In a fascinating new book, the Royal Mail writer, ROBERT HARDMAN, tells the story behind the backdrop of the Queen's role on the world stage. Yesterday, he recalled how His Majesty put on a bra in a shirtless equerry during a trip to Britain. Today, in the third part of our serialization, he reveals in amazing detail what happens when the royal house goes on tour, including the influence on His Majesty of his former nanny and confidante, Bobo.
The coronation tour around the world that began in 1953 was the most ambitious royal expedition of all time.
It would take the Queen more than 40,000 miles, most of them by sea. On the way, she would shake 13,213 hands and recognize 6,770 cakes (ties were not engraved).
She would make 157 speeches herself and would support 276 for other people.
It is not surprising that real spirits occasionally reach a critical point, as they did after five weeks in Australia.
While the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh spent a weekend recovering in a government villa on the banks of the O & # 39; Shannassy reservoir, they forgot that a camera crew was waiting outside to film them watching the local wildlife.
Queen Elizabeth II wears a white lace dress tight to a garden party in Sydney, 1954
When the door opened, the cameras began to roll, then the Duke ran out the door, followed by a pair of flying shoes, a tennis racket and a very angry Queen, yelling at him to come back.
Moments after the couple withdrew to the interior, appeared the press secretary of the queen and the crew delivered his film without being asked. "I'm sorry for that little interlude," the Queen told them when she reappeared, "but, as you know, it happens in all marriages. Now, what would you like me to do?
How His Majesty's Wardrobe Became a Diplomatic Weapon
From her first trips, the Queen was able to display fashion as a diplomatic tool in a way completely beyond the reach of kings and princes.
Therefore, for the Nigerian tour in 1956, Norman Hartnell created a duchess satin evening dress for the Queen's address to the House of Representatives. She also used pearls and beads to create what the Royal Collection describes as "a long incrustation around the neckline in a style reminiscent of African tribal necklaces."
For the 1961 tour of India and Pakistan, Hartnell produced an evening dress inlaid with pearls in the pattern of an Indian lotus flower for her first night in New Delhi.
On the Queen's first night in Pakistan, the effect was even more dramatic.
Hartnell had designed a satin duchess dress in ivory and emerald green, which matched perfectly with the insignia of the Order of Pakistan, which President Ayub Khan had given him that very day.
To top it off, he wore the Vladimir Tiara adorned with the emeralds of Cambridge. Bobo had highlighted herself that night.
Australia seemed to be under the influence of realistic hysteria. Hence the crowd that gathered outside the Hotel Gollan in Lismore, after a brief real stop for & # 39; refreshment & # 39 ;.
They were queuing to get a piece of unused real toilet paper, one sheet per person, in much the same way that medieval pilgrims could have queued up to acquire a piece of the Cross or a holy nail clip.
During the 25-minute stop for the queen in the small town of Lithgow, who experienced the only bottleneck in her history, she walked along a red, white and blue carpet created by the staff of a local wool factory. What to do with the carpet? Afterwards, it was decided that the most just solution was to cut it into small pieces, so that everyone would have a memory.
"The adulation was extraordinary," the Duke of Edinburgh said later. Neither he nor the queen would see something like that again. That tour laid the foundations of one of the many real records established by Isabel II.
Since then, not only has his reign exceeded the duration of all the others before, but it is the most traveled monarch in history.
Records show that the Queen has visited at least 126 nations and territories, many of them several times. As the Queen herself has made clear with enough frequency, she would not have achieved everything she has without Prince Felipe, the best-known and longest-running act of support in the world.
Always walking a step or two behind his wife, he kept the rest of the party alert, even if he was not always convinced of the reason they were there.
"He would bring a manly dimension to a tour, his temperament could make things break pretty good," recalls a former member of the Royal House.
"When the duke traveled alone, it would be him, a policeman and his private secretary." Then, on these tours, he would go in and see all these locker rooms and lackeys, and he would say: "What are all these people doing here? & # 39; And if something went wrong, he would say: Who organized this bloody chaos? & # 39;
It could also lighten the mood in a crisis.
