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In December 2022, I wrote about the UK’s 2021 census that revealed we haven’t had such a high number of non-Christians since the Dark Ages.

My post included this tweet:

Since then, the news in Britain seems to be worsening by the day.

Scotland has realised it has a behavioural problem in the classroom. The Times‘s ‘End of school punishments blamed for pupil disorder’ reveals that all hell is breaking loose (emphases mine):

Teachers and parents have become increasingly alarmed by a decline in classroom behaviour since the end of the pandemic — and a method imported from the justice system is being blamed.

Restorative practice, involving “constructive conversations” with unruly youngsters in an attempt to make them understand what they have done wrong, is taking the place of more traditional sanctions such as detentions or withdrawal from activities.

But members of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) have unanimously backed a motion that warns the approach is time-consuming and if mishandled can result in “severe damage to teachers’ classroom authority”.

Apparently, teachers are not properly trained in class discipline and even less in ‘restorative practice’. It is amazing that detentions are out of fashion. The article continues:

Seamus Searson, general secretary of the SSTA, said restorative practice seemed to be “flavour of the month” when it came to managing challenging behaviour in schools …

He warned pupils were taken out of class supposedly to have restorative conversations but would then be returned to lessons without the discussion genuinely taking place

“The youngsters in class, they see things black and white, it is either right or it is wrong. There is no half-way. They expect that if a child misbehaves something happens. If they think for one second that so-and-so can get away with that, [then they think] why can’t I do it?”

This is an issue upon which all political parties north of the border agree: something must be done.

These are a few of the things going on.

First, the school bully:

One parent recalled how her six-year-old boy had come home from school and told her: “You will not believe what they have done. The teachers have taken the nastiest, most horrible boy in the class and have put him in charge of looking after the new pupil who started today.”

The manoeuvre had somewhat backfired when the young delinquent began teaching his classmate how to hurl items at other kids.

Teachers thought that by shepherding the new boy, the bully would learn empathy, but the article said that no discussion about that took place.

Secondly, the reward for bad behaviour:

Other parents have described unruly children being rewarded with trips to a local café. A deputy head said one pupil with extreme problems “came into school with fast food”.

The senior teacher explained: “He had been taken out for the day. He went in and rubbed it in the face of every single child around him. It alienated him from other people in the school, it alienated the child from his peers. His teacher was saying: ‘What is going on?’”

I’m not sure what ‘it’ in the second sentence of the previous paragraph means. On first reading, I thought ‘it’ might mean the fast food from the local café. It would not surprise me.

Thirdly, the threat at home:

[A mother, Ms] Green describes her son being involved in a playground tussle started by another boy. They were called inside for a restorative conversation and her son was asked to understand why the boy was having a bad day. “No one asked why my son was upset,” she said.

Two days after the “restorative chat”, she says the aggressor appeared at her house and said to her son “when you are not in school I am going to jump you and kill you”.

The article says that restorative practices are being rolled out in other British nations, which is a pathetic development:

They have crossed to education from the justice system after projects found it could reduce the chance of reoffending if criminals were put in touch with their victims.

Violent incidents are rising in primary (!) schools:

Figures uncovered by the Scottish Liberal Democrats earlier this month show 10,852 incidents of violence were recorded in primary schools in 2021-22 compared with 10,772 in 2018-19. For the secondary sector they have increased from 2951 from 2728.

Good grief. That wouldn’t have happened in my day.

This is another thing that wouldn’t have happened when I was at school:

Refusal to work, mobile phone misuse, disrespect and wandering around are the most common issues reported. Three quarters said they had experienced verbal aggression.

We never thought of ‘wandering around’.

Not surprisingly, students often give the following excuse as the reason for misbehaving:

“because I can!”


“That child will not be short on telling people: ‘nothing happened to me, I have just been put in another room’.”

Furthermore, children will band together to confront a teacher:

Stuart Hunter, president of the SSTA, said he had seen restorative conversations carried out badly. In one situation, he said, two pupils raised a complaint about work they had been set. When the teacher was called into an office for the restorative discussion, she found the girls had friends with them for support. The implication, he says, was the teacher was in the wrong.

Nothing much happens to wrongdoers at all. I didn’t bookmark it, but I recently read that the UK is a criminal’s paradise because the police are so soft.

In fact, whether real or staged, misbehaviour is rewarded. Take the case of Bacari-Bronze O’Garro, 18 and father of one, better known as Mizzy. Within the matter of a month, the Londoner has even been on television being interviewed about his exploits, which, in some cases, were criminal:

In May 2022, O’Garro was given a community protection notice prohibiting him from trespassing on private property.[9] On 24 May 2023, he was fined £200 plus costs and surcharge (£365 in all) after admitting breaching that community protection order on 15 May and was issued with a two-year criminal behaviour order (CBO).[5][10] The next day, O’Garro was interviewed by journalist Piers Morgan on Piers Morgan Uncensored[11] who called him “an idiot” … Former politician and journalist Patrick O’Flynn praised O’Garro’s entrepreneurial spirit, noting his ability to grab the media spotlight and convert it into social media fans.[13]

Remind me not to cite any further articles by Patrick O’Flynn.

At least his TikTok and YouTube accounts, on which his exploits appeared, have been terminated. Social media companies go where police and the justice system fear to tread.

What has Mizzy learned? That criminal acts have propelled him to fame:

Our political class is no better. They would rather ruin the UK than make the necessary effort to restore it to its former greatness. Pictured below are two Labour MPs Sir Lindsay Hoyle (Speaker of the House) and Keir Starmer (Labour leader) with the Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak:

The Telegraph‘s Sherelle Jacobs tells us:

There is no delicate way of putting it: the British governing class has completely lost the plot. It would rather risk some kind of economic collapse or populist backlash than actually deal with any of the country’s problems. Bereft of values and captured by institutional pessimism, our politicians are incapable of decisive action. Numbed by groupthink, and poisoned by ever-expanding managerial surveillance and ministerial turf wars, the Civil Service has been rendered inoperable. The British governing machine is broken; we are heading for total systems failure

How did Britain end up like this? Blairite Third Way politics, devoid of principle beyond “capturing the centre ground”, has a lot to answer for. It is hard to imagine a Tory party with a confident philosophy on free markets contemplating price caps; nor a Labour Party committed to a high-wage economy proving so bashful about the country’s addiction to mass migration. Institutionalised back-covering, and a total breakdown in trust between ministers and officials, meanwhile, mean that any policy that is difficult or controversial is increasingly impossible to deliver.

A Ground Zero moment of implosion may now be unavoidable. At that point, we can only hope that at least one of the two major parties rediscovers its core beliefs, and regains the stomach to fight for them. Big messy wars will need to be fought – starting with a breakup of the Treasury, bringing an end to its reign of terror.

For now, though, things look pretty bleak. In complex systems theory, a system becomes pathological when it gets to the point where measures being taken to maintain equilibrium are actually destroying the system. A system is also classed as fatally neurotic when it deems the psychological cost of detaching from the status quo to be too great, even if failure to adapt threatens its own destruction. There is little doubt that the British ruling class strongly exhibits both of these symptoms. And things will get a lot worse before they get better.

Sherelle Jacobs is not wrong.

But — and it’s a big BUT — two glimmers of hope have emerged.

In September 2022, two months before Britain’s post-Christian census figures appeared, The Guardian published ‘”God gives me reason to hope”: why young Britons are turning to prayer’.

Six of the paper’s readers gave their reasons for praying in response to a survey which found:

More young people in the UK are turning to prayer compared with 20 years ago, with one in three 18- to 36-year-olds saying they had prayed within the past month.

… spirituality in its many forms are thought to be behind the increase.

Three of the responses are from Christians. Two of them follow.

A 32-year-old midwife says:

Since getting pregnant, I’ve come back to prayer. I was raised Christian and have come back to it from time to time. But this time things feel different. With the world crumbling, God has given me a reason to hope and see beyond the hopelessness of our current political and financial landscape. It’s quite a scary time to be bringing a baby into the world with all the uncertainty – the financial situation and working out what kind of world he’s going to be born into is quite scary. Prayer has really helped me to take myself out of those world problems and see things in a broader context.

An 18-year-old student explains:

I used to go to church with the Scouts when I was six or seven but it was never regular – I didn’t really understand what was happening when I was that young. I wasn’t brought up in a religious family and I didn’t have a relationship with faith until recently, when I started seeing videos by priests on TikTok. After I saw that and became interested, I could understand it a bit more. I wanted to connect with faith because I wasn’t happy with the way my life was going, and I wanted to be better to other people. Developing my spiritual health has made me feel happier. I pray because it’s a way I can speak to God and give him my worries or concerns. I’m not involved with a particular church – I’m just trying to find my place at the moment.

Even more surprising is that nearly one-third of Britons under the age of 40 believe in the afterlife and hell, compared with 18 per cent between the ages of 60 and 77.

On May 23, 2023, The Guardian reported on these findings from the World Values Study, conducted by King’s College London:

You may think the idea of hellfire belongs to an age when people’s lives were shaped by the threat of eternal damnation.

Wrong, it seems: generation Z and millennials in the UK are significantly more likely to believe in hell than baby boomers, according to a new study by the Policy Institute at King’s College London.

Younger people are also more likely to believe in life after death than older generations, despite being less religious generally.

The findings are part of the World Values Study, one of the largest academic social surveys in the world, which has been running for more than 40 years.

According to its data, just under half (49%) of Britons said they believed in God, down from 75% in 1981. Only five countries – Norway, South Korea, Japan, Sweden and China – are less likely to believe in God than the UK. The Philippines topped the league table [in religious belief], scoring 100%.

Good for the Philippines!

Here are the stats on heaven, hell and the afterlife:

Belief in heaven among the UK public has also fallen, from 57% in 1981 to 41% last year. But belief in hell and in life after death has remained largely consistent, at 26% and 46% respectively.

When broken down by age, 32% of those under the age of about 40 said they believed in hell, compared with 18% of those aged between 59 and 77. Belief in life after death was 51-53% for younger generations, compared with 35-39% for older people.

“Our cultural attachment to organised religion has continued to decline in the UK – but our belief that there is something beyond this life is holding strong, including among the youngest generations,” said Bobby Duffy, director of the Policy Institute.

“While the youngest generations continue to have lower attachment to formal religion, many of them have similar or even greater need to believe that there is ‘more than this’.”

The article has international graphs to explore, which are fascinating.

Also of interest is that Britons have a newly increased confidence in religious institutions:

Another unexpected finding is that confidence in religious institutions had rebounded. Between 1981 and 2018, Britons’ confidence in churches and religious organisations fell from 49% to 31%, but by 2022 had risen again to 42%.

A possible explanation is the provision by churches and other religious institutions of essential social services such as food banks, social hubs, warm spots and debt counselling as the cost of living crisis has escalated.

Duffy said religious belief in the UK was unlikely to disappear, but would keep eroding. “It looks like a slow but inevitable decline, unless organised religions can engage with that broader sense of wanting something else beyond this life,” he said.

One week after this article appeared, the rector of St Bartholomew’s in London, the Revd Marcus Walker, posted a series of adverts from the Episcopal Church in the United States, which seem to come from the 1980s. I don’t remember these at all. I would have, too, had I seen them, as I had become an Episcopalian during that decade.

These are really powerful, especially the one about Holy Communion:

As Jesus said (John 6:47-48):

47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life.

Everyone responding to Marcus Walker was surprised:

Someone from the Church of England should ask for permission to repurpose these. In Scotland, they could use the text as it is, because the denomination is known as The Episcopal Church there and it’s not doing well.

If not, something similar can be done throughout the UK.

Let’s go, clergy. What are we waiting for? Carpe diem!


One year ago today saw the beginning of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

As she was in such poor health, she was only able to make balcony appearances at Buckingham Palace.

However, she was with us in spirit.

Christian faith

One of the events was a Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral.

The Queen was a woman of faith. It seemed that, as she grew older, she gave us more religious reflections in her Christmas addresses.

On March 1, 2016, six weeks before her 90th birthday, Fox News reported on the foreword to a book about her (emphases mine):

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II reflects on Jesus’ central role in her life in a new book ahead of her 90th birthday, calling Christ “the King she serves” in the title.

“I have been — and remain — very grateful to you for your prayers and to God for his steadfast love,” the British monarch writes in the foreword to The Servant Queen and the King She Serves, which is to be released in April.

“I have indeed seen His faithfulness,” she adds.

Thousands of churches will reportedly be giving away copies of the book, which is being published by HOPE, Bible Society and the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, according to the Church of England.

“As I’ve been writing this book and talking about it to friends, to family who don’t know Jesus, to my Jewish barber, I’ve been struck how very interested they are to discover more about the Queen’s faith,” said Mark Greene, executive director of LICC, who is the co-author of the book.

“The Queen has served us all her adult life, with amazing consistency of character, concern for others and a clear dependence on Christ. The more I’ve read what she’s written and talked to people who know her, the clearer that is,” he added.

The following year, one of her chaplains, the Rt Revd Gavin Ashenden, felt pressure from Buckingham Palace to resign. He went further and, in 2019, left Anglicanism for the Catholic Church.

On December 16, 2019, Church Militant reported:

An internationally renowned Anglican bishop and former chaplain to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is leaving the Anglican Church to become a Catholic.

Bishop Gavin Ashenden will be received into full communion by Shrewsbury’s Bp. Mark Davies on the fourth Sunday of Advent at Shrewsbury Cathedral, England.

The outspoken prelate became a global media celebrity after he objected to the reading of the Koran at St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow, Scotland.

The Koranic chapter on Mary, read from the lectern at the service of Holy Communion, on the Feast of the Epiphany 2017, explicitly denied the divinity of Jesus.

Under pressure from Buckingham Palace, Dr. Ashenden resigned his royal chaplaincy in order to be free to challenge the rising tide of apostasy in the Church of England.

Later that year, Ashenden was consecrated a missionary bishop to the United Kingdom and Europe by the Christian Episcopal Church to provide episcopal cover to traditionalist Anglicans leaving the Church of England

Ashenden explained to Church Militant that for some time he believed he had “the advantage of working out his faith in a broad church as an Anglican,” until Anglicanism capitulated “to the increasingly intense and non-negotiaible demands of a secular culture.”

“I watched as the Church of England suffered a collapse of inner integrity as it swallowed wholesale secular society’s descent into a post-Christian culture,” he noted

Did Ashenden’s comments about the reading at the cathedral in Glasgow reach the Queen? How much influence did she have on the decision or did the prelate in charge of the Royal chaplaincy more or less make the decision himself with just a nod from her? We’ll never know.

Ill health

Returning to the Queen’s faith, the UK was shocked when Her Majesty missed the 2016 Christmas Day service at Sandringham because of ill health. On January 3, 2017, ITV reported:

The Queen’s health continues to generate headlines all over the world as she still has not been seen in public since getting a heavy cold.

But Buckingham Palace says she is continuing to recuperate and is dealing daily with documents she receives from the government.

The Queen was last seen on our televisions in a pre-recorded speech on Christmas Day.

But it was her non-appearance at church that day that sent shockwaves throughout the world.

It is thought to be the first time in 28 years that the Queen had missed the Christmas Day service at Sandringham.

Four days after Christmas a fake BBC Twitter account sent alarm bells ringing with the false report that the Queen had died.

But when the Queen did not show up at the New Year’s Day service either – fears grew despite Princess Anne telling well-wishers her mother was feeling better.

Visitors at Sandringham today were pleased the 90-year-old monarch is resting up. But it is likely the world will remain anxious until the Queen appears in public again, looking hale and hearty.

In 2022, in the run-up to the Platinum Jubilee, the Queen had not been seen in public since a Women’s Institute engagement near Sandringham in February and May, when she opened the Elizabeth Line in London.

Before then, on May 11, her absence prompted Kevin Maguire, the Daily Mirror‘s associate editor, to say on GB News that her ‘royal perks’ should be removed. Dan Wootton and Calvin Robinson, who hadn’t yet been ordained, reacted most strongly:

A lot of people, as can be seen from the reactions to the following tweet, did not understand why GB News was asking the question Maguire was to answer that evening:

When asked what he had ever done for his country, Maguire pompously replied, ‘I do my duty talking to people like you’. I rather like the reply about removing salary and perks from Northern Ireland’s MLAs who refuse to meet at Stormont. They had been out for a three-year period not so long ago, then reconvened, then dissolved again over Brexit-related issues. It’s no big deal for MLAs, because they get paid salary and expenses (for what?):

Christmas broadcasts

Millions of people tuned in at 3 p.m. on Christmas Day in the UK to watch the Queen’s pre-recorded addresses to the nation. My far better half and I missed only one; we were out of the country at the time.

Millions more tuned in from Commonwealth countries where her Christmas messages were also broadcast.

A selection of these messages follows. Faith features in many of them.

In 1960, she opened by greeting the Commonwealth and sending good wishes from herself and her family for Christmas and the New Year. She expressed her gratitude for all the letters and telegrams that she received from people all over the Commonwealth on the birth of her second son (Andrew). Those messages ‘made me feel very close to all the family groups throughout the Commonwealth’. She was looking forward to visiting India and Pakistan then Ghana, Sierra Leone and the Gambia in 1961. Then she said that 1960 was a year of less than pleasant events, although she mentioned no specifics. She said that we can influence the world through our personal behaviour, clinging ‘most strongly to all those principles we hold to be right and good’. Only that could ‘halt and reverse a growing tendency towards violence and disintegration’. She said that one sign of good news was the way in which Nigeria achieved independence that year, and she was happy that it remained part of the Commonwealth. She was also happy about the growing co-operation among those countries. There was no religious message that year:

Her 1975 address is just as relevant today as it was nearly 50 years ago. At the 1:30 mark, she spoke of people being ‘dominated by great impersonal forces beyond our control, the scale of things and organisations seem to get bigger and more inhuman’ and of inflation, ‘the frightening sickness of our world today’. She then spoke of the happiness of Christmas and our Lord’s life on earth, saying that His love and example has ‘made an enormous difference to the lives of people who have come to understand His teaching’. She added, ‘His simple message of love has been turning the world upside down ever since’. She then examined His commandment to love one another as we love ourselves, saying, ‘It is a matter of making the best of ourselves, not just doing the best for ourselves’ and ‘If we do this well, it will also be good for our neighbours’. She added, ‘Kindness, sympathy, resolution and courteous behaviour are infectious’. That year’s theme — terrorism — came at the end. The point was that, together, we can ‘defeat the evils of our time’:

1997’s was very newsy and began with Westminster Abbey, where she and Prince Philip celebrated their golden anniversary. Princess Diana’s funeral took place there, too. Windsor Castle was ready to reopen after the devastating fire from 1992. She welcomed her dear friend Nelson Mandela to the Palace. She spoke about the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting that year. Wales and Scotland were preparing for devolution. Unity and kindness were big themes near the end. She ended by saying that St Paul spoke of the first Christmas as the kindness of God dawning upon the world (8:26). The world needs that kindness now more than ever, the kindness and consideration of others. She said it was important for people to show ‘kindness and respect for one another’. She added that Christmas is a reminder that God is with us today, but, as she had discovered that year, He is always present in the kindness and love from our friends and family:

Her 2015 message topped the television ratings for Christmas Day. The Telegraph reported:

The Queen’s speech topped the Christmas Day television ratings, as nearly 7.5 million viewers tuned in to watch her festive broadcast across the BBC and ITV.

The message, in which Her Majesty reflected on atrocities across the world in 2015, was watched by 6.1m people on the BBC and 1.3m on ITV.

The last ever episode of Downton Abbey drew the highest viewing figures of any single programme, with an audience of 6.9m.

The ITV show, in which much-loved characters got their happy endings, attracted a 30% share of all viewers last night.

In 2017, she said (6:27) that it was Jesus Christ’s love and selfless example that has influenced her own life of service:

In her last address — 2021, the year of Prince Philip’s death — she said that the teachings of Jesus Christ had formed the bedrock of her faith. She added that His birth meant a new beginning for the world, citing the carol, ‘The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight’ (6:15):


In March 2022, a small piece of needlework went up for auction.

Princess Elizabeth stitched it when she was only five years old. The Mail has a photo of the postcard-sized embroidery sampler. The precision stitching is remarkable for a small child:

A delightful embroidered card made by the Queen as a child is tipped to fetch £5,000 at auction. 

The then five-year-old Princess Elizabeth painstakingly stitched an image of a baby in a green and pink pram to give to royal physician Sir Frederick Still in 1932. 

She also signed her name ‘Lilibet’ on a letter thanking Sir Frederick for her ‘new dolly with a squeak in the tummy’. 

The little princess’s stitching was far better than her handwriting.

The article continues:

The deeply personal items are part of a collection of royal memorabilia that will go under the hammer at David Lay & FRICS in Penzance, Cornwall, on Thursday.  

It also includes letters sent to Sir David by the Queen Mother, who built up a close relationship with the physician during his years in service to the Royal Family. 

Among the most touching is a letter dated December 26, 1930 that was dictated by the then four-year-old Princess Elizabeth to her mother. 

It reads: ‘Dear Doctor Still. I loved my dolly that had a squeak in her tummy. Thank you for my lovely dolly, and we laughed at the squeak so much. Did you have a nice Christmas? From Lilibet.’

The young princess signed her own name and her mother added the postscript: ‘A dictated letter!’

In 1927 the Queen Mother wrote to Sir David to thank him for looking after Princess Elizabeth while she joined King George VI, then the Duke of York, on a tour of Australia and New Zealand, leaving her young daughter at home …

Dr Still, who died in 1941, worked at Guy’s Hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital and the Evelina Hospital of Sick Children. 

The Londoner, often referred to as the ‘father of British paediatrics’, rose from humble beginnings to become Physician to the Royal Household and was knighted in 1937.

No doubt patience developed from an early age served the Queen well during her time as an Army mechanic during the Second World War:


The Queen had not only patience but also perseverance.

Both were put to the test in 1992, which she famously described as her ‘annus horribilis’.

Royal biographer and Mail columnist Robert Hardman covered the events of 1992 in his book Queen Of Our Times: The Life Of Elizabeth II which appeared in March 2022:

It was a bold assignment. On the morning of October 22, 1992, the Royal car pulled up outside the Kreuzkirche church in Dresden, to be greeted by an uncomfortable silence. Next came a few boos. Then came the first egg

… strong emotions were in play as the Queen embarked on her 1992 state visit to Germany. It was her first since the fall of the Berlin Wall, reunification and the collapse of Communism across Eastern Europe. Hence her visit to Dresden.

However, Her Majesty managed to turn around the mood:

Her speech at the German president’s banquet touched millions, as she proclaimed: ‘The Iron Curtain melted in the heat of the people’s will for freedom’ …

That a trip of this sensitivity and magnitude should have barely registered in British minds at the time – or since – is testimony to the relentless and enduring awfulness of 1992.

