Friday, November 07, 2014

The Prince and the Pauper

No, I really don’t follow The Royals all that closely, but I couldn’t help but pick up on a recent news item, in which it was revealed that Prince William the Fair had done a brief stint as a common workingman in one of The Great Homes of England.

William did his Downstairs, Upstairs bit in 2005 at Chatsworth House, a stately home in Derbyshire. 

Rather than spending his fortnight there going to the hounds, changing for dinner, and striding around the topiary, the Prince went Underground Boss and actually did some work.

All this was revealed in The Housekeeper’s Tale, a memoir by Christine Robinson who worked at Chatsworth for 40 years. If you’re not familiar with Chatsworth, or the only association you have with the name is Dobie Gillis’ rich pal Chatsworth Osborne, Jr., it was the stately home of  Deborah, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire.

Deborah was one of the Mitford sisters.

Not the one who wrote about The American Way of Death. That was Jessica.

Not the one who was best buds with Hitler and his pals. That was Diana.

Not the other one who was best buds with Hitler and his pals. That was Unity.

No, this is the one who married Andrew Cavendish, who got to be the Duke of Devonshire after his brother Billy, who was married to JFK’s sister Kathleen, was killed during World War II. Debo is that Mitford sister.

Anyway, Christine Robinson, who worked for Debo all those years has let us in on Prince William among the people. (Queue Fanfare for the Common Man.)

She says: “He spent a week working around the estate and made sausage rolls and mince pies.

"Then he spent a week at the house, dressed in overalls, drinking tea and eating fish and chips with the rest of the housemen and joiners.

"We were staging a ballet in the theatre, but discovered the stage was too short and had to be extended.

“He was carrying planks of wood through the shop dressed in workmen’s clothes.

“The look on visitors’ faces was priceless, most obviously thought to themselves, ‘That joiner is the double of Prince William.’

"When two old ladies came straight out and asked him he admitted he really was the heir to the throne.

"He was, of course, charming.” (Source: Express.UK)

Well, I’d be pretty darned charming, too, if I knew that I wasn’t going to be spending more than a week making sausage rolls and mince pies, if I knew that I wasn’t doomed to spending the rest of my life eating them because, as a joiner, that’s all I’d ever be able to afford to eat. (Not to mention, all I’d ever be able to gum because of the terrible quality of the dental work I’d gotten.)

And I bet there were a few moments there when he thought ‘wouldn’t it be nice.’

Maybe not ‘wouldn’t it be nice to be a joiner or a sausage roll stuffer’. But ‘wouldn’t it be nice to be the Duke of Devonshire.’

Sure, I’d have to worry about how I was going to keep the pile that is Chatsworth afloat.

But I’d be rich enough. Invited to all the best parties and weekends. Wear bespoke hunting boots. Speak plummy English. Ski in Gstaad.

And not have paparazzi following every move I make. Not have to go to all those ribbon cutting ceremonies. Not have to accept all those curtsies. Not have to put on the royal face and wave the royal wave from the balcony of Buckingham Palace. Not have to put on the crown and the ermine trimmed cape.

Oh, a royal’s lot is not a necessarily a happy one.

And you have to hand it to the Prince that he was actually willing to get his hands a tad bit dirty.

Bet he wasn’t fooling any of the fellow joiners and minced pie makers.

They’d know a toff when they saw one.

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