My brush with royalty

One of the first things people associate with England is royalty and yes, I had a brush with royalty on my family holiday!

Yesterday we visited Ely, one of the oldest cathedrals in England and the cathedral that was also used on the cover of Pink Floyd’s album “Division Bell”. You have to look really closely at the album cover (click to enlarge) to even see it, but my husband, as a medieval buildings and Pink Floyd fan, knows this stuff. 🙂

Here I am taking a picture of the roof inside the cathedral through a mirror:


Oliver Cromwell, 17th century revolutionary against the crown, also lived in Ely for a while. The house is now the tourist office…

Then today we visited Althorp, the residence of Charles, the Earl of Spencer, Princess Diana’s brother (click on images to enlarge).

We had some tea there…


… and we saw this sign…


As we had arrived at 13:00, we decided to stick around and take a peek. We bought a book about the house anyway, so we had our book signed as well!

This is as close as I’ll ever be to English royalty I think – I exchanged a few words with the future King of England’s uncle! Conversation with Earl Charles Spencer wasn’t stellar but it was friendly; he asked where we were from and who to make the book out to and thanked us for coming. It was all very pleasant and over very soon.

We visited the house and, in a separate building, saw an exhibition of beautiful photographs of Princess Diana by Mario Testino (her last photo session before she died, the prints exhibited were huge). We weren’t allowed to take any pictures, not of the inside of the house and not of the Diana photos, but I found some of the images that were displayed easily enough on the internet.

We also walked to the island on the Althorp estate which is Diana’s last resting place and visited the little shrine in her honour opposite it…

Afterwards my husband and the kids went kart-racing for half an hour, about 10 minutes by car away from Althorp…

… and while they were circling the track I was talking to a young man who worked there. He told me that the Earl sometimes also comes to the track. Maybe the princes have been there as well? In any case, my brush with royalty feels complete.

25 thoughts on “My brush with royalty

  1. Servetus

    Margaret Hale would be incensed — no gentleman is in trade! Selling books, the very thing! 🙂

    Sounds like another great day. I’ve always wanted to go to Ely.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Servetus

        I’m not Margaret Hale. And, I mean, the Prince of Wales sells honey and other stuff these days and Buckingham Palace has a tourist shop. I am, I suppose, bemused by the way the UK class system is changing in my lifetime.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. They did have the teapots for sale! Briefly considered it but we didn’t get one, it would just end up in a cupboard somewhere.
      Yes, she really was beautiful! And only 36 when she died…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Servetus

        Yeah, hence my point. The kids didn’t want to; their Windsor relatives more or less made them. Then their Spencer relatives jump all over what jerks their Windsor relatives are (at the funeral, nonetheless). Now, 20 years later, Spencer’s got nothing better to say about the whole thing than that the Windsors are evil. He’s sympathizing with them in order to attack his late sister’s in-laws. The Windsors have marginally more class, but only marginally; at least they shut up in public at some point. None of these people really care about the kids.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah… the speech he gave at Diana’s funeral (the actual print-out including his edits with pen done before he gave the actual speech) is on display at Althorp as well. It feels a bit iffy, like he wants to blow his own horn and/or profit from it. You can even buy the speech in a deluxe binding! Talking about Diana seems to be almost the only thing that really defines him. I’m sure he wants to keep her memory alive and there’s nothing wrong with that, but there are other ways to do that, without him being center stage. I loved Diana (still do) but to my eye she was also a bit of a drama queen and he seems to be that too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Servetus

        I think the reason to keep her memory alive is that she inspired so many people all over the world — what sort of annoys about all of this discourse is that she gets portrayed as a victim. I just read a long biography of Charles (don’t ask me why, the library put it in my path and I couldn’t get past it) and I kind of ended up feeling like she was very immature and a master manipulator, and he was entitled, more or less clueless about how real relationships worked in the twentieth century, and mildly emotionally abusive.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah, that’s what I meant with the drama-queen comment. She really wasn’t a saint. Reminds me of someone I know in real life – Warm and caring in so many ways but also always ‘the victim’ and I so know how annoying that is. She gets under my skin with that every time…


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