Friday, July 18, 2008
The Prince Regent's priorities
Having completed and sent off my latest historical romance, Wild Justice, I’m now beginning research for my next book. It’s amazing how bits of really interesting information turn up in the most unlikely circumstances.
Two days ago was my Dad’s 93rd birthday and he decided to celebrate with a patio party for 28 guests. The average age was 80, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a more lively and talkative crowd. A large table under an enormous umbrella was loaded with food, and a bowl the size of a baby's bath brimmed with fruit punch spiced with strong cider, mint and six thinly-sliced oranges. There were a few bottles of wine as well.
An hour after the guests arrived later the noise was at pain level and all that was left on the table were a couple of paper plates and one wilted stick of celery. My father’s friends know how to enjoy themselves.
I spent an intriguing half hour talking to someone who recently retired from running a business designing and making medals for - among others - the Sultan of Oman. From him I learned that in 1804, while George 1V was still the Regent and Britain was fighting the French in the Napoleonic Wars, instead of channeling every penny he could lay his hands on into the war effort, the Regent was diverting considerable sums into having made the first silver-gilt wine labels in the world. All Europe’s other royalty used silver wine labels. Of the two images above, the left shows the wonderfully crafted style of the wine labels, and the right the warm tones of silver-gilt. Thirty-six of these labels form part of the silver-gilt Grand Service used at Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace.