Wednesday, August 15, 2012
A Right Royal Birthday
For the past couple of decades she has been such a steady presence in the middle distance, increasingly dowdy, hard working, commonsensical, frequently glowering or just occasionally smiling under her formidable loaf of resolutely brown hair, that it can be hard to remember that once upon a time not really all that long ago, HRH The Princess Anne was rather a pretty girl.
The Princess Royal is a woman in the tradition of her mother and her great-grandmother the late Queen Mary. She lacks the easy charm of her grandmother, as well as the Queen Mother's unique and specific glamour - although, especially after the death of her aunt, the late Countess of Snowden, there are few in the world so indisputably royal in their public manner.
Instead, its as if she were a distillation of all the House of Windsor's least flashy, mostly most admirable, virtues: dutiful, dedicated, uninfluenced by the buzzing of critics; occasionally tempery in a way that indicates a rather sharp brain operating behind the bland facade of royalty. She's had her surprising moments - fighting off a would-be kidnapper, for instance ("not bloody likely!"), competing in the Montreal Olympics, and, apparently, quietly indulging an abiding interest in lighthouses. She endured a wedding (successful) and a marriage (less so) in the bright glare of publicity while she was young, and has since more quietly pursued a second iteration of both. She successfully raised two children (an accomplishment that recalls, now that I think of it, her more volatile aunt), and she endures. With luck, she'll be doing more or less exactly the same thing for the next several decades.
Oh, and she's 62 today. On the off chance you hadn't guessed, and although she's rather a change from the Dalidas, Garbos, John Abrahams, and other Fabulous Creatures who normally populate my feeble brain, I really do rather admire her. Happy Birthday, ma'am!