Tuesday, 15 April 2014

BBC TV Interview -- Royal Tour of New Zealand: The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge and the popularity of the Monarchy

I appeared on BBC News TV yesterday to discuss the success of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's tour of New Zealand and to examine and compare the popularity of the Monarchy in Australia and New Zealand.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Victory for the Monarchy at Cambridge Union Debate - 27 February 2014

On Thursday, 27th February I was pleased to participate in a lively debate at the Cambridge Union on the motion "This House Would Abolish The Monarchy".

Hugo Vickers, Rose Beal and I formed the Opposition and spoke in support of the Crown. I am happy to report that we successfully defeated the motion -- the vote was 105 against the motion (i.e. in support of the Monarchy) and 65 for the motion.

Founded in 1815, the Cambridge Union Society is the world's oldest operating debating society and the largest society at the University of Cambridge. The Union served as a model for the foundation of other university debating societies, including the Oxford Union and the Yale Political Union.

Chamber of the Cambridge Union (C) Cambridge Union Society

Full details of the debate and participants are included below:

This House Would Abolish The Monarchy

The announcement that Prince William is studying in Cambridge this term has prompted comment and outcry across the national and student media. The monarchy is Britain’s most iconic national institution, a central non-partisan plank of our constitution – according to some. For others, it is an outdated relic that impedes our democracy and entrenches elitism. In this debate, we put the arguments, and the modern monarchy, to the test.
Graham Smith is chief executive of the pressure group Republic, which calls for an elected head of state. Graham also writes for the Guardian.
Peter Kellow is Leader of the Democratic Republican Party, and writer for the Huffington Post. Peter believes there is a need for radical changes in UK politics.
Kate Maltby is a member of the executive team for Bright Blue, a pressure group for liberal conservatism. Kate writes for the Telegraph on politics and culture.
Hugo Vickers is known for writing royal biographies such as Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. Hugo was appointed Chairman of the Jubilee Walkway Trust in 2002.
Rafe Heydel-Mankoo is a historian and royal commentator. He is the co-editor of Burke's Peerage: World Orders of Knighthood, and a Research Associate at the public policy think tank, ResPublica.
Rose Beale is a finalist at Trinity studying management. Rose has been involved in Trinity Politics, the Wilberforce Society and Cambridge Development Initiative.
RESULT:  Proposition AYES: 65. Opposition NOES: 105

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

The Last Indian Member of the Imperial Order of the Crown of India - The Maharani of Travancore

HH Sri Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma (1922-2013)
Maharaja of Travancore (1991-2013)

My letter to the editor of The Times following the publication of the obituary of 
HH Sri Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma, Maharaja of Travancore was published today. The Maharaja's brother had been the last ruling Maharaja of Travancore and, in that capacity, was the hereditary guardian to a temple containing an ancient horde of treasure valued at many billions of pounds. However as hereditary guardians, generations of maharajas of Travancore, remaining true to their faith, refused to sell a single item from this immense treasure.

The Imperial Order of the Crown of India
Dear Sir,

As a footnote to your obituary of HH Sri Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma, Maharaja of Travancore, it is worth noting that his aunt Maharani Pooradam Thirunal Sethu Lakshmi Bayi (1895-1985) was the last Indian member of the Imperial Order of the Crown of India.

Maharani Pooradam Thirunal Sethu Lakshmi Bayi CI(1895-1985) 
Founded by Queen Victoria in 1878, the Imperial Order of the Crown of India was a "ladies' order" restricted to female members of the Royal Family and Indian princely families, as well as the families of senior British officials in India. Sri Uthradom's aunt was appointed to the Order in 1929 in recognition of her service as Maharani Regent of Travancore (1924-1931) during the minority of her nephew, Varma's brother, Sri Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma (later Major General HH Sri Chithira Thirunal Sir Balarama Varma, GCSI, GCIE, the last ruling Maharaja of Travancore). Along with the insignia, members were entitled to bear the post-nominals "CI".    
HRH The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon CI, GCVO
Wearing the insignia of the Imperial Order of the Crown of India
along with the Royal Family Orders and the Royal Victorian Chain
Following the deaths, in fairly short succession, of HRH The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and HRH Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, the Imperial Order of the Crown of India now has only one surviving member: HM The Queen (who is also Sovereign of the Order). Through this membership The Queen provides one of the last direct connections to the British Raj. 

