What princes can learn from frogs

The last time I wrote on this subject I was called bitchy by someone I like and admire so I’m treading carefully today. I’m referring to the current soap opera that I follow with fascination – no, not the busty beautiful Armenian family who seem to rivet the States, but a family nearer home (mine!)

The arguments for a republic versus a monarchy are not my domain, but in passing I’d say: do the third of the world’s population who belong to the Commonwealth and accept Elizabeth Windsor as their Queen, really want to swap this benign system for one in which their country is both ruled and represented by a Macron or a Sarkosy, or going further afield, a Berlusconi or a Putin? (I’m sticking resolutely to Europe for these comparisons rather than looking across the Atlantic to another controversial power situation.)

A minor point would be the sheer expense of changing all the millions of letterheads and signs, from the Royal Mail, to Her Majesty’s forces, even to a commission to serve in the army – I still treasure the wording on mine: “To my trusty and well-beloved”..
So I dip my toe very cautiously into the waters of controversy that I’m probably about to stir up as fiercely as they’ve already been muddied. I have both questions which will never be answered, and thoughts which may well be labelled bitchy again!
The world-wide airing of family linen by a woke American TV hostess provoked many of these thoughts, one of which was why didn’t the aggrieved pair who did the shaming and blaming to the whole world, just talk it over with their family?

It’s fascinating to analyse many of the extraordinary statements made, so many of which turned out to be untrue. The first of which was the smiling bombshell dropped, that the happy couple had had a private and secret ceremony three days before their wedding – that splendid ceremonial ritual for which the Royal family and the British taxpayer paid millions.

It felt as though Harry’s wife was implying that the spectacle was just for the peasants, but the real thing was their private ceremony, saying they “called up the Archbishop”, conjuring up a picture of the Primate of all England picking up his cassock and scurrying over to their garden for this touching little ceremony. ‘We have the certificate framed and hung on our wall’, she informed her gullible interviewer.

Well, I’d like to see a picture of this  document in its frame, hanging on a wall in California. The Archbishop, interviewed in an Italian magazine, has said that to have conducted such a misleading ceremony without all the required provisos of witnesses,  certificates, and legal processes would be “to have committed a serious criminal offence”.
So we can all breathe easy, the wedding which millions of people watched with such hope in their hearts Was the real thing, not the sham that Harry’s wife was suggesting. So we were not hood-winked after all. But why did she want to hoodwink us? Did she want us to feel she was too grand to share her vows with the public and family who were paying for it?

Then there was the brushing away of the question from Oprah that perhaps the new arrival had been welcomed into the family, showing a picture of Catherine and her sister taking Meghan to Wimbledon. ‘Things aren’t always how they look’, said Meghan evasively. No wonder she was evasive. That picture had been taken the day after Meghan had turfed forty tennis lovers out of the seats they had paid for, so she could sit with two friends in grand and conspicuous splendour uncontaminated by the great unwashed. She had sent her security men to forbid two other tennis fans from taking pics of her, the only problem being that one, a former Wimbledon player, was taking a selfie with Roger Federer, as was the elderly immigrant of many years attendance at the matches.

The next day, Catherine mounted a rescue operation to try to save Meghan’s face. She roped her sister Pippa in, to make it look like a casual girls afternoon  together, and they sat among the crowd, Catherine and her sister observing the Wimbledon requirements to dress up, while Meghan just wore a casual shirt and skirt.

Similarly at their very last engagement in the UK, the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, when everyone is asked to wear red, white or blue, Harry’s wife ignored the convention, and wore the Kermit green outfit which has since become such a talking point. And strangely all through the service, where the camera focused on the faces of the Royal family listening solemnly and sombrely to the sermon and the service, Meghan is smiling brightly and inappropriately all the way through… why, I wonder?

There hasn’t been much attention paid to one of the reasons Meghan was accused of bullying, but I find it fascinating. Apparently when Harry had a shooting party at Sandringham for his friends, Meghan had ordered red blankets for each of the guests. The staff got the wrong red, according to statements made about bullying. But why Was Meghan doling out red blankets? Was there not enough bedding in the bedrooms at Sandringham where generations of Royal family had slept? Or did she feel that the decor was so fusty or whatever, that she’d improve it with red blankets?  Either way it was a subtle criticism of the Queen’s home, and  disrespect for the generous grandmother who had lent it to her grandson.