In terms of their scale, suddenness and variety, the calamities which befell the Monarch in the course of that dismal year still seem incredible.

Her problems began in January, which cast a pall over any celebrations for her 40th year on the throne:

In a memo to the Prime Minister, John Major’s private secretary, Andrew Turnbull, added a handwritten note: ‘Prime Minister to be aware of the Queen’s attitude to her 40th anniversary.’

Just two ideas met her approval.

One was former premier Jim Callaghan’s proposal for a dinner given by her Prime Ministers. The other was for a luncheon given by the City of London. That lunch would go down in history for a single phrase: ‘Annus horribilis.’

Fergie was the first problem:

The trouble had started in January, when newspapers discovered photographs of the Duchess of York on holiday with an American oil executive, Steve Wyatt. Their existence reinforced widespread gossip that the Yorks’ marriage was close to collapse.

The Duke of York ‘hit the roof’ and the couple began consulting divorce lawyers.

The next disaster was Charles and Diana’s marriage:

Meanwhile, the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales was also starting to unravel in public.

In February, the Princess posed for the cameras in front of that eternal symbol of love, the Taj Mahal, while all alone. The messaging was clear.

The next PR issue was Anne’s divorce from her first husband:

… in April, the divorce of the Princess Royal was finalised. She had been separated – amicably –from Mark Phillips for some years. The Princess stuck doggedly to her duties through it all.

The Queen took it in her stride:

The Queen was very sad about her children’s marital problems – but not shocked. As she put it to one courtier: ‘You know, I’ve decided I’m not old-fashioned enough to be Queen.’

Then came Andrew Morton’s book, Diana: Her True Story.

Fergie re-entered the scene during the summer:

… the Daily Mirror recorded one of the highest sales in its entire history with intimate photographs of a topless Duchess of York on yet another holiday, this time with her ‘financial adviser’, John Bryan.

The Duchess was staying with the Queen at Balmoral, together with her daughters, when she came down in the morning to find members of the family agog at ten pages of unvarnished ignominy.

As did Diana:

The Sun, produced an equally devastating … recording of an innuendo-charged conversation between the Princess of Wales and James Gilbey, an old friend who had been one of the sources for Morton’s book. Could things get worse? Yes – but the Queen continued to hold her nerve.

The Queen made sure that, despite their marital woes, the Prince and Princess of Wales fulfilled their obligation of undertaking a tour of Korea for the Foreign Office.

Once they returned home, tensions resumed:

Just days after their arrival home, Charles and Diana had a row which would push their marriage to the point of no return. Their sons were about to have an exeat weekend from prep school. 

The Prince had arranged for the couple to present a united front over a family-oriented shooting weekend with friends at Sandringham. 

With only a week to go, however, the Princess announced that she wanted to take William and Harry elsewhere, thus tearing up the Prince’s plans.

It was starting to feel like the end of the road for both parties.

At the end of that week, the Prince resolved the time had come to commence separation plans and to call in his lawyers the following week.

Around that time, Windsor Castle caught fire on the morning of Friday, November 20:

… the first clouds of smoke were suddenly seen billowing out from the state apartments of Windsor Castle.

A major maintenance project was in progress, shielded from view by some heavy drapes. The fire began in the Queen’s private chapel.

‘Behind the curtains, which were obviously closed, were spotlights that lit up the altar and the ceiling,’ the Duke of Edinburgh explained to me, after the restoration. ‘After a bit, the lights got hot and set fire to the curtains, and the flames went up’ …

Miraculously, there were no serious injuries or deaths and only one painting was lost – Sir William Beechey’s colossal 1798 portrait George III And The Prince Of Wales Reviewing Troops.

The Duke of Edinburgh was overseas at the time, but the Queen quickly drove down from London. She had a very specific mission in mind.

‘She went into her own apartments to take a few precious things to safety, because only she knew what they were and where they were,’ says Charles Anson, her press secretary at the time. As a result, she suffered a small amount of smoke inhalation on top of a nasty cold.

Four days later came the 40th anniversary lunch at the Guildhall in the City of London:

With her throat still hoarse from both her cold and the smoke, she began: ‘Nineteen Ninety-Two is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an ‘annus horribilis’.’ 

Though this would be the phrase remembered for ever more, the main point of the speech was not to dwell on her own misfortune (or ‘One’s Bum Year’, as The Sun put it). Rather, it was to ask for a little more understanding from the Monarchy’s critics.

There was a big furore about who should foot the bill for the extensive repairs needed at Windsor Castle:

Even the Conservative press called for the Royal Family to ‘listen’ and to offer up some sort of financial sacrifice. The Monarchy would end up providing the money.

Another big furore was about the Queen not paying income tax. With the kerfuffle about Windsor Castle, the Queen decided to pay it. This was a huge development:

What the critics were unaware of was that the Queen and her officials had, for more than a year, been planning a voluntary end to a historic but complex Royal tax exemption, agreed by her father after the Abdication crisis of 1936.

‘Anything in the way of a dictum her father had left her was very important,’ says her former private secretary, Sir William Heseltine.

John Major also says he was against any such reform. However, stung by the latest row about fire repairs, the Queen wanted to bring the plan forward.

So, just two days after her Guildhall speech, Mr Major told Parliament that the Queen and the Prince of Wales would, in future, voluntarily pay tax at the regular rate.

That the Queen was now prepared to go against her father’s wishes – and indeed her Prime Minister – on such a sensitive point defines this decision as one of the most important judgment calls of her reign.

The Queen was exempt from inheritance tax, as are present and future monarchs. So I heard on GB News last night. My reader dearieme has more:

As I understand it, the position now is that there is no inheritance tax bill for anything left monarch-to-monarch. So what she left to Charles is tax-free; anything she left to her other children, or her grandchildren, is taxed in the normal fashion.

In December, Charles and Diana separated.

That same month, Princess Anne remarried:

There was a brief glimmer of happiness for the Queen at the end of that week, as the Royal Family gathered at Crathie Church, Balmoral, for the most modest Royal Wedding in history.

The Princess Royal had insisted on a low-key ceremony for her second marriage, to Commander Tim Laurence. Following a reception of soup and sandwiches, the couple enjoyed a 36-hour honeymoon on the estate while the other guests flew home.

The entire affair is believed to have cost less than £2,000.

The year ended with The Sun leaking the contents of her Christmas address:

When the broadcast finally appeared on Christmas Day, the nation heard her acknowledge her woes, without dwelling on them. ‘As some of you may have heard me observe, it has, indeed, been a sombre year. But Christmas is surely the right moment to try to put it behind us.’

Some of the subsequent years also proved difficult.

1997 was particularly bad:

… the events of 1992 were the prelude to a succession of grave dynastic challenges over several years, including the Princess of Wales’s fateful 1995 Panorama interview – ‘there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded’ – the eventual divorces of both the Waleses and the Yorks, the decommissioning of the Queen’s beloved Royal Yacht and, above all, the tragic loss of Diana in 1997.

It was Tony Blair’s idea to decommission the yacht Britannia. To think, he had only been elected in May that year!

Hardman tells us that it was not Tony Blair’s idea but the Palace’s in dealing with Diana’s death in a way that would resonate with the people:

Though it has become received wisdom that Tony Blair and his new Labour administration somehow ‘saved’ a dithering Monarchy in the febrile days after the Princess’s death in that Paris car crash, a very different, more balanced picture now emerges 25 years on.

Within hours, a key team inside the Palace, led by the Lord Chamberlain, the Earl of Airlie Lord Airlie, and the Comptroller, Lieutenant-Colonel Malcolm Ross, were already drawing up the main elements of Diana’s funeral, which would be one of the most watched Royal events in history.

Lord Airlie recalls his very first instruction to Ross and his colleagues: ‘I said, ‘The one thing is this – don’t look at a file. This has to be de novo.’ In other words, this had to be done quite differently.’

He wrote a memo to the Queen outlining a general plan.

‘For instance,’ he says now, ‘the importance of catching and reflecting the public mood of ‘the people’s Princess’, and ensuring that the ceremony was not overwhelmed by officialdom. I felt, too, that the procession of the coffin to Westminster Abbey should break with tradition and be somewhat radical.’

The key elements were that the event should be public, not private, and as unique as Diana herself. Invitations to the Abbey should range widely and not be governed by what was done at previous Royal funerals. The very next day, he sent all these points to the Queen at Balmoral.

‘The answer came back, saying, ‘Go ahead.’ So that let Malcolm Ross and his chaps get on with the job, which they did brilliantly.’

All this had already been agreed by the time the first emissaries from Downing Street, including Blair’s spin doctor Alastair Campbell had so much as set foot inside Buckingham Palace to discuss the nation’s farewell to the Princess.

2002, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee year, was bittersweet as her sister and her mother died within two months of each other, in February and April, respectively. Even before those sad events, the Queen was concerned whether people would want to celebrate her 50th anniversary:

Could her Golden Jubilee replicate the astonishing success of the 1977 Silver Jubilee?

‘There’s no doubt she was not confident about it,’ a former senior staff member told me. ‘She had been knocked by those many years of trials and tribulations.’

No sooner had the celebrations started than Princess Margaret died, aged 71. The Queen was as sad as she had ever been. 

Always protective of free-spirited, mercurial Margaret since the nursery, she had spoken to her almost every day of her life. Weeks later, she lost her mother, too.

An estimated one million people turned out to watch the Queen Mother’s coffin make its final journey from Westminster Abbey to St George’s Chapel, Windsor.

I paid my respects at Westminster Hall.

Robert Hardman continues:

Yet, just days later, after a bare minimum of Court mourning, the Queen embarked on her Golden Jubilee tour of the UK.

The crowds were colossal and deeply appreciative wherever she went.

For many, however, the spirit of that Jubilee summer was summed up by the sight of Queen guitarist Brian May playing a national anthem riff on the Palace roof.

Yes! As I mentioned in another post this week, my better half and I were at dinner near the Palace the night of the concert. I went up to the venue’s terrace and heard Elton John. There was a real buzz in the capital.

It was a superb Jubilee year.

The next difficult year was 2021 when Prince Philip died during our semi-lockdown for the pandemic. Guests were limited to close family. The Queen sat alone, wearing a black mask.

Still, our monarch’s faith, patience, perseverance — and resilience — got her through those troubling times in her reign. She showed us such an excellent example of how to live — and serve — based on biblical principles.

It is hard to believe that Queen Elizabeth II died only seven months ago and that it was one year ago that her Platinum Jubilee celebrations were just about to begin. That first weekend in June 2022 was a memorable one.

This post focuses on the Queen in film.

Royal Family

In 1969, a controversial documentary aired not only in the UK but in other countries around the world: Royal Family.

As I mentioned before, I saw it when I was growing up in the United States and found it fascinating.

This was the first time that Britain’s Royals were seen up close and personal. In fact, one wonders if any other royal family ever allowed the cameras in for hours and days at a time.

Some commentators panned the programme at the time. Not surprisingly, that narrative prevails today. Yet, it was well received here and in the United States, although the media did wonder if there would be any negative repercussions for the family as a result.

I was glad to see that The Mail carried an excerpt on the subject from Royal biographer — and Mail columnist — Robert Hardman’s book, Queen of Our Times, on April 5, 2022. The article also includes two still photos from it — not to be missed. Emphases mine below:

The Royal Family took part in the film, which was a combined effort between the BBC and ITV, in a bid to show they were just like their subjects, which quickly became a British phenomenon. 

It was watched over two weekends to rave reviews in June 1969, but was last shown three years later after reports Buckingham Palace feared it ‘let the magic out’ about the royals.

However in new book Queen of Our Times, Daily Mail Columnist Robert Hardman argued many in the royal household actually raved about the film, even nicknaming it ‘Carry On Reigning’.

He wrote: ‘Half a century on, some commentators have suggested that the family quickly came to regard it all as a terrible mistake, never to be seen again – a view reinforced by The Crown. Those within the Royal Household remember the complete opposite.’ 

Hardman has covered the royal family extensively for the Daily Telegraph and, since 2001, writes for the Daily Mail. 

And as opposed to the film being banned from appearing on screen because it had offended the Queen, Hardman said it hadn’t been shown because of copyright issues.

He wrote: ‘From the outset, the film was only ever supposed to have a limited timespan before being locked away.

‘Royal Family was not news footage, like the coronation or a state visit. Rather, it was seen as a personal snapshot of its time.

‘The Queen retained the copyright and did not want the material being quarried or adapted for years to come.’       

The idea for the documentary, which aired in June 1969, came from the Palace’s new royal press secretary William Heseltine, rather than the Duke of Edinburgh, as the Netflix hos claims.  

Heseltine wanted to encourage public support for a monarchy that was increasingly seen as out-of-touch.

The programme was met with praise and proved so popular that it was aired again that same year and once more in 1972

1972 was the year of the Silver Jubilee, which generated much more excitement and enthusiasm than the media predicted. (No surprise there.)

The article continues:

[it] hasn’t been broadcast in full since but short clips from the documentary were made available as part of an exhibition for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee 2012.

However, for the most part the original documentary remains under lock and key with researchers having to pay to view it at BBC HQ, only after getting permission from Buckingham Palace first.

‘You’re killing the monarchy, you know, with this film you’re making,’ the legendary anthropologist and wildlife expert David Attenborough wrote furiously in 1969 to the producer-director of the controversial and ground-breaking television documentary, Royal Family.

‘The whole institution depends on ­mystique and the tribal chief in his hut,’ continued Attenborough, then BBC 2 controller.

‘If any member of the tribe ever sees inside the hut, then the whole system of the tribal chiefdom is damaged and the tribe eventually disintegrates’, he said.

I had no idea that David Attenborough, considered to be a living saint for reasons which escape me, was a BBC controller. No wonder the broadcaster makes such a big deal out of him. It is good to see he was absolutely wrong about Royal Family.

Read his words again. They further reinforce the notion that the British public are nothing more than plebs. Now we know he has believed that for over 50 years. Furthermore, the older he gets the more it seems that he loathes humanity in general. Everything wrong in the world is the fault of everyday people going about their everyday business. He thinks we are common; that is plain to see in his interviews.

The Queen obviously liked him, though, as we’ll see below. She gave him a second knighthood in 2020: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list ‘for services to TV and conservation’.

Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen

On the last Sunday in May 2022, the BBC aired hitherto unseen family film footage of the Queen’s life, beginning with her childhood.

Our appetites were whetted on May 7 that year when The Telegraph reported, complete with stills from Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen:

The footage, unearthed within more than 400 reels of film watched by programme-makers, shows the Queen as a young woman, at the heart of a happy family before the weight of her public responsibility took hold.

It includes scenes of her gazing at an engagement ring just given to her by Prince Philip, before news of their betrothal was shared with the waiting world …

Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen will “offer audiences the chance to witness rare private moments from the monarch’s life”, the corporation said, “telling the real story of her life as a Princess – through her own eyes and in her own words from across her reign”.

It will be narrated largely by the Queen herself, using clips and newsreel audio from her speeches to explain what viewers are seeing.

The 75-minute programme includes footage of the baby Princess Elizabeth being pushed in a pram by her mother, through to her Coronation in 1953 at the age of 27.

All the videos are believed to have been filmed by the Royal Family, firstly by the Queen’s doting parents and later Prince Philip.

… footage from Balmoral, taken in 1951, captures the King’s final visit there before his death, while home film reels show the Queen’s grandfather George V – known to her as “Grandpa England” – sailing off the Isle of Wight in 1931 …

In viewing more than 400 reels of film, producers discovered lost footage from behind-the-scenes at state events, believed to have been privately commissioned by the Royal Family and given to the Queen.

They also listened to more than three hundred of the Queen’s speeches across eight decades of public life.

In common with all royal videos since the 1920s, the homemade recordings had been stored carefully in the Royal Collection vaults of the British Film Institute, with no promise of being aired.

The Platinum Jubilee presented a worthy moment to air them to the public.

The Times had a delightful Twitter thread on the home movies:

If I remember rightly, the BBC rebroadcast the programme after the Queen died last September.

Elizabeth: A Portrait in Parts

Elizabeth: A Portrait in Parts came out at the end of May 2022, also in time for the Platinum Jubilee.

Unfortunately, its maker, Roger Michell, died in September 2021 before its release.

On May 26 last year, veteran columnist Simon Heffer reviewed the film, which appeared in cinemas, for The Telegraph. Heffer gave it four out of five stars:

Michell, renowned for Notting Hill and who died suddenly and too young last September, pillaged newsreels, films, television news and other documentaries to provide an eclectic, 90-minute, chapter-by-chapter remembrance of Her Majesty’s life, and all the “parts” she has played.

And they are all there: from riding ponies as a child to pottering around in great old age with her contemporary David Attenborough. It is a warts-and-all picture, as directorial integrity must dictate. There is a chapter entitled “Annus Horribilis”, in which the debacle of the Prince of Wales’s marriage to Diana Spencer, the doomed life of the Duke of York, and the accidents-will-happen story of the Princess Royal’s first marriage are interlaced with film of the Windsor Castle fire that seemed at the time, and still, to sum up the mess “The Firm” had got itself into. 

It is a mess that comes of trying to run a monarchy in a post-deferential age of 24-hour news while simultaneously rearing a family in the public eye. And it is not just the appearance of the Duke of York that reminds us that this particular chapter is not over: the Sussexes have a walk-on part too.

Speaking of the Sussexes, Meghan would not have wanted the life of a Royal:

Watching the episodic, non-chronological story of the Queen’s life and reign, one is above all aware of how stalwart she is: the endless walkabouts, the myriad presentations of bouquets by winsome children, the relentless factory visits and, above all, the tourist-inducing pomp and ceremony. The effort of all that cheerfulness would kill most people. Anyone who sneers at the notion that hers has been a life of duty can’t have seen this film. In its unconventional, demotic depiction of Her Majesty the film humanises her and makes her seem, frankly, all the more magnificent.

Michell’s film also portrays the deference people showed our late monarch:

Of course things have changed: it is hard to imagine a man smacking a peer of the realm for being mildly rude about the Queen, as someone did to Lord Altrincham in 1957 (Michell included the clip).

I wonder if anyone would defend our present and future monarchs in that way.

Heffer continues:

we are carried along, paradoxically by the hopping backwards and forwards in time, realising what “continuity” really means; the little girl running around in the garden with her parents and sister 85 years ago is still our Head of State today.

One also realises that, for all her constitutional functions (and the political class plays, fortunately, a small part in the film), the Queen’s main function is to relate to her people: and the film shows how well she has done that. There are amusing snippets of people being told how to address her (“Your Majesty” the first time, “Ma’am” subsequently), where to stand when she is near, and generally what to do; but one realises this is not about making the Sovereign feel comfortable, it is about her vital role of making those she meets feel special. And it appears she does.

Michell did not include the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral at which the Queen sat alone in black, wearing a mask, in April 2021.

Heffer concludes that we learn as much about ourselves over the past 70 years as we do of the Queen:

… he has left us a profoundly moving portrait, made the more so by his poignant choice of music – everything from George Formby and Gracie Fields to the Beatles and Stormzy, reflecting some of the diversity of the culture of those over whom the Queen has reigned. It is first and foremost a picture of her, but it is also a picture of us; … it reminds us not just of her profound decency but also, oddly enough, of ours.

Incidentally, in 2022, the Queen made very few public appearances because of ill health. Her penultimate grand opening was at The Royal London Hospital in April that year. The final one was opening the Elizabeth Line in May.

Of the hospital visit, the Mail reported the following. Note how she replied to everyone with a kind, caring remark. The pandemic was first and foremost on everyone’s minds, including the Queen’s. She, too, had succumbed to the virus:

This week the Queen – who will celebrate her 96th birthday at the end of next week [April 21]marked the opening of the Queen Elizabeth Unit at The Royal London Hospital, of which she is patron, talking to staff and one former patient. 

Wearing a floral dress with a pearl necklace, she said the staff’s work was ‘splendid’

Nurse Charlie Mort said: ‘The amount of bravery that both the patients and my colleagues showed throughout the entire pandemic was amazing and the amount of kindness we were shown was inspiring. I think we will all be bonded together because of it, forever.’ 

‘It’s amazing, isn’t it, what can be done when needs be,’ the Queen said. 

Imam Faruq Siddiqi, hospital chaplain, said families ‘felt a sense of hope’ when they knew he was visiting their loved ones. ‘Although I didn’t hold any miracles, I hope I was able to bring some sort of comfort to them through my presence and prayers,’ he said. 

The Queen replied: ‘It obviously was a very frightening experience to have Covid very badly, wasn’t it?’ 

Mr Siddiqi said: ‘I think what made it worse was being by themselves.’ ‘Exactly. So they were alone, too,’ the Queen remarked.

Mireia Lopez Rey Ferrer, senior sister, said that the intensive care unit had been ‘unrecognisable’ with so many patients. 

‘As nurses we made sure they were not alone,’ she said.

‘We held their hands, we wiped their tears, and we provided comfort. It felt at times that we were running a marathon with no finish line.’ 

‘It must have been a terrible time for all of you,’ the Queen said. ‘Not seeing your own families and also working so very hard… That [was] the unusual part of it wasn’t it, not being able to meet your relatives and being isolated.’ 

Asef Hussain, a former patient, explained how he and his family had contracted Covid in December 2020. His father and brother were also treated at the unit for Covid before they passed away. 

Mr Hussain, joined by his wife, Shamina, said his brother was admitted first and died that day. He was taken to hospital himself after struggling to breathe and was put to sleep for seven weeks. 

‘Once I woke up I saw the brilliant work the nurses, the doctors – the whole team here were doing. They supported me and my family in a fantastic way. 

‘Unfortunately while I was asleep my father passed away from Covid as well,’ he said. 

‘Are you better now?’ the Queen asked. ‘I’m getting there, I’m recovering, I’m much better,’ Mr Hussain said. 

Mr Hussain’s wife explained how she prayed for his recovery on Zoom calls with family around the world. ‘Praying for him, oh wonderful,’ the Queen said. 

She added: ‘I’m glad that you’re getting better. It does leave one very tired and exhausted doesn’t it, this horrible pandemic? It is not a nice result.’ 

The monarch also spoke to the team behind the building of the new unit and burst out laughing when Jeff Barley, project director, told her he plundered his ‘black book’ to find people to help him. 

The Queen replied: ‘That is marvellous isn’t it. It is very interesting isn’t it, when there’s some very vital thing, how everybody works together and pulls together. Marvellous, isn’t it.’ 

Mr Barley hailed the ‘little bit of Dunkirk spirit’ involved, prompting the Queen, smiling, to say: ‘Thank goodness it still exists’, amid laughter. The plaque was then unveiled and held up to show the monarch. 

