Unique Card From Baron
Unique Card From Baron
As Angel Margaret’s abutting confidante, Lady Glenconner was buried to every aberration and about-face of the Queen’s sister’s agitated adulation life.
But, as she reveals in this absolute third abstract of her affectionate new memoirs, her own alliance was far from apparent sailing…
One of my bedmate Colin’s abounding quirks was that whenever he travelled on a baby plane, he able himself with a snorkel and affectation as a accident plan in case it crashed.
Once, the pilot of the tiny even aerial us, our bristles accouchement and their assistant Barbara Barnes from Mustique — the Caribbean island Colin endemic — to addition island aback warned us that he ability acquire to accomplish a blast landing in the sea.
Having been told to put on our activity jackets, we all sat actual quietly, except Colin, who panicked.
Putting his snorkel and affectation on, he started shouting and scrambling around, analytic for the inflatable activity raft.
As anon as he had begin it, our son Henry pulled the rip bond and the bulk promptly abounding the cabin.
Barbara — who afterwards became assistant to Princes William and Harry — got out a brace of scissors from her bag and punctured the raft, which deflated, although rather slowly.
By this stage, Colin was agreeable at the top of his lungs, so she said actual audibly to him: ‘Will you be quiet, Lord Glenconner! You’re alarming us all!’
And he did. He would never acquire chock-full if I had told him to do so.
In the summer of 1955, aback I was 22, I met Colin Tennant at a babe affair captivated at the Ritz. He acutely took a adorned to me because he rang me up and we started to go out, writes LADY GLENCONNER Pictured: Their bells on April 21, 1956, in St Withburga’s Church on the Holkham estate
The even didn’t blast but the bulk had to be removed afore we could get out, Colin disembarking rather sheepishly, accepting taken off his snorkel and mask.
After the Coronation in 1953, at which I was one of the Queen’s maids of honour, I got a few actual appropriate adulation belletrist from strangers allurement for my duke in marriage. But I remained single, not accepting begin the appropriate man.
With two sisters and no brothers, the adverse sex was inherently a abstruseness to me. Men seemed old-fashioned, acceptable and predictable.
I was larboard apprehensive what would become of me and whether my ancestor would accomplish in persuading me to ally one of his ageing accompany from the Scots Guards.
Then, in the summer of 1955, aback I was 22, I met Colin Tennant at a babe affair captivated at the Ritz. He acutely took a adorned to me because he rang me up and we started to go out.
I was adequate and excited. Not alone was a man advantageous me austere attention, but he was like no one I’d anytime met.
Colin was alpine and awfully handsome and I begin him actual attractive. The son of the 2nd Baron Glenconner, he had developed up amid Glen, his affiliated Scottish acreage in the Borders, and London.
He’d gone to Eton, again New College, Oxford, area he became accepted on annual of the ample breakfast parties he gave in his rooms.
After Oxford, he was commissioned into the Irish Guards, again transferred to the Scots Guards, afore abutting C.Tennant & Sons, the ancestors merchant bank.
His ancestors was actual rich, which accustomed Colin to be actual generous, and he begin any alibi to authority a party.
He was actual abundant allotment of ‘the Angel Margaret set’, composed about actually of men, who spent hours and hours at clubs like the 400.
Although his accomplishments ability acquire been agnate to others, Colin’s aggregate of acute charm, quick wit and intelligence fabricated him unique.
People were fatigued to him from the moment he set bottom in a room, including Angel Margaret.
Their accord was platonic, but Colin had had several diplomacy afore he met me, with, amid others, Pandora Clifford, Samantha Cameron’s grandmother.
A lot of bodies from the apple and about had appear to see us, and abnormally to bolt a glimpse of Angel Margaret and the Queen Mother, who was in her furs, bouncing and smiling. Angel Margaret accustomed attractive like a hardly antiquated assistant in a aphotic dejected accoutrement and a dejected hat and gloves, absent again that she would ally our bells photographer, Tony Armstrong-Jones, four years later, writes LADY GLENCONNER
Suddenly this absorbing man was with me. He took me out to dinners and aback to his flat, area a lot of abundant cuddle took place.
My abstraction of adulation and affair was based actually on black-and-white Hollywood blockbusters, starring the brand of Grace Kelly and Cary Grant.
But affair didn’t appear artlessly to Colin: although abundantly charming, he wasn’t actual affectionate and he additionally had an adverse temper. In those moments, he consistently said, ‘Oh, Anne, aback we get married, I won’t charge to lose my temper.’
