On Christmas morning I was very lucky to discover a delightful royal book in my stocking. It’s called Not In Front of the Corgis: Secrets of Life Behind the Royal Curtains. Written by Brian Hoey, the book gathers all sorts of Royal Household ‘insider secrets’. Royal watchers may recognize Brian’s name for the numerous royal books he has written over the years.
The title alludes to the Royal Household’s understanding that if you hear the corgis walking along, Her Majesty must be close by so now is not the time to gossip!
Here are a few nuggets to whet your appetite -we definitely think it’s worth picking up a copy which you can do here!
On what the Queen does with her clothes once she no longer wishes to wear them:
…She will hand it to one of her dressers, who can either wear it or sell it, with on proviso, all labels must be removed and anything that could possibly identify it as having come from royalty obliterated. One frock found itself to a jumble sale near Sandringham, but in spite of its obvious quality, it failed to sell.
On how the Royal Family addresses staff:
Edward addresses his police officers, pages, and chauffeurs by their surname. Younger staff – footmen, valets, and housemaids- are called by their Christian names. This is a system used by most members of the Royal Family; one former police officer, who had served The Queen for over 20 years without once being addressed by his Christian name, was invited to shoot with the Duke of Edinburgh at Balmoral when he retired. He said that the only difference was that, as a guest, The Queen and Prince Philip used his Christian name.
On an award ceremony mishap:
The attention to detail is meticulous. No mistakes are permitted.Though there was one hilarious occasion when someone dropped a cushion holding a number of awards during an investiture ceremony in the State Ballroom. The Queen solved the problem saying “I’ll give them anything and you can sort it out afterwards.” So a gentleman, who was expected to become a Commander of the British Empire, found that for a few minutes at least, he had been demoted to a mere MBE.
On quirks of the Royal Household:
The Household is still a world where liveried servants wait on other servants, where everything stops for Afternoon Tea, though, by tradition, no one sits down in the Equerries Withdrawing Room as they sip their Earl Grey and nibble on cucumber sandwiches. It must surely be the only place left in the world which boasts a Coffee Room Maid, or where a supply of black-edged writing paper and envelopes is kept in case there is a death in the family and the court goes into mourning. Or which employs a young man one of whose duties is to replace a sheet of black blotting paper on the Queen’s desk every morning before she sits down, so that no one could possible read her writing by holding the pad up to a mirror. He then has the responsibility of destroying the blotting paper, just to make sure.
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On dinner conversation:
When Prince Philip gives a private dinner party, he likes to decide the subject for conversation. One lady was dismayed to find she was expected to contribute on the subject of ‘deciduous trees’, about which she knew absolutely nothing…apparently the secret is to contact his office beforehand and find out his pet topics of the moment and learn just enough to be able to contribute intelligently, but not to upstate the host. Otherwise he can become ‘less than pleased’.
There are many other fun snippets you will enjoy in the book, including all sorts of information regarding the Queen’s children’s country homes. Prince Edward’s leased home Bagshot Park, Princess Anne’s home Gatcombe Park, and Prince Charles’ home Highgrove are all discussed in detail. There is even more information on Nottingham Cottage, the Kensington Palace home that William and Kate moved into shortly after their wedding before being given the run of Apartment 1A.
Any particular royal snippets you’ve picked up over the years that you’d like to share in the comments? Do tell!