Sunday, 19 August 2012

And So To Windsor and the Knights of the Garter

Taking with us the afore-mentioned book by the  ex-King, HRH the Duke of Windsor, KG, in order to look up references in the extensive index.  We were both fascinated to learn, in the great hall of St George, of the derivation of the Knights of the Garter, (KG).  Only in the mid-twentieth century was anyone not a Duke, Earl or Lord, or King of a foriegn land, designated with this honour. 

Round the walls of the hall are wooden panels, each listing, in numerical order, the name of every one of the  Knights since Edward III created the order in the distant past.  Each has his number. We have just reached the thousands, and I wanted to see who had the magic number 1,000.  It was Prince William, in 2008.  How lovely. We both think the world of the handsome prince.

As far as I could see, Stanley Baldwin was the first of common blood to be named KG.  Could it be a coincidence that he was also the Prime Minister who firmly blocked every avenue but abdication from the haplessly besotted Edward VIII? The designation is in the gift of the Sovereign. 

I had picked up from the book that the two brothers were very close, particularly in boyhood.  The popular story is that it was Elizabeth, the late Queen Mother, wife of younger brother George (who became George VI on the abdication), who put the boot in for the Windsors and spoiled any chance of reconciliation. Who knows. 

Anyway, it was interesting to note how no-one except Montgomery of Alamein and a handful of Conservative Prime Ministers (among them Margaret Thatcher) had made it on to the list.  We both found it amusing to note that Tony Blair has not been honoured, nor Gordon Brown.

I remarked ruefully that it was far too late in life now to make it my ambition to be honoured with the title of Knight of the Garter.

Later, we walked over the river to Eton.  I spotted an Age Concern shop, and acquired my eighth small teapot of the year, this one being a striking 1950's design in black and white.  It cost £1.  Hubby spotted a Gary Rhodes cookbook for £2.50 and bought it.  This is an amazing breakthrough - getting my husband into a charity shop at all, and then him actually buying a book!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

"A King's Story", by HRH the Duke of Windsor

A Book for Every Occasion - that's me.  This year, I've followed all the big celebrations. 

The 100th Anniversary of the death of Scott in the Antarctic - I own a dozen books on this subject, the latest being the newest, published late last year in time for the Xmas market:  "The Last Photographs of Captain Scott", a Christmas gift from elder daughter.  The author is David Wilson,  great-nephew of Edward Wilson, Scott's close friend and fellow explorer.  So poignant.

The 200th Anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens - yes, I own most of the novels, and the latest biography, "Charles Dickens, A Life", by Claire Tomalin.  Again a timely publication ready for this anniversary.

I've been to two Dickens exhibitions and two Scott of the Antarctic exhibitions.

Then it was the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.  Never one to do things by halves, I bought six Jubilee mugs and two Jubilee tea caddies.  I've also been to Sandringham twice and last week, (courtesy of darling elder daughter once more), to Buckingham Palace.  Darling daughter is an actuary and earns more than her father, although only 27.  She has bucked the trend of the Generation Y-ers as being lamented in the press this week and last.  She presented us with vouchers for Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle as Christmas presents.  Windsor coming up.

So I dug out my maroon-coloured dog-eared hardback, "A King's Story" by the late Duke of Windsor.  The book is dedicated  "To Wallis", but the late Duchess doesn't appear much.  When the book was written in 1950, it would have been highly inappropriate to detail the progression of the relationship from initial meeting to sexual obsession.

What is really interesting is the first two-thirds of the book, where we are given an intimate insider's view of life growing up in the Royal Family.  Having been to Sandringham, it was lovely to read of the author's childhood spent largely in that rural residence, whilst waiting for his father, George V, to inherit the crown and thus move to Buckingham Palace.

Another fascinating insight is the royal protocols and fancy dress parades, which really don't seem to have changed at all since Queen Victoria's time.  Not that I'm complaining, mind you.  I see absolutely nothing wrong with spending some of the nation's cash on things which will entertain and bring a smile and a diversion to our boring mundane lives.

Which brings me to the Olympics.  Marvellous spectacle, and didn't we do well!  A big hand for Great Britain, and let's hope that now we can stop being so miserable all the time, stop downplaying our achievements and instead celebrate our strengths.  The organisation was absolutely impeccable, and that alone is a skill we should be marketing around the world.  I haven't seen any books about the Olympics yet, but will keep a look out. Bradley Wiggins is due to bring a book out in October, I believe).

So, there is only one more anniversary this year that I am aware of.  This will be the 100th anniversary of the death of Emma Hardy, the first wife of Thomas.  As she inspired many of his greatest poems, I hope that we will be treated to some celebration of her otherwise quiet and unremarkable life.

Am keeping a look out.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Where to start

So, we went on holiday to the Peak District to a rented cottage.  I already knew that everyone else would be leaving on Tuesday evening, because they all needed to attend to work issues.  Two daughters could not spare any more holiday (obviously, they need to go on holiday with people their own age and we are just so lucky they want to come with us at all).  Hubby, who already cancelled our ten days in the Western Isles booked earlier in the year due to a work crisis, could only spare two days, Monday and Tuesday.

So what was my surprise, when younger daughter (25) announced during one of our five-mile walks: "Dad and I are going to go to New York for a week in November." 

I began to get a small inkling of what it must feel like if your husband has a mistress.  To be the less preferred person.  The other is the one he will make time for no matter what.