I am going to indulge myself a little this month and hark back to my career roots in The Royal Household of Her Majesty The Queen. This month marks the spectacular achievement of Her Majesty’s tenure as the longest reigning monarch in our history, and The English Manner offers every congratulation to The Queen.
A quite remarkable woman, as a former employee I have only warm and happy memories of my time in the Household and having the honour to interact with the Royal Family; and as a subject of the United Kingdom, I have the utmost admiration and respect for our Queen.
Her Majesty has never put a foot wrong and, as someone put it on the wireless today, her reign has seen the invention of the Mini, the internet, Facebook, numerous terrible conflicts and too many changes of Government to mention, but The Queen remains a constant and whether a Republican or a Royalist, one has to admire that tenacity and durability. This monarch has without doubt given us tremendous stability in times of worldwide strife.
We have been fortunate enough this year to lead cultural learning experiences for guests from China and America as well as some from other parts of the world. As part of these programmes we have shown the power of the British Monarchy in tourism and it is without doubt one of our greatest exports! We have enjoyed exclusive private tours of Kensington Palace, The Crown Jewels and the Tower of London, The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace and indeed, Buckingham Palace itself. This year’s exhibit of the arrangements for a State Banquet are absolutely superb and I am sure the wonderful late Master of the Household Sir Peter Ashmore would be thrilled to see how it has been laid out to show visitors how it is done.
For our part, as we consistently teach to British Royal Standards, I am delighted that we have been able to showcase table settings and placements, and decorations the way we have been alluding to for years! A truly super exhibit, and for those who have not yet seen it, I urge a visit before it closes on 27th September.
We have once again this year been to Sandringham House, and I hosted a very special group at that most beloved Scottish castle, Balmoral. Remodelled extensively by Queen Victoria, I was struck this time by the restoration of the gardens and the new visitor centre facilities. It must be 25 years since my last visit, and memories of the Summer Court and long stays as the nights drew in were abundant as we arrived in glorious warm sunshine to be greeted by a guide who remembered my time there in the 1980s!
The beautiful cottage where we Household girls stayed boasts a new kitchen but looked pretty much the same otherwise, and I will always remember the wonderfully kind Housekeeper taking pity on me as I shivered on the Highland evenings and allowed me a two bar electric fire in my room to keep me warm as well as the must have dram of whisky!
A journey to Balmoral is quite a long one from most parts of the country, but it is well worth the visit. The Royal Whisky Distillery at Lochnagar is a superb tour; a more commercial one than the smallest distillery at Edradour (worth visiting en route at Pitlochry to see the difference between the two) and there are wonderful walks around the Estate itself. Not open to visitors whilst Her Majesty is there over the summer months, but certainly one to head up the list for 2016 if you have a chance.
The visitor centre at Balmoral is superb, and if you peep inside the church at Crathie Kirk, you will see remnants of generations of the real Royal Family; a real live family, of grandparents, children, grandchildren and friends, who gather together with the occasional official visit from the Prime Minister or others, on their summer holidays, worshipping each Sunday in their local church.
As the summer, such as we have seen it, draws to a close and the nights and mornings darken, we wish Her Majesty many more years on the throne, and a very happy summer holiday at Balmoral!