Sneak preview one.
“Good afternoon, my lady,” the welcoming footman said, bowing. “Her Majesty is expecting you in the Chinese Chippendale room. Allow me to escort you there.”
Oh crickey. The Chinese Chippendale room. Why couldn’t she have chosen somewhere else? Any other room in the palace would have done. But the Chinese Chippendale room was her favorite, small, intimate and decorated with far too many Chinese vases, priceless porcelain statues and her jade collection. There’s probably something you should know about me: in moments of stress I tend to get a little clumsy. I remember tripping over the footman’s outstretched foot when he bowed to usher me inside once, thus propelling me rather rapidly into the room and nearly butting HM in the stomach. I would be all too capable of turning around and knocking a priceless Ming vase flying.
Still I put on a brave face as I was escorted up the grand staircase to the piano nobile, where the royal family actually lived and entertained. Along those never-ending richly-carpeted hallways with marble statues frowning down at me from their niches. Then a light tap on a door, the footman stepping inside and saying, “Lady Georgiana, Your Majesty.”
I stepped past him, carefully avoiding his foot, pushing the door into an unseen table or tripping over a rug. I stopped in surprise and thought I was seeing double. Two middle aged ladies with identical waved gray hair, upright carriage and lilac tea dresses were sitting on the brocade sofa beside the fireplace. My first thought was that I should have worn a tea dress and the cashmere cardigan was inappropriate, but then one of the ladies held out her hand to me.
“Georgiana, my dear. How lovely to see you. Come and meet my dear friend.”