A Career is Born
An article in The Buffalo News on May 1, 2016 revealed that Queen Elizabeth has had the same party planner since 1960. She is Lady Elizabeth Anson, the cousin of Queen Elizabeth. Lady Elizabeth started her party planning business when she was 18 years old. She was inspired to do so because of the stress she had undergone in planning her own debutante party in 1959, which prevented her from enjoying all the festivities.
The British Royal Family - Wikimedia
Her Cure for Smoking
Lady Elizabeth is 74 years old at this time, and she does not drink or smoke. She was an habitual smoker in her early years until her stepfather presented her with an alabaster egg if she refrained from smoking. She began collecting these eggs each time she was tempted to take up the habit again. She now has 536 of these eggs in her sitting room, which has been dubbed the Egg Room.
Background of Lady Elizabeth
Lady Elizabeth is the daughter of Thomas Anson, the fourth Earl of Lichfield, and Princess Anne of Denmark, who is the Queen’s first cousin. In American parlance, that would make Lady Elizabeth the second cousin of the Queen.
Tom Cruise - Wikimedia
Lady Elizabeth was born in Windsor Castle in 1941 and is the goddaughter of King George VI, Queen Elizabeth’s father. She was four years old when her parents were divorced. Her mother remarried and moved to Paris. Her father was also abroad most of the time, so she and her brother Patrick were raised mostly by their ageing aunts. Lady Elizabeth, herself, is divorced from her husband, photographer Sir Geoffrey Shakerley; they have one daughter. Elizabeth admits that she is not wealthy and cannot afford to stop working. She claims “I love my work, and my work pays for my home.” She has lived for the past 40 years in her stucco-fronted home in Ladbroke Grove.
Frugality is a Virtue
Lady Elizabeth is proud of her frugality. Her favorite jacket is one she bought on sale more than 40 years ago. Her shoes cost $35. She notes that the Queen takes public trains, and Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, whom she calls Catherine, is not ashamed to wear outfits more than once. Lady Elizabeth is addicted to buying lottery tickets weekly.
Mick Jagger - Wikimedia
Lady Elizabeth’s Clients
Lady Elizabeth’s code name for the queen is Shirley Temple, though she can’t remember how it started. “We have the funniest names possible for everybody,” she claims. In this way, the privacy of her clients is assured.
Her services are indispensable for major party givers. In addition to the Royal family, Lady Elizabeth has organized parties for the likes of Margaret Thatcher, Tom Cruise, Mick Jagger, and Bill Clinton, to name a few. She noted “I was organizing a charity party for President Bill Clinton. We met to talk about the dinner. We talked for three minutes, and like every woman who has ever met him, I was mesmerized. I recall being very angry with myself for being so smitten.” Then, there is the party she threw for Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones which had to be shut down by the police because the guests got very drunk and threw unopened bottles of Dom Perignon into the Thames River just for the fun of it. Lady Elizabeth claims she is alarmed by the amount of alcohol consumed by young people today.
Margaret Thatcher Wikimedia
Queen Elizabeth’s 90th Birthday Celebration
Lady Elizabeth’s very first event for the queen was a disco party at Windsor Castle for Prince Charles and Princess Anne when they were teenagers. Another early event was for the “Queen Mother” who was hosting a party for one of her godchildren. Lady Elizabeth recalled that she had charged very little and received a letter from the Queen Mother telling her to double the price. One of her more recent projects is the celebration for the queen’s 90th birthday this year. The milestone includes street parties, pageants and ceremonies, but Lady Elizabeth is handling the private family celebrations which she is not prepared to discuss. She claims that the Queen is a most meticulous host. “She checks every dining-room setting, every flower, every guest bedroom, and always chooses her own menu.”
Bill Clinton - Wikimedia
Prince William’s Wedding
On the eve of Prince William’s wedding, it was Lady Elizabeth’s job to organize a dinner for 40 members of the Royal family. Traditional royal weddings have no reception afterward. Guests merely depart after the church service. However, William and Kate wanted a reception after seeing that all of their friends had one. The palace kitchen help had to learn how to fashion different canapes for the event; they were not accustomed to making them.
Invention of the Reply Card
When Lady Elizabeth came to realize that guests were not responding to RSVPs, she claims credit for inventing the “reply card” to solve the problem. When she sent out her first batch, however, she forgot to leave a space for people to write their names. She received “yeses” and “nos” but had no idea who they were from.
Strict protocol is high on her list. It is necessary for seating arrangements to be made according to seniority; that is, knowing what year an earl, a countess, or a marquis was created. Sometimes, however, the rules can be broken, and Lady Elizabeth is not afraid to disregard convention.
Queen Elizabeth II - Wikimedia
Little Time for Hobbies
It is not unusual for Lady Elizabeth to go to bed at 6 a.m. and get up at 8:30 p.m. With multiple events every week, she has little time for hobbies, although she admits that she liked taking time to watch “Downton Abbey.” She insists that organizing parties for high profile clients, including members of the Royal family, has not made her rich.
When Lady Elizabeth entertains at home, she is glad that she has a round dining room table so that she can dispense with protocol. She need not worry about who is the most important guest at the table. She loves her work and has no plans to retire. She is in excellent health and is stimulated by the contact that she has with celebrities from around the world.
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