Visiting the Queen

When the Queen is away from London in the summer, she opens the state rooms of Buckingham Palace to the public.  Of course, Buckingham Palace is much more recent than Elizabeth’s day, but it’s one of the very few working palaces left in the world, so it was a fascinating glimpse into that world. I am sure the formality must have increased a great deal since Tudor times.  In the dining room, the polished table can seat around 40, and there are rulers to mark off precisely the spacing between place settings, and all the things within the place setting—the outer knives and forks, and so on.  I can’t imagine an Elizabethan table, even a state one, set to such protocol.  Portraits of ancestors—most of them life sized—loomed on the walls.  In some ways it must be a crushing burden.  Or do you just get used to it?  Or, even, learn to ignore it?

The build up of layers of perfection, protocol, and preciseness must imbue the eventual encounter with Her Majesty almost overwhelming, which is, presumably, the point.  Yet, like Elizabeth the First, this Elizabeth is also known for being good at chatting with people and for a common touch.  However, her ‘handlers’ probably don’t let her out as much as Elizabeth Tudor.

2 thoughts on “Visiting the Queen”

  1. Hello to you, Margaret,

    First I would like to say how surprising it is to me that you ended up settling in Madison, WI. You must like it to have lived there for 30 years and I wondered what your favorite things are about this area?

    I have read most of your books. My favorite is Mary, Queen of Scotts, etc. It was to me your most exciting, adventurous, romantic book, and rich with historical detail and fantasy. You make history so interesting and after reading your Cleopatra, I am currently reading Imperium by Robert Harris, about Cicero. It is a much drier type of book than any of yours, but then, I usually like female authors much better, as their interests are usually akin to mine.Still, I am plowing through his. I really loved his Pompeii and wondered if you have read it.

    I must say that I am in awe of a person like you who has experienced a life so adventurous and also intellectual. Your talent is mind-boggling, and yet the place where you were born seems to be an area that one would not expect your interests to survive. But then, you are a product of parents who produced a flower that would grow anywhere!..
    To go on a tour with someone of your background would be the dream of my 72 year non-adventurous liftime.Then I could die with happy memories of my one great adventure when the the time comes.

    I hope to hear if you are indeed going to have a real tour, and also I would like to know what your next book will be about. My Kindle is saving a big space for you, my favorite author.

    Much affection,

    Madeline Solk
    Los Angeles, CA

  2. Thank you, Madeline. Let me answer a few of your questions here.

    Madison—there are some very nice things about it—midwestern values, easy to get around in, big university with great resources. The winter I could do without!

    I started reading Cicero but found the details of the politics boring (ours are bad enough now and we are actually living in the same time so they matter) so I didn’t finish it. I did read Pompeii which I thought was much better.

    I’m not sure what you mean about ‘the place where I was born.’ The south has brought forth a disproportionate number of American writers, I’m not sure exactly why.

    Yes, it looks like there will be a book/Tudor tour next fall. I will post the announcement about it on my website and Facebook after the details are finalized. You are welcome aboard!

    My next project is Nero.

    Best wishes,

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