortunately perhaps, Marie Antoinette was unable/incapable of governing in place of her also ineffective husband and both of them were guillotined in the French Revolution. Following her sister's execution, Maria Carolina abandoned the ideals of enlightened absolutism and launched a counter-revolution in her kingdome. Eventually deposed by Napolean, Maria Carolina died in exile just one year before her husband's restoration.

4. The pair who introduced Rasputin to the Imperial Family
This proved to be the most challenging pair for our Royal Experts. Most respondents selected a non-royal pair: Empress Alexandra's confidant Anna Vyrobova and her sister, also named Alexandra. However, the royal sisters responsible for helping make the naughty monk acceptable in Russian imperial and aristocratic circles were Anastasia and Militsa of Montenegro, daughters of King Nicholas I of Montenegro who married Russian Grand Dukes. Anastasia married Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholaeivich and Militsa married his brother Peter. Both of the princesses were deeply religious and drawn to the more occult aspects of the Russian Orthodox Church.
They championed several mystics including Rasputin. Although the Empress did not consider the princesses to be her friends, she became deeply attached to their protege Rasputin, which ultimately helped lead to the Russian Revolution. The sisters and their husbands all escaped the revolution, unlike many other members of the imperial family.

5. Scandalous sisters: One married a playboy but became an HRH and one ran away with the circus.
Technically these sisters are daughters of a princely house, and therefore were born serene highnesses rather than royal highnesses, however, they (and their children) are regarded as "royals" by the world's media. Princess Caroline and Princess Stephanie of Monaco have each embarked on a number of escapades that brought little honor to their heritage or to the memory of their beloved mother Princess Grace. Caroline started by rebelling against her parents as a teenager and marrying a renowned playboy against their better judgement. With that marriage annulled, she started an affair with an Italian and soon became pregnant. After a shotgun wedding and two more children, Caroline was devastated by her husband's tragic death in a high-speed boat race. This and motherhood seemed to have settled her down. However, she married one more time to another playboy although this one is a prince of a deposed royal house. Once again, however, she was already pregnant at the time of the wedding. Little sister Stephanie was undoubtedly the most physically and emotionally scarred by their mother's untimely death since she was still a teenager and was in the car at the time of the accident. She launched into several un-princessly and largely unsuccessul careers like swimsuit model and rock singer and indulged in numerous unseemly love affairs. In fact, her name has been in the news lately with the release of her former lover Rob Lowe's memoirs. After that she had a child by her bodyguard, married him, had another child and divorced him. Then, she had a third child by a still unnamed father. Then, she began a love affair with a married circus trainer and took her children to live with him in a caravan following the circus. Stephanie and Caroline's brother has also led a rather undignified personal life filled with many high-profile romances and two acknowledged illegimate children. Now 53, he is set to marry his 33-year-old girlfriend after a year-long engagement. It will be interesting to see if his Princess Grace lookalike bride will restore some decorum to the princely palace.

06 May 2011

Sisterly Love

With The Duchess of Cambridge (a.k.a Princess Catherine) and her sister Philippa 'Pippa' Middleton making headlines lately, I thought a quiz about royal sisters would be a nice challenge. See if you can identify each pair. You may submit your answers using the comments button or e-mail them to

1. The Queen of England and the Empress of Russia
2. Two discarded queens: One gone mad and One who 'lost' two English husbands
3. Queens of Revolution: One who lost her head and one who led a counter-revolution
4. The pair who introduced Rasputin to the Imperial Family
5. Scandalous sisters: One married a playboy but became an HRH and one ran away with the circus.

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04 May 2011

Royal Wedding Gowns Answers

In this fashionable quiz, our experts could earn half a point each for correctly naming the designer(s) of the wedding gowns for the following royal brides. Here are the answers.

1. Lady Diana Spencer
The then-little-known-and-now-divorced couple David and Elizabeth Emanuel were shocked to receive a phone call from the newly engaged Diana. It has recently been revealed that they designed two gowns, in case one was discovered by the media. Diana's gown now tours regularly as part of the Diana: A Celebration exhibition. See the dress.