And talking of Sandringham, one of the public criticisms of the “family Meghan had never had” in Harry’s words, was that the couple felt  unwelcomed. Yet they turned down invitations to spend Christmas at Sandringham with the whole family, and refused to go to Balmoral for the traditional summer holiday with everyone in the family. Instead, Meghan flew to New York for the weekend to watch her friend Serena play tennis.

The Queen bent every rule she had applied to other engaged members of the family and included Meghan and her mother at traditional family gatherings, including the big Christmas lunch at Buckingham Palace for cousins and more distant family members. The public airing of so many petty grievances, imaginary slights, exaggerated claims and outright untruths was a strange decision for a couple who had said they were leaving their duties and their family in order to enjoy privacy in California.

These and many other thoughts filter through my mind as I watch the soap opera which continues to play out. The dignity and sadness of Prince Phillip’s passing is once again being muddied by Sussex decisions – the day after he returned to the US, Harry driving ninety two miles to lunch with an elderly Californian billionaire on his just bereaved grandmother’s birthday, and the re-issuing of the infamous tell- all ‘Finding Freedom’, which will now include the Oprah Winfrey accusations, and all the angst and arrows directed at the Royal family and the British public with which the alienated pair have so freely wounded them.

In a recent blog I used the headline ‘Truth Matters’, and to see how destructive it has been to watch two people give ‘their truth’ in order to have revenge ( what for) or to justify walking away from commitments and responsibilities has been deeply saddening.  The self-serving attempts by privileged adults to undermine the reputations of well meaning people, trying to trash and dis-respect an ancient institution, and bad mouthing a whole country and it’s customs are neither kind, nor compassionate or any of the things this woke couple keep preaching about.

Such ingratitude was all the more surprising from a couple who had enjoyed privileges, palaces, and private jets, couture clothes and continual luxury holidays, while the people they patronisingly lectured about saving the planet, got on with the daily drudgery of earning just enough money to survive. Meghan complained that she was only surviving but not flourishing – yet this is the fate of many others too.

In fact, Prince Harry and his wife are a constant reminder to me how imperfect I am as a human being because they evoke in me such enjoyment of schadenfreude. As so many people have commented, it’s like watching a train crash, but sadly as in any train crash, there’s a lot of damage. Maybe the lesson the terrible two are teaching me is the necessity of integrity, and the value of non-judgement.

And as Marcus Aurelius said nearly two thousand years ago: “When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own – not of the same blood and birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine…”

While the pain of Harry and Meghan’s attacks on family and country was unfolding, his ninety-nine year old grandfather died. The world has learned from all his eulogies what a magnificent life he lived, full of good deeds, duty, and devotion to his wife, family and country.

I wrote to a friend in the US:
“Have been feeling rather sad today about the death of Prince Philip, a much maligned man, especially in the nefarious and destructive Netflix episodes. He was a fine man, and I was fascinated to learn that among the two thousand books in his own library, were 650 books on birds, an amazing five hundred on religion, several hundred on horses, and over two hundred poetry books. He was also a talented painter, an interesting, clever and kindly man, very good to Diana, much underrated and un-appreciated… married to the Queen for 73 years, and loyal and faithful, in spite of all the untrue nasty gossip hawked around by Netflix et al. RIP”

And I shared a moment which was so typical of him… my daughter’s godmother, who in her retirement was a guide at St George’s Windsor, had sent my daughter a silver chain and pilgrim medallion struck to mark some historic anniversary.  She wore it to receive her Duke of Edinburgh Gold Medal from Prince Philip at Government House in Wellington. He immediately noticed her chain and talked to her about it, having recognised it was a St George’s souvenir… how many men, in all that crowd, would have noticed and recognised what one of the teenagers was wearing?

duke.jpgThe photo of the Duke which I placed here,, of the Duke examining the medallion keeps disappearing on reader’s blogs… no doubt I will understand the arcane ways of WordPress one day.

I met him at a function on their Jubilee tour, he was a gorgeous man, and so relaxed and friendly. I told him I worked from home, and he agreed that it was a great system, saying he too worked above the shop!!!

And I loved this story from my oldest friend, from when we were both twenty. She wrote to me:
“I must admit to quite a few tears, it is so sad, he was an amazing man, now at last the public will find out his true  value.My father took a polo team to Windsor one year, calling themselves ‘Low arrow cottage!’ They were four middle aged men who loved their hunting and their horses and enjoyed their polo, although not that good! They joined the tournament, and  one of their number got injured, Prince Philip strolled over to my father and said , “I see you are a man down, would you like me to play for you?” Which he did, until they got knocked out, how kind  was that !”

