Thursday, January 8, 2009

Princess Margaret and Noel Coward

Yesterday evening I sat down with my new Vanity Fair magazine. For those of you who don't subscribe to this fantastic periodical I recommend that you do. Great writers and photographers. You should probably describe yourself as somewhat liberal first because that is certainly VF's perspective.

The front page bi-line "The Princess and the Photographer, The Romance that rocked Swinging London" caught my eye and so I immediately turned to the story in question. The article is an excerpt from Anne De Courcy's book "Snowdon:The Biography." The period covered in the story is the time in which he courted and then married Queen Elizabeth's sister Princess Margaret. It is a fascinating look at the royal family and the people who get involved with them.

But perhaps the number one thrill for me as I read the excerpt was Anne de Courcy's quoting of Noel Coward's diary. In my early twenties I moved in with my grandmother in Seattle. My grandfather had died only a year before and she needed the company. Since I was just starting a travel career and needed a place to stay the arrangement worked for both of us. During my year there we read a review in Time magazine for the newly released "The Noel Coward Diaries" edited by a former partner of Cowards, Graham Payne, and a friend Sheridan Morley.

My Nana enjoyed stories from old Hollywood and especially liked biographies. This book seemed like the perfect combination of both and since the reviewer raved about it I bought it for her for her as a Christmas present. Since she passed on I have the book in my library now. I was quick to pull it out to see if I could find the quotes that Anne de Courcy referenced. Fortunately his diaries have an index and I found that Coward made note of Margaret and Snowdon 16 times!!

Coward was a notorious name dropper. If you read his diary (which I totally recommend) you will find that out very quickly. He loved to hobnob with the upper crusties, movie stars, writers, generals, and you name it. He had an enormous ego that these people happily fed for him for many years. His writing, both in his plays, books and diary, is witty and entertaining. I will leave you with a quote that comes near the end of the book and was penned in December 1968. I also used the quote in my Nana's 70th birthday card because I knew she'd appreciate the humor and the reference.

"It has been a full and variegated year and I've enjoyed it very much. Now I must turn my questing violet eyes to 1969. My seventieth year! There is really no comment to make about that except perhaps 'Well, well', 'Fancy', or 'Oh Fuck'. Still, I suppose it is comforting to be able to remember the first aeroplane and almost the first motor car! I am very well except for a violent itching inside my right nostril which is driving me mad. But, like everything else in the mutable life, that too will go. Meanwhile I wish to hell it would get on with it."

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