Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What they ate: What to serve when abdicating

Can you imagine holding a throne, much less being the King of England and so on and so on and Defender of Faith and having to serve dinner before you rise at the table and hit the royals with a real zinger such as: I love this woman, cannot do anything without her, and consequently, I abdicate this throne?

But before you can go stepping aside you've got to toddle over to the captain and mention to him, rather nervously, no doubt as he is really the first to know, that you intend to give up your throne and would he please give a dinner party to that effect and thank you very much.

And then same sort of words to your secretary.

Then, after they pick their jaws up from the floor. And after the exchange of a number of anxious glances and much clearing of throats, they stand, straighten their trouser legs nervously, rub their necks (up which the worried prickly heat is climbing) and one says, I imagine, to the other, "Crikey! What the devil is the soup for that?"

And somehow, without a stitch of drama (because they are achingly British), they would arrive at this menu.

Clear turtle soup
Lobster mousse with light piquant sauce
Bordeaux wine
Roast pheasant
Potatoes souffle
Mixed green salad
Frozen fresh pineapple and toasted cheese savory
Coffee and Liqueurs

Without one stitch of theatrics and with no one at the private table any the wiser during this meal (including the woman whose presence will cause this event), a man, then a king, rises from his seat.

When he sits again, he will be, in spirit, but not yet in name, a Duke; Edward, once again.

Not long after, this document will be drafted and signed by Edward (King then Duke) and Albert, his brother, who would become King George VI, as well as their two younger brothers, Henry and George.

The following day, by official act of the Parliment, the abdication would be accepted and just like that, it is over.

This last family dinner is a smaller and more serious a meal than I would choose: It was mostly the immediate royal family and Wallis Simpson and the food is quite a fall-asleep-in-the-turtle-soup-bore, until, that is, someone jumps up and abdicates the throne and sends the demi-tasse flying.

But in light of the hour in human time some might say apropos: It is 1936. The world is just moments away from understanding a concept that will change everything forever: World War II is on the horizon though they do not know it yet for what it will be.

My vision is perfect (and unfairly critical: How many thrones have I leaped from, after all?) from here, I know many things they do not: I know, for instance, that fabulous, sparkling meals will be gone for many years. I know the couple will go to France and witness the war first-hand. I know that while they would remain socialites and royals to a point, the days of excess would be far off.

Knowing all that, I might have done it quite differently; this abdicating thing. I might have invited a few more people. I would try to remove the somber tone as I am in love and while the nation will be handed off to Albert and the royals take this matter with grave seriousness (as they should), I might have made it more of a celebration. And, you know, I would have served a great deal of champagne, at the very least.

And you, how would you abdicate the most powerful throne on earth?

Photo credits: highbeam.com, wikipedia.


Design Esquire said...

Fascinating post! While I agree they could have spruced it up more (to play up their love), I can also understand that they may have wanted to serve a more comforting, understated meal to not steal the thunder of their big announcement (and not to make light of his decision to abdicate the throne). I wonder which course they chose to break the news! I am a huge history buff, so I absolutely loved this post. Thank you.

News Readin' Wife said...

Delightful post!!
Not sure it any of it would have made my "Day of Abdication" menu - but what do I know...

An Aesthete's Lament said...

I would have been pleased to waltz off into the sunset after such a meal.

little augury said...

Blushing-Only her hairdresser knows for sure? Anyway- You my dear are at the Peak here with this post- Brilliant with a capital B! I've always thought WWW must have been disappointed with the ultimate outcome- but how do you leave the once King that left a throne? G

Toad said...

Judging on his immediate actions and war time behavior, it was the best thing to ever hit Britian. The UK may not have survived him.

Laguna Beach Trad said...

"Lobster mousse with light piquant sauce...Bordeaux wine...Roast pheasant."

Good Lord, my mouth is watering at the prospect. Thanks for posting this. I've recently acquired a couple of old books on the Duke, with spiffing photos.

Teacats said...

I am struck by the sheer sadness and gravity in the photo of the two of them. He is reaching for her -- but she is simply clutching her hands. And that tell-tale line between the brows on her face! She almost seems to be pleading for "something" -- perhaps understanding and compassion? Just a thought! Loved the menu!

Jan at Rosemary Cottage

Albion said...

I really enjoyed this post! I am related to Wallis Simpson on my fathers side (Warfield), and have long been fascinated by the man who loved enough to abdicate the throne. I had never considered how he went about it... but enjoyed reading your thoughts on the matter!

racheld said...

Perhaps the lovely fare made up for all the meals they ate in public---she said that being in restaurants, just the two of them, was a chore. They could feel all the eyes in the room upon them, and it was just SO tiring to feel that they had to SPARKLE, gazing into each other's eyes, so as to look as madly in love as they were supposed to be, every minute.

And indeed, it MUST be tiring to have to keep proving a concept, over and over, true or not, just to keep up with expectations.