Here we are. I know it looks like a lot, but three of us are Geminis, which increases the Wench population exponentially.
So I’m going to focus on the trivial. Trivial-er than usual, I mean.
I was sitting in the doctor’s office the other day, reading last month’s Ladies Home Journal. The cover story was about the Duchess of York–AKA Fergie-and her two daughters, Beatrice and Benedict. No, that’s Shakespeare. I mean Beatrice and Eugenie. The older one is about to make her social debut. As a writer of stories revolving around an imaginary aristocracy, I know more than is mentally healthy about bluebloods’ comeouts.
At about age 17 or 18, privileged young ladies were presented at Court. The funny thing is, the ladies of the Regency era had to wear clothes from their grandmothers’ heyday: hoop skirts and plumes. Because the Queen said so.
Candice Hern has some fabulous pictures of these costumes:
Since Candice explains the presentation at Court so beautifully, and with illustrations, I strongly advise those who want to know more to read what she has to say.
Back to the Duchess of York.
May I say, first, I am not addicted to the Royal Family. The trouble is, they, like Angelina Jolie, are impossible to avoid–although at the moment Angelina seems to have beaten them out for the Most in Sight in The Magazine Racks At The Supermarket Checkout Counter Award. May I also say, for the record, that I am sick to death of Angelina Jolie and I don’t even read those magazines. Yet one more reason I wish I had servants to do my shopping for me.
This is not to say I haven’t opinions about the Royal Family. For one thing, one can’t avoid seeing and hearing more about them than is, in my opinion, strictly necessary to a balanced life. I don’t think even the Dalai Lama can avoid them no matter how hard he meditates. For another, knowing their history is part of my job.
Thanks to my job, I also know that the cult of celebrity is nothing new. Some say it started in Regency times. Look at Beau Brummell. But he at least did something useful, in encouraging aristocrats to bathe more frequently and wear clean clothes. Look at Lord Byron. At least he wrote some fine poems (Don Juan is, I think, brilliant). Even the Prince Regent, later King George IV, who made today’s royals look like models of rectitude and sanity, did leave us some beautiful buildings and a lot of neat stuff in various British museums and libraries.
Which brings me back to the Duchess of York. She said that her daughters would share the comeout party (I think I remember this part correctly) and the theme would be 1888 because, among other things–and this part I remember distinctly–they love PRIDE & PREJUDICE.
Now, this wasn’t all Fergie had to say in the interview. People got their panties all in a bunch because she said she and her daughters were couch potatoes–so all the health advocates and diet people and a lot of others got all self-righteous and slammed her for watching TV all day. Meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out how she can be a couch potato yet get her picture taken at this charity event and that celebrity event or fashion show or whatever or doing something people don’t approve of or wearing the wrong clothes or losing or gaining weight or whatever. If all she did was watch TV all day, what would the photographers have to take pictures of? And if they didn’t have anything to take pictures of, how could she be on all those supermarket magazine covers, where I can’t escape her, no matter what I do? Not that I care how much TV she & her daughters watch. It’s not like they’re supposed to be running the country or are in charge of nuclear weapons or anything. So all the ranting and raving about the couch potato thing struck me as illogical at the very least.
But no one seems to have noticed the part that drove me completely insane. You know, though, don’t you?
You know that PRIDE & PREJUDICE came out during the Regency period, in 1813 to be precise. Since I’m one of those dreadful Renegades who uses the broad social/cultural definition of Regency era (I have tomes on my shelves that do the same thing, so let’s not get into that argument, please) rather than the strictly legal definition (1811-1820), I would give more leeway than most regarding what is and isn’t Regency. Still, as broad as my definition is, it stops at the moment Victoria is crowned queen. This is in 1837, 51 years before 1888. Half a century.
1888 is Victorian. Nothing borderline about it. The world of 1888 is pretty much the antithesis of Jane Austen’s world.
So fine, I don’t expect members of the Royal Family to know much about history. If they did, they’d quit repeating it, and then a lot of photographers would be jobless. But you’d think that somewhere along the road to this big comeout, some one of the advisers and assistants and secretaries and such who take care of these sheltered ladies would have gently pointed out that 1888 and the PRIDE & PREJUDICE theme were not a match, that it’s like saying you want to do a SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER party because you love doing the Charleston.
But what I really want to know is, Are they going to wear corsets?