“We really shall have to do something to mark the occasion. It is an event that none of the girls will have known before and we were in Austria last time and missed it, by about ten days if I remember correctly.”
She glanced across at her companion and realised her words had made no impression whatsoever!
“Are you listening to me, Nell? Nell!” Hilda reached over and tapped her co-head sharply on the knee.
“Ouch! What on earth was that for?”
Hilda groaned. “Your English is getting worse. I am trying to consult you on an important matter and you had your head buried in a magazine!”
“Not ‘a magazine’ , Hilda, this is ‘Nature’ and there is the most fascinating article about two Cambridge scientists who have discovered a structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid, apparently it is a double-helix and it could be.....” She tailed off as she realised that Hilda’s eyes had glazed over. “All right, I surrender, what is the vital matter you wish to discuss?”
“The Coronation, of course! It’s only weeks away, you know.”
“Actually, I didn’t know. I thought they had postponed it when Queen Mary died?”
“Well, they didn’t and now we shall have to decide what to do to celebrate. It’s going to be televised in England but probably not in Switzerland.”
“Considering they only broadcast for one hour per day, five days a week, and we are not in the reception area, it wouldn’t be much use to us if they did! What do you have in mind?”
“That’s the problem, I have no idea!”
“What suddenly put it into your head, anyway?”
“Meg Kelly’s letter, which is on the top of the correspondence on your desk!”
“Meg Kelly, of all people, is getting excited about the Coronation?” said Nell in an astonished tone, as she picked up the sheets covered in Meg’s distinctive and surprisingly legible handwriting.
Hilda chuckled. “I think exasperated is nearer the mark! The Army appears to be asking her to do a great deal she would prefer not to do.”
Nell scanned Meg’s letter. “So I see!”
She read aloud, “I had to go to London to stand around doing nothing in particular at Queen Mary’s funeral. Fortunately, several dinners and other pointless pre-Coronation events which were in the diary were cancelled because of court mourning. I did manage to escape being in London for the Coronation because I have to be on the platform with the Lord Provost taking the salute at the city’s Coronation Parade but there were several requests that I could not refuse, luckily none further away than Edinburgh. It’s one thing when they haul me away from my hospital to operate on wounded men but being expected to leave my patients to make a show of myself because I am, much against my will, a reserve lieutenant colonel who happens to be a woman is too much!”
She laughed. “Poor Meg, how she does dislike her status and I can’t say I blame her. Matey always said they would hang on to her as long as possible and she would have been able to resign when she was 35 if they hadn’t promoted her.”
But this doesn’t help us to decide what we are going to do........”
2nd June 1953
“Land of hope and glory
Mother of the free
How shall we extol thee
Who are born of thee?”
As the pure young voices rang through the Hall, Hilda Annersley felt her eyes prickle. She glanced at her watch. At this precise time, behind a golden screen in London’s Westminster Abbey, the Archbishop of Canterbury was anointing the young Queen prior to placing on her head St Edward’s Crown, the very heavy crown which was only used for coronations.
As the anthem finished, applause rang out from the assembled visitors, mostly members of the British community who lived on the Platz. Hilda rose and addressed them in her deep beautiful voice.
“Thank you for joining our service of thanksgiving for our young Queen and joining with us in wishing her a long and happy reign. Please now make your way to the dining room where Karen and her staff have prepared a traditional British luncheon.”
The guests made their way to the dining room pausing to admire the red, white and blue bunting, rosettes and paper flower arrangements.
“These are just beautiful, Hilda!” said Joey, “but how on earth did you manage to get all the materials?”
“Ah, that was thanks to Rosalie’s friend who works in the Embassy. We would not have been able to be so very lavish without her help. We are being very careful with them, of course, as most of it has to go back for a big garden party they are having soon.”
Rosalie, walking a few paces behind, smiled inwardly. She didn’t think for one moment that the Head would really mind the source of the decorations but it would be just as well if she was not moved to enquire why her secretary was able to summon such largesse from Uncle Sam!
“I am looking forward to lunch”, declaimed Jo at that point. “Karen and Anna have been discussing it for weeks and it is going to be a real British meal!”
Later in the staff room, Nancy Wilmot chuckled. “Say what you will, if for nothing else the girls will remember today for the least appetising lunch they ever had in Switzerland! Why on earth did Anna resort to her wartime cookbook?”
“I think it was pure devilment!” grinned Biddy O’Ryan. “Sure, she couldn’t possibly have thought that Brown Windsor soup, cottage pie and tinned peas followed by blancmange was a meal fit to celebrate a Queen!”
Author's Chapter Notes:
This was originally in LGM's Day Girls section but the plot bunnies attacked so it fits in here..........