Friday, February 22, 2013

Miller Time Friday: For Queen and Country

Happy Friday!

As you know, I have been straightening, dusting, de-cluttering, re-positioning almost everything in my life, including my own body parts!  I have realized that I have inherited some pretty interesting stuff along the way (and yes, that does include my father's knobby knees and my mother's belly/no bottom combo!

And a lot of that interesting stuff relates to - you guessed it - the Queen.  I have had it all so long that I kind of forgot that I had it, kind of like the Jackie and Lee Bouvier book I reclaimed earlier in the week.

Canada, until very recently, has been staunchly pro-monarchist.  We are one of the key Commonwealth countries and always came to England's defense, fighting alongside her on many occasions.  This is no surprise, since until the mid-century, the bulk of immigrants to Canada came from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.  We only got a flag that didn't have the union jack on it until 1965; prior to that, we used various versions of the Canadian Red Ensign, seen below:


My grandmother, who was born in New Zealand of Oxford-born parents in 1904, was staunchly monarchist.  In the 1920s, she joined the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (IODE), an organization founded in 1900 in Montreal (which is quite ironic!) to support Canadians departing to fight with the Empire in South Africa.  In fact, the first Empire Day held by the organization was on May 23rd 1900 in Fredericton New Brunswick (I am learning all kinds of history!).  During the two World Wars, the organization's "chapters", by then a world-wide phenomenon existing in many of the Commonwealth countries, raised $12,000,000 to support troops, hospitals, ambulances, bomber and fighter aircraft, etc, for Queen and Country.  By the time I was born in 1963, there were still many chapters all over Canada (I think there were two in my county alone) and both my Grandmother and my Mother served as Provincial "Regents" (don't you love that title?) and on national committees.  But the IODE has long been considered a dying institution, and has struggled to recruit members, for while they do lots of wonderful charitable work to raise money for scholarships, etc, the days of staunchly pro-Monarchy organizations have long passed their "best before" date.  I don't even think my beloved Kate could bring the organization back, populated as it is by many beloved blue-haired grannies who will shove you out of the way sure as you can say "Bob's your uncle" should you get between them and the chance to meet/see a royal, any royal, during their visits to Canada.  And you can imagine who they loved best:


The Queen.  No, not the nice lady on the left but the "real" queen, according to my Grandmother for her entire life, the Queen Mum. 

So when I was cleaning the house, I was fascinated to come across the following book:



Published in November 1939, it was a war-time effort to raise funds for the Red Cross and features contributions by 50 British writers and artists.  I must confess: I don't think I have ever really looked at this book before, but it is quite lovely and features the work of such legends as T.S. Eliot, A.A. Milne, Cecil Beaton, some writing especially for the book.



The paintings are lovely, on that beautiful paper they used to print coloured photos in books during the first half of the 20th century.



The book proved very popular (I wonder how many commonwealth homes had/have a copy?) and I suspect it was modelled after the Princess Elizabeth Gift Book, originally published in 1935 to raise money for the Princess Elizabeth Children's Hospital:



The book my mother had no longer has its dustcover, but the one I see online has the same painting on the cover as is featured inside the book:


What I found so interesting was that not only was the young Princess (then a celebrity in her own right) able to have such luminaries as James M. Barrie write especially for her book, but also got Walt Disney, who by that time had not yet done his first feature length movie but was certainly a world-wide sensation, include a couple of wonderful pictures, one of which I am including below:



The book has pride of place on my shelf, though I must also confess that I mostly looked at the pictures when my mother showed it to me as a child!

And sitting on top of it?  Well my own beautiful Queen Elizabeth II toy coronation set, that's what, a keeper that my grandmother, who was an antiques dealer, was able to procure along the way and which I put up my hand for many years ago:



We won't talk about the fact that when you take the top of my golden carriage you see that Prince Philip's little head was lost somewhere along the way...

I dug around and found my mother's old charm bracelet with her IODE charm on it:


and the compact (with powder still in it!) that my grandmother received from the Seven Seas Chapter in 1967 for 40+ years of services to the organization




Now, you can hardly blame me for loving our Queen so much, what with such blood running through my veins, now can you?  Even one of my closest friends, who is a staunch and proud Acadian and is most decidely anti-monarchy, says the Queen is "all right"

So today, in honour of my mother and grandmother, and lots of other mothers and grandmothers who proudly served and supported their communities for King, Queen and Country, I thought we might have a wee sip of the Queen Mum's favourite drink: Gin and duBonnet.  Ah this Miller Time will not be for the faint of heart; the Queen Mum was rumoured to have begun her drinking at noon most days and kept on going from there, but then she lived to be 101 didn't she?  And we know how pickling is a wonderful preserver!

