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  #21  
Old 08-12-2008, 02:50 PM
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Questions for the first 8 Chapters:



4. Prince Edward's educational regime was highly unsuited to him. Given the description in the book of life at public (i.e., private) school in that era, would he have benefitted from being sent away to school?
I don't know if he would have. I have seen instance after instance in this book (haven't rad much about "Bertie" in other novels, I seem to have gone Victoria and after Bertie in my readings) that he seemed to use his "Gut" feelings and employed that as a form of diplomacy with people and it seemed to work well for him.
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  #22  
Old 08-14-2008, 02:03 AM
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I was interested in the explanation for this rigid educational regime he was subjected to. I'd thought that it was done because his sister had taken to her education very well and because Prince Albert thought the heir to the throne needed a very thorough education. I hadn't realised it was because (or at least partly because) the Queen thought Edward was too much like her and shared her weaknesses. That was a different angle on the situation that I thought was really quite illuminating.
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  #23  
Old 08-14-2008, 07:23 AM
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Smile Women Disadvantaged?

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I found it interesting that these rules seemed to be set up for the benefit of the men - they wanted their wives to be virgins and to be sure that their eldest son was their own, but they still wanted to have other women - and yet women seemed to be happy to go along with it and to enforce the rules especially where their daughters were concerned. The whole system seemed to be set up to exploit women, but the women were some of the fiercest defenders.
I don't agree with this entirely, Elspeth. The women had to be virgins before they married but after they married they could usually do what they liked as long as they were discreet! Some of the married women in the Edwardian era had many affairs and their husbands seemed to be quite happy about it - it was a probably an honour if their wives were mistresses of the Prince of Wales. Lily Langtry and Jennie Churchill are just some who come to mind. (I am not sure if Jennie and Edward VII were actually lovers. A nasty book has recently been written about her suggesting that she had about 300 lovers, but I think that's very doubtful!) Women often had their lover's babies and their husbands often 'looked the other way' and brought the children up as their own. Lady Diana Cooper's father, for example, was commonly thought to be someone other than her father.

Best Regards,
Lisa
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  #24  
Old 08-14-2008, 07:27 AM
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Like you, Russophile, I enjoy the anecdotes about Anita's family. I can see why they could be thought distracting, however. I do find that she jumps around from subject to subject a lot. I used to enjoy her writing much more. Perhaps this was one of her first books and she hadn't got into 'her swing' yet.
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  #25  
Old 08-17-2008, 01:07 PM
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The questions for todays chapters:

1. Do you think that Edward would have been more effective in pleading his case with his mother and her advisors, and would they have taken him more seriously, if he had chosen to apply himself to surrounding himself with more serious people, and not building up such a fun loving, loose image? Would this have made any difference in his mothers perception of him do you think?

2. How would you as a modern adult have felt if your spouse behaved in such a way? And do you think that Alexandra should have done more to help Edward prepare for his future?

3. What do you think of GLadys de Grey's acts, specifically sending letters to Lord Londonderry confirming his wifes infidelities, especially considering Lady de Grey's own infidelities and less than scrupulous morals? Do you think that she got her just desserts in the end?


4. Do you think that the women are just as loose in their morals as the men? And what do you think contribited to this sudden shift in morality in some of the higher sets?


