• R’ Yonasan of Prague was a friend to the king, and the king asked him before setting out to war if R’ Yonasan could tell which of the two gates of the city he would use when he returned from war. R’ Yonasan said that he would not answer the question right now, because whatever gate he mentioned, the king could easily decide to go through the other gate. Instead, he would write down his answer, then seal it so that the answer could not be read, and after the king had returned to the city, he could break the seal and read the answer. The king agreed and carried the answer with him to the war. Returning from the war, the king decided to trick R’ Yonasan and not use either gate to enter the city; instead, he ordered that the wall be breached and a third gate be built, and he entered the city through that. After entering the city by way of the new gate, the king broke the seal and read a quotation from the Gemara: “A king may breach a wall to make a path for himself” (Bava Basra100b).
• In 1960, Senator John Sparkman, a Democrat from Alabama, was introduced to the Queen of Greece. He introduced himself as “Senator John Sparkman,” but a colleague told him he should have added the rest — “Senator John Sparkman of Alabama.” The Queen overheard and asked, “Oh, are you from Alabama?” After the Senator admitted that he was, the Queen said that she had met a young lieutenant recently, who had told her, “I’m from Alabama, honey.” Senator Sparkman said that the lieutenant should have added the rest — “I’m from Alabama, honey child.” For the rest of evening, everybody called the Queen of Greece “Honey Child.”
• The Quakers used to be persecuted in the early years of the colonization of America; however, King Charles II ended the practice by sending a Quaker as his envoy to America. Quakers believe in the equality of Humankind, so they don’t take their hats off before humans of high rank. The American Governor was so displeased by the Quaker’s not taking his hat off that he knocked the hat to the ground. However, as soon as he learned that the Quaker was the envoy of the king, he hurriedly picked up the Quaker’s hat — and took off his own.
• In a controversy between King George IV and Queen Caroline, who was accused of many infidelities, the Duke of Wellington supported the King. However, the populace of London supported the Queen. Once, several London workmen stopped the Duke’s carriage and said they would not let him pass until he said, “God save the Queen.” The Duke replied, “Well, gentlemen, since you will have it so, ‘God save the Queen’ — and may all your wives be like her!”
• While in Tunis, comedian Beatrice Lillie became ill with dysentery and was forced to miss a party with King George VI, who, it turned out, was suffering from the same illness. Later, the two finally met. Ms. Lillie explained why she had missed the Tunis party, and King George VI commiserated with her about the effects of dysentery. Later, Ms. Lillie’s friends asked what she and the King had been discussing. She replied, “Diarrhea.”
• Gerald Arpino met Princess Margaret on Oct. 27, 1977, at the Contemporary Dance Foundation Gala at the Hotel Pierre. He had always been told that British royalty are impeccable in their pronunciation, and so he practiced perfectly saying, “I — am — pleased — to — meet — you — Your— Royal —Highness.” The meeting went very well. Mr. Arpino was impeccable in his pronunciation, and Princess Margaret responded, “How d’ja’ do?”
• Quakers believe that all people are created equal, so they don’t remove their hats, even when before royalty. William Penn once visited King Charles I, and in accordance with Quaker custom, Mr. Penn kept his hat on in the presence of the king. King Charles I immediately took off his own hat. When Mr. Penn asked why he had done that, the king replied, “It is the custom of this place for only one man to wear his hat at a time.”
• When Marie, Queen of Romania, was growing up in England, a playmate of hers attended a children’s party at Buckingham Palace — home of the Prince and Princess of Wales. After the party, the little boy’s father asked if the Prince of Wales had spoken to him. The little boy answered, “Yes, he trod upon my toes and said, ‘I beg your pardon.’”
• While Peter Ustinov was playing the Prince of Wales in a movie produced in England, he sent a Hollywood executive this telegram: “Greetings to my loyal subjects in the colonies. P Ustinov, Prince of Wales.”
• Dionysus, the dictator of Syracuse, once criticized his son for acting inappropriately, but his son replied that Dionysus had never had a king for a father. Dionysus replied, “If you behave like that, you won’t have a king for a son.”
• Each time soprano Birgit Nilsson returned to sing at the Metropolitan Opera, general manager Rudolf Bing got on his knees before her. After he had been knighted, he kneeled again at her return to the Met, and she told him, “You do that much better since you practiced it for the Queen.”
• Tallulah Bankhead could be quite critical of royalty. Once while she was shown her suite at a hotel, she was told that the Duke and Duchess of Windsor had spent their honeymoon there. Ms. Bankhead felt the bed, then said, “Ah yes, it’s still cold.”
• At one time, the Pope was supreme in worldly affairs. At the coronation of King Henry VI of Germany, Pope Celestine III kicked the crown off the king’s head to demonstrate that he could both make and unmake kings.
• The King of Holland once attended a piano recital by Clara Schumann; afterward, he met her husband, the famous composer Robert Schumann, and asked, “Are you musical, too?”
• “When I sat next the Duchess at tea, / It was just as I knew it would be, / Her rumblings abdominal / Were something phenomenal — / And everyone thought it was me.” — Anonymous.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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