Home is where the heart is
It is hard to takes one’s eyes from the charming picture of Her Majesty as she sits in her own corner of the settee with her small son snuggled up beside her. She is reading to him a much-loved, much-tattered copy of ” Cinderella.” Princess Anne plays with her coloured bricks, her doll clutched in her arm, and at her side, a miniature mahogany wardrobe packed full of lovely dolls’ clothes of every description from dressing gown to ball dress. Beside her, propped against the settee are two more favourite books taken from the mahogany Canterbury which is kept for the children’s things—” Fuzzy Peg Goes to School ” and ” Our Animal Friends.”
With his back to the fire, Papa—as all Royal fathers are called— keeps an eye on his young family, and the two Corgis, Sugar and Susan, close by.
But let us look in detail at the Queen’s personal treasures—the furnishings she chose for this room so intimately her own.
Dominating the room, catching and concentrating the sunlight, is the cut glass chandelier—a magnificent example of late eighteenth century design. Two tiers of lights are suspended from a metal frame of old gilded bronze from which hang festoons and cascades of crystal drops.
On those rare occasions when the Queen and her husband may sit quietly together, after the children are in bed, watching the television from the wide settee, only one or two of the wall lights are used or the lamp on the fireside table. The wall lights, the ” girandoles,” are of carved and gilded wood with a pair of doves above the lights. The television set stands in the left-hand corner .beside a firescreen of exquisite petit point embroidery, on top of it a model of the S.S. ” Gothic “—prepared for the Royal visit to Australia and New Zealand. It was in fact awaiting the Royal couple at Mombasa when the tragic news of the King’s death was received. This same ship will carry Her Majesty and the Duke to the other side of the world at the end of the year.
Over the chimney piece of carved pine., reassembled from pieces found in store at Kensington Palace and probably dating back to the time of King George II, you can see an oval Chippendale mirror with rococo carved and gilded frame which might be described as the craftsman’s version of a sylvan pool.
On the right hangs a picture which is one of the Queen’s most precious possessions. It was a wedding present from her mother and is James Gunn’s original sketch in oils for his famous Conversation Piece with G. K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc and ”Maurice Baring talking—as ever—round a friendly table. The finished painting hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. • Beyond, is Edward Halliday’s first head and shoulder sketch for the full length painting of H.R.H. the Princess Elizabeth exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1949 and which now belongs to the Worshipful Company of Drapers. You will remember this as we had the honour of using the portrait as a Woman’s Journal cover.) This is one of the Duke’s favourite portraits of his wife.
The happy hour is over. There is work awaiting Her Majesty.