You see, Harry and Meghan, as Kermit the Frog once said, “It’s nice to be important but it’s important to be nice.”

Food for Threadbare Gourmets

What no recipe, several readers queried after my last blog! That was some time ago, as my computer collapsed, taking everything with it, and I’m still gathering the lost chords, including my blog, addresses, and all the other blogs I used to read…
However, I have still been eating, and here is a dish I gave to my vegan granddaughter, which I also enjoy.
Take a cup or so of green puys lentils, pour two cups of vegetable stock over them ( I use chicken stock if I’m cooking these for myself ) and start them boiling. Meanwhile, in a tablespoon of good olive oil, saute half an onion, a carrot and a courgette, chopped very small, and add two bay leaves, garlic and thyme to taste. Tip them into the lentils, add some tomato puree or a dollop of soya sauce, and cook till the lentils are soft but not mushy, adding more liquid if necessary. I serve these with salmon, or grilled sausages, and even enjoy them on their own, with a sprinkling of extra olive oil on top… almost calorie -free good protein …

Food for Thought

Life isn’t a matter of milestones, but of moments. Rose Kennedy

Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country. Rose’s son

Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future. Him again.


Filed under cookery/recipes, kate and pippa middleton, Queen Elizabeth, Royals, Uncategorized

18 responses to “What princes can learn from frogs

  1. Well said Valerie
    Not at all bitchy, just well observed.
    I see that marriage ending in tears and he would be well shot of her.
    There is a old saying I recall from my army days “ when you have them by the balls, their hearts and minds follow” at some point she will let go and his mind will clear! One can hope.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you David, so good to hear from you, and to have your sage observations and support ! Hope all is well with you, Valerie

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Welcome back and deep sympathy for the computer meltdown and subsequent losses.

    I second David – this isn’t bitchy and it is well observed.

    Like you I’ve wondered why they didn’t discuss their grievances with the family.

    Why lie about a secret wedding, and if that and other bits of ‘their truth’ have been found to be untrue, how much is true?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So good to hear from you Ele, and thank you for your sympathy over my computer disaster!
    I agree with you, how much is true… very little I think… I could have quoted a dozen instances where facts have been distorted and misinterpreted to fit their ‘truth’ . .
    And the continued drip feed of negative stuff about the Royal family by her/their mouthpieces is so destructive of any trust in their goodwill or integrity.
    It’s also weird how every time Catherine releases a pic of her children or is photographed, there is immediately a pic and story about Meghan planted by her people to top off the in-offensive Catherine… ah well, folks is strange !!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Angela Ogden

    Valerie!!!! Wonderful to see your blog again – have missed your wise pronouncements! (commiserations on the computer mishap, its frightening just how much is affected when it happens). The death of Prince Philip was a huge loss to the family & saddening to us all….his steadying hand will be missed…….and then Harry & Harry’s wife ( who really shouldn’t be mentioned in the same sentence as his grandfather!) what a disappointment they’ve turned out to be ….. could they please just go away & be private & shut up!!!


  6. Angela Ogden

    PS…….& not ‘bitchy’ – just the accuracy of an Exocet missile!!!


    • Hello dear Angela, lovely to see you, and thank you for your words.
      .Loved that you did what I have noticed other people doing these days – saying Harry’s wife to avoid using the name and garnering whatever internet kudos is gained by naming!
      What a compliment – to be compared to an Exocet missile! Thank you – Hope no Quaker/pacifist friends see this !!!!


  7. I feel so bad for Harry and what’s her name. They are trying so hard to be important—and ruining the very people who ARE important to them and to us.


