Simanaitis Says

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IT’S NOT SURPRISING that Elizabeth Longford’s The Oxford Book of Royal Anecdotes includes insights concerning Queen Elizabeth II. Today, in Part 2, we encounter Britain’s first Queen Elizabeth and loyal, if occasionally befuddled, subjects of the country’s second Queen Elizabeth.

Queen Elizabeth I of England and Ireland, 1533–1603, reigned 1558–1603, last of five monarchs of the House of Tudor. The “Darnley Portrait,” named for a previous owner, was used for authorized portraits of Elizabeth I.

Elizabeth’s Acceding to the Throne, 1952. Elizabeth II was 25, the same age as Elizabeth I when her reign commenced in 1558. Longford relates a tale of the carpet at Wesminister Abbey: The pile was of correct depth, but “laid the wrong way, so that the metal fringe of Elizabeth II’s golden mantel caught in it and clawed her back when she tried to move forward. She had to signal the Archbishop of Canterbury.”

“ ‘Get me started!’ ”

Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, Westminster Abbey, June 2, 1953. She acceded to the throne upon the death of her father, King George VI, on February 6, 1952.

A Royal Encounter. Longford writes, “Two women in headscarves and those green quilted jackets known as ‘Husky’s’ were about to leave a teashop in Norfolk when they were stopped by another customer at a nearby table, who craned forward, her elbow almost in the cream, to say to one of them, ‘Excuse me, but you do look awfully like the Queen.’ ‘How very reassuring,’ the Queen smiled, exiting with her cake for the drive back to Sandringham.”

Winston Churchill’s Theological Comment. “The Queen,” Longford writes, “has always enjoyed Commonwealth parties, especially when Churchill’s impish humour played upon them. After dinner at Buckingham Palace, Churchill engaged the Muslim Prime Minister of Pakistan in conversation.”

“ ‘Will you have a whisky and soda, Mr. Prime Minister?’ ‘No, thank you!’ ‘What’s that?’ “No, thank you!’ “What, why?’ ‘I’m a teetotaller, Mr. Prime Minister.’ ‘What’s that?’ ‘I’m a teetotaller.’ ‘A teetotaller. Christ! I mean God! I mean Allah!’ ”

Sir Winston Churchill, 1874–1965, KG, OM, CH, TD, DL, FRS, RA, first honorary citizen of the U.S. Image from SimanaitisSays..

Other Prime Minister Lore. Longford quotes Anthony Simpson’s The Changing Anatomy of Britain, 1982: “The weekly meetings between the Queen and Mrs. Thatcher—both of the same age—are dreaded by at least one of them… [the Queen] more matter of fact… [the Prime Minister] more like a Queen.”

The Queen’s Favourite Prime Minister? “Winston, of course,” she said, “because it was always such fun.” ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2020

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