Meeting a metal-framed monarch mother at the New York mausoleum (Rousse)

I was auditioning for the role of mistress of an American millionaire. A small Jewish Italian New Yorker appeared to have taken a fancy to me so I did my best to impress him by spending the afternoon with his children making enormous calorie-laden knickerbocker glories from sweets and molten chocolate. (I wondered if my friend JG might know him?)

Then news came through of the funeral. With very little time to prepare we all piled into the car for the journey to the mausoleum, while Granny H gave us a running commentary of the features en route.

At our destination I found two other British people waiting outside the mausoleum: Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother. They too had prepared in a hurry.

The Queen was especially upset that she was in the US without a hat that was suitable for funeral wear. However, someone had helpfully popped to a department store and bought a navy blue approximation of the Queen’s usual mourning headgear. I thought it looked fine given the circumstances, and told her so.

The Queen Mother needed more than verbal reassurances. She also asked me to fit her into her stays. This required me to take stiff metal rods the width of knitting needles, feed them through her rib cage, then tighten and secure them behind her back. To finish the job I had to ensure that the Queen Mother’s clothing was arranged so that it was impossible to tell that she was being held together by a makeshift metal frame.

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