Meeting the people of Drottningholm

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”There are always some intrigues and love stories going on around here …”

Well didn’t we just assume as much? The lady who told me this, her name will remain anonymous, is one of the residents at the gorgeous palace of Drottningholm, one of the Swedish royal family’s homes. It is beautifully situated at the island of Lovön a few kilometres south of Stockholm. Curious on how life is lived at such a palace, I stayed there for a few days to get to know the people there. And yes: My suspicions of a court life filled with intrigues were confirmed.

Feeling slightly nervous, afraid neither my dress nor etiquette would satisfy the undoubtedly high standards of the royal court, I entered the palace. There, I first met the ladies MariaAntonia Barenhaut and Sophia Trefusis.

”I’m quite exhausted, to tell the truth,” Ms Trefusis responded to a question from Ms Barenhaut.

”Yesterday, Friherrinnan Clowes asked me to look after a boy in her care, a child of servants, and he tired me out with his constant Spanish and running around. I’ve had to lie down for a while. Children are wild.”

As the King were to tell me later, the court of Drottningholm is quite a multiethnic society:

”We have German and Hollandish builders, because those are the best workers; we have many French joining us, as there are revolts at hands in France, and we are kind and allow them to be here with us; then some joined us from Austria and Russia.”

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But for now, the ladies’ conversation topic changed to fashion as they were joined by a gentleman, Mr Ville Ivercourt, boasting of a wonderful costume he’d attained for an upcoming play.

”My Herre, is it true you have made a wager with Friherrinnan Clowes about never wearing black if you didn’t succeed with some task,” Ms Trefusis asked him.

”I shouldn’t have. But you’ve heard only half the story, Madam,” he answered.

Upon this, Ms Trefusis came up with a quite curious face, but he apologized and withdrew himself.

”He is an agreeable man, although he runs away from the ladies a lot,” sighed Ms Trefusis. I replied that most men usually run after the ladies, to which she murmured ”One at least wish so.”

Ms Barenhaut, whom I would quickly learn is a lady that rarely misses an occasion to show some of the more than one hundred lovely dresses she owns, then asked: ”Shall I go through some of my costumes for the play?”

Without waiting for an answer, she began. ”This is Scene 1 … Scene 2 … Scene 3 … Scene 4 … This is for Scene 5 …”

I had the audacity to remark that they looked quite old-fashioned, and then learned that the play is set to Medieval times.

”So I went for a Spanish/English Tudor style,” said Ms Barenhaut, referring to historical figures like Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. Beautiful as the costumes though were, they made me reflect on how much the art of making clothes has developed before reaching our gorgeous Rococo style. ”After the play, I’m planning a Tudor revival in fashion. Neo-Tudor, he he. Modern gowns with Tudor influences,” said Ms Barenhaut.

While she continued to scene 6, Ms Trefusis whispered in my ear: ”Maria has one of the greatest wardrobes in all of court. How will anyone notice me when Maria steals the show?”

The play, which is soon to be performed, has involved almost all the members of the court. Ms Trefusis smiled proudly and said: ”The Queen Mother praised our amateurish efforts at acting just the other day.”

Suddenly, we were a crowd, as Mr Ivercourt had returned, and Ms Cynster Clowes, Mr Anton Gabardini and Mr Erestor Streeter had joined us. Ms Trefusis said: ”Cyn, I must beg you: Don’t let me take care of your servant ever again,” referring to the wild Spanish boy. She added: ”This is quite a gathering. We should go sit down.”

Mr Ivercourt suggested the inn, something Mr Gabardini and Ms Trefusis flatly refused, the latter murmuring ”That would destroy my gown.”

”Too bad the Northern Star burned down,” said Ms Clowes, and this was the big topic during my visit: The beautiful build housing the Order of the Northern Star had burned down, and Mr Gabardini led the investigations to find out how and why, as it was suspected someone had started the fire.