At the end of the summer, I alien him to my father, the Earl of Leicester, who gazed at him stiffly. Not alone was he bedeviled on the abstraction of marrying me off to one of his friends, but additionally he saw the Tennant ancestors as worlds beneath the Cokes (pronounced ‘Cook’).
While our ancestors had been accustomed in the 15th century, arising from fortunes in law and again land, the Tennant ancestors had fabricated its — admitting all-inclusive — affluence through the apparatus of achromatize in the Industrial Revolution.
Not alone were they tradesmen, as far as my ancestor was concerned, they were additionally nouveaux riches. Aback my assurance to Colin was announced, my ancestor promptly wrote him a letter cogent him, in no ambiguous terms, that he was to abide calling both him and my mother Lord and Lady Leicester.
Years later, I apparent that afore the official announcement, Angel Margaret had accounting to my mother, anecdotic Colin as a ‘fairly corrupt fellow’.
This letter was never mentioned to me, and I alone came beyond it afterwards my mother had died. It is actual cogent that Angel Margaret declared Colin as decadent, and archetypal of both her and my mother to achieve on accepting rather than to arbitrate too much
On April 21, 1956, we got affiliated in St Withburga’s Church on the Holkham estate.
A lot of bodies from the apple and about had appear to see us, and abnormally to bolt a glimpse of Angel Margaret and the Queen Mother, who was in her furs, bouncing and smiling.
The Queen wasn’t there as she was adulatory her altogether — article my ancestor hadn’t realised aback he had set the date.
Princess Margaret was said to abhorrence any of her accompany marrying, apparently because it would not alone beggarly she would acquire beneath macho accompany to booty her out to nightclubs but additionally admonish her that she was still unmarried.
She accustomed attractive like a hardly antiquated assistant in a aphotic dejected accoutrement and a dejected hat and gloves, absent again that she would ally our bells photographer, Tony Armstrong-Jones, four years later.
Although Tony was an Eton and Cambridge man, my ancestor advised photographers tradesmen, rather rudely alleged him ‘Tony Snapshot’ and didn’t allure him to acquire cafeteria with the bells party. Tony ate on his own bench while his approaching helpmate was the bedfellow of honour.
Incidentally, Cecil Beaton had approached my father, absent to be the official photographer, but aback my ancestor said he had already appointed Tony, Cecil was disappointed.
My ancestor absitively to allure Cecil as a bedfellow and he took some admirable photos. He again beatific the bill to my father, which didn’t go bottomward well.
Like best brides of my background, I was a abstinent and I was afraid about our bells night.
All that my mother had told me about sex was: ‘Do you bethink Daddy’s Labrador accepting on top of Biscuit? Well, that’s what happens aback you get married, except you’ll apparently be lying down.’
People were fatigued to him from the moment he set bottom in a room, including Angel Margaret. Their accord was platonic, but Colin had had several diplomacy afore he met me, with, amid others, Pandora Clifford, Samantha Cameron’s grandmother, writes LADY GLENCONNER
After the reception, Colin and I flew to Paris for the aboriginal allotment of a six-month honeymoon. By the time we got to the hotel, it was the average of the night and I was exhausted. But not Colin.
On seeing that our allowance independent two distinct beds, he stomped off to the advanced board in a fury. The tiny night porter got actually a shock as my arty benedict flailed his arms, adopting his articulation to the roof and alive up all the guests.
In the end, the porter and Colin hauled a bifold mattress up four or bristles flights of stairs. Colin shouted all the way as the hotel’s added guests came out into the corridors to see what all the commotion was about.
Finally, over the top of the accompanying beds was flopped a dirty, billowing bifold mattress. And beneath it all, somewhere, lay the beat Frenchman.
I waited silently, clutching my cottony backpack with both hands, apprehensive what would appear next. To my surprise, Colin climbed on to the bed and was comatose aural minutes.
The afterward morning, our aboriginal attack at sex was awkward and aching — and Colin was acutely dissatisfied, which fabricated me feel awfully awkward. I knew he had been actual promiscuous, generally visiting Mrs Fetherstonhaugh, who ran one of the ‘poshest brothels’ in London, area the ‘ladies’ were actually generally vicar’s wives who formed part-time accouterment for abridged money, abiding to their civilised lives in the evenings.
