DIAMOND JUBILEE CELEBRATIONS
Thames River Pageant, June 3rd, 2012. Despite miserable weather, the much anticipated Thames Pageant has proven a highlight of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations (which span a special four day weekend).
Led by the beautifully ornate Royal rowbarge (the newly commissioned 94ft “Gloriana”), the magnificent Royal Barge, the “Spirit of Chartwell”, headed the vast flotilla down the Thames. Her Majesty was accompanied on board by Prince Philip, the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
An estimated 1.2 million flag-waving well-wishers created a sea of red, white and blue as they crammed every available vantage point along the seven mile route from Battersea Bridge to Tower Bridge. The flotilla numbered an unprecedented 1000 vessels, large and small, presenting a marvellous spectacle. Unfortunately, due to the poor conditions, a planned fly-past in “diamond” formation was cancelled.
The 86 year old monarch, resplendent in a stunning silver and white ensemble, stoically remained on deck, smiling and waving despite the cold. Designed by Angela Kelly, her matching dress and coat were embellished with silver and gold spots and sparkling crystals.
This event was one of many organised to celebrate Her Majesty’s remarkable 60 years on the throne. Across Britain and throughout the Commonwealth, formal and informal events have been arranged to celebrate the Queen’s milestone. In the UK alone, around 6 million people attended an estimated 10,000 street parties.
Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne at age 25, following the death of her father, King George VI on 6th February, 1952. Her Coronation took place at Westminster Abbey on 2nd June, 1953. She has been served by no fewer than twelve Prime Ministers. Her reign is eclipsed only by that of Queen Victoria who occupied the British throne for 63 years.
The Queen’s unerring commitment to her duty through good times and bad has provided a reassuring constancy to her subjects at home and across the Commonwealth. Her enduring popularity has been spectacularly demonstrated by the effusive show of support and admiration throughout the Jubilee celebrations.
QUEEN ELIZABETH IN AUSTRALIA
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth arrived in the national capital, Canberra on Wednesday (October19th) for her 16th visit to Australia since she first graced our shores as a young queen in 1954.
Accompanied by 90 year old Prince Phillip, the 85 year old monarch disembarked from the British Airways 777 jet to a balmy Canberra afternoon and an excited throng of well-wishers. Looking fresh and relaxed Her Majesty was elegantly dressed in an “atoll blue” ensemble and matching hat, contrasted with black accessories. She also wore the stunning ”Wattle” brooch (yellow and white diamonds) – a gift from the Australian government presented in 1954 to mark her first visit.
After greeting the crowds, the smiling royal couple was whisked away in a convoy of government vehicles to “Yaralumla”. The official residence of Australia’s Governor General (Quentin Bryce), has been made available to the royal couple.
On Friday (21st October) the Queen and Prince Philip attended a formal reception at Parliament House where they were welcomed by a representative of Australia’s indigenous peoples and addressed by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbot. Stirring renditions of the British and Australian National Anthems were delivered by The Australian Girls Choir. The royal couple was also treated to a performance by popular Aboriginal singer/guitarist Gurrumul Yunupingu before mingling with the 700 invited guests ahead of a formal dinner.
The 10 day itinerary includes visits to Brisbane and Melbourne, with the final three days spent in Perth, Western Australia where the Queen will preside over CHOGM (the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting).
29th April 2011
Well – it was certainly worth the wait – what a day! The weather – worrisome at first was ultimately kind and considering the scale of the event and the complex logistics, the Royal Wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton ran incredibly smoothly.
Princess Catherine wore a beautiful traditional gown of ivory and white satin gazar, designed by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen. The lovely floral lace detail of the sleeves and bodice were reminiscent of the wedding dress worn in 1956 by the late Princess Grace of Monaco.
Burton enlisted the expertise of the renowned Royal School of Needlework to fashion the exquisite lace and embroidery embellishments. The dress was fastened down the back by 58 gazar and organza covered buttons with Rouleau loops. The cinched waist emphasised Catherine’s slender figure and the rear pleated skirt and 2.7 metre train lent the gown a contemporary elegance. Atop a simple veil of ivory silk tulle, trimmed with hand-embroidered flowers, she wore a Cartier “halo” diamond tiara originally belonging to The Queen Mother. Her modest bouquet incorporated Sweet William, lily-of-the-valley, myrtle and hyacinth.
The Bridal Party
Equally stunning was Catherine’s bridesmaid – her sister Philippa (Pippa) Middleton, in a gorgeous cowl necked, figure-hugging gown of ivory satin-based crepe, also by Sarah Burton. Her dress featured the same button detail as the bride’s.
The whole wedding party was magnificently attired – Prince William, resplendent in the full military regalia of an officer of the Irish Guard (he is their Colonel) – and his Best Man, Prince Harry, also in uniform. The page boys were adorable in their Regency-style red tunics complementing William’s and the junior bridesmaids were very sweet in their ankle length dresses with full skirts, puffed sleeves, pale gold silk sashes and scalloped hems.
The Service and Celebrations
Westminster Abbey provided a magnificent setting for the moving ceremony, its imposing Gothic architecture softened by an “avenue” of boxed maple and hornbeam trees specially imported for the occasion.
