A pre-Coronation Communist Party pamphlet of 1937

Communist Party leaflet 001Aimed specifically at workers looking forward to the glamorous Coronation of King George VI on May 12th 1937 is this glossy brochure published by the Communist Party of Great Britain. It argues that it is scandalous that a total of £20,000,000 will be spent by the Government in staging the event and by those attending it (new outfits and hotel bills) when that sum might be better spent on new homes, nursery schools and underfed children.

Naturally, the Party denies that it against those with money spending it on whatever they like. What it does argue is that it is divisive for members of the moneyed class to flaunt their wealth before working people. It is also hypocritical for them to spend it on ‘fripperies’ when the ruling class has acknowledged that the Coronation is an occasion for the rich and poor to come together and celebrate the pageantry of this memorable event like ‘ one happy family’.

‘The idea is that you, Bill Smith, miner, fitter, shop assistant, belong to the same happy British family as Lord Nuffield, Mr Selfridge and your own employer—all the King’s loyal subjects together.’

Of course, the pamphlet argues, this is an example of government duplicity. Those in power see the millions as money well spent if the pageantry invokes sufficient feelings of patriotism among the working class to encourage workers to fall in with their ‘ war plans ‘. However, the pamphlet argues that it is up to workers to ensure that the ruling class do not achieve this cosy arrangement.

‘First, make them pay more. If you have to work on Coronation Day, demand holiday rates of pay. Some employers are trying to show how patriotic and generous they are by giving a holiday with pay on Coronation day. If your employer is one of these, demand a proper holiday of at least a week with pay this year and every year—like the French workers get. When they urge you to brighten up your street with flags and streamers, demand that the landlord brightens up your home as well. If they provide a free tea for the children on Coronation day, accept it and see that your children have a good feed and a good time. But demand also, that your children and happy and properly fed during the rest of the year…’   Continue reading

Odd photos bought online 2

anne1Bought at eBay for the price of a latte (and muffin) -these 3 photos purporting to be of a British royal – Anne, Princess Royal. The left and right photos are indubitably her, the middle photo (printed on Fujifilm Crystal
Archive paper -as is the other colour shot) may not be. It shows a well dressed and striking young woman emerging from a Ford Thunderbird sometime in the (late?) 1960s in what looks like a field or orchard with other mostly pretty fancy American cars parked there. It has the feel of a Cindy Sherman performance  art photograph and if authentic must have been taken on a tour of America by Anne or while she was on holiday there.

 

The mouth (and nose) and assured demeanour certainly look like Anne. The provenance is good but such web purchases always have an element of doubt- certainly if it is Anne she is looking uncharacteristically  ‘cool’ and it is one of the ‘groovier’ moments of her young life. An online search revealed nothing conclusive especially when coupled with the words ‘Thunderbird.’
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A rare drawing by Lavinia Spencer—Princess Diana’s great great great grandmother

Bought a few years ago in a provincial auction house for very little, this signed drawing of Frances Molesworth by the talented amateur Lavinia Bingham, dated 8th June 1780, is interesting for a number of reasons, not least because the artist was Princess Diana’s great great great grandmother. However, the relationship between Lavinia and Frances is also significant. After the death of her natural mother, Frances entered the household of her mother’s only surviving sibling, Lady Margaret Bingham, and her cultured husband Sir Charles (later Lord Lucan),who were the parents of Lavinia. At the time Frances would have been twenty and Lavinia two years younger, and it is highly likely that the drawing, which Lavinia presented to Frances,  was executed at the family home at Laleham, Surrey. Interestingly, the sitter seems to be wearing the same, or a very similar, wide brimmed hat trimmed with feathers that she was to wear in a later portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds. No doubt the two girls were rivals in the marriage stakes. Both had striking good looks, but whereas  less than a year after the sitting Lavinia married George, the second Earl Spencer, brother of Georgiana, Countess of Devonshire, Frances rejected two very eligible suitors, including Lord North, before she agreed to marry John Jeffreys, Marquess of Camden, in 1785.

Although, like her descendant, Princess Diana, Lavinia Spencer was a beauty, none of the features of the  ‘People’s Princess’ can be detected in the famous portrait, also by Reynolds, which now hangs in Althorp, along with some of the sitter’s own artistic productions. Nor did Lavinia seem to share many of her descendant’s personality traits. Although before her marriage she was described as a ‘sweet creature’, she was later disliked by some for her perceived bitchiness and arrogance. Certainly, she ruled her household at Althorp with a self confidence born of her elevated station, which Diana, for all her occasional feistiness, could not rival.

