Queen Elizabeth Seeks Yule Tree at Windsor
By MARGARET SAVILLE LONDON (UPl)—Queen Elizabeth II is keeping her eyes open literally for a Christmas tree. During her horseback rides at weekends on her estate surrounding Windsor Castle, she is looking for a tall fir which can be cut just before the long Christmas weekend. The family will spend the holidays at Windsor. The tree, part of the Christmas tradition which the Queen loves, will be gaily decorated and set up in a corner of the castle ballroom to be illuminated at dusk on Christmas Day. Holly and mistletoe will be brought in to decorate the rooms, along with masses of white chrysanthemums from the hot houses. The kitchens will be busy cooking roast turkey, Christmas pudding and mince pies for the traditional dinner.
Before leaving Buckingham Palace for the castle, about 25 miles up the Thames River from London, the Queen will be the chief guest at what must rank as the world’s most exclusive Christmas staff party. The Buckingham Palace Social Club gives the annual buffet dance for the staff of the Royal household. The Queen dons a ballgown, lends one of her white and gold state rooms for the evening, and goes along to dance with her chauffeur or telephone operator or perhaps the chef. Prince Philip, her husband, partners with a housemaid or sewing maid. Princess Margaret, the Queen’s sister, once danced with a junior footman who long had cherished a secret admiration of her and enlivened the moment by reciting a long romantic poem he had composed in her honor. Once Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, faced with a blushing gardener who had never been round a dance floor before, said, “Well, just hold my hand and walk round but please don’t tread on my toes.” He didn’t.
While in London, the Queen also will slip out one day for her only shopping expedition of the year to choose personal Christmas presents. All her clothes and wants of the year are brought to her at the palace or purchased by a Lady-in-Waiting in accordance with Court etiquette. But she can shop in public if she is buying gifts for somebody else. So she makes the most of the opportunity at one of the big department stores. She drives up to a side door and is escorted around by the manager as she goes through the long list—four children and 21 godchildren for a start, not to mention friends and relatives.
The Queen does not pay cash. The checks go later in triplicate to the treasurer at Buckingham Palace. For the Christmas weekend, Elizabeth invites the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon with their two children, the Duke and Duchess of Kent with their two, Princess Alexandria and her businessman husband, Angus Ogilvy, with their two, and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester with their younger son, Prince Richard. The elder, Prince Michael, is abroad in the diplomatic service. Prince Philip’s widowed mother, Princess Andrea of Greece, who now makes her home at Buckingham Palace, is expected to join the party attend a carol service in the local church and exchange their gifts on returning home. These are generally modest because expensive presents are reserved by custom for birthdays. The children find their gifts in their stockings when they wake up on Christmas morning. They also get to see Prince Philip the way the public never does—dressed up as Santa Claus. –The Desert Sun, 1967
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