The Queen of England was a given in our lives. We compared notes, and neither Himself nor myself remember a time when Elizabeth, first as Princess Elizabeth and then as Queen, was not a constant, underlying cornerstone of our personal world. My favorite doll, which I have to this day, was a Princess Elizabeth doll. She is dressed as a child.
Family members were brought up by careful standards. Every action could be met by someone saying something like, “the way Queen Elizabeth would do it.”
Queen Elizabeth at that time was a different queen. Princess Elizabeth’s mother, the Queen Mum, was also Elizabeth. My grandmother was Elizabeth. Our oldest daughter is Elizabeth. It’s a fine name, long associated with the British Royals.
My mom was raised in a family of girls. She had four older sisters. She was used to being disciplined by someone higher in the pecking order. However, she rebelled. I think her sisters used the “Not the way a Queen would do it” to de-personalize behavior suggestions. It was easier to take directions if they were associated with an entity far away.
I think younger sisters are rebellious by nature. Queen Elizabeth’s younger sister, Princess Margaret, was always the more mischievous of the two sisters. As she grew older, she probably tested her sister’s patience. I know Aunt Margaret often raised her eyes heavenward when referring to some of mom’s antics.
When a question of etiquette came up in family discussions, Aunt Margaret would get out the latest book on proper dress or procedure. Emily Post was the reference in early years, later my aunt considered herself more “modern” and used a dictionary-sized version of the etiquette book by Amy Vanderbilt.
The rules were there in the book. What to wear, say, write, address, how to refer to someone by title or status. Whether to wear gloves. What color the gloves should be. How long they should be.
Short white gloves when heading for work, long white gloves for afternoon or evening wear. Elbow length black gloves were considered a little naughty.
Whenever we travel anywhere, I remember Aunt Margaret and make sure I pack my pearls and something correct to wear if invited to Tea with Queen Elizabeth II. Just in case. It never happened, but if it had, I would have been correctly attired.