Sunday, September 13, 2015

The woman beneath the crown

One especially interesting chapter of Chapman Pincher’s autobiography recounts his encounters with the Royal family. A couple of glimpses of the Queen when she is not in the public eye.
The informality of her visits to Highclere, where she stayed in the Carnarvons’ unpretentious, lakeside home, Lady Carnarvon being a close friend, was a great joy to her for she could relax there with minimum security. Unlike many monarchs, wherever the Queen stayed informally, which was usually for shooting, she is remembered as an easy, undemanding guest with a minimal retinue.
While the Queen never wanted to shoot, she has experienced life-long satisfaction from ‘picking up’ game with her dogs, usually behind her husband, Prince Philip, on the royal shoots and on those which they visited as guests. Her Majesty usually picked up with two Labradors, working with a whistle and hand signals, and sometimes changing for another pair in the afternoon.
And, perhaps, my favorite anecdote in the book. This took place back stage at the opera as the Queen met a touring company:

A large, over-enthusiastic baritone was commenting so profusely and with so many gestures on Her Majesty’s qualities and, especially, on her ‘beautiful smile’ that Sir Charles guided her away but she broke free and returned to the Italian with, ‘You were saying about my smile…’

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