Lord Mountbatten once said of the Maharani of Travancore: "No one who met her once could ever forget her. She stands as a shining example to womanhood as a great queen and a great woman." I'd wager many would say the same of our own Queen.


Rafe Heydel-Mankoo

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Act of Reconciliation signed between the claimants to headship of the Royal House of Bourbon Two Sicilies

Yesterday, Friday, 24 January 2014, was a day of great importance for the Royal House of Bourbon Two Sicilies, for the Illustrious Royal Order of St. Januarius/San Gennaro, for the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George and for all their friends and supporters.

An Act of Reconciliation between both branches of the House was signed in Naples by HRH Don Pedro, Duke of Noto, son of HRH The Infante Don Carlos, Duke of Calabria (head of the Spanish line), and HRH Don Carlo, Duke of Castro (head of the Neapolitan line). Let us hope that this will be but the first step towards greater cooperation and an enduring and harmonious rapprochement.

The two branches have come together in Naples for the Beatification of HM Queen Maria Cristina of the Two Sicilies (1812-1836), the first Queen consort of Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies, which takes place today at the Basilica of Santa Chiara, where HLM is buried.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Centenary of the Death of a Titan of the British Empire: Lord Strachcona and Mount Royal -- Candian imperialist, philanthropist, businessman (1820-1914)

The Rt. Hon. The Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal,
GCMG, GVCO, PC, DL (1820-1914)
Today, 21 January 2014, marks the centenary of the death of one of the towering figures of the British Empire: the great Canadian imperialist, philanthropist, businessman and politician, Donald Smith, 1st Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal, GCMG, GCVO, PC, DL.

Having achieved phenomenal success, wealth and power in Canada, Lord Strathcona spent his final years in London. Appropriately for a great architect of the British Empire, his funeral service was conducted at Westminster Abbey, where a commemorative stained glass window remains to this day.

Lord Strathcona's imposing mausoleum stands near the entrance to London's famed Highgate Cemetery.

Despite his extremely long, successful and varied career, Lord Strathcona is perhaps best remembered for driving "The Last Spike" into the transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railway, the construction of which was essential for the creation of modern Canada and became a symbol of national unity. 

The photograph taken of Lord Strathcona on that occasion (shown below) remains one of the iconic images of Canadian history and is regarded as a symbol of national pride and achievement. 

Arguably Canada's most famous and historically significant photograph.
"The Last Spike": Lord Strathcona & Mount Royal drives the final spike into the Canadian Pacific Railway, 7 Nov. 1885.

Unlike the final spikes used to complete other railways, The Last Spike in the Canadian Pacific Railway was neither gold nor silver but was identical to the millions of other spikes that had been laid along the route.
Born in Scotland in 1820, Donald Smith emigrated to Lower Canada at the age of 18 to take up a position with the Hudson's Bay Company. He steadily rose through the ranks of the Company whilst simultaneously finding time to successfully stand for election: first to the Manitoba legislature and subsequently to the Canadian House of Commons, where he sat intermittently from 1871 through to the 1890s, staunchly defending the Hudson's Bay Company. Smith would eventually become a commissioner of the Company, its principal shareholder and, ultimately, its 26th Governor -- a position he held until his death. His 75 year record of service with the Hudson's Bay Company remains unequalled.

Plaque commemorating
"The Last Spike"
A silent, but substantial, partner in the syndicate that founded the Canadian Pacific Railway, Smith became a director of the company in 1883 and had the honour of driving the Last Spike into the transcontinental railway 5 years later. During this same period, Smith, who had earlier helped established the Bank of Manitoba, was appointed to the board of the Bank of Montreal (1872), subsequently becoming Vice President (1882) and President (1887).

In 1896 Smith declined the offer to succeed Canadian Prime Minister Sir Mackenzie Bowell and, instead, accepted appointment as Canada's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. A month after his appointment he was elevated from Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (1886) to Grand Cross of the Order (GCMG) in The Queen's Birthday Honours List. A year later he was created Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal, of Glencoe in the County of Argyll and of Mount Royal in the Province of Quebec and Dominion of Canada.