We decided to enter the palace. ”If it’s allowed to go there,” said Mr Gabardini. ”I’m sure the royal family won’t mind us borrowing it for a bit,” said Ms Clowes.

The conversation soon turned to literature when Mr Streeter said he’d been writing all day. ”Just trying to get some things from the past down on paper before memory gets weak,” he said. Ms Trefusis felt there was ”much writing going on in this court,” whereupon Mr Gabardini said he soon hoped to present his opera, and Ms Gallyon Milneaux replied: ”Of course, dear. What else can we do?” Ms Trefusis wondered whether Mr Streeter had lived an adventurous life. ”Of course he won’t tell you flat out about his adventures, Sophia. It would spoil the whole mystery around him,” said Ms Clowes.

”Adventurous? Don’t know about that, but I have travelled in the past. Unlucky circumstances more or less forced me out on the roads for a period,” admitted Mr Streeter.

Ms Trefusis said she’d like to read an excerpt of his memoirs. ”Unless it’s terribly scandalous. I don’t think my father would approve of me reading such things, and I’d hate to make him believe I’ve become corrupted. If that was the case, he’d order me home at once.” ”And who would tell him,” asked Mr Streeter. ”There are ears and eyes everywhere,” replied Ms Trefusis.

Ms Barenhaut held her own opinion: ”If it’s terribly scandalous, then all the better. You see, I’ve learned a little trick about finding out gossip, and that is to ask them so often that they’ll tell you, as long as you promise not to tell anyone. That’s the only way of telling if it’s good enough to spread around.”

The mood of the moment inspired Mr Streeter: ”Friends and good wines from fields so vast / Hope the fire don’t burn down too fast …” It was a thing he’d picked up from his travels. ”In the evenings around the fire, in a tavern or outside, one start with a line or two and then it passes on. He who cannot come up with a line buys the next round or so.”

”I wonder where Lord Graves is hiding. Now that he has been reinstated he has quite disappeared,” said Ms Trefusis, whereupon Ms Clowes suggested he was hiding from the legos, the hired soldiers. ”He has a quarrel with, oh…” Ms Trefusis interrupted herself just as the very Mr Mikk Graves came in. ”Ah, speak of the devil,” said Ms Milneaux.

”There has been a break in at the house of the Order of the Sword,” Mr Graves could tell us. Some confusion ensued, as the court had yet to digest the fact that the Northern Star had burned down, and Mr Graves asked Mr Garibaldi, a detective, if he could look into it. ”I can’t investigate there,” he answered, claiming he was too occupied working on the Northern Star fire.

Then, a few minutes later, something strange happened. As I told Ms Barenhaut that I was writing an article on Drottningholm, she said: ”You could write about the fire, and the poetry night, and my drunkenness, ha ha, loosing my wig, my feathers, and almost setting my dress on fire, all in one night.” Ms Milneaux objected: ”Really, dear, you shouldn’t speak of that. What would your relatives in France think?” ”Oh, but it was so funny when you think back on it. I’m sure they would laugh their heads off,” said Ms Barenhaut, more than suggesting it was her that had put the Northern Star on fire. But no one seemed to understand what she was saying.

”Such a sad event,” said Ms Milneaux. ”Nooo, it was funny, it was hilarious,” continued Ms Barenhaut. ”I’m sorry: A fire is funny,” asked Ms Trefusis. ”Well, not funny then, but when you look back upon it,” said Ms Barenhaut. ”It’s under investigations. I can’t find someone who is guilty,” said Mr Gabardini, while Ms Barenhaut continued: ”Most likely my feathers. They probably fell off when I tripped up near the fireplace. Settled in the fire, burned, set the curtains on fire, and then … boom!”

Ms Barenhaut hoped she wouldn’t get arrested for the incident. ”More innocent people have been arrested and ruined,” she said, and a remark from Mr Streeter saying she would probably reform the dress codes in prison if she were to be put there, made sure the evening ended in laughter. But no one seemed to truly believe that the mysteries surrounding the fire were properly solved.

