Royal Review: On Duty With The Queen by Dickie Arbiter

>> Thursday, October 09, 2014


Those are some of the descriptive words used by media outlets and royal correspondent colleagues to describe On Duty with the Queen prior to its release. Having just finished reading it, I can tell you that none of those words apply.

When books written by royal insiders come out, we tend to expect shocking revelations and salacious details. On Duty with the Queen is not that type of book. Dickie's memoir recounts his life before, during and after becoming a royal press secretary. We learn that he is a man of many talents: ice-skater, actor, art historian in training, journalist and broadcaster. Although I found his royal career interesting, I would have preferred to read more about his background. In particular, more about his mother who sounds like she is quite the character!

During his 12 year career as press secretary, Dickie had a front row seat as 'annus horribilis' unfolded, yet he diplomatically steers clear of speculation and passing judgment. Instead he focuses on business, clearing up misconceptions about royal protocol and providing a fascinating behind the scenes look into the press offices, royal tour planning, as well as the role he played in organizing Diana's funeral.

The few royal anecdotes he does provide only allow us a respectful glimpse. He does have his criticisms about members of the royal family, particularly in the aftermath of Diana's death. But he doesn't come across as an apologist for either side, as books by royal insiders tend to do. One of the most moving moments is when he recounts visiting Diana's casket in the Chapel Royal. Relations between Diana and the royal family were not nearly as black and white as the media would have us believe.

If you're looking for a book that includes intrusive details from former courtiers, there are more controversial books to choose from. Instead On Duty With The Queen provides an enjoyable insight into his life and role as a press secretary for the royal family.

© Marilyn Braun 2014

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.


Move over Prince George, there's a new royal savior in town!

>> Thursday, September 11, 2014

Dear Prince George,

Congratulations on your new brother or sister! (or both, depending on what tabloids you might be reading).

You may not be aware of it yet but big changes are coming. One day you will look back on these halcyon days when you were the royal baby. The mythical royal baby with pleasing features in a £55 Les Petites Abeilles romper suit, slaying republicans by doing nothing more than...nothing. You had the royal shtick down pat.

Now there's a new royal savior coming into town. Unfortunately this arrival means you will have to take a back seat on the world's stage for a while. Before  you throw a regal tantrum, remember that you will one day have all of the unearned glory that comes with being who you are. You will also have whatever is left of the kingdom if this new baby does not save it for you.

If the baby does save the union, he or she will have inestimable bragging rights to hold over you for the rest of your lives. If not, you can beat them up later. Either way, this could also lead to some uncomfortable thoughts. You may wonder...

Why didn't they recruit ME to save the kingdom? I was here ALL along?

I slayed republicans, I can handle Scotland too!

I already knew how to say NO!

Screw 'normal childhood', why didn't you politicize me more?

And once your parents get back from vacation they will have some explaining to do. They may tell you:

'you were napping,'
'the nanny didn't want to disturb you,'
'you looked so tired after slaying all of those big, bad republicans, we thought it best...'

Or they may try to blame YOU: 'we were ready to leave the house but you threw a tantrum...'

While there may be an element of truth to those answers, the simple one is this. Since time-immemorial people love babies. Their helplessness, disproportionate head to body ratio, large eyes...they are blank slates which you can project anything on to. By the time the new baby arrived, you were already your own distinct little person and therefore, less malleable and cooperative. Ultimately, nothing competes with a new baby. In other words, them's the breaks, kiddo!

So for now, enjoy being the royal baby. When your sibling arrives, they will get all of the attention, but you can take comfort in knowing you can always beat them up and pull rank when the time comes.

© Marilyn Braun 2014

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.


Prince George is not the savior of the monarchy, he's just a baby

>> Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Happy Birthday Prince George!

Now that you have turned a year old, it is time for you to hit more milestones if you haven't done so already. First words, self-feeding, moving to big boy bed and pants, not to mention learning  how to live up to the world's expectations for you.

Oh, your parent's didn't tell you about that?

Yes, it seems that people consider you to be the savior of the monarchy. Google it and you will find various articles to that effect. The one who has raised the monarchy up from the past, dusted it off and made everyone look shiny and good. Those in close proximity to you - people who have worked dutifully for the monarchy and are relatively well respected for that work - can't help but benefit from the effect of your arrival. Yes, you have cleaned everyone up, made them lemon scented and fresh again. And all you had to do was be born.

Thank God! What would the monarchy have done without you?

But here's the thing. And this is something that people tend to forget in all of the fawning articles proclaiming you as a future king. You are a child. A child in a remarkable position to be sure. But still a child. For all of the news reports that  your parents want you to have a 'normal childhood' (whatever that means in royal terms) you won't. Not when our collective expectations are already on your wobbly shoulders. It wouldn't surprise me if you grew up hating the media and decided those expectations are too heavy and chose your personal happiness over duty instead. Insatiable interest tends to have that effect. There's even a precedent. Google it.

So while you are surrounded by adults at your whatever themed birthday party, looking befuddled at all of the fuss, insatiable interest waits outside your front door. Following you to the park, or to school, where you will just be trying to be a kid.

Ignore us while we make you more than that.

© Marilyn Braun 2014

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

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