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Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Queen Focuses on Fashion - Excerpt from New Story by Jake Gariepy


“Mummy!  Granny has curtains just like her dress!”
The little girl couldn’t have been more than five, and she’d done a commendable job of presenting her little bouquet to the Queen.  Smiling as the child walked back to her mother, the Queen couldn’t help but overhear the girl’s comment.
Now, as she looked back over the day in Coventry from the comfort of her sitting room in Buckingham Palace, the monarch pondered her wardrobe choice for a moment.  She thought of the lovely silk dress, with splotchy flowers in violet, magenta, yellow, spring green and orange.  Really, it was colorful, and no one could possibly miss her diminutive form in a crowd.  And wasn’t that what being the Queen was all about?  Being seen?  “Silly child,” thought the Queen.
The next morning as she was prepared for the day, Elizabeth asked her dresser to bring out something new, something a bit more “fashionable”.  Caroline was at a loss.  The Queen’s style had evolved into an even more rigid pattern of simple dresses in rather shocking fabrics.  Her Majesty’s figure had also changed somewhat.  It was a bit fuller than it had been, leading her to sometimes appear more upholstered than dressed.  It was not that she looked badly, in fact she was the world’s idea of what “the Queen” should look like, but it was hard to find anything that one could term “fashionable” in the royal wardrobes.
“Did you see Dame Shirley Bassey’s hair at the last Royal Variety Performance?  I thought it was rather nice…  for her, I mean.   And that dress!  It was quite low-cut.  Lots of beads and sparkly bits.  Rather like Norman used to make.”
The Queen was referring to her late couturier, Norman Hartnell.  A man known for elaborate, and costly, beading on his fabulous ballgowns.  Shirley Bassey’s gown was certainly sparkly, but bore little resemblance to anything that Norman had ever made for the Queen.
“You know, she’s in her late sixties now.  I think she’s been at every Royal Variety Performance for the last forty years.  Maybe longer.  I certainly do like her better than some of the new ones.  I don’t quite understand that girl, what was her name?  Lady Goo Ga?  Does her father have a peerage or something?”
“Lady Ga Ga, your majesty.  I don’t believe that her father has a peerage.  She’s an American.  Sings or something.”
“Mmm.  American.  Of course.  Did you see her in that dress?  It looked like it was made of a deflated, red balloon.  I’m sure it squeaked as she curtsied.  Those American singers certainly do dress oddly.  Barbra Streisand in that long silver cloak.  Had the fabric been different she really would have looked rather a lot like Philip’s mother when she was a nun.”
“Yes, ma’am.  I remember when Cher performed once.  She was only wearing some sort of thin leather strap that barely covered her…  er…  that barely covered her person.  I think there was a feather, too.”
“Caroline, I quite remember.  That was the year Andrew came along for the first time.  I am sure that had something to do with his penchant for rather unsuitable female companionship.”
The Queen frequently spoke of her favorite son.  The most robust of the boys, Andrew treated his mother with a sort of boisterous respect.  Charles was forever moping, those droopy eyes and constant complaints about how, ‘Mummy never did this, Papa never did that.”  What did he really expect?  She always read those lovely books about horses and corgis to him, and she would watch the racing results with him whenever she was able.  And Philip had done his best as a father.  He didn’t really yell all that much, and the boy was so tiresome talking to those plants and things.  Charles could never seem to forgive his father for the cold showers he had to endure at Gordonstoun.  Imagine how much better things would have been had he taken a few more cold showers rather than meeting up with that dreadful Mrs. Parker-Bowles.  She had to remind herself to think of her daughter-in-law as anything else.  Diana had been just as tiresome as Charles, but at least she didn’t look like a bulldog in a big hat.  Of course, she was quite fond of the Duchess of Cornwall now that she’d got to know her.  But what a lot of trouble the 1990’s were!  More of a “decade horribilus” if she was being honest.
Anne was a dutiful daughter, and a great support, but she was so forceful.  The Queen didn’t like the way she barked back at the corgis, or the somewhat too strident way she spoke to the staff.  She also wondered at her fashion sense, ironic really, but there you have it.  She might have worn the same dress she wore to Charles and Diana’s wedding to Charles and Camilla’s had Philip not pointed out the error, if that’s what it was.  Anne never really did like any of Charles’s women.
Edward.  Well, poor Eddie.  She really should have known better than to give him that name.  Her ancestor, the Duke of Clarence was also known as Eddy, and he had his own problems.  Some suspected him of being Jack the Ripper.  Her own Eddie didn’t have such serious issues, but she never understood why he was always trying on her tiaras as a child.  Even now he seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time modeling his wife’s hats.  But, he had those two lovely children and that charming Sophie.  If only she would stop trying to sell invitations to the Garden Parties and State Dinners.
“Ah, well, this will have to do, Caroline.  At least it’s new, if not exactly modern.”
Considering her reflection in the mirror, the Queen seemed resigned to her appearance.  At least she was living up to people’s expectations, but it would be rather fun to surprise people after all these years.  She remembered looking at her late and much beloved mother’s wardrobe after her death.  Every dress was exactly the same, as were the hats, shoes and coats.  The only difference was the fabric and the color.  Was she becoming like that?

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