Friday, May 18, 2018

Royal fuss: Affection for the Royal Family traced to QEII's coronation, childhood wonder

Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth, both behatted, on a royal outing celebrating her 90th birthday. The couple has sustained a long, loving partnership through many ups and downs in country and family.


Four generations of Windsors mark the line of succession to the throne.
Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth on June 2, 1953, here with
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, greeting the happy throngs. (They will

celebrate their 71st wedding anniversary in November of this year.)

'WHY DON'T you write about your fascination with the Royal Family?" my partner and fellow travel writer-photographer Bruce Keller asked me.
"You've seen more royals than most Montanans -- probably more than most Americans. And you adore the royal family and all the pomp and circumstance."
I do love "my royals."  I've met the Queen Mum and her granddaughter, Princess Anne, the Queen's only daughter.  I  perfected my curtsy in July of 1977 when I was invited to a four-day celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's 25th year on the throne. (Knees bent, one foot slightly in front of the other. No problem.)
Princess Anne meets gentle giant actor Richard Kiel, who stood 7 feet, 2 inches.
He played the character Jaws in the James Bond film, "The Spy Who Loved Me."
Princess Anne represented her mother, QEII, at the 1977  screening in London.
SO WITH the spotlight on the  wedding and honeymoon of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, I offer a few thoughts on my enduring affection for the royals -- and all things pomp and circumstance.
My love affair with them began when I was a toddler, on June 2, 1953.  I remember it well.
  Queen Mum: Beloved and always "hatted"
The occasion was Queen Elizabeth's coronation -- the first to be televised. I sat on my mum's lap (yes, we called her mummy, not mama), holding my grandmum's hand. We were glued to the set, along with 27 million others in the United Kingdom and twice that many Americans. Our three generations joined a fascinated global retinue -- my mother, her mother, I and my infant sister. It all seemed splendid. I asked if the  Queen's gown, cape and jewels were heavy. "Yes, they probably weigh half as much as the Queen," mum replied, "for "Elizabeth is a small, elegant woman, don't you know."
AS PRINCE Harry takes actress Meghan Markle to be his wife, it will be very theatrical.
"That's why you love all this," my Keller chides. "It's your theater background."
Champagne toast: Prince Harry and
Meghan Markle earlier this year.
He's right, of course.  What could be more theatrical than centuries-old coaches made of gold, tiaras that weigh more than my Yorkshire terriers, oversized hats, soldiers, horses and endless parties, receptions, concerts and, yes, curtsies. Not least: family. Meghan is changing the royal family and the way it views things. She's divorced, her mother is a proud woman of color. She's American!
I've written magazine and newspaper articles about  meeting "my two" memorable royals in July of 1977.  I was invited by United Artists and the Silver Jubilee to cover the celebration during Queen Elizabeth II's 25th anniversary as monarch.
Princess Diana and Prince Charles at their
wedding in 1981, leaving St. Paul's Cathedral
which offered more seating than Westminster.
The United Artists film, "The Spy Who Loved Me," was part of the festivities and Princess Anne attended in her mother's place.  I remember her as gracious and beautiful, in a satin gown.
Bond, James Bond (and Cookie)
She daintily shook hands with Sir Roger Moore, who played Bond, and Richard Kiel, who played his nemesis, Jaws. (Kiel's hand was huge, so Princess shook only a finger. My photos proved that.) Later, I met Queen Mum at a reception.
Queen Elizabeth II in 1984, purchasing souvenirs in
Wyoming. She bought some fishing hook ties for Philip.
I AROSE EARLY to watch Princess Diana marry Prince Charles, and sadly visited the tunnel in Paris where she met her fate. When in 1984, Queen Elizabeth II came to Wyoming to look at horses, no reporters were allowed. It was a private visit. Both she and Prince Philip liked Wyoming. An expert rider, the Queen inspected thoroughbreds, rode, hiked and kept a low profile, calling it a private vacation -- no interviews.  She did go shopping in Sheridan, dispelling the myth that she carried nothing in her purse. Friends who saw her at Ritz 
Sporting Goods in the small western town, said she paid cash for her souvenirs, including fishing hook ties for her beloved husband, Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Glenda Jackson as Queen Elizabeth I.
She based at the Wallop family ranch in Big Horn and visited the nearby Bradford-Brinton Museum. Her hosts were her friend Lady Porchester, nee Jean Margaret Wallop, a Big Horn, Wyo., native and sister of another prominent Big Horn personality, Sen. Malcolm Wallop.
The beloved late Queen Mum
hoisting a pint at a pub in Odeon
Square during Silver Jubilee.
EVEN BEFORE I became a film reviewer, I saw every movie I could about the royals-- particularly Queen Elizabeth I and later Queen Elizabeth II.  My favorite QEI actress is Glenda Jackson, although Judi Dench made a magnificent older royal.  Bette Davis had just the right amount of grit to give her QEI the proper feistiness.
Dame Judi Dench as Queen
 Elizabeth I. Many actors
have played the famous royal. 
As for the reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II has spent over 65 years on the throne and has been fodder for pop culture ever since I watched her put on that first crown -- little Cookie sitting glued to the family's first television.
She has been the subject of many impersonations -- including some irreverent ones by Monty Python and many others.  The Queen is said to have a good sense of humor -- she'd have to.
Cookie and Keller met the Queen Elizabeth when she sailed into
Long Beach. That's the ship, not the sovereign. An avowed