5. Do you think that the Marlborough House Set changed or eventually affected society as a whole? Do you think that was the beginning of what we have today?
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  #26  
Old 08-17-2008, 10:23 PM
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I was amazed by the story of Lady de Grey and Lady Londonderry. That Lord Londonderry would refuse to speak to his wife for 30 years after finding that she'd written those letters. I realise that shunning and cold-shouldering has been the punishment meted out by the upper classes to those who transgress or those who they believe are trying to make their way into that society but aren't deserving. But - and I think this is one of the advantages of Anita Leslie's insider knowledge because these people become real people, not just names and portraits - it must have been horrifying to watch. It's interesting that Lady Londonderry managed to maintain her position in society when her husband was treating her like that. This is one of those cases where if a fiction author had written it, she'd have been criticised for being too far-fetched.
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  #27  
Old 08-18-2008, 04:17 AM
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I don't agree with this entirely, Elspeth. The women had to be virgins before they married but after they married they could usually do what they liked as long as they were discreet! Some of the married women in the Edwardian era had many affairs and their husbands seemed to be quite happy about it - it was a probably an honour if their wives were mistresses of the Prince of Wales. Lily Langtry and Jennie Churchill are just some who come to mind. (I am not sure if Jennie and Edward VII were actually lovers. A nasty book has recently been written about her suggesting that she had about 300 lovers, but I think that's very doubtful!) Women often had their lover's babies and their husbands often 'looked the other way' and brought the children up as their own. Lady Diana Cooper's father, for example, was commonly thought to be someone other than her father.

Best Regards,
Lisa
Lady Diana even included in her biography a photograph of the man she said was believed to be her real father and pointed out how like him she was......
The heir and a spare and then do anything they wanted after that.
Not that every lady acted like that but quite a few in dynastic and arranged marriages did.
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  #28  
Old 08-19-2008, 06:42 AM
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I agree that one shouldn't behave like that, of course, but I do think that it was fairly 'liberated'! However, these affairs could be very difficult for the children. I bought a biography of Lady Cynthia Asquith and she was very affected psychologically by her mother's affair. I bought it from England at great expense but it was worth it!

I think that Lady de Grey's actions were probably very impulsive and she didn't realise the dreadful consequences.

Some answers:

1. I do think that Queen Victoria would have taken her son more seriously if he hadn't chosen frivolous friends and indulged in such a good time. She complained about this constantly. On the other hand, she seems to me to have been extremely reluctant to relinquish any of her responsibilities or powers.

2. I think that a modern wife would find it difficult to accept Prince Edward's behaviour. However, Princess Grace did accept Rainier's affairs, according to a biography that I read about her. They reached an accommodation and she had boyfriends of her own. It probably depends on how anxious the wife is to stay a princess and how she regards her duties. Princess Diana couldn't accept Prince Charles's affair with Camilla.

Princess Alexandra was not regarded as all that bright, I don't know why, so it may not have occurred to her to help Edward.
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  #29  
Old 08-19-2008, 03:09 PM
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OK I may be getting into trouble here because I haven't read the book but I got the sense from Alexandra that she was looking for other things besides emotional intimacy from her husband.

Here she was a relatively penniless princess whose father had a shaky claim to a minor throne. Alexandra's marriage to the heir of the most prestigious monarchy in Europe followed by her sister's marriage to the heir of the most powerful monarchy in Europe really cemented Christian IX's position as a monarch among monarchs. Alexandra's and Minnie's devotion to their father was well-known and I don't think there was anything that Alexandra wouldn't have done for her father. Edward, despite his peculiarities and infidelities, gave Alexandra and her father a position which no one could dispute and I think that meant the world to Alexandra.

The couple also seemed to share some of the same values. Both were very social, somewhat superficial, and neither one was a deep thinker. So I think they each reinforced each other's view of the world which can lead to a partnership and a mutual respect. After all Edward was the first king in several hundred years to grant his wife the Order of the Garter and I don't think he would have done so just out of guilt for his affairs. They seemed to be kindred spirits. Except for his scandals, Edward's public image as a bon vivant seemed to fit Alexandra's image of a charismatic and beautiful princess like a glove fits a hand. From their innermost values to their public image, they seemed to fit each other perfectly and I think Alexandra knew that.

If anything, I think Alexandra may have been jealous of Edward's social outings later on rather than outraged. She was athletically gifted and socially adept however, she maimed her leg recovering from a flu and she became hard of hearing later on. The combination of the two restricted her mobility and her ability to go out and mingle. She was not the type of personality that enjoyed reading or solitary non-physical pursuits so I think her world became rather narrow later on.
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  #30  
Old 08-19-2008, 03:32 PM
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Y, I think your assessment is spot on!