Before the Normandy veterans' parade on the sandy beach of Arromanches in 1994, an incoming tide was already cutting things right when the real party was informed that President Mitterrand was running an hour late. "Who do you think he thinks he is?" the duke roared. King Canute? The parade remained in the original times. The duke has always been a key influence in helping the queen write the speeches she has made both at home and abroad. Constitutionally, of course, he can not have a substantial voice.
Princess Elizabeth of York and her sister Princess Margaret Rose with their nannies, left, Clara Knight, known as & # 39; Allah & # 39; Allah & # 39; and right Margaret & # 39; Bobo & # 39; Macdonald in 1932
But the Queen values her views very much. Sir Robert Woodard, captain of the Royal Yacht Britannia, recalls a typical day of rest on board when they worked as a team in their studios on both sides of the Upper Deck: their brightly decorated sitting room on the starboard side and their teak. studio with port panels.
"The Queen was writing her speech for the next day and she was coming and going from her studio, giving it a new wording," says Woodard. He gave her his final corrections for her to do. They worked a lot together. "
Although the Duke announced his retirement from public life in 2017, he continues to accompany the Queen in important events and remains fundamental to the way he organizes his program.
At the end of a busy morning, it is known that she said: "Now I have to have Philip lunch."
Another person willing to offer unadorned advice during the Queen's travels was her dressing room.
From her earliest years, Princess Isabel dedicated herself to Bobo MacDonald, the daughter of the Scottish farmer who was first her nanny and later became his confidant. When the princess went on a honeymoon, she also took her corgi, Susan and Bobo with her. The new real team would be warned: "Do not bother Miss MacDonald or you'll ruin Queen's Day."
On board the Royal Yacht, where it was known as "QE3", Bobo had its own cabin, which would be locked and never used again by anyone else if it was not on board.
The veteran members of the delegation and the government would bow to Bobo, while asking for their help.
A former private secretary laughs at the memory of a difficult time before a big dinner in Canada.
"The queen said she did not want to wear a tiara, since it would mean having all the hair done again, unfortunately, the Canadians expected the complete works," he recalls.
& # 39; Somebody said: & # 39; Talk to Bobo & # 39; Then, I did it and I remember that she said: Och, my little girl is getting spoiled! That solved it.
Royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth (Queen Elizabeth II) and Prince Philip (Duke of Edinburgh) at Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947
"And indeed, the queen went down to dinner looking for a million dollars." During much of the reign, it would be Bobo who designed the day dresses, the dance dresses and the jewels for each step of each royal visit. No matter how illustrious the costume designer is, if "Miss MacDonald" did not like something, or someone, then the outfit was doomed. On the first post-coronation world tour, Bobo was responsible for more than 100 dresses, including the Coronation dress itself, which the Queen would wear three times.
In the air, Bobo's domain was the real "locker room", the largest compartment of the plane, isolated from the rest of the plane behind a curtain.
Former Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Margaret Beckett remembers the first time she and her husband Leo met on a real flight. "My husband was impressed by the speed with which the Queen changes outfits," he says.
"There's a place at the end of the plane and she disappears and, with the zipper and the zipper, reappears in a completely different outfit for a different event."
As for the planes in which those quick changes were made, the Queen is the only G7 head of state without her own dedicated plane and has relied on the Royal Air Force or the charter market for most of her trips abroad. , whether they are long or short.
For example, when Queen and Duke left for France on their 1972 state visit, they had the RAF's front quarter VC10 Mk 1, with a C-shaped sofa on the starboard side and a four-seat dining table tack. plus a kitchen and bar and folding beds on each side of the hall.
In addition to reconfiguring the design to give the Queen and the Duke extra space, any chartered plane required two additional objects: a full-length mirror and a medallion representing Saint Christopher, the patron saint of travelers. The Queen has never been a great admirer of air travel, particularly helicopters.
The monarch, who stole the show at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics "jumping" from a helicopter with James Bond, much prefers fixed-wing aviation.
This despite the fact that two of his sons and two of his grandchildren (Prince Charles, Andrew, William and Harry) served as pilots of professional helicopters.
