Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The Royal Wedding Revelations - EXCLUSIVE! (Part 2)

I left you back in 1981, on tenterhooks to find out What Happened Next in this exclusive tale of royal revelries at Buckingham Palace, where we were about to enter the realms of Disaster Number Two.  The Curtsey to The Queen at the top of that huge curving sweep of red-carpeted stairs...

Curtseys to queens, however much practiced at home in front of a mirror, are much more difficult than they look. I tripped over my own high-heeled feet, dear readers. Fell flat on my face in front of Her Majesty and assorted regal personages who all looked rather bemused at this clumsy rose-coloured vision sprawled in front of them. Plus one not-as-yet-Royal personage who, (knowing my normal klutz mode all too well), was not bemused at all but had a fit of giggles most unbefitting a princess-to-be. I collected myself, wondering if I'd committed some terrible act of lèse-majesté, and fled down the East Gallery, wrapping the shreds of my dignity around me.  Standing at the end of the gallery were a number of nice bewigged footman handing out the champagne. That nearly led to Disaster Number Three.
Photograph copyright Lucy Coats 2011

Remember my borrowed begloved finery? Have you ever tried eating and drinking with Long Kid Gloves on? Take my advice. Don't. They make your fingers thick and clumsy like thumbs.  I managed to hold onto the champagne (goblet not flute, of course), taking large swigs to calm my frayed nerves.  Then, having been too strung up to eat anything beforehand, I slipped into the Ball Supper room, spread with a sumptuous buffet, for a tiny snack.  The rarest of roast beef from the royal herds and pink poached salmon with cucumber scales lay on ornate silver dishes.  Fishy eyes stared disapprovingly as I tried to manhandle glass,  plate and cutlery with increasing desperation. Cutting beef with a fork? One handed? With gloves on? When you're a klutz? Just before everything tipped off the plate and all over some unsuspecting duchess, I put it down and decided to go hungry. Snacks were off the menu and The Long Kid Gloves had won.   More champagne, that was the answer, and some serious people-watching. 


Photograph copyright Lucy Coats 2011
 I wasn't all alone in that huge, awe-inspiring palace full of strangers.  My friends and I went exploring together.  But even then, long before writing became my profession, I had my writer's eyes on, noticing and filing stuff away in my brain.  In the State Dining Room, set against a blaze of  deep red and white and mirrored gold, there was Mrs Thatcher, a Prime Minister to love or hate intensely, according to your political views.  Her hair was a magnificent blondish helmet with not a coiffed hair astray, and she was dressed in long heavy silver-grey brocade, like rather shapeless designer armour--a Tory warrior incarnate. Denis stood one step behind as she held court under the gaze of a huge bevy of royal portraits, correct and grey-haired in white tie and tails, comforting gin in hand.   There in the Ballroom was the King of Spain, black hair shining, very upright and laden with glittering orders, dancing with his queen to the sound of Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen.  In the Blue Drawing Room we joined Prince Andrew by the bar--young, thin and glamorous then, and surrounded by a horde of pretty girls (us included), all hoping he'd take us into the Disco to dance the night away. Everywhere there were enormous urns of opulent heavy-smelling flowers, and large tethered bunches of blue and silver helium balloons decorated with the triple feathers of the bridegroom. 
Photograph copyright Lucy Coats 2011
Princess Grace of Monaco floated past me trailing golden film star glamour--once just another young girl who had married her prince in a fairytale wedding.  And then there was Princess Margaret, who hadn't.  Dressed in a bright yellow dress that outshone the tall brocade curtains, smoking like a chimney, she sat, legs akimbo, in the White Drawing Room (with the Cocktail Bar nicely handy) surrounded by adoring Young Things, roaring with laughter.  Hers is the image that sits in my mind most clearly from that night--she looked like a blazing comet, full of dangerous fun and fire. 

Photograph copyright Lucy Coats 2011
 As we entered the Picture Gallery and fell into the swirling mass of colour and chatter echoing off the curved glass roof, we bumped into Prince Charles, standing alone and peering at the floor.  He had just lost a cufflink.  I found myself on my knees before royalty for a second time that night, scrabbling around on the swirly carpet for a small gold object.  The royal cuffs restored to neatness, a little light chat ensued and then the prince was whisked away to talk to more eminent personages. I curtseyed rather more successfully this time and headed into the Green Drawing Room.  The Throne Room lay beyond, closed off but visible, the two velvet covered chairs under the red-and-gold canopy somehow seeming small and insignificant beside the sight of a red-and-gold clad Indian maharajah, with a ruby in his head-dress which, while not quite the size of a pigeon's egg, must have been at least the size of a quail's. 

I'll leave you with the thought of me, swaying like a large pink blossom round the Ballroom floor with a nameless young man, watching the slight awkwardness of the royal bride and groom-to-be dancing to the husky sound of Errol Brown and Hot Chocolate singing You Sexy Thing. Live of course. 

Tomorrow, I'll take you right inside St Paul's with me. And tell you about The Wink...

Click HERE for Part 1 of The Royal Wedding Revelations

15 comments:

stargirlmiracle said...

I can't wait to find out what happens in St. Pauls tomorrow. Thank you for sharing this with us, Lucy. x

catdownunder said...

:-)

Katherine Langrish said...

Astounding fun!

kathryn evans said...

Lucy How fabulous!!!!!

Nicola Morgan said...

Wow! How wonderful and also hilarious! Rather you than me, though. I must be satisfied by the knowledge that Prinny Anne watched me play badminton once. And that she was most intrigued by my blood in the biology lab.

Gillian Philip said...

Oh my oh my, Lucy, you're amazing. You dark (thoroughbred) horse! And you are SO beautiful in your finery. I look forward to more of your adventures with unsuspecting duchesses xx

Nick Cross said...

Ha ha, this is great - what a glorious peek behind the silk brocade curtain. I think the nearest I ever got to the Queen was waving a flag as a child when she arrived for the Epsom Derby!

Book Maven said...

Lucy, the stunningly beautiful klutz! You are a character in a novel.

What happened? I mean you are still beautiful but no longer a klutz.

Keren David said...

Lucy I am begging you to please somehow incorporate this into a book...

Lucy Coats said...

Thank you, everyone--you are all so kind--am glad you are enjoying the revelations.

Nicola--of course Princess A was intrigued by your crabbit blood--how could she not be?

Nick--I'm loving your 'peek behind the silk brocade curtain' phraseology. Perfect. I may steal it (with permission)!

Mary--I am still a klutz (just ask the Wanton Toast Eater). But I have learnt to hide it better over the years.

Keren--I'm very flattered that you are begging! But there are still many things about which I am keeping my lips firmly zipped. Maybe it will have to be a pseudonymous and heavily disguised roman a clef!

In My Own Write said...

I'm enjoying this so much, Lucy. Can't wait for the next installment. You were so gorgeous in your finery - in spite of your decrying it!

I'm delighted you're a klutz, as so is my DD#2 - and she feels so bad about it, like there's something wrong with her. I find it quite endearing, and am off now to tell her it's a trait you both share!

Hx

Maria said...

Oh oh Princess Grace *gasp* and on your knees looking for Prince Charles' cuff-link *even gasper* and courtesies and red carpets and gloves that render your hands inactive!! Ooooh gimme more! Love it! xx

Stroppy Author said...

Excellent stuff, Lucy! And you look so beautiful - and still do :-)

karen ball said...

What a gorgeous dress. Was it made for you, Lucy? Can you recall who made it?

Tina Lemon said...

Oh, this is fantastic! This could so be one of those funny YA novels... just even better since it's real.

I would have had a giggle, too, if I saw your 'curtsey'.

 
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