The Royal London Hospital has served the residents of East London for the past 280 years. It was granted its royal title by the Queen during a visit in 1990 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of its opening on the Whitechapel site.

On May 17, the Queen opened the Elizabeth Line, a magnificent crossrail project linking Berkshire to Essex via London. Londoners were thrilled that her health held up. As Guido Fawkes wrote, it was a ‘surprise appearance’.

She did much better than Prime Minister Rishi Sunak did when he had problems paying for a soft drink in a photo opportunity:

Does a Royal peek-behind-the-scenes programme work? Only when the Queen handled it.

Unfortunately, we know too much about most of her descendants already. One way or another, they did away with any mystique they could have had over te years.

Prince William and Princess Catherine would do well to imitate Granny’s example. At the moment, we know just enough about them without knowing too much. However, I would suggest waiting about 10 or 20 years, because right now we are hearing too much from and about the Sussexes.

As the Queen knew well, timing is everything.

As Platinum Jubilee celebrations were just about to start one year ago, it seemed apposite for me to continue to remember the Queen.

Yesterday’s post pointed out that she was the most portrayed person in all of history.

Although the Queen led a charmed life for all her 96 years, she had a sense of Royal duty from the time she was 10 years old when her uncle Edward VIII abdicated.

On September 8, 2022, Politico had an interesting obituary with specially commissioned portraits of the late monarch. Given that Politico is not at all associated with love of the monarchy, the portraits were sensitively done.

Excerpts follow from the article, emphases mine.

Regal silence

There is no question that the Queen’s demeanour helped her to make her 70 years as Head of State dignified and memorable. She was:

a revered figure who donned crowns, opened parliaments and asked people who they were and what they did at garden parties. It was she who stared out Mona Lisa-like from banknotes and who became head of state to 150 million people, from Papua New Guinea to Canada, and one of the most famous people of her time …

Lauded globally — she stood alongside the Dalai Lama and the pope as one of those rare definite articles who seemed to be above scrutiny. So much so that even die-hard republicans would temper their calls for an end to the monarchy by saying: “But the queen has done a fantastic job.”

She succeeded at that job, in no small part, by making a virtue out of silence. She stubbornly refused to be interviewed, examined or subjected to scrutiny. While younger royals broke the fourth wall of monarchy, the queen remained quiet and immutable.

Indeed, it was by keeping her official alter ego as vague as the unwritten British constitution, and her private persona hidden away altogether, that Elizabeth II became the most successful sovereign since Victoria, bringing relevance to a feudal institution that was 200 years past its sell-by date.

But because of that, in writing the story of her life, it is almost impossible to find out who she really was beneath the hats and robes and jewels.

The queen was an abstraction: a role, like any other — and it was the person behind her, Elizabeth Windsor, who expertly played the part

This is the life of Elizabeth Windsor.

Life at 145 Piccadilly

Politico tells us of Princess Elizabeth’s birth:

She was born by caesarean section on April 21, 1926, to her mother, also Elizabeth, the Duchess of York. As was then the custom, the Home Secretary Sir William Joynson-Hicks, was present — just in case she was swapped for someone who was not of royal birth. 

As Princess Elizabeth, she was third in line to the throne, with her uncle Edward the presumed heir apparent.  

Her parents, the Duke and Duchess of York, had no ordinary London residence:

Official biographers like to make much of her “ordinary childhood” and the very normal-sounding York family address at 145 Piccadilly in the heart of London. In truth, the address was no common or garden terraced home. It was a substantial palace, with 25 bedrooms, a ballroom, a library and an enormous garden.

Royal Central has more:

Following her birth on April 21 1926 at the home of her maternal grandparents at 17 Bruton St Mayfair, the baby Princess Elizabeth moved to the house that her parents, the Duke and Duchess of York, had taken at 145 Piccadilly W1. This would be the house in which she would spend the first years of her childhood, as well as White Lodge in Richmond Park. These were the residences where the young princess would live together with her parents and her younger sister Princess Margaret Rose, who was born four years later in 1930. In 1932, the Duke and Duchess of York began to use Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park as a private country residence, when Princess Elizabeth was aged six. During this period of her childhood, Princess Elizabeth also spent time at the country homes of her paternal grandparents, King George V and Queen Mary, and her maternal grandparents, the Earl and Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne.

The white terraced, stone-faced residence had a large garden and a semi-basement kitchen. Princess Elizabeth is said to have been taken out by her nanny from this house, for a stroll in the pram through nearby Mayfair to Hyde Park. An old British paramount newsreel recording from 1935 shows the Duke and Duchess of York at 145 Piccadilly, arriving and leaving the property. Among the photographic collection of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, is a photograph of Queen Elizabeth together with the corgi dog Jane taken in the grounds of 145 Piccadilly in around 1936, the fateful year which saw both the abdication of Edward VIII and the accession of her husband the Duke of York to the British throne as King George VI.

The site has been home to the InterContinental London Park Lane for nearly 50 years. The hotel’s history page tells us:

Historical accounts recall a white terraced building, indistinguishable from those on either side of it. There was a semi-basement kitchen, ‘like the giant’s kitchen in a pantomime with its immense shiny copper pots and great fire-range’, Lisa Sheridan.

An extensive garden at the back, shared with other houses, added an element of community. Elizabeth lived in a suite of rooms at the top of the house, consisting of a day nursery, a night nursery and a bathroom linked by a landing, with wide windows looking down on the park. It was not unusual for her nanny to put her in her pram and take a two-hour stroll through Mayfair into Hyde Park.

Other stories relating to Elizabeth’s childhood at 145 Piccadilly told of the Princess allegedly playing games by fetching a small toy, such as a teddy bear or a ball, and dropping it from the nursery landing down the stairwell onto visitors as they arrived at the house.

The best modern day representation of the late Queen’s childhood at 145 Piccadilly can be found in the multiple Oscar-winning film, The King’s Speech. Scenes of the young family trying their best to enjoy London life in the heart of Mayfair during the years of the Depression were actually filmed at 33 Portland Place, but the so-called ‘shabby chic’ interiors are said to be in keeping with the style of the house at that time

Years later:

The hotel was opened by His Grace the 8th Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley on 23rd September 1975.

Returning to Royal Central:

According to the website ‘Westend at War’, the building was destroyed by a high explosive bomb on 7 October 1940. The same website quotes the source Westminster in War (William Sansom, 1947) to explain that in 1940, the site at 145 Piccadilly was being used as a chief office for a “relief and comforts fund”. The permanent record that was made out by the ARP on this date describing the damage that the house had sustained, is today kept in the Westminster City Archives.

The former 145 Piccadilly is at No. 1 Hamilton Place, the site of which is occupied today by the upscale InterContinental London Park Lane Hotel. The hotel was constructed between 1968- 1975 under the direction of Sir Frederick Gibberd. Close to the five-starred London Hilton and the Four Seasons hotels, it overlooks Hyde Park Corner, together with the Wellington Arch and statue of the Duke of Wellington. Apsley House, also known as Number One, London is located on Hyde Park Corner and is the London home of the Dukes of Wellington. The InterContinental London Park Lane is proud of the royal connection with the location on which the hotel stands and has been welcoming guests ever since it opened.

Scene Therapy has photos of young Princess Elizabeth with her two first corgis as well of photos of 145 Piccadilly as it was when she lived there.

We discover that it was a modest residence by Royal standards of the day:

In 1926, Princess Elizabeth of York was born in her maternal grandparents’ Mayfair townhouse at 17 Bruton Street. A year later, the new family moved a few blocks away to Piccadilly; one of the most exclusive addresses in the capital. Piccadilly is a busy central London road that stretches from Piccadilly Circus to Hyde Park Corner, with famous establishments lining the route such as The Ritz, The Royal Academy and Fortnum & Mason. Throughout the 19th century and into the early 1900s, Piccadilly was also home to some of the most elite townhouses in the country, with residents including the Rothschilds, the Duke of Wellington, Lords and Vice-Admirals. The handsome homes that made up ‘Piccadilly Terrace’ featured spacious rooms with high ceilings and large windows set across 4-5 floors including servants quarters, all with views of Green Park.

For senior royals to reside in a townhouse, however grand, was considered rather unusual. At the time, however, Britain was suffering significant austerity thanks to The Great War and subsequent Great Depression, so King George V requested his family reign-in their spending and consider more ‘modest’ abodes. So The Yorks lived at 145 Piccadilly during the week and retired to The Royal Lodge on the Windsor Estate at weekends.

145 Piccadilly featured an abundance of panelling, mouldings and ornate plasterwork, with drawing room details gilded in gold and double doors encased in arched doorways. The interiors are packed with antique furnishings including a large 17th Belgian tapestry hung at the rear of the drawing room featuring a woodland scene woven by Marcus de Vos, and a ceramic and gilt-bronzed mantel clock by Balthazar à Paris, both now housed in the Royal Collection Trust. Other furniture and objects from 145 Piccadilly can now be seen in various royal residences across the UK, such as the portrait of a young Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother that stands at the rear of 145’s drawing room, which can now be seen hung in the library ante-room at Prince Charles’ Clarence House.

The houses that made up Piccadilly Terrace featured the full range of floors expected of a smart aristocratic residence including an attic floor, usually home to servants’ sleeping quarters, a chamber floor for principle bedrooms and nursery rooms (such as the Day Nursery and Night Nursery as seen included in the images below), a drawing room floor, which housed private rooms including a boudoir and spacious library, the ground floor, home to reception rooms, and a basement where staff rooms, kitchens, pantries and other utility rooms featured.

Though 145 Piccadilly was considered ‘modest’ by royal standards, the interiors proved to be more befitting of the London homes of other aristocrats such as the nearby Apsley House or Spencer House, which both still stand today. 145 and its adjacent homes on Piccadilly Terrace were damaged during WWII before eventually being torn down

Returning to Politico, we learn of the nannies:

Photos of the era depict Elizabeth and her younger sister Margaret being doted on by their mother and father, but in truth, they were brought up by an army of servants and rarely saw their parents. Childcare was left to two nannies: Clara Knight, a strict disciplinarian who instilled fear and good manners, and Margaret MacDonald.

Margaret ‘Bobo’ MacDonald

Incredibly, Margaret MacDonald remained by the Queen’s side for life:

MacDonald was the only person outside of the royal family who was allowed to call Elizabeth by her family nickname Lilibet, and she shared a bedroom with her charge until she was 11 years old. Lilibet’s first word, “Bobo,” was addressed to MacDonald — and the nickname stuck. 

Every morning, MacDonald brought Elizabeth a cup of tea, laid out her clothes and ran her daily bath. Effectively prohibited from marriage — to have done so would have cost her the job — MacDonald dedicated her life to the queen until her death in 1993

“In her later years Bobo held a unique position in Buckingham Palace, having her own suite, no duties, and enjoying a closer personal friendship with the queen than practically anyone else, including some of the queen’s closest relatives,” wrote Douglas Keay, author of “The Queen: A Revealing Look at the Private Life of Elizabeth II.” 

But we know nothing more. The loyal servant never gave an interview, never discussed her relationship with her mistress and died with her secrets intact. 

Marion ‘Crawfie’ Crawford

Marion Crawford was the opposite of Bobo MacDonald with regard to discretion.

Crawford was the princesses’ governess.

Most people will know her story, as she was one who fell from grace for disloyalty.

Politico summarises what happened:

Crawfie was the Yorks’ very own Mary Poppins, steering her charges through the change in their circumstances when their uncle abdicated and their father unexpectedly became king. If Bobo was a surrogate mother, Crawfie was an older sister, role model and friend. 

But by 1947, neither Elizabeth nor Margaret had need of a governess, and aged just 39, Crawfie was retired. 

Two years later she accepted an offer to write a book called “The Little Princesses,” which caused a sensation when it was published in 1950. 

Despite having approved the project, the queen mother declared that Crawfie had “gone off her head,” and the woman who had devoted the first part of her life to the monarchy was unceremoniously ghosted.  

The incident was all the more remarkable given the book was a wholly affectionate memoir and showed the royal family in a very good light. Her fate was probably sealed by one or two turns of phrase that hinted at the king’s bad temper during the war.  

Nonetheless, “to do a Crawfie” became royal slang for treachery. Deprived of her grace and favor, Crawford disappeared from official records and narratives in a manner that would have put Soviet propagandists to shame.  

The impact on Crawfie cannot be understated. She attempted suicide twice. Later in life, she moved close to the Balmoral estate in the hope that she might one day chance upon her old charge and that amends could be made. But the moment never came. When she eventually died in 1988, the royal family sent not so much as a wreath to the funeral. 

We don’t know how this affected Elizabeth. Nor do we know how much of a role she played in perpetuating Crawfie’s misery. But this brutal and callous dispatching of such a close confidante and loyal friend speaks volumes about the family that is sometimes referred to as “The Firm.”  

The lifeblood of the monarchy is self-preservation. Nobody is indispensable. Nobody is bigger than the machine. Throughout the queen’s reign, that ruthless self-preservation — so at odds with her image — would rear its head again and again.  

It seems as if Politico missed Tatler‘s 2020 article about Marion Crawford and her husband, which is much more nuanced. It comes complete with photos and its author, Wendy Holden, tells an amazing story:

… the original scandal of the Queen’s life – also chronicled in a book that lays bare royal secrets – doesn’t exist in the Windsor Cloud. For 70 years, it successfully ‘disappeared’. Few accounts of the time afford it more than a footnote. The protagonist’s name, though, remains a byword for betrayal.

The unimaginable bounder this suggests was none other than a young Scottish teacher. Marion Crawford was governess to Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, aged six and almost two when she arrived in 1932. She stayed for 17 years. ‘Crawfie’, as they fondly called her, was not only their teacher, but their constant confidante and companion.

Crawfie guided the girls through the drama of the abdication of their uncle, the upheaval of their parents’ accession and the trauma of the Second World War, when she took them to Windsor Castle’s dungeon bomb shelters as Heinkels roared above. Later, she was there when Elizabeth met Philip. Yet, at the end of her service, the royals cut her off. The reason? A harmless memoir, The Little Princesses.

I came across it by accident in a second-hand bookshop on a rainy day. It immediately became the inspiration for the royal-themed novel I’d always wanted to write. The Governess, my new book, fictionalises Marion Crawford’s time with the Royal Family. It shines a new light not only on the Queen’s little-known childhood, but on the lively young teacher who helped make her the monarch she is today …

The Duchess of York poached her sister’s servant:

It could have been so different. Crawfie never intended to teach royalty – rather, the other end of the social scale. Her vocation, she felt, was in the slums of Edinburgh. ‘I wanted desperately to help… but,’ as she puts it in The Little Princesses, ‘something else was coming my way.’ That would be the famously charming Queen Mother (then Duchess of York), whose sister Crawfie worked for during the holidays. Spotting the young teacher’s potential, she poached her, persuading Crawfie to come for a trial ‘to see if you like us and we like you’.

Even though Crawford had spent the day travelling from Scotland to Windsor, she was expected to start work on arrival:

Crawfie, with her progressive ideas, was certain she wouldn’t like them. It didn’t help that she arrived at Royal Lodge, Windsor Great Park, late at night. Since Lilibet (as they called Princess Elizabeth) had insisted on staying awake, an exhausted Crawfie, straight off the train, was obliged to stagger into the nursery. Here, a child was sitting up in bed, yanking on dressing gown cords tied to the bedposts. ‘I’m driving my horses round the park,’ she winningly explained.

It was love at first sight for them both. And so Crawfie stayed, but with caveats.

It was Crawford who showed them how the other half lived. She took the princesses on all manner of distinctly un-Royal visits:

She thought the Royal Family stuffy and wanted to bring normality and fun to her pupils’ sequestered lives. Defying court protocol, she took them on the Tube, shopping at Woolworths, swimming at public baths and even helped set up a Buckingham Palace Girl Guide group. This exposure to the ordinary has proved invaluable to the Queen.

Despite these daring things, everything went well.

Then, after Crawford’s retirement in 1947, as the princesses were old enough not to need a governess anymore, there was an intersection of the Queen (as the Duchess of York became), an American magazine, and Crawford’s husband with the governess stuck in the middle:

What became The Little Princesses seems originally to have been the Queen Mother’s idea. The then Queen Elizabeth thought it would benefit post-war relations if pieces about her eldest daughter appeared in the American press. A palace courtier was chosen to write articles and the now-retired Crawfie, who knew Princess Elizabeth better than anyone, was ordered to tell him all she knew. He, not she, would have the byline and be paid by the magazine, the Ladies’ Home Journal. But Crawfie’s husband, George Buthlay, felt his wife should write her own account and sent her to Queen Elizabeth to ask permission. It was flatly refused and Crawfie prepared to shelve the project. But Buthlay had other ideas – for Crawfie to write a memoir.

It was the beginning of the end, a very painful one for Crawford, who never recovered:

Though different versions of the story have been put forward, the definitive account seems to be this: together with the Ladies’ Home Journal’s unscrupulous editors, Buthlay told his wife that Her Majesty would see the manuscript – that nothing would be published without royal approval. All lies; the book came out regardless, initially as magazine articles. The Royal Family was furious, considering it an act of treachery, and poor Crawfie was cast into the outer darkness.

She fled to Aberdeen and bought a house right on the route that the Royal Family took annually to Balmoral. But her hope that they might one day stop and forgive her proved unfounded. She became depressed and lonely – it had been too late, on retirement, to have children of her own. Crawford left a poignant note on attempting to take her own life: ‘I can’t bear those I love to pass me by on the road.’

That the Windsors maintained their animus until Crawfie’s death in 1988 seems extraordinary, especially as breaches of royal privacy, many self-inflicted, have been numerous since. But at the funeral of the woman who had served them so devotedly, not a single royal flower was sent.

In my opinion, be it ever so humble on matters Royal, the Queen Mother was still very much alive and well when Crawford died. From what I understand, the Queen Mother, as jovial as she appeared in public, ran the family’s private affairs with a rule of iron. I think she would have put her foot down at giving Crawford any honour at all. The Royal Family used to be like Las Vegas. What went on behind closed doors stayed there.

What I find puzzling it that, if or since The Little Princesses was published in 1950 and the Queen Mother was so cross, how was it that Crawford and her husband ended up attending a garden party at Holyrood Palace (Edinburgh) in 1952? The Tatler article has a photo of them getting into a chauffeur-driven car to the event.

Nevertheless, it appeared that the Queen had a change of mind late in life:

The material released to mark the Queen’s 94th birthday in April included a few seconds of film in which Crawfie and the princesses are dancing the Lambeth Walk.

Perhaps the scandals besetting the monarchy in recent years have given the Queen a new perspective on an old hurt. Nearly nine decades after that first meeting in the night nursery, has Her Majesty finally forgiven Crawfie?

Prince Philip

Marion Crawford was there when the 13-year-old Princess Elizabeth met the man of her dreams.

Politico tells us:

In 1939, in the shadow of war, the 13-year-old princess met her Prince Charming during a visit to Dartmouth naval college.

Philip, then aged 19, was exotic Eurotrash. An exiled Greek prince who had grown up in Paris, he was estranged from his family. His three surviving sisters had married into the Nazi regime. His father was living the life of an aging playboy in Monte Carlo. His mother had been declared insane.

In Britain he found a home. In Elizabeth he found devotion.

She was smitten from the get-go:

In a letter to a cousin, she declared that she had met a “Viking God,” and for the rest of the war the two exchanged letters.

Like almost everything else in the queen’s private world, we know nothing of what they said to each other.

The Queen was less than impressed, so the princess enlisted help from elsewhere in the family:

The queen mother distrusted Philip and nicknamed him “the Hun,” but Elizabeth got her way, finding in Louis Mountbatten, Philip’s uncle, a Machiavellian ally. In 1947 the couple were engaged.

That year, the princess wrote a letter, describing her feelings for her fiancé:

In a rare gushing letter to the author Betty Shew written that same year, we get a tantalizing glimpse of Elizabeth’s feelings. Over four excitable pages. Elizabeth talks about nightclubs and dancing and how they were once pursued thrillingly by a photographer through the streets of London. It’s the letter of a woman who is deeply in love.

The wedding in November 1947 was modest for post-war Britain, but it was still lavish by any standards today:

Their wedding that November was a matter of national celebration. Billed as an “austerity wedding,” it was really nothing of the sort. The union was an excuse for nationwide festivities. Thousands of people descended on London for the event. There were 2,500 presents — including a shawl woven by Gandhi and a diamond and platinum Cartier necklace from the Nizam of Hyderabad.

The war had given the royals a new raison d’etre as a “national family,” and the marriage of the beautiful young princess to the handsome young prince seemed to encapsulate fresh beginnings and a new hope of a better world to come.

Early married life

Princess Elizabeth became a naval wife for a time, but not just any naval wife:

They had two children (Charles and Anne) in quick succession and between 1949 and 1951 lived in Malta, where Philip was serving as a naval officer on HMS Chequers.

Once again, official biographies portray this era as a period of “normality.” It’s not entirely true. They lived in a six-bedroom mansion, and in addition to Bobo, had an army of staff.

More approachability

During the Queen’s reign, the Royal Family began opening up in the 1960s, not least with a multi-episode documentary which I saw when growing up in the US. My parents and I were fascinated and amused in equal parts.

Politico says it was a disaster, but I wonder if the chap who wrote the article was even alive then. The Investiture of the Prince of Wales took place around the same time, which my mother and I got up early to watch. Both programmes helped to demystify the Royals.

At the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, even though the media tried to play down the Royal Family and the Sex Pistols came out with ‘God Save the Queen’, her subjects broke out the bunting and organised street parties. The monarch sent her heartfelt thanks.

Diana and Fergie

What can one say about the wives of Charles and Andrew?

With regard to Diana, I have read in several places then and now that the Queen Mother had a hand in that marriage.

Politico says:

In 1981, the crowds turned out again, this time to watch Prince Charles marry Diana Spencer, and people turned out to wave again. From the fawning coverage, it looked like a fairy tale, but for the royal family, it was the beginning of a tragedy.

The couple had only met a dozen times and had been pushed together in near desperation, and the relationship quickly dissolved into a battle between Diana and The Firm.

The Duchess of York was no angel, but she and Prince Andrew are still together, despite their divorce.

Later jubilees

How wonderful it was to celebrate the Queen’s Golden (2002), Diamond (2012) and Platinum Jubilees (2022). Those of us alive at the time should consider ourselves blessed.

Politico points out that the Golden Jubilee was a departure from the norm. I was having dinner not far away on the night of the concert and could hear the music on the venue’s terrace. It was electric:

the event was turned instead into a “people’s party,” complete with Brian May playing the national anthem on Buckingham Palace’s roof.

the queen — having been the nation’s sweetheart and the nation’s mother — was reinvented as the nation’s grandmother

Even in her teatime years, the Queen continued to surprise us:

As she advanced into her 80s, the outward image of an unsmiling monarch seemed to loosen up a bit. There was a stunt with James Bond actor Daniel Craig at the opening of the 2012 Olympics, when she appeared to jump out of a helicopter, and she made a funny viral video with her grandson Harry in the run-up to the Invictus Games in 2016.

