Friday, 18 June 2021
Thursday, 17 June 2021
The Union Club of the City of New York (commonly known as the Union Club) is a private social club in New York City that was founded in 1836. The clubhouse is located at 101 East 69th Street on the corner of Park Avenue, in a landmark building designed by Delano & Aldrich that opened on August 28, 1933.
The Union Club is the oldest private club in New York City and the fifth oldest in the United States, after the South River Club in Annapolis, Maryland (between 1700 and 1732), the Schuylkill Fishing Company in Andalusia, Pennsylvania (1732), the Old Colony Club in Plymouth, Massachusetts (1769), and the Philadelphia Club in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1834). The Union Club is considered one of the most prestigious clubs in New York City.
The current building is the club's sixth clubhouse and the third built specifically for the members. The prior two clubhouses were at Fifth Avenue and 21st Street, occupied from 1855 to 1903; and on the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and 51st Street, a limestone clubhouse occupied from 1903 to 1933.
In 1927, club members voted to move uptown, to a quieter and less crowded location. They hired architects William Adams Delano and Chester Holmes Aldrich—who had previously designed buildings for the Knickerbocker Club, the Brook Club, and the Colony Club—to design their new clubhouse. The Union moved to its current location in 1933. The building is known for its opulence and idiosyncratic details. At one point the building featured five dining rooms and a humidor with 100,000 cigars. Notable rooms include the card room, the backgammon room, the library, and the lounge (off the squash courts).
From the beginning, the Union Club was known for its strongly conservative principles. During the Civil War, the club refused to expel its Confederate members, despite taking a strong line on suppressing anti-draft riots. This policy, and a belief that the Union's admission standards had fallen, led some members of the Union to leave and form other private clubs (including the Union League Club of New York and the Knickerbocker Club).
In 1903, The Brook was founded by some prominent members of the Union Club (as well as some members of other New York City private clubs, such as the Knickerbocker Club and Metropolitan Club).
In 1918, the Union began using women waitresses to free male employees for service related to World War I This was the first time women were officially allowed entrance to the previously male-only enclave.
In 1932, the Union Club boasted 1,300 members. By the 1950s, urban social club membership was dwindling, in large part because of the movement of wealthy families to the suburbs. In 1954, Union
Club membership had declined to 950 members. In 1959, the Union Club and the Knickerbocker Club considered merging the Union's 900 men with The Knick's 550 members, but the plan never came to fruition.
The Union Club is one of the few places where the game of bottle pool is still popular.
Inside the Union Club, Jaws Drop
By Christopher Gray
Feb. 11, 2007
THE site of the Union Club, which peers down from the crest of Lenox Hill at 69th Street and Park Avenue, is appropriate for an institution generally considered the cynosure of men’s organizations in New York.
At the moment, the building is concealed by scaffolding, but the real showstopper is its inventive interior.
Organized in 1836, the Union is considered the first men’s social club in New York, or at least the oldest.
The club was known as particularly conservative. According to the historian John Steele Gordon, a member of the club, it did not expel its Confederate members during the Civil War years.
Some members took exception to this and withdrew to found the Union League Club, now at 38th and Park. In the 1870s, other members, who thought the Union’s standards of admission had fallen, went off to form the Knickerbocker Club, now at 62nd and Fifth Avenue. The Brook and Metropolitan Clubs were also offshoots.
In 1901, the Union built an ebullient limestone clubhouse at the northeast corner of 51st and Fifth. But, according to “The Architecture of Delano & Aldrich” (W. W. Norton, 2003) by Peter Pennoyer and Anne Walker, the members voted in 1927 to move uptown, to a quieter and less crowded location.
They sold the 51st Street clubhouse, with an agreement giving them five years to move, and began a leisurely hunt for property that led to 69th and Park, the center of a concentration of mansions, even though apartment houses lined the rest of the street.
The club hired William Adams Delano and Chester Holmes Aldrich, who had already designed the Knickerbocker, the Brook and the Colony clubhouses.
Mr. Delano’s desire for a simple design was not shared by club members, Mr. Pennoyer and Ms. Walker note, citing a quotation from his memoirs: “The Building Committee insisted on a good deal of ornament inside and out, which they were used to at the old club.”
Thus, although the Knickerbocker Club is slim and elegant, the Union clubhouse, opened in 1933, is chunky with rusticated limestone and a huge angled mansard roof so big it looks like a Fifth Avenue mansion gone wild.
Nonmembers usually get no farther than the entry hall, but even there it is possible to see past the strange elliptical columns, up into the spectacular coffered dome of the main hall, which is in the form of a Greek cross. The room to the left, originally the lounge and writing room, runs the full width of the Park Avenue facade.
To the right is the card room, which displays Mr. Delano’s witty and inventive decorative abilities at their peak, with a frieze of hearts, spades, diamonds and clubs running around the ceiling, and carved reliefs of face cards across the marble mantelpiece.
“I had great fun in designing every detail — all the electric light fixtures, mantels, ventilators, etc.,” Mr. Delano wrote in his memoirs, which were published in 1950. The same spirit informs the frieze of flying fish on his Marine Air Terminal at La Guardia Airport.
The same spirit can be seen in the backgammon room, where the wall vents are patterned like backgammon boards, and in the library, whose light fixtures are shaped like the planet Saturn. The lounge off the squash courts is one of the astounding rooms in New York — its patterned ceiling in gold, buff and green billows in like a festival tent.
