Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Waity Katie no longer

Not that I really care, but Prince William finally announced his engagement to Kate today. Good luck to them: they'll need it, especially risking being jinxed by Diana's ring - but maybe since they won't be able to spend their honeymoon on board the royal yacht Britannia, they'll do better than the previous generation who did, and all ended up divorced.

Britannia was decommissioned in 1997 - one of the few times the Queen has ever been seen in public to shed a tear - and is open to the public at Leith, just outside Edinburgh. It's really interesting, in a nosy kind of way, to look over the ship and get a glimpse into the Royal Family's off-duty life. The Queen, rather endearingly, is a frugal type who recycled Victoria's monogrammed sheets on her hard-looking single bed. Apparently she likes a deep turn-down, which sounds treasonously personal, but only refers to the amount of sheet folded back over the blanket. The Duke, on the other hand, likes his bed much more Spartan and won't have anything to do with lace on his pillow-cases - and quite right too, navy type that he is.
There's a country-house type of drawing room with squashy sofas and floral wallpaper - the Queen wanted a proper fireplace, but had to make do with a fake gas one - with a baby grand whose ivories were once tinkled by Noel Coward.

The crew had to play statues whenever a Royal Personage hove into sight, standing silently until the Presence had passed - and they used hand signals amongst themselves to avoid being intrusive. They sometimes got through several uniforms a day, all laundered on board 24/7: the laundry washed a standard 600 shirts every day.

And the ship is the only one on the oceans not displaying a name or number on the hull: if you have to ask, you don't need to know, I suppose. 

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