Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Queen Mother on Politics and Life

Yesterday I finished reading William Shawcross's excellent official biography of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (1900-2002). This post is not a full review--perhaps I will attempt that later--but I wanted to share two delightful private comments from Her Majesty, one from the beginning of her public life and one from near the end.

"I am extremely Anti-Labour. They are so far apart from fairies & owls and bluebells & Americans & all the things I like. If they agree with me, I know they are pretending--in fact I believe everything is pretence to them." [letter to D'Arcy Osborne, 1924] (412)

In the mid-1990s [Major Michael] Parker [organizer of HM's 80th, 90th, and 100th birthday celebrations] had tea with the Princess of Wales and the Queen Mother. When the Princess of Wales said to her, 'We're all so looking forward to your hundredth birthday,' Queen Elizabeth replied, "Oh, you mustn't say that, it's unlucky. I mean I might be run over by a big red bus." Parker said he thought this was very unlikely, to which Queen Elizabeth replied, "No, no, it's the principle of the thing. Wouldn't it be terrible if you'd spent all your life doing everything you were supposed to do, didn't drink, didn't smoke, didn't eat things, took lots of exercise, all the things you didn't want to do, and suddenly one day you were run over by a big red bus, and as the wheels were crunching into you you'd say 'Oh my god, I could have got so drunk last night!' That's the way you should live your life, as if tomorrow you'll be run over by a big red bus.' (912)

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