Bookmarks: What the lady-in-waiting saw

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Bookmarks: What the lady-in-waiting saw

A fortnightly look at books, writers and reviews

Andrew Donaldson

The third season of The Crown, Netflix’s acclaimed drama series, is now with us and it is perhaps for this reason that a new memoir by Anne Glenconner, Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown (Hodder & Stoughton), is getting a lot of press attention. Ordinarily, I’d steer clear of books about the monarchy, especially those written by their close friends. But this one pulls no punches when it comes to frankness and spilling the beans; it is stuffed with jaw-dropping, if poignant revelations about the royal family and her life as a lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret.

Glenconner, a close childhood friend of Margaret’s, was Tatler’s “debutante of the year” in 1950 and a maid of honour at the queen’s coronation in 1953. To underscore this royal connection, the reviews of Lady in Waiting have been illustrated with photographs of Helena Bonham Carter in the role of the queen’s sister. Glenconner is featured in the new season as well, played by Nancy Carroll.

Her own life, though, would probably make for an interesting TV series all on its own. She was 11 when her mother took her aside for a chat about the facts of life using the family pet as a reference: “Do you remember Daddy’s Labrador getting on top of Biscuit? Well, that’s what happens when you get married, except you will probably be lying down in a bed.”..

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