I brought home many things from that sojourn. Loads of photos, of course.
And paintings, and old prints.
And a ton of books and brochures.
But one thing I never thought I’d bring home, and which accompanied me back to the States, was an interest in the English royals.
I was a tiny girl when Elizabeth II was crowned. Those days, there was no complete TV replay, just snippets here and there. Thus, on Coronation Day, my mother woke me at a godforsaken hour so I could watch “history in the making.” On the Christmas after the coronation (at my insistent request), Santa brought me a Madame Alexander Queen Elizabeth doll.
How I adored that young queen. How I remember the beauty of her plastic-bejeweled crown. And wasn’t I pleased when, during that year’s Girl Scout convocation’s Thinking Day ceremony, some lady who had been there showed her slides of the Coronation parade through London. There I sat, in the audience with all the other girls in our green uniforms and felt GS berets,
wildly clapping my white-gloved hands as the royal coach projected on the screen. (Better than any pumpkin coach, I thought.)
So, in a way, I grew up and played with royals, but after a while my interest waned. First, graduation from college and a stressful, deadline-driven job. Then, marriage and motherhood. Except for the Royal wedding in 1981, and, tragically, a royal funeral in St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1997, after that, except for the occasional purchase of a magazine with Diana on the cover, who had time for royals?
Now, things are different. Our daughter is grown and toiling in her own deadline-driven, professional job. And though many days I’m still time-starved, I can sometimes carve out an hour or two for personal pursuits. (Thus, my penchant for stay-at-home travel. Thus, my penchant for this blog.)
But that interlude in England—when our daughter was in middle school—got me briefly into the royal whirlwind again. Though American tourist guides counseled ignorant US visitors not to quiz English people about the Windsors, I did meet a good number who brought up the subject of the royals to me. Whether in favor of or against, they had opinions about their royal family. Some spoke often of Diana and Charles. (That was only two years after Diana had left this earth. As a stay-at-home traveler, I don’t know how things are in Britain today–perhaps things are different there now.)
Later, much to my amusement after settling into our Winchester townhouse, I discovered I had my own personal royal. Early in the game, I learned that Wessex is the ancient name for the area Winchester resides in. Then I learned that Prince Edward and his fiancée, Sophie Rhys-Jones, had married in June of that year. Upon that marriage, Edward became the Duke of Wessex.
During my time in Winchester, I began to follow my Duke. Several times, he graced my charming city with his presence, but, alas, my family and I always seemed to be touring on the Continent whenever he was in town.
And so it came to pass that we eventually returned to the land of our fathers. At that point, I imagine, you’d probably say I lost my own personal royals. And yet, the wild dreamer side of me still firmly believes I’ll someday own a pied-à-terre on Winchester’s Parchment Street, and that I’ll take Cunard Lines across the Atlantic to repair to my English pad every once in a while.
And if my dream comes true, there will clearly be royals in my future.
Anyway, let me extend CONGRATULATIONS AND THE BEST to Prince William and his lovely fiancée, Kate Middleton!