The Pennoyer-Walker book has historic photographs of the building inside and out, but also sumptuous color photographs by Jonathan Wallen. (Many of them are accessible on Amazon.com, with the “search inside” function.)
In its December 1932 issue, Fortune magazine painted a picture of the club’s 1,300 members as “men who are, rather than men who do.” This meant, above all, old families who did not need to strive, either professionally or economically, with surnames like Gallatin, Iselin, Pyne, Wilmerding, Goelet and Pell.
The Union clubhouse had five dining rooms, a humidor with 100,000 cigars, and, according to The Herald-Tribune, an early television set, a radio in each room and “much modernistic decorative art.” From a 1933 photograph of the library, it is possible to make out the title of only one magazine: Esquire.
By the 1950s, membership at urban social clubs was dwindling because of the continued movement of well-to-do families to the suburbs and the quickening pace of city life. The New York Times reported in 1954 that the Union was down to 950 members. Four years later, according to The Times, the Knickerbocker Club was considering an invitation to join its 550-man membership with the Union Club’s 900 members, but the plan came to naught.
A 1969 article in The Times bore the slightly surprised headline “Union Club Still There.” The president, Edward C. Brewster, was quoted as saying, “We want no salesmen here, nobody who pushes himself and barges in,” adding, “The Yale Club can absorb that kind, I suppose.” Mr. Brewster had graduated from Yale in 1932, according to his Social Register listing.
Now the Union Club is spending nearly $1 million just on exterior repairs, rebuilding long sections of its limestone cornice. Bruce Popkin, an architectural conservator at Thornton Tomasetti, the engineering and architectural firm supervising the project, said that in the course of inspection, he noticed that a section of the stone cornice was cracked along the edge for most of its 300-plus feet.
He believes the crack was caused by an installation mistake, in which sheets of protective copper were simply nailed into the top of the cornice, a few inches in from the edge, starting a series of long horizontal fractures even before club members moved in.
Tuesday, 15 June 2021
Survive 2020 The Old Money Way
DECEMBER 1, 2020
The first edition of the Old Money Book was published in 2013. Byron Tully, an American writer living in Paris, recently updated the book to reflect changes in the world since the coronavirus pandemic began. This is a carefully researched, thoughtful, and practical book. It is a must-have for anyone interested in Ivy or traditional style. In its pure form, that style is an eloquent and elegant expression of a set of values and a particular way of moving through the world. Those values are sometimes reduced to terms like understatement, dignity, sprezzatura or duende – with perhaps too much emphasis on the latter two. This book explores the former two values, and explores why they are not only timeless, but why they are particularly relevant as we go through a global pandemic that will likely be followed by a period of economic uncertainty.
In normal times, the lessons in this book are a valuable reminder that clothing – even if it is a closet full of the “right” clothing, with jackets tailored to show the ideal amount of shirt cuff or trousers that break perfectly – will not make one a gentleman. Mr. Tully offers vivid examples of how the clothing will look like costume on those who do not have the manner and outlook that aligns with the style. Indeed, if one were the same size as the late Charlie Davidson of The Andover Shop, wearing his hand-me-downs would not necessarily confer the same sense of dignity or panache upon the wearer. Mr. Tully emphasizes how style is about much, much more than the clothing alone.
His book asks a central question for anyone interested in traditional clothing: why? Is it to signal alignment with a set of values, or a social aspiration? To signal respectability in order to represent trust and probity for clients? To demonstrate a certain sense of cultivation of taste? Mr. Tully emphasizes that clothing alone will never convey status if, the minute one opens one’s mouth, that the tone and words suggest a person at odds with the sartorial framing.
The core values of Old Money are intended to help weather storms like the one we’re currently experiencing. Mr. Tully outlines the principles by which new money survives these periods to become old money. He emphasizes that most old money families live well within their means, and don’t live with anything approaching the glamour of a 1990s Ralph Lauren advertising spread. He highlights the importance of understatement: financial reversals in times like the current pandemic won’t be as visible if one isn’t living paycheck to paycheck. Even if those checks were substantial.
Mr. Tully is rightly critical of the manic consumerism inherent in mass-market fashion, and gently points out that the same kind of consumerism can be found among proponents of traditional clothing. The pandemic underscores the importance of delayed gratification when it comes to purchases. The money spent on the fifth suit, the sixth blazer, or the bespoke whatever might be better off saved or invested, earning compound interest or capital gains.
He urges us to remember that an off-the-rack suit in the hands of a good tailor can become something highly flattering. But he pulls no punches. He cautions readers not to put too much faith in the power of any suit to solve their problems. No suit, no matter how bespoke the tailoring or how proper the fabric, will fill the void of low self-esteem. He notes that while a bad suit can cost one the job, the good suit will not necessarily win one the job or the romantic partner. There is an optimal balance, and it skews towards the more affordable end of that spectrum. If you’re a regular reader of Ivy Style, you’ve probably already internalized the lessons of what to wear and what to avoid. The Old Money Book takes things a step further, and offers a gentle but firm reminder that too much attention to one’s appearance can result in something which looks too keen, too fussy. Remember what was said of former prime minister Anthony Eden: “He looks too well put together to be a gentleman.”
