I surrendered under pressure and binged both seasons of The Crown the other week. It’s of course super-well done and interesting to watch, because most of the characters and their one-liners were 20th century pop-culture staples. The Queen’s sister Margaret was my favourite, closely followed by Wallis Simpson (more about her in my earlier post about Posh English Girls), who unfortunately was given a very small role in the series.
While none of the bizarre royal bucking and fawning seems to bode with the modern world (Duchess Kate couldn’t wear a black dress to support #TimesUp at the British BAFTAs because the royal protocol says she’s not allowed to wear black unless someone’s died. Pfff), there’s something quite fascinating with the institution and how it was back when it actually had any role at all (“PR” doesn’t count).
And by fascinating I mean the ladies’ headgear. The props-people of The Crown –crew have done a stellar job with recreating the headpieces, tiaras, crowns and other jewellery to match the real stuff. Following the Queen’s jubilees and birthdays and whatnot recently, the crown-jewels have been paraded into oblivion lately. Therefore imagine my delight when I came across a biography of the most famous Russian empress (who reigned Russia for more than three decades), Catherine the Great – Portrait of a Woman! Her imperial coronation crown was the shit (75 pearls, 4 936 Indian diamonds. Yes, that’s nearly 5 000 diamonds. On your head).
While I know the history of the British royal family disturbingly well for a non-Brit, there has been a clear gap in my education as far as some other woman heads of state with stupendously fabulous headgear are concerned. Therefore my rediscovery of Catherine the Great was timely (rediscovery as in the dear neighbour in the East was of course taught at school from various different angles). All of the some 600 pages of the book are full of interesting insights into a life less ordinary (one of the chapters is called “A Pilgrimage to Kiev and Transvestite Balls“).
So this Sunday’s books recommendation is Robert K. Massie’s “Catherine the Great – Portrait of a Woman”. Though the lent is on (big in Russia), you will of course want to study the life of the Empress with a side of (Russian) champagne, blinis and caviar.
And speaking of Russian heads of state, Vladimir Putin has just launched his election campaign and man, has he gone to town at the aesthetics clinic! You would think there’s no botox left in the world after Silvio Berlusconi had all of it injected into his face to look dapper for the Italian general elections, but what do you know. Apparently facial nerve cells must be paralysed en masse to run a political campaign these days. Google for pictures if you dare, but I must warn you it will be grosser than the video-clip of Trump’s bald skull when he boarded AirForce1.