As I write this the coronation of King Charles hasn’t happened yet, but I’m having great fun watching the procession of those who have been royally snubbed by royalty. Only a thousand people have been invited to the King’s coronation in Westminster Abbey and a lot of other people — dukes, earls, A-list celebs, actors, society figures — are pissed they didn’t make the cut.
The British press reports daily on the latest person to be “snubbed.” So far the snub scorecard is as follows: Prince William is snubbing his brother Harry. Harry is snubbing everyone. His wife Meghan is snubbing Charles and President Biden is snubbing Britain. Meanwhile, Charles is snubbing family members (his brother Andrew), some of his grandchildren and hundreds of friends and members of the aristocracy, including Lady Pamela Hicks (ninety-four) — who had been Queen Elizabeth’s bridesmaid and is the daughter of Earl Mountbatten.
Now if the name Mountbatten can’t get you into a royal event these days, what chance do the rest of us have? And Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, wasn’t invited either.
The posh aren’t the only ones who are furious at being snubbed. Parties to celebrate the coronation — from humble neighborhood street parties to super-swanky upmarket affairs — are being organized as I write. The question on everyone’s lips — at least in my circle — is: why haven’t I been invited?
As a point of social etiquette I must point out that one should never complain about not being invited to something. One uninvited duke has moaned to the press that he should have been invited because families like his “had supported the royal family for over 1,000 years.” This man has a title, but clearly no class. A truly posh person would never complain about not being invited. For example, Lady Pamela Hicks let it be known that she was not offended and thought it was, given the lack of space, “a very sensible decision.” And Sarah Ferguson was equally cool about it, pointing out that she’s no longer a member of the royal family, so why should she be invited? Good point.
By the way, recently I was in a cloakroom at a party looking for a place to put my coat. Not finding a hanger, I chucked it on the floor and began to walk away. Sarah Ferguson — whom I do not know — walked over, picked up my coat, carefully brushed it off, folded it up neatly, placed it out of harm’s way and said, “Shall we go in now?” How’s that for class?
The world of the posh is one I have only a slight acquaintance with, but I have spent weekends as a guest at one of those grand estates that look like something out of Brideshead Revisited.
There is something you find in the homes of really posh people that is unique to them and no one ever mentions: dead flies. Seriously. You’re looking out a bedroom window onto a magnificent view of grand gardens, lush lawns that stretch as far as the eye can see and fairy-tale lakes — and suddenly you notice in the corner of the windowsill a little heap of dead flies. Dozens of them, baked crisp by sunlight.
I asked my friend who knows more than I about the posh and the fly phenomenon and she told me this wasn’t a one-off. “No. They all have a collection of dead flies in the corner of the windows.” So why don’t they get rid of them? My friend explained, “Because guests are too embarrassed to bring up the dead flies in the bedroom.”
“But don’t posh people ever dust?” I asked. “Absolutely not!” she said. “Dusting is too bourgeois.”
What you will also find along with dead flies are books. Every room in the house has stacks of books. On tables, in toilets, on the floors, by the bed, under the bed, in cupboards, on the stairs, along hallways and on bookshelves that rise to the ceiling — and here’s the funny thing: there’s never one book you’d want to read!
Instead, you’ll find memoirs of politicians everyone has forgotten and international statesmen no one had ever heard of. And books of advice with titles like Never Kiss a Man in a Canoe. So far my favorite discovery is The Extraordinary True Story of the Invention of European Porcelain by Janet Gleeson.
Given the hurt feelings aroused by the coronation, I’m thinking of writing a book called the Art of JOMO (Joy of Missing Out). There comes a point in an aging boulevardier’s life when he can’t be bothered to schlep across town for an opening of this or that — and the allure of an early night in bed with a book and a bonk proves irresistible.
This article is taken from The Spectator’s June 2023 World edition.