Her Christmas Day messages became softer in tone …

And who can forget her sketch with Paddington Bear last year at the Palace?

An enduring enigma

Politico concludes that we knew the Queen, yet we didn’t know her at all. That was by design:

At the end — the life of Elizabeth remains an enigma.

We know this much about her: She was in essence a countrywoman, of a certain type familiar among the British upper classes. Dry and stiff upper lipped. Raised in singularly cosseted surroundings from which she never strayed far. She adored horses and people who loved horses, and dogs and people who loved dogs.

Interestingly, one of the last films the Queen made, in April 2022, was with her horses at Sandringham. ITV showed the footage a year ago during the Platinum Jubilee weekend. The Mail had the story, complete with photos and a short video:

The monarch, 96, described one of the horses as an ‘extraordinary girl’ and is heard to say she wonders what goes through the creature’s head.

The clips, filmed at the Royal Stud in Sandringham in April, will be shown in a special feature as part of ITV‘s Saturday Platinum Jubilee coverage …

In the clips, the monarch, wearing a black coat and with a floral headscarf wrapped around her head, observed various horses and foals, alongside her trusted bloodstock and racing adviser John Warren …

Gently stroking the coat of one of the horses, the Queen is heard to say: ‘Well it must be three or four years when she came down into Windsor yard, but behaved as though she’d always been there.’

Admiring the horse, she added: ‘Extraordinary girl, aren’t you?’

Another clip showed the Queen asking a horse ‘would you like another one?’, before picking a carrot from a bowl and feeding it.

Later, observing two horses walking alongside each other in the yard, the Queen is heard to say: ‘I often wonder what goes through her head’ … 

Her Majesty’s fondness of horses began when she was just four after her grandfather, King George V, gave her a little Shetland pony.

By the age of six she had fallen in love with riding, becoming an accomplished equestrian in her teenage years and has continued to ride for pleasure throughout her life.

From her first appearance at the annual Trooping the Colour to 1986, the monarch would attend the ceremony on horseback.

She first attended the Royal Windsor Horse Show as a horse-mad teenager in 1943. Together with Princess Margaret, the 17-year-old showed off her equestrian prowess by winning the Pony & Dogcart class.

The Queen owns several thoroughbreds for racing after she initially inherited King George’s breeding and racing stock following his death in February 1952.

In 1974, the monarch’s interest in horses was the subject of a documentary title, The Queen’s Race Horses: a Private View, which she herself narrated.

Returning to Politico:

She knew a lot about the things she had inherited and not much about anything else. She drove — fast — about her estates in a beaten-up Land Rover and dedicated her life to fiercely protecting the promulgation of the family firm.

But it was almost as if she was absent from her own story — her legend as rigorously curated and spun as that of any autocrat. To provide her United Kingdom with the monarch she felt it needed, she sacrificed an ordinary life and the other things most of us take for granted. But then the curious nature of hereditary monarchy never offered her another path.

Britain will consider itself lucky to have had such a stalwart head of state. Elizabeth Windsor played the role of queen with unflinching conviction for more than 70 years. In performing the part so well, she has left a hole that might yet prove impossible to fill.


What can we learn from the Queen’s conduct?

Discretion, which, according to an old British saying, is the better part of valour.

Silence, in not saying more than one should.

Order, in everything: attire, appearance and daily life.

Those things coupled with a deep personal faith comprised an extraordinary person.

If we all took these aspects of the Queen’s life to heart and cultivated them, the world would be a much better place.

One year ago, we were on the cusp of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, an event that will not recur for at least a century, probably longer.

This was Tatler‘s cover to celebrate that historic British milestone:

The artist was honoured to have been asked to create the portrait:

The Commonwealth was very important to the Queen and, during her reign, she visited nearly every Parliament building in those countries:

On April 6, in a 70-photo countdown to the Platinum Jubilee, the Royal Family selected one of the Queen with the Commonwealth Heads of State from 1964. It was taken at Buckingham Palace. The Commonwealth was dear to her heart. The Mail published the photo and a report.

The picture:

showcases a dinner party at Buckingham Palace with the Queen smiling as she was joined by Commonwealth Heads of State, including Prime Minister Robert Menzies of Australia, Donald Sangster of Jamaica and Milton Obote of Uganda.

Her Majesty is Head of the Commonwealth, which has grown from 8 to 54 members in the last 70 years. 

Explaining the countdown, the Royal family’s Instagram page reads: ‘Over the next 70 days, as we countdown to the #PlatinumJubilee Celebration Weekend, we’ll be sharing an image a day of The Queen – each representing a year of Her Majesty’s 70-year long reign.’

Each of the 70 photos represent a year of the monarch’s seven-decade reign, and each post also highlights a notable moment in history from the same year. 

Vogue‘s Platinum Jubilee cover featured a stunning 1957 portrait of her by the late Lord Snowdon. On March 24, The Mail included the photo in their report:

Queen Elizabeth II will appear on the cover of April’s edition of British Vogue for the first time ever in celebration of her Platinum Jubilee.

The cover features a 1957 image of her Majesty, taken by Lord Snowden, the former husband of Princess Margaret. The Queen wears the George IV State Diadem in the photo, which was taken around the time of her tenth wedding anniversary to Prince Philip.       

There is no woman who has had her image reproduced as often as the Queen, because she was on all our stamps (even in silhouette), coinage and bank notes, too. That is also unlikely to recur for at least a century, if not longer.

March 17, 2010 was the 50th anniversary of the Queen’s first appearance on British currency. In fact, it was the first time any British monarch’s image had appeared on a bank note, something of which I was unaware.

The Daily Mail had a short but interesting retrospective of the various bank notes and her different portraits during that time:

Kings and queens have featured on coins for centuries, but it wasn’t until March 17 1960 that a monarch’s image was printed on paper currency.

Since then there have been five different portraits of the Queen used – some of them at the same time on different denominations.

The images were produced by Robert Austin (1960), Reynolds Stone (1963), Harry Eccleston (1970 and 1971) and Roger Withington (1990).

From 1970, the Queen’s face was frozen for 20 years, with Mr Eccleston’s image gradually introduced on every note – including the reintroduced-50 in 1981.

But in 1990 Mr Withington sketched the Queen, showing her for the first time as a slightly older-looking woman.

The banknotes and the portraits are included in the free A Decoration-And A Safeguard exhibition which opens at the Bank of England Museum, in London, today.

Another historic event that took place during her lifetime was the shift to new money. This was how the old system worked:

Here is a close up of old currency from 1967:

As Politico‘s obituary of her on September 8, 2022, put it:

The queen was an icon, in the literal sense. She inspired Andy Warhol screen prints, tea towels …

“God save the queen!” the Sex Pistols sang in 1977. “She ain’t no human being!” And they made a compelling point.

A punk image of her appeared on that Sex Pistols’ album cover, too.

Even from the very beginning, Elizabeth Windsor’s image went worldwide. When she was born to the Duke and Duchess of York, as they were at the time, official portraits of mother and child were taken almost immediately. Tatler, which was then a weekly, published them straightaway.

When the Queen turned 84 in April 2010, the Palace released unseen photos of her as a toddler. On April 20 that year, The Telegraph reproduced one of the images and reported:

The photographs form part of an exhibition of the work of the photographer Marcus Adams, which opens at Windsor Castle on Saturday.

The 56 images on display include pictures of the then Princess Elizabeth which were taken to be sent to her mother and father, the future King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, while they were on a six-month tour of Australia and New Zealand.

Among the collection is a poignant letter from the Princess’s nanny, Clara Knight, which reflects how many landmarks of their young daughter’s life the then Duke and Duchess of York missed while they were on the tour.

The note, written on March 8, 1927, reads: “If Mummy looks into my wide open mouth with a little magnifying glass she will see my two teeth. Elizabeth is quite well & happy!”

Lisa Heighway, the collection’s curator, explained that, in those days, Royal children were not taken on long, official tours. They stayed at home with their nanny. However, times change, and a young Prince William joined the then-Prince Charles and Princess Diana on their tour of Australia.

On May 30, 2022, The Mail republished a selection of newly colourised candids of the Queen from her infancy through to young adulthood:

Newly colourised photos of the Queen as young woman have given a glimpse at Princess Elizabeth as you’ve never seen her before …

The photos have been discovered in the TopFoto archives, documenting moments throughout the Queen’s life from her birth in 1926 to 1952, just before she ascended the throne.

Another photo many readers will not have seen is this one from the 1960s:

Until 2022, the Queen distributed Maundy Money to pensioners in England every Maundy Thursday. On April 9, 2009, The Telegraph published a set of photographs from her visit that year to St Edmundsbury Cathedral, in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. In case anyone was wondering:

Initially the sovereign gave money to the poor – and washed recipients’ feet. Foot-washing ended with James II in the 17th Century.

On April 8, 2022, The Mail reported that the cancellation was the first one of her reign. Sadly, it turned out to be her last as well:

The Queen has pulled out of the annual Maundy Day church service ‘with regret’, Buckingham Palace has announced. 

In a first for her reign, the monarch, who turns 96 this month, will instead be represented by Prince Charles and Camilla at the event, due to be held on April 14.  

The service will take place a St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle following a two-year hiatus due to the Covid pandemic.   

It comes after the Queen, who suffers from widely-publicised mobility issues, pulled out of the Commonwealth Service last month amid concerns over her health.   

In May 2022, a few weeks before her Platinum Jubilee, the Queen’s last grand opening event was that of the eponymous Elizabeth Line, which runs from Reading, Berkshire, through London to Shenfield, Essex, with a branch line going south of the Thames to Abbey Wood.

Conservative MP Greg Hands pointed out that the Queen was surrounded by male world leaders for many years. She is shown taking a short ride on the Elizabeth Line:

On September 8, 2022, The Times posted a splendid collection of photographs from her birth on April 21, 1926 through to her final one, taken just before she met Liz Truss to ask her to form a new government on September 6, 2022.

What do we learn from the Queen’s many photographs and portraits?

Who can better explain than the award-winning art critic Waldemar Januszczak, who wrote a critique of her images for The Times on May 29, 2022, and included a variety of photos and paintings. Emphases mine below:

Think of all those history-changing individuals — Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Adolf Hitler, Chairman Mao, Marilyn Monroe. Yet, according to the National Portrait Gallery, Elizabeth II has out-portrayed every one. She is “the most portrayed individual in history.” It’s an extraordinary fact.

The reasons there are so many portraits of her are many and varied. Her longevity has obviously been crucial. As we press our lips to the trumpets and toot our 70 platinum toots most of us will have lived our lives within her reign. The Queen has bookended our existence. She has always been there …

Since she was a small girl, beaming from the cigarette cards pressed into the British fag packet by WD & HO Wills, the camera has loved the Queen. At first it was that Shirley Temple thing she had. As a child she oozed a bouncy blonde confidence. Especially when Princess Margaret was in the shot as well and Elizabeth could adopt the presence of a mildly bossy elder sister.

Yet it was in her princess years, when the cherub of the cigarette cards blossomed into the seriously beautiful heir to the throne, that things really started to heat up between the Queen and the camera. Sociologists, historians and cynics will tell you that these were already years of exponential growth in the image industry — new magazines, new cameras, a new interest in the new. As an entity, the royal family had become actively aware of the need to present a fresh image of itself to its populace. Not just in Britain, but in every corner of the huge pink empire it ruled.

It’s all true. Everybody loves a princess. But any old princess would not have emitted the powerful gamma rays that Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor emitted

this particular princess could have been a film star. The line of her neck. The precise bunching of her hair, carefully parted, but with a hint of noirish unruliness. The society photographer Dorothy Wilding saw it too. It was one of Wilding’s perfect royal profiles, taken immediately after the accession in 1952, that became the image repeated on our national stamps.

Later still, Andy Warhol used one of the official state likenesses of her as the basis for a brightly iconic royal screenprint. From the start, Elizabeth Windsor had something about her that lenses go giddy over.

So, yes, the camera loved the Queen. But — and this is where it gets slippery — she evidently loved it back … as a young woman, Elizabeth knew what she had and was never entirely shy about putting it out there. She could smoulder. She could do the half-smile thing. She could look back at us alluringly over a naked shoulder.

The photographer who recognised this most precisely was Cecil Beaton. It started when he was telephoned out of the blue by Buckingham Palace. At the time, the years before and after the Coronation, he was the world’s best known fashion photographer. But a fashion photographer is not a royal photographer. Hiring him was an independent and pointed thing for the Queen to do.

With his rococo details, cascading cloths and bountiful bouquets, Beaton gave the postwar world the fairytale princess it desired. When she became Queen the regalia changed, but not the mood. For him she was always a monarch of the Cinderella dynasty. What Beaton knew from the start, with his fashion training, is that a supermodel had ascended to the British throne.

I have met her only once, while making a film about the art in the Royal Collection. Invited for tea at Buckingham Palace, I was struck by her complexion. She was in her seventies, but her face was as smooth as a piece of Meissen porcelain. Her eyes — butterfly blue at the centre, snow white at the edges — still looked new, as if they had just come out of a Harrods box.

Unfortunately, most of the Queen’s painted portraits were quite dismal:

Most of the painters she has turned to have come from that bleak institution: the Establishment School of Untalented Lackeys. The results have been bad likenesses or very uninteresting ones. The fashionable Italian Pietro Annigoni had perhaps the best go in 1955 when he painted the recently crowned monarch in a traditional manner — the post, post, post-Renaissance style. The results were close enough to one of Beaton’s royal photographs to remain charming. Just.

Annigoni’s is my favourite. Warhol’s is my next favourite. Both are in the article.

Januszczak surmises that the Palace wanted to downplay the Queen’s regal aura by commissioning less-than-stellar portrait artists:

What happened, I think, is that the confidence and charisma of the princess years were brushed aside by a Palace strategy that demanded a more humble, less privileged royal portraiture. In an effort to ingratiate themselves with the Joneses, the Windsors began to downplay their aristocracy.

I could not agree more, and it is a shame. The Queen deserved far better, which makes the portraits of her youth so enticing. We want to go back to them all the more. Their beauty and composition draw us in. Can we look at them only once? No. We return for a second and a third look.

More on the Queen to follow tomorrow. How I wish she were still alive.

This week, I chronicled two Royal photographers, Cecil Beaton and the 1st Earl of Snowdon.

King Charles III and his family have opted for another stellar snapper, Hugo Burnand, a Tatler veteran.

Burnand has not updated his Twitter feed since 2015, but these are some of the photos he took for a Tatler feature on London’s top retailers that year:

Hugo Burnand is the only Royal photographer to have been born outside of the UK.

He was born in Cannes, the delightful city on the Cote d’Azur which is home to the film festival. His mother, Susan Gordon, died tragically in a car accident the year after he was born. Fortunately, his stepmother Ursy Burnand raised him well and the two remain close. On his website, Burnand refers to her as his mother and she still helps him out in the studio. Being a photographer herself and nurturing the same talent in him from boyhood, her help must be invaluable.

Burnand attended Cheam School, where he won a photography contest. He completed his formal education at Harrow School, where he took portraits of his fellow students. He decided to pursue photography professionally at the age of 27.

In 1993, at the age of 30, Burnand began a long-standing relationship with Condé Nast, particularly Tatler, where regular readers of that magazine will have seen his work in the Bystander pages of many social events.

That year, he also married Louisa Hallifax, the daughter of the late Admiral Sir David John Hallifax, who served as Constable and Governor of Windsor Castle from 1988 to 1992, the year of his death. The Burnands have four children and two dogs.

Stylistically, Burnand’s photography is the polar opposite of Dafydd Jones‘s work which graced the pages of Tatler in the 1980s. Socialites can show Burnand’s photos of themselves to their grandmothers without having to answer questions, e.g. ‘But, darling, how could you let your date push you into the swimming pool?’

Burnand has had a long-running working relationship with the King and Queen since his years as the Prince of Wales. He took the official portraits of Charles and Camilla at their wedding in April 2005. Camilla was the one who enlisted Burnand. He then began photographing Princes William and Harry. In 2011, he was the official photographer at Prince William’s wedding, more about which here. He spent three weeks preparing for the shoot at Buckingham Palace, working closely with Catherine Middleton. It had to be timed for the fly-past at 1:30 that day. Ursy helped things move smoothly on the day by giving jelly beans to the page boys and girls. Burnand also took Charles’s official 60th birthday portrait in 2008.

In an interview shortly before Coronation Day, Burnand, 59,told The Telegraph that the 60th birthday portrait is among his favourites (emphases mine):

In a regal yet relaxed pose, wearing the ceremonial uniform of the Welsh Guards, the picture, taken three years after he married the future Queen, shows a man finally at ease with himself.

Revealing how it was taken at the end of another shoot, he explains: “It was very much a sort of for-the-hell-of-it picture. We were both there, had a camera and he was dressed in his Welsh Guards uniform. We discussed things together, what we may or may not do. And somewhere in the referencing, there was a Tissot painting, of Frederick Gustavus Burnaby.”

A Victorian cavalry officer, balloonist, adventurer, author and allegedly the strongest man in the British Army, Burnaby was painted in self-consciously languid style by the French artist in 1870 and the portrait hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.

It is not the first time Burnand had subconsciously recreated a historic piece. It was only when he was leaving the Waleses’ wedding – during which he was given just 26 minutes to capture the newlyweds – that he realised he had inadvertently based his final shot on a painting of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert surrounded by their five oldest children, painted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter in 1846

Anticipating his photographs on Coronation Day, he said he was well organised:

Musing whether the best photographs come at the end of shoots, because the subjects are more relaxed, he adds: “Maybe. With those two photographs, I sort of always knew we were going to take them and I know exactly what we’re doing this time.

“Funnily enough, this time some of those pictures are scheduled to be taken earlier on.” Having shepherded plenty of children through fashion shoots over the years, he is not ruling out the use of sweets again when persuading the likes of Prince George, nine, Princess Charlotte, eight, and Prince Louis, five, to pose.

“I wish I could bring the dogs,” he says. “But it might get too chaotic.”

Burnand is again on limited time to take the photographs, but as with the weddings, he has been preparing by carrying out “stop watch” dress rehearsals with “whomever I can find running round the corridors”. He is also bringing replacements for every single item of equipment in case of malfunctions.

He is no Cecil Beaton:

Burnand’s emphasis on lighting (“it’s so important I can’t think of a big enough word”) suggests he will not be using a backdrop as Beaton did – a necessity at a time when the technology was not advanced enough to light the subject of the photograph simultaneously with the surroundings.

Beaton added an air of theatricality and glamour by photographing the young Queen Elizabeth against a painted backdrop of Henry VII’s Lady Chapel in Westminster Abbey.

Holding the Orb and Sceptre, and wearing the Imperial State Crown, Coronation Robes, and the Coronation Gown designed by Norman Hartnell, the use of the profile pose provided a sense of tradition and continuity.

No pressure then? Burnand chuckles. “Yes, Beaton has set down a sort of benchmark but I’m not copying him. I’m taking these as my own man.”

Burnand says that he wants his portraits to evoke an emotional reaction:

“Portraits are my passion,” he says. “It doesn’t matter who or what the portrait is of – be it the King, your father, a celebrity – I want you to have an emotional reaction to it, which arrests you for a little bit longer before you turn the page …”

Little wonder, then, that the King chose Burnand to capture a Coronation that isn’t just about pomp and pageantry but telling the next chapter in a deeply personal family story.

These are Burnand’s Coronation Day portraits:

I really like the next two. The first one, in particular, shows regal splendour:

Burnand told The Independent‘s Charlotte Cripps what Coronation Day was like. He is in the centre in the photo below, with his daughter Una on the left. The other people also work for him. Brompton bicycles were their means of transport:

On 6 May, as the nation was waking up, Burnand set off at 7am from his London mews house near Notting Hill Gate. With him were a team of six assistants, including his daughter Una, 25. They cycled to Buckingham Palace on bespoke, regal-coloured purple and ivory Brompton bikes in their formal attire – even Una in her pink silk dress.

“It took about 25 minutes – we didn’t want to break out in a sweat,” Burnand tells me from his kitchen, when we talk just days after the portraits have been released to the public. They travelled light; all cameras and other equipment were already in situ at the Palace. “It feels really weird setting off [for the day] without a camera for the biggest job of your life,” he laughs.

By taking official coronation portraits of the monarch, Burnand is joining a tradition that is over a century old – but he is familiar with royal subjects. The former Tatler photographer is the only photographer with a royal warrant, given By Royal Appointment by the Prince of Wales, and photographed William and Kate’s wedding in 2011

It may have been a day full of pomp and formality, freighted with historic importance, but Burnand says there was “a lovely buzz” in Buckingham Palace’s throne room. “There was definitely a happy feeling. It was cosy with family, children and friends milling about,” he tells me. Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis were all part of the photoshoot, which made it “beautiful” and “uplifting”. “It was like the last bit of the race [for the royal family] – there was an energy there which I know I got in the pictures,” he says.

However, there was a touch of Cecil Beaton after all:

For his solo portrait of Charles, Burnand had consciously mirrored society photographer Cecil Beaton’s coronation portrait of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. The painterly portrait of Charles shows him in his full regalia, wearing the imperial state crown, his back slightly to one side of the official state chair in which he sits. His position is similar to that of his mother when she posed for Beaton, when she, like her son now, held the orb and sceptre with cross.

There’s no escaping Beaton, the daddy of them all.

You can see a more relaxed pre-Coronation portrait of the King and Queen here. In 2017, Burnand appeared in Tatler at his exhibition that year and at another in 2000. The magazine also featured his favourite portraits.

You, too, can have your portrait or wedding photos taken by Hugo Burnand. He is not just for Royals. He also seems like a very pleasant man.

In the summer of 1943, when Antony Armstrong-Jones left his prep school — Sandroyd — for Eton, no less, the headmaster wrote in the boy’s final report that:

the 13-year-old ‘may be good at something, but it’s nothing we teach here’.

At Eton, Armstrong-Jones excelled at sports. In March 1945, he was in the ‘extra special weight’ class of the School Boxing Finals. The following year saw him earn two flattering mentions for boxing in the Eton College Chronicle. In 1947, he was a coxswain in the school’s Fourth of June Daylight Procession of Boats. The Fourth of June is Eton’s unrivalled sports day, with parents coming along to enjoy the contests and the festivities. Rowers wear boaters draped with elaborate garlands of flowers, a tradition that dates back to the 18th century to celebrate George III’s birthday. The King was one of the school’s greatest patrons.

