Lady in Waiting | Anne Glenconner

Summary of: Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown
By: Anne Glenconner


Welcome to the royal world of ‘Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown’ by Anne Glenconner. This engrossing book offers a unique glimpse into the lives of the British aristocracy and the royal family, while sharing the key experiences of Anne’s life as a confidante and companion of the Queen and Princess Margaret. In this summary, we will delve into the exclusive social circles, the challenges of royalty, Lady Anne’s time as lady-in-waiting, the royal vacations, and personal struggles they all faced. Get ready to peek behind the curtain of the royal family and discover a world full of charm, duty, glamour, and tragedy.

Lady Anne Glenconner’s Royal Journey

Lady Anne Glenconner, a British debutante, became one of Queen Elizabeth II’s maids of honor during her coronation. The royals usually bestow courtier positions upon trusted friends from noble families, which confers them with prestige. Lady Glenconner’s father was equerry to King George, and this assignment was not wholly unexpected. During the coronation, she helped Queen Elizabeth II with her train and kept vials of smelling salts tucked into her gloves, just in case the Queen felt faint. Lady Glenconner recounts the post-coronation celebrations as a cheerful event with one exception, Princess Margaret, who was depressed because her father just died, and she felt she was losing her sister, the Queen, to royal responsibilities and duties.

Princess Margaret’s Magic Touch

This book summary delves into the life of Princess Margaret, who became a tastemaker beyond aristocratic circles. Mustique, a Caribbean island that was initially an underdeveloped piece of land, became a popular vacation spot for aristocrats and rock royalty alike as Princess Margaret frequently visited it. She commissioned a luxurious villa on the island and insisted on being greeted as “Ma’am” wherever she went. Margaret’s allure extended beyond her royal connections and bore a timeless influence, attracting prominent personalities like David Bowie and Barack Obama to visit this exclusive getaway.

A Glimpse into the Mundane Tasks of a Royal Lady-in-Waiting

Lady Anne Glenconner shares her experiences as Princess Margaret’s lady-in-waiting, which highlights that royal life isn’t always glitz and glamor.

Lady Anne Glenconner, a maid-of-honor at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, was later offered an even more prestigious role by Princess Margaret. When Anne replied that she was not planning to have any more children, Princess Margaret asked her to be her lady-in-waiting. Anne happily accepted and became part of a close-knit group of Margaret’s confidantes. However, despite the glamorous title, Anne’s duties were mainly practical, and her key message is that royal life isn’t as exciting as one might expect.

As Princess Margaret’s lady-in-waiting, Anne accompanied her on official visits to ensure everything ran smoothly and anticipate the princess’s needs. Her duties included finding the nearest toilet and standing outside when Margaret was inside to avoid any embarrassing incidents. Additionally, Anne had to make sure that Margaret’s drink order was correct, serving whiskey and water at lunch and gin and tonic in the evening, especially during grand events where they might get separated.

Aside from accompanying Margaret on official visits, Anne was also her private companion, spending many quiet days together at Margaret’s private residence in Kensington Palace. Margaret had a routine that she treasured, including a three-course meal every lunchtime and a prawn cocktail as a starter. At precisely five o’clock, she had Earl Grey tea and a Leibniz cookie. Anne felt that despite Margaret’s vivacious reputation, her friend preferred the quiet of home.

In conclusion, Lady Anne Glenconner’s experiences as Princess Margaret’s lady-in-waiting show that royal life is not always glitz and glamor. Even with a prestigious title, duties can still be mundane, but it’s all part of ensuring that everything runs smoothly and efficiently.

Margaret’s Love Life

The romantic involvements of Margaret, the Queen’s younger sister, were constantly restricted by royal protocol. This resulted in an unhappy marriage to Anthony Armstrong Jones and forbidden love for Peter Townsend, whom she fell in love with during a horse ride in South Africa. Despite her unhappy marriage, Margaret found love with Roddy Llewellyn, who was 17 years younger than her. Margaret’s divorce and public affair with Roddy caused quite a scandal.

Royal Tours: Expect the Unexpected

Lady Anne Glenconner’s experiences while accompanying Princess Margaret on international royal tours demonstrate that unexpected challenges are a common occurrence.

As a lady-in-waiting, Lady Anne Glenconner had the privilege of accompanying Princess Margaret on several international royal tours. While these tours presented the opportunity to witness various cultures and gain valuable experiences, they also came with their fair share of professional challenges.

Lady Glenconner’s experiences prove that when it comes to royal tours, one should expect the unexpected. During Princess Margaret’s 1975 tour of Australia, the press was on the attack, reporting on her troubled marriage with Anthony. Margaret held a cocktail party for journalists on the Royal Train to win them over, which resulted in better headlines.

Lady Glenconner also faced unexpected situations during the Asia-Pacific tour in 1978 when Princess Margaret fell ill and asked Lady Glenconner to take her place. Lady Glenconner had to tour with Imelda Marcos, who was unhappy Margaret wasn’t there to meet her personally. However, she cheered up once she gave Lady Glenconner a tour of her extensive shoe collection.

Lady Glenconner’s role also involved troubleshooting fashion problems on tour. When Margaret’s shoes got wet during a rainy day at the Melbourne races, Lady Glenconner had to quickly dry them in a microwave.

These are just a few examples of the unexpected and unique challenges that Lady Glenconner faced while accompanying Princess Margaret on international royal tours. Despite the obstacles, Lady Glenconner remained professional and always found a solution to whatever problem presented itself.

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