Queen Charlotte’s Ball elite group of debutante ladies

Queen Charlotte’s Ball elite group of debutante ladies

The Queen Charlotte Ball was held at the historic Royal Courts of Justice on 26 October 2013.  300 personally invited guests from England, America, Shanghai, Dubai, Hong Kong attended with a small but elite group of debutantes.

Debutante at Caroline Castigliano being fitted for Queen Charlotte's Ball
Debutante at Caroline Castigliano being fitted for Queen Charlotte’s Ball

London’s most prestigious society event, this historic ball for the aristocracy was introduced by King George III in 1780 as a way to celebrate his wife’s birthday, and a huge cake was one of the highlights.

Ladies and Gentlemen-Queen Charlottes Ball
Ladies and Gentlemen-Queen Charlottes Ball

Girls curtsey in front of a nine-tier-high cake in honour of George III’s wife Charlotte

The chosen few also take etiquette classes and raise money for charity as part of the programme

There’s no joining fee to become a deb, but traditional Season “fixtures” such as Henley, Ascot and Glyndebourne, which they are expected to attend, are expensive. A table for 10 at Queen Charlotte’s costs £2,500.

30 women aged between 17 and 20 are all hand-picked dressed like fairy tale princesses in white gown.

British born Caroline Castigliano, Designer for the London Season & 2013 Queen Charlottes Debutantes’ Ball has dressed some of the world’s most stylish women for their weddings, red carpet events and society gatherings. “Our debutantes are on the threshold of new, grown up lives and are about to make the transition into womanhood. “

Castigliano’s signature is a silhouette, which is unquestionably feminine and effortlessly elegant.

Smiling Debutantes
Smiling Debutantes

My Lords Ladies and Gentlemen…….

Up until 1958, young debutantes used to be presented to the Queen at Buckingham Palace.  Girls are judged on their posture, elegance and pace by the room.  The event involves meetings with aristocracy, etiquette classes, and charity fund-raising.

Here at Gentlemans Butler we love a good story.

If you were ask a group of girls what they wanted to be, being a princess or a lady would be pretty high on the list.

Some men call their girlfriend Princess and some girls definitely live like a Princess…

Royal Courts of Justice
Royal Courts of Justice

For 2014 Gentlemans Butler will be offering many services for men to better themselves and improve their Gentleman skills so what better way than to see how the fairer sex should act and maybe what they want to see in their Gentleman.  Mmm I feel sales of “Officer and Gentleman” could surge.

Increasing we are rediscovering our cultural past. To some etiquette may seem outdated but when one looks at the nuts and bolts, it’s really quite simple and in today’s multi-cultural and international world, this age old knowledge is increasingly valued.

If I surveyed a range of people about for example – going for drinks, buying presents, meeting the parents and going on a date many might smile and say mmm etiquette lessons, yes I think “he or she” could use some.

I personally have experienced this all too often, and all it does is make one feel uncomfortable and on occasion not welcome…

The next time you go to your supermarket and are packing your goods, try smiling and saying thank you…. not only will this show some appreciation but it will put the other person at ease……

Tiaras and Hairspray
Tiaras and Hairspray

It seems to me that increasingly the cultural skills and brands from France, Italy and The United Kingdom are being sought after by the new aspirational dynasties such as China, Russia, Arabia, Asia and India. As one famous bank advertisement says “speak our language”

In recent years there has been a succession of television programmes looking at this area from Ladette to Lady to Upstairs Downstairs, the ever popular Downton Abbey and earlier in 2013 the latest documentary produced by the BBC – How to be a Lady with Rachel Johnson and Jennie Hallam-Peel.

On the night of the big event, which was held at the Royal Courts of Justice, I was met by The London Season organiser Jennie Hallam-Peel. I had been invited to arrive early so I could meet and talk with the girls as they were being tended by professional hair and makeup artists, all before they dressed in their dazzling designer gowns and diamond tiaras.

Debutantes chilling ...playing chess
Debutantes chilling …playing chess

As a public school boy myself they reminded me of being at school, elegant and well brought up yes, but still girls getting ready for a party and so mobile phones were buzzing and the room was full of the smells of sights of “getting ready for a big night”

Princess Eyes
Princess Eyes

I chatted with several and interviewed three girls including Maria Austin, later that night to become Debutante of The Year.

Her thoughts were in my view very encouraging but to summarise

……when introducing Gentlemans Butler she smiled and told me her brother would love this as he was in his white tie at 10 oclock that morning when she had left  …..

……..she is at uni and was grateful for her upbringing, not in a cringe worthy way but I felt in a genuine way of understanding how lucky she was….

She had graduated from Royal Holloway in drama and was now in New York at Drama School…

…it was the charity that appealed with the aim of broadening her horizons…mentioning her small girls school in Surrey possibly being a little closeted…

…her perceptions – before she only knew about the history ….but now she saw how the events raise money for charity….

…..her role model would be The Duchess of Cambridge,…she seems very relatable…amazing role model…

Friends views– mixed …generally positive but a bit funny..but positive…

……the season is a popular topic for interview conversation…..

…….has a big interest in fashion, lover of vintage….

…….the white dress she loved 1950’s esque ……

………her plans – to be an actress – studying in New York and has agent…

she loves period drama …..

…..her advice for gents re- present buying – if it’s a girlfriend no bath stuff, perfume is good because it’s personal….

…..re men acting – hate men being crude….hates locker room talk…

….manners, hate bad table manners….this would be a non starter….

…..favourite man – Bradley cooper…speaks fluent French…..

….being widely read creates conversation…..

….anyone could be a debutante is one applies oneself …..

…..they do business etiquette classes…..

……be nice to people…..

….not matchmaking…not looking for husbands at 21…the event has evolved….

The ball was originally once a chance for the daughters of British nobility to meet their future husbands. “Today, officially, the focus is not on marriage but on giving ambitious girls the opportunity to further their careers and develop in social confidence,”

Please feel free to e-mail Gentlemans Butler on info@gentlemansbutler.com if any of these topics are of interest.

Queen Charlottes Ball - Deb of the tear Maria Austrin with London Season's Jenny Hallam-Peel
Queen Charlottes Ball – Deb of the tear Maria Austrin with London Season’s Jenny Hallam-Peel

 

Further Information – Jenny Hallam-Peel, a former deb and lawyer runs The London Season. In 2007, Tatler’s former social editor, Peter Townend, apparently begged Hallam-Peel from his deathbed to “keep the Season alive”. She obliged, by touring London’s smarter private day schools, from which she recruits between 20 and 30 “debutantes” every year.                                             In addition to the London events have been honoured to support charities  abroad as guests of HH Princess Susan al Said in Oman, Prince and Princess Michael Karajorjovic and  the President of Montenegro in Montenegro, HRH Princess Katarina of Yugoslavia and the President of Macedonia in Macedonia and honoured by the continued patronage of HH Princess Olga Romanov and Their Graces the Duke and Duchess of Somerset at Queen Charlotte’s Ball and additional London Season fund raising events. London Season debutantes have been guests of His Excellency the British Ambassador, Rome and Her Excellency, the Bolivian Ambassador, London.

The London Season has also been honoured recently in Shanghai initiating the first Shanghai Debutante Ball at the Waldorf Astoria and become the subject of a documentary for Japanese television on British business etiquette and four documentaries for the BBC and Channel Four .

Frequent editorial appears in the Financial Times, The Times, The Telegraph and The Independent , and the Daily Mail and Evening Standard newspapers in the UK. Events are regularly covered by leading UK and overseas magazines and transworld news photography via Reuters and all events support children in need.

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