The recent royal wedding, silly spectacle that it may have been, prompted me to grab an envelope out of the recycling and scratch a little list on the back.
“The British Aristocracy, Pro & Con,” I titled it. To balance out the defects such as—to chose a couple from a long list—their limitless confidence that whatever harebrained ideas they have are naturally better than the carefully considered opinions of experts and professionals, their fondness for shooting animals, and their delight in taking countries that don’t belong to them, I was able to find a few good traits. They have amusing names, for instance. Plus they are foolishly brave in battle, display excellent manners and decorum while doing all the bad things on the Con list, and have a knack for coming up with novel and refreshing summer drinks.
Consider, as an example of that last trait in action, the Badminton Cup. In 1837, when the 18-year-old Princess Alexandra Victoria rose to the British throne, it was the custom of British gentlemen to drink themselves silly after dinner (and on just about every other social occasion) on strong Punch in one form or another or fortified wine. The queen didn’t like that and made her displeasure known. Since she commanded the respect of her people—decorum has its advantages—the gents listened.