Continuing his business interests, Smith helped to establish the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (the forerunner of British Petroleum / BP) and would become its chairman in 1909.

During his service as High Commissioner in London, Lord Strathcona raised a private unit of Canadian soldiers to fight in the Second Boer War. One of the last private regiments to be established during the British Empire, the Strathcona Horse was recruited and equipped at Lord Strathcona's expense.

Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadian) in ceremonial uniform today

According to tradition, the famous "Strathcona Boots" worn in dress uniform by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were adopted by the Mounties after they served with the Strathcona Horse during the Boer War. The famous stetsons worn by the Mounties were also allegedly inspired during this period, perhaps from the Strathcona Horse. Disbanded in 1901 and revived in 1909, with augmentations to its name, Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) exists today as a regular armoured regiment of the Canadian Army with HRH The Prince of Wales as its Colonel-in-Chief.

In keeping with the spirit of the age, Lord Strathcona became one of the Empire's greatest philanthropists, using his wealth to support organisations in the UK, Canada and across the Empire. With his cousin and Canadian Pacific Railway partner Lord Mount Stephen, Lord Strathcona funded the construction of Montreal's famous Royal Victoria Hospital. Established in 1893 "to be for the use of the sick and ailing without distinction of race or creed", the "Royal Vic" was the most advanced and best equipped hospital in North America. The hospital exists to this day and is closely affiliated with that other great Montreal institution, McGill University. A major benefactor to McGill, Lord Strathcona established a school for women there in 1884 and would become Chancellor of the University from 1888 until his death.

The stunning Imperial Institute. Nothing remains of the original building save for the
tremendous tower. The rest of the buildilng was destroyed by architectural vandals to
redevelop the site for Imperial College
In Britain his philanthropy contributed to Aberdeen University, the Sheffield Scientific School and the Imperial Institute (later the Commonwealth Institute), the original site of which is now home to Imperial College in South Kensington. He also contributed generously, along with his cousin Lord Mount Stephen, to The Prince of Wales Hospital Fund (now The King's Fund). In 1908 King Edward VII (who regarded Lord Strathcona as a friend) appointed him a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO).

The Lord Strathcona Medal,
the highest award that can be conferred on
a Canadian cadet.
The Medal bears the bust of Lord Strathcona
Through Lord Strathcona's generous endowment to the Royal Canadian Army Cadets and his desire to promote patriotism, the Lord Strathcona Medal was established as the highest award that can be bestowed upon a Canadian cadet. Today it continues to be conferred in recognition of outstanding performance in physical and military training.
Knebworth House, leased by Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal until his death

In England, Lord Strathcona lived at 53 Cadogan Square in London and leased Knebworth House until his death. In Scotland he owned Glencoe House and Colonsay House (having purchased the Inner Hebrides island of Colonsay in 1905, which remains in the possession of the family today). In Montreal Lord Strathcona lived at 1157 Dorchester Street in the famous Golden Square Mile.

Lord Strathcona's memory lives on through numerous portraits, memorials, streets, parks and municipalities in Canada.

In Britain his memory endures though the memorial stained glass window erected in Westminster Abbey (see below) and also at his imposing Mausoleum in London's celebrated Highgate Cemetery.

Westminster Abbey's Memorial Window to
Lord Strathcona & Mount Royal
Dedicated on Dominion Day, 1 July 1919
(five years after Lord Strathcona's funeral in the Abbey)
The window is inscribed:
"In Memory of Baron Strathcona & Mount Royal. B. 1820. A Great Canadian Imperialist and Philanthropist. D. 1914"

The window displays the armorial bearings of Canada, the Hudson's Bay Company, Lord Strathcona & Mount Royal, the University of McGill and the University of Aberdeen, as well as the shields of Quebec and Manitoba and the regimental badges of Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) and the Liverpool Scottish (The King's)

Mausoleum of Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal
in Highgate Cemetery, London.
Lord Strathcona's mausoleum is one of the most imposing in the historic cemetery
 and occupies a prime position by the entrance. 

