Edith loved Royalty and everything that goes with it.
Edith hobbled into the kitchen to put the kettle on the gas stove, to make herself a fresh teapot of English Breakfast tea. She wouldn’t even consider any other brand of her favourite beverage, neither would she partake of the brew in anything other than her favourite Crown Derby, bone-china cup.
The journey to the kitchen from the living room needed to be taken extra carefully these days, not simply because of her arthritic knees but because the corridor was gradually becoming narrower and there was imminent danger of a landslide.
There was no actual threat to Edith’s life, but there was a danger of breakages, perhaps not bones, but of ornaments, figurines, photographs, and crockery. All those various items had infiltrated into every nook and cranny, and were even now spilling out onto the Royal Axminster carpet of Edith’s home.
Edith was a compulsive collector of Royal Memorabilia.
It all began, a long, long time ago, when Edith became first betrothed to Albert. As it was, back in those days, she owned a Sandalwood Glory Box in which she lovingly placed linens and kitchenware, and almost anything a newlywed would be likely to require when setting up a new home.
An aunt, recently returned from a rare trip to London, bought Edith a set of silver teaspoons, each which had the Royal insignia engraved upon them. Even then, at nineteen, it was well known the young bride-to-be adored history, anything to do with royalty, but especially everything about the young Princess Elizabeth, as they were exactly the same ages. Their lives had been intertwined, destined to follow the same trajectory as far as Edith was concerned, both being born on the same day, in April 1926.
One wonders if the only reason she married a man called Albert was solely because of his name. After all, if an ‘Albert’ was good enough for a young Queen Victoria, then surely one would be for Edith. Her Albert, though, wasn’t as dashing, handsome or rich as Prince Albert had been, of course.
The young couple married and set up home in the Derbyshire countryside, many miles away from the city of London, where her idol, Princess Elizabeth, lived a very different existence. But Edith tried her utmost to emulate her life, even to the extent of delivering four children in the same years. Both Elizabeth and Edith gave birth to boys, they named Charles, when they were just twenty-two years of age, and a baby girl, Anne, two years after.
For each birthday, Christmas and anniversary, Edith would request and receive gifts pertaining to the Royal family. Eventually, as her young family grew and flew the nest, their bedrooms would be taken over and filled with memorabilia.
Albert, by this time, had realised he had been a minor player in his wife’s story and left the marital home and Edith with her obsession.
“Did you know Mum’s been camped out in the rain all week?” Anne asked her brother, Andrew, on one of their rare calls to each other.
“Oh, for God’s sake. What now?”
“Well, I suppose you know it’s the Golden Jubilee celebrations this weekend? She’s determined to present the Queen with a celebratory cake she’s baked herself, especially for the occasion.”
“Mother’s seventy-six years old. Is she ever going to get over this obsession with the royal family, do you think?”
Anne sighed, “I went to see her last week. You can hardly move for stuff. Each room in the house is dedicated to a special event or royal. In the Diana room…”
“My old room, do you mean?” Andrew smiled.
“In your room then. She’s had someone paint a mural of Princess Diana on the ceiling! “
“What! Like the Sistine Chapel?”
“Seriously though, do you think we should we be doing something?” Anne asked her brother.
“Have her put away, do you mean?”
“She seems sane enough, but honestly, Andrew, surely enough’s enough.”
That conversation was like one of hundreds that were had over the ensuing years between Edith’s four concerned children, as they watched their mother’s home turn into a shrine to the Royals. There was nothing they could do to stop her collecting. Although they drew the line and confiscated her computer after she discovered eBay. But that still didn’t stop her from logging on to the local library’s terminals. In the end, they conceded it was time to admit defeat.
When the Platinum Jubilee approached in 2022, news of Edith’s massive collection came to the attention of the media. Photographs first appeared in the local paper of Edith brandishing her beloved feather duster and, with an expert flick of her wrist, she removed the ever encroaching dust from some of her treasures. Attired in a Union Jack blazer jacket and wearing a pair of Corgi dog slippers, she smiled and waved just like her idol, Queen Elizabeth..
Soon enough, the television media picked up the story and reporters with cameras came from all around the world to make generous offers to induce Edith to tell her story.
She stood proudly amongst the bric-à-brac, the artwork, and the ornate photograph of herself presenting a cake to her idol on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee. They even paid her for tours around her collection and requested interviews with all her children. Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward somehow concealed their embarrassment for a while and agreed to appear on the BBC.
After the television appearances, she became really famous and fans began to send items to her in the post. Each day, beer bottles, ashtrays, plates, mugs, all with a royal connection arrived, until there was not a single surface in her home that didn’t have something Royal standing on it.
Of course, the frenzy couldn’t last forever and after the Platinum Jubilee, Edith and the Queen, both decided it was time to put their slippered feet up.
Edith took to wearing a crown and her royal-blue velvet robe when any of her children came to take her out. After an outing, she would wave a white-gloved hand to her subjects, as she thought of them, as her vehicle returned her to her suitably decorated Royal Suite at the Aged Care Home.