Whilst watching the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markel last June, I became very irritated by sentimental comments about ‘breaths of fresh air’ and inferences that Meghan Markel was the first commoner to marry into our (British) Royal Family. How could they be so wrong and so ignorant?
Of course, the Duchess of Cambridge (formerly Kate Middleton) has no blue blood, but, then, she is discreet, restrained and sensible, so not of interest to tabloid newspapers. But – for millennia – the Royal Family has attracted hangers on, social climbers and those with the eye to the main chance. The Boleyns and the Woodvilles come to mind. Also Wallis Simpson.
Elizabeth Woodville is generally regarded as being pushy and a bit of a slapper, but, being a widow without any means to support herself or her sons, it seems she was just dogged. Legend has it that she sat under an oak tree, where she knew King Edward IV would pass, and pleaded for the return of her lands, confiscated in the Wars of the Roses. Later, when she became queen, she obtained a papal indulgence for those who said the Angelus three times a day – the sorts of thing that all slappers always do.
Anne Boleyn, on the other hand, came from a family on the make. Her sister, Mary, was Henry VIII’s mistress for a short time and her father and brother were seeking out offices near the King. In The Queen of Subtleties, by Susannah Dunn, we see Anne in super-bitch mode, a veritable Alexis Carrington, with an extra finger which she used, if necessary, to spook those who came across her. He doesn’t understand what he’s up against. When I’m good, I’m very good. These are some of the remarks which Dunn has Anne say. The author has all characters used modern parlance and modern idioms, so, as you can imagine, the dialogue is very punchy, and does not detract from the historical period. She has drawn Anne Boleyn to perfection, an anti-heroine, breathlessly funny and clever, and her story is un-put-down-able.. (I haven’t finished Queen of Subtleties yet.)
Queen of Subtleties has two narrators, Anne Boleyn, and King Henry’s confectioner, Lucy Cornwallis, who is sweet and well-meaning. Guess whose story carries me along? As I’ve commented before, we are attracted to evil – aren’t we?
Yesterday, we went to Anglesey Abbey, near Cambridge, which has nothing to do with any of the above, but the dahlias were amazing – hence the photos.