The next day I met Ms Barenhaut again, together with Ms Trefusis and Ms Milneaux. I’d understood from Ms Barenhaut’s interest in costumes that she was more than a little interested in the topic of fashion. Without really knowing what I was doing, I asked if she could be so kind as to tell me about the clothes being worn at Drottningholm. Ms Milneaux leaned over and whispered to me: ”Don’t get her started my dear, you’ll be here for hours.”

And as it turned out, Ms Barenhaut was more than happy to lecture me. ”Oh yes, fashion is everything,” she said. Ms Milneaux quickly excused herself: ”I have urgent matters to attend to.” On her way out, she met Ms Catherine Monigal, and quietly persuaded her to turn around. ”The baroness [Barenhaut] is talking about dresses,” she said, and Ms Monigal motioned to turn around. I then saw Ms Trefusis mouthing ”Please no, don’t leave me her alone,” whereupon Ms Monigal come over to us. ”Maria, darling, sorry to interrupt, but could I borrow Sophia?” ”If you must dear,” replied Ms Barenhaut, and continued. ”Like this gown, it’s by Wunderlich, and I bought it because it reminded me of my wedding gown. The hair and hat to match came later, as I was desperate to find them. Wunderlich is worn by almost everyone at the court after my introduction. White Rose and English Rose are quite popular as well, Rodenberge I suppose, and Countess Seerose’s Designs. The gentlemen mainly find their clothes in the Trading House.”

Ms Barenhaut confirmed that there is quite a lot of competition among the ladies of the court when it comes to fashion. ”And I strive to be on top.”

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After this lecture I ventured a little further down the royal park. Here I met a lady that didn’t look quite like the others. As it turned out, she was different.

Her name was Archis Writer, and she did not belong to the aristocracy. ”No, I’m part of the Frimurare. We are artists and architects, and I’m a painter from Holland, looking for commissions here.” When I asked if she’d found any, she blushed and mumbled: ”The King, madame.” He wants portraits of himself.

The reason Ms Writer had left Holland was because of her country’s deplorable econimic situation. ”I am the most talented of my family, so I traveled with my father. Now, at my age, I decided to try for myself and see if I can help my struggling family, but it’s hard to be here on your own as an unmarried woman – some do try to take advantage of me. But I’ve also made very good friends the short time I’ve spent here. I don’t want to get married, not yet, and I also want to get married for love, but I know that will be hard,” said Ms Writer.

She then added: ”And do you know, there will be a lot of marriages here. This spring is full of them. The ladies are already seeking the best gowns to wear. I don’t have the money or the inclination to join the competition, but usually it’s very interesting to watch.”

I asked her if she could confirm one of the rumours I’d heard, about a couple that had been discovered all alone doing the kissy kissy thing, and then been forced by the Queen Mother to get married.

”Yes, Mr Mikk Graves and Ms Amalthea McMahon. It’s a match of money and title, very convenient for both,” Ms Writer confirmed.

As we spoke, we were joined by another lady that told us she was waiting to get married, Ms Clowes. And with whom, we asked.

”The gentleman who has won my most exclusive affections and stabbed my pure black heart with a sword, or rapier, of love, making it bleed back to its natural red state is none other than … A most honourable and charming, rather I dare say, dashing in his most exquisite uniform, our well loved and well known dear Lord Pete Warwillow,” Ms Clowes answered.

We’d hardly had time to give her our dearest congratulations before our party was disrupted by a gentleman in a most miserable state, swaying, not able to stand firmly upright, and sharing a rich amount of his bodily winds. His name will not be mentioned here. He was punished enough by the simple fact that none other than the Queen Mother herself joined us and was able too see him.