Gentlemen’s outfitters New & Lingwood‘s post, complete with photos about the day, explains:

At a certain point in the procession, the crews of each boat stand and raise their flower adorned boaters to cheer the [King], the School and the memory of George III whilst shaking the flowers from their boaters into the river. They then resume their seats and row on for the next VIII to do the same.

The three most senior boats stand with their oars fixed resting on the water whilst the remaining boats raise their oars to the vertical and then salute with their boaters, a tricky thing to do. Sometimes, the consequences are obvious, and early baths result.

All the boys are dressed in naval uniforms of the mid 19th century, the coxes as those of Officer’s and the oarsmen in those of Ratings (Able Seamen).

But I digress.

Armstrong-Jones went up to Cambridge to read architecture at Jesus College. Whilst there, he coxed the winning boat in the 1950 Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race along the Thames, an early highlight of the social season. Tatler has a photo of him afterwards.

Having failed his second-year exams, he moved to London where he became an apprentice to the Royal and society photographer Baron, Stirling Henry Nahum (1906-1956).

Biography tells us that creativity ran in Armstrong-Jones’s family:

His great-grandfather was famed Punch magazine cartoonist Edward Linley Sambourne, and two of his uncles were noted architects …

His mother was the debutante and socialite Anne Messel, who became the Countess of Rosse when she remarried. One of her brothers, Oliver Messel, was a stage designer.

His father, Ronald Armstrong-Jones, was a barrister. He and Anne divorced in 1935, when Tony was only five years old. Anne married Michael Parsons, the 6th Earl of Rosse, later that year. Rosse had several estates in Ireland and was known as The Adonis of the Peerage.

Tony’s sister, Susan Anne Armstrong-Jones, also married an Irish peer, John Vesey, the 6th Viscount de Vesci.

From this we can see that Tony had many connections in high society. Not surprisingly, his uncle Oliver, recommended him for commissions of theatrical portraits. Other photographs, which were fashion shoots, appeared in Tatler and Queen magazines.

The auction house Christies notes that during those early years:

This raffish figure with a studio in Pimlico and a fondness for motorbikes had developed quite a name for himself by the late 1950s.

The third photo in this Tatler feature shows Armstrong-Jones in 1957.

That was the year that someone at court suggested that he be the official photographer on the Duke of Edinburgh’s Commonwealth tour on the Royal Yacht Britannia. The aforementioned Christies profile notes that not everyone was on board with the suggestion:

The Duke’s personal secretary, Michael Parker, however, flatly rejected the idea on grounds that Armstrong-Jones was ‘far too bohemian’.

Parker appears to have been overruled, as Armstong-Jones took the official photos of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh during their tour of Canada that year.

Meanwhile, Princess Margaret was getting over her relationship with the dashing Peter Townsend, a divorcé. They met when the latter was still married. He divorced his wife in 1952, the year that Queen Elizabeth ascended to the throne and became Defender of the Faith. The romance caused no end of controversy, especially when Townsend proposed in 1953. Marrying someone who was divorced went against the Church of England’s teachings and it was decided that the Princess and Townsend had to break up.

An April 2023 Tatler article gives us the highlights:

They had reportedly become engaged in April 1953 following Townsend’s divorce from his wife, Rosemary Pratt, Marchioness Camden, in order to commit to Margaret.

However, in 1955, Princess Margaret officially announced the end of her engagement to Townsend on the radio, saying, ‘mindful of the Church’s teaching that Christian marriage is indissoluble, and conscious of my duty to the Commonwealth, I have resolved to put these considerations before any others’. Townsend was a divorcé and so marriage to him would have been scandalous. Their relationship was depicted in Netflix series The Crown

Princess Margaret met Armstrong-Jones at a dinner party in 1958.

The Tatler article says (emphases mine):

Both Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend went on to marry others: Townsend married Marie-Luce Jamagne in 1959 and in 1960, Princess Margaret married Antony Armstrong-Jones. Their relationship between the princess and Armstrong-Jones was kept a secret until they officially announced their engagement on 27 February 1960. Antony … was made Lord Snowdon on their wedding day … 

Armstrong-Jones proposed with an engagement ring designed to look like a rosebud; probably a reference to Princess Margaret’s middle name, which was Rose.

He had designed the ring himself.

The couple married at Westminster Abbey on May 6, 1960, with 2,000 guests in attendance. Theirs was the first Royal wedding to be televised, and 300 million people watched it worldwide. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher, officiated. An appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony followed. The couple took a six-week honeymoon on the Royal yacht Britannia. Tatler has a fascinating photo album of the day.

One of the memorable items of the day was the Poltimore Tiara that Princess Margaret wore. A 2023 Tatler article, ‘Sale of Princess Margaret’s wedding tiara reportedly left Lord Snowdon heartbroken’, gives us its history:

Princess Margaret’s late ex-husband, Lord Snowdon, who died in 2017, was reportedly ‘crushed’ that his children sold his former wife’s wedding tiara in 2006, a new episode of Channel 5 series, Secrets of the The Royals, reportedly claims. 

The episode claims that ‘David Linley and his sister Sarah broke their father Lord Snowdon’s heart’ with their decision to sell 800 of their late mother’s items, including the Poltimore Tiara, according to the Daily Mail, who appears to have seen a preview episode of the series. Speaking on camera, Viscountess Hinchingbrooke, wife of the 11th Earl of Sandwich, reportedly adds, ‘This Christies’ auction was heartbreaking for Lord Snowdon… in fact, he wrote to his children asking them to stop it.’ Lord Snowdon and Princess Margaret had divorced in 1978.

Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones’s two children, the 2nd Earl of Snowdon (formerly Viscount Linley) and Lady Sarah Chatto, raised nearly £14 million by selling their mother’s items in 2006, four years after her death aged 71 …

The tiara was sold for £920,000, which far exceeded its estimated value of £150-200,000. A picture of Princess Margaret sitting in the bath, wearing nothing but the tiara, was released to the public by her family in 2006, before being removed from public view 11 years later.

The tiara, made in 1870 by Garrard – the royal jeweller behind Princess Diana’s engagement ring and the Amethyst Cross which was recently sold to Kim Kardashian – features an elaborate cluster of diamonds, scroll motifs and a brown ribbon which makes the tiara almost appear to float upon the head.

Originally made for Lady Poltimore, the wife of the second Baron Poltimore and Treasurer to Queen Victoria’s household, it remained in her family until it was acquired by the Royal Family at auction in early 1959, months before the then Antony Armstrong-Jones proposed to Princess Margaret that October.

The princess wasted no time in wearing the tiara. She donned the twinkling diadem to the ballet at Covent Garden in May 1959, during a state visit from the Shah of Iran. She also wore it as a necklace on a number of occasions before her wedding day; the flexible design of the tiara allowed it too be broken down into a necklace and 11 brooches.

But it was on her June 1960 wedding day that the tiara had its starring moment, perfectly finishing the silk organza Norman Hartnell gown. The 2006 buyer of the tiara remains unknown.

But I digress.

Christies says that the Duke of Edinburgh enjoyed joking to the courtier about the fact that the photographer he had deemed unsuitable in 1957 had married into the Royal Family:

the Duke of Edinburgh found great amusement in telling Parker that the ‘bohemian’ was to become his brother-in-law.

The couple settled into married life:

The couple settled into apartments at Kensington Palace, but Lord Snowdon (as the groom officially became known) kept his friendships with London’s leading writers, actors and artists.

Biography says:

In the 1960s, Lord Snowdon landed a job as the picture editor of The Sunday Times magazine. By the 1970s, his work had placed him among England’s most well-respected photographers.

Of Snowdon’s approach to his subjects, the Christies article says:

As for the style of his portrait photography, it has been described as ‘immaculately ordered but emotionally detached’. Which is to say, his images are pure, powerful and uncluttered, yet marked by a certain distance between himself and his subjects.

‘I don’t want people to feel at ease,’ Snowdon said of his approach, as if happy to leave any friendship he had with his sitters at the studio door. He wasn’t one for chatting while he worked. On getting down to business, ‘an almost unearthly feeling of suspension’ developed, [one-time Vogue art director Patrick] Kinmonth says, as the photographer set about the ‘palpable hunt for his image’, waiting for the sitter to reveal something telling about themselves.

Meanwhile, Cecil Beaton, about whom I have written, was still photographing the Royals. However, Snowdon had greater all-round access to the family and took any number of candid shots.

A Town & Country magazine article, complete with Snowdon photographs, says:

Before Snowdon, Cecil Beaton had been the royals’ go-to portraitist. Like Snowdon, Beaton was a photographer who himself became the subject of renown, a socialite with an artsy bent who gained access to the most elite circles, a Vogue photographer who turned his lens to the Windsors. But when the Earl of Snowdon began snapping the royals, he did it in a markedly new way.

The painted backgrounds and stoic composition that Beaton had used to mimic centuries of royal portraiture were gone. Snowdon shunned bulky, large-format cameras in favor of newer, lighter ones, allowing him to move and improvise. That, combined with his genuine intimacy with his now-family, allowed him to capture something close to spontaneity.

Close, because the royals had a diminished capacity for informality. “The royal family is photographed so frequently, and certainly by the time that Snowdon began photographing the royals, they were very used to sitting for photographs,” Susanna Brown, the V&A’s Curator of Photographs, explains. “They cannot help but perform for the camera; they’ve been so well trained.”

Even after the couple divorced, Snowdon remained close to the Royal Family:

Long after his marriage to Princess Margaret ended, Snowdon continued to photograph the royal family. (And for the record, Kinmonth says that despite Tony and Margaret’s well-publicized troubles, even after they separated, “they got on like a house on fire.”)

One Tatler article I read said that the Queen Mother was deeply disappointed to hear that the couple separated. She said it was a shame, because ‘Tony was so good at charades’.

By then, Cecil Beaton had suffered a stroke and would die in 1980.

Town & Country‘s interview with Patrick Kinmonth reveals Snowdon as a witty, yet humble, man:

Lord Snowdon never aspired to “high art,” whatever that is. He claimed it was his interest in gadgets that first drew him to cameras, but he wouldn’t commit to a career behind the lens until pursuing, then flunking out of, an architecture program. Even then, he flatly refused to acknowledge his work as art.

After the Sunday Times published an investigation he’d worked on with journalist Marjorie Wallace, she recalls him writing to her, “Darling, thank you so much for the words. I just take the snaps.”

This attitude may have been a holdover from the very beginning of his career, when he was just Antony Armstrong-Jones, an upper-middle-class son of a barrister and a remarried Countess, when he’d document society events at the “grand houses.” Back then, explains Robert Muir, a curator and former British Vogue picture editor, event photographers “went round the side, you didn’t go through the front door.”

Armstrong-Jones eventually found his way to the front door. If he rejected high art, high status was much more up his alley. Snowdon seemed to revel in the notoriety his 1960 marriage to Princess Margaret afforded him. “He made this dimension of royalness into a strange kind of fairy dust,” Kinmonth says. And it was sprinkled atop of his already charismatic personality.

His newfound fame as Princess Margaret’s husband reinforced something that had already been percolating in the public imagination: the photographer as star. The London creative set in the 1960s had a tendency to treat rising lensmen (sadly, they were mostly men) with the same renown as actors, artists, and filmmakers—even as Snowdon continued to insist, with a grin, that he was just a “snapper”

It’s not possible to separate Snowdon’s oeuvre from his royal biography—nor would he want that to happen. He knew his reputation was inseparable from that of the Windsors, Kinmonth says, and “it was something he was much more delighted with than disappointed by.”

The National Portrait Gallery has an extensive set of Snowdon photos from the 1950s through the 1980s. The Guardian also has a stunning retrospective, as does Christies. Tatler has a splendid collection of photos of Snowdon throughout his life, both alone and with Princess Margaret, as does The Sun.

Biography tells us more about Snowdon’s later years:

In the late 1990s, Lord Snowdon was awarded life peerage, affording him the title of baron and securing his seat in the House of Lords following the exclusion of hereditary peers.

In 2001, Lord Snowdon’s photography was featured in a career retrospective held at the National Portrait Gallery. In 2007, his work was exhibited in a show called “In Camera: Snowdon at the Pallant House Gallery,” in Chichester, England.

After Snowdon spent four years collaborating with writer Anne de Courcy, his biography was released in 2008, confirming speculation that Snowdon had many affairs throughout his marriages and fathered an illegitimate daughter (Polly Fry of the Fry chocolate dynasty) just prior to marrying Princess Margaret, as well as an illegitimate son (Jasper) during his second marriage with Country Life features editor Melanie Cable-Alexander …

Christies says that Snowdon was particularly empathetic towards the disabled:

His experience of polio, incidentally, left him with a slight limpas well as a lifelong concern for disabled people. He’d go on to fight a successful campaign against British Rail to improve its access to wheelchair passengers; and in 1980 he set up the Snowdon Award Scheme (now the Snowdon Trust), a charity that helps disabled students in further education.

Today, David Linley is the 2nd Earl of Snowdon. Tatler says:

He inherited his father’s title to become the 2nd Earl in 2017. Recently divorced from his wife, Serena, he has two children, 23-year-old Charles, Viscount Linley, and 20-year-old Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones. Honorary chairman for Christie’s Europe, Middle East and Russia, he’s also a furniture designer and is known to be close to his cousin, King Charles III.

Between Cecil Beaton and Lord Snowdon, the Royal Family were blessed with two outstanding photographers, each with his own inimitable style.

Tomorrow, I will take a look at Hugo Burnand, King Charles III’s official photographer.

Last week, I wrote about society photographers Richard Young and Dafydd Jones.

The first famous high society photographer of the 20th century was Cecil Beaton. Unlike Young and Jones, however, Beaton was of his world and in it.

Early years

Cecil Walter Hardy Beaton was born in London’s leafy Hampstead on January 14, 1904.

His grandfather had founded a timber merchants firm and Cecil’s father Ernest, an amateur actor, worked for the company. Ernest and his wife Etty had four children. Their other son, Reginald, died prematurely in 1933.

Cecil Beaton by Lafayette (cropped bw restored).jpgYoung Cecil and his siblings had the best of everything, including a nanny. She had a Kodak 3A camera which she taught him how to use. Fascinated, Cecil began taking pictures of his sisters and mother.

When he became proficient, he began sending his photographs to society magazines.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Cecil attended Heath Mount School, still in Hampstead at the time, then went to Harrow in north west London. Although he had little interest in school, he ended up at St John’s College, Cambridge, where he read history, art and architecture. By then, he was making contacts at Cambridge as he continued to photograph. He also designed theatre costumes. It was during those years that he had his first photo published in Vogue and two photos of his sister Nancy in Tatler. He went down from Cambridge in 1925 with no degree. However, London beckoned, so he returned to the capital and never looked back.

The 1920s and the Bright Young Things

In the 1920s, Beaton’s world intersected with that of a former classmate of his, Evelyn Waugh, who used to bully him at Heath Mount School. As a young adult, Waugh had his novel Vile Bodies published. It featured high society characters ‘the Bright Young People’, also called the Bright Young Things.

A 2020 Tatler article, ‘Stars in his eyes: Cecil Beaton and his Bright Young Things’ describes that world and his role in it, complete with photographs (emphases mine):

Masked parties, Savage parties, Victorian parties, Greek parties, Wild West parties, Russian parties, Circus parties’ – this was how Evelyn Waugh depicted the era of the 1920s, when the elite of the younger generation, determined to throw off the gloom of the Great War, dedicated themselves to entertainment. As Waugh portrayed them in his novel Vile Bodies, the Bright Young People (or Bright Young Things, as others called them) were funny, frenzied and frivolous, capering from party to party. Among them, and, like Waugh, an astute recorder of the period, was the photographer Cecil Beaton, whose portraits of the era’s leading lights make up the dazzling cast of Bright Young Things, a new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

Unfortunately, the exhibition had to be cancelled because of the pandemic. This Tatler article has a set of photographs from it.

Beaton and Waugh never did become friends:

Beaton had been at prep school with Waugh, who bullied him cruelly. Beaton later described Waugh as ‘a very sinister character’, while Waugh pilloried Beaton in Decline and Fall as the society photographer David Lennox, who ‘emerged with little shrieks from an Edwardian electric brougham and made straight for the nearest looking-glass’.

Beaton was hardly standing on the sidelines with his camera. He played a lead role in these parties:

Before long he was embedded in a world of aristocracy, theatre and, perhaps most significantly, a circle of exuberant young people intent on immersing themselves in the most extravagant and imaginative forms of self-indulgence …

Within this world, Beaton was both observer and recorder, as well as eager participant, appearing in pink satin and heavy make-up as a 17th-century dandy, as the Madam of a brothel, and in a coat covered in broken eggshells and roses.

Among the many of Beaton’s friends whom he photographed at this period was the very wealthy, very camp Stephen Tennant, son of one of the renowned Wyndham sisters. Tennant adored dressing up and being photographed by Beaton in outrageous poses – in flowing court dress as Queen Marie of Romania at the Impersonation Party, or heavily rouged as the poet Shelley at the Pageant of Hyde Park. After Tennant complimented him on his work, Beaton wrote in his diary: ‘I felt puffed with pride that he so gushed at me.’

Another sumptuous occasion was the Great Pageant of Lovers through the Ages, which took place in 1927 at the New Theatre in the presence of Princess Mary and Princess Arthur of Connaught, with Tennant as Prince Charming in a pink wig and Beaton as Lucien Bonaparte in an ornate satin coat with long tails. Also present were two of the most celebrated actresses of the era, Gladys Cooper, who went as Helen of Troy, and Tallulah Bankhead, as Cleopatra.

In Beaton’s view, he had by now achieved the perfect balance at the centre of two interconnected worlds – society and the theatre. A subject of his who combined both was Lady Diana Cooper, daughter of the Duchess of Rutland and one of the most famous beauties of her day. Her face, as described by Beaton, ‘was a perfect oval, her skin white marble. Her lips were japonica red, her hair flaxen, her eyes blue love-in-the-mist.’ He once photographed her as the Madonna in The Miracle, a play directed by Max Reinhardt, which required Lady Diana, serene and holy, to stand throughout most of the performance motionless in her niche on the wall.

accurately describing himself as ‘a scheming snob’, Beaton adored being at the centre of this wild and frivolous world. He made friends everywhere

Also part of the fray were the very wealthy Bryan Guinness and his beautiful wife Diana, one of the Mitford sisters. The young Guinnesses soon became one of the most fashionable couples in town, generous hosts who entertained lavishly …

It was at the very end of the decade, the season of 1929, that the Guinnesses gave an extravagant 1860s party, which, as it turned out, was to be almost the last of the period dominated by the Bright Young People. The spark had already begun to fizzle out and times were changing. In November, Beaton, by now highly paid and much in demand, left for his first visit to America, where in the years to come he was to pursue a remarkable career in Hollywood and New York. His horizons were expanding, his reputation continuing to grow, both as a photographer and as a designer of stage sets and costumes.

Beaton hosted the next big blow out party himself in 1937. At his Fête Champêtre were his friends from the Bright Young Things days a decade earlier. Ever the dandy, he had four changes of attire and the party did not end until 7 a.m. the following day.

The party took place at Ashcombe House in Wiltshire, which he leased between 1930 and 1945:

Here many of the original Bright Young People gathered for a magnificent garden party, photographs of which appeared in Life magazine. The marquee was decorated with flowers and ribbons, the waiters wore animal masks and 30 supper tables were designed to look like ballet dancers.

Beaton entertained frequently and lavishly at Ashcombe House, which is a huge Georgian estate.

His photographs showed up in an important estate collection in 2021. He often took photographs of Dame Edith Sitwell, one of them being in 1926. Dame Edith lived at Weston Hall, which went up for sale that year. Its varied contents later went to auction.

In October 2021, Tatler reported on the contents:

For three centuries, the Sitwells have dominated the literary and artistic landscapes, with generation after generation of writers, eccentrics and creatives amongst their number. Since the 18th century Weston Hall in Northamptonshire has been the family seat, until it was sold earlier this year. Now, its contents are making up a landmark auction at Dreweatts, charting not only the fascinating history of this important family, but also of England itself.

Joe Robinson, Head of House Sales at Dreweatts and taking up the mammoth challenge of cataloguing the works, said, ‘Weston Hall was a fascinating encapsulation of not just the Sitwell family history, but also the social history of Britain over the last few centuries. With the extensive collection of works having been preserved in the house for so long, it has been thrilling to go on a journey of discovery with the family, to uncover so many hidden treasures with such wonderful provenance. The stories behind the works truly enrich the pieces and when you purchase a work from this sale, you know you are buying a true piece of history.’

A veritable treasure trove, highlights of the collection include many artworks that were exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in 1994, in a show titled The Sitwells and the Arts of the 1920s and 1930s. One such piece is a carved fluorite dress ring featuring two mythical beasts that belonged to Edith Sitwell, one of the Bright Young Things of the 1920s. There are multiple other pieces of Edith’s jewellery and clothing included in the sale, who was known for her avant garde fashion sense and sometimes shocking behaviour …

Fans of celebrated society snapper Cecil Beaton will also no doubt be keen to get their hands on a whole cache of rare photographs of the family, up for sale for the first time. One of his most famous portraits was of Dame Edith Sitwell wearing an ostrich feather hat, pictured below, while others included are of Georgia Sitwell, the wife of writer Sacheverell Sitwell, taken circa 1927.

Food critic William Sitwell wrote in The Telegraph at the time that he spent many happy days at Weston Hall and remembers Dame Edith’s many party costumes left for the younger family members in a dressing up box.

He told Tatler:

This sale offers countless individuals and collectors the chance to own items and collections that are part of the fabric of English history. It’s extraordinarily diverse, representing the wide interests and experiences of my family and our ancestors. After the sadness of leaving Weston it will be heart-warming to think that works of art and furniture, which are like so many close friends to myself and my family, will find new homes and become part of new, wonderful collections.

Beaton also snapped the Mitford sisters, who were part of the Bright Young Things. In 2021, one of Nancy Mitford’s novels, The Pursuit of Love, was made into a television mini-series. Tatler reported on the Mitfords’ descendants and introduced the sisters to a new generation. There was no escaping Cecil Beaton or Evelyn Waugh:

Recognised for their beauty, eccentricity, conflicting political views and sharp intellect, the Mitford sisters were undoubtedly the ultimate It Girls of the 20th century. Everyone was captivated by ‘The Six’; whether it was Evelyn Waugh who spent over two decades writing 500 letters to Nancy, Cecil Beaton who captured Diana in theatrical costume time and time again, or youngest sister, Deborah, who later became Britain’s most loved Duchess as The Dowager Duchess of Devonshire.

Royal photographer

In July 1939, Beaton’s life took a seemingly improbable new turn.