2. Sarah Ferguson
When she married Prince Andrew in 1986, Sarah also chose a little-known designer Lindka Cierach to make her dress, which incorporated bows galore and embroidery and beading that included the couple's initials, their crests, their careers and their love--which took a detour to the divorce courts six years later. They reportedly remain great friends. As for Cierach, recent headlines alleged that Catherine Middleton's mother hired her and then fired her for her own mother-of-the-bride look. See the dress.

3. Letizia Ortiz
News reporter and anchor Letizia Ortiz selected Spanish designer Manuel Pertegaz to create her gown when she married the future King of Spain. Her skirt, train, sleeves and collar of her gown were encrusted with symbols of Spanish heraldry and history. See the dress.

4. Crown Princess Victoria
When she wed in the summer of 2010, Crown Princess Victoria wore an elegantly tailored gown by Swedish designer Par Engsheden. Instead of V-neck front like Letizia, Victoria wore a deep v back. Although her sleek dress was very modern she paid tribute to the past by wearing her mother's wedding veil and the 19th-century cameo tiara that has worn by generations of Swedish royal ladies. See the dress.

5. Charlene Wittstock
Although Charlene has not yet married her prince--the wedding is in July 2011--it has been announced that her designer is Giorgio Armani. As the future princess of a principality nestled between France and Italy, she has made an excellent choice with such an iconic fashion house. In fact, she often wears Armani, however, this particular dress itself has yet to be revealed. (Update: Armani designed Charlene's gown for the religious ceremony; Chanel for the civil ceremony.)

6. Grace Kelly
Who else would an Oscar-winning screen actress turn to when she needs the most important ensemble of her career? A Hollywood wardrobe designer, of course. Grace selected Helen Rose of MGM Studios. The ideal dress of the 1950s, it included a full silk taffeta skirt with a button-up antique Valenciennes lace bodice and a wide sash at the waste. See the dress.

7. Queen Elizabeth II
In post-war Britain, the economy was very tough so women sent their clothing ration coupons to their future queen so that she could have a gown suitable for a princess. Created by a favorite royal designer, Sir Norman Hartnell, who drew inspiration from Botticelli for his petite but shapely client. He brought the seed pearls for the dress through customs from the U.S. but controversy later arose when reports circulated that the silk was produced by enemy silkworms. (Actually, it came from friendly Chinese worms.) Hartnell also created her coronation gown six years later. See the dress.

8. Mary Donaldson
To marry the Danish heir, Australian-born Mary selected Danish designer Uffe Frank. See the gown. The skirt of the gown included long panels that were pinned back to reveal 100-year-old Irish lace. The dress also included Chantilly lace from France and her ensemble included a fan that belonged to the groom's Swedish grandmother and a veil that had been worn when British Princess Margaret of Connaught married the Crown Prince of Sweden in 1905, when Danish Princess Anne-Marie married the King of Greece in 1964, when Greek Princess Alexia married her Spanish husband in 1999 and when several other princesses married. It was truly an international affair. See the dress.

9. Princess Margaret
The gorgeous Princess Margaret used the same designer as her sister: Sir Norman Hartnell, but with their varied personalities and more than 12 years between their weddings, their dresses were in no way similar. Where Elizabeth was ethereal and dripping in embellishment, Margaret was clean lines and stylish simplicity, not a single stitch of embroidery from the high v-neck to the wide skirt and short train. The classic look inspired her daughter-in-law's dress three decades later. See Margaret's dress. See Serena Linley's dress.

10. Maxima Zorreguieta
When Argentinian Maxima married the Dutch heir, she opted not to use a designer from either country, choosing instead to use legendary Italian designer Valentino. Highlights of the gown included a high cowl neck, three-quarter sleeves and lace details down the side of the flared skirt matched by lace along the edge of the train. Maxima must have loved the dress because she continues to wear Valentino quite frequently.See the dress.

BONUS: Catherine Middleton
The Official Royal Wedding photographs
Quiz takers were asked to hazard a guess as to the identity of this top-secret designer. Our responders decided to be more cautious than the media but they mostly agreed that it would likely be "sleek and modern."

Of course we now know that Catherine's dress was designed by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen. I would certainly classify it as a "sleek and modern" re-imagining of the classic princess gowns of Princess Grace and Princess Margaret. Its sweetheart neckline covered in lace with long lace sleeves may inspire bridal fashions to turn away from the current strapless trends.

Photo by Hugh Burnand. From The British Monarchy on Flickr.