”I was … *hicks* … out looking at … Champagne … some … for the weddings,” he tried to explain. ”Oh mon dieu,” said the Queen Mother, quite shocked to see an otherwise respectable nobleman in such undignified conditions. ”And now I am blind,” he cried, before Ms Writer hoisted his wig back up above his eyes. She then volunteered to help him find a place to rest. ”Take him to the stables and make him sleep with the horses,” said the Queen Mother.

Ms Clowes, who happen to be the Queen Mother’s niece, told her that the Queen had approved of her wedding Mr Warwillow. The Queen Mother snorted.

”I must say I am a bit disappointed. I always thought you would marry a member of a royal family. But your situation is so terrible I’m happy for seeing you married again. You were becoming a social waste,” she said.

Ms Clowes blushed, well aware of her reputation. ”Very true, but in my position, a good man like Lord Warwillow is certainly a blessing for me. We will be very happy together and our reputations will be better off. You have always looked after me, Your Majesty, and I appreciate it. I will keep him in my heart as long as we both live and we will be very happy,” she said, and then smiled a little proud.

”I’m sure of that,” said the Queen Mother, and she smiled as well.

Her Majesty then turned to me. ”So, are you enjoying our court, Ms Carfagno?” ”I certainly do, Your Majesty,” I answered, and told her I was a journalist reporting from Drottningholm. ”I’m glad you’re doing it. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask,” she said as Ms Writer came back from the stables, having disposed of the gentleman.

”I would like to ask Her Majesty on her position and her tasks here at Drottningholm,” I said. The Queen Mother coughed, and then explained: ”Well, I ride my horse, I arrange marriages, I wear wonderful dresses, I get angry and shout, I have my medication, and I try to stick my nose into all state issues.”

She confirmed having had a word or two to say on the upcoming marriages. ”Ms Clowes was a bit lost, morally speaking. I also found two courtesans alone in the park, kissing. So of course I arranged their marriage immediately. And of course I don’t approve of your dress, madame,” she said, addressing me while raising an eyebrow. ”I can see too much of your skin, and I can’t stand bare shoulders.” I felt like I should sink into the ground. So my dress had not after all been good enough for the royal court. I could only hope my etiquette at least had not insulted anyone.

The Queen Mother left, and I was alone with Ms Clowes and Mr Warwillow. They were both foreigners, they told me, Mr Warwillow coming from England to seek his fortune, and Ms Clowes being born in Prussia. This is how she narrated her story to me:

”I was born Princess in Prussia, the Queen Mother’s niece, and then when I moved to Sweden I worked my way up to the middle nobilty, which is where I’m currently at.” I told her she had a colourful background.

”Thank you, indeed it is. But more trouble than it is worth. You see, I had been married to William V of Orange, the Dutch Stadtholder, my ex-husband now. Unfortunately, incidents arose which left us to divorce, and that is the bad reputation my aunt was speaking of earlier.

”Would it be wrong of me to inquire into those incidents, madame,” I asked.

”Not at all. I would like to set the story straight, as there are all sorts of wild rumors going around. Well, I came to Sweden without my husband not only to introduce my son Willem to my aunt, but also to unofficially take a break from my husband. We married when I was 16 and never grew to love each other, never really on the same wavelength. He has his mistresses, as many men do, and I left for Sweden to get away from that,” said Ms Clowes, before looking contemplative for a moment, as if wondering if she should tell the whole story.

”I fell in love with a man here, who had intended on courting my dear friend Sophia who did not seem interested in him. But we both knew it wouldn’t work, and so he became a reverend and I,” said Ms Clowes, pausing again, looking for words.

”Well, I said I would wait for him. He is not Pete, so you know that didn’t work out. He wanted me to leave my husband, something I could not think to do. And while we were in each other’s company, suddenly rumors broke loose that we loved each other. My aunt told me to put a stop to it, rightly so, so I stopped seeing him. And, ironically, my husband found out about that, and the fact that I had privately converted to the Catholic faith. So he divorced me on those grounds,” said Ms Clowes.