One day he received a phone call out of the blue. The Victoria & Albert Museum tells us of his diary entry:

The telephone rang. “This is the lady-in-waiting speaking. The Queen wants to know if you will photograph her tomorrow afternoon” … In choosing me to take her photographs, the Queen made a daring innovation. It is inconceivable that her predecessor would have summoned me – my work was still considered revolutionary and unconventional.

That Queen was Elizabeth, George VI’s wife and mother of Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret.

I read about that in Tatler. Beaton thought it was a prank call and slammed down the phone on the lady-in-waiting. She patiently rang back to arrange an appointment.

The V&A exhibition has a stunning photograph of the then-Queen Consort in Buckingham Palace Garden as well as subsequent ones of the Royals:

The opportunity to photograph Queen Elizabeth, Queen Consort of King George VI, in 1939 was the high point of Beaton’s career to date. Published two months after the outbreak of the Second World War, his images presented a sense of continuity with a magnificent pre-war Britain. Several wartime sittings of the Queen and her family would reinforce his vision of a seemingly unshakable monarchy and witness the transformation of Princess Elizabeth from girl to young woman.

Beaton created sumptuous backdrops when the photo shoots took place indoors:

The flowers that appear in many of Beaton’s portraits were often picked from his own garden. Cascading arrangements of roses, carnations, lilies and hydrangeas filled the space between a photographic backdrop and the sitter, and were an essential prop in the creation of his idealised pastoral scenes.

Beaton was enamoured of the Royal ladies. Wikipedia says:

Beaton often photographed the Royal Family for official publication.[17] Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was his favourite royal sitter, and he once pocketed her scented hankie as a keepsake from a highly successful shoot.

War photographer

Not many of us probably know that Beaton also became a celebrated war photographer, so much so that he is partially credited for America’s entry into it. Wikipedia says that, in between his Royal photo shoots:

the Queen recommended him to the Ministry of Information (MoI). He became a leading war photographer, best known for his images of the damage done by the German Blitz. His style sharpened and his range broadened, Beaton’s career was restored by the war.[16]

… During the Second World War, Beaton was first posted to the Ministry of Information and given the task of recording images from the home front. During this assignment he captured one of the most enduring images of British suffering during the war, that of 3-year-old Blitz victim Eileen Dunne recovering in hospital, clutching her beloved teddy bear. When the image was published, America had not yet officially joined the war, but images such as Beaton’s helped push the Americans to put pressure on their government to help Britain in its hour of need.[5]

After the war ended, Beaton bought a stately manor, Reddish House, in Wiltshire, more about which below.

In September 1951, once it was politically acceptable and socially safe to party again, Beaton was one of the guests at Le Bal Oriental in Venice. In a 2020 article, Tatler described it, complete with photographs:

Venice was abuzz with decadence and glamour on 3 September 1951, as the beautiful and the damned gathered for eccentric aristocrat Count Carlos de Beistegui’s high society gathering Le Bal Oriental – the first since World War II.

Guests were invited six months prior, in order to give them enough time to design their decadent costumes, with the theme inspired by a fresco in his home, the Palazzo Labia. The Banquet of Cleopatra by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo was the chosen artwork; it depicts a wager between Cleopatra and Mark Antony as to which one could provide the most expensive feast. A worthy inspiration for a dress code, no doubt.

The guest list itself was superlative: the brightest stars and hottest young things of the era. Fashion designer Christian Dior attended in a costume designed by surrealist artist Salvador Dalí, while Dalí wore one by Dior. Cecil Beaton took the photographs, while director and actor Orson Welles held court alongside society beauties including Countess Teresa Foscari Foscolo and Patricia Lopez-Huici de Lopez-Willshaw, as well as Aga Khan III.

Then there were the details. Arrival by gondola, after a five-day journey across Europe for many, with cheers from waiting Venetians; 70 footmen dressed in the exact liveries worn at the Duchess of Richmond’s famous ball held the night before Waterloo; thirty guests attired in Pierre Cardin (it essentially launched his career); a 6am end time and a host wearing 16-inch platform shoes.

 There is a self-portrait of Beaton:

Cecil Beaton standing on the balcony of the Palazzo Labia dressed as a clergyman

Very convincing it is, too, as by that point Beaton had grey hair and looked seriously distinguished.

Costume design for My Fair Lady

Beaton was somewhat of an artsy polymath. He could act, sing, photograph — and design costumes as well as stage sets.

My Fair Lady put him firmly in the spotlight.

A 2022 Tatler retrospective of the play and the film, complete with photographs, tells us:

Thursday, 15 March 1956: The opening night of My Fair Lady on Broadway. Cecil Beaton had spent month after exhausting month designing and supervising the costumes for a production he was hugely enthusiastic about but not yet entirely convinced by. The run-up had been challenging. Both revolving stages malfunctioned, the sets were flimsy, the curtains got caught up and wouldn’t come down, and the dress rehearsal was a disaster. Blizzards kept audiences away from the try-out evenings. Rex Harrison, playing Henry Higgins, was plagued with fear and self-doubt, manifesting itself in monstrous displays of egotism. Beaton found him ‘beneath contempt’, and only by a miracle, he said, did he prevent an ugly confrontation, while an exasperated 20-year-old Julie Andrews, playing Eliza Doolittle, rehearsing the last-act fight with Harrison, threw her slippers in his face with such force the entire chorus applauded her from the stalls.

Beaton need not have worried. He recorded the opening night in his diary: ‘Every joke was appreciated, every nuance enjoyed and the various numbers were received with thunderclaps. The success was beyond all expectation.’ It was also, he added, ‘an electric evening…I am grateful and overwhelmed.’ Curtain call after curtain call. So frenzied was the reception – in the days following, the police were drafted in to keep order at the box office – he now recognised My Fair Lady for what it was: the greatest triumph of his life so far, the high point of his career, though ‘it has taken such a long time to achieve’, he said wistfully. It won him his second of four Tony awards.

By the time the run ended in 1962 after nearly 3,000 performances, My Fair Lady was the highest grossing Broadway show in history. The London production at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, which opened in 1958, ran for five and a half years and was reckoned to be the most expensive then staged in the West End.

Beaton had worked on The Chalk Garden sets and costumes in 1955, but loathed it:

Enid Bagnold’s curiosity, part melo- drama, part comedy of manners, opened on Broadway to rave reviews but by then Cecil had fallen out with just about everyone connected

When he was dropped from the London production, it opened a window for him on what would become My Fair Lady. If Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe had not come into his life, he said, he would surely have given up on the theatre.

Beaton, having been born halfway through the Edwardian (Edward VII) period, was a natural fit for My Fair Lady:

As a boy, Beaton had collected glitter-coated postcards of the leading ladies of Edwardian opera and theatre, one of his greatest heroines being the musical comedy star Zena Dare, whom delightedly he got to dress when, at 70, she took on the role of Mrs Higgins for My Fair Lady’s West End run. His childhood informed his outlook on life; the observations made at an early age remained constant, he would say, while around him the world would change.

His costumes for My Fair Lady were rooted in his memory bank of Edwardiana, memorialising the world of music hall comedy, his mother’s formal dresses, his Aunt Jessie’s ostrich-feather hats, fin-de- siècle fashion plates – and, famously, for the black-and-white Ascot scene, he reinterpreted the ‘Black Ascot’ of 1910 held in mourning for the late king.

Beaton was exacting and resourceful:

In all, Beaton designed more than 150 costumes and kept a punctilious eye on their construction, irritated when a cartwheel hat had to be refashioned three times. Julie Andrews recalled they were so over-scaled that the wearer was often obliged to enter a room sideways – if, that is, they could see at all from beneath the exaggerated brims.

Beaton was exacting and resourceful. Some curtains from his former country home, Ashcombe, had once been appliquéd with 10,000 or so pearl buttons. Taken out of storage, the buttons were detached and sent across the Atlantic to do service for the Pearly Kings and Queens attempting to get Alfred Doolittle to the church on time.

When Beaton’s fastidiousness combined with first-night nerves, it was a combustible mix. After the first try-out before the Broadway opening, he was apoplectic with Andrews who had, in all innocence, worn a picture hat back to front. In her dressing room, unsure if everything had gone right, the first words she heard were not of reassurance, but from Beaton flinging the door open, grabbing the hat and shouting: ‘Not this way round. That way round. How could you get that wrong?’ However, the reviews were ecstatic and Beaton was now a Broadway celebrity in his own right, the consummate showman: ‘I felt I was on the crest of a wave and must enjoy the ride…’

The ride was by no means over. Two years later, in April 1958, with the main leads reprising their roles, the show opened in London. Beaton had remodelled several hats and made 20 new costume designs. He considered them far superior to the Broadway ones, though he was delighted to hear that in fashionable Manhattan, belle-époque-style chiffon blouses and delicately pointed boots were now all the rage. Always eager for self-publicity, Beaton wasted no time in getting his pictures of My Fair Lady’s leading players into Vogue and Ladies’ Home Journal. He accepted a commission to design a range of modern clothes based on his costumes, as well as a line of children’s swimwear, and held gallery shows of his sketches. Eventually he would mine it all for a standalone book, Cecil Beaton’s Fair Lady (1964).

Though Rex Harrison played up again, the momentum of Broadway was firmly behind London and My Fair Lady opened in a blaze of glory. At a special charity performance, attended by the Queen and Prince Philip, crowds lined the streets from Drury Lane to the Strand. It was more like a coronation than a premiere, remarked Lerner.

The film came next:

Andrews lost the part of Eliza to Audrey Hepburn. However, there was no doubt as to who would design the costumes and this time the sets too, ‘an explosive moment of excitement’, remembered Beaton – but it was not to last long.

For 10 months from the beginning of 1963, Beaton removed himself to Hollywood where, in the 1930s, he’d had great success as a photographer of movie stars. Despite a close friendship with Hepburn – ‘an angel of goodness’ – filming was an unhappy experience with echoes of his depressing time on The Chalk Garden. He quarrelled furiously with director George Cukor, whose approach he found undisciplined, his manner coarse. Further, his stage successes had emboldened him and he was unwilling to compromise. He also developed the habit, in breaks during filming, of taking the star off set to photograph her, sweet, pliable and willing, in each of his designs, her own and those of the extras. Already finding Beaton’s English vanities insufferable, Cukor was incensed at his presumption and at one point barred him from the set. Tempers simmered to breaking point. ‘Everyone’s nerves are explosive,’ commented Hepburn, ‘everyone’s on edge!’ Beaton tried to resign and in the end left the film earlier than planned. Meanwhile, Rex Harrison was positively beatific.

Regardless of what went on behind the scenes, it was another triumph for Beaton:

My Fair Lady earned Beaton two Oscars for costume and art direction. If the stage productions on London and Broadway made his name, the film guaranteed him immortality. ‘There is no formula for success,’ he once wrote. ‘The element of the unknown is always present to make or mar your effect; but when all the elements fuse and an entity is created, then all the heartburns seem to have been worthwhile.’

Royal photograhy continued

In the post-war years, the then-Princess Elizabeth called Beaton to photograph her first born, Prince Charles.

The aforementioned V&A article tells us:

On 14 November 1948 Princess Elizabeth gave birth to her first child, Prince Charles Philip Arthur George. At her mother’s suggestion, the Princess chose Beaton to photograph her newborn son. Beaton would go on to take photographs commemorating the births of her other children: Princess Anne in 1950, Prince Andrew in 1960 and Prince Edward in 1964 …

Beaton photographed the infant Prince Charles on 13 December 1948, two days before the Prince’s christening. He commissioned a new backdrop for the occasion, which his assistants installed in the gold and ivory-coloured Music Room at Buckingham Palace. Beaton used a large 8 x 10 inch and smaller Rolleiflex cameras. He recalled that:

His mother sat by the cot and, holding his hand, watched his movements with curiosity, pride and amusement.

My favourite photograph is his official Coronation portrait of the Queen in 1953 with its magnificent backdrop of Westminster Abbey and sumptuous red curtain. The Abbey backdrop appears to be a large painting placed behind the Queen, although you would never know it from looking at the picture.

The Oldie magazine agrees with me:

Back at the Palace, the Queen was photographed by Cecil Beaton. She came in with her maids of honour, ‘cool, smiling, sovereign of the situation’. As she posed, he thought she looked ‘extremely minute under her robes and crown, her nose and hands chilled, and her eyes tired’.

To him, she was less forthcoming, but he extracted from her, ‘Yes, the crown does get rather heavy.’ She had been wearing the Imperial State Crown for over three hours, processing in the Gold State Coach through the rainy streets of London. Cecil Beaton went on to capture one of the most iconic images of the reign, way better than the official, tedious James Gunn portraits that lurk in embassies across the globe.

The V&A article has it in all its colourful splendour:

Cecil Beaton attended the ceremony, along with 8,000 other guests. He sat in a balcony close to the pipes of the great organ, recording his impression of the glorious pageant in animated prose and black ink sketches. After the ceremony he returned to the Palace to make final preparations for the official portrait sitting.

In this glittering portrait, the Queen wears the imperial state crown, a replica of that made for Queen Victoria’s Coronation. The Queen holds the sceptre with the cross in her right hand, balanced by the orb in her left. On her right hand she wears the coronation ring, a symbol that the sovereign is ‘wedded’ to the state. On both wrists are the armills, golden bracelets signifying sincerity and wisdom.

In the years that followed, the portraits that Beaton took of the Queen and her children are relaxed rather than stylised, a big departure for him:

Beaton’s approach to royal portraiture changed dramatically. All attention was now focused on the sitters, a stark white background replacing the elaborate Rococo-inspired backdrops of earlier years.

In 1968, Beaton was given an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. He decided to add a new portrait, one of the Queen. I read in Tatler that he was mildly frustrated that none of the poses were what he wanted. Finally, spontaneously, the Queen suddenly turned her head at an angle. Beaton’s timing was perfect, and another iconic portrait emerged.

The V&A article says:

He felt anxious before the sitting, writing in his diary:

The difficulties are great. Our points of view, our tastes are so different. The result is a compromise between two people and the fates play a large part.

As times had changed by 1968, Beaton selected pared-down portraits:

Beaton selected plain white and blue backgrounds, resolving to be “stark and clear and bold”. The portraits were a triumph.

But — and its a big but:

They were the last photographs Beaton made of Elizabeth II, although he continued to photograph other members of the family until 1979.

This is, in part, because the Royal Family had its own photographer, Princess Margaret’s husband Lord Snowdon.

However, Beaton also suffered a stroke in the 1970s. Despite adaptations made to cameras and other equipment, he became more anxious about his future. Wikipedia says:

… in 1976, [he] entered into negotiations with Philippe Garner, expert-in-charge of photographs at Sotheby’s.

On behalf of the auction house, Garner acquired Beaton’s archive – excluding all portraits of the Royal Family, and the five decades of prints held by Vogue in London, Paris and New York. Garner, who had almost single-handedly invented the photographic auction, oversaw the archive’s preservation and partial dispersal, so that Beaton’s only tangible assets, and what he considered his life’s work, would ensure him an annual income. The first of five auctions was held in 1977, the last in 1980.[citation needed]

Cecil Beaton died at Reddish House in January 1980, four days after his 76th birthday.

Reddish House has had various famous owners since then and went on the market again in 2020, when Tatler told us:

… the smart home was purchased by Beaton for £10,000 in 1947, with the photographer living there until his death in 1980. He moved there from his sprawling Georgian estate, Ashcombe, which was just down the road.

A consummate host, Beaton threw plenty of soirées in his down-sized abode, with guests as illustrious as the Queen Mother, Mick Jagger, Truman Capote, David Hockney and Lucian Freud. Greta Garbo even moved in for a spell – staying for six weeks

Not only did he add more rooms on the eastern side of the house, he also extended the parlour southwards and added new fixtures and fittings. Upstairs, the house had been fitted for illegal cock-fighting – Beaton made use of the cages as a wardrobe for his costumes for the play, The Gainsborough Girls. He also planted the gardens, that remain today.

The article has photographs, including another self-portrait from 1968.

Cecil Beaton was one of a kind.

Tomorrow’s post will be about another great Royal photographer, the late Lord Snowdon.

Bible ancient-futurenetThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version Anglicised (ESVUK) with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

1 Timothy 6:1-2

Let all who are under a yoke as slaves[a] regard their own masters as worthy of all honour, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved.


Last week’s post discussed Paul’s instructions to Timothy on the treatment of elders, or pastors, especially in matters of church discipline and discerning their suitability to become church leaders in the first place.

Today’s post focuses on Paul’s instructions to Timothy regarding slaves.

Slavery is a hot topic these days.

However, slavery in the eras of the Old and New Testaments was, in many cases, akin to regular employment, for reasons explained below.

The word ‘slave’ in Greek is ‘doulos’. However, a great number of slaves were bondservants, who were tied to their masters, often willingly.

Compelling Truth says that slaves of the Bible eras and even into the latter days of the Roman empire, in many cases, lived lives that had no comparison to slaves in the United States or the West Indies centuries ago. Many lived in what we would call working class or middle class circumstances. This is why the Bible had little to say about slavery (emphases mine):

Does this mean the Bible condoned or promoted slavery? Not necessarily. First, it is clear that the role of a bondservant was broader than views of modern slavery, which explains why some New Testament writing gave instructions for “how” to treat bondservants instead of only commanding their freedom.

In addition, Paul’s most personal letter, the letter to Philemon, offers the most direct discussion of slavery in the New Testament. When the runaway slave Onesimus became a Christian, Paul sent this letter with him to return to his master. Paul wrote, “For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord” (Philemon 1:15-16). He clearly noted that the bondservant and his owner were brothers and of equal status before God. Further, Paul told Philemon to “receive him as you would receive me” (Philemon 1:17). How would Philemon be expected to receive Paul? As a fellow believer, treated with respect. Paul indirectly suggests giving Onesimus his freedom (verse 18). Tradition records that Onesimus later became a church leader.

The bondservant was a common role in the New Testament period that ranged from slave to bonded laborer. Commands were given to Christians regarding proper treatment, with freedom recommended whenever possible (1 Corinthians 7:21). Most importantly, the image of the bondservant became one of great importance for Christians, who are called to live as bondservants of Christ Jesus.

This is what 1 Corinthians 7:21 says:

21 Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you – although if you can gain your freedom, do so.

The Apostles, especially Paul, considered themselves bondservants of Christ. Our Lord Himself put a primary emphasis on service to others, notably when He washed the feet of the Twelve just before the Last Supper:

The New Testament also notes that Jews owned bondservants or slaves. Because bondservants existed as a known role in culture, Jesus included them as characters in His own parables (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 12:41-48). In contrast with the cultural view, Jesus taught that the greatest was the “servant (doulos) of all” (Mark 9:35).

In many New Testament books, the word bondservant was used in reference to a person’s commitment to Jesus. Most of Paul’s letters begin by referring to himself as a servant of Christ Jesus. James and Jude, half-brothers of Jesus, both refer to themselves as Christ’s bondservants. The apostle Peter called himself a “servant and apostle” (2 Peter 1:1).

The importance of these New Testament authors referring to themselves as bondservants should not be overlooked. Despite proclaiming a message of freedom from sin in Jesus Christ, these writers were dedicated to Jesus as their one master. Further, their service to the Lord was not one they could consider leaving. Just as a bondservant was more than an employee who could leave for another job, these Christians were servants who could never leave their master for another.

John MacArthur preached a whole sermon on slavery in connection with these verses. I will go into it in more detail but let’s start with this:

Now when you go to the New Testament or the Old Testament, you have to understand this. It was a very workable system. It was a very manageable system. And when you think of slavery, don’t think of half-naked people in ratty clothes and chains dangling around their ankles. And don’t think of people who are being whipped in the back or smacked with sticks or were working seven days a week and sixteen hours a day. Think of people who are treated graciously who are a part of a family who have contracted to offer their skills and services for a period of time. And where there was an abuse, there was an abuse in the heart. And that can happen in any situation.

MacArthur says that there were abuses, especially during Roman times, but that did not mean that every slave was treated cruelly:

There were abuses in the Greco-Roman world. Particularly the Romans were abusive from time to time. They did not permit some slaves to marry ever. They had conjugal rights with women and when they gave birth to children, the children became more slaves. They in many ways treated slaves as if they were animals, having no more rights than a beast of burden. There were abuses particularly in the Roman area. There were [fewer] abuses than that typically in Palestine where slavery was a little bit more minimal. But surely there were abuses. And there are abuses of any kind of economic or social system of employment.

MacArthur also says:

Now with all that in mind you understand why, don’t you, in the Old Testament there’s no cry to end slavery. And in the New Testament there’s no cry to end slavery either because the system itself is only a system. And when good hearted people participate in it, it works fine – it works fine. There were abuses of that system. Let me tell you something, folks, we don’t have a slavery system in the United States, but we’ve got a lot of abuses in our system, too. There are a lot of unhappy employers; there are a lot of miserable workers. And I said at the very beginning, 70 percent of the people in the labor force of the United States hate their job for whatever reason. So the abuse factor is the issue; the evil heartedness is the issue. And listen carefully, that is why that when the preachers and teachers of the Old Testament went out, they went to speak a message to change the heart. And when Jesus came and the apostles and prophets went out, they spoke a message to change the heart, because it isn’t the form of the system; it is the heart. That’s the issue.

And the abuses come because the hearts aren’t right. And so what we preach is not, “Let’s overthrow the system.” What we preach is, “Let’s transform the heart.” So we’re not interested in political or economic or social revolution; we are interested in proclaiming the gospel and creating a spiritual revolution. And I believe that slavery was ultimately abolished in America as a direct result of the transformed hearts of people who were impacted in the great revivals of this nation.

There’s more to come about how slavery worked in the ancient world and why no one objected to it.

Slavery encompassed a wide ranging group from cooks to manservants to skilled workmen to accountants to property managers. Many slaves could contract short- or long-term arrangements with their masters. They also earned more money and had better working conditions than a day labourer or a soldier.

As such, this can be considered akin to our modern, Western employment arrangements.

MacArthur points out that professional athletes earning big money are also bondservants in a way:

… it’s very little different than people today who sign long-term contracts with any employer. I think about that every time I see one of these high-priced athletes sign a five-year contract. What he’s basically doing is becoming an indentured servant. What he’s doing is becoming a slave under contract in bondage to the one with whom he covenanted that contract.

In the ancient world, even outside the Roman empire, wherever one went, there were slaves.

MacArthur explains that sometimes slaves came collectively, through conquest, or individually during times of peace. People considered slavery to be a mutually beneficial arrangement for slave and master:

… in understanding the biblical teaching about slavery and masters, we need to divorce ourselves from that kind of thing which is racially discriminatory and which is, for the most part, abusive and structures itself into social stratas that are wrong and not pleasing to God at all. And we need to get a whole new understanding of the social structure of servants and masters that we find in the New Testament. So that’s what I want you to do. Put that other stuff aside and try to understand it in its proper biblical frame of reference. All right?

