Saturday, May 24, 2008

Princess Royal

Poor Princess Anne. She's the Hardest Working Woman in Royal Business, and yet these days she seems increasingly to be thought of as "who's that woman in drag near the Queen?" because of her recent penchant for appearing in one of the various uniforms that comes with her position:

But the fact is that she works remarkably hard, albeit at tasks that principally require being attentive, responsive, and punctual. As anyone who has worked in sales can attest, however, those are not exactly a piece of cake.

She has to listen endlessly to people withot visibly ridiculing their ponytails:

She must be unfazed, even by choirboys in crypts*:

She has to keep her composure, even when presented with the fairly appalling spectacle of the Prime Minister of Fiji's calves:

Looking at her today, with her severe suits and rather uncompromising taste in hair color, it's easy to forget that she was once a tow-headed child of undeniable charm:

And even more that she had a season or two, after her stint at the Olympics and around the time of her first marriage, as a genuine beauty:

Still, few families understand image as well as hers. Given the remarkable vigor show by her mother, grandmother, and various other female relatives, it's quite likely that she'll go on visiting orphanages, riding in processions, and opening hospitals for the next forty years or more.

There's something comforting in knowing that in all that time, she will look more or less like this:

*I rather like, by the way, that one of the most tireless campaigners for children in the world is reputed not to be very fond of them ("You don't have to like them to be interested in their welfare," she is supposed to have said). I'm also impressed that she does what she does with neither the fawning publicity that accompanied her late sister-in-law nor the slightest trace of sentiment (another quote, when asked why she didn't engage in a little Diana-style hug-and-tickle with the kiddies: "The very idea that all children want to be cuddled by a complete stranger I find utterly amazing.").

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