I don't think Victoria ever gave Bertie a fair shake. After Albert died, and remember, she relied heavily upon him for just about everything, it seemed that she just lumped everything onto Bertie, it was his fault, he couldn't handle things, we're not going to talk about him, etc. I think Bertie finally took it in stride and said "Screw it" and did what he wanted with his friends.
Being a "modern woman", I did go through the whole adultery thing with the ex. He could do whatever he pleased, my one indiscretion was vilified: How dare I do that to the family? It's all my fault! Can't I just "get over it" and keep the family together? After all, his father behaved in the same manner to his mother.
No, this "modern woman" could not. Bad me!
Reminds me of that lovely apropos French saying: Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.
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  #31  
Old 08-19-2008, 11:26 PM
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I think Bertie's antics did upset Alexandra to an extent, because there were a few long trips back to Denmark and other places where it's stated in biographies that she was getting away because she was fed up with him.

In her situation she couldn't do what the ladies in the Marlborough House Set did and have affairs, however discreet, because it would have been more likely to be made public and a lot more damaging if it had been. There would also be the issue of taxpayer funding of those younger children who didn't look all that much like daddy, to say nothing of it being illegal to have an affair with the wife of the heir to the throne.

So even though she was one of the social leaders of the set, she would have been separate from a lot of the nocturnal goings on. I'm not sure if that changed the way in which other members of the set perceived her, but between that and her deafness, she must have been quite isolated. No wonder she was such a clinging mother.
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  #32  
Old 08-23-2008, 07:18 AM
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re: deafness

I don't think that people often realise how incredibly isolating deafness is. The deaf person often becomes irritable because he or she can't hear. The people around them don't like repeating things all the time. It must have been extremely difficult for Queen Alexandra.
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  #33  
Old 08-23-2008, 07:59 AM
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I think there was another reason for Alexandra´s long visits home to Denmark. It seems they were all so close and from the moment they got together it was one long juvenile romp with practical jokes and it must have been wonderful to get away from the stiff British court for a rest and a taste of her childhood.
I think that Alexandra was very devoted to Bertie and in his way he was very devoted to her. They spoiled their children and gave them a fun life, in fact it was Queen Victoria her referred to her Wales grandchildren as
"savages".
Being deaf must have kept her out of the most interesting of conversations and she must have found it hard to keep up with what was being said around but she seemed to enjoy the social life she led, which in a way is surprising.
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  #34  
Old 08-23-2008, 08:34 AM
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Yes, I wonder if the Danes weren't a little bit too close. Alexandra and Minne gave me the impression of Southern belles for whom no man could be as good as their daddy. That must have been a bit annoying for their husbands.

The photographs that Alexandra later took and were published show how close she still was to her family. Some seemed to be celebratory of King Christian's reign. There is one of throngs of people in the palace courtyard celebrating King Christian's jubilee, some of her father as King inspecting the Royal Guards, and another one with the King holding the hand of little David, the future Duke of Windsor. So Alexandra not only trotted her children to her father's home, she trotted out her grandchildren to Amalienborg too. I wonder what Mary thought of that.

King Christian and Queen Louise seemed to be close to their children but they also seemed to be very laissez-faire, not really wanting to impose their will upon them. The heavy-handedness of her mother-in-law, Queen Victoria, must have come as a shock to Alexandra.
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  #35  
Old 08-24-2008, 12:38 PM
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The questions for today -

. Do you think the relationship between the Duke of Connaught and Leonie Leslie would have been portrayed as platonic by an author who was not related to Leonie?

2. Had the Duke and Leonie both been widowed and free to marry, would a marriage between them have been possible?

3. Edward becomes King during this part of the book. Does this affect the workings of the Marlborough House Set, and do the morals of that set have any more influence on the rest of society in the post-Victorian era?

4. There are several stories of members of this group being indifferent or even cruel to their children. Do you think this has anything to do with the emphasis on relationships and love affairs outside of their families?

