The Queen, photographed in July 1939 by Cecil Beaton.
So why am I now reading The Queen Mother, The Official Biography? Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes Lyon, the ninth child of Lord and Lady Glamis is my latest inspiration. She was a party girl who was born at the end of the Victorian era and shimmied in the 1920's till sometimes 3am! She had a crazy sense of humor that helped soften the often stoic Royal family. She was also Scottish which I am as well. My grandfather Vassar Gregory was Scottish, he is smiling at me in a black and white photo above my desk.
I love that Elizabeth was well taken care of throughout her life, like one continuous red carpet extending 12 feet in front of her at all times. She is also in the tiny hair club. So far in the book Elizabeth's letters glow with rapture when she spends time at Glamis. Even after marrying Bertie she seems to get recharged after staying in the suite at Glamis and getting away from the regimented Balmoral, the country castle that Queen Elizabeth II retreats to.
So far, I am at Chapter 7 of the Biography, Birth of a Princess 1925-1927. The baby princess is none other than the future Queen Elizabeth II of England, my other inspiration who has reigned the Commonwealth of Nations for the last 60 years. So this biography is about today's Queen's mother. I have already read about Queen Elizabeth II so I am working my way backwards.
Young Elizabeth grew up living between Glamis Castle and St. Paul's Waldenbury. Not a bad plan! I love to look these places up while reading. So far in the book Elizabeth's letters glow with rapture when she spends time at Glamis. Even after marrying Prince Bertie she seems to get recharged after staying in the suite at Glamis and getting away from the regimented Balmoral, the country castle that Queen Elizabeth II retreats to.
The Strathmores, Elizabeth's parents had people over to Glamis for hunting parties seasonally. I am not talking about a party of eight either, back in 1903 Elizabeth's grandparents invited "...571 children from five schools in the neighborhood to tea, sports and a conjuring show, followed by fireworks..." So I am going overboard on Eva and Lily's birthday parties this year. Why not? I could at least have a conjuring show.
When I come across statements like this I usually read it about 3 times:
"A house party at Glamis was always exhilarating, an informal, ever moving tableau with a panoply of entertainments - tennis, cricket, shooting, walking in the evenings, dressing up, charades, dancing, cards and singing around the piano." The Queen Mother, The Official Biography, William Shawcross, 2009, pg. 118.
Anyone who had the lucky fortune of staying at Glamis, and it sounds like there were many, remarked "Everything at Glamis was beautiful, perfect. Being there was like living in a Van Dyck picture. Time, and the gossiping, junketing world, stood still. But the magic gripped us all." The Queen Mother, The Official Biography, William Shawcross, 2009, pg. 119.
Glamis was a hunting lodge that got transformed into a castle in the fifteenth century. Today there is probably a turn table playing Bob Marley echoing in a stone archival library as a docent dusts Elizabeth's letters and memoirs. I would love to wander the grounds and of course traipse every room inside the castle. I love knowing that this place exists! The video below is wonderful except for the sinister background music. Who died?