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Royal Beards

Newspapers and websites are reporting that The Queen "intensely dislikes" facial hair and has "ordered" her grandson Prince Harry to shave the beard he acquired during his recent charity trek to the Antarctic. I would never presume to know the Sovereign's view on beards, but almost all the male members of her family have sported beards at some point:

When The Queen was born, her beloved grandfather, King George V, sported the most famous beard in the land:

HM King George V

During the Second World War, The Queen's future husband kept to naval traditions by cultivating an impressive beard:

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh
Like father, like son:

HRH The Prince of Wales

Beards were all the rage in the 1970s:

HRH The Duke of York

And every generation of royal seems keen to try the look:

HRH The Duke of Cambridge

One wonders what the King of Beards is thinking today...

HRH Prince Michael of Kent

And if beards are a bit too much, there's always the moustache. In 1975 HRH The Prince of Wales shaved off the beard he had acquired during a naval tour of the Canadian Arctic but kept his moustache for his installation as Great Master of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath at Westminster Abbey:

Catch me in a Six-Part TV Series on the Royals to be broadcast globally later this year


"This six-part documentary series on our favourite family – the British Royal Family – takes viewers on a journey through all facets of Royal life in all its grandeur, splendour and even controversy, providing the definitive peek into the fascinating world inhabited by these beloved monarchs. Join us on a journey of discovery through the mesmerising world of The Royals.": Royal Weddings, Royal Funerals, Young Royals etc.

I am pleased to appear in two episodes -- primarily in the episode on Royal Pets but also in the episode on Royal Babies.

Currently only available for purchase/download in Australia, the series will be broadcast on television in the UK, USA, Canada and around the world later this year.  Australians can view clips and download episodes from iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/au/tv-season/royal-pets/id743146887?i=748271017

Monday, 23 December 2013

The British Empire Christmas Pudding Recipe

Recipe published by The Empire Marketing Board (c.1926-1933), with the permission of King George V, for an Empire Christmas Pudding containing ingredients from every corner of the British Empire. One wonders whether one could easily obtain the ingredients today?

Sunday, 22 December 2013

No Australian Knighthoods: Australian Prime Minister Abbot does not support restoration of historic Australian titles

The Queen of Australia meets with her Australian
Prime Minister
Monarchists and traditionalists will be disappointed and saddened to learn today that Australia's conservative and staunchly monarchist Prime Minister Tony Abbott is not in favour of the restoration of Australian knighthoods as titular grades within the Order of Australia. 

As the Australian Prime Minister is an unapologetic traditionalist, many had pinned their hopes on him to restore these great symbols of independent national identity; however it appears that Mr. Abbott may wish to avoid repeating the controversy that surrounded the knighthoods when they were first introduced in 1976. Whilst not an end to the matter, this will be a blow for campaigners -- for without the support of such a normally enthusiastic Prime Minister, it is difficult to see how indigenous Australian knighthoods can now be achieved. 

Speaking to Australia's Sunday Telegraph, PM Abbott said: "It's true that some people have said to me: 'What about doing what New Zealand did'...but I don't think it would be practical to just rebadge ACs. There was a rarity to their AC equivalent which made it easier for them to do this....I don't think New Zealand is a relevant model here. The problem is they just basically converted there (sic) ACs into knighthoods. I just don't think that's realistic in this country."

Mr. Abbott is incorrect. New Zealand did not convert their equivalent of ACs (Companion of the Order of Australia) into knighthoods. Far from it. New Zealand has a 5 grade New Zealand Order of Merit, the two highest grades of which were originally knighthoods but, for a short time, were renamed to non-titular grades before being converted back into knighthoods in 2009. No grades were abolished. Australia, in contrast, had a 5 grade Order of Australia, with a grade of knighthood which ranked above Companion. The grade of knighthood was abolished in 1986, leaving Australia with a 4 grade Order. The issue for Australia is therefore not of "converting" Companions (ACs) into knighthoods but, instead, of restoring the rank of knighthood/damehood (AK/AD) above Companions. That is a different matter entirely, one that is both achievable and desirable. 

As Mr. Abbott has been misinformed about this issue, it is hoped that better information might lead him to a different view.

HM The Queen of Australia
wearing the Sovereign's Badge of the
Order of Australia
Inspired by the Order of Canada, the Order of Australia was established on 14th February 1975. The Queen of Australia instituted it as a society of honour for the purpose of according recognition to Australian citizens for achievement or for meritorious service.

The Order of Australia comprises a general and a military division and originally had three classes: companion, officer and member. The Queen is Sovereign of the Order and the Governor General is Chancellor and Principal Companion.

It was in 1976, during the premiership of Malcolm Fraser, that the letters patent constituting the Order were augmented to include the level of knight/dame (AK/AD) of the Order of Australia, to rank above the class of Companion. At the same time a medal was also added, to rank below the class of Member. 

The Medal, which, unlike the British Empire Medal and Royal Victoria Medal, is regarded as a class of the Order, allowed for a much needed increase in the number of awards available to recognise those taking a leadership role in local communities and was uncontroversial. The same could not be said for the introduction of Australian knighthoods. 

Several distinguished Australians such as novelist and Nobel laureate HC Coombs, who had refused knighthoods in the Imperial Honours system but had been the first to take the new Companion of the Order of Australia, promptly resigned on principle -- and probably because they did not appreciate the existence of a new class above theirs.

Insignia for a Knight and Dame of the Order of Australia

In 1983 when the Labor Party came back into power, Prime Minister Hawke stopped recommending any knights or dames to the Order of Australia. In 1986 after he had won his second election he formally recommended to the Queen that the level of Knight or Dame of the Order of Australia be removed.  

During this brief period a total of fourteen knights/dames had been appointed. Although the class was discontinued, holders of the distinction were and are permitted to retain their rank and title. Today, there are two living Knights of the Order of Australia: HRH The Prince of Wales and The Rt. Hon. Sir Ninian Stephen, KG, AK, GCMG, GCVO, KBE, QC, former Governor General of Australia. 

The Rt. Hon. Sir Ninian Stephen, KG, AK, GCMG, GCVO, KBE, QC, former Governor General of Australia
wearing the neck badge and star of a Knight of the Order of Australia, along with the sash, sash badge and star of
a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, the star of a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael & St. George and the star of a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.


It is interesting to wonder whether, had there been more Australian knights, Mr. Abbott might have been persuaded to reach a different decision and follow the precedent set by his neighbour, Prime Minister John Key of New Zealand, who encountered little problem restoring indigenous knighthoods to New Zealand in 2009. The decision was popular and the public response was highly enthusiastic.

New Zealand shows that nations can be modern, dynamic and progressive global leaders without abandoning their traditions, honours and symbols. 

HM The Queen of New Zealand wearing
the insignia of the Order of New Zealand,
the New Zealand Order of Merit and the
Queen's Service Order
Established in 1996, the New Zealand Order of Merit original comprised five classes the two highest of which (knight/dame grand companion and knight/dame companion) conferred a knighthood or damehood. 

On 10 April 2000 it was announced that following the earlier recommendations of the Prime Minister’s Honours Advisory Committee (1995) The Queen had approved the discontinuance of the two titular classes and their replacement with two new designations: principal companion and distinguished companion. These changes were instituted by a Royal Warrant dated 18 May 2000. 

The first appointments to the re-designated levels were made in The Queen’s Birthday Honours issued on 5 June 2000. The five classes became: principal companion, distinguished companion, companion, officer and member.

Those who were previously invested as knights or dames of the New Zealand Order of Merit were permitted to continue to bear the honorific; the wife of a knight, provided she used her husband’s surname, could continue to bear the courtesy title of ‘lady’ before the surname.

HE The Governor General of New Zealand, Lt. Gen. The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, invests Sir Paul Holmes as a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit on 16 January 2013.
In March 2009 it was announced that, upon the approval of HM The Queen, the titles of knight and dame grand companion and knight and dame companion were to be reinstated. There had been considerable belief that the removal of knighthoods had diminished the value of the two highest classes of the New Zealand Order of Merit. A visible titular honour was regarded as the most appropriate means of celebrating success at the highest levels of national life.  The first appointments to the reinstated levels were made in The Queen’s 2009 Birthday Honours List. 

The 85 New Zealanders who were appointed principal companions and distinguished companions between 2000 and 2008 were afforded an opportunity to be re-designated to the appropriate level of knight/dame grand companion or knight/dame companion. 72 of those eligible opted to convert to the appropriate titular honour, a clear indication of the popularity of knighthoods.

