They say you get more conservative or traditional as you grow older. When I first got the idea for A Royal Romance, this phrase popped into my head, and I thought about how my own viewpoints had evolved over the course of my life.
As a child, I loved history, and history books were my main reading material. Luckily my mum and dad spent any holiday we had, dragging my sister and me around every castle and historical monument in Scotland, and many areas of England. I had enormous fun running around castle battlements, hiding in dungeons, and imagining myself taking part in all sorts of ancient battles. On one such day trip I bought one of my favourite books, Kings and Queens of England and Scotland for children. I poured over that book, fascinated by the tales of good monarchs, treacherous monarchs, and downright dastardly ones. Each King or Queen brought with them an era of history, and as you followed the line of succession, you could follow the evolution of the country, and its people. As a child these historical figures were characters lifted from the pages of a storybook, vivid, colourful and exciting, and a little of that fascination I had as a child, never quite left me.
When I grew up into a teenager, and my political principles started to form, I began to think about the people at the bottom, not at the top, and the injustice of riches being handed to someone by an accident of birth. I wanted to rebel against the establishment, not peer through rose tinted glasses at the history of the past. By the time I got to college and then university, I had very similar opinions to that of my character, Beatrice Elliot. She is a highly principled socialist, an anti-monarchist, and just like her, I would have been in favour of overturning the whole constitution of Great Britain. At university, I remember giving a speech on the merits of a republic, and abolition of the monarchy, but annoyingly at the back of my mind was that little bit of childhood fascination about the institution and age old traditions that go hand in hand with it.
Another thing that fascinated me about monarchy was from a purely anthropological point of view. When you study the way the royals go about their daily lives, you find that some of their family traditions and customs would be totally alien to us, and our families, but to them it’s absolutely normal. In A Royal Romance, I wanted to show Beatrice, who lives a very ordinary life, navigate her way through this strange, ancient monarchical system. Beatrice is a complete contrast to the character of Queen Georgina, who believes in the monarchy absolutely, and takes her role as head of her family and head of the nation deadly seriously.
In the years since my rebellious student days, my opinions have softened somewhat. I wouldn’t say I agree with Queen Georgina’s views, but perhaps they lie in some grey area between the two vastly different viewpoints. So do you get more conservative as you grow older? Speaking only for myself, perhaps, just a little.