Kate and Grace:More in “common” than you know

The Duke and Duchess of CambridgeWhen two billion people tuned in to see Britain’s Prince William marry Kate Middleton, it didn’t take long for people to draw comparisons between her dress and the one Princess Grace of Monaco wore at her wedding more than 50 years ago.  

But I wonder how many people remember that although Grace Kelly was a movie star, she was also a commoner who married a prince in a fairytale wedding, just like Catherine. And the similarities don’t stop there.
 
All about the dress
Kate’s gorgeous gown was kept secret until she stepped out of the Rolls Royce at Westminster Abbey. The stunning gown was by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen, and in many ways, it is an updated homage to the gown Princess Grace wore when she married Rainier III in 1956.
 
Kate’s dress was made of ivory and white satin gazar, a special bridal fabric that can be described as heavyweight silk organza. The official news release poetically described it as echoing “an opening flower, with white satin gazar arches and pleats.”
 
It not only showed the future young duchess’s slim figure to advantage, is a tour de force of British design and craftsmanship. “The lace appliqué for the bodice and skirt was hand-made by the Royal School of Needlework, based at HamptonCourtPalace,” said the official the press release. “The lace design was hand-engineered (appliquéd) using the Carrick across lace-making technique, which originated in Ireland in the 1820s. Individual flowers have been hand-cut from lace and hand-engineered onto ivory silk tulle to create a unique and organic design, which incorporates the rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock.”
 
Kate’s gown was embellished with both hand-cut English and French Chantilly lace. The seamstresses washed their hands every 30 minutes as they worked on the gown — not every three hours as some have reported — to keep the dress pristine. They changed the needles every three hours to keep them razor sharp and prevent snags.
 
The result was stunning — a timeless gown that will not date. It reflects a future queen with taste, judgment, and a sense of style.
 
Prince Rainer III and Princess GraceGrace’s gown – a museum piece from MGM
Princess Grace’s dress was made by the MGM studio’s designer Helen Rose. According to Life magazine, it took 36 seamstresses six weeks to make. The gown was a gift from MGM, the bride’s employer. Helen Rose was also Grace’s designer for her last two films, The Swan and High Society, the musical version of The Philadelphia Story, in which Gracey played a bride.
 
Princess’s Grace’s dress, like Kate’s, was made in the utmost secrecy amid rumors and speculation. But like Ms. Burton and her team, Helen Rose and her seamstresses remained tip-lipped. In both cases, they kept the secret.
 
Helen Rose took her assignment to create “a museum quality” dress for Monaco’s future princess very seriously. The dress used off-white silk peau d’soie, silk taffeta, and yards of tulle. It is trimmed with priceless antique Brussels Rose Point lace.
 
Both gowns are lovely. They have corseted lace bodices, raised collars, padded hips, and flattering silhouettes. Kate’s dress is updated with its deep V-neckline and partially-sheer lace bodice. Kate’s lace-trimmed veil was held in place by the Cartier ‘halo’ tiara, lent by Queen Elizabeth. According, to the Palace, “the ‘halo’ tiara was made by Cartier in 1936 and was purchased by The Duke of York, later King George VI, for his Duchess, later Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, three weeks before he succeeded his brother as King. The tiara was presented to Princess Elizabeth, now The Queen, by her mother on the occasion of her 18th birthday.” This is a particularly-appropriate tiara, given what we know of the playful and loving relationship between the Queen Mother and her husband King George VI, as depicted in the reputed-to-be-factual film, The King’s Speech.
 
Grace’s “Juliet cap” headpiece was decorated with orange blossoms and held her antique lace veil.
 
But the similarities between late and Grace go beyond their beauty, elegance, and sense of style.
 
From self-made stock
Both Grace and Kate came from wealthy families who made their own money. Kate often was teased by William’s ill-mannered aristocratic friends who liked to say "doors to manual” as Kate entered a room. The quip was meant to remind her of her mother’s past as a flight attendant. Her mother, Carole Middleton, has often been painted as an ill-mannered social climber. Those who know the family say that that simply is not true. Carole Middleton is, by all accounts, a loving protective mother. She is also said to be the brains behind the party supply business that made the family fortune.
 
The Daily Mail quoted Claudia Joseph, the author of Kate: the Making of a Princess, saying that Kate comes from a line of tough smart women.  Joseph says that Kate’s maternal grandmother Dorothy Goldsmith was "socially ambitious," and was even called “Lady Dot” by her family. She worked with her husband Ron, a builder. They were able to use the property boom in the 1960s to become prosperous. In one generation, “Lady Dot” went from having to borrow clothes for her own wedding to giving her daughter Carol a lovely wedding with bridesmaids and a carriage at the manor hall.
 
Grace Kelly’s father Jack Kelly was a self-made Irish bricklayer, and an ex-Olympic champion. The Philadelphia bluebloods he lived among never really accepted him.
 
Sisters in the limelight
Grace Kelly could never please her outgoing, athletic father. By her family’s standards, Grace was sickly. She was plagued by sinus problems, colds, and headaches. Even when she won the Academy Award for Country Girl, her father embarrassed her by comparing her unfavourably to her sister Peggy. “I always thought it would be Peggy,” he told a reporter. “Anything Grace could do, Peggy could always do better. I simply can’t believe Grace won. Of the four children she is the last one I’d expect to support me in my old age”.
 
Grace sought validation in the arms of her lovers
Reading that quote one does not have to wonder why the outwardly-demure Grace sought validation in the arms of her many lovers before marrying her prince.
 
Kate is already being compared to her attractive sister, Philippa. Pippa, as she is nicknamed, made a stunning entrance in her alluring figure-hugging dress, also Alexander McQueen by Sarah Burton. Mischief-makers are already questioning if Pippa outshone the bride.
 
Kate and Pippa have both been accused of using royal connections
There has been unfounded speculation that Pippa used her association with the royals to promote her business, the online party magazine The Party Times, and as an event planner for Table Talk. The information site is an offshoot of her parents’s party supply business. According to an ABC News report, Pippa also serves as an “ambassador” to the charity Too Many Women, which raises money for breast cancer research.
 
The news media have criticized the sisters ever since Kate began to date William. Even in the afterglow of the spectacular wedding, some critics continue to carp. Detractors have said that her that her dress is not "fashion forward," or trendy, or daring enough.
 
Others claim Kate isn’t a good role model because she has never had a real career. However, when she tried to work, she was accused of exploiting her royal connections, just as her sister is blamed now.
 
I even read one article that bemoaned she was wearing too much mascara, after commending her for doing her own make-up for the wedding.
 
Arriving in Monaco, Grace was hounded by the press, embarrassed by her overly-exuberant and indiscreet family, and tortured by Prince Rainier’s eccentric, mean-minded relatives. To marry Rainer it was understood that she would retire at the age of 26, right at the height of her career. In her middle age, Princes Grace sought expression in a variety of "acceptable" creative endeavors, such as flower arranging and radio broadcasts for social causes. Close friends felt they never really satisfied her.
 
Both young women married for love in very public “fairytale” weddings. They both married into royal families that were in desperate need of new blood and fresh images.  It was no secret that Monaco needed an infusion of glamour to bring the rich and famous back to the seaside playground.
 
In the wake of scandals involving the Duke and Duchess of York as well as other setbacks, the gloss had been take of Britain’s royals. With the exception of the Queen, none of the Windsors have endeared themselves to the public the way Diana did — until now. But according to the BBC, Kate’s wedding has already resulted in a ‘huge swell in royal popularity.” It’s a tall order for any woman, but so far, Kate’s   “common” sense hasn’t let her down.
 

 

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