  8. PS
    Also loved your use of the words “Whats her name” !!! made me giggle XX

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What a great blog Valerie. When I first heard about Harry and Meghan’s marriage I couldn’t have been happier for them… they seemed genuinely happy and in love. Meghan was a breath of fresh air and I figured she could look after herself, being an actress and used to celebrity, unlike Diana who really suffered. As time went on I found myself changing my mind. The Oprah interview confirmed that – whatever good points Meghan may have – she is also spoiled, attention-seeking and, worse, disingenuous. She knew full well what she was getting into when she married Harry. It was to be a life of duty and service. Now I feel deeply sorry for Harry whom I feel may have been led astray by a demanding young woman and has lost so much of his familiar life and access to his family. The loss of his grandfather must have been a terrible blow for Harry too, just when he could benefit most from the Duke’s deep understanding and lived experience of loyalty, duty and service.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Elly for this thoughtful, generous comment. I agree,
      I started off feeling how great it all promised to be… but the final straw for me, was not Oprah, but when Meghan turfed out the forty blameless Wimbledon tennis fans – No member of the Royal Family had ever abused their privilege in such an outrageous and selfish, arrogant manner – all the more surprising, such behaviour from someone who grew up in a country which prides itself on the equality of its citizens .
      I hear what you say about Harry benefiting from his grandfather’s wisdom, but wondered why he didn’t go to see him during the month that everyone knew Prince Phillip was dying after he came out of hospital – unless he felt too ashamed of the heartless and irresponsible betrayal of his family he and his wife had made on the Oprah programme.
      Thank you again for your thoughts, Elly, lovely to hear from you, V

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Dear Valerie,

    Forgive my tardiness in commenting. Bitchy? Not at all. I appreciate your perspective. As an American, I’m rather embarrassed by the Sussex’s self-entitled claims. As for those siting racism…I’m sick to death of people playing that card. My guess is that someone made a valid off-the-cuff comment musing about Archie’s skin color that was never meant to be racist. Of course it got blown way out of proportion.
    I’m appalled that Meghan flew in the face of a tradition she married into. How self-serving.
    Okay…I shall come off my soapbox with my limited knowledge on the subject.
    At any rate, I’ve recently been the target in someone’s accusations of racism. Without going into a lot of detail, because it only raises my blood pressure, a former classmate who happens to be Asian decided to head our reunion committee. When we didn’t agree with her lofty and expensive plans she went on social media and claimed we were all privileged white women. (5 of us our Jewish). She whined that she never felt she fit in in school. What? She was vice president of our graduating class, a cheerleader and queen of one of the school dances.
    Sorry for the barrage.
    Good to see you back at the blog. My love to your and your love.




    • And please forgive my tardiness in replying ! have been having trouble with not one but two scammers – one who got into my account and one who was trying to trick me over the phone and I only realised after four phone calls and a visit to my computer man who disclosed that the fraudulent Indian didn’t work for him, All this involved long days to the bank a long drive away..
      So getting back to your comment – oh yes, racism – I carefully didn’t
      mention it in my story, but it was never an issue until Harry’s wife brought it up… The Queen’s cousin married a Maori some years ago, the handsomest man in the Royal family apart from Prince Phillip! and another cousin dated an Indian for four years, attending B Palace parties, swimming in the B Palace pool etc etc, and no-one even blinked. When Princess Diana was dating various Indian and other “men of colour’, the only comments were abut them being Muslim, the way other sects worry when their child wants to marry a Roman Catholic,, or whatever… colour was never mentioned…
      It must be so enraging for you to be the target of such childish attacks…
      No-one is safe these days, however famous or obscure, and whether the misdemeanour is racism, homophobia, being white, or old !!!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. You are dipping a toe into controversy indeed Valerie! When I was younger, I probably erred on the side of republicanism, but as time goes on, the more I appreciate the Queen (and Prince Philip)’s sense of duty and the way they have worked for the country. Will I feel the same when the next king takes over? I don’t know…I think it will be very much the end of an era when the Queen dies. As for Harry and Meghan, I’m not totally convinced either way. I watched coverage of the wedding and the wave of positivity there was at how this could help the monarchy move forward and appeal to new generations – I also then saw how quickly that soured with Meghan blamed for everything – I’ve never been comfortable with blaming the woman and I suspect there is an element of racism there too. At the same time, it seems not everything said in the interview was true and I don’t think they’ve done themselves any favours by doing it. It’s a difficult one and I wonder how it will play out in the coming years.


  12. Hello Andrea, thank you for your long and thoughtful reply… can I ask you to read the reply to Rochelle’s comment above, to explain my tardiness in response?
    I know what you mean about blaming the woman – I’ve been there myself- back in the sixties, getting a divorce very often involved odium if you were a woman…some people crossed the street rather than acknowledge me!
    And yes, I think Harry is as much at fault as his wife, colluding in the lies
    ( and telling his own) and launching his own spiteful attack on his family who had been generous and kind, and who couldn’t answer back…
    And yes, I also wonder how it will play itself out…
    Good to hear from you, V


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