Thursday, 16 February 2012

Royal Connections at the Royal School of Needlework

Monday February 13 started off quietly enough with a committee meeting followed by lunch. Thanks to research done by our Learned Clerk he located a hostelry (OK a wine bar) where they were offering a birthday discount on champagne to the value of the birthday. There have to be some benefits for growing older and happily one of our committee was celebrating his 70th birthday – need I say more? Pity it was only 70!

On a more sober (but very enjoyable and interesting) note I went to the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court in the evening to attend the launch of their Royal Connections Exhibition, opened by their President, HRH The Duchess of Gloucester. The RSN has a long tradition of working for royal occasions, up to and including the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress, and has worked items for every coronation since Edward VII.

It is an interesting exhibition with over a hundred items. Not all of these are needlework – it includes the invitation of the Chief Executive to the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge last year where she and the senior project manager represented the RSN and its part in this event.

The Duchess opened the exhibition with a charming speech also conveying the good wishes of Her Majesty who is the Patron of the RSN.

Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, the Duchess’ mother-in-law, was a stitcher and the exhibition contains a thread and needle holder that belonged to her as well as a chair seat that she was working on at the time of her death. I mention this as the Needlemakers presented Princess Alice with a needle case on the occasion of her marriage and we have a most charming letter from her thanking us in our archives.

I was particularly delighted and touched that when I was introduced to the Duchess she knew about this and remarked on the needle case. She commented that some of the needles were so fine that you wondered how they were ever threaded. As a stitcher herself she will have taken particular note of this.

There were some of my fellow Masters there, representing other Companies that support the RSN. The Needlemakers supports students at the RSN with a number of prizes and we are planning to arrange a visit later in the year.

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