So I’m currently LOVING reading Counting One’s Blessings: The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. Have you read it? If not, add it to the list (it can be purchased here)!
This book was published in 2012 and is an interesting read because it really gives so much insight into the life and times of the Queen Mum. It starts off with a letter written to her dad in 1909 when Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon was aged 9 and ends with a letter to Prince Charles when she was 101.
In order to put the book together, editor, William Shawcross was given access to the Glamis Castle archives which are up in on of the turrets (and would be such a dream come true to get to pore through) as well as unrestricted access to the Royal Archives. So there are letters, diary entries, and in some cases direct quotes from a conversation the Queen Mother had with her biographer sprinkled throughout the book. It is, to use one of Queen Elizabeth’s most repeated words in her letters, ‘delicious.’
The following letter was written 91 years ago today: on October 3, 1922 from Glamis Castle. By this time, Prince Bertie had already proposed several times and was turned down but as we all know his luck was about to change. In the end, she agreed to an engagement on Sunday, January 14, 1923 and Bertie quickly sent a telegram off to his parents reading simply “All right – Bertie”. They had a pre-arranged understanding of what this message would mean. I suppose the alternative could have been “Not all right – Bertie.”
It’s fun to see how her letters to Prince Bertie evolve from being quite stiff and formal to more relaxed and jokey. You can see she’s warming up a bit in this letter. She likes his photo! And put it up in her room! And she loves the records he sent!
Well, read away, but first press play on this video, which is a 1922 recording of the song “Stumbling.” Do it! And then start to read. You’ll see why in a second.
Dear Prince Bertie,
Thank you ten million times for sending me all those gramophone records, which arrived in record time (oh! a joke, accident I promise). I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed playing them. When one is in the country far away from everything, it is too delicious getting new records. Thank you so much, it was very angelic of you to take the trouble to get them for me. I enclose some notes of enormous value, but I don’t know quite how much I really owe you. I hope two crackly sovereigns is enough? Thank you also so much for the excellent photograph, it is a very good one I think, and I am so pleased to have it.
I am listening to “Stumbling” as I write, it is so good, I love it, and also ‘Limehouse Blues’ and ‘I’m Simply Mad About Harry’.
We all went into Perth races on Saturday to see Joe Arlie win his race – he did it quite easily, as one man fell off & lost his horse, & the other never got over the first jump! There were only three of them. Diamond [a mutual friend who suffered from leukaemia] is here now, I think she looks so ill poor thing. […]
Many thanks again for your photograph, which I have stuck up in my room, & the best of luck on your trip abroad.