Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Our Hard-working Royal Family

The happy couple
Non-fiction ~ article
Published in The Yorkshire Evening Post, 29th November 1934¹
835 words
(First read 24/09/2014)

In language that teeters on the brink of being 'gushy' EFB treats us to a gooey dollop of pro-royal blancmange, published on the day of the nuptials of Prince George, Duke of Kent (1900-42) and Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark (1906-68).  He begins, for no particularly good reason, with a reminiscence of Queen Victoria's golden jubilee in 1887, and more stuff about Her Royal and Imperial Dumpiness, before moving on to a very brief mention of what hard workers the royals of the day are, and finishing off with a paean² to the bride and groom of the day.  His parting shot (as it were) is this slightly astonishing statement:
... on both [bride and groom] has [sic] been shed those gifts of beauty and of charm to which all surrender.
Need I say more?

¹ And possibly elsewhere.  
² I had to look this word up.

The article is reproduced below.  To the best of my knowledge this is the first time it's been put before a WWW readership, in full (more or less) and free of charge, so the first time it's seen light of day in 80 years.

Our Hard-working Royal Family by E. F. Benson
There are those who are old enough to remember Queen Victoria's Jubilee in 1887, and who were fortunate enough to have been inside Westminster Abbey on that day in June. The Queen had not been inside it for any great function since her Coronation, and then she was decked in Crown and robes of State, and she carried sceptre and orb and found them very heavy.
But on this second appearance, when the glittering company of kings and queens, and of her sons and daughters, her sons-in-law and daughters-in-law and grandchildren had passed up the nave, then came a little old lady leaning on a stick.
She was dressed in black satin with a white front, and on her head was a white bonnet with a black velvet band, and she had come to church to thank God for his loving kindness to her and her people during the 50 years of her reign. The choir sang the 'Te Deum' which the Prince Consort had composed, and in the anthem was embodied the Chorale which he had played to Mendelssohn on his new organ at Buckingham Palace.

Changed Opinion
An immense change had come over the nation's view of the Sovereign and the Royal family generally in those fifty years. Never had the Throne been held in such low esteem as when she succeeded to her two uncles, and a third, the most sinister of all, the Duke of Cumberland, was still the next heir. Then had followed 20 years of her blissful married life with Prince Albert, a man of the highest nobility of character, and those years utterly effaced the tradition of the uncles.
After his death came years in which, stricken and shattered in nerves, the Queen had almost completely withdrawn herself from the public view, and became to the mass of her subjects a legendary figure, till, gradually emerging from that gloomy evening of eclipse she passed, as if the sun had stood still for her, into a blaze of noonday. Through all those years she had worked unremittingly for her people, and though invisible, had admitted them to the naïve record of her private life, and the masses had learned to think of her not only as Queen and Empress, but a woman who sketched and went for picnics on the hill, and popped into the village shop, and bought shawls for the aged tenants of her cottages.

Real Workers
With that immense change came another hardly less significant in the whole temper of the nation towards the Royal Family. They found that they were not drones, supported in luxurious idleness by public funds, but hard-worked people, rushing about to open docks and libraries and schools and hospitals.
Their benevolent activities increased and increased, until to-day it is scarcely possible to open the daily paper without seeing that some member of the Royal House has been presiding at a philanthropic gathering or charitable committee, or perhaps flying to Lancashire in the morning to see for himself the conditions in a district where unemployment is eating out the hearts of those who long for work; and then flying back to London again to speak at some dinner in aid of a hospital.
A succession of such days would seem to most folk a foretaste of purgatory, or, at any rate, a guarantee against it; but such does not appear to be their view. It is just a duty, eagerly and genially performed, and its reward is devotion.
Nearly 50 years have elapsed since that day in June when Queen Victoria came up the nave of Westminster in her black satin dress, but the enthusiasm and loyalty that greeted her then are of a very similar quality to that that [sic] have inspired the rejoicings of this auspicious day. For the last week during these foggy November days London has been humming with the excitement of bees about to swarm in the sunshine of summer, and an indescribable delirium has invaded its streets and its conversations.

Loyalty to Throne
One still looks back to the Queen as the builder of those imperishable foundations on which the present loyalty to the Throne and to her House are based, for she set the Throne in the hearts and the affections of her people. It stands solid as ever, while the Thrones of Europe have tottered and fallen, and the devotion of the nation to the Royal Family and the joy of [illegible, probably the nation again] in their rejoicings are of the [two words illegible].
And even as the [illegible] Princess Alexandra took by storm the imagination of the English and retained it to the end when she came from Denmark to wed the grandfather of the bridegroom of to-day, even so has the Princess Marina* established herself with us.
The link of blood connects the two, for the Princess Marina's grandfather, George King of Greece, was brother to Queen Alexandra, and on both has [sic] been shed those gifts of beauty and of charm to which all surrender. Is it any wonder that the nation has succumbed?

Reproduced from The Yorkshire Evening Post, 29/11/1934

No comments:

Post a Comment