The frayed-cuff, moth-eaten cashmere sweater, Boston-cracked-shoe aspects of patrician style lend themselves to the pandemic. They don’t call attention to themselves in ordinary times, but they feel especially apt during a crisis that has affected billions of people, killed over a million people, and may put many more into financial straits. Dressing in flamboyant go-to-hell clothing right now seems like the height of hubris: to telegraph that one has been unaffected by the financial crisis feels too much like wearing breeches and a powdered wig in Paris in the early 1780s.
A few aphorisms from the book highlight these insights. “It is less about the money you have, versus the money you’d like people to think you have.” And “Extravagance is the fear of poverty and the need for attention. Discretion is the fear of nothing and the need of nothing.” These are true now, but will remain just as true after the pandemic. Mr. Tully is eloquent about delaying purchases until one is at a certain financial level. The real sprezzatura of patrician style comes from the sense of ease of knowing that one has options as a result of having resources.
The Old Money Book should be required reading, along with Paul Fussell’s Class and Nelson Aldrich Jr.’s Old Money, for anyone interested in the patrician mindset that informs the decisions that shape traditional style. — ANV
ANV writes about the intersection of society, New England history, and style when he isn’t doing other things.
UPDATED 2ND EDITION - The Old Money Book details how anyone from any background can adopt the values, priorities, and habits of America's upper class in order to live a richer life. This entertaining and informative work reveals for the first time the Core Values that shape the discreet--but truly affluent--Old Money way of life. Author Byron Tully then details How Old Money Does It, offering time-tested advice on everything from clothes and cars to finances and furnishings. Whether you're just starting out or starting over, The Old Money Book shows you how you really can Live Better While Spending Less.This instant classic has now been updated and expanded. With the original text included, the author has now added insights and information to help you navigate this post pandemic economy, revealing vital, timely strategies and tips on how to make the most of your money and your life. Also included are must-read excerpts from Byron's other popular books, including The Old Money Guide To Marriage, Old Money New Woman, and Old Money Style, as well as many of his most popular and inspiring blog posts from The Old Money Book blog (www.theoldmoneybook.com).With over 300 4-star Amazon reader reviews for the original Old Money Book, this is definitely a book to devour for its timely information and savor for its timeless wisdom.
Monday, 14 June 2021
Biden reveals Queen asked about Putin and Xi during tea at Windsor Castle
US president gives insight into his discussions with monarch in short visit after G7 summit in Cornwall
Dan Sabbagh and Steven Morris
Sun 13 Jun 2021 18.47 BST
Joe Biden revealed the Queen had asked him about his Russian and Chinese counterparts, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, during their 45-minute talk over tea at Windsor Castle, in the aftermath of the G7 summit on Sunday.
It was an exceptionally rare, if limited, insight into political discussions involving the British monarch: the contents of her regular weekly audiences with the British prime minister of the day are kept confidential.
But the US president, the most powerful politician in the western world, gave a brief taste of their meeting to White House reporters on the tarmac at Heathrow airport on Sunday evening, before flying out to his next stop, Brussels.
“We had a long talk, she was very generous. I don’t think she’d be insulted, but she reminded me of my mother. In terms of the look of her and just the generosity,” Biden, 78, said of the Queen, 95.
Those who speak to the Queen on other occasions are also not supposed to reveal what she has said to avoid embarrassing her, because, as head of state, the monarch does not publicly comment on political matters.
In 2012, the BBC was forced to apologise after its security correspondent, Frank Gardner, revealed on Radio 4 that the Queen had told him she was aghast that Abu Hamza could not be arrested during the period when he aired vehemently anti-British views as imam of Finsbury Park mosque in north London.
Biden also said he had invited the Queen to the White House, which she first visited in October 1957 on a four-day stay when Dwight Eisenhower was president. That was not her first meeting with a US president: as a princess she met with Harry Truman in 1951.
Biden, accompanied by his wife, Jill, was the 13th holder of the office to have met Elizabeth II. His meeting in the castle in Berkshire came after he inspected a ceremonial guard of honour in the building’s central quadrangle.
No details of their discussion was disclosed by the palace, although a picture was taken of the Queen and her visitors in the castle’s Grand Corridor, featuring a diminutive monarch dressed in pink flanked by somewhat taller visitors.
Earlier, PA Media reported a snippet of overheard conversation, as the official party headed inside to the castle. The Queen said to the president: “You completed your talks.” Biden replied: “Yes we did.”
The president had flown up from Cornwall on the Marine One presidential helicopter, arriving at Windsor in a black Range Rover, where he was greeted by the Queen, who was standing alone, two months after the death of her husband, Prince Philip.
Clearly at ease with each other, Biden then inspected the troops on his own, so preventing a repeat of Donald Trump’s faux pas where the former president walked in front of the Queen on his own visit to Windsor in 2018.
The Queen has met every US president since visiting Truman, with the exception of Lyndon Johnson in the 60s. The first US president to visit Windsor was Ronald Reagan, who rode on horseback with the monarch in 1982.
During the G7 summit, the royal family has taken a particularly active role, with the Queen hosting a reception for Biden and other G7 leaders at the Eden Project in Cornwall, also attended by Prince Charles, and his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, and Prince William and wife, Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge.
Earlier, the president was 15 minutes late for a 9am mass at the Sacred Heart and St Ia Catholic church as his cavalcade negotiated the twisting streets of St Ives in Cornwall.
Parishioner Ann Buckley: said: “It was an ordinary mass. He didn’t arrive on time. He missed father’s sermon. Father didn’t wait for him. He has another mass in Penzance to get to.”