Now slavery in the biblical sense has its roots deep in the Old Testament, deep in the Middle East. And I want to just talk about that for a moment. Slaves were primarily domestic employees of a family. And they worked sometimes, as I said, out in the field, but for the most part they belonged to the household. They were, for example, cooks and household managers. You would have a doulos who managed your household. He was your bookkeeper. He was your inventory controller. He was the one who decided how to use your resources. And he would be one who had contracted to come into your service and in exchange for his long-term submission to you, you gave him his housing, his clothing, his food, and a proper amount of money for living expenses and personal things.

You might be interested to know that in the ancient times in the Middle East, artisans were doulos, were slaves or servants. Teachers were slaves. When you wanted someone to come and teach your children and raise them in the things of wisdom and knowledge, you would bring in a servant to do that. Not unlike early America. You remember in the colonization of America the term indentured servant. People in Europe were literally contracting to sell their services to a family over here in the New World for say seven, ten, fifteen years. They would come over based upon the fact that they were guaranteed employment. They would be cared for by the family. And when those years ran out, they would be free to then pursue their own career and their own objectives in the New World.

Now slaves in those ancient times were acquired in many different ways. One was they were the captives from conquest. In fact, the people of Israel knew what it was to be servants to conquering nations. They were servants to the Phoenicians, the Philistines, the Syrians, the Babylonians, and the Romans. And there were other nations who in being conquered by Israel were servants to them as well. In fact in ancient times, it was thought to be a very humanitarian option to conquer a people and them make them servants. In effect, that’s what the Babylonians did with Daniel and his friends. Right? And Daniel, in the role of being a servant, rose to become the prime minister of the whole Babylonian Empire and even the Medo-Persian Empire that succeeded it.

So rather than killing the enemy you conquered, you would keep them and put them in the role of serving you. That solved a lot of problems. One, it provided for you servants. Two, it provided for them their needs. Three, it brought them into your culture. And four, if it was Jewish, it brought them into the knowledge of your God and your religion and the truth of revelation. So you find an illustration of this – for example, Numbers chapter 31, Deuteronomy chapter 20, and 2 Chronicles chapter 28. All three of those show how a conquered people are brought in to serve the conqueror with a view to teaching them, to providing for them, to showing humanitarianism to them and to, in the case of Israel, exposing them to the truth of their God. So the first way that people became servants was through being captive in war.

Secondly, people were brought into this role of doulos through purchase. You could be a foreigner, for example, and you could be purchased. For example, let’s say a guy from another country comes into Israel, and he’s looking for employment. A land owner can buy his services, and he can take him in. He then sells himself to that individual. By the way, there was a death penalty, according to Exodus 21:16 and Deuteronomy 24:7, for kidnapping and selling a free man. But a man who was already a doulos or a slave or who sought to be, could be bought and sold, according to Leviticus 25:44 to 46.

Furthermore, a father might sell his daughter. In Exodus 21:7 and Nehemiah 5, a father can sell his daughter to work in a home. It wasn’t a bad thing or an evil thing to do. You literally contracted with someone to employ your daughter over a period of time, and your daughter went to work for that family. Not uncommonly, when she reached marriage age, she would marry the master of the house or one of the sons of the master of the house. And so in that sense it was a very good thing for both families.

A widow, according to 2 Kings 4:1, might sell her children into the employment of someone in order to pay off her husband’s debts which he being dead could no longer pay. And in Leviticus 25:39 and following and Deuteronomy 15:12 to 17, people sold themselves into employment. Literally went and contracted for their services with someone and became slaves in that sense. Children were also sold under conditional contracts, according to Exodus 21. A very interesting case in Nehemiah 5, the first part of the chapter, apparently a father had used his children as collateral for a loan. And when he defaulted on the loan, he had to put his children into service in order to pay back what he had borrowed.

So self-sale was not uncommon. And people could employ people who were willing to be bought, and there were people whom one owner would sell to another owner. There were people who desired to serve life-long with a master, and there were people who desired to serve short time. And there was within the slavery system the ability to contract and negotiate whatever it was that you both agreed on. According to Leviticus 25, interestingly enough, the Old Testament said fifty years is maximum for any service – 50 years. That’s for any non-Jew, any of the Gentile people that came into service, 50-year limit. For a Jew, get this, 6 years. And the reason, I think, is very obvious. When a Gentile come into the service of a Jew, he was exposed to all the truth of God, and so God wanted them to remain there as long as possible and so made the 50-year limit. It could be negotiated shorter than that, but that would be the limit. For a Jew, it was only six years. And that way the Jew had less time forced upon him, perhaps, in any individual or given contract situation. By the way, you can find that in Exodus 21:2 to 4 and Deuteronomy 15:12, the limit of six years was set upon a Jew.

Now another way that people went into slavery was through debt. If you incurred a debt you couldn’t pay back, you might have to go to work for someone to work off the debt. And you became the slave until the debt was eliminated. A thief, for example, a thief who could not pay what he had taken was placed into slavery to the one he had robbed, or the court would put him in slavery with someone else, and he would work off all that he needed to work off, or he would earn enough in his work to give back to someone that he had stolen from. Some slaves were received as gifts. In Genesis chapter 29, Leah received her slave, Zilpah, as a gift. Her personal attendant, this other young lady, was given her as a gift.

And then non-Hebrew slaves were passed on from generation to generation within a family so that you could actually inherit a slave or a servant, according to Leviticus 25:46. There was the more prolonged contract for those who were the original inhabitants of Canaan rather than the short six years for the Jews. And then you could be born into that situation if your parents were under contract as slaves to someone. So you get a little picture. There were a lot of people who were moving in and out of this kind of relationship in the society of the Middle East.

Slaves had many rights, at least in the Jewish world. Some also loved their masters so much they pledged their service for life:

In fact, they were so concerned about the legal rights of those who were the working force that the Old Testament is loaded with the rights and privileges of those who were slaves. Exodus 21, Leviticus 25, Deuteronomy 15 are good starting points to understand this. But let me just give you a brief review.

First of all, they could not as Jews be more than six years in bondage to any one master. They could renew their contract as long as they wanted, or they could say I want to serve him for life, and they would lean him against a door post and punch a hole in their ear and hang an earring or something in there so they would be for life identified as a willing servant of the one whom they had taken for their master. So if they were under contract to a master, that master had to take care of their housing, had to take care of their food, had to take care of their clothing, had to pay them on top of that, had to support their wife and all their children. That was necessary.

Now if the man came to the end of his six years and wanted to leave, he could take his wife and all of his kids. The guy would lose a lot of workers. Unless he had come into his service single and married someone who was already in service to that family, he couldn’t just marry the person and then at the end of his time take them all out. Obviously if that was permitted, people who wanted out of their contracts would find somebody to marry them, break the contract, and that wouldn’t work at all. So you couldn’t take one with you unless you brought her in or unless her time was up also. She was to remain and you had to leave alone if her time was not up.

Furthermore, they had tremendous religious rights within the covenant of Israel, even Gentiles once they identified as servants of a Jewish household had to go under certain vows and they were allowed to enjoy the sabbath rest just like the rest of the people and to enjoy the Passover as well. They had civil rights. If they were injured, they were immediately to be freed. If you poked their eye out or if you broke a tooth or any kind of bodily harm to a slave, they were free – any cruelty, any premeditated injury. If you premeditated the murder of a slave, you were sentenced to the death penalty. So they had rights and they had privileges. They had social rights. They could marry. They could have as many children as they could have and they could have a lot. And when they left they could all go free. And while they stayed the house owner had to support them all.

They had economic rights. They could acquire property and slaves could also have slaves. So you had an enterprising slave who subcontracted to his own slaves the duties that he himself didn’t want to do or whatever. They were given protective rights. Foreign slaves coming and seeking asylum in Israel, according to Deuteronomy 23:15 and 16, were given asylum and protection. The state of Israel even hired state slaves which would be like civil service employees, according to Joshua 16:10 and Judges 1:28, and hundreds of them manned the duties of the temple. They were supported by the state of Israel.

Now in general then, these were household domestic people. They were really members of the family. In fact in Exodus 20:17 they are grouped with women and children. They were as much a part of the family as the women and the children. And as the father, the head of the family, cared for the women and the children, he would also care for the servants or the slaves. They were to be treated with the same love and the same kindness. By the way, Paul says in Galatians 4:1 that a child was no better than a slave. They had rights; they had privileges. And they enjoyed a very good life, for the most part

So nowhere in the Old Testament and nowhere in the New Testament does it say that slaves are to leave their masters and masters are to release their slaves …  That’s not even an issue. If attitudes are right, that’s what matters.

There was one job a master could not ask of a Jewish slave — washing feet:

… if you had a Jewish slave, he was never to be asked to do the most disreputable task which was washing feet, because that would be publicly branding him as a slave, and it was important to protect his dignity. So they would invariably find a Gentile to do the foot washing. That’s what makes the washing of the feet of the disciples by Jesus such a remarkable act of humility. It was more than a Jew would ever be asked to do in the most abject humility.

MacArthur has more on what was, by and large, a good life:

By law, on the other hand, the slave was equal to the oldest son in the family and he had a right to the same treatment that the master gave his oldest son. He had a right to good clothes, good food, a good place at the table with the family, and a good bed. He could acquire possessions. He could buy things. He could find things and keep things. He could receive gifts, and he could shorten his time of service by making payments. He could marry and his master had to take care of his whole family. The six-year rule still prevailed. He could stay or leave for a better opportunity at the end of the six years. That’s a very reasonable rule. I imagine every employer would like, if he finds a good employee, to sign him up for that length of time so he doesn’t have to worry about turn over. But it also gave an out if the situation wasn’t all that it ought to be.

In fact, Jewish slaves were so protected that an old Jewish saying was, “Whoever buys a Jewish slave, buys himself a master.” They had it good. And all glimpses of slaves in the gospel record of the New Testament are in a positive light and they show a high level of respect and treatment. In fact, the centurion was burdened and wanted Jesus to heal his slave, because he was dear to his heart.

Slaves in Palestine were even paid their full wage up front:

Palestine also had many Gentile slaves. Some of them were certainly abused, as perhaps some of the Jewish ones were. But the average slave cost about two thousand times the daily wage – two thousand times the daily wage. They were expensive. And when you brought one in for six years, you gave him the money for the full six years up front. At the signing of the contract he was completely compensated. Now in general the treatment was so good that people sought this rather than being a day laborer.

Roman slaves were also treated rather well:

Turning with me for a moment to the Greco-Roman world where Paul is writing to Ephesus, what kind of situation was there? We’ve seen the Old Testament, the Middle East and Palestine, but what about Ephesus and other places? It was very much the same. In the third century B.C., slavery was very bad, very abusive. But from the third to the first century, most historians believe there was a humanitarian movement in the Roman world. And by the time you come to the first century, there is a very much better treatment of slaves than in the second and third century before Christ. The Romans were freeing them all the time and most historians believe there was a great freedom movement generated by the Roman government at the time of Christ. For example, as early as from 81 to 49 B.C., before Christ, the record shows, this is a study by a man named Tenney Frank, titled “Economic Survey of Ancient Rome.” The study shows that there were released in the city of Rome in that 30-year period 500,000 slaves and the population of Rome is estimated at 870,000 people. That’s a large number of slaves being released. In a three-year period, 46 to 44 B.C., Caesar is supposed to have sent out 80,000 poor people and slaves to colonize other parts of the Roman Empire. They also freed slaves because every time you freed a slave there was a five percent value tax that the guy who freed the slave had to pay, and so the more slaves were freed, the more money came into the government coffers, and so that helped them decide to do that, too.

But there doesn’t seem to be the abuse. You go a little earlier than that and you see these people who were abused in their roles of slaves. Now let’s say this for sure. There were some abuses, as there are today in the United States, some employment abuses. That’s obvious because men are sinful. But the slaves in the Roman Empire were for the most part better off than their free man counterparts. I’ll give you an idea why. The typical scene is again portrayed by Tenney Frank in his survey, “Economic Survey of Ancient Rome.” And this is kind of the scenario he paints. The free man who just sold himself to whoever to do whatever work could be done was paid one denarius a day. Okay? One denarius a day. Compare that say with the soldiers of Julius Caesar. The archeological records say they were paid 225 denarii a year, which would be less than one a day but they were given all their food, all their shelter, all their booty, and Caesar Augustus gave them a 3,000 denarii bonus on the twentieth year of their service. One of Caesar’s scribes received one denarius a day. So just a day laborer, a soldier would be around one denarius a day.

Diocletian, in fact, set the wages at one half to one denarius. And let’s assume that a free man worked six days a week. Okay? I’m painting a little picture. He works six days a week at one denarius a day, he’s going to get 330 denarii a year. A hundred and eighty four of that would go for his food. They have figured that out. Five to ten of it would go for clothing, and that would be very poor, very ragged clothing. Ninety denarii at least would go for his room, that adds to 279 and leaves him about 35 denarii left for everything else for a full year.

Compare that, for example, with a slave. He received all his food and the best of food that the house had to offer. And the house would have had to have some decent food or it couldn’t have employed domestic servants. The best of clothing, the best of places to stay, and it is estimated that most of the slaves of ancient times stayed on the top floor of the house, inside the house. And they would have received their housing, their clothing, their food plus 60 denarii a year spending money, which is double what the other man who is a free man would have had if indeed he had worked every day through the year. So it was to his advantage if he could find somebody that would take him on, to say nothing of the fact that he would then have to feed, clothe all his family. Whereas the day laborer would have to feed, clothe himself and all his family on those wages. So you can see the benefit was really in behalf of the man who could find a way to contract himself to work as a slave.

Now on to today’s verses.

MacArthur explains why Paul would have written guidance for slaves:

Now remember, Timothy is in Ephesus. Right? Paul has come out of his imprisonment. In the time that he has been away, the Ephesian church has really fallen on hard times. It has declined tragically. Paul was its founder. Paul was its original pastor. Paul is the one who ordained and trained the original elders. The church had all the best beginnings. It was used to found other churches in Asia Minor – modern Turkey. It was a tremendously blessed and powerful church. But by now the leadership has [become] corrupted. The people have bought into ungodly behavior. All kinds of tragic things are happening. It has filtered down to the life style of the people so that in the work place they are denying and blaspheming the testimony of God. And it is to that issue that Paul encourages Timothy to speak.

Let me give you the simple picture here. In verse 1 we have the relationship between an employee and a non-Christian employer. In verse 2, the relationship between an employee and a Christian employer.

Paul says that all under the yoke of slavery should regard their masters as worthy of all honour, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled (verse 1).

Matthew Henry’s commentary says that, even with employers who fall short are still worthy of our respect, otherwise we do God — and Christ — a disservice and we are no better than unbelievers. In fact, we might be worse than unbelievers:

They must respect their masters, count them worthy of all honour (because they are their masters), of all the respect, observance, compliance, and obedience, that are justly expected from servants to their masters. Not that they were to think that of them which they were not; but as their masters they must count them worthy of all that honour which was fit for them to receive, that the name of God be not blasphemed. If servants that embraced the Christian religion should grow insolent and disobedient to their masters, the doctrine of Christ would be reflected on for their sakes, as if it had made men worse livers than they had been before they received the gospel. Observe, If the professors of religion misbehave themselves, the name of God and his doctrine are in danger of being blasphemed by those who seek occasion to speak evil of that worthy name by which we are called. And this is a good reason why we should all conduct ourselves well, that we may prevent the occasion which many seek, and will be very apt to lay hold of, to speak ill of religion for our sakes … for Jesus Christ did not come to dissolve the bond of civil relation, but to strengthen it

Paul says that those with believing masters must not be disrespectful because they are brothers in a spiritual sense; as such, the servant should be that much better, doing so in love, because of his superior’s Christian faith, therefore, Timothy should teach and urge these things (verse 2).

Henry tells us:

They must think themselves the more obliged to serve them because the faith and love that bespeak men Christians oblige them to do good; and that is all wherein their service consists. Observe, It is a great encouragement to us in doing our duty to our relations if we have reason to think they are faithful and beloved, and partakers of the benefit, that is, of the benefit of Christianity. Again, Believing masters and servants are brethren, and partakers of the benefit; for in Christ Jesus there is neither bond nor free, for you are all one in Christ Jesus, Gal 3 28. Timothy is appointed to teach and exhort these things. Ministers must preach not only the general duties of all, but the duties of particular relations.

So what does this mean for us, we who are in an employer-employee relationship?

Interestingly, MacArthur preached these two sermons in 1987, at a time when some Americans began to become disgruntled with the daily grind. Nearly 40 years later, the same negative attitudes persist. Admittedly, I will be the first to say what a blessing retirement is, and I understand the sentiment fully.

MacArthur brings these verses into a present-day context:

Not uncommon even today. A Christian who is working under a non-Christian tends to feel superior. In fact, even intolerantly superior, even belligerently superior. And after all, he’s headed for hell and you’re headed for heaven. After all you’re elect and he’s non-elect. And you’re going to make sure you try to keep it that way. And it’s very easy for a person who is spiritually blessed to feel himself superior to a person who is spiritually bankrupt. And his attitude of superiority begins to project itself in the way he responds to and the way he lacks respect for and the way he serves or does not serve his employer. It’s easy for that resentment to build up and if the guy does things you don’t like, says things you don’t like and you just don’t get along very well, that tendency toward a feeling of superiority is compounded.

I read recently about some company that was putting on some kind of health preparedness course and was taking systematically all their workers through all different kinds of diseases in order to help them to recognize them so they didn’t bring some infectious disease into the work place. It was a large area with a lot of people in close contact. And the instructor was asking one person, “What’s the first thing you’d do if you found you had rabies?” Without hesitating the employee responded, “I’d bite my boss.” And I think there are a lot of employees who can really relate to that sentiment. That’s just really how it is out there. As Christians we can be irritated by the unbeliever who doesn’t understand us, who doesn’t understand our ethics, who doesn’t understand equity, who doesn’t understand compassion or all of the spiritual things that we understand. And we become, by being a problem to him, a discredit to Christ, because if we are a problem to him, then the only Christ he may see is us and Christ becomes a problem to him.

On the other hand, let’s assume that a Christian employee works for a Christian employer. You say, “Boy, I wish I had a Christian boss. Boy, wouldn’t that be paradise? Wouldn’t that be perfect if I just had a Christian employer?” But there’s a tension there as well. The attitude of a Christian employee who is sinful and fleshy and expressing a belligerent or disobedient spirit may come out in the sense that he feels equal to his employer and so he overrides the normal channels of authority. In other words, because my boss is a Christian and I’m a Christian, I’m privileged. As one employee said to me recently, “I don’t go with any of that protocol stuff. You know, I know the boss and he and I are close because we’re Christians. I go right to him and bypass everybody else.”

Well, your privilege, sir, is probably a serious discredit to the cause of Christ. Right? Because all the rest of the people who can’t do that resent you because of your openness and the inability that they have to enjoy that same thing. You can feel privileged over all the rest because you have this commonality in Christ. You could even feel that that’s an excuse for poor work and after all, you’re a brother in Christ. The worst he can do is come and give you step one discipline, and you’ve still got two to go. And if you repent on the first shot, you’re in.

You might even think to yourself, “That because we’re equal in Christ and because the Spirit dwells in me, I ought to tell him how he ought to run this company. The Holy Spirit’s been talking to me lately and giving me all the input.” Or you might even feel that you could get away with inadequate service without any negative consequence, or you might even feel that you can let your break time and your lunch time leak a little, because you’re studying the Bible, or even better yet listening to Grace to You, and it happen to go on a little past the end of your break time.

I mean, you understand the picture. Don’t you? I mean, let’s face it, in our sinfulness, working for an unsaved employer can create problems for us – an intolerant superiority. But listen, having a Christian employer isn’t going to necessarily change that, or a Christian boss or supervisor or manager, because there’s still going to be a tension there for us to assume that in Christ we have just destroyed all normal social order, and that’s not true.

That is what was happening in Ephesus:

Their ungodliness, their lack of eusebeia – uses that word a lot of times in these epistles – their lack of godliness, their lack of holiness, their lack of understanding correct doctrine, their lack of having been taught properly had filtered all the way down so that they were not conducting themselves right before their non-Christian or their Christian employers. And so consequently in these brief two verses the Apostle Paul sums up the basics of attitudes necessary for a conscientious Christian employee.

Today, in England, we have an estimated 5 million people out of work and on benefit. Supposedly, our population is 60 million, so that is a noticeable percentage of people being idle. Many of them got used to the pandemic furlough and realised they can get by on less, hence benefits.

We also have had endless strikes over the past year.

MacArthur takes issue with that, too:

As soon as you perceive your employment as self-serving, then you will fight against everything you do – everything you do will be self-serving, self-indulgence. That’s why people strike all the time. They don’t care about the employment situation from the viewpoint of the employer. They don’t certainly care about the attitude they project very often. All they care about is the demands that they have for themselves. Now there are times when inequities do occur and equity can be brought out even from the negative thing of a strike or whatever. But it does for the most part demonstrate the selfishness and the self-gratification mode in which most people work.

MacArthur reminds us of our obligation to work for a living — for the benefit of others:

You are called into your employment. And there you are called to serve men. You’re not called to serve yourself. Boy, we have lost that, as I said earlier. We think we have a job for one reason and that’s to make money to do what we want for our own selves. But the biblical approach to work would say, “No, we have a job on the human level to serve someone else. That my employment is my way of lovingly serving another person for the common good.”

God called us to work. Even when Adam and Eve were still in the Garden of Eden, God wanted Adam to work:

Just to set your thinking a little bit, in Genesis chapter 2 we read this in verse 15, “And the Lord God took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden to till it and to keep it.” The Fall of man didn’t come until chapter 3. In chapter 2, God designed man to work. Man was created to be a worker. He was created to work. Work is not part of the curse, sweat is part of the curse. It is the intensity of work necessary to earn the bread that implies the curse, but work is a blessing. Man was created to work.

In conclusion:

Your job is where God has placed you. That’s His will. Do it from your heart and do it unto Him. You’re serving men but in serving them best you serve God.

You always have to have that perspective. We’re advancing the kingdom. I’m here not to fulfill my own desires, not to make money, to indulge myself, not to get a bigger car, bigger house, bigger boat, more money, more savings, more security, whatever it is. My task in life is to serve the advance of the kingdom of God. So on my job I don’t lose my testimony in trying to get a raise, because my objective in life is not more money. My objective in life is to advance the kingdom of God so under no conditions would I ever lose my testimony. Right? …

Let me tell you something. When you go to receive your reward in glory, you will be rewarded not just for what you did at the church. I don’t think people understand thatthe Lord will reward you on the basis of how you perform that job within His will, because that is your calling and there’s no such thing as a secular job. That’s a sacred service offered to God. Your eternal reward will be related to your attitude and performance on your job. Does that frighten you? You say, “There go a few crowns.” I can understand that.

