Thursday, March 3, 2011

Royal invite in the mail?

By S. Derrickson Moore

Maybe it was lost in the mail.
I got excited when I saw the pale brown envelope, so like the one that’s already a legend in social circles. But alas, it was just an invitation to a computer sales seminar. There was no white card inside, with the queen’s initials die-stamped in gold on the card below a crown, inviting me to join William and Catherine Middleton for their April 29 wedding at Westminster Abbey.
I realized it was a long shot, but they say it’s who you know. And for a kid whose rambling relatives who left the old county in the 1600s, I’ve chalked up quite a few brushes with royalty, especially if you allow a degree or two of separation.
Both my sister Sally, who lives in Florida, and mi hermana cosmica Cecilia Lewis, an erstwhile Las Crucen, have met Queen Elizabeth.
“At the invitation of a friend, I met the queen in London, in 1967, at a reception held at Whitehall Court by the Farmers Club, whose membership, in those days, included many of England’s great land owners. The queen was, and I imagine still is, the club patron and seemed to be on friendly terms with many of the members. She is very attractive and warm in person with beautiful skin,” said Cecilia, who now lives in New York City.
“Some years later, with my then-husband-to-be, Alexis Bespaloff, I attended a reception on the Royal Yacht Britannia in New York. The queen was not present but one of the officers told us about dining with the queen every evening when they were at sea. He said that she had told him that one of her funniest moments was once, when she was greeting President Reagan, he curtsied to her and they both collapsed with laughter.”
Sally’s big moment came during a royal visit she covered for the Palm Beach Post.
“I met the queen in Nassau and attended a reception aboard the royal yacht, which since has been decommissioned. Prince Philip was quite charming, despite a mouthful of very crooked teeth which made his face more interesting. I told the queen I lived on a boat the size of the royal dinghies, and asked if she ever got seasick. She didn’t, though she said she could feel a bit of motion on rough days. Her aides said we could ask about her cold, which was much better, thank you,” said Sally, who adds, “I still have the sleeveless polka dot dress I wore, but not the gloves. The Post reimbursed me for panties and pantyhose I tore climbing over barricades as I raced to keep up with the queen’s entourage the next day.”
In person, the queen looked a lot like our mom, Sally said, confirming a resemblance we’d noticed in pictures dating back to their teen years.
I was artist-in-residence at a resort, Frenchman’s Cove in Port Antionio, Jamaica, where the queen and other royals were once regulars. It’s owned by the Weston Family and it’s a place everyone should be lucky enough to visit at least once in a lifetime (check it out at
My friends, Grainger Weston and his son, Gregg, were very discreet about protecting guests’ privacy, but I heard tales through the grapevine about Hollywood royalty (Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton spent one of their honeymoons there) and assorted visiting Sloane Rangers. And I learned that Grainger’s brother Galen played polo with Prince Charles.
But not while I was there. My mother always mused that perhaps my sister or I would marry him, but HRH Chuck and I have suffered from a lifetime of bad timing.
I just missed him at a reception in Los Angeles when his entourage was held up in traffic and I was late for a flight home. I left a copy of my first book, “Tenny Hale: American Prophet,” for him at his hotel, knowing of his interest in spiritual matters, but a real-time meeting of the minds and souls eluded us.
Shortly thereafter, Sally saw him at a polo event in Florida, “though we had no opportunity to chat,” she reports.
A decade later, when I was with the Palm Beach County Council of the Arts, there was an exhibition of Prince Charles’ paintings at the Norton Museum of Art in Palm Beach. Once again, we missed each other, but I did spend some quality time communing with his creations, and I still remember how touching I found his ethereal castles and landscapes. They had a winsome, wistful quality as if he, too, believed in the fairy tales that still hold so many in thrall.
I like to think he’s enjoying a modicum of happily-ever-after with Camilla. And I hope things work out for the first-born son of Chuck and Di, and for William’s apparently level-headed bride-to-be Kate.
As it happens, like Fergie (the Duchess, not the Black Pea), I have commitments here in the states through April and won’t be able to attend, anyway.
But I’ll keep an eye on the mailbox, just in case my schedule changes.

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at (575) 541-5450

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