Her brother, Martin, was disappointed that Boris Johnson had not visited too. “Boris gets married in Westminster Cathedral but doesn’t come here. What a golden opportunity and he didn’t come.”
Father Philip Dyson said he had not been given advance warning that the president and his wife would be joining them for the service and admitted he was slightly nervous while conducting the service.
“I welcomed him to Cornwall and he said he was enjoying his time here and there were many serious matters they were discussing and just hope it’s going to come to fruition.
“I think the G7 has been such a great occasion. The scripture readings were appropriate because it was about creation and climate, and things growing, so it absolutely suited the occasion.”
He added that the scriptures were not selected “by choice”, adding: “It’s just the way it always is. The word of God always fits in.”
Sunday, 13 June 2021
Acropolis now: Greeks outraged at concreting of ancient site
An online petition signed by 3,500 people calls for the concrete pathways to the Acropolis to be removed.
Installation of new pathway and lift has been criticised by archaeologists and called ‘a scandal’
Helena Smith in Athens
Thu 10 Jun 2021 05.00 BST
When seen through the eyes of Manolis Korres, the architect who has long presided over the restoration of the Parthenon, the Acropolis needs no improvement at all.
In the face of such architectural mastery, he thinks of himself more as a maestro of order, making a monument that has survived explosions, fire, looting and earthquakes more understandable to the public.
“Many generations of scholars have tried to bring order to this chaos, myself included,” he said, while taking in the maze of marble slabs and scaffolding-encased ruins around him. “The issue is to safeguard what is here. In a hospital you have to take care of patients, for me the patients are stones.”
The wiry professor, a world-renowned authority on the fifth century BC site and current head of the Acropolis Monuments Conservation committee, is regarded as a national treasure in Greece. No man, say supporters, knows more about the Periclean treasure, or the sacred rock on which it stands.
But at 73, 70 years after he was first taken as a child on the shoulders of an uncle to visit the temples, the architect has also come under criticism for interventions conducted during lockdown and deemed to have gone too far.
The installation of a new pathway paved in reinforced concrete across much of the hill’s open space in the name of facilitating people with disabilities has been met with dismay. So, too, has Korres’ proposed plan to overhaul the ancient citadel’s majestic gateway, or Propylaia, by reinstating a Roman staircase that would both broaden the entrance, correct previous erroneous interventions and return it to some of its original form.
Critics complain that both pander to mass tourism rather than saving the site from the ravages of time.
Prior to the pandemic, about 3.5 million tourists made the ascent to see the Acropolis, the country’s most visited site.
In the six months that the temples were closed to the public on account of Covid-19, a new lift capable of carrying two wheelchairs at a time was also installed on the rock’s northern flank, replacing an older elevator that had ceased to operate years ago. That, too, has been criticised as a modernist eyesore.
The alterations – the most significant on the site for more than a century – replace an older pathway that followed the ancient Panathenaic way and was much narrower in size. Opposition has been fierce. More than 3,500 signatories have endorsed an open letter on the online activist network Avaaz calling for the pathways to be removed and other projected changes to be cancelled. Following the completion of the corridors on the northern and eastern area of the site, plans are afoot to extend the walkways west and south.
“It’s as if the Parthenon itself has been lowered to street level and surrounded by a cement pavement,” said Despoina Koutsoumba, president of the Association of Greek archaeologists. “There has been a great deal of pressure, especially from the cruise industry, to increase visitor capacity so that even larger crowds can be accommodated.”
Dr Tasos Tanoulas, until recently director of restorations at the Propylaia, also deplored the decision to cover so much of the rock’s face with reinforced concrete, saying the move would lead inexorably to “degradation of the natural landscape and a devaluation of the rock as a natural monument in its own right, as a natural fort”. In a letter to World Heritage Watch – the Berlin-based body established to ensure that prime sites are not sacrificed to economic interests – Tanoulas argued the alterations appeared to “compete with and diminish” the architectural and sculptural splendour of the monuments.
Yannis Hamilakis, a professor of archaeology and modern Greek studies at Brown University, went further, saying the changes amounted to “a scandal of global proportions” given the monument’s significance as a world heritage site.
“The most scandalous thing, perhaps, is that these works have been carried out without prior systematic study,” he said. “They’re clearly an attempt to recreate an imagined fifth century BC Acropolis, a neo-classical colonialist and nationalist dream which converges with the government’s agenda for further commercialisation of the site.”
If proof were needed, he said, the French designer Christian Dior will be among the first to take advantage of the new expanded pathways with a fashion shoot on the Acropolis next week.
But the changes have also won praise, and according to Korres, have the added advantage of being ‘reversible’. “What we have done is patch rock destroyed by the vicissitudes of time. We didn’t have the freedom to use flagstones or other materials because they weren’t used in the past but, if desired, all this surface,” he said pointing to the paving, “could be removed in a day because of the membrane underneath.”
Greece’s culture minister, Lina Mendoni, a respected archaeologist herself, defended the measures, saying they had been ratified at multiple levels, including the powerful central archaeological council Kas. “They’ve all been approved by people whose credibility cannot be disputed,” she said during a tour of the site. “Since 2004 [when Athens held the Olympic Games] we’ve been talking about improving access for people with disabilities.”
Each year about 150 people are seriously injured negotiating the outcrop’s slippery limestone surface, she revealed. “Many break legs. Each incident is recorded in the site’s logbooks. Whatever you do on the Acropolis ignites debate. If you don’t do anything, you’re criticised; if you do, you’re criticised.”
