(My home stay mom Hazel, my home stay brother Steve, and his daughter Courtney)
If you think living like a royal is easy, think again. Being part of The Firm requires a lifetime commitment to rules and more rules. Could you do it? I have asked myself that question time and time again just in case a prince asked for my hand in marriage, but then again I’m already married to Prince Charming.
I was not part of that royal birth club, but immersing myself in their culture I have learned some fun facts about the British royals:
- Two heirs may never travel together in order to preserve the line to the throne. However, this rule was broken by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge who have traveled together and with their children.
- They always travel with black clothing in case there is a death in the royal family. When King George VI died in 1952, then Princess Elizabeth was in Kenya with her husband Prince Philip when she was informed. Because the death was sudden, the new Queen had no mourning outfit with her for when she returned to London. Navy Blue had to do.
- The queen often uses her Launer handbags to send secret signals to her staff. For example, she’ll hold it behind her back to alert them if she’s in a bind. How very James Bond.
- Non-royals are not allowed to touch royals, but in 2009 First Lady Michelle Obama placed her arm around the queen. It was a naughty breech of royal protocol, but like I said, rules and more rules.
- It’s no secret that the queen likes to wear bright colors and with good reason: She needs to stand out in the crowd of thousands. I hope someday I can say “I saw the queen wearing lavender.”
Since moving to London in April, it’s been a joy to live like a local, from the tasty but caloric clotted cream on scones to Guinness beer in pubs where the crowds runneth over into the streets. I became a card-carrying member of Boots pharmacy (owned by Walgreens). I shop like a local at Marks and Spencer Simply Food and Waitrose where one can purchase Duchy Originals, HRH Prince Charles organic food products. In the US we would say that they’re Delicious, but when in Rome, it’s Quite Tasty Indeed.
As for coffee, well, this is one area I was worried about, but it turns out that our flat is right next door (and I do mean next door) to the best coffee in London. Cha-Ching! My punch card was full on week two.
In London I have made new friends and reconnected with old ones. My college semester aboard was spent at Oxford and I also lived with a family for one month in Cornwall by the sea. Thanks to Google, I tracked down my home stay family and we have since been in conversation. It took but one phone call to melt away thirty seven years.
For now, I am enjoying what it’s like to live in a foreign city where English is the first language albeit very different. Grilled cheese is a toastie; Vests are waistcoats; Arugula is rocket; Bank holidays are national holidays; Courgette is a zucchini and the list goes on.