Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Remember When . . . King Edward Reigned?

Confession: I knew the Edwardian era followed the Victorian, and that it was because King Edward VII followed Queen Victoria on the throne of England. But it took me a ridiculous amount of time to realize that King Edward = Prince Albert, known as "Bertie" in the reign of his mother. I'd researched Victorian England. I knew about the prince. But I didn't realize he'd changed his name upon taking the throne, LOL.

That was a pretty easy lesson to learn about the Edwardian days, though. But even that had some details I didn't realize!

In my research for Scotland, I found this awesome book: Edwardian Scotland by C. W. Hill. It's proving to be invaluable! And one of the first fun facts I learned was that, not only did Queen Victoria specifically request that her son not change his name, but Scotland as a whole objected to the one he chose and refused to acknowledge the "VII"! They claimed that the first three King Edwards of England were not monarchs of Scotland, and in June of 1901 they began collecting signatures for a petition against the name--which eventually filled five volumes.

Who knew you could object to such a thing?? Not that King Edward gave a whit what anyone else thought of his choice, LOL. He's called "the merry monarch," and much of the British empire was a bit torn about him. On the one hand, he eschewed the morals his mother had drilled into them--he was a gambler, a womanizer, and showed blatant disregard for many of the principles they held dear. But on the other hand, he was affable, amiable, and made no major blunders as a ruler. So all in all, he was well-loved...but not a role model.

Of course, one of the best-known traits of the era named after him is the extravagance that the nobility enjoyed. Edwardian Scotland helped put that in perspective for me. When the gentlemen went grouse hunting, they regularly bagged thousands of pheasants. Thousands, in one weekend! And the king's meals went like this:

Breakfast - haddock, poached eggs, bacon, sausages and kidneys, chicken.

Morning snack - lobster salad and cold game or chicken

Luncheon - eight or ten courses (more if there were guests); the king's favorite foods were game, so one would often see duck, chicken, York ham, chops or steaks...or for a humbler option, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.

Tea - scones, crumpets, muffins, tarts, cakes, gateaux

Dinner - twelve to fourteen courses (!!!), with more game. This was they broke out things like the "turducken" of their day, like a pheasant stuffed with a snipe stuffed with truffles and garnished with sauce. What did they call that, I wonder? Pheasniples?

And apparently the Kardashians are far from the first celebrities to lend their image to products. ;-) Okay, so we knew that. But I had no idea that the nobility in the Edwardian era--and even the king himself!--were featured in ads. He famously posed for this one for Horniman's Pure Tea.

Of course, as the title of the book suggests, Edward didn't confine his time to England--he vacationed every winter in the Highlands, where he kept company with Andrew Carnegie and British nobles in Scotland. He was unfortunately deceased by the time my book starts, so no mentioning the king in the neighborhood for me (pout, pout), but I'm interested in seeing what the royal family was up to by the time my story begins, once I get further in Edwardian Scotland. In the meantime, I'm soaking up all the awesome minutia!

1 comment:

  1. What a fun post! I didn't know Scotland objected to Edward's chosen name (I imagine Victoria rolled in her grave, but then again she wanted all her descendants to be named Victoria or Albert, too. No ego issue there.). I am going to have to look for that book you found. Thanks!