Just A Princess With Simple Tastes

Princess Margaret in Mauritius 1956

I am a simple English maid from a humble background so I had a little chuckle at how far removed my life has been from the higher echelons of society when I happened upon a recent article by a royal correspondent in a national newspaper

He was writing about Princess Margaret (for my friends from abroad who might not know, Princess Margaret, who died in 2002, was the Queen's sister). This royal correspondent told me the princess had “unexpectedly modest tastes”.

He backed up this assertion by quoting a recently-released document about the princess’s royal tour of Mauritius back in 1956.

The island’s governor was informed that Princess Margaret preferred “simple” meals, was not fond of either caviar or oysters and would rather drink wine than champagne.

I’m not sure how many British people were drinking wine with their meals in 1956, but not many, I’d wager.

Then, without a hint of irony, we are told: “Three or four courses (including cheese or fruit) for lunch, and five for dinner are quite sufficient.”

Quite sufficient? I should think so. Back in dear old Britain food rationing (because of the war) had ended only a couple of years before. By the time Princess Margaret was in Mauritius I expect lots of families were subsisting on meals like tripe and onions with bread and pork fat for a treat. And who among you, know what “sop” is? It was my father’s breakfast staple until he became “posh” and took to eating bread and jam!

For those who don’t know, sop was sugary tea poured over bread in a bowl and eaten with a spoon. It was quite a common dish in rural Devon, the internet tells me.

And, if you’re interested in words, sop, soup and supper all derive from the Latin suppa, “bread soaked in broth”. [Latin lesson over the day!]

I’ll bet a round of soggy bread that not a drop of sop ever passed Princess Margaret’s lips. I lived on a farm so I can’t pretend we ever went hungry. In fact, quite the opposite. 

We may not have wine or five-course meals but in our own way we dined as well as any princess.

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  1. The life of a princess... Compared to other royals, that was probably pretty simple.

  2. Thank you for this venture down history's lane. It's all very strange.

  3. Interesting post. Living in the US< I am not familiar with the princess.

  4. Sop in our house was bread and milk with sugar. hated by me, loved by my sister who gladly ate my share.
    Five courses for dinner??
    We had one course, meat and veg on the plate, that was it. On Sundays we had dessert, store bought vanilla ice cream. I don't recall any food rationing though, we lived in Australia and in 1956 I was four, plus mum grew veggies in the back yard.

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