Monday, June 28, 2021

"In Royal Service to the Queen"

Tessa Arlen is the author of the critically acclaimed Lady Montfort mystery series—Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman was a finalist for the 2016 Agatha Award Best First Novel. She is also the author of Poppy Redfern: A Woman of World War II mystery series. And the author of the historical fiction: In Royal Service to the Queen.

Arlen lives in the Southwest with her family and two corgis where she gardens in summer and writes in winter.

She applied the Page 69 Test to In Royal Service to the Queen and reported the following:
From page 69:
June 1945

Buckingham Palace, London

“It’s cruelly unfair, Crawfie. I hate being alone, I really do.” Mar­garet, back rigid, jaw jutting in mutiny, slammed her fountain pen down on the desk. “Papa keeps dragging Lilibet off to do this and read that. He even let her have lunch with him and Mr. Churchill.” She was vibrating with hurt feelings as she hurled her homework into the basket for me to mark.

“It is important that Lilibet spend as much time with His Maj­esty as she can,” I explained to tossing curls and folded arms. “The king is teaching her the ropes because he remembers how difficult it was for him to come to the throne untrained. In a few more years, you will be involved too. As the queen often reminds me: the Wind­sors are a working family, and there will be plenty for you to do when you are old enough. Now, I think it would be a good idea if—”

“Crawfie, don’t you ever get tired of coming up with good ideas?” I recognized the edge in her tone that signaled a storm.

My voice was level as I looked her directly in the eye. “It is my job to have them, Margaret, but if you know what you would like to do this evening, then let’s hear it!”

I saw the flash and could almost smell the gunpowder.
WWII is over and the princesses Margaret and Elizabeth (Lilibet), have returned with their governess, Crawfie, to the royal court of Buckingham Palace from the isolation of Windsor Castle. After the comparative simplicity of their lives at Windsor, Crawfie is beginning to realize that the complex decorum required at Buckingham Palace is going to take all her patience and tact, as her charges adapt to Royal life.

Elizabeth has just announced that she is in love with a man her parents consider thoroughly unsuitable as a consort for the future Queen of England, and after the excitement of VE Day celebrations it is beginning to dawn on Margaret that her role in public life will be significantly less than her eighteen year old sister’s. Margaret’s frustration and resentment are palpable, but as yet palace protocol and the iron rule of courtiers have not yet done their damage to this bright, vital fourteen year old, the darling of the Windsor family with her quick wit, her flashes of perception and her precocious need to get out and enjoy life.

Crawfie, after twelve years as the Windsor governess, loves both of the girls as if they are her own, but she was hoping that now the war is over she might retire, at age thirty-six, and marry the man she loves. If palace life has challenges for Margaret, Crawfie is emotionally torn between supporting Elizabeth in her desire to marry Philip and seeing Margaret through what will become an ongoing rough-patch in the second princess’s tempestuous life.

Inevitably this young, loyal and deeply sympathetic Scotswoman will choose to stay on with the Windsors, putting her personal happiness to one side and nearly losing the man who wants to share a full life with her. But she does not yet see that her desire to do her duty will have dire consequences with Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
Visit Tessa Arlen's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Tessa Arlen & Daphne.

The Page 69 Test: Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman.

The Page 69 Test: Death Sits Down to Dinner.

The Page 69 Test: A Death by Any Other Name.

The Page 69 Test: Death of an Unsung Hero.

The Page 69 Test: Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders.

The Page 69 Test: Poppy Redfern and the Fatal Flyers.

--Marshal Zeringue