Wednesday, December 6, 2017

BFF Etiquette and "Lillibet”

Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret arriving at Glamis, Scotland, with their nanny at the time, Margaret “Bobo” MacDonald, in 1931 ~ MacDonald was in the Queen’s service for 67 years -Photo: Getty Images

The Queen’s Maid Travels Loaded

LONDON (UP)—Have ironing board, will travel. Such is the case with Miss Margaret MacDonald, a brisk, auburn-haired Scotswoman in her 40’s. Miss MacDonald, or “Bobo,” is personal maid to Queen Elizabeth II and accompanies her wherever she travels. Miss MacDonald went to work for the Royal family as a girl of 18, coming from her home in Inverness to be nursery maid to the Duchess of York and her baby daughter. Princess Elizabeth, as a small girl, would dash from behind a door to startle the maid by crying "Bobo.” The name stayed and so did Miss MacDonald. Ever since, she has looked after the woman who became ruler in 1953.

Her Friend 

Bobo is the Queen’s closest friend and confident, the only person outside the immediate royal family who calls Elizabeth "Lillibet” in private. She attends to all the Queen’s wardrobe and it is her pride to send Elizabeth out looking immaculate, no matter how close together the number of public appearances. Then, Bobo slips on her own jacket and joins the crowds, probably wearing the diamond clip the Queen gave her recently, or the gold watch, which was a gift from the Queen Mother. 

The Queen's personal maid is on duty every day, taking time off as she feels inclined. She does most of the Queen's personal shopping, since Court etiquette precludes the Queen buying her own make-up and accessories. The maid lives in her personally-furnished suite in Buckingham Palace. It is Bobo who always wakes the Monarch with a tray of tea in the morning, and then reminds her of the day's list of duties. Miss MacDonald has her own sleeping compartment in the royal train and cabin on the royal yacht, Brittania. There also are a chair and berth for her in the royal aircraft. And wherever Bobo is, with her are ironing board and sewing basket. 

Does Everything 

Her job is to pack the Queen’s clothes, using typewritten lists of every article for quick reference. She does Elizabeth’s personal laundry, helps her with her daily dress, and presses clothes the Queen wore the previous day. The maid travels with a typed outline of Elizabeth's itinerary each date, with a code number beside it to indicate what outfit the Queen means to wear for a particular engagement. It is Bobo who makes the appointment with the hairdresser, the chiropodist, the dressmakers. She calls the physician if it seems Elizabeth is getting a cold, telephones other Royalties with personal messages, buys picture postcards for Elizabeth to mail back to Prince Charles and Princess Anne, and shops for souvenirs. And when the Queen is through with any of her clothes, Bobo cuts out identifying marks and sends them to the Salvation Army for distribution to the needy. The exception: the gowns of state, which are destroyed because no one else is entitled to them. 

The Queen's maid usually dresses in plain black on duty, but likes to look elegant when not at work. In the afternoons, she sometimes walks across from Buckingham Palace to the staff quarters of St. James’s Palace to have tea with her sister, Ruby, who is Princess Margaret’s personal maid. Her sister is married to one of the Queen's footmen, and the couple lives in a small apartment in St. James’s. – Madera Tribune, 1957

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia