[Eleanor]: 668.Margaret - Grethe.II

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2011-12-05 20:36:18
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While most royal marriages are political in nature, my parents’ was a love match. A daughter of a noble family, my mother was introduced to my father at a ball thrown to honour her father, a decorated hero who had headed the force that had staved of an armed incursion into his part of the country. The stories that have reached me of this feat are no doubt greatly exaggerated, but anything was occasion for a party, especially as the crown prince was at an age where his own parents thought he should be taking a bride and thinking about heirs.

My mother Margaret was beautiful. As a child I always wanted to look just like her and was disappointed that I never did, even though I had her flaming red hair. But unlike my mess of unruly curls, she had thick, soft waves that fell past her shoulders in a shining curtain and her eyes were the sparkling green of emeralds. Her skin was like porcelain and she was tall and slim, with a soft voice and a regal bearing. I think my father was completely smitten the first time he laid eyes upon her, as must have been the rest of the men in the court. What attracted her to him, though, was not his rugged good looks or the fact he was crown prince; he played the lute extremely well and this meant more to her than all the gold in my grandfather’s treasury.

My grandfather believed that a musical education was just as relevant to managing affairs of the state as learning history and geography. He passed on this tenet to the next generation which resulted in my brother and me being given lessons on various instruments. While my brother became a passable flutist, I was hopeless at music. I preferred the sciences and excelled at more apothecary-type pursuits. I used to pester the baker in the kitchen to let me watch the yeast grow and play with the leavening agents for cakes. But I still retain a love of music, for I heard it all around me when I was growing up.

At an early age Margaret showed an aptitude and her parents had her tutored on the viol by an aging retainer who sometimes played of an evening for the entertainment of his lord. Margaret blossomed under his tutelage and became very proficient on the instrument. During their brief courtship, she and my father spent many an evening simply playing together, communicating more deeply through nuance and dynamics than they ever could have with mere words. After the wedding, their music making continued until my brother was born.

My mother had very different ideas about child rearing than most high-born ladies. They engaged wet-nurses for their offspring and went about repairing the ravages pregnancy had done to their bodies so that they could pretend it had never happened. Margaret had no such qualms about her physical appearance and refused to waste the milk her breasts produced for the nourishment of her own babies. If it meant she could not be seen in public as the jewel on my father’s arm, she didn’t care. We meant more to her than her public image.

I’m sure there was discordance in the palace about her decision to nurse us herself, but my father supported her in this decision. It was around then time that my grandfather suffered a seizure and died. Margaret felt for years that the queen mother held it against her, that her unwillingness to follow social convention had brought about her father-in-law’s death. In truth, it was his rich diet and sedentary lifestyle which were to blame, but my grandmother looked for something she could actually see and glare at.

This meant, of course, that my father had to take the throne. He was crowned King Edward and took on the mantle of state rather reluctantly, much preferring the life of husband and father to his young family. But fate and circumstance of birth do not care what one’s personal wishes are, and he had been prepared for the throne from his first breath. It meant that he and Margaret no longer had as much spare time to make music together, but she was busy with my brother, and then me, for I came along a scant two years later.

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