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 © BritishRoyalty.net
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.