Smorgasbord Writer in Residence Rewind – Of Cabbages and Kings by Paul Andruss

I must admit that I restrained from watching The Crown series as I was not sure that I wanted to see the nitty gritty on our royal family laid out with dramatic interpretations. But I finally got the boxed set and was hooked.. I am now eagerly awaiting the next series with its new cast.

In the meantime, here is a post from early 2017 from Paul Andruss on the less glamorous side of being a royal..especially when caught on microphone or television. And also tragically when forces are intent on your complete removal.

Of Cabbages and Kings by Paul Andruss

picture12Gore Vidal & Princess Margaret 1951

In one of her wire-tapped phone conversations Diana, Princess of Wales, referred to her in-laws as ‘that ‘king’ family’. Actually, there were three letters in front of the word KING; the first being F. But I left them out.

I have no axe to grind with the monarchy, but equally neither have I had the same provocation. While having no strong feelings either way, I will say that anyone who by their very existence prevented Tony Blair making himself lifelong President cannot be entirely useless.

Someone who did know royalty was American author Gore Vidal; bon vivant and member of the jet set. A term coined after the de Havilland Comet -the first purpose-built commercial jet airliner- made the world the playground of his generation’s rich and famous.

Vidal was great friends with Queen Elizabeth’s sister, Princes Margaret. He records their first meeting at a costume party where she wore the blood stained shirt King Charles I was beheaded in; borrowed from Kensington Palace for the occasion. When you think about Prince Harry turning up to a fancy dress ball in a Nazi uniform, it’s easy to see where he gets his sense of style.

picture13David & Wallis on their wedding day
(Getty Images 1937)

Vidal also knew the Duke and Duchess of Windsor during their exile in Paris. The Duke was Edward VIII (called by his 7th Christian name, David). He abdicated the throne to marry American Wallis Simpson. Vidal cheerfully admits to liking Wallis for her intelligence, and David because he was ‘deeply stupid’.

In 1936 Edward VIII abdicated because parliament would not approve his marriage to Wallis as she was divorced; or twice divorced to be pedantic. His speech contained the famous line so beloved of romantics: I cannot discharge my duty without the help and support of the woman I love. As they left England, his brother, Queen Elizabeth’s father, became king and the rest as they say, is history.

The British press always referred to the Duchess, somewhat disparagingly, as Mrs Simpson. They loved to portray her as a gold digger, who could not wait to slip the royal crown on her grubby colonial head. Vidal records Wallis remembering it differently. She was a wealthy divorcee who claimed never even wanting to get married. ‘It was all his idea,’ she told Vidal. ‘They act as if I’m stupid, not knowing who can be queen. But he insisted.’

‘I remember the morning after we were married,’ she continued. ‘There was David saying – And what do we do now? My heart sank. Every day of his life had been arranged for him and now I was the one who had to take the place of the entire British Government, trying to think up things for him to do.’

‘The Duchess took a long drink of vodka,’ Vidal finishes devilishly, ‘then began the denunciation of all the Royal ladies. And very entertaining it was.’

Like Diana, Wallis had a legitimate axe to grind.

picture14David & Wallis meet an avid fan
(Getty Images 1937)

Vidal records the exchange in his memoir Palimpsest. As he explains it, a palimpsest is a parchment, scraped clean by a medieval monk for re-use. Such finds are invaluable as the original text is still faintly visible – a bit like memories. Sagaciously, he adds memoirs do not need to be weighed down by historical fact. So perhaps one should not take Wallis’s protestations of innocence entirely at face value.

Vidal’s recounts a story from the Duke of Windsor that’s worth repeating.

‘I was there at breakfast with my father and mother, the King and Queen, when an equerry came in. The King was furious. I mean this was breakfast for heaven’s sake! Not done, you know, ever! But the man went straight up to him with this note which the king read and gave to my mother. She read it and gave it back saying ‘No!’

‘Later that day I asked her what it was about and she said the British government was willing to send a ship to rescue my father’s relations Tsar Nicholas and his family, but she did not think it would be good for us to have them in England. So the Bolsheviks shot the lot of them.’

picture15The unlucky Romanovs: intimate family portrait
(Archive Source)

Historically, a lot of reasons are put forward why Britain denied the Romanovs refuge. Explanations tend to focus on the fear of Bolshevism taking hold. Princess Margaret had another theory. She believed her grandmother was deeply resentful of real royalty. Even admirers describe Queen Mary as cold and hard.

Vidal tells the tale of Margaret’s outrage when reading Nicholas and Alexandra – the biography later made in to a film. ‘They were so perfectly ordinary. I mean it could be us!’ she bemoaned in stentorian Hanoverian.

Although that might leave you smiling or shuddering depending on your perspective, Margaret had a point. In private, the Romanovs lived the ‘simple’ secluded life of any upper middle class European, and fiercely guarded their privacy. Indeed, their daughters complained of a claustrophobic upbringing.