Tour guides gathered around the monument’s ticket booths on Wednesday agreed the new pathways were overdue. “There are ambulances up here at least four times a week,” said Athina Pitaki who has been guiding visitors around the site since 1978. “I’ve been up here long enough to see all the changes and in reality it’s much better now. It hasn’t affected the monuments. They’re still as impressive as ever and for the first time people can enjoy them without always fearing they’re about to fall.”
Korres knows he is in for a fight. Flooding at the site described as “a predictable consequence” of the new paving following heavy rains last December has intensified the outcry. Critics, led by Dr Tanoulas, claim it would be impossible to detach the reinforced concrete because it would require mechanical means and damage the rock.
But it is controversy the amiable professor appears to relish. “A hilltop can’t flood,” he smiles. “Any intervention raises the issue of aesthetics and is a controversial process. It’s always about weighing what is gained and what is lost.”
Friday, 11 June 2021
Harry and Meghan reject claim Queen not consulted on Lilibet name
BBC correspondent says palace source claims Sussexes did not ask for permission to use name for daughter
Lawyers for Harry and Meghan have written to the media asserting that the BBC’s claims are false and defamatory.
Wed 9 Jun 2021 13.09 BST
Buckingham Palace has become embroiled in a row over whether the Queen was consulted over the naming of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s daughter.
Harry and Meghan’s decision to name their second child Lilibet, a childhood nickname of the Queen, was seen as an attempt by the couple to try to mend their rift with the royal family.
But the couple’s suggestion, widely reported in the media, that the Queen gave her blessing for the name appears to have only deepened divisions with some at the palace.
The BBC’s royal correspondent, Jonny Dymond, reported that the Queen had not been consulted about the name. The BBC did not quote the source for its story directly, but Dymond said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the source had made it very clear that the Sussexes had not asked permission to use the name and that none had been granted.
He said “a good palace source” was “absolutely adamant” that the name had not been run by the Queen.
A spokesperson for the Sussexes insisted the Queen was told in advance about the name and that the couple would not have used it had the monarch disapproved.
The spokesperson said: “The duke spoke with his family in advance of the announcement – in fact, his grandmother was the first family member he called.
“During that conversation, he shared their hope of naming their daughter Lilibet in her honour. Had she not been supportive, they would not have used the name.”
Lawyers for Harry and Meghan have written to the media asserting that the BBC’s claims are false and defamatory.
The Sussexes’ rift with the royal family was made clear in their extraordinary interview with Oprah Winfrey in March. Meghan said concerns had been raised by one member of the family before the birth of their first child, Archie, about how dark his skin would be, and said the palace failed to help when she was feeling suicidal.
The Queen responded by saying the issues were taken “very seriously” but that “some recollections may vary”.
Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor is the Queen’s 11th great-grandchild and is eighth in line to the throne. Her middle name was chosen to honour her late grandmother, Diana, Princess of Wales.
After the announcement of the birth of Lilibet, the official Twitter account of Prince William and Kate posted congratulations without using the child’s name in full. The tweet said: “We are all delighted by the happy news of the arrival of baby Lili. Congratulations to Harry, Meghan and Archie.”
The Lilibet nickname was coined when the then Princess Elizabeth was a toddler in the 1920s and struggled to pronounce her name properly. The Queen’s father, George VI, was quoted as saying of his daughters: “Lilibet is my pride. Margaret is my joy.”
Lilibet Diana – the name may turn out to be more of a curse than a blessing
By giving their daughter such a name, Harry and Meghan have ensured there will be heightened interest in her as she grows up
What’s in a name? Quite a lot, if you’re royal. There’s always plenty of sensitivity and “meaning” in the chosen names of offspring – nods to history and politics as much as family affection, and the usual soppy stuff about something sounding nice or, less often, being trendy.
Harry and Meghan, who are in the celeb fame game properly now (for good or ill), have layered another consideration onto the usual ones in naming their daughter. Little Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor is certainly charming and her name seems well chosen, both on historical and sentimental grounds, with her famous gran and great gran memorialised. However, her name will always remind people who she is. Less trouble booking a table at a fashionable restaurant, getting a ticket for the must-see musical, or – you never know – a job.
The downside, of course, as with all celeb stuff, is that giving her such a name will merely heighten interest in her as she grows up; and, though it seems unkind to remark on it now, will inevitably attract the kind of media intrusion with which Lilibet Diana’s wider family are only too familiar. Her name may turn out to be more of a curse than a blessing, if the poignant experience of the past is anything to go by. The papers will be doubly interested in who she resembles as she grows up; whether she inherits Diana’s sense of style or the Queen’s sense of duty; and, of course, who she’ll be dating.
The public appetite for the habits and doings of even the most minor member of the royal family is astonishing, and probably unprecedented. It does leave some of us who are less obsessed with the Windsors a bit bewildered, however – something best satirised in a Viz comic quiz titled: “Which Kent Are You?”
We’ve become so old-fashioned about venerating our royal traditions – abetted by a government intent on weaponising them in our culture wars – that I’m only surprised Boris Johnson hasn’t reinstated the convention that the home secretary attend a royal birth to ensure no imposter is substituted for a genuine royal child. It would have meant Priti Patel flying to California to observe Meghan and Harry in the maternity suite, which would have entertained all concerned. Patel might have taken the opportunity to give Lilibet Diana a special, points-based UK visa, seeing as she would qualify under “semi-estranged royal personality”, a category of skilled worker for which post-Brexit Britain is of course crying out.
