Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rule, Britannia!

"Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and Her Court" by Robert Hardman   Pegasus Books   356 pages   $27.95

For years I have greedily feasted on the crumbs of dirt  from the Royal tables... Diana, Charles and Camilla, Fergie ... "Now," I thought, "let's see what the Queen thought about all of the above!" licking my chops avidly.

The Acknowledgements sounded promising, Hardman was allowed access to every loevel of every department of the Royal Household.  "All right!" I chortled. 

Sadly any promise of dirt vanished by Chapter 2 which was a review of historical events beginning with the first and most successful royal tour of Elizabeth and Philip, shortly after their marriage.

There were some interesting tidbits.  After Diana's hearse had deposited her body at the grave site and the flowers removed for the return journey, the hearse extrior was found to be pitted badly enough that it had to go into the garage.  People were so desperate that their bunch of flowers made it onto the hearse that they weighted the bouquets with large rocks!

Princess Margaret's "flat" in Kensington Palace was actually a 40-room house.  In addition to the normal use rooms, it had a dog-washing room, an orchid room, an elevator.  The garden that had a gazebo from the Ascot race course. 

Prince Philip has sole charge of Sandringham.  It is considered his fiefdom.  It's also his laboratory.  He had a tractor-washing machine that recycles its own water.  A wheeled cart is used on the 100-acre blackcurrant field to patrol, watering or, in season, picking fruit.  He has a plantation growing baby hazels and oaks for truffles.   There is a 7.4 acre vinyard, expected to produce windsor wine by 2015.

For a thorough history of British politics, the part the Queen takes in government, the relations with various Prime Ministers will be interesting to serious readers.  I did find much of it interesting - how the various houses are run and by whom.

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