News and musings from New York Times bestselling mystery writer Rhys Bowen, creator of the Royal Spyness and Molly Murphy mysteries. Sparkling British royal comedies and atmospheric historical drama.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Royal Gossip Tuesday--another Duke of Cambridge
Last Monday I planned to talk about another Duke of Cambridge, but I got side tracked into another William and Kate story. I'll try not to get side tracked again about the latest sighting at Wimbledon, but I have to say 1. Her dress was fabulous and so appropriate and it sold out online in half an hour (she should start her own clothing line and could finance the whole royal family), and 2. didn't they look happy together? Turning to each other to share comments that made them both smile. So different from the early days of Charles and Diana--she the blushing and tonguetied bride, he indifferent and supercilious.
Anyway, the title of the Duke of Cambridge has not existed since the last duke died in the early 1900s. He was a Prince of Teck. Cousin to Queen Victoria. Now it gets complicated. The son of this duke, Prince Adolphus of Teck, younger brother to Queen Mary of England and later styled Marquess of Cambridge, had an affair with Rosa Baring Arkwright and this affair produced a daughter Vera. Vera's mother Rosa, of the influential banking family Barings, wanted out of a loveless marriage and secured her divorce after the birth of this child. But Prince Adolphus was already married and thus Rosa was married off to a royal relative for respectability. So Vera grew up as the recognized child of a royal. She lived a glittering, if bohemian lifestyle, friend to the Duke of Westminster, Winston Churchill and other luminaries of the time. But her real claim to fame came when she volunteered as a nurse in WW1 and becamse friendly with fellow nurse Coco Chanel.
Coco and Vera formed a close friendship and Coco was shrewd enough to realize that Vera opened the doors to English society to her. Vera became Chanel's business manager. Together they conceived the idea of the blending of masculine and feminine in haute couture. They borrowed tweed jackets from the Duke of Westminster and even used Queen Mary's jewels to accessorize the outfits.
So why I am so fascinated with all this? Because my heroine, Lady Georgiana, goes to the Riviera in her next book. In my research I looked up who might have been on the Riviera that summer and learned about Coco Chanel and Vera Bate Lombardi and their fashion show and the queen's jewels. Too good to ignore for a mystery writer. And so this book will include fact more outlandish than fiction. That's the fun of research. Oh, and the book is called Naughty in Nice. It's out September 6th.