You might argue, for what it’s worth, that “Lilibet” is anyway a confected name – which is true, but it’s not like they’ve called her “Chardonnay” or “Renault Clio” or something. It seems to have grown out of the way the Queen, as baby Princess Elizabeth of York, was unable to quite pronounce her name, and so “Lilibet” caught on as a family sobriquet. It wasn’t on her birth certificate, or how she was known publicly, but the same might be said of Prince Henry of Wales, who, of course, has been universally referred to as Harry since his little red head popped out at the Lindo Wing in 1984. Once upon a time, the gin-soaked super-snob Princess Margaret was the sweet Princess Margaret Rose of York, until somewhere along the line the rose wilted in its acidic soil.
Lilibet is charming enough, and might itself be contracted to Lili, or she might prefer Diana, or “Diana the Second”, as she’d no doubt be dubbed by the media if she ever dared to emulate her paternal granny’s love of fashion. I happen to think it’s a shame that Doria Loyce and Jeanette, of the maternal line, didn’t get a look-in, but it’s none of my business.
Maybe, one day, the royal family will be enlightened enough to see what a tremendous asset they have in the American branch of the family, and how much Harry, Meghan, Archie and Lilibet – a new Fab Four – can contribute to the work and duties of a modernised British monarchy. Society has changed so much in recent decades that the Windsors have found it difficult to keep up, and they now find themselves being seen as symbols not so much of the nation and Commonwealth as a whole, but of tradition and resistance to “woke” values – hence the insane decision by the government to press on with a new £200m royal yacht, the main point of which is to wind up the left of the Labour Party and get patriotic voters in the red wall to vote Tory. There are even signs that William and Kate are being lined up, in effect, to lead the campaign against Scottish independence. This politicisation will not end well.
The rift between Harry and Meghan and the rest of the family has been unhappy and in nobody’s interests. It’d be nice to think that as Archie and Lilibet Diana grow up, the divisions can be healed, and that the family might even move back to Britain, fulfilling the kind of role they proposed before they were pushed into exile by the media making their lives hellish. You’d doubt it, though.
Like her namesakes, Lilibet Diana has a challenging life ahead of her, so we should wish her well.
Lilibet Diana: the baby name that represents a royal rift – and audacious hope
By combining the names of the Queen and the Princess of Wales, Harry and Meghan have highlighted two very different approaches to the monarchy. But which will define the future?
Wed 9 Jun 2021 06.00 BST
The joyful delivery of a baby girl to Prince Harry and Meghan is lovely news. But it has been lost, ever so slightly, in the couple’s naming choice: Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor.
I don’t think they had any say in the surname, so let’s stick with the forenames. Lilibet is, of course, the Queen’s nickname; not, as you might suppose, a contraction of Elizabeth that only posh people use, but rather what she called herself when she was too young to pronounce her own name. Only George VI, the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret and Prince Philip used it. “Lilibet is my pride. Margaret is my joy,” the king was quoted as saying, evidently having not caught up with the parenting manual that says you are really supposed to keep the identity of your favourite child to yourself. When Prince Philip died, the nickname died with him.
So, was it sensitive or insensitive for Harry to revivify it so soon? This is the question that is occupying the royal watchers, along with: is this an olive branch to the family, a reminder that underneath all the feuding lie real, human relationships? Or is it a defiant statement: you can’t evict me from the family, because it is not a house, or even a collection of gigantic houses; it is a family. Or is it somehow a combination of the two – and is that even possible?
But what is a royal watcher, anyway? Their expertise is the weapons-grade fawning; the watching, any of us could do. What if they are asking the wrong questions? Because there are two parts to this name: yes, there is Lilibet, but there is also Diana. Plainly, the couple have chosen the two most different members of the family, each embodying a diametrically opposite culture, and named their daughter after both of them. It could be that they are trying out something quite inventive, a monarchical third way.
The Queen is synonymous with a powerful sense of duty. “If you look up the number of engagements she’s missed, over 70 years, it’s unbelievable. It’s three,” says Amy Jenkins, one of the writers on The Crown. Duty is an outcome rather than an input, but it is possible to infer character from it – rigidity, obedience, reticence, self-effacement, an absolute horror at showing emotion. “It’s that British thing, isn’t it? ‘I challenge you to feel something,’” Jenkins says. “That’s like British bullying. We do it properly and we don’t feel things.”
Diana, Princess of Wales, meanwhile, was emphatically not rule-bound; really, her only duty as the wife to the heir of the throne was to produce young and stay married, and she flamed out spectacularly on the second.
What was much more discomfiting within the royals and to the public, though, was that she wasn’t emotionless. Even before the Martin Bashir interview – and we will park for now the question of whether we need to torch the BBC, a 100-year-old institution of unmatched global importance, for an interview that is a more than 25 years old and most of us remember only for the eyeliner – you could see the feelings running riot all over her face, from the beseeching eyes to the wistfulness. There were glimpses of mirth, sorrow, boredom. Has any royal’s face ever been so damn legible?
It was never clear whether these feelings were genuine or part of a complicated PR long-game – but they certainly weren’t hidden. It caused a lot of rancour, since she accrued the world’s attention that way – after all, it is much more interesting to look at a person who is feeling a thing than someone who is not – and was cast within the family as an attention-seeker. Attention-seekers are annoying in any family, but they are poison to a family whose operating model is “we didn’t ask for any of this, we’re just doing our duty”.
