Anne Glenconner: “It was like I used to be pimping Princess Margaret!”

Anne Glenconner was born Girl Anne Coke in 1932. The eldest daughter of the fifth Earl of Leicester, she grew up at Holkham Corridor in Norfolk and was a childhood pal of the late Queen and Princess Margaret and a maid of honor on the Queen’s coronation. She married Colin Tennant, later Lord Glenconner and the proprietor of Mustique, an island within the West Indies, in 1956. They’d 5 kids collectively, three of whom survive. Her son Charlie, a former heroin addict, died of hepatitis in 1996. Her son Henry died of AIDS in 1990. She was appointed a pal of Princess Margaret in 1971. Her first ebook, a memoir known as The woman in ready, was printed in 2019 and have become a shock success. Now she has written one other, No matter occurs subsequent?the place she reveals that in her marriage she was a sufferer of home violence.

Why did you select to jot down a second memoir?
There was rather more that I needed to say. However the publication of The woman in ready made me braver. It’s extraordinary to turn into a best-selling writer at 87, your ebook translated into 12 languages.

You had been born into one other world. Did the cooks at Holkham actually collect velvet from the antlers, fry it and serve it on toast?
Sure they did and if the daddy in regulation carried uncooked eggs in a bain-marie from the kitchen to the nursery it was up to now, they had been boiled on arrival. The world has modified infinitely. I feel everybody who lived via the warfare was endlessly scarred by it. We went via a lot. I discover it a bit unusual what folks complain about lately.

However is not stoicism a double-edged sword? As you admit in your ebook, possibly life would have been higher for you and your kids when you had talked extra.
Sure, however due to this ebook I’ve had probably the most great conversations with them. We have been in a position to discuss what Colin, their father, did to them intimately and I have been in a position to say, “Oh, darlings.”

You’re feeling that your governess, Miss Bonnerthat tied you to your mattress at night time as a toddler, made you extra weak to a person like Colin Tennant. Is she nonetheless stalking you?
No, as a result of I might kill her in my novel A ghost in Holkham [published in 2021]. I removed her and it was an exquisite feeling of aid. That is true for most of the horrible issues which have occurred to me in my life. Now that I’ve written about them, I really feel utterly completely different. It has had an exquisite impact on me.

Colin was a Jekyll and Hyde determine, wasn’t he? Nice enjoyable one second and harsh and violent the subsequent.
Sure. He was great, however he was additionally harmful. On a regular basis you had to concentrate on it and anticipate it. It was exhausting. At first, I did not understand how to deal with him in any respect. I had my ninetieth party at Holkham Corridor. We ate within the Lengthy Gallery, which is the place I got here out [as a young woman]watch the queen mom spin to Tommy Kinsman [and his orchestra]. So many reminiscences got here again. However I additionally thought: I am so glad Colin is not right here.

Why did you by no means depart him?
I wasn’t raised that means. One tried and tried. After he nearly killed me [Tennant violently beat her on Mustique], our marriage modified. We lived extra separate lives. He spent rather more time within the West Indies and I used to be in England with the youngsters. If we had been residing cheek to cheek, it might have been rather more troublesome, as it’s for most individuals.

Are you nearer now to grasp why, when he died in 2010he left all his possessions to his servant, Kent Adonai?
Probably not. I simply assume it was a remaining act of cruelty. Individuals ask if he was homosexual or bisexual, however I actually do not know. He had many affairs with women. He had an enormous urge for food. It was the identical with purchasing. As soon as in India he noticed these home windows on a home. He needed them, however not a duplicate. He needed these very home windows. He had an obsessive facet.

What about Princess Margaret? She is broadly portrayed as having been spoiled and troublesome, however you will have at all times insisted that that is unfair.
She was probably the most great pal to me, as a result of she noticed all this [the trouble with Colin] ongoing. She had a few of the identical issues herself – I noticed how Tony [Lord Snowdon] behaved – and it was worse for her, as a result of she was within the public eye. However she saved my life in a means. She was caring, however she was additionally sensible. She did not prefer to cry or moan. You needed to pull your self collectively.

IN The crownyou had been performed by Nancy Carroll. Did you watch it? Are you continue to watching it?
I noticed it after I was in it. However that is fantasy. That terrible nation membership pool we’re sitting by! And it is like I am pimping Princess Margaret. All I did was introduce her to somebody [Roddy Llewellyn, who became her lover]. What they’ve performed is take a small kernel of fact and exaggerate it into one thing utterly false. It makes me so offended.

Nancy Carroll as Anne Glenconner in series four of The Crown.
Nancy Carroll as Anne Glenconner in sequence 4 of The Crown. Picture: Netflix

What is the secret to being so match and full of life at 90?
Nicely, I’ve given up on supper. I discover that consuming late provides me indigestion and I needed to reduce weight across the center. It’s improbable. I by no means really feel hungry. I eat breakfast and a superb lunch and that is it. I misplaced a stone with out attempting. I additionally stroll day by day and correctly. You must elevate your ft up.

What concerning the grief? You might have suffered horrible losses.
I’m fortunate that I’ve at all times had my Christian religion. However simply maintain going. The ache by no means goes away utterly, but it surely will get higher. One factor that helped was pampering myself by doing one thing I actually liked, like making my picture albums or going to a gallery. However I nonetheless take into consideration my sons day by day. I completely do.

What are you going to do subsequent?
Who is aware of? I am 90 and a half and I get exhausted typically. However I am having such an exquisite time. Life is so thrilling. I’m going on The One Present on Monday.

  • No matter occurs subsequent? Classes from an surprising life by Anne Glenconner is printed in hardcover by Hodder & Stoughton (£22). To assist guardian and Observer order your copy at Supply expenses could apply

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