Behind the Throne: A Domestic History of the Royal Household
Where: The General Society Library
20 W. 44th St.
212-840-1840 Price: Members $30; $40 Non-Members
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Despite the castles, crown jewels, and other trappings of monarchy, English royals had—and still have—many of the same issues as average people. They eat, entertain their friends and worry about money. Henry VIII tripped over his dogs. George II threw his son out of the house. James I had to cut back on his alcohol bills. Queen Victoria replaced the toilet paper with newsprint at Windsor to cut costs, while overspending on travel and entertainment.
The great difference, however, is that royal families have much more domestic help—people who run the machine that is the Royal Household. Everyone, from James I’s Master of the Horse down to William IV’s Assistant Table Decker, was there to smooth the sovereign’s path through life. Even today, Elizabeth II has a staff of 1,200.
In his lecture, historian Adrian Tinniswood will uncover the reality of five centuries of life at the English court, taking us on a remarkable journey from one Queen Elizabeth to another. He will reconstruct life behind the throne—telling juicy domestic details—and will illustrate the daily lives of both clerks and courtiers, crowned heads and court jesters.
Adrian will describe the power struggles and petty rivalries that have historically dominated court politics. He will also talk about the shifting idea of the monarchy today, and how their support network still serves as an interface between sovereign and the public. His witty social history of royal life will offer a tour of England’s grandest households while commenting on the ever present tension between the upstairs throne room and downstairs servant’s area.
Thank you to our co-sponsors: St. George’s Society of New York; The Colonial Dames of America, American Friends of Attingham