Lady in Waiting by Anne Glenconner: life in the shadow of the crown

I listened to this Book, Lady in Waiting, on Audible read by Anne Glenconner. She is a remarkable lady of 87 years who has lived a colour life as a member of the aristocracy. She wrote this memoir mainly because people were writing such awful things about Princess Margaret and she wanted to set the record straight.

Lady Anne Glenconner has known the royal family since childhood and was one of the Queen’s maids of honour at her wedding to Prince Philip in 1947. She was appointed Princess Margaret’s lady-in-waiting in 1971 and worked with her for more than three decades.

The eldest daughter of the fifth Earl of Leicester, she married Lord Glenconner (formerly Colin Tennant) in 1956, who famously purchased the Caribbean island of Mustique two years later. Lady Anne writes in her book that her husband “bought it for £45,000 — without even having set foot on it,” and they transformed the land into a paradise playground for the rich and famous.

Her life was not all parties, wealth and glamour. She suffered much personal tragedy throughout her life. She was born into a world of privilege however money did not always come with position. There is something very stoic about this lady who has embraced modern life and has never complained about her own life when it went tragically wrong.

She was the ultimate royal companion. I am not sure the new generation of royal ladies even have ladies-in-waiting. They are now more likely to have stylists and private secretaries. A lady in waiting was different as she was a companion and friend. Someone that you could totally trust but who also understood your way of life and at times could have a “jolly good laugh” with you. There was a line, however, that you never crossed and Anne Glenconner filled all of these duties for Princess Margaret brilliantly.

Credit: Daily Mail

A warmer version of Princess Margaret emerges as the book progresses. Lady Glenconner writes in her book, “People complained about Princess Margaret being difficult, but I think quite often it was because she was bored or fed up… not surprisingly, her idea of fun wasn’t sitting next to the mayor, the bishop and the chief of police for Sunday lunch.”

I loved listening to the Audible version as Lady Anne’s voice is priceless…..”we gals lived in a hice”. It just takes you back to a bygone age that will never happen again but is good to dip into.

So as we head into the weekend with the premiere of the long awaited season 3 of The Crown, this is a perfect accompaniment to that age when the royal family were truly royal. A time when we knew little about them as they were protected by their aristocratic friends and so their secrets were safe.

And if you want a taster of this book then watch this clip from Graham Norton’s recent interview of Anne Glenconner:

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