… You think you have to fill out job performance things for your boss, wait till you get to heaven. God is keeping account of your job performance. As I said at the very beginning, this is the most crucial arena in the world for Christianity to be lived out

You are serving others but only insofar as you’re serving God. It would be fair, I believe, and the Puritans used to do this, to begin to call your job your calling. And to begin to see your calling as your ministry. And to begin to approach it as the arena in which God has placed you for the advancement of His eternal kingdom and glory. Got that? Boy, that ought to give you a whole new shot when you hit the bricks tomorrow. It’s a whole different approach and I believe – I believe, beloved, with all my heart that if we began to live godly lives and work with an attitude and a diligence that the Lord is asking of us here, that we would begin to see a harvest of salvation among the people around us, because this is where Christianity becomes believable. How wonderful would be the benefit, and then in eternity that which the Lord has deemed to give to those faithful servants by way of reward, which we could enjoy cast back at His pierced feet, who has Himself by His Spirit energized any and every good thing we have ever done.

Wow. This is a message to be spread far and wide.

Paul goes on to discuss the false teachers in Ephesus one final time in 1 Timothy.

Next time — 1 Timothy 6:3-5

If there is anyone who indirectly deserves credit for attracting me to Britain, it is surely the society photographer Dafydd Jones.

One Sunday afternoon in the early 1980s, I was browsing the magazines at the international newsstand near where I lived and saw a copy of Tatler, a publication about which I read in my English Lit anthology in high school. Richard Steele founded it in 1709 as a high society gossip magazine. Columns went under the pseudonym byline of Isaac Bickerstaff, which is still in use today. The magazine ceased publication for some years before it was resurrected in 1901, a timely year as Edward VII was crowned in 1902, so there was a lot of society news to cover.

I thumbed through the society photos of young Britons at outrageous parties and had never seen anything like them. Having purchased a copy, Tatler became a monthly event for me, if only for the society pages. I had to be part of this party action. By the end of the decade, my prayers were answered and my dream came true.

When I moved to the UK, one of the first things I did once getting a permanent address was to subscribe to Tatler. Gradually, the society photos became less spontaneous and more staid. My focus turned to the articles, and it is still a pleasure to read 40 years later.

It was only in 2023 that I discovered the name of the photographer who captured that wonderful world of the 1980s: Dafydd Jones.

Langan Brasserie’s unofficial photographer Richard Young, whom I referenced yesterday in my piece about the restaurant, was of that world but not in it. So it was with Dafydd Jones, Oxford resident albeit not a university student.

On April 23, The Sunday Times Magazine gave us a sneak preview of Jones’s new book, England: The Last Hurrah, published by ACC Art Books (£30).

The article features some of his most outrageous classics. I would call readers’ attention to have a look, especially at the ones with the following captions:

Suspected under-the-table drinking at a ball at Grosvenor House, London, November 1982

The chocolate heir Cosmo Fry at a party for the Pirates of Penzance theatre production, London, May 1982 [with Annabel Harris, Tatler, May 2023, p. 39]

Champagne flowed, countless cigarettes were smoked, black ties and shoes came off in the early hours of the morning after.

I did go to a few parties like that in the early 1990s — nothing debauched. My far better half and I got back to our hotel in Cambridge no earlier than 3 a.m. on those occasions. Great fun they were, too, featuring amusing people with amusing stories to tell. We still meet up most years, but marriage, children and sometimes illness intervened. Things aren’t what they once were in our late 20s and early 30s.

The Sunday Times Magazine article says:

In 1981 Dafydd Jones’s pictures of decadence and debauchery at Oxford University won him second place in a photography competition run by this magazine. A job offer from Tina Brown — then the editor of Tatler magazine — soon followed, and Jones gained access to the riotous and rigidly exclusive social calendar of Britain’s upper crust.

Throughout the 1980s he attended debutantes’ dances and May balls, birthday parties and Eton picnics, capturing the “absurdities of upper-class English life”, as he writes in the introduction to a new book. Even at the time, Jones notes, the high-society revelry he witnessed felt out of date — like an “imaginary version of England which no longer really existed.”

Yet, it really existed — week after week, month after month, year after year — for one blissful decade. And Dafydd Jones was part of it all.

And so were Tatler readers, among them myself, living an ocean away, dreaming of parties galore.

At a rather auspicious time, in post-lockdown October 2020, the lowkey photographer wrote an article for Tatler, Oxford: The Last Hurrah Special Edition by photographer Dafydd Jones’, for his book about his amazing candid shots from then-University students, some of which the magazine featured. One of them is of Boris Johnson on a night out with Allegra Mostyn-Owen, the woman who would become his first wife.

Jones explained how he got his start as a society photographer (emphases mine):

After the drab seventies, things were changing in Oxford, and students – some with well-known establishment names – were dressing up for extravagant parties. In 1980, I was living there too. I had a degree in fine art and wanted to be a photographer – my chance came with a competition run by The Sunday Times Magazine. My assignment: to cover ‘The Return of the Bright Young Things’. I badgered my way into the parties and tried my best to simply capture what was actually happening. There was this wonderful youthful excitement thrumming through the colleges. I would feel high from the general euphoria, even without drinking much. When the pictures were published, the issue caused a small sensation, and soon invitations to photograph other Oxford parties came flooding in.

I loved Oxford: the light, the buildings, the early morning mist. (For May balls I would usually skip the all-night partying and arrive at dawn to catch the dreamy-eyed survivors.) I photographed the May Morning celebrations, tea parties, balls and Eights Week. But Oxford had a dark side, too. Tragically, two of the people in my images, Olivia Channon and Gottfried von Bismarck, died from drug overdoses. My shots caught the attention of Tina Brown, then editor of Tatler. She hired me as the Bystander photographer and I moved to London.

Jones had already published a book of his incomparable photographs:

Now, after the success of the first, I have had a second edition printed, and from the new edition, I am releasing a special collectors’ set of 60 copies. I normally make a few test strips of the most important area in the image. When I have it right I then make the final print. Often a few hours work in the darkroom will only result in one or two final prints. The book was made from an edit of the prints I made for the Bodleian Library.

The book is — or was — available from ACC Art Books for £100, including shipping. All funds received (excluding shipping) went to the Trussell Trust, a charity that supports a network of food banks in the UK to provide emergency food and support to people in crisis.

Oxford University has a few elite private ‘societies’, one of which is named after the alleged ‘favourite’ of England’s Edward II, Piers Gaveston, the 1st Earl of Cornwall. As the Piers Gaveston Society was founded in 1977, it appears the name could be for shock value only, as their events after 1990 appear to be rather staid. That said, whatever goes on there, stays there — much like in Las Vegas. Membership is still limited to ten undergraduates who have to sign non-disclosure agreements. No phones of any kind are allowed.

The Piers Gaveston Society rose to national prominence in 1983, probably thanks to Dafydd Jones, who wrote a brief explanation for Country & Town House in 2020, around the time his photographic memoir about Oxford University appeared. He explains the photograph that was published and appears in the article:

My career began with some pictures I did of the Piers Gaveston club in Oxford. I lived around the corner from where several members lived in Norreys Avenue. I covered informal meetings, dinners, drinks parties. This … was a Piers Gaveston Ball I photographed, held in London at the Park Lane Hotel. The dress code was ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’ after the painting by Hieronymus Bosch. It went on from about 10 pm until 3 am. Many men were dressed as women. The women were mostly scantily dressed. Many friends were there and I spent a lot of time chatting, but also there was a lot to photograph. Memorably, I used up 24 rolls of film – a record for me. I was an early fan of Hugh Grant. At the time he’d only appeared in an undergraduate film set in Oxford. Marina Killery was a hat maker and artist. Lulu was already married to Valentine Guinness, one of the founders of the club. Lord Neidpath is wearing a dress and on his other side is Catherine Guinness, who’d returned from a spell in New York where she was part of the Warhol circle.

The excitement of the decade can be corroborated by Petronella Wyatt who also penned a brief piece for the article. She was up at Oxford University for a brief spell before she got fed up. Her father was the late, famous Woodrow ‘Voice of Reason’ Wyatt, the most conservative Labour MP ever elected and, later, political columnist for the now-defunct News of the World. He was made a Knight in 1983 and a life peer in 1987, Baron Wyatt of Weeford, the place in Staffordshire where his family lived in the 17th century. Wyatt died in 1997 at the age of 79. Petronella was the issue of his fourth marriage to a Hungarian lady, Verushka Banszky von Ambroz (née Racz).

Petronella, following up in her father’s footsteps, was also a journalist, and, when she was at The Spectator, had a close friendship with the aforementioned Boris Johnson, the magazine’s editor, later Prime Minister.

Petronella told Country & Town House of her time at West Wycombe Park in the Home Counties, just outside London. Again, this was in the 1980s:

When I was 18 I was invited to a costume ball at West Wycombe Park by its wonderfully eccentric and charming owner, Sir Francis Dashwood. Like his 18th century ancestor, a founding member of the Hellfire Club, Francis was adept at the art of hedonism. The gathering was large but select: royals, politicians, grandees, writers and other luminaries. Oriental tents were erected on the grounds, overlooking lakes with temples on which ballerinas and singers performed. As the stars got brighter a gondola glided into the central lake. Its occupant was Pavarotti, who sang to us. Afterwards there was a great firework display accompanied by a full orchestra. I was drunk on beauty. I will never forget it as long as I live and I shall never see its like again.

What few people mention is that West Wycombe Park has a magnificent family chapel, featured in Tatler‘s April 2023 issue as being the best of its kind in the UK. Victoria Dashwood got married there recently to the heir of Tyrell’s crisps, James Chase. As with the Piers Gaveston Society, the Hellfire Club is probably not all it is cracked up to be.

But I digress.

Returning to Dafydd Jones, in brief autobiographical excerpts from a 2007 interview for the Centre for British Photography, he charted his rise from being a local Oxford photographer to one of high society.

In the beginning:

I went to art school. After leaving I managed to get a job at Butlins holiday camp as a ‘colour walkie’ photographer. When I finished the season it was impossible to get any sort of job – I’d saved up enough at Butlins to buy some camera equipment. Some art school friends were setting up a cheap shared studio space in Jericho in Oxford. I took a space planning on doing photographic black and white portraits. At the same time I was shortlisted for a photography competition for photojournalists the Sunday Times were running.– One of the subjects for a photo essay was – The Return of the Bright Young Things’- Living in Oxford already I was in the right place.

As I mentioned earlier, Britain was undergoing social change — a bright one for the time:

After I began this project I decided that I wasn’t sure if the ‘Bright Young Things’ actually existed but that there was definitely a change going on at Oxford. It was the first time I’d photographed parties. – I tried to take photographs that recorded the memorable moments and described what was happening. I tried doing a few colour pictures but black and white spoke much more strongly. Also my budget was low. I bought a bulk roll of black and white film. Developed and printed them in my darkroom. – I didn’t win the competition I was a runner-up. The judges described my pictures as being more ‘pointed than the winners.’ The magazine issue caused a small sensation at the time. – My work attracted the attention of Tina Brown who at the time was an up an coming editor on the Tatler.

I thought it was a fantastic opportunity to photograph these parties. I had access to what felt like a secret world. It was a subject that had been written about and dramatised but I don’t think any photographers had ever tackled before. There was a change going on. Someone described it as a ‘last hurrah’ of the upper classes.

It was only a ‘last hurrah’ in the sense that Jones was the first and last photographer of the upper classes’ kind. He was truly remarkable in capturing the moment. A photo speaks a thousand words. Jones’s were proof of that.

Jones worked under two of Tatler‘s most famous editors, Tina Brown, who went to edit The New Yorker, and Mark Boxer, who died before his time. Later on, Jones photographed for another of Tatler‘s editors, Jane Proctor. In between, he moved his wife and two children to New York so that he could work for Vanity Fair, when Graydon Carter edited the magazine:

I have been very lucky to work with editors, art directors and picture editors that have encouraged me and used the pictures well. Tina Brown, Mark Boxer, Graydon Carter, Jane Procter, etc.

He discussed Tina Brown, one of the toughest editors in the business:

The first time we met Tina Brown I was surprised at her bluntness. She would speak her mind. She was always on the lookout for new talent. – She gave the impression she’d drop you if she found someone whose work she preferred.

Brown catapulted Tatler to a new-found success outside the high society world. Readers were captivated, as they were with her successor Mark Boxer. The society pages were still known by their original name, Bystander, at the time:

When Mark Boxer became editor at the Tatler the magazine had a golden period. It was the best magazine I’ve worked for – with fashion by Joe Mckenna, Isabella Blow and Michael Roberts. – Spoofs by Craig Brown and brilliant writing and photography. But Mark tragically died. Emma Soames became editor but she had a difficult job following Mark. I wasn’t sure how much she ‘got’ my pictures. The party coverage could be cruel if the pictures were used in the wrong way. Then there was a recession on the horizon. Someone mentioned introducing colour photography to Bystander and having more flattering pictures of smiling faces. At that point I decided to go to New York ask Tina about an offer she’d made a few years earlier.

On May 3, 2023, Tina Brown wrote an article for The New Yorker about Jones, including more of his iconic photos:

Blizzard Ball. London, 1986.

Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth II at a Guards Polo Club match. Windsor, 1985.

Margaret Thatcher arriving at the Winter Ball. Grosvenor House, London, 1984.

Feathers Ball. Hammersmith Palais, London, 1981.

Lady Diana Spencer at Sandown Park. Esher, 1981.

Feathers Ball. Hammersmith Palais, London, 1981.

David Kirke, Tim Hunt, Nicky Slade, and Lord Xan Rufus-Isaacs ride a dining table in the Dangerous Sports Club ski race. St. Moritz, Switzerland, 1983.

In ‘The Photographer Who Captured England’s Last Hurrah’, Brown tells us:

When I took over the editorship of Tatler (the old social flagship of the British upper classes that once had loitered on every coffee table of every stately home in England) in June, 1979, it had declined into a threadbare shiny sheet with staples through it trying to masquerade as an upmarket magazine …

Then again, it had been a weekly, not a glossy monthly.

At that time, Langan’s Brasserie photographer Richard Young was getting his restaurant photos published in RITZ magazine:

The Tatler photos were the polar opposite of what had begun to make a splash in RITZ, the raffish social newspaper of the late nineteen-seventies that was modelled on Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine. Edited by the late David Litchfield, a former filmmaker, RITZ offered a parallel social world of louche café society, specializing in “candids”

Let’s not forget television shows, either:

By the early eighties, the ruling class had its confidence back, but there was also—as the harshness of the Thatcher years played out—a nostalgia for the “Brideshead Revisited” era of aristocratic whimsy and frolicky romance. (The BBC TV adaptation of “Brideshead” ruled the airwaves in 1981.) The pages of Tatler needed to reflect all these crosscurrents, the emerging social edge, the high-low social mix, the secret excesses that still existed behind the closed doors of the great houses of England, and it needed to be chronicled with a cleverly irreverent point of view.

Brown says that Tatler‘s photos of aristocratic parties were staid, as the ageing photographers relied on invitations to various events. As such, spontaneity was lacking. Enter one Dafydd Jones, who was of a similar age to the Bright Young Things he was photographing for The Sunday Times contest:

The series by the runner-up, one Dafydd Jones, immediately caught my eye with its stark black-and-white definition and the sheer effervescent brio of its depiction of oblivious aristocratic bad behavior—photographic moments as memorable as Evelyn Waugh’s sentences.

In 1981, Lady Diana Spencer was increasingly sought before her marriage to the then-Prince of Wales. The future princess was often snapped walking alone. Tina Brown sent Dafydd Jones out to photograph Britain’s biggest media sensation until her death at the end of August 1997.

In a May 16, 2023 Country & Town House podcast interview with Oxford grads Ed Vaizey — former Conservative MP, now Lord Vaizey — and Charlotte Metcalf, who was a friend of the University’s Dangerous Sports Club, Jones explained how he was able to get the now-famous photo of Lady Diana at the Sandown Races in Esher, Surrey. The page also has a recent photo of Jones today.

Jones says that he felt dissuaded because he did not have a press pass to enter Sandown. A seasoned veteran told him that he needed only to buy a ticket to the day’s racing and he would be admitted, no questions asked. Jones always travelled lightly, with only his camera and its small case. As such, nothing gave him away. By contrast, press photographers stood outside Sandown’s gates with long lenses. Jones described them as getting a ‘bird’s eye view’, whereas he got a close up.

Amazingly, he was able to snap Diana walking alone against a backdrop of hundreds of spectators waiting for the race to begin. Tina Brown’s article says:

I assigned Dafydd to follow the then Lady Diana Spencer when she attended the race meet at Sandown Park in March, 1981. He shot her in black and white, eyes down, running the gantlet of hungry paparazzi whose lenses were all trained in her direction. We used it as a double-page spread beneath the headline “Di, Di, over Here Di, Di . . .” It became the classic, early image of a hunted future princess.

It was reprinted many times in the years that followed, including into a double-page spread.

The fulfillment of that assignment signed the deal for Jones and Tatler. Tina Brown fills us in on his origins and his demeanour:

I asked Dafydd to bring his portfolio into Tatler’s old headquarters on Bruton Street, and resolved there and then to make him our party photographer. He was a strikingly elfin presence, so young, so hesitant, so unassuming. His own humble origins, including attending a state-run school in Oxford and making extra money as a campus cleaner, were the perfect townie vantage point from which to view the privileged antics of the Oxford jeunesse dorée. Throughout the next eight years, his pictures became the defining images of the new Tatler, reflecting more pointedly than all our glossy competitors the inimitable look and feel of a strata of society at play. Because he was so understated, he was able to be invisible. Because he always knew what he was looking for, he was usually the last to leave, producing wonderful motifs of sleeping young beauties with their long, lissome legs sprawled on padded banquettes with their entwined dance partners, or lolling with a friend on a summer lawn at the end of the revelry. Unusually for an outsider who penetrates the inner circles, Dafydd was never co-opted by the world he covered.

Jones has a collection of photographs of sleeping beauties on his website. He took these between 1980 and 1987, noting his mixed emotions about them:

Sometimes the party just goes on too longAfter doing these pictures I worked in the U.S. and travelled around Europe photographing social events for several years. I didn’t ever see anyone falling asleep at a party anywhere else. Some perhaps are passed out rather than sleeping. There is something more peaceful about just sleeping at a party. These were the pictures I really liked. It takes confidence to go to sleep at a party but seen together the pictures give an impression of a society in decline

He referenced these in his podcast with Lord Vaizey and Charlotte Metcalf, again musing that they are perhaps a sign of a declining society. Then again, he and his family moved to the United States afterwards. Lord Vaizey said that Americans drink much less that Britons do, hence their ability to stay awake.

Metcalf says that she was friends with members of Oxford University’s Dangerous Sports Club and described their bungee jumping off the Severn Bridge, which links England and Wales. Even Jones found that a daunting tale, especially when Metcalf talked about the police arriving just when the participating members were suspended over the water, with no escape. She was in charge of the getaway car.

Speaking of the Dangerous Sports Club, a photo of which is in The New Yorker, Jones said he was deeply disappointed to see it ripped off for something else. He consulted his lawyer, who said there was nothing that could be done. There was no protection for his original intellectual property which had been recreated.

When photographing big events, Jones had to dress up in a dinner jacket and black tie. Upon returning home to his wife and two children, he reeked of cigarette smoke. He regularly took off his DJ and draped it over a chair in the back garden to air out for the next event. In his podcast with Vaizey and Metcalf, he says that it was one of his son’s enduring memories.

Also in the podcast, Jones says that he thought he was going to get punched out by a young Scottish party host who asked him why he hadn’t been photographed. Jones managed to smooth everything over, but it was a tense moment nonetheless.

Jones had more stories to tell, including another of his first assignments at the Aspinall nature reserve at Port Lympne in Kent. John Aspinall was throwing a 21st birthday part for his daughter Amanda. At the time, Tatler was not invited to cover those private parties. Jones went by himself and stood in the rain, photographing cars arriving and leaving several hours later. He told Vaizey and Metcalf that he liked the raindrops on the camera lens and on the cars. He hadn’t arrived by car himself, so he was stranded. Early in the morning after the party, a car stopped and the driver asked him if he needed a lift. The offer came from a member of the Cecil family, one of the oldest and best known in England. Jones duly accepted. From there, more party invitations followed.

In May 2023’s Tatler, Jones wrote about his experiences in ‘”Mind if I crash?” My 40 years as Tatler‘s party snapper’ (pp 36-38). His more recent photographs can be found in ‘Screen Time’, a collection of celebs looking into their mobile phones. Not a patch on the 1980s, but still relevant.

He says that he had help once he joined the magazine. To begin with, Tina Brown’s assistant spread the word (p. 36):

Gabé Doppelt tirelessly sent out requests, describing me as ‘almost invisible’. Initially, only one positive reply came back, for a 21st birthday near Bristol. My future father-in-law was a retired brigadier, so I asked him how I could photogaph a Sandhurst ball. ‘Write to the adjutant,’ he instructed, so we did. ‘Oh, yes, came back the reply, adding: ‘The Tatler last photographed one of our balls in 1966. We have some pictures up in the mess’

Among the smattering of young Etonians at Tatler there was an older figure: Peter Townend. He was well versed in the debutante season and lived for socialising. He asked mothers if I could photograph their parties, and some agreed. That’s how I got a picture of a debutante being pushed into a lily pond. Now there’s something almost revolutionary about it — out with the old.

The Season revolved around the Royal Family, who (p. 38):

would follow the same routine every year … The clubs and enclosures were designed to keep people out. To be admitted to the Royal Enclosure at Ascot, you needed two letters of recommendation from members who had themselves attended for at least five years.

After a while, he says:

It was a bizarre job … But readers were noticing the party pictures, and partygoers had the confidence to laugh at themselves … I was eventually given a company Mini.

Even though he still experiences a bit of conflict about his photographic subject matter, Jones says:

People might think I’d tire of the endless parties, but the social whirl is a circus — and that still excites me to this day.

His most recent collection of photographs, England: The Last Hurrah, is avalable from ACC Art Books for £30.

Dafydd Jones’s wife and two children have all pursued occupations in the visual arts.

In closing, I am delighted to finally find out who took all the marvellous photographs chronicling Britain’s high society in the 1980s.

For his innate art for capturing spontaneity, there is no better photographer than Dafydd Jones. We will never see his like again.

An exhibition of Dafydd’s photographs is now running at The Centre for British Photography on 49 Jermyn Street, London until the beginning of June.

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