 

My grandmother, famous for mixing her drink 4 fingers alcohol to 1 finger mix, would approve!

Now approval from my Scottish ancestors on my dad's side - well THAT is a different story!!!

Happy Friday and Stay Safe out There!

Oh and PS: Today is my beloved daughter's 21st birthday!  Cake all around!

53 comments:

  1. ROYAL STYLE WMM, what a wonderful story, fantastic memorabilia. And many happy returns of the day to DD - 21 is a big one! My Dad has Princess book, Coronation plates, teacups and a perfectly preserved tea towel inherited from the various grans for me. (When I was young a professor at Carlton who helped lead HS debate teams convinced me to join Monarchist League of Canada, another dying Commonwealth institution.) Funny, at my Nan's house, EIIR was always "the young queen" too, even on her first big 25th jubilee.
    I was just thinking the other day that Queen Elizabeth II is finally on trend, with the tonal dressing thing (hat, dress, coat) - if only she would get some other shoes. (Do you know she has a lady that breaks the custom built ones in for her - best thing.)
    I do think it's a good idea to have something like the GG - a well respected person who is a-political to represent the country at important "occasions." But I have to say the royals are more like ordinary very wealthy celebrities to me now. Not bound by the same sense of duty as current and former crown wearers, iykwim. Although I know part of that is abdication, WWII as crucible. Christmas message will not be same for me when read by Charles, never a very lucky name for kings and all.
    Anyway, always happy to drink to great ladies, royal and ordinary.

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    1. **Dying at the tattooed by highland fling tag and pickling line.** (DH has been close enough to Queen, as working pleb, to know she really enjoys a flutter at the ggs - horse race days like Queen's Plate etc. Think best gift "we" gave her one of Mounties' horses for when she used to ride in Trooping.)

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    2. I hear you completely on the monarchy and wonder if we would feel same about Charles if he had ended up happily married to Diana?

      Thanks for well wishes for DD - she is very much her father - decidely low key, dry wit, not fussy at all. My son the diva on the other hand, more like Mama.. sigh...

      Have a great day!

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    3. Does she at least get vanilla cake or what's her flavah fave?

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    4. Oh no - she insisted on the dairy queen cake - I usually make home made. Ah well - to each his own!!!! But there will be candles!

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    5. Hubs thinks Commonwealth will change (devolve) dramatically when Queen very sadly goes - led by AUS and CAN. I say, what will we engrave on our cheddah? Although don't like the new plastic $20s' portrait, not kind to someone truly regal.

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    6. That noise you hear is me hauling out my suitcase and maving boxes.

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  2. Happy birthday to your daughter, Wendy!

    What wonderful recollections and memorabilia!

    My family is not originally Canadian or from the Commonwealth, so I did not grow up with much historical sense of the monarchy.

    My husband, who mostly grew up in the US, is blown away by how often there are references to the Monarchy in Ontario. I had never paid that much attention, but it's true that we have the QEW, the highway markers are shaped like crowns, in T.O. we have Queen St. and King St., etc.

    It seems to be like a lot of people like Queen Elizabeth, but that when her reign is over the tide may shift for the royals. I agree with GF - it seems like more celebrity, and less duty.

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    1. I agree, though they do all seem to support a lot of charities in England and abroad and assume that brings in the big bucks, though I am not certain?

      Where I live everything is either named after royalty or loyalists!

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    2. Abby, true. I think all the British-ism is even more "ironic" in modern Montreal, starting with the landmark Queen Elizabeth Hotel - definitely once were staunch and wealthy anglophones there.

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    3. Yes, it's almost surreal in QC!

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  3. 4 to I for a measure ? Wow! I'd be under the table.
    What a fantastic post, from the mention of du Bonnet which I loved with lemonade when I was 18 to that incredible Coronation set and the books, what a treasure trove your home is.
    And the Queen - yes she loves those blocky little black shoes!

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    1. My God - I may end up in those blocky black shoes! That and polyester elastic waist band pants - biggest fear!

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    2. True, my mum can only wear one particular pair of shoes now, they are quite ugly buts he has such trouble walking, we'll take what we can get when we're older.

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  4. She started drinking at noon! No wonder everyone loved her.
    Beautiful post, thanks so much for sharing. You have such an interesting family history. I am of French background and Irish/American so there was never any talk of the Queen in our house, but I really appreciate the monarchy for some reason. I think the Queen is such an honourable figure!
    Your coronation set is excellent, and happy happy birthday to your dear daughter. My own old rascal turns 20 next week, where has the time gone?

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    1. I know! I am going to slip out and get her a wee something, besides her card 0'cash to open at supper when we will do the celebration. I don't think i have an ounce of french blood in me, though I wish I did . Definitely some Irish in there!

