How mother’s wise words helped our shy Queen find her strength

The Sunday Telegraph - - News - By Han­nah Fur­ness ROYAL COR­RE­SPON­DENT

TO ANY­ONE who has watched her per­form her du­ties over a life­time of pub­lic ser­vice, she is the pic­ture of un­flap­pable poise.

But the se­cret of the Queen’s calm con­fi­dence can be traced back to a sin­gle piece of ad­vice from her mother, a friend has claimed: to walk through the very cen­tre of door­ways.

Queen Eliz­a­beth, the Queen Mother, had been acutely aware of her el­der daugh­ter’s nat­u­ral shy­ness, Lady Penn said, and had gen­tly coaxed her to­wards be­ing as com­fort­able in pub­lic as her fu­ture job would re­quire.

Lady Penn, a for­mer lady in wait­ing to the Queen Mother and friend of the Queen, said: “The Queen Mother told the Queen when she was very young to be brave. I think the Queen, prob­a­bly when she was young, felt walk­ing into a room full of peo­ple was rather daunt­ing.

“So she said to her, ‘What you want to do, when you walk into a room, walk through the mid­dle of the door’.

“And I think by that she meant, don’t sort of go in apolo­get­i­cally. You walk through as if you know, ‘I’m in charge’. “I think that was very good ad­vice.” Lady Penn shares her recol­lec­tions in a new eight-part doc­u­men­tary se­ries,

made by ITN, which sees the Queen’s child­hood friends, for­mer staff and politi­cians from through­out her reign of­fer their mem­o­ries of the 65 years since the Coro­na­tion. Con­trib­u­tors in­clude two of her maids of hon­our; Churchill’s grand­son, Ni­cholas Soames; and a friend and cousin of Prince Philip, Lady But­ter. The first episode, to be broad­cast on Tues­day on Chan­nel 5, sees friends re­call the Queen’s early years and the mo­ment she learned she would one day be Queen.

On the day of the ab­di­ca­tion of Ed­ward VIII in 1936 – which meant Princess Eliz­a­beth’s fa­ther took the throne as King George VI – his­to­rian Kate Williams tells the au­di­ence that Princess Eliz­a­beth had been at­tend­ing a swim­ming les­son. When the princess and her sis­ter heard the news and re­alised that Eliz­a­beth, as the el­dest child, would one day be Queen, Mar­garet re­sponded: “Poor you.”

As the doc­u­men­tary moves through the Queen’s reign, maids of hon­our Lady Glen­con­nor and Lady Rayne Lacey de­scribe how the Royal party re­laxed af­ter the Coro­na­tion at Buck­ing­ham Palace, and how a five-year-old Prince Charles once nearly made off with a crown.

Ronald Al­li­son, for­mer press sec­re­tary to the Queen, talks about the first tele­vised Christ­mas mes­sage in 1957, say­ing the Queen de­scribed it as “nerver­ack­ing”. Christina Aldridge, daugh­ter of the BBC cam­era­man who filmed it, re­ports her fa­ther’s mem­ory as Prince Philip pulling “en­cour­ag­ing faces” at his wife to lighten the mood.

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