We know how Diana’s short life ended, but in contrast Lavinia’s appears to have been full of contentment. She died in 1831, aged 69, just long enough to see her son, Viscount Althorp, became Chancellor of the Exchequer. [RR]

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Partying with Royals in London (1930)

Lord Glenavy with his
 children Patrick and Biddy

This is a continuation of a jot from March 2014 featuring  a good letter, over 20 closely written pages found among some papers bought in Ireland.  Indiscreet, gossipy ('The Prince  of Wales was blotto..') from the inner circles of power and privilege in 1930 and like something out of Waugh's Vile Bodies. The recipient was Beatrice Elvery, Lady Glenavy (1881 - 1970). Irish artist and literary host, friend of Katherine Mansfield and friend of Shaw, Lawrence and Yeats. She modelled for Orpen and painted 'Éire' (1907) a landmark painting promoting the idea of an independent Irish state. The letter is from her husband Charles Henry Gordon Campbell, 2nd Baron Glenavy (1885–1963) politician and banker in England and Ireland. This is from the last two pages, the letter ends on a scrap of 'Irish Free State Delegation' paper.

I had to go to a party at  Buckingham Palace, they were much the same people as at Londonderry (an earlier party)   but Kipling and Barrie instead of Elinor Glyn and Mrs Stevens. Lady Jowitt was all over us to go to another cocktail party but I rather shrank from meeting Mary Hutchinson. I met Plucky's mother in law, Lady Melchett. The Prince of Wales is a wretched looking old-young man who would be quite insignificant if he hadn't large eyes of a brilliant blue. The Queen's bosom reaches form her chin to her pelvis and anyone talking to her has to stand about five feet away. The Duchess of York is quite simple and pleasant looking;  Winston Churchill remembered me and got into a conversation about the Xmas day I spent in his room at the Ministry of Munitions which attracted quite a crowd.

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Fat Mary’s brother, a royal sex scandal and a precedent created

As a follow-up to a very recent Jot on Princess Mary of Teck, whose biography was called The People’s Princess, here is a short letter from her brother, found amongst a pile of old letters acquired a few years ago.

 Prince Francis of Teck seems to have followed the age-old career path of minor royalty—public school, Sandhurst, and action abroad -- only this particular royal seems to have been a philanderer and gambler. He had an affair with the beautiful Ellen Constance, wife of the 3rd Earl of Kilmorey, and this together with his ruinous gambling got him sent to India. In the letter, dated March 20th 1893, written when Francis was a lieutenant in the 1st Royal Dragoons, he thanks someone called Mowbray for sending him an ‘ excellent photograph’ but regrets that due to an ‘ exam’ that he is obliged to take on the 4th May, he cannot accept an invitation to visit him. This exam may have been for the rank of captain, and though he probably failed it on this occasion, he was promoted the following year. After India he served in Egypt, and later saw action in the Boer War, eventually retiring in 1901 with the rank of major.

In 1910 Francis died suddenly at Balmoral of pneumonia, aged 39.When his will was read it was discovered to his family’s horror that he had bequeathed to his mistress Ellen the famous Cambridge emeralds, which were part of the family jewels. It was then left to his sister, now Queen Mary, to have this will sealed, thus creating a legal precedent. Previously, royal wills could be publicly examined. The Queen also  negotiated to buy back the emeralds, reportedly paying £10,000 ( around £600,000 today ) for them. Mary then wore them at the coronation of her husband in 1911.

A few years ago actress Sarah Miles claimed that not long after this letter was written, Francis fathered an illegitimate son called Francis Remnant, who became her maternal grandfather. This makes the beautiful Sarah second cousin of the present Queen.

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The People’s Princess

The phrase 'the people's princess'  was not made up by Alastair Campbell for the famous Blair soundbite on the day Diana died but, rather, recycled… This 1984 book found in a box of slow-selling royalty books shows the original 'People's Princess' - Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck (1833- 1897). She was not quite as good-looking as Diana (indeed she was also known as 'Fat Mary') but like Diana she had a knack for popularity. She was also one of the first Royals to patronise a wide range of charities. She is the current Queen's great grandmother. Elizabeth II seems to have thrown off the Hanoverian look…(although Lucian Freud's small portrait has some suggestions of it.)

An interesting piece of tiara trivia… the lavish two tiered tiara that was created for Princess Mary has made its way down the family via the Queen Mother to the Duchess of Cornwall (i.e. Camilla). It has been modified but  was originally a 'diamond diadem' featuring three wild roses separated by 20 crescent shapes and was assembled from various jewels Princess Mary inherited from her aunt, Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester.

