Memoirs > Happy and Glorious. Encounters With The Windsors HAPPY AND GLORIOUS. ENCOUNTERS WITH THE WINDSORS

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I little thought, so many years ago, when I first encountered the Queen and the
royal Windsors, that I should be, so many decades later, writing my own memoirs of my several encounters. But I am.
How did I begin my connection with the Windsor dynasty?
In just this way: to get a doctoral degree at Harvard, you must write a work of intellectual distinction, challenging existing nostrums, replacing them with new truths, found and defended by you; your topic in due course becoming your first book.
Just what topic you select is closely evaluated and reviewed by your designated dissertation adviser, a poobah with enormous influence on your life.
Here’s where my English History Professor at Harvard, Professor Hanham now stepped in to alter my life, irrevocably, thoroughly, beneficially. He said, “Why don’t you write about the formulation of the great English royal pageants. It would make a splendid book.”
Thus, he handed me a subject which I have been able to dine out on for my
entire life. Millions of people worldwide have participated in the British pageants
since there were such pageants. But “real” historians disdain such frippery. It is beneath their lordly notice.
Here, however, Hanham made an astute observation about me, one for which I
probably have never given him sufficient acknowledgement or recognition.
Forgive me.
The pageants are so obvious, so ubiquitous, so universal, so wide ranging, that by definition, amongst my more snobbish colleagues at Harvard, they couldn’t possibly be important.
However, Hanham was shrewd. He knew, or must have known, that I would be
the only true lyric historian in my class. It was a canny observation. So I began
my lifetime career writing about the “obvious”, because it never really is.
Thus he set me on this path… The path that led to the pageants of the
Windsors, their lives, their foibles, things that were happy and glorious, and
things that were not.
I accepted his challenge, and went to work at once in my usual bull-dog way,
for I am a man who does not fear hard work, so long as at the end of the day, it
produces something of real magnitude and importance. In other words, a thing
worth doing.
My first real breakthrough occurred in one of the most beautiful buildings at Christ Church, Cambridge. There, in a medieval library perfect for my imaginings, I was presented with a box of unpublished letters and documents owned by the current Marquess of Salisbury. These were the letters of his ancestor, the 3rd Marquess (1830-1903). He was Queen Victoria’s Prime Minister three times. Now, thanks to these papers, I had my first sampling of truly substantive and important information.
That day, I knew that I would have further encounters with the Sovereign and the Royal Family. Thus, I set out with a will upon the task of promptly finishing my dissertation. Out of innumerable pieces of the puzzle, I fashioned a work of two volumes, 623 pages, presented to the Department of History, December, 1974, and immediately accepted.
I give you, ladies and gentlemen, the opus maximus, “Queen Victoria’s Golden
Jubilee, 1887”. I am as proud of it today as I was proud of it then, and this work
has worn well over the years.
Plus all the material for my first book “Insubstantial Pageant: Ceremony and confusion at Queen Victoria’s Court ” 269 pages available at –
Now, I was a Recognized Scholar.
Yankee Doodle was coming to storm the palace. God save the Queen!

A tale from an insider, the first American granted unique access to the Royal Archives of Windsor Castle.

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