The quite remarkable fact that 85% of recipients chose to convert their non-titular honours into knighthoods/damehoods reveals precisely how valued these titles are across the vast spectrum of society -- people of all classes and political views appreciate the distinction of titular honours. 

It is highly regrettable that the current Australian Prime Minister, a traditionalist in so many other areas, has failed to appreciate the great good that the restoration of knighthoods to the Order of Australia would do for the country. 

Let us hope Mr. Abbott's mind can be changed.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Peter O'Toole, 14th Earl of Gurney in "The Ruling Class"

Peter O'Toole as "The 14th Earl of Gurney"

My letter to the editor of The Daily Telegraph:

17 December 2013

Dear Sir,

In two of your tributes to Peter O'Toole ("Appreciation" p.7 and "Obituary" p.21, Daily Telegraph, 16 Dec. 2013) it is claimed that the great thespian played a "mad" or "beserk" British baronet in the cult film, The Ruling Class.

O'Toole's character was, in fact, the 14th Earl of Gurney. Those familiar with the film will appreciate how much offence this twice committed error of demotion would have caused the Gurneys -- for not even two baronets can equal an earl.

The Gurneys are not here to defend their honour, but one can well imagine the brusque letter the 14th Earl's patriotically prejudiced father would have written: "We are not British baronets, sir! We are English earls!"


Rafe Heydel-Mankoo

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Field Marshal The Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank receives his Field Marshal's baton from HM The Queen

Yesterday, HM The Queen presented Field Marshal The Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank GCB, LVO, OBE, DL, Gold Stick-in-Waiting to The Queen, with his Field Marshal's baton. 

Field Marshal the Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank is former Chief of the General Staff, former Chief of the Defence Staff, Colonel of the Life Guards and Colonel Commandant of the SAS. 

Britain only has eight living field marshals, three of whom are members of the Royal Family: HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duke of Kent. In recent decades it was the practice to appoint Chiefs of the (Imperial) General Staff to the rank of Field Marshal on the last day of their appointment whilst Chiefs of the Defence Staff would become Field Marshals upon the first day of their appointment. However, since the 1990s service chiefs have not been able to expect these 5 star appointments -- instead, promotion to the rank of field marshal, admiral of the fleet or marshal of the Royal Air Force are seen as special appointments or reserved honours. 

Lord Guthrie was actually the first Chief of the Defence Staff not to become a Field Marshal upon his appointment (the last CDS to be appointed was Lord Inge in 1994). Britain therefore had a period of 18 years without the appointment of any new Field Marshals. 

This was remedied in 2012 when Lord Guthrie was appointed a Field Marshal along with The Prince of Wales (who, in preparation for his future role as Commander-in-Chief, also got 5-star ranking in the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force as Admiral of the Fleet and Marshal of the Royal Air Force). 

The five Chiefs of the Defence Staff that have served since Guthrie are not Field Marshals (but they are all Knights Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath). 

Lord Guthrie was also Vice President of the British Association of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and is a Patron of the Polish Association of the Knights of Malta (UK).

Annual Carol Concert of the Polish Association of the Knights of Malta (UK) at St. Clement Danes, London

On Tuesday, 3rd December there was a special performance of Carol of the Bells: A Polish Christmas Night held at the historic and stunning St Clement Danes Church, the Central Church of the Royal Air Force in central London. Guests were able to enjoy Christmas carols from both Polish and English whilst sipping mulled wine, eating Christmas cakes and wandering the indoor Christmas market.  

London's leading Polish choir Ave Verum along with Schola Gregoriana and the noted Soloist Natalie Coyle performed a programme of moving Christmas works in Polish and English. We were pleased to welcome BBC World News Presenter Kasia Madera as our guest reader.

Mr. Dariusz Laska, Deputy Head of Mission at the Polish Embassy,
Ms Natalie Coyle, Soloist, Ms. Kasia Madera, BBC World News Presenter &
Ms. Joanna Meeson, Chairman of the Polish Order of Malta Volunteers (UK)
This is the third annual carol concert organised by the Polish Order of Malta Volunteers (UK) and was held in aid of the Polish Association of the Knights of Malta's Oncological Centre in Poznan and the Polish Psychologists' Association in the UK.

