One of my readers has taken umbridge at my praise of Sweden's Princess Sofia as a role model and the response from my scholarly Swedish contributor, Bjorn. This lovely, modern, 21st century Princess responded to the corona crisis by quickly taking an online course and going straight to work in a hospital caring for Covid-19 patients.
His anger, I think, was the notion of a Princess being a role model, that is ordinary people are doing every day what she does, why should she be singled out for praise? Is that right? I wonder dear Reader, if you have ever come across the expression 'it is as it is'? I confess, I did not come across it, or pay any heed to it, until I was in my 50's. The younger me wouldn't have tolerated that at all, to me those words and 'that's the way we've always done it' was fighting talk. I wanted to change things and I knew I was right, (but not popular), but I would push ahead regardless. The aged, experienced, wiser me, says go make a rice pudding instead.
But back to Royalty, being role models is pretty much all they have these days, well that, and diplomatic relations. The Swedish royal family live lives much closer to ordinary people, than the Windsors, but they are still of interest to their nation and worldwide. Your neighbour dear reader, or friend (if you have one) may be working 16 hour shifts and be deserving of praise, but, putting it bluntly, ordinary people are not of interest to the general public. It is as it is.
The idea of royalty being role models probably began with Queen Victoria who wanted her family to be seen as the ideal model family, something every British citizen should aspire to. Being respectable, not (getting caught) committing adultery, not getting drunk in public and not saying anything controversial. It is their strict family code. They cannot risk becoming unpopular. And we, a collective we, do look to our Royal families, perhaps more than we look towards celebrities and media stars, for guidance, or at least a nod, as to how we should behave. If a royal princess dons rubber gloves and joins those on the front line fighting this pandemic, it sends a powerful message to millions. I won't say it glamourizes the menial, humble, tasks she has taken on, but for many young people, they may think if a princess can do this, so can I.
For me, it brought to mind our own Merry Monarch, Charles II best known for his dalliance with a certain buxom seller of oranges, Nell Gwyn. Lesser known, is that he was a veritable hero during the Great Fire of London in 1666. He jumped straight into action. Not only did he utilise the full powers of his office, sending troops to control the spread, he worked on the scene day and night fighting the fire directly and instituting and managing aid for the hungry and homeless. I try, whenever I read anything about him, to remember that.
I agree Bjorn that what Princess Sofia is doing comes straight from the heart. She could have chosen a 'safe' job but she chose to endure what ordinary Swedish people are enduring in the hospitals, she has quite literally, gone straight to the front line. That's pretty awesome. I was also quite touched to see the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate, delivering food parcels with her children. Now there's a 'Diana' influence!
I have to say I like our own Royals, the Windsors, far more than I used to. My change of heart happened literally within one lightbulb moment. Sadly, it was following the bomb at the Arianna Grande concert in Manchester. I watched the Queen (90+) visiting, the mostly young, victims in hospital. I was mesmerized by the power of her presence, the positive, glowing effect, her smile had on the patients and the staff. All my viva la revolucion went out the window, I was deeply touched that a lady of such a great age came to offer comfort to the victims and the NHS staff caring for them. Now as we are in the midst of this century's Great Plague, I find myself heartened and reassured by her words. The Queen endures, the Monarchy endures, England endures. I am picking up all those messages, and yes I know they are carefully planted there by spin doctors, but I'm OK with that. For once they doing something for the good, they are boosting our morale, a strategy that worked during WWII and a strategy that works now.
I was sorry to see however, that loving Queen and Country, went to such crazy lengths yesterday to celebrate VE Day. Months of lockdown and a day of lunacy! Now I am not normally a purveyor of doom and gloom, but fffffs sake, have any of those people partying yesterday, even glanced at what happened the last time the world was hit by a global pandemic? For their information, we have gone through the first wave, now we are just waiting for the big one. Think of all those people standing on the beaches in Indonesia when the tide went right back and everything went silent. That's where we are.
But I don't want to end on a sad note, I am currently enjoying my new OCD, a scientific approach to cooking! The lashes have been abandoned, it is difficult enough to read recipes through a magnifying glass, throw in a pair of 'thick and flirtys' and I'm working blind! There is also something a tad ridiculous in wearing full camera ready makeup with PJs and an apron. True, Barbara Cartland used to do it, but sans the apron and lounging on a chaise longue. I don't have a chaise longue. But I digress, I have spent many years moaning about all my dishes that went wrong, now I am on a quest to recreate them, no matter how many tries, or how many failures. The most recent, a basic rice pudding ffs, and I'm gulping back tears here, was a disaster. I baked it in the oven for two hours as directed, but I missed the bit where it said stir halfway through! The result? Not a soft, creamy, happy memory of school dinners but what can only described as a slab, think breeze block, with a pool of gone off milk around it.
Oops, and there's another sad note, but my kindest wishes to all who look in, it's hard to imagine that we are all pretty much in the same boat just now, albeit socially distanced, in that we are looking for ways in which to keep ourselves occupied and a lot of people have turned to cooking. I can finally, after decades, put a tick beside perfect Quiche Lorraine (60s bacon and egg pie) and Lemon Meringue. I think we are all now being more creative because we have to use what we've got! I'm getting more obscure items online, one vanilla pod for £4 (I know!), gelatine and presently awaiting 3 nutmegs. I am still recovering from the trauma of the last rice pudding, but I will try again! Take care everyone.