At the time of her 2012 Diamond Jubilee, the Queen announced that she would also take things more slowly, at least when it comes to travel.
Leaving long-haul flights to other members of the family, he will focus on the diplomatic duties he has always carried out closer to home.
Over the years, it has welcomed more world leaders to the United Kingdom than any of its predecessors, including many US presidents. UU There has always been a special bond between the Queen and the occupants of the White House, although, as I will explain tomorrow, the relationship has had its share of dramas and mishaps.
How Robin Cook led her to diplomatic disaster … then she went to be with her lover
In the first months of Tony Blair's New Labor administration, the government dispatched the Queen to India and Pakistan to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of independence. His 1961 tour of the region had been triumphant, but any hope of a replay would soon fade.
The real party was already nervous when the tour in Pakistan began. This was the Queen's first trip abroad since the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, two months earlier and Diana had been a kind of local hero in Pakistan after her visit to a children's hospital.
The beginnings of a diplomatic disaster were already occurring when Robin Cook, who was accompanying the queen on her first state visit as foreign secretary, was approached by members of the Pakistani media at a British reception. To his delight, he expressed Britain's willingness to act as an intermediary in any peace negotiations with India over the disputed territory of Kashmir.
When the news reports announced a new breakthrough in Kashmir, the Indian government was horrified. I did not want external interference.
The mood worsened when the British High Commissioner in India, Sir David Gore-Booth, was approached on the subject before the arrival of the Queen in Delhi. His disdainful retort that the Indians should "stop leaning on the windmills" brought resentments boiling to the boil.
As the Queen and the Duke spent a private weekend at a Pakistani mountain resort before the start of the Indian stage of the tour, Cook returned home for a couple of days & # 39; of business & # 39 ;.
When the royal party arrived in Delhi the following week, however, the mood was toxic.
India's prime minister had been cited in the media as a "third-rate power", while The Times of India called the queen "shameless and banal."
Some guests found that their invitations to the actual events were mysteriously terminated. The Royal Marines Band, which would act in a real event at the National Museum, were suddenly told not to bother to come. The original itinerary included a speech by the Queen in Madras. Although the speech had already been written, his Indian hosts suddenly removed him from the official calendar.
There were more snubs all week. While the media blamed Robin Cook, who had not only stoked things in Pakistan, but had approved all aspects of the Queen's program, he tried to pass the ball, blaming the media, to the Royal House , to the subaltern personnel, to anyone, in fact, but to himself.
A thorny but gifted parliamentary interpreter, he had only been at work for a few months and was not willing to allow this tour to tarnish his reputation.
The last straw was when the Queen went to fly home.
The Indian authorities mistreated a member of the British High Commission team and tried to prevent his press secretary from getting on the plane. The visit, according to The Times, had been a "disaster". "Conceived by mistake, failed at birth," wrote veteran BBC India expert Mark Tully.
Sir David Gore-Booth had a difficult task when he sat down to write his office on the tour for his boss, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Showing an almost Olympic ability to see the positive side, he painted the tour as a great result for all those interested. He opened with a quote from Irish writer Brendan Behan: "All advertising is good, except an obituary notice." He went on to say that the "carnivorous British press" had been "too anxious to find fault".
In reality, the British diplomats were "quite devastated," according to one of them. It is an amazing measure of the failure of the tour that the FCO even felt obliged to write to the diplomats involved, assuring them that the visit will not be made against them in their records.
Sir David, who died in 2004, had been designated as a future British ambassador to the United Nations. His staff, who vigorously defended the internal consequences after the visit and who appreciated him very much, believe that the actual debacle defeated his UN prospects.
So, what about the & # 39; urgent business & # 39; Who had called Robin Cook back to the United Kingdom in the middle of this state visit? Later it was learned that he had not spent the weekend pressing international affairs of state, but had been at home in his constituency with the new woman in his life, his diary secretary for whom he had recently left his wife.
- Adapted from Queen Of The World by Robert Hardman (Century, £ 25).
© Robert Hardman 2018.
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