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I once met…King Richard Booth of Hay

Actually, I’ve met him twice. The first was in 1970, not too long after the Book Town of Hay-on Wye had started up. I was 18 and had only been collecting second-hand books for two years and could hardly pass up the prospect of a place entirely devoted to them. Back then there were only three shops—the Castle, where Booth lived, the Old Fire Station and the Old Cinema. My first visit, I seem to recall, had been with my parents, who had driven me up from Swansea. After that first taste of Hay I was hooked. It was on the second visit, again a day trip from home, but one that involved three buses, that I met Booth.

I was an impoverished schoolboy back then and spent all my pocket money, baby-sitting money and newspaper round cash on books. Because of this I justified to myself my nefarious practice of taking a pencil stub into the Old Cinema and writing my own prices on the books. As I saw it, if the experts at the counter didn’t challenge my prices that was their problem. Most didn’t, but on this one occasion the man at the desk turned out to be Booth himself. I recognised his face from a photo in the local paper, but there was nothing I could do. He had my book in his hand (I think it was a seventeenth century pocket Bible) and he suddenly looked very puzzled at something on the flyleaf. I heard him mutter 'This doesn’t look right' and he scribbled over my price, replacing it with his own, which was only a couple of pounds more. I remember going bright red, but I duly paid up, still content with my purchase.

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Political and Royal gossip 1920s

Lady Elvery by William Orpen

A good letter, over 20 closely written pages. Indiscreet, gossipy ('The Prince of Wales was blotto..') from the inner circles of power and privilege in the mid 1920s. The recipent was Beatrice Elvery, Lady Glenavy (1881 - 1970). Irish artist and literary host, friend of Katherine Mansfield and friend of Shaw, Lawrence and Yeats. She modelled for Orpen and painted 'Éire' (1907) a landmark painting promoting the idea of an independent Irish state. The letter is from her husband Charles Henry Gordon Campbell, 2nd Baron Glenavy (1885–1963) politician and banker in England and Ireland.

Quite a good little show at the Londonderry's the other night. Great strong retainers at the door in short kilts of the Stewart tartan created an atmosphere of sex appeal, much fortified by the magnificent bosoms of the Marchioness Curzon which are said to have only reached their full bloom for the first time this season.

Eire by Beatrice
Elvery (1907)

The white face of Elinor Glynn, a a long green velvet gown, made our RC aboriginals visibly insecure: her walk is so sensuous as to suggest unimagined pleasures in love and is enhanced by some minor pelvic obstruction which necessitates a few swings with the right leg before she can take a step. Her daughters, married to a pair of peers or better, offer a pleasant contrast of blackheads and anaemia. Lady Jowett was escorted by Eddie Marsh who is still holding up wonderfully together...........We bumped into Gladys Cooper fresh from the theatre in full make up, on Londonderry's arm and a bodyguard of four young men........

On asking Lady Jowett how she explained Baldwin's remaining in public life she said the Baldwin family had a firm hold on the British public's imagination ever since she said, when asked whether she found it (illegible) to have so many children imposed upon her by her husband that 'each time she closed her eyes and thought of England'...........

On Friday McGilligan, Hogan and Fitzgerald went to dinner with the King. Everything gold including the forks.

But the king forgot it was Friday: the soup was a meat soup so the R.C's couldn't eat it and in the end, after a huge long dinner all they had was a bit of sole. a few peas and an ice cream. They rushed back here at midnight and gorged themselves on rolls and butter and tea. They said the Prince of Wales was blotto........

[Later he goes to a party at Buckingham Palace and his take on the queen's breasts is hilarious....  He spends a lot of time with Mark Gertler and Mary Hutchinson. The letters ends on a scrap of 'Irish Free State Delegation' paper.] I am writing to keep myself awake while Ramsay Macdonald meanders on about things he doesn't understand.....

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The Grosvenor House Ice Rink

Best known as the venue for the most prestigious antiques fair in the world, the Great Room of London’s Grosvenor House Hotel (opened 1929) began life as a vast ice rink, where the rich and famous refined their skating skills. It is said that in 1933 the present Queen learned how to skate here. She must have been around the same age as some of the little girls being taught the basics by their elegantly dressed coach in this press photo dated 18th September 1931.

Unfortunately, under pressure from rival (and probably cheaper) establishments in the metropolis, the Grosvenor House Ice Rink was forced to close in 1935, after just six years of use. The space was then used as a grand ballroom, and afterwards as a conference venue. However, all the refrigeration machinery was left in situ underneath the present floor, where it can still be inspected.