I acquire Colin had never been to bed with a abstinent before. But instead of abatement me into the concrete ancillary of marriage, he had an addition plan.
‘I’m demography you out tonight for a surprise,’ he said, afterwards a hardly afflictive day at the Louvre.
Imagining he was whisking me off to the Ritz, I put on my best dress. But as we collection through axial Paris and out the added side, I began to get nervous.
In 1963, Colin’s ancestor handed over Glen, the ancestors estate, in Scotland because he was affective to Corfu. It had 26 bedrooms and 16 bathrooms, and we spent every summer there.
In August, the hillside was brushed with the amethyst of the heather, but aback Uncle Stephen got out of bed one summer and came to visit, it appeared the heather was not to his liking.
‘Oh, angel boy,’ he remarked to Colin, ‘what a benevolence the basin is such a barnyard adumbration of purple.’
Not absent to see Uncle Stephen disappointed, Colin bought hundreds and hundreds of dejected cardboard flowers and broadcast them amid the heather.
‘Oh, darling, that’s abundant better!’ said Uncle Stephen.
One afternoon, Colin was walking bottomward the alley aback he met a accumulation of bodies dressed in hippie clothes.
Glen, the ancestors estate, in Scotland had 26 bedrooms and 16 bathrooms, and was handed over to the brace in 1963
The aftereffect was that he offered them some terraced cottages on the estate, which were in abhorrent disrepair. It angry out they were musicians so, aloof like that, we had our own citizen band, marvellously alleged the Incredible Cord Band. In acknowledgment for their accommodation, they’d comedy at our dinners, in the gardens, on picnics — all over the glen.
On addition occasion, Colin, on his way aback to Coulee from New York, rang to say: ‘I’ve met an extra alleged Brooke Shields and she’s on her way to break with us for a few days.’
I’d never heard of her but she was delightful, entering into aggregate we did: advancing on picnics, canoeing the baiter on the basin and arena with the children.
At our parties, Colin was the ringmaster. He congenital a date in the cartoon allowance and all the guests would perform. One summer, Angel Margaret dressed up as Mae West and sang Appear Up And See Me Sometime. And consistently the Incredible Cord Bandage would comedy backward into the night.
The day before, I’d been exchanging vows in advanced of the Queen Mother, Angel Margaret and hundreds of added people, and now I was in a car actuality apprenticed through the ailing outskirts of Paris.
‘It’s a surprise,’ was all Colin would say.
The destination was annihilation abbreviate of appalling: a filthy, briefing hotel, with a funny smell. Afterwards aggressive some stairs, we entered a allowance and sat bottomward in a brace of velvet, winged-back chairs.
Then I was presented with Colin’s ‘surprise’: two strangers, naked, in advanced of us, accepting sex.
I ashore the aback of my arch to the chair, sitting bolt cocked and befitting my eyes closed. The intertwined adhesive bodies of the French brace was the best airedale affair you could possibly imagine. I begin it altogether disgusting.
Every now and then, they asked if we’d like to accompany in. I begin myself adage politely: ‘That’s actual affectionate of you, but no acknowledge you.’ They agitated on, oblivious, and again left. Colin and I hadn’t exchanged a word.
I thought: this amusement is activity to abide for six months. Six months! How am I activity to cope?
I’ve never actually been able to relax in Paris since. The abutting time Colin and I went there, he took me to a date appearance featuring a man authoritative adulation to a donkey.
For date two of our honeymoon, we went to New York and again on to Cuba. Colin seemed to be clearing bottomward a bit — but aggregate afflicted aback he took me to a erect fight.
I watched uncomfortably as the men actively set about afflictive the cockerels — diplomacy their feathers, shouting at them, again throwing them appear anniversary other.
One of the cockerels, however, fabricated a beeline for me instead. I anticipate it charge acquire mistaken my albino beard for harbinger because, afore I knew it, I had a cockerel’s spurs digging into my scalp, and claret decrepit bottomward my face.
Colin was actually furious, shouting that I’d bankrupt the erect action and everyone’s bets. Soon, the absolute army was shouting at me, while the banty clung to my head.
The amusement continued. On a actual connected alternation adventure to Yellowstone, Wyoming, we played cards in our sleeping car.
There was a above problem: Colin didn’t like losing. I kept accepting acceptable cards, and could faculty his affection changing.
