Monday, November 29, 1999

Queen Mother used to rent TV in castle retreat

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London, May 17 (IANS) The Queen Mother's Highland castle retreat was shorn of any regal pomp and splendour and such was her frugality that she refused to buy a TV and video record, instead renting them for her annual stay, an aide has said.The Queen Mother spent a meagre sum on maintaining the Castle of Mey, which even had frayed curtains and carpets.She refused to buy a TV and video recorder, instead renting them for her annual stay, said Ashe Windham.He revealed that the royal party would sit in the library and look at an ancient television that arrived from a shop in Thurso.'The most challenging job was to get the equally antiquated video recorder to work properly. This achieved, we would all sit and watch one of her favourite comedies, which included Dad's Army, Fawlty Towers, Yes Minister, Keeping Up Appearances and One Foot In The Grave.'If there was a horse race going on we would be asked to record it, which was something of a poisoned chalice in case it didn't work. It was a particularly old and temperamental video recorder,' Daily Mail quoted Windham as saying.Windham wants to counter the perception that the Queen Mother, who had a personal fortune of 70 million pounds, pursued an extravagant lifestyle.The Queen Mother died in 2002 aged 101.'I remember saying on one occasion, `Ma'am, the curtains in one of the upstairs bedrooms are rather falling to bits. She looked at me with a twinkle in her eye and said, `I think they will last a few more years'.'Windham said the Queen Mother's parsimony was the result of the privations of two world wars.'She was 14 when the Great War broke out and was very much accustomed to rationing. During the Second World War, when she was Queen, they even had lines painted round the baths at Buckingham Palace to make sure they didn't use too much hot water.'

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