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Posts Tagged ‘british royalty’

Last night I tuned in the Oprah interview with Prince Harry and Meagan Markle. I’m not normally a “royal watcher” but have admit I was curious as to the particulars of why the glamorous couple dropped out of the royal circle. The royal family was an integral piece of my fabric, at least for the first nine years I existed on the planet. Growing up in Canada, the Queen was part of my everyday life. At school we pledged our allegiance to the Queen and at hockey games we all joined our voices to sing “God save our gracious queen”.

British roots run deep all over the world. I remember Rick speaking about his grandmother, a British expatriate married to his maternal grandfather, an Egyptian. Though she had taken up residence in Egypt and assumed Egyptian citizenship, by all rights she was still British to the core. Tea was served every day precisely at four, and all news of the royal family was consumed by her like a piece of ripe cheddar discovered by a hungry mouse. Rick told me when he was in high school his grandmother wanted him to sport a quiff just like Prince Charles. For those of you not up on your quiffs, a quiff is described in the dictionary as a piece of hair, especially on a man, brushed upward and backward from the forehead of British origin. There you go, a new piece of information you really didn’t need to have. Rick, more influenced by what was going on in the U.S. at the time, told me the Prince Charles quiff never materialized because he leaned more towards James Dean. Looking at the pictures of both the prince and the actor, I don’t see much deviation, speaking to the hair only. Just saying.

It is difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff in the prolific amount of royal gossip floating about. God knows there are more than enough wild accusations to go around. When Prince Harry speaks of what the press did to his mother’s life, it takes me back to my trip to England. While there we visited Harrod’s. Harrod’s is the outrageously expensive department store, even by London standards, at the time owned by Mohamed Al-Fayed, the father of Dodi Al-Fayed. Dodi was both in the car and in a romantic relationship with the princess at the time of the car accident in which they both perished. On the ground floor of the store is a statue and a candle-lit shrine to honor the couple. The food court there was one of the highlights of the trip for this foodie with the most gorgeous displays of edible products I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy. If you ever get there be sure to add this to your to-do list.

When we were done shopping (we bought a bar of soap for 15 pounds), we boarded one of the ubiquitous two tiered red buses seen all over the city and headed for the palace to watch the changing of the guards. Ever since listening to my grandmother read Buckingham Palace from A.A. Milne’s book of poems, When We Very Young, this was a spectacle I had wanted to see in person.

The palace itself did not disappoint. An enormous sprawling structure covering several blocks, wrapped tightly by a line of wrought iron fencing. The palace guards, like in Milne’s poem, stood a vigilant watch in the courtyard. Tourists could be seen easing close to them trying to tease a change of expression from their stoic faces. Never once did I see any of them so much as twitch a lip. The ceremony was full of pomp and circumstance, replete with golden horse drawn carriages and parades of synchronized palace guards. Though we looked in through the iron gating, we never got a glimpse of the Queen peeking back at us through the endless banks of windows. I’m sure tourists were not a new event in her life prompting much curiosity on her part.

Imagine being born into the purple, as they say, with a silver spoon proudly sticking out from your cupid bow lips. What a weight that must be. People view growing up in a royal family as some sort of Cinderella tale, but I have a feeling there are many dark sides to the titles and riches hidden behind those heavy brocade velvet curtains. Some people say we choose where we are to be born and to whom. That being true, I know I would never have chosen such a path for myself. My shackles go up if someone pokes through my mail, can only imagine how I’d respond to having paparazzi lurking about taking pictures of every move I made. Certainly it did not end well for Princess Diana. The poor princess was literally hounded to death.

Leaving the palace behind, we hailed a Bersey to take us to the Tower of London. They’re not called Bersey’s any more, Berseys were the original London cabs. All electric vehicles,”Berseys” got their name from Walter C. Bersey, the original designer. They were also nicknamed “hummingbirds” because of the sound the engines made when running being similar to a hummingbird’s wings. The cabs are black and all have sort of a vintage look to them. The cabbies, or so we found, were mostly chatty and full of information about what was passing beyond the windows and whatever destination was on our agenda. They had little guessing to do to discern we were not Londoners, as neither of us spoke like a native. Most probably all the attention to the tour guide portion of the program was directly related to the hope of receiving a good tip once we’d arrived.

In truth, though the palace was interesting to see, the Tower of London was my favorite of the historical attractions I visited while in London. Cold, dank, and creepy, like I imagined it would be, but far smaller than I had thought. Standing in it’s halls it was easy to picture a group of rowdy rough cut men seated at the rustic table in the main hall. Picture them laughing and talking while stuffing their faces with greasy hands holding huge turkey legs, that were washed down with generous cups of stout. I stood on the spot where Ann Boleyn was executed for treason next to a fence with a raven perched on it eyeing me like I was a fat little field mouse.The ravens, so it is prophesied, if ever deserting their posts at the Tower would signal the end of the Tower as well as Britain itself. A half dozen or so of the birds, wings clipped, are kept on the property at all times. I would assume “just in case”.

This growing rift in the British monarchy could prove a disastrous blow to the firm as they call it. The monarchy is a business and a very profitable business at that. Queen Elizabeth rates among the richest women in the world. How the British media shines a light on them is key to how successfully that business thrives. Every family has dirty laundry, it is left to them whether to keep it in the hamper or hang it on the line for the neighbors to see. These days I have many more pressing (a little laundry humor) things to worry about then whether the Prince of Wales is having a bad day, though I don’t wish the man ill.

None of us really know our neighbors. I wonder often if we ever really know even our closest allies. Unless you have actually lived in their bodies you can’t know what they feel, separate truth from fiction, or make a fair assessment of their character so better to leave judgement to someone more qualified. Life is hard, even for the privileged. Things get muddied and the karmic slate gets written on.

Have a safe day. Rain here and perhaps thunder. Love a good electrical storm.

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