Condolences

Saturday 10th April 2021

Rufus Pitman texted. He doesn’t think She will last much longer in view of the shock.  I went on with Nigella’s No Knead Black Bread, although I fear I left the salt out. Val telephoned this morning from Moscova, Hastings to condole. He had no idea Prince Philip had done so much for electric frying pans. Memories came flooding back of the Ideal Home Exhibition, which was the supreme gadget show of yesteryear. Advanced Prince Philip would come back from it with, according to his snooty valet, who published a book,  ‘items that might be suitable for a young couple living without staff in a small flat.’ Val wondered if an electric frying pan was the only hope of getting a hot breakfast at Buckingham Palace. No doubt the machine was a menace from the Health and Safety point of view and would nowadays be banned at once.  The Royal couple were lucky to escape electrocution from their bacon and an early demise instead of living to be nearly 100, both of them. Val’s mother was wild for the Ideal Home Exhibition – the crinkle-cut chips machine, the milk frother, the Ritter red cabbage grater – even though all her purchases got the better of her and ended up in the back of a kitchen cupboard. Val had the awful job of trying to clean the Ritter red cabbage grater. It would have been easier in every way to cut up cabbage in the normal way, with a knife.

Edinburgh couldn’t understand why a bottle of whisky was placed in the Queen’s bedroom every evening at Buckingham Palace, although never touched. It turned out it was by order of Queen Victoria 90 years before which nobody had bothered to rescind. The Monarchy survives by endlessly reinventing itself while appearing to remain the same. The King and Queen wanted Princess Elizabeth to marry a chinless wonder from the aristocracy. They were suspicious of Prince Philip. But he was the new blood they needed, rather like Sophie Wessex, someone who knew something about the real world, who had actually had a phase of owning only one suit and no money. The Queen could remain steady, dutiful, unchanging and minimal, which was the perfect foil for Edinburgh to whirl about shaking things up. It was a very odd partnership, if you think about it but I put it on a parr with Her choice of dog. Doesn’t quite add up. Snappy, rude dogs that nip the ankles of visitors. Husband a bit the same. His other great achievement was to be a force for change, a powerful masculine figure, while remaining ‘one step behind’.

There have been complaints about the wall-to-wall TV coverage, even though it’s better than the other thing, surely. But those that mock and sneer miss the point. Royalties are more than themselves. For better or worse they are woven into the fabric of our lives. Everybody will feel the tiniest pinch of loss at the death of Edinburgh and blossom, as likely as not, into memories, as Val and I of the Ideal Home Exhibition, but for others it will be something else.

 

Posted Saturday, April 10, 2021 under Adrian Edge day by day.

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