…by Anura Guruge
Her Majesty’s Yacht, HMY Britannia, the (former) Royal Yacht the scene of this purported gross invasion of Royal privacy.
Boris, the Mayor Of London
All of the ongoing, possibly even escalating, flap, unnecessary and unbecoming about Kate Middleton’s topless pictures reminded me of this story which graphically illustrates that privacy is not something that Royals can enjoy even in the sanctity of the bathrooms in their own private yacht.
As I said yesterday, they should let this matter drop. It is done. The pictures are out. I could be wrong, but in my opinion these pictures, perfectly normal, nothing immoral, have in NO WAY diminished the respect, affection, admiration and affinity that the British people have for their Duchess of Cambridge. I, as a Brit, am not phased one iota. Good for you Kate. You did nothing wrong. Now lets move on. If the Palace has problems just letting this drop, here is my advise (as a fairly savvy spinmeister). Call up Boris Johnson, the irrepressible Mayor of London, who put Mitt Romney in his place, and get Boris to make a few pithy statements on behalf of the Commonwealth reiterating that all is well with Kate. It is but sour grapes for the French and Italians. They no longer have Royals. As a Brit, I will gladly tell them: ‘if you are that desperate to have a gander at the boobs of OUR ROYALS go ahead, get an eyeful, because we really do have some good looking Princesses‘. Subject closed.
This is a story about the Queen [i.e., Queen Elizabeth II of the U.K.], her Yacht, HMY Britannia, the stewardesses that worked on that yacht, and something very, very, private and personal to the Queen.
This is a TRUE STORY as far as I am concerned in that I heard it being told, at least twice, to a group of people, in a social gathering [i.e., a pub], by the supposed protagonist’s daughter, a well-grounded, responsible IBM employee, who was probably in her late 20s at the time. Since it is not exactly flattering to her mother, I cannot visualize her making it up. There was no need. This was not a ‘tall story’ competition or people trying to ‘show off’. This was her, at the urging of others, telling us, her co-workers about her mother’s life and career as a permanent stewardess on the HMY Britannia. Some of the folks knew her mother. So, I have to assume that this story is true.
Until today I had never even thought about Googling this. Today, with some trepidation (since even I have some thresholds despite my reputation for being willing to go where others fear) I did. If YOU are going to Google it you might have to think about the appropriate terminology to use. Start with ‘celebrities’. Experiment with words. Slang helps. I even got a listing from ebay for the Queen’s ….! Yikes.
This story deals with delicate subject matter. So I am going to tread carefully and use euphemisms. I am not going to spell out the words or be crude in anyway. Use your imagination, read between the lines.
As somebody who wrote his first book 29 years ago, I consider myself by nature and profession to be a raconteur; a teller of stories. Hence why I know that I must relate this story at this time. Bear with me. I am doing MY JOB.
Hursley House, the focal point of the IBM Labs. Hursley complex at which I worked. The famed British SPITFIRE was designed in this building. Yes, I have been in most of the rooms. Some of them, including the ‘Wedgewood Room’, with Wedgewood china embedded in the walls, are classrooms.
I worked for IBM (UK) from 1974 to 1979 at their picturesque laboratories in Hursley, Hampshire, U.K. During my last 2 years with them I worked in ‘Special Engineering’ – a cadre of about 60, in our own concrete building, tasked with creating customized products for the European IBM customers. The mother of one of the administrators in ‘Spec. Eng.’ worked as a permanent, stewardess on the Britannia, and had for many, many years.
IBM Hursley was a fun place, noted for its leisurely pub lunches. As can be imagined, every once in awhile folks would ask this administrator to tell them stories about her mother and the Britannia. In this context I heard this story at least twice.
Her mother along with two or three others were responsible, on a rotating shift, 24×7, to be in attendance of the Queen’s private rooms. Each and every time the Queen or her husband (Prince Phillip) used the bathroom they had to go in, check it, clean it and put it ‘back together’.
As the story went, all the stewardesses did something, without fail, when they entered the bathroom. They checked the seat. They all carried a small metal pill box in their aprons. IF they found what they were looking for on the seat they delicately plucked it up and put in their ‘trophy’ tin. They did this each and every day.
When they got back to port they sold it!
This was way before the Internet, let alone ebay or Craig’s List. So I assume there were dealers that met with the staff to trade in these and other trophies. The mind boggles.
Today, as I stated earlier, I Googled this market — for celebrities in general, rather than the Queen per se (keeping in mind that ‘modern’ practices among ‘young’ celebrities might make this a very SCARCE commodity).
In 1995 or 1996, I was speaking at the then mandatory, ultra-lavish, way-over-the-top Sales Conferences that the then loaded networking companies used to hold — before the dot.com bust. This Sales Conference for a very large vendor was at the all Green MGM Grand at Vegas. Since I had a reputation of being a comedian that can keep people awake, I was given the first-presentation of the morning, breakfast slot — with instructions to get them going because they were all going to be hungover. Those days I still used 35 mm slides for my presentations. Since these had to be loaded into a carousel (or two) and the way they were loaded depended on whether it was forward or rear projection, I would typically arrive 90 minutes ahead of my slot — perfect, presentations being another trademark of mine.
So I get to the huge banquet hall, in one of the lower floors of the MGM, quite early in the morning. Only the set up crew is there. But, I could detect a palpable buzz. Some of the young ladies were very excited. It must be one face, but women talk to me and tell me all sorts of stuff. Well, they told me why they were so giddy. Barbra Streisand had performed there the night before (though I was unaware of that; checking in late that night). They had setup a private backstage suite for her — which was right across from where we were setting up. Some of these girls had camped out till the wee hours of the morning until the concert was over and everybody had left. Then they had run across to the bathroom that had been used by Barbra. Enough said.
The iconic, Supermarine SPITFIRE of WW II, designed in Hursley House — where there was a model of the Spitfire and a plaque to commemorate its roots.