Sunday, March 7, 2010

I’ve been to London, but not to visit the Queen.

The story is told of a woman who ran into a police station screaming, “I’ve been raped! I’ve been raped!”

When the officers were able to get her calmed down and seated in a chair, one of them said, “Now tell us, miss, when did this happen?”

And the woman replied, “Thirty years ago...I just like to talk about it.”

Bad joke, I know. But what reminded me of that particular story was the latest post from my blogger friend Daphne, who lives in England. Ever since she returned home from a visit last year to her friend Silverback in the United States, she has mentioned in her blog at every opportunity that she has been to America. It has become a recurring joke on her blog. At least I think it is a recurring joke. She did it again today.

It is therefore high time that I told you my bit of news. On the way back from having spent a month in Stockholm, Sweden, for my employer, IBM -- the secretary who was making my travel arrangements having thought it would be a pity if I did not spend at least one night in England -- I spent one night in England. I remember that the bus from the airport drove past Buckingham Palace. I stayed in London at a hotel near Grosvenor Square. From the hotel, I walked to Piccadilly Circus, and I was nearly killed when, after looking to the left, American style, and seeing no traffic coming, I stepped into the street. Silly me! In England the traffic arrives from the right! So it was a close call, ma, but I made it out of there alive.

For those who care, it happened way back in 1969.

Like any other pussycat, I would love to have visited the Queen, even if only to frighten a little mouse under her chair, but -- alas for me! -- no invitation was forthcoming. Here is a recent photo of the members of the Royal Family, give or take one or two who didn’t bother to show up for the photo shoot. It was taken in 2007 when the family gathered for a dinner to observe the 60th anniversary of Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Hanover/Saxe-Coburg-Gotha/Windsor’s marriage to old what’s-his-name.

Photo Copyright ©

Update, 3/10/2010. On the off-chance that you might not know, front and center in the photo above are Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh (Prince Philip). They are flanked on their right by Prince Charles Arthur Philip George (according to the late Princess Diana, who nervously reversed the order of his many names in their wedding ceremony), the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cornwall, and on their left by Camilla Parker-Bowles Windsor-Mountbatten (the Rottweiler, according to the late Princess Diana), the Duchess of Cornwall, second wife of Prince Charles. They, in turn, are flanked by Prince William and Prince Harry.

In the second row are Princess Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise (Charles’s younger sister and the Princess Royal) with her children, Zara and Peter Phillips (and perhaps her second husband, Timothy Laurence?); Prince Andrew (the Duke of York) with his children, Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice; and Prince Edward (the Earl of Wessex) with his missus, the former Sophie Rhys-Jones.

I hasten to add that, being a confirmed anglophile, I’m doing all of this without benefit of reference book. The back row holds more distant relatives. Missing from the photo, as might be expected, are Mark Phillips (Princess Anne’s ex-spouse, father of Zara and Peter) and Sarah Ferguson (Prince Andrew’s ex-spouse, mother of Eugenie and Beatrice), who, royally speaking, have become non-entities. A surprise no-show, however (to me at least), was David Armstrong-Jones, Viscount Linley, son of the queen’s late sister, Princess Margaret Rose and the Earl of Snowden, Anthony Armstrong-Jones. Viscount Linley, so I have read, is thirteenth in line of succession to the throne and the first one of the lot who is not a direct descendant of Queen Elizabeth. There are others, such as the Duke of Kent, Elizabeth’s first cousin, there in the back row. His father was a brother of the queen’s father, King George VI, the former Prince Albert, who succeeded King Edward VIII, the former Prince David, after the latter’s abdication from the throne in 1936 to marry the twice-divorced American woman, Wallis Warfield Simpson, whereupon they became known as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

This may all be self-evident to the Brits, but it remains a matter of wonder to the rest of us.


  1. Quite an ordinary looking lot, don't you think? I'm allowed to say that - I live here! LOL :)

  2. So that explains it! Last time I was in London I noticed an historical blue plaque on a hotel wall near Grosvenor Square. As I recall it read "Robert Brague (American fairytale writer) slept here". There's no way our immigration guys would have let you in!

  3. Speaking as someone who was once invited into Buck House, I can honestly say it's nothing to write home about. Now, if you'd visited Yorkshire, you wouldn't have wanted to leave...

  4. hey now you are talking>>>appreciate this post{not blog} can't see you in the picture< dosen't you trace your roots to english royalty?????

  5. Glad to have all of you visiting.

    jinksy, even we peasants would look good with umpty-ump million pounds at our disposal!

    Yorkshire Pudding, are you doubting my veracity? I guess your immigration guys were dazzled by my suave looks and debonair manner. Plus I had a valid passport.

    Elizabeth, so how did you wangle an invitation to Buck House? Or were you completely surprised to find yourself on their guest list? Tell me more!

    Putz, I am hiding behind Princess Michael of Kent.

  6. see the queen in her parlor for a most recent IMPORTANT comment that does not belong here on your most recent blog

  7. Ah, sir! We Yorkshire women are ordained by our birthplace to sit with the great and the good, to make merry with the rulers of this land and then to be returned without ceremony to the woody scrub of the moorlands, our wide-brimmed hats and the handful of pink gravel we stole from the courtyard as our only memories...such is life. x

  8. Putz, sighted sub, sank same.

    Elizabeth, my math teacher once sat on the same stage as Queen Elizabeth because her son (my math teacher's, not the Queen's) was head of Gulf Oil Canada at the time. The occasion was the dedication of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Knowing that single fact, you can tell I took math a long time ago. What you cannot tell is that I took it in Texas.

    I never shared a stage with the Queen, but I was once in the same room as Dick Clark.

  9. I think perhaps that yours was the more auspicious audience.

    Incidentally, my great uncle, who lived in Kalamazoo, travelled out to America (having missed his train connection at Liverpool) on a later vessel than the one he was originally booked on. The one he failed to connect with was called, 'The Titanic'.x

  10. I'd have licked to have welcomed you back then, offered some tea and cucumber sandwiches like the hoi polloi, however I was born in 1969 and whether born or not would have been terribly clumsy with the tea pot.

    As for the photo; I'd not fancy guys job who has to shove the sticks up all their arses I can tell you.

  11. Elizabeth, wow, what a connection to history and what a great family story. I have a friend, Kate, whose brother worked in the World Trade Center in New York; he was killed in the 2001 attack. Maybe there is something to that "six degrees of separation" thing after all...

    All Consuming, the nearest I've ever come to having tea and cucumber sandwiches in England was having them, along with scones, in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada in 1984. I have to find my hoi polloi where I will.

  12. Weirder a recent reunion of Stanforths in Lansing, Michigan,there were over 700 of the clan gathered, including dozens of Elizabeths. As far as I know...and as soon as I write this, I may be proved otherwise (but certainly of my direct line) are communicating with the only authentic one, bearing both names, that is left on British soil!!!