Wednesday, February 13, 2013

At the Spotlight's Edge

So, during a quiet moment in the midst of a distinctly trying day this afternoon, I was calming my ruffled nerves by idly perusing, as one does, the website of The British Monarchy (what?  Don't judge me.  At least it wasn't illicit office porn, as it is for more than a few of my colleagues, far more often than they think I know about).  I found myself considering the rather interesting position of the gracious lady seen here, in a fetching Norman Parkinson snap.  She is the Queen's elegant (and reputedly favorite) cousin, the Princess Alexandra, more formally HRH The Princess Alexandra Helen Elizabeth Olga Christabel (!), the Honourable Lady Ogilvy.

The daughter of the rakish Duke of Kent (the Queen's uncle) and his elegant wife Marina, originally (like the Duke of Edinburgh) a Greek royal and therefore essentially Danish (don't you just love the oddities of European history?), Alexandra has long toiled in the second ranks of the royal business.  Although she was sixth in line for the throne at birth, these days she languishes somewhere down in the mid-forties.  Nonetheless, hers has been a life of perfect public poise and what seems like entirely natural grace.

Still, at times, she must find herself wondering.  How fair is the twist of fate that let her flibbertigibbet cousin Margaret take on all sorts of glamorous duties and patronages - off attending fancy foreign royal weddings and presiding over the Royal Ballet - while all the while flouting every basic expectation of a well-behaved British princess?  Alexandra has been far more diligent, infinitely less flighty, yet her public roles are generally a shade less soignée.  She did for a long while do some foreign touring, attending the independence of Nigeria in 1960, it's true, and she does have an interest in various arts, cultural,and charitable works, but then...

She is also patron of the British Goat Society, a doubtless wholly worthy concern,* but one - one must admit - with a somewhat different cachet than Sadler's Wells.  In the oddly angled snap above, it would appear that one of her patron-ees is contemplating taking a bite out of her hat.

Her page on the Royal site indicates that she maintains a residence at Buckingham Palace.  That's a pleasing thought, as to me it conjures up the cosy image of two elderly ladies, feet up after another tiring day of opening bazaars and congratulating lady-mayoresses, having a refreshing glass of something warming and recollecting the good old days.  It's nice to think that the Queen, who occupies such an odd and in many ways isolating position, has at least one person who Knew Her When and probably still, in the odd unguarded moment, calls her Lillibet.

* Its chief aim, the Society proclaims, is "to circulate knowledge and general information upon goats," which sounds oddly as if they're attempting to tutor the poor creatures.  That seems unlikely, but I suppose when it comes to British animal lovers, one never knows...


  1. How marvellous to be able to compare and contrast between a genuine Royal and yesterday's post about a Colonial equivalent, who nonetheless was able to exercise her waspish tongue in a far freer fashion than She Of The Old Empire... Jx

  2. You know, Jon, you're quite right, and I hadn't really thought about it (it's not like anything gets posted here for any rhyme or reason other than whim). Both were handed the challenge of being expected to have public lives, but not really for any particular reason of their own doing. Both did/have done quite well, although in very, very different ways. But frankly, I can't imagine Alice putting up with goats. On the other hand, Alexandra never had to put up with Eleanor, so perhaps it evens out...