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“Her accent is really rather awful”

Monday, 4 November, 2013

We begin a week of historical diary entries with one by Sir Roy Strong, the former director of both the National Portrait Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The supercilious tone may sound rather grating to the emancipated ear but this is exactly how a certain stratum of British society views itself and its peers.

4 November 1981: “The Princess [of Wales] looked sensational, her dress cut straight across revealing the by now famous shoulders, but with a triple choker of pearls fastened with a diamond clip around her neck in the manner of Queen Alexandra. She has a clear complexion and lustrous blue eyes. Tonight she seemed a large girl in a billowing white dress full-skirted to the ground with a broad blue ribbon at the waist. More petticoats, however, Julia [his wife] observed, were called for. How can I describe her? Well, after the event I would categorise her as Eliza Doolittle at the embassy ball. Beautiful, in a way like a young colt, immensely well meaning, unformed, a typical product of an upper class girls’ school. But she has so much to learn, which she will, unless she gets bored with it and it sours. At the moment she has not learned the royal technique of asking question. Nervous, certainly, so I placed myself next to her and as I promised Edward Adeane [private secretary to the Prince of Wales], kept an eye on her the whole time. Her accent is really rather awful considering that she is an earl’s daughter. Not an upper class drawl, at all but rather toneless, and dare I say it, a bit common, as though it were the fashion to learn to talk down. That is what I meant by Eliza at the ball.” Sir Roy Strong

The Princess of Wales

Tomorrow, here, diarist and spy Robert Bruce Lockhart, who won the Moscow league championship in 1912 playing with Morozov, a textile factory team. He was much more entertaining than the unbearably narcissistic Edward Snowden.


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