But Diana also called attention to the fragility of the Queen’s way of doing things. “That reticence wouldn’t hold, and one of the reasons it wouldn’t hold was because people have feelings,” says Jenkins. “But the royal family don’t recognise that. Which means they make mistakes all the time, because they’re reckoning without being human.” Having Diana around, with those great pools of emotion she called eyes, was an unsettling reminder that people, even under all that pomp, might still act like people.
In the end, whatever a royal was thinking or feeling back then, their prospects for self-expression were heavily circumscribed, limited effectively to the charities they supported. The Queen’s list of patronages is exactly as you would expect, although you might raise an eyebrow at how much she likes rugby (union and league?). It is studiously uncontroversial; her interests centre on children, animals and august institutions.
Between the charity work and the tacit demands of her office – that she remain neutral in the face of every issue, like a BBC journalist without the questions – it is very hard to say what she actually cares about. Dogs and horses, certainly; she is passionate about the Commonwealth, although it is unclear what about the Commonwealth inspires her passion (the memories of dominion? The beaches? The many cuisines?). People project views and behaviours on to the Queen, sometimes strategically – recall the Sun claiming her as an ardent Brexiter – and sometimes just to fill the void. There is no record of the Queen having any political or intellectual agenda, Jenkins says. “In that sense, The Crown is a complete and utter fantasy. The idea that she’s subtly manipulating matters of state behind the scenes, that she’s this wise force of whatever … no.”
Diana, conversely, was not just overtly political, but also radical in her choice of causes. Her work with the Halo Trust, the anti-landmine charity, started in Angola in January 1997, only months before her death. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision to walk across the minefield – “very characteristic of her”, says the charity’s CEO, James Cowan. “She knew her personal capacity to make a difference was extraordinary.”
What sounds from this distance like an uncontroversial cause – who would oppose a ban on weapons that continue to kill children years after a conflict has ended? – was in fact the opposite. “The British at that time were pretty committed to keeping landmines as part of their military armour,” Cowan says. “She’d been called a loose cannon by a minister.”
The impact of that photo was more or less immediate: in the autumn of that year, the international mine ban treaty came into force and has been signed by hundreds of countries that previously would have opposed it, not least the UK. It is the kind of impact that an individual makes only as a maverick, a thorn in the establishment’s side. If Diana had been swimming with the current, she would have been one voice in many. So, did it make her a pioneer or a narcissist? Maybe all pioneers are narcissists.
Yet it was her work with HIV and Aids patients – which started in 1987 with the photo of her shaking hands, gloveless, with the patient Ivan Cohen and continued until her death – that flagged how truly unusual she was.
There is a semi-satirical Diana fandom from a left perspective. Alex, 26, who runs a Twitter account called Princess Diana Is in All of Us, says: “My journey is going from ironic Diana lover to genuinely having a spiritual connection with her.” For Alex (who is using his first name only because he works in activism and direct action), Diana’s HIV work was a jumping-off point. “As a gay man, I found what she did really quite moving,” he says of the Cohen photo. “When she held the hands of Aids patients, I genuinely believe she was doing a spectacle of direct action. She was trying to construct a dramatic image that would advance social change.
The Queen embodies the values of an age before her own. Diana stood for a complicated modernity
“She was conscious of the fact that she was conceptualised as a Christ-like angel, and she then goes out of her way to hold the hands of people who are considered to be disgusting and contaminated. I use ‘Christ-like’ intentionally. It was a direct reference to Christ cleaning the feet of leprosy patients.”
Alex says her landmine and HIV action “created an image that shakes the foundations of the discourse” and posed a direct challenge to the values associated with the royals as personified by the Queen – reticence and stoicism. Peter Hitchens has highlighted the difference between Winston Churchill’s funeral and Diana’s – ultimate restraint versus the “outpouring of grief”, a phrase that became the motto of Diana’s legacy. The Queen seems very much of Churchill’s vintage, yet plainly she is not. Nonetheless, she embodies the values of an age before her own. Her daughter-in-law, on the other hand, stood for a complicated modernity, self-involved but extremely public, the self as a brand to be strategically deployed.
In their everyday lives – how they parented, the formality of their bearing – Lilibet and Diana offer contrasts that are a little melancholy. There is a video of the Queen arriving home from a long trip abroad, in which an absolutely tiny Prince Charles approaches and shakes her hand; to modern eyes, at least, it conveys worlds of distance and loneliness. It is understood that she bucked the aristocratic norm of outsourcing motherhood by the time it came to Prince Andrew, and that he was her favourite, but it is not possible to point to real-world evidence of this. Plus, he still went to boarding school. In any case, it doesn’t seem to have turned out a more rounded human being.
Diana was what the psychologist John Bowlby might call a much more “attached” mother, but she was powerfully unhappy even by the time she was pregnant with Prince William, so there was never any sense that she was living the perfect-family dream. She rebelled against petty expectations – kicking off her shoes in the hair salon, wearing red cashmere maternity dresses – but she did not manage to find an alternative way of being royal that made the business any less draining.
In the end, it is impossible to adjudicate on whose way of being makes more sense. We cannot know what kind of royal would make the institution more durable, more bearable, more coherent. All you can say is that they were as different as they could have been, and that this schism has been the gift that keeps on giving, a pinball of conflict that pings between the rest of the family with perpetual energy.
