Uniform, Morning Coat or Lounge Suit ?

Has the thud of the Royal Invite resounded on your doorstep?

Gold embossed invitations to the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton have been sent out to 1,900 guests. Gilded invitations issued in the name of Queen Elizabeth II began dropping onto doormats this week after being sent out on Wednesday and Thursday, with the monarch’s EIIR cypher die-stamped in gold.

While names of the guests were not released, the list of dignitaries due to attend the wedding on April 29 is likely to meet Kate’s expectations that marrying into the royal family would amount to “quite a daunting prospect.”

While British Prime Minister David Cameron has been invited, President Barack Obama and other world leaders will miss out because William is only second in line to the British throne, not the heir, The Sunday Times said.

William has invited ex-girlfriends Jecca Craig and Olivia Hunt, both 28, and Kate has invited former boyfriend Rupert Finch, 32, the newspaper reported. Relatives of William’s late mother, Diana, have also reportedly been invited, with the guest list set to include her sisters Lady Jane Fellowes and Lady Sarah McCorquodale and her brother, Earl Charles Spencer.

More than 1,000 guests will be drawn from William and Kate’s family and friends, including most likely friends from St. Andrews university, where the couple met, St James’s Palace revealed. The queen and her husband Prince Philip will be at the head of the royal family group filling the pews, along with William’s father Prince Charles and his best man and brother Prince Harry. Kate’s parents Michael and Carole Middleton will also have front row seats along with sister Pippa, her maid of honour, and her brother James.

However, only 600 people have been invited to a lunchtime reception at Buckingham Palace hosted by the queen, and an even smaller group of 300 will attend a dinner and dance hosted by Prince Charles in the evening.

Guests received the invites in pale brown envelopes in the past few days.

Guests are to reply to the office of the Lord Chamberlain, one of the top officials in the royal household, who is overseeing many aspects of the wedding preparations.

The card also sets out dress requirements as “uniform, morning coat or lounge suit.”

About 50 members of the British royal family have been invited — although it emerged this weekend that Sarah Ferguson is not among them — in addition to 40 members of foreign royal families. These include dignitaries from the Middle East, the Emperor of Japan, the kings of Malaysia, Tonga and Thailand, and members of the royal houses of Spain, Holland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Belgium, reports say. A further 80 guests will be drawn from Prince William’s charities, which include homelessness charity Centrepoint, the Tusk Trust conservation charity and the Royal Marsden Hospital, where Diana was also a patron.

Then there will be 200 members of government, parliament and the diplomatic corps, as well as 60 governors-general and prime ministers from Commonwealth countries, and 30 members of the British military.

Cheers! Hope to see you there, bubbly in hand!


Cuba In The News

The Obama administration is easing travel restrictions to Cuba. After almost three decades of isolation, global tourism is one of the main sources of revenue for the Caribbean island. Five star hotels in La Habana offer deluxe amenities; the Hotel Saratoga provides a superb location for touring this marvelous old city, as it is in the midst of a once luxurious neighborhood. Faded elegance is apparent in the Habana Viejo district of crumbling palaces and winding cobblestone streets, it is still very appealing and staying here provides the most authentic Havana touring location. Plop at the rooftop pool for afternoon Mojitos or an icy Cuban Cristal beer – relax and enjoy the sunset after a long day of walking and sightseeing.

The historic Nacional Hotel is very popular, although it is a bit busy with tourists traipsing through the interiors and gardens of the famed former mobster and movie star hotel; an art deco reminder of the elegance and excess of pre-revolution Cuba.

A trip to the Hemingway Museum in a classic 1955 Chevy is worth every bounce and bump – time seems to have stood still in this suburb just outside Havana. One can understand the Cuban captivation, which kept Hemingway, ensconced at the preserved villa Finca Vigia.

Trinidad is a must visit, retaining the sleepy life of a small colonial town. Founded in 1514, it maintains several beautiful buildings dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. Meander through the streets, many closed to cars, but open to donkey carts. Chickens run free, dogs doze in the shade, and ancient men smoking cigars ponder the lazy day in rural Trinidad.

An afternoon helado (ice cream) is a refreshing afternoon ritual – Castro promised ice cream after the revolution and it is a delicious treat! Even if it costs the tourists more for the creamy Coppelia treat, communist charm dictates an ice cream every day. Sit and enjoy the ice cream, ponder the many Che and Revolution posters, proclaiming Socialism.

Billboards scattered in the countryside and in Havana remind the locals of the importance of their leader. A slice of life – despite the tourism, old traditions are practiced.

I met with several well known artists, one whose work hangs in the Contemporary Art Museum, dined at the best private restaurants, took a class in Master Mojito Making, and enjoyed the vibrant scene at the Ricky Ricardo style ‘Tropicana’ Nightclub!

Traveling with a humanitarian organization facilitates an authorized trip to Cuba; I’ve partnered with a local group – allowing me to select the best hotels, guides and paladars. My sensibilities, their license, your adventure!