Thursday 26 November 2020

Lady in Waiting

The review, in my least favourite magazine in a very crowded field, the London Review of Books, of a new memoir of Princess Margaret, contains some gems.

To the reviewer, Mrs. Christopher Logue, I wish to say: the authoress is Lady Glenconner, not Glenconner.

"Glenconner was one of the queen’s maids of honour, attending rehearsals in Westminster Abbey – where it became apparent that the Lord Great Chamberlain, the Marquess of Cholmondeley, was not up to the job. The job was to help the queen change into her various ceremonial robes. The marquess, who had probably never had to ‘dress himself, let alone anybody else’, was completely flummoxed by the hooks and eyes, which had to be replaced with poppers, and the queen reported afterwards that the violent way he pushed her every time he did one up was ‘tiresome’."

"Having Margaret to stay at Glenconner’s own house in Norfolk was like entertaining a well-meaning but impulsive child. Margaret’s attempt to be helpful by making her own morning tea stalled when she couldn’t work the kettle, and ‘more than once’ she was found to have dismantled the chandelier and to be washing it in the bath."

I used to think the 1950s colourless and drably modern, but that was not true. Certainly they were not, and nor were the 1960s, 1970s or 1980s, in what were once called the best circles. It all makes me feel terribly sad to think how England has changed. The intellectuals, many of whom are certifiable, have done so much harm. 

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