 "cruise junkie," Cookie has fond memories of many QEII sails.

MY FAVORITE ship by far is the now retired Queen Elizabeth II.  I crossed the Atlantic on her seven times and sailed the Norwegian fjords and Mediterranean on her. The new Queen Elizabeth is lovely, too, but my heart yearns for the days of dinner in the Queen's Grill, and an interview with Kevin Kline or Josh Logan, two of many celebs I interviewed on that venerable ship.
I'd love to interview the Queen -- or at least meet her -- but if not, I've had a good life with "my royals."  I wish Harry and Meghan my own royal best. 

One year ago, Keller had his two-week follow up with his primary transplant
surgeon, Columbia trained Dr. Jonathan Fisher, at Scripps Green Hospital.

A fabulous ensemble interacts with an appealing gaggle
of puppets in the smash hit "Avenue Q" at New Village Arts.

NEXT UP:  It's been a year of ups and a few downs, since Bruce William Keller had his successful liver transplant. Several hundred readers want to know how it's gone so -- not known for wall flower protocol -- "Nurse Cookie" tells almost all, including how Keller is doing ("fabulous," he says) and how she nearly lost her nurse's cap. Tune in and remember to explore, learn and live.

BEST BET: "Avenue Q" at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad, is the most refreshing musical to come down the recent theatrical pike in our prolific, play-loving corner of southern California. Human actors sing, dance, tease and experience life along with a gaggle of charming, hand-operated puppets. We saw the Broadway production and loved it.  But the intimate staging at New Village Arts puts the audience close-up and personal in a way the larger house couldn't. An extraordinary cast of strong voices carries out AJ Knox's snappy direction. The winning ensemble is backed by Nina Gilbert's fine musical quintet to share appealing stories and life lessons. Our opening weekend  audience was captivated: SRO with cheers and a standing ovation! The storyline follows the denizens of a sketchy New York neighborhood but their problems are universal and tenderly told -- loneliness, money woes, confusion of goals and need for purpose. Don't miss it.   


  1. Too much royal fun.

  2. Scots and ExcitedMay 19, 2018 at 3:10 AM

    Would love to be there, too, Cookie. Know Sir Elton John and George Clooney are invited. Your usual fun spin.

  3. Beverly Hills BroadMay 19, 2018 at 7:59 AM

    What a delightful read. Love it.

  4. Annapolis AnglophilesMay 19, 2018 at 1:40 PM

    We were up, too, with tea and crumpets. I,too, was a tot when Queen Elizabeth was crowned. I remember the royals returning from Africa when they heard the news that her father had passed..... your lovely piece revived many beautiful memories.

  5. Charleston GlobetrottersMay 20, 2018 at 8:25 AM

    Thanks for all your lively reporting of global events. Great stuff and fun photos always.

  6. Madison MavericksMay 23, 2018 at 2:40 PM

    Fantastic look at the royal family -- and your own intriguing life. We hope you are working on a book. Cookie, what a life! Thanks for sharing.