The putative feud between William and Harry, if it is really as bad as people say, can be read as a rerun of this clash – cold against hot, doing one’s duty versus questing for fulfilment. The obvious solution is for Harry and Meghan to become Diana ultras in the US while William stays in Britain and channels the Queen, but that amounts to the rift lasting for ever.
Maybe the newest family member’s name is an audacious act of hope – what if someone came along who was a bit of both? Who was capable of putting herself second to her role without losing her identity? Who could harness her star power for good? She might be a bit like Daenerys Targaryen without the dragons. Or maybe she is just a baby – and that is fine, too.
Thursday, 10 June 2021
The brogue (derived from the Gaelic bróg (Irish), bròg (Scottish) "shoe") is a style of low-heeled shoe or boot traditionally characterised by multiple-piece, sturdy leather uppers with decorative perforations (or "broguing") and serration along the pieces' visible edges.
Brogues were traditionally considered to be outdoor or country footwear not otherwise appropriate for casual or business occasions, but brogues are now considered appropriate in most contexts. Brogues are most commonly found in one of four toe cap styles (full or "wingtip", semi-, quarter and longwing) and four closure styles (Oxford, Derby, ghillie, and monk). Today, in addition to their typical form of sturdy leather shoes or boots, brogues may also take the form of business dress shoes, sneakers, high-heeled women's shoes, or any other shoe form that utilises or evokes the multi-piece construction and perforated, serrated piece edges characteristic of brogues.
Modern brogues trace their roots to a rudimentary shoe originating in Ireland and Scotland that was constructed using untanned hide. Modern brogues feature decorative perforations. These are often said to stem from the original Irish brogues as well, specifically from holes intended to allow water to drain from the shoes when the wearer crossed wet terrain such as a bog. However, contemporary descriptions of the original brogues do not mention such holes. The word "brogue" came into English in the late sixteenth century. It comes from the Gaelic bróg (Irish), bròg (Scottish) "shoe", from the Old Norse "brók" meaning "leg covering".The Scots word brogue is also used to denote a bradawl or boring tool as well as the action of piercing with such a tool.
The word "brogue" was first used to describe a form of outdoor, country walking shoe in the early twentieth century traditionally worn by men. At that time the brogue was not considered to be appropriate for other occasions, social or business. Over time perceptions have changed and brogues are now considered appropriate in most contexts, including business. Brogues continue to be most common as leather dress and casual shoes and boots, but can also be found in many other forms including canvas and leather sneakers and high-heeled women's shoes.
Brogues are most commonly found in one of four toe-cap styles (full or "wingtip" brogues, semi-brogues, quarter brogues and longwing brogues) and four closure styles (Oxford, Derby, ghillie and monk strap). Most commonly offered as a leather dress shoe, brogues may also come in the form of boots, canvas or leather sneakers or any other shoe type that includes or evokes the multi-piece construction and perforated, serrated edges characteristic of brogues.
Brogue styles are determined by the shape of the toe cap and include the commonly available full brogue (or "wingtip" in the United States), semi-brogue and quarter brogue styles, and may also be found in the less common longwing brogue style.
Full brogues (also known as wingtips) are characterised by a pointed toe cap with extensions (wings) that run along both sides of the toe, terminating near the ball of the foot. Viewed from the top, this toe cap style is "W" shaped and looks similar to a bird with extended wings, explaining the style name "wingtips" that is commonly used in the United States. The toe cap of a full brogue is both perforated and serrated along its edges and includes additional decorative perforations in the center of the toe cap. A shoe with a wingtip-style toecap but no perforations is known as an "austerity brogue", while a plain-toe shoe with wingtip-style perforations is a "blind brogue".
Spectator shoes (British English: Co-respondent shoes) are full brogue Oxfords constructed from two contrasting colours, typically having the toe and heel cap and sometimes the lace panels in a darker color than the main body of the shoe. Common color combinations include a white shoe body with either black or tan caps, but other colours can be used.
The ghillie style of full brogue has no tongue, to facilitate drying, and long laces that wrap around the leg above the ankle and tie below the calf to facilitate keeping the tie clear of mud. Despite the functional aspects of their design, ghillie brogues are most commonly seen as a component of traditional, formal Scottish dress and are worn primarily for social occasions.
Semi-brogues (or half brogues)
Toe cap detail of a man's semi-brogue (or half brogue) dress shoe
Semi-brogues (also known as half brogues) are characterised by a toe cap with decorative perforations and serration along the cap's edge and includes additional decorative perforations in the center of the toe cap. The half brogue was first designed and produced by John Lobb Ltd. as an Oxford in 1937 in an effort to offer his customers a shoe more stylish than a plain oxford, yet not as bold as a full brogue.
Quarter brogues are characterised by a cap toe with decorative perforations and serrations along the cap's edge, however, unlike semi-brogues, quarter brogues have no decorative perforations in the center of the toe cap. Quarter brogues are more formal than semi brogues and full brogues; they are the most formal of dress shoes with brogueing, making them the ideal fit to pair with business attire (suits).
Longwing brogues (also known in the US as "English" brogues, and in the UK as "American" brogues) are Derby style shoes characterised by a pointed toe cap with wings that extend the full length of the shoe, meeting at a center seam at the heel. Longwing Derby brogues were most popular in the US during the 1970s, and although the popularity of this style has decreased, it remains available