5. Do you think the charitable work, such as done by Daisy Warwick and Gladys de Grey, made up for the disproportionate wealth and frivolous lifestyles of the upper classes?

6. The King was characterised by extreme loyalty to his friends, even when they were in trouble. Is this a quality that the monarch can afford to have?
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  #36  
Old 08-25-2008, 07:53 AM
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5. I'll answer this question first. I don't think that you can really say that the charitable work was enough, but it's certainly very much in their favour. The aristocracy tended to fight against many reforms which were designed to help the working classes, but they also did a lot for them and preserved England's heritage. This is one of the reasons why Britain never had a revolution.

I should have said Great Britain's heritage, not only England's!
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  #37  
Old 08-25-2008, 01:15 PM
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I was pleasantly surprised how much charitable work was being done by people like Daisy Warwick. I'd been under the impression that most of it was fairly token stuff being done to ease the consciences of people who owned most of the wealth of the country, and was focused very narrowly on the dependants of the great estates of the large landowners, but some of the work being done back then was the basis for major charitable endeavours that are still going on, and within the confines of believing that the distribution of wealth was acceptable, there was some impressive stuff going on. Sometimes you get the impression that the Marlborough House Set just engaged in frivolity and idle pleasure, but there were the seeds of significant social change under way.
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  #38  
Old 08-25-2008, 01:23 PM
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E, I think there were seeds there before, Princess Alice was hugely responsible for many social changes in Darmstadt. Did her sisters who stayed with Victoria keep that up? I haven't read much about them.
But yes, it is a pleasant surprise after reading about how many of the set were going into bankruptcy just to entertain Bertie!
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  #39  
Old 08-25-2008, 01:57 PM
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other factors to consider

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elspeth
I found it interesting that these rules seemed to be set up for the benefit of the men - they wanted their wives to be virgins and to be sure that their eldest son was their own, but they still wanted to have other women - and yet women seemed to be happy to go along with it and to enforce the rules especially where their daughters were concerned. The whole system seemed to be set up to exploit women, but the women were some of the fiercest defenders.

Quote:
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I don't agree with this entirely, Elspeth. The women had to be virgins before they married but after they married they could usually do what they liked as long as they were discreet! Some of the married women in the Edwardian era had many affairs and their husbands seemed to be quite happy about it - it was a probably an honour if their wives were mistresses of the Prince of Wales. Lily Langtry and Jennie Churchill are just some who come to mind. (I am not sure if Jennie and Edward VII were actually lovers. A nasty book has recently been written about her suggesting that she had about 300 lovers, but I think that's very doubtful!) Women often had their lover's babies and their husbands often 'looked the other way' and brought the children up as their own. Lady Diana Cooper's father, for example, was commonly thought to be someone other than her father.

Best Regards,
Lisa
I think other factors that we do not consider today are also in play. Depending on how these women were raised, sex was only a wifely duty for procreation and only the men "enjoyed" it. Even though that sounds outlandish to us today, I know that is still the attitude that my grandmother had. I know other family members believed that as long as they didn't have to "do it", husband could do whatever he wanted as long as it was discreet. Another factor was lack of birth control and treatment for any STDs, even if the woman was inclined to have an affair it still had more impact for her if she were "caught" either through pregnancy, disease, or scandal. This wasn't just a Victorian idea, many women and men have overlooked dalliances as long as it was mutually beneficial. Many political favors and advances in social standing have been gained by using wives and daughters as pawns (Henry VIII anyone?). I know some people now who still have the attitude of "just don't bring anything home" and the husband can play all he wants. Not sure I can agree with that but it works for some.
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Old 08-27-2008, 08:10 PM
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But you know, it seems to me, that women, like Daisy, Countess Warwick, who were pretty financially independent really enjoyed the freedom money gave them. Superbly confident and played by her own rules. I'll just bet that was an aphrodisiac to the men folks!
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