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1891: Smelly bouquets and indignity suffered in Cuckfield

Complaints are loud on every hand of the unmannerly ‘crushing’ of the ladies at the Queen’s Drawing Rooms (writes the London correspondent of the Melbourne Argus). The Queen [Victoria] is becoming more and more unequal to the strain of these functions, not so much from decreasing strength as the odours emitted from the ladies’ hot-house bouquets.

What with the heat the heavily-charged atmosphere, and the nodding of the plumes, the Queen is very soon seized with a bilious headache, and compelled to retire in a state which for the moment is seriously distressing to her and those around her, although five minutes of cool fresh air soon restore her to cheerfulness.

Now, the reason of the crushing is that the general body of the ladies know that it is only a fractional number of them who can pass the Queen herself, and that the great body of them must be content with passing the Princesses.

Hence the Palace becomes a bear-garden - each female snob casting aside every shred of good breeding in her frantic baste to be one of the half-dozen women, not having the entrée - for those having the entrée are always received by the Queen - who will pass the Queen herself.

A lady who was at the last Drawing room, and is a squiress in Sussex, was heard to exclaim in the crush, ‘Never since I went to Cuckfield to a public-house to appeal against my rates have I suffered such indignity and insult as I am suffering now.’

Source: The Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser, 7 Jul 1891

Photo: A bouquet at the Hotel del Coronado, in Coronado, California. Photo by Josh Truelson, August 2009.

Contributed by Malcolm Davison.



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