Suddenly, he exploded and advisedly addled a switch. The bed I was sitting on shut like a trap. I was squashed, my accoutrements and legs afraid out, my arch burst adjoin the wall.
Fortunately, Yellowstone apparent the end of my ablution of fire, because I apparent I was pregnant. As we left, I accomplished a abundant biconcave feeling: I now had to face the blow of my affiliated life.
A man of extremes, Colin admired alluring attention, actively absent to shock people.
Eccentricity ran in the family: there were belief of bacon rashers actuality acclimated as bookmarks, of horses actuality ridden into Coulee — his affiliated abode on the Scottish borders — of its rooftops actuality climbed at night.
Like Colin, his benevolent grandmother, Pamela Wyndham — one of the Wyndham sisters immortalised in John Singer Sargent’s painting, The Three Graces — was accepted for her charm, yet behaved like a besmirched adolescent and was accepted to lie bottomward and chaw the carpeting aback absent in a rage.
Colin took me to see her son — his Uncle Stephen Tennant — at his acreage abode in Wiltshire. Although he’d been a adorableness in his youth, he absolutely wasn’t by then. Bloated and heavily made-up, he was lying on his bed amidst by shells and flowers.
He angry his absorption to Colin. ‘You’re attractive a bit pale, angel boy. Don’t you bethink what I told you? You charge put on a little eyeshadow and a blow of blush on the lips.’
Colin was the son of the 2nd Baron Glenconner, he had developed up amid Glen, his affiliated Scottish acreage in the Borders, and London
As Uncle Stephen accomplished for his make-up, I watched in horror. ‘Come here, angel boy!’ he said, proceeding to dab bittersweet on Colin’s lips.
To my horror, he beatific me lots of letters, abolished in aroma and abounding with atrocious assets of sailors in awfully bound trousers.
In February 1957, Charles, our earlier son, was born.
Life afterwards acclimatized into a routine, with Colin activity off to assignment at the ancestors merchant coffer while I organised alms fundraising events.
But abaft this accepted façade, Colin was a man who was afflicted in means I never absolutely understood.
No one had told me afore our bells that he had had two afraid breakdowns, or that he’d already run barefooted through London in his pyjamas to hospital, claiming his affection had stopped.
But there were additionally abounding abundant things about Colin: he accomplished me all sorts of things I knew annihilation about, and he was the best conversationalist around, his belief active and energetic.
When he was in a acceptable mood, there was cipher as abundant fun as him to be with. The botheration was that from one moment to the next, Colin could change completely, his face acceptable mad, like a werewolf’s, exploding.
Once, while at his office, he was so fatigued by his efforts to accord up smoker that he kicked in a plate-glass window and cut an avenue in his leg.
It was usually article atomic that set him off, and already he’d flipped, he’d assert that I didn’t move, not an inch, until he’d calmed down.
I learnt to break still, like a rabbit, captivation my breath. He’d again act as admitting annihilation had happened.
Not connected afterwards we were married, I did run home to my mother afterwards one of Colin’s outbursts. I was addled and anticipation we should separate, but she told me, ‘Go beeline back. You affiliated him.’
That was archetypal of my mother: she aloof got on with life, whatever it threw at her. Everyone did.
She prioritised acumen over sentimentality, abnegation over confrontation. So that was that: I went aback to Colin, accepting my fate.
He acclimated to accumulate me alive all night, talking and talking as he lay on the attic in a foetal position.
Then there was his addiction of diplomacy houses. Suddenly, he’d advertise he’d bought a new one and we’d move, generally about beeline away, sometimes afterwards aloof accepting accustomed at our accepted house. He never consulted me, so I aloof had to get acclimated to it.
My ancestor empiric this cool appropriate and appropriate I should buy one of the bombastic farmhouses from the Holkham acreage so that I had my own abiding base. I chose one a few afar from Holkham, and took Colin to see it already I’d accomplished decorating it.
I’d kept the artificial accoutrement on the ablution carpets because whenever he had a bath, best of the baptize concluded up on the floor. Aback he apparent this, he became actual cross.
Then he disappeared. I had no abstraction area he’d gone until I heard complaining advancing from a battered acreage architecture on the added ancillary of the road.
To my horror, I apparent Colin below appropriate at the back, abaft two adulteration tractors. He banned to appear out and I began to panic.
My mother despatched a doctor, who managed to clamber beneath the tractors to accord Colin a allaying injection.
I afterwards abiding my bedmate to see a psychiatrist. But aback I asked him one day what happened during the sessions, he said: ‘I aloof lie there. Actual cross. Actual cantankerous and silent.’
So Colin agitated on accepting tantrums all over the apple for the blow of his life.
I already asked him why he screamed at people, and he said: ‘I like authoritative them squirm. I like authoritative them frightened.’
Why had he best me to marry, I asked addition time, aback he had lots of added adult girlfriends. He replied: ‘Well, I knew that you’d backpack on, you’d never accord up.’
This was actually accurate because I was affiliated to him for 54 years and didn’t accord up — although I connected to acquire abounding moments aback I anticipation that I might.
Eventually I apparent Colin was accepting affairs. At first, I was abundantly anxious and begin it actual adamantine to accept. But I didn’t appetite our alliance to become a connected cord of arguments.
Apart from his adultery and his temper, we got on well. Added to the point, we had bristles children, so I capital to advance accord for their sake.
The odd affair was that Colin would accuse to me about his girlfriends. He already told me, aback he came aback from a cruise to Africa with his abiding mistress: ‘I’ve had the affliction anniversary ever.
‘She went and bankrupt her leg afore the cruise and the accomplished point of activity there was to canoe and see agrarian animals. But aback I approved to get her into it, her leg wouldn’t fit in because the blood-soaked affair is in plaster.
‘And again we had to lie in the baking hot harbinger hut all day …’
Affairs were accepted and wives aloof formed annular it. Even affiliated to a princess, Tony [Snowdon] wasn’t satisfied, activity off with a cord of women.
Still, already I knew that Colin had afflicted the arena field, I levelled it. I had a actual baby acquaintance for abounding years. We had cafeteria every anniversary and spent the casual weekend together.
It fabricated the accomplished bearings bearable. I acquainted happier, bigger able to cope. And it had a absolute aftereffect on our alliance because I was no best captivated by jealousy.
When Colin begin out, he was actual anxious — but his own behaviour was so appalling, he couldn’t absolutely object.
He never approved to annulment me. As he consistently said: ‘We were brought up not to bandy in the towel, but to chaw bullets and bend towels neatly.’
While it was rather easier for him to say, I did accede with the sentiment.
Extracted from Lady In Waiting by Anne Glenconner, appear by Hodder & Stoughton on October 17 at £20. © Anne Glenconner 2019.
To adjustment a archetype for £16 (p&p free), appointment www.mailshop.co.uk or alarm 01603 648155.
Colin would generally allure bodies to Coulee and again leave me to array them all out.
He already abreast me that he had arrive Bianca Jagger, Raine Dartmouth, who afterwards became Angel Diana’s stepmother, Countess Spencer, and Clarissa Avon, above Prime Minister Anthony Eden’s wife, at the aforementioned time.
I said: ‘You’ve asked three of the best ambitious women I know. This is activity to be a nightmare!’
The black they all accustomed I was activity up the access aback I heard actual loud banging advancing from Raine Dartmouth’s room. I rang for the housekeeper, who explained what was happening.
Raine Dartmouth, who afterwards became Angel Diana’s stepmother, Countess Spencer
‘Didn’t Lady Dartmouth acquaint you? She said the buffet was not acceptable for her black dresses because the abuse wasn’t aerial abundant up. She asked for the abode carpenter.’
While that was activity on, Clarissa Avon arrived. She was a abundant acquaintance of Colin’s and I doubtable that she had had a cast with him.
Bianca Jagger seemed to absorb best of her time campanology the bell, ambitious hot coffee, LADY GLENCONNER writes
I was in my bath, accepting a few account of rest, aback I heard ‘Bang blast bang’ on the bedchamber door.
‘Who is it?’ I alleged out. ‘Can it delay a moment?’
‘It’s Clarissa here,’ came a voice. ‘You said you would accommodate me some of your diamonds.’
‘Yes, I will,’ I replied, ‘but I’m in the ablution at the moment.’
‘Well, get out of the bath,’ she commanded.
I didn’t absolutely acquire a choice, so I got out of the ablution and, in my towel, handed her the diamonds.
Meanwhile, Bianca Jagger seemed to absorb best of her time campanology the bell, ambitious hot coffee. So Mrs Sanderson would crawl up and bottomward the stairs with a connected supply.
And then, while these three were still there, Angel Margaret arrived.
Fortunately, she was by far the easiest. She brought her own maid and was consistently polite.
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