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Reasons to be cheerful. By Lady Glenconner, 91 today

Blog | By Lady Glenconner | Jul 16, 2023


1. The luxury of time – to do what one wants for a change

When I was married to Colin [Lord Glenconner, 1926-2010], I was always on the go. Now I can plan my day and do what I want.

2. It’s much better being old than being young

I was shy when I was young. Being married to Colin, I wasn’t noticed. He was so flamboyant. I followed in his wake – and I followed in Princess Margaret’s wake, as her lady-in-waiting for 34 years.

Working for her, I met lots of people and now I’m not intimidated by anyone. Other people might be intimidated by me.

3. My lovely children are wonderful to me

My girls play cards at home in the evening with me and take me out. Darling Christopher [her surviving son] is also a joy to me.

4. Success with my books

I became an author at 87 and sold over half a million copies of Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown. It was published in 14 languages. It’s selling very well in America and I’m going on tour to New York soon to promote my new book, Whatever Next. I’ve never had such a good time.

5. The joy of a hot bath

And an electric blanket. I’m early to bed. I like to watch something on telly – the occasional thriller. I love Happy Valley.

I do watch programmes on the Royal Family – quite often I’m in them. The Crown drove me mad with fury. It began well – the Duke of Windsor watching the Coronation in France was excellent.

I saw Helena Bonham-Carter – she came to tea – about acting Princess Margaret: how she spoke and walked. I said I never saw her run.

After seeing Helena in The Crown, I was very disappointed with the portrayal and told her, ‘It was rather awful, wasn’t it?’ She said she had no choice other than to do what she was told.

They couldn’t afford to film The Crown at Glen [the Glenconners’ ancestral home]. When they filmed Princess Margaret first meeting Roddy Llewellyn, we were sitting by a swimming pool at what looked like a ghastly country club. They had me pimping for her, with us both in bikinis – Princess Margaret never wore a bikini. So cheap.

>span class="s2">beginning of The Crown, saying it isn’t true.

I don’t want to talk about Meghan and Harry. But I’ve been asked about Princess Margaret as a spare. She reacted wonderfully, even though she wasn’t even given a house of her own. The only thing she complained about was that she wasn’t educated as well as the Queen, even though she was very clever and well read. She was completely loyal to her sister – I never heard her once say anything against her.

6. Photograph books

I’ve got time to look at my photograph books, read and reread favourite books and do crossword puzzles.

I spend an hour every day answering letters from people who have read my books. I’m a gay icon in America. The Prince’s Trust told me, when I did a talk for them, that a gay community in Milwaukee has sponsored me. Gentlemen, thank you.

7. Chocolate

When I was young, I always had to think of my weight. Now I need my face to be plumped up a bit to avoid wrinkles. I love milk chocolate with nuts and raisins.

8. The price of oil

I was brought up in the war, when everything was scarce. We were always cold. We had no heating. Most people nowadays have never lived through a war. It’s a very good lesson in life.

I wish people were more stoic. I’ve hardly had my heating on at all this winter, though I do wear a puffer jacket.

When you look at what they’re suffering in Ukraine, the least we can do is use less oil. And send them more tanks. In the war, we used to collect money for a tank or guns, and my sister and I made gloves for the sailors on the minesweepers.

I adored my mother, but she was tough. She spoke her mind. She wasn’t too sympathetic. Sympathy can undermine one in lots of ways.

She’d say, ‘Come on, Anne. Buck up.’ There can be too much sympathy when really what you need is more stiff upper lip – it enables you to cope better.

That attitude has paid off in my life, what with my having lost two children, with a third one very badly disabled. And a very difficult life with my husband.

9. Eating with friends

I do go to dinner with the King and the Queen Consort at Sandringham. It’s a great treat. They send a car as I hate driving in the dark.

Usually, I prefer lunch to dinner. I don’t normally eat in the evening at all. It means I don’t get indigestion. I drink exactly what I want and as much as I want. Vodka and tonic is my tipple.

I’ve never smoked. I haven’t been to the doctor for three years.

Lady Anne Glenconner will be speaking about her latest book on Tuesday 9th May at The National Liberal Club