Rafe Heydel-Mankoo speaks about the Polish Air Force
and its contribution to the Battle of Britain
and during the Second World War.
The Association is supported by our President the Earl of St Andrews, our Patrons HE the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland, Field Marshal The Lord Guthrie and The Rector of the Polish Catholic Mission for England and Wales Rev Rector Stefan Wylężek.

An important part of the carol service is the laying of a wreath on the Polish Air Force Memorial, which commemorates the Polish contribution during the Battle of Britain and throughout the Second World War. 
The Polish Air Force Memorial

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Launch of London Season Academy of Protocol & Etiquette in Dubai

Rafe Heydel-Mankoo lectures debutantes about the continuing
relevance and importance of international etiquette, business
etiquette and protocol in the globalised world of the 21st century.
Emirates Tower, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (C) Getty Images
I was delighted to speak at the first seminar of the new London Season Academy of Protocol & Etiquette, along with HRH Princess Katrina of Yugoslavia, HG The Duchess of Somerset and Sir Tobias Clarke, Bt. The seminar was held in the London Season's Dubai head quarters in the Emirates Tower, and followed on from the previous evening's successful launch party held on the Royal Island Beach Club on the World Dubai.

The London Season Academy of Protocol & Etiquette provides training courses and seminars on all matters connected to formal etiquette, business etiquette, international protocol and international customs.

Debutantes enjoying their lectures during the London Season Academy's first etiquette, social and business protocol class at The Emirates Towers in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (C) Getty Images

HG The Duchess of Somerset demonstrates the importance of
correct table manners in order to make a good impression in social
and business situations. (C) Getty Images

Heraldic Porcelain lecture at the Oxford University Heraldry Society

Heraldic porcelain is a subject that receives far too little attention from heraldry enthusiasts. Members of the Oxford University Heraldry Society were recently treated to a fascinating lecture on the subject by Mr. Hugh Macpherson, Executive Director of the Heraldic Porcelain Company, a London-based company that produces bespoke heraldic porcelain and related items from its Portuguese factory using the finest Limoges porcelain.

Mr. Macpherson spoke with great knowledge and enthusiasm about the history of different types of porcelain and the evolution of heraldic porcelain. His well-illustrated lecture revealed the huge variety of styles and products that have been produced over the centuries. Many were of outstanding quality, produced by craftsmen every bit the equal of the more famous sculptors or furniture makers.

Mr. Macpherson speckled his talk with many amusing anecdotes (who knew heraldic porcelain could be so entertaining!). Most amusing, perhaps, were the tales of Chinese factories producing flawed pieces due to poor communication and problems with English-Chinese translation. English customers would often send a black and white armorial bookplate to a Chinese factory annotated with instructions regarding the colours for the various components of the heraldic achievement. When the customer would take delivery of the final, expensive, product he would sometimes be horrified to discover that the Chinese factory had directly transcribed the written instructions onto the plates themselves!

More information on heraldic porcelain may be found on the website of the Heraldic Porcelain Company.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Inaugural Ball for the London Season Academy school of protocol & etiquette in Dubai

Last week I was pleased to participate in the launch of the London Season Academy, a school of protocol and etiquette, at a gala inaugural ball, which was held on the private Royal Island at the World Dubai complex, in the presence of numerous dignitaries from Europe and the Middle East, including HRH Princess Katrina of Yugoslavia and HG The Duchess of Somerset.

White tie and palm trees are rarely seen together -- when mixed with the smart native dress of the resident population and the magnificent ball gowns of the ladies, the effect was surreal and magical. The charity auction at the ball raised an impressive amount for the S.O.S. children's charity and everyone agreed the event was a wonderful start for the London Season Academy as it launches in the region.

Guests departed for the Royal Island by boat from the Dubai Marina
(C) Simeon Williams

Luxury setting: The ball was held on the exclusive and privately-owned Royal Island, part of the World Islands development off the coast of Dubai

Socialising: The debutantes mix with eligible young men during the ball, which was based on the historic Queen Charlotte's Ball, held annually at the Royal Courts of Justice in London

An eager bidder in the charity auction.

Impressive guest list: The ball attracted dozens of rich, famous and royal guests, including popular music singer Jahmene, pictured here with a debutante. 

Photographs (C) Getty Images