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  5. Great post Wendy. It's so interesting how your mother and grandmother participated in serving the monarchy and the commonwealth. Nice that you have collected some treasures along the way. Cheers to the women in your family and the Queen's.

    The monarchy seems quite popular here in Calgary, likely due in part to the visit from William and Kate shortly after their wedding. Nothing like a beautiful, charming and poised woman to draw in admirers. When I was in the Netherlands my hosts told me that their queen would abdicate on April 30 this year, to allow her son to assume the throne. All I heard about the king-in-waiting was that he was 40 but I heard plenty about his much-loved wife, Queen-to-be Maxima. How beautiful, how graceful and charitable, etc. I also heard more than once that apparently she looks like Britney Spears. What does one say to that kind of comment? I just smiled sweetly and kept quiet.

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    1. Maybe the Dutch don't really know all about Britney? :-) I have seen pictures of Maxima - she is indeed quite lovely. If the Queen lives as long as her own Mum, and why would she not, poor old Charles will be at least 80 before he assumes throne!

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  6. Happy Birthday to your daughter! May she have a wonderful day and a year filled with love, health, success and lots of laughter.
    Love your old books. I love those cherished heirlooms that bring so many memories flooding back. Enjoy your day!

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    1. Thanks A - I will pass your good wishes along!

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  7. Hi WMM, what a marvellous post! Your coronation set is wonderful. My treasure trove of Royal memorabilia consists of a lone china mug for the Queen's Silver Jubilee. Nevertheless, I really enjoy hearing all about the royals and I do appreciate them. The nearest I have come to the Queen in real life was the day she came to Dundee when I was still at primary school. Our school joined the crowds lining the new ring road, the Kingsway - we had to go there by bus and wait for what seemed like hours - only to see her flash by. The most memorable thing about that day was that our double decker bus got stuck going under an old railway bridge!

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    1. Oh, and happy birthday to your daughter!

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    2. That is great story! She once came to UNB and we got a really close up view of her - was 1985. I thought the students might all ignore her, but they packed the area where she was coming through and they all clapped to see. Was funny to see all these young men in the hoodies and workboots clapping and cheering for the Queen! She certainly holds a place in people's hearts that goes well beyond mere celebrity for my generation I think!

      Thank you for the nice wishes for my daughter! You are all kind of like the good fairies popping in to wish Sleeping Beauty happy birthday! It is nice to have good wishes!

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  8. Love your coronation set ~ so charming, as well as the other treasures from your family. No monarchy in the US, as you know, but people are so fascinated by the English monarchy here, although embarrassed to be at the same time.
    Not sure why the Queen always wears those black shoes - I'm sure she could have them made in ivory or other colors as well.

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    1. Kathy, photos show she does have ivory ones for high summer and pastel outfits only. However, she does not like wearing them as much since they show grass, mud etc. more. Rainy England and all that. My mum got that direct from someone who worked on one of her Canadian tours a couple of decades back.

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    2. I was going to muse same as GF - I suspect she ruined a lot of nice shoes in her younger years! I do sometimes think Americans love the Monarchy more than Canadians, judging by People magazine covers I see at the checkout, or at least Kate and Diana!

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  9. Oh, pushed publish too fast - a very Happy Birthday to your daughter, have a great celebration tonight.

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    1. Thanks Kathy! It should be a good time! Then I have to buckle down and watch Beasts of the Southern Wild and Argo before Sunday Night's Oscars. I am sure the winners are by now all pre-determined, but I don't think I have missed once since I was 10. Barry and I like to have a fuss about it!

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    2. Who are your picks, Wendy?

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  10. Happy Birthday to your daughter. You have some wonderful treasures - they're lovely. I'm with Tabitha-4 to 1 and I'd be passed out! No gin for me though. Tanqueray and tonic was my drink of choice for years-until I drank one too many a long time ago-no more gin for me. I'll join you in a cocktail anytime-though I'll order a California Cabernet or Kettle One and tonic depending on my mood. Have a great weekend. We are having a little Oscar soiree here with a few friends and champagne...the red carpet starts early. I tell DH each year that the Oscars are my Super Bowl-best with a viewing party.

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    1. Hey Julie - agree on viewing party! I am like that with Tequila. Things happen on Tequila. But not to me anymore!!

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  11. Oh yes - some people I know (i.e. family members) have no use for Royals, but they always speak well of the Queen Mum. I've always liked the Royals. Remember when they used to parody the Queen Mother on Royal Canadian Air Farce? Cheers! ;)

    You have so many great treasures there - the little Coronation set is so cute!

    Happy Birthday to your daughter! Have a great day!



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    1. Hey LR - Oh my gosh - I forgot about the Air Farce parody! Cathy on This Hour Has 22 Minutes does a mean QEII!Thanks for the kind wishes for my daughter! Am just enjoying a cup of tea before folks show up!

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  12. I still love the story of the QM getting all dressed up to visit the East End during the Blitz, and when I saw the movie The King's Speech, when the awful Mrs Simpson made catty remarks about the Duchess of York (as she then was), many in the audience hissed. I don't think anyone begrudged her a little tipple.

    You Royalists will be happy to now that Buckingham Palace has a gift shop in the Queen's Gallery, where you can get a Buckingham Palace refrigerator magnet and Buckingham Palace socks for little girls. Take that, Walt Disney.


    and HB to DD!

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    1. Hey Fred - I have been to the Palace but never went inside - now have to do so! Oh can't believe they were hissing Wallis, even now! too funny!

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  14. Happy Birthday to your daughter!

    Lovely post - thanks for sharing the story photos of your family treasures. Your Queen's mum cocktail hour anecdotes made me LOL.

    Hope you have a great weekend. :)

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  15. Blogger just had a 4:1 alcohol moment I believe. I got an error the first time I tried to post my comment. Then it disappeared. Then is posted twice. TGIF!

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    1. I have been having weird blogger issues too!!! Thanks for the kinds words! You have a great weekend, too! I will likely have the odd tipple myself during the Oscars!

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  16. Ugh-my entire comment disappeared, so here goes again...

    What a wonderful story, WMM! I can definitely see why you love the Queen so much! All of your memorabilia is just absolutely lovely. I especially like the engraved compact that your grandmother received. Do you remember her getting it back then?

    I am of English, Welsh, German, and American Indian descent, and even though I have always lived in the U.S., I have always had a fondness and admiration for the British Royals and their beautiful country, from the time I was a little girl. While I have never been fortunate enough to see any of them in person, I did get the chance to visit GB in my younger years, and would live there now if I could.

    The very HAPPIEST of birthdays to your daughter! Turning 21 is quite the event here in the U.S. since it's the age you are officially allowed to drink alcoholic beverages. Is it the same there?

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    1. Hi FFM! Here in our province, legal drinking age is 19 (as I think it is in all other provinces except for Quebec's whose legal drinking age is 18).

      I have met Charles, seen Diana, seen the QUeen and Philip a couple of times and saw Edward once. I think that is it! They tend to come here a lot!!

      Thank for your the lovely wishes! I think of your boys and what a good mum you are - enjoy all of these moments - they are precious!

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  17. I think you have found your writing genre, it is history with connections to modern times. Although, I love your fashion commentaries! I hope your daughter has a lovely birthday! Have a great weekend!

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  18. Hi Cate - thanks for nice wishes all around! Well maybe you are right re: genres - I do love fiction! Am finally reading McCullough's history of the Brooklym Bridge, which I have always wanted to read!

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  19. Your royal mementos are are absolute treasures, all the more so because of you personal connections to them. I think they would be very striking in a shadowbox. The carriage pieces are extraordinary.( I think they are show worthy even though I am not a collector, nor a figurine lover.)Have a wonderful weekend, and enjoy your daughters birthday- I am sure she will!

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    1. OMG- sorry about the typos- bandaid again!

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    2. Thanks Knit Yarns - great ideas!

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  20. I can't believe the mementos you have.My home is empty compared to yours . It seems you've held on to many treasures as when offered I would pass .Lovely story about the women in the family and you should wear the charm bracelet.
    I always look at her shoes and I like them. I'll be lucky if I can pull them off at her age. I remember when we had to take my Mom for special shoes when she started to fall and this was most upsetting to her . She loved a 2" heel and ballet flats.
    Happy Birthday to your daughter .

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    1. Thanks Marsha - you are right - If I am as spry as the QUeen at 86, I will be happy indeed!!!

      Well I am an overly sentimental person descended from my dad;s dad and my mother;s mum who bought collected lovely things and then some are just toys and things of my parents when they were growing up! Thanks for the nice note about my daughter!

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  21. Good-morning WMM, I am a IODE member of the Elizabeth Barrett Browning Chapter in Sudbury, Ontario. Recently I have started a face book site for us , named "IODE Sudbury's Elizabeth Barrett Browning Chapter". I love the pictures of your mother's bracelet and compact. May I use your pictures of those items to post on this site? I am going to start an album of older items the members may have bought or received. Thank-you for your time and consideration. With kindest personal regards. Dr. Patricia Kresan

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    1. By all means Dr. Kresan - feel free to use them!!!

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Kindness is a virtue...