When the beaming royal couple made their first appearance on the balcony at Buckingham Palace, before a jubilant throng of well-wishers (numbering in the hundreds of thousands) Catherine’s spontaneous “Oh – Wow…” was priceless. They were then joined by the rest of the wedding party and the immediate royal family. There were two fly-pasts – much to the delight of the page boys – first, three World War II planes – a Lancaster, Hurricane and Spitfire, followed by four jets in box formation – two Typhoons and two Tornado GR4s.
The traditional newlyweds’ kiss on the balcony, always a highlight, was surprisingly brief, but happily it was followed a few minutes later by a more relaxed and lingering one, much to the delight of the cheering masses.
After a reception for 600 at Buckingham Palace, hosted by the Queen, Prince William and Princess Catherine, the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, enjoyed a party for 300. Hosted by Prince Charles, this was a less formal affair, with the celebrations continuing into the wee small hours.
Such an attractive and charismatic couple, they are bound to dominate magazine covers for some time – a paparazzo and publisher’s dream! I get the feeling they will be a great morale-booster for Britain in these difficult economic times and generate renewed interest in the monarchy.
REMEMBERING “LA STUPENDA”
Westminster Abbey, London 15th February, 2011.
Dame Joan Sutherland was honoured in a Ceremony of Thanksgiving in an uplifting noon service conducted by the Dean of Westminster, Dr John Hall. Attended by over 2000 opera-lovers, the congregation included HRH Prince Charles, sopranos Yvonne Kenny and Lesley Garrett, former Royal Opera House Director John Tooley, former British Prime Minister John Major, Adrian Collette representing Opera Australia, the Australian High Commissioner John Dauth, Australian comedian Barry Humphries, human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson and his wife, novelist Kathy Lette and many other luminaries from the worlds of art, music and politics.
During the service, recordings of Dame Joan’s “Casta Diva” from “Norma” and “Let The Bright Seraphim” from “Samson” were played and as the Abbey filled with that unmistakeable soaring voice, most were moved to tears. It was at once a joyful celebration and a reverent homage to Australia’s grand diva. Joan Sutherland was much loved and admired, garnering a huge following during a glittering career which, over forty years, saw her perform in the great opera houses of the world.
Renowned for her tremendous vocal range and power, Dame Joan was dubbed “The Voice of the Century” by her close friend, Luciano Pavarotti. She played some 54 lead roles in many great operas, including those of Mozart, Handel, Puccini and Verdi, but it was as Donizetti’s “Lucia” that she achieved truly legendary status, performing the role 233 times (once earning a 19 minute standing ovation!).
Joan Sutherland is only the second Australian to be honoured by such a service at Westminster (the first being former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies in 1978). In a touching moment Dame Joan’s grandson Vanya Bonynge brought forward a velvet cushion displaying her medals of honour. Supported by the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, 28 year old Australian soprano and rising star Valda Wilson paid tribute with performances of Mozart’s “Alleluia” and Faure’s “Pie Jesu”.
Dame Joan died at age 83 at her home near Montreaux in Switzerland last October. She is survived by her husband of 56 years, conductor and pianist Richard Bonynge, their son Adam and grandchildren.
Date: 21st January, 2011.
“I have some things to say – you might not want to hear them.”
David Walsh wants to stimulate conversation and debate. Well…!!!
Welcome to MONANISM. It was a BIG weekend in Hobart, Tasmania with the much anticipated opening of MONA, The Museum of Old and New Art – the realisation of years of planning for multi-millionaire art collector, investor and professional gambler, David Walsh.
A lavish party launched the celebrations which extended over 3 days, including musical entertainment by Australian and international artists, pyrotechnics, theatre and lots of very fine food and beverages.
On opening night over 2000 invitees flocked to the striking new complex designed by Melbourne architect Nonda Katsalidis, to experience what Walsh describes as a “subversive adult Disneyland”.
The crowd was awash with celebrities and familiar faces from the art and music scenes here and abroad. Spotted were Belgian artist Vim Delvoye, celebrity chef Kylie Kwong, Wendy Whiteley – ex partner of the late artist Brett Whiteley, novelist Richard Flanagan, members of Midnight Oil, Tex Perkins and Leo Schofield.
Built into the sandstone cliffs of the Berriedale Peninsula and ranging over three levels, the $80m concrete and steel edifice (with a roof top tennis court) overlooks the Derwent River and houses an exciting mix of old and new exhibits.
The curators and designers have adopted a bold and sometimes disconcerting approach to display – Egyptian artefacts juxtaposed with contemporary pieces, and artworks are not labelled. Visitors experience the exhibition with the aid of touch screen MP3 Players which provide ones location and information on the pieces displayed in the immediate vicinity.
Walshs’ $100m collection, which includes a wealth of fabulous antiquities, is at once magnificent and challenging. With some 200 works (representing a mere tenth of his entire collection) ranging from Sidney Nolan’s huge1970 project “Snake” – 45 metres wide (finally in a permanent space), to Belgian artist Vim Delvoye’s bizarre “Cloaca Professional” the “poo machine” which eats and excretes, the experience is full of surprises. German artist Julian Pop’s high-tech waterfall mesmerised with its glittering cascade of illuminated words. The “sex and death” gallery provided shock and awe, with its graphic sculptures of sex and mutilation and includes an extensive and confronting display of sculpted vaginas and Greg Taylor’s installation, ‘My Beautiful Chair” featuring Phillip Nitschke’s suicide machine.
Entry to the museum is free and with its committed team, bold approach and provocative works MONA is expected to attract international interest and provide a huge boost to the Tasmanian tourist industry. This exhibition runs until July 2011.