Hmm. Where to begin.
Autobiographies are great for mixing my reading up from typical romance and general fiction, so when I found Lady Anne Glenconner’s autobiography in a charity shop, I thought it would worth a read having seen her on The Graham Norton Show in late 2019.
From the off, Lady Anne provides an insight into aristocracy and the early years of experiencing World War 2 as a child, along with memories of Princesses (now Queen) Elizabeth and Margaret. She was well known for being one of the Queen’s bridesmaids at her coronation in 1952, before becoming Princess Margaret’s lady-in-waiting, having been close friends for many years before.
Despite this interesting part of her life, her husband Colin sounded like an awful, stroppy man (more like a petulant child). Other words include a brat with severe mood swings; nasty, stroppy, vile and a difficult man. In her book, there is no mention that he was an ill man, or perhaps she was defending his behaviour, admitting she had grown used to his mood swings during their marriage.
Unfortunately, as I read more into the book, I became a little agitated as her ‘Extraordinary Life’ isn’t quite as extraordinary as I had expected: mainly because it isn’t really about her.
The title refers to her life in the Shadow of the Crown – it is quite precisely that.
Her entire book is a description of her being in the shadows where royalty takes precedent, along with her friends, family and other expectations – what about you Anne? What about taking charge?! It felt as though I was reading a story about someone else instead of herself.
I didn’t realise how annoyed I was becoming the more I read on.
Apologies if you are triggered by my review at this point. Just keeping it real!
Anyhow, I used to be a massive fan of the monarchy and royal family, however over recent years this has somewhat diminished, seeing it as an outdated, bureaucratic system where Kings and Queens used to win and rule the land compared to remaining impartial from politics nowadays.
The inkling into the way things are done in royalty and aristocracy where children were looked after nannies was sad. I understand this has become a less common thing throughout the generations, yet Lady Anne comments how she and Colin rarely looked after them, showing a lack of adoration towards them during their early years.
It’s amazing what time and experience can do for one’s attitudes and opinions.
Lady Anne covered her years as Lady-in-Waiting which never sounded boring when accompanying Princess Margaret. However, the more I read about royal protocol, the more distaste I found myself developing, especially after recent royal events… I understand there is etiquette and protocol, but for Lady Anne having to call her friend, the Princess, ‘Ma’am’ in private … what.
Even though Colin sounded like a vile man, Lady Anne was very religious and shared a similar view to Princess Margaret about marriage, not believing in divorce and merely getting through. I’d like to think we have learned that happiness is key and you will do what you can depending on your situation – some people don’t even have a choice…
I liked the bits about her and Colin finding Mustique and building it from nothing to making it a popular global hotspot for the most exclusive individuals and celebrities, thanks to the attractiveness of its privacy. If you are interested in visiting, like me, it seems the criteria is to be wealthy, royal, a socialite, aristocrat or personally invited. Damn. In another life.
The following information is common knowledge: I found it sad reading about the death of 2 of her 5 children, as well as finding out Colin left everything in his will to a former employee when he died. Let me say, it is always worthwhile having your own assets! Be your own person.
Lady Anne’s book was good. But just good.
I think it was clouded by the fact I was frustrated by this being sold as an autobiography whereas it is more a biography of her husband and Princess Margaret, instead of focusing on her achievements apart from going on holiday with friends. But hey ho, she’s lived a long life that she is happy with. Good on her.
rating – 3/5
genre – autobiography, biography