Yet politically, Nicholas was the supreme autocrat who could not bear to surrender an iota of power and focused much of his energy enforcing a medieval stranglehold on his deeply troubled and backward country.

picture16Nicholas & Alexandra
Father & mother of all the Russias
(Archive source)

His ineptitude and stubbornness consigned Russians to privation and doomed wars. He approved of anti-Jewish Pogroms, believing they unified the country behind his regime. He did nothing when his army slaughtered peaceful demonstrators. And he thwarted all attempts to introduce basic human rights, fearing it would erode his God-given authority as the ‘Father-of-all-the-Russias’.

All in all, Nicholas was rather like King Charles I, who also believed he ruled through Divine Right, ignored Parliament, caused a Civil War (between the Cavaliers and Roundheads) and was executed for his troubles.

So while Princess Margaret had a point about the Romanovs’ perfect ordinariness, perhaps she also needed to remember just whose shirt she was wearing at that fancy dress party. And exactly why it was blood stained.

©PaulAndruss 2017

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

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Thank you for dropping in and please feel free to share Paul’s article around the universe… thanks Sally

25 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Writer in Residence Rewind – Of Cabbages and Kings by Paul Andruss

  1. An interesting post, Paul and Sally. I am not a royalist and I can’t really see what purpose they really serve in our modern society other than to bring revenue into the country when there is a wedding or the like. I do think they should be setting an example so I am not supportive of the royals divorcing or marrying a divorcee. That is just my personal [controversial] view.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think there is a lot to what you say Robbie and certainly I don’t have time for the lesser Royals who seem to be on grace and favour.. with little actual work done..I do have a lot of respect for the Queen however.. in reality she costs every person in Britain 69p per year but it is estimated that tourism is boosted by about £15m a year. She is regarded with a great deal of respect around the world, whatever party or prime minister is in power at the time. And I doubt many of them get millions lining the streets when they pass. I do believe that having a stable monarchy is a consistent that many countries do not have with their revolving heads of state. And some unfortunately have despots with their portraits on the wall that definitely not an alternative. It is a balance and we are lucky that this queen has been diplomatic, self sacrificing and must have had to bite her tongue many times. As to not marrying divorcees.. I agree that those who will oneday be King… should have set an example a long time before he married a divorcee.. Princess Diana will leave a legacy that will I am afraid outlive his monarchy.

      Liked by 2 people

    • You are right Robbie, everyone in the public eye has a responsibility to set an example. A good thing about the royals is they stop other people seizing ultimate and life long power while really having none themselves. Pxx

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I haven’t seen that series available here, but the article was some fabulous insight. Tsar Nicholas sounds a lot like someone of the orange variety. Thanks for sharing Sally and Paul. ❤ xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Debby, you have probably seen the movie staring Ingrid Bergman about the Princess Anastasia (whose name appropriately means THE RESURRECTION in Russian referring to the big JC). A girl appeared in 1920 claiming to be the Tsar’s daughter who through chance had escaped the execution of the family (only wounded) and was rescued by loyalists. She knew a lot about the exiled Russian emigres in Paris although large parts of her memory was blank (assumed to be due to the Head injury- the bullet grazed her temple). She kept the west fascinated for 60 years with the is she-isn’t she and died in the 1980s. About 15 years ago they did DNA analysis on her remains ad sadly from comparing it to other surviving Romanov’s she was a fake. Pxx

      Liked by 2 people

      • Wowza! It’s possible I’d seen the Bergman movie, but my memory escapes me now of it. But holy smokes, what a story! Imagine that – fake news way back then too. LOL 🙂 xxx

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I haven’t seen The Crown, but Americans are rather fascinated with “royalness.” My mom is Dutch and she loves having a new king and looks through the royal family magazines. 😀 I suppose I would hope that the royalty sets a high moral standard for their countries. It seems critically important since you can’t vote them out every four years or so. Thank goodness there’s no such thing as King Donald! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • And that is why we have the royals, Diana.
      No king Donald or even a King McDonalds, although there is a Burger King. Joking apart, apparently Washington quite fancied the title King George the First, but human nature being human nature the rest of the founding fathers wanted a shot at “the crown” and so limited the number of terms of power any one person could enjoy. Privately he was pretty miffed.
      Talking of men who would be king:
      Our previous prime minister David Cameron was the legitimate King of England and not the Queen.
      His ancestress was the mistress of James II (Brother of Charles II – the restoration and all that jazz -1660) who was deposed in the Glorious Revolution. He was crazy about her and wanted to marry his mistress and legitimise the kid but didn’t, and then lost the throne because he was Catholic.
      His daughter became queen, one of the joint monarchs William (Of Orange) and Mary, which was the real origin of our constitutional monarchy. Then came the Hanoverians when they died without Issue (for William and Mary think more Mary and Mary).
      George I was a German state Elector (elected ruler) was married to James’ sister (I think) and the Queen is descended from them.
      But for the grace of god (the god of the protestants of course) and the British rabid hatred of the Pope in Rome, we could have had a whole alternative historical timeline, zounds gazooks and forsooth! Pxx

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – Book Launch, Fats Waller, Royalty and #Halloween recipes plus the usual #stars | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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