During the reign of the old King, women of the court were required to wear white cotton gloves at all times. Pirouette hated this stipulation. Cramming her signet ring on her right index finger and her engagement ring on her left hand, as well as fashioning a diamond bracelet around one of her wrists was uncomfortable. It wasn’t painful, but it was a bother with which she preferred not to contend. When the King became feeble and unable to make hardly any decisions on his own, Pirouette, as the Crown Princess and highest ranking woman at court would often decry this old fashioned form of decorum.
She blamed the Prime Minister, rightly so, for the old King’s refusal even to contemplate such a trivial matter. Now that she was Queen, Pirouette took pleasure in throwing her gloves out the window (except for special occasions like high holy days or grand balls.) As she extended her ungloved hand for the Prime Minister to kiss, there was a new protocol. For him to press his parched lips upon her semi-sacred flesh was beyond contemplation. Now he was required to place his thumb over the top of her hand and then kiss his own thumb, thus giving the appearance of kissing her hand without actually desecrating her unblemished skin. On top of that, as a commoner, he was also required to kiss the hem of her dress.
All of this new protocol, the Prime Minister felt was designed to humiliate him in front of the entire court. In his imagination, he could hear the assembled nobles and dignitaries snickering at this very public display of his status. Of course, he was feared by most of the courtiers who would rather jump in the mote than display anything but deep respect to the senior member of the Queen’s councilors.
As soon as the Prime Minister entered the Throne Room (also known as the Queen’s Presence Chamber) it was apparent to all that he was not in the best of health. Instead of walking with his back ramrod straight, he was slightly bent over. The rosy color to his cheeks was gone, replaced by a grey hue. He’d lost so much weight that one could easily discern every bone in his face. His complexion, which once gave his appearance a hearty, healthy glow, now looked grey. Even his enemies, of which he had many, were alarmed by his demeanor.
Is someone poisoning him? Was the unspoken question of many of the attendees of the audience that day.
“Good morning to you, my lord,” said Queen Pirouette quietly, extending her hand for him to kiss. He leaned forward awkwardly, holding the arm of his valet, his entire demeanor was one of illness. As she sat there, looking at the man she once feared so much, her only thought was to question herself and her judge of character. Just a year earlier, she and one of her ladies in waiting had quaked in fear at his slightest glance. Now the tables were turned. It was the old man’s turn to shiver in fear at his Queen slightest frown.
For quite some time, I’ve been out of the loop with my favorite photo challenges. We’ve been going through a lot of traumatic changes. On October 8 of last year, my 99-year-old father in law died. I was in the middle of planning the 100th birthday party for this World War II veteran, when I found myself planning his funeral instead. Last month we sold the house that had been in our family for almost one hundred years. It the worst funerals that I’ve ever been asked to organize. I’m still having nightmares nearly every night. At any rate, life marches on and it thrills me to be able to participate in Xingfu Mama’s Pull Up a Seat Challenge!
Thank you, Cee for directing me to this challenge; that is, Cell Pic Sunday. Now that we are on the verge of another blisteringly hot summer, I thought it would be nice to take a look at the horrors that winter can bring. Cell Pic Sunday is hosted by a gentleman named John Steiner. I would strongly urge anyone who sees this post to check out his page.
Did you know that during the reign of François the First of France, salamanders were a symbol of the monarchy?