Being a member of the British royal family is not as easy or pleasant as it appears.
1. Racing with the Saudi prince
Queen Elizabeth II loved to drive. During World War II, she served as a junior territorial defence officer and trained as a truck driver.
And being the Queen, she doesn't need a driving licence.
Former Saudi Ambassador Sherard Cowper-Coles recalls Crown Prince Abdullah's visit to the UK in 1998. After dinner at Balmoral, the Queen invited her guest to tour her Scottish estate. She had the prince get into her Land Rover. The Crown Prince calmly sat down in the passenger seat. He didn't know he was in for a shock: the Queen got into the driver's seat. She started the car and dashed off across the rough terrain at breakneck speed. Abdullah was so terrified that he begged her to drive slowly. By a strange coincidence, women were not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia at the time. After that epochal race with Elizabeth, the ban was lifted.
2. Paul Burrell's Trial
Paul Burrell was Queen Elizabeth II's personal servant. He later became Princess Diana's servant. She had a lot of respect for him for his devotion. Rumour had it she even called him her rock. After Lady Di died, Burrel started making numerous TV appearances. He even had a high position in a foundation established on behalf of the late princess.
On January 18, 2001, police raided Burrell's home. Law enforcement officers found a stockpile of Diana's personal effects in the attic. He was immediately charged with theft, but Burrell vehemently denied all accusations. After the trial began, the presiding judge abruptly dropped the case and sent the jury home without explanation.
Queen Elizabeth knew nothing about this and learned about the situation from the news.
She said she remembered Burrell telling her that the Princess of Wales' belongings were kept in his house. Law enforcement agencies were informed, and all charges against Paul Burrel were immediately dropped. He was released and told the press that the Queen had helped him. The press wanted a sensation in the form of some dirty secrets of the royal family, but the whole affair ended abruptly. Lady Di's personal effects were returned to the royal family, who have never commented on the incident since.
3. The Queen shows Mrs.Thatcher her place
Margaret Thatcher became the first female British Prime Minister. Together, Queen Elizabeth II and Mrs. Thatcher were then the most powerful women on the world's political stage.
The Queen was always insanely annoyed by the Iron Lady's habit of turning up for meetings too early. When talking to other people, Elizabeth often referred to the Prime Minister as "that woman." One day, Margaret Thatcher suggested that she and the Queen should pick out outfits for an important event together. The Queen casually remarked that she didn't care what other people wore.
The Queen greatly valued the political alliance with the Commonwealth countries. Thatcher considered it an infinitely outdated institution. When things got incredibly tense in the 1980s, the Queen called for trade sanctions to keep the Commonwealth united. Thatcher disagreed.
The press published an article claiming the Queen was dismayed by Thatcher's lack of compassion. The article also went into detail about the conflict between the two women. The Queen's press secretary immediately demanded a retraction, and Elizabeth personally phoned Margaret Thatcher about the article.
Despite all these disagreements, the Queen grew to respect Thatcher. She even came to her funeral in 2013, although the protocol did not require this: she attended because she chose to do so.
4. The royal nanny gets tossed to the curb
The first rule for anyone who works for the royal family is to keep their mouth shut. In the 1930s, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret had a nanny by the name of Marion Crawford. They affectionately called her Crawfie. When the princesses' father became king following Edward VII's abdication, the whole family moved to Buckingham Palace. The nanny did too. As the years went by, Crawfie went from being just a nanny to being the family's confidante. She served them faithfully until 1949.
At the time, an American magazine contacted Marion to see if she could share inside information about the royal family's life. The nanny told the Queen Mother about it. She thought this was a good way for the nanny to make some extra money and for the royal family to get publicity. The only condition was that the source be kept anonymous.
After some time, the magazine published a relatively benign article detailing funny incidents from the princesses' childhood. The issue with the article flew off the racks. There was a problem, though. The journalists revealed the name of the person who supplied the information. The Queen Mother was furious and blamed Marion Crawford for everything. The nanny was immediately fired and completely cut off from the royal family. She returned to her homeland in Scotland. She was psychologically crushed and even made several suicide attempts. Marion didn't show anyone the letters in which the Queen Mother allowed her to talk to the magazine, even though they would have cleared her name.
Marion Crawford ended her days in a nursing home in abject poverty. In her will, she ordered that all correspondence be returned to the Queen. The royals never spoke of the affair again.
5. Farewell Britain
The late Queen spent some of the happiest days of her life on the Royal Yacht Britannia. The ship was launched in 1953. Following that, for almost fifty years, it hosted members of the Royal Family and various eminent guests. HMY Britannia was the only place Elizabeth could let down her royal facade and kick back a little.
In 1997, Tony Blair became the new Prime Minister of Great Britain. In a bid to cut spending, he blocked the repair bills for the yacht. At the time, the treasury had already spent a lot of money on the Royal Family because Windsor Castle needed repairs after a fire. The government had come in for some harsh criticism over spending, and the Prime Minister went on record to say the wiser course of action under the circumstances would be to finance public services. The Royal Family had no choice but to acquiesce. HMY Britannia was decommissioned.
Elizabeth and her daughter Princess Anna wept openly as they stood on the pier, looking on as their beloved Britannia was turned into a tourist attraction. The Queen and all the other members of the Royal Family always regretted it. In one interview, Prince Phillip said the yacht was in excellent condition and could have sailed for another fifty years.
That was the Royal Family's only comment about the yacht, but their actions spoke louder than words. When Prince William and Kate Middleton had their wedding, Tony Blair was the only former Prime Minister who didn't get invited.