”Then the big question that I have been asked is why I would not go back to the reverend, which is easy to answer. I’m telling you so that the rumours can end. The reverend is a reverend, not only not of my faith, but a leader of another faith. He should be with a protestant woman. And he never had my best intentions in his mind. Pete helped me understand that. Pete watched out for me. Pete helped me through this very difficult time for me. And so Pete has my heart and undying devotion,” said Ms Clowes, ending her story with a smile.

”Pete and I are soul mates. There will never be a better match,” she said, and Mr Warwillow could only agree. I thanked her for sharing her story with me, and decided to leave the two lovebirds alone.

As most members of the court now knew there was a journalist among them, one of them contacted me on my way back to the castle, eager to share some rumours about the Queen Mother with me. ”Did you know, she has a collection in her chambers, all sorts of stuff in jars. One of them contains her own child not yet born. And the King and his rittmeister are, um-hum-hum, you know, and so is the Queen. Perhaps madame journalist should dig a bit into those stories?”

I must admit this information lingered in the back of my head as I made myself ready to meet the King himself the next day. That he and his rittmeister would be … what? Could that really be true? It turned out during our interview that such suspicions might not have been taken out of the thin air.

Mr Graves was sent to pick me up with a carriage. He then took me to the house of the Order of the Seraphim, where the King most graciously welcomed me. I curtsied as best as I could, all too aware that I still wore the dress the Queen Mother had not approved of. But it is the only dress I have that comes anything remotely close to the fashions of the court.

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The King did not seem to be displeased with my appearance. ”I guess you have been shown around, Min Fru,” he said. I told him I had, and that I’d met many nice ladies and lords during my visit to the court.

”We have different classes, as you may have observed. Nobility, military, even outcast. All extremes in fact. I’m thinking of the woods, where you find those that don’t belong to the court, mostly assassins, outlaws who don’t want to fit in. And then there is the Frimurare, whom I admire a little. You know, court life can sometimes be a little, how should I say it? Severe, maybe,” said the King.

”I am sure Your Majesty does his best to liven up the spirits of the court,” I said.

”Oh yes, yes. Of course. Painting, music and architecture, we cultivate all those things here. Just a week ago we had an evening of poetry. I am also about to design some nice clothes that could be national outfits. What do you think? Black and red,” he asked, looking at my dress. I blushed, and asked: ”It seems the topic of fashion is quite important at Drottningholm?”

”Of course. France has been a trendsetter too long. But if you’ve noticed, we are not so pompadouresque. Gently rococo with a touch of modesty. Yes, that’s it. Modesty is important and serves the etiquette. And I can proudly say we have the most wonderful courtladies here. Compared with them, newly planted flowers look faded. But the men are handso…,” he interrupted himself.

”Nice too. There is nothing more beautiful than a handsome man in a nice suit or uniform in good posture,” said the King, and my thoughts unwillingly drifted towards his rittmeister. I turned conversation towards the upcoming spring ball that I’d heard of.

”The spring ball? Maybe a surprise, You see, I don’t know about everything what my court is planning around us, the Queen Mother, Queen and the King. It has a life of its own. I mean, we don’t decide about people. But it’s a giving and taking. So we share a lot with each other as we provide a home for many and gather the glance of Sweden around us.”

Sometimes, the King admitted, there is a need to intervene in the court’s affairs.

”If soldiers get drunk, or if some matters would affect the Royal Family or matters of high importance. My mother is always very fast in her actions. She recently degraded a soldier, which is not in her department. But of course I respect her will. What would it look like if I reversed her decision?”

I asked what had made her angry at the soldier.

”Well, he didn’t want to go with her to a masked ball. So she got a bit angry and degraded him. That sort of thing has happened too often lately. Maybe her age,” the King answered.

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He then turned to a serious topic: Conspiracy in the court.

”Sometimes I have that feeling. I get it from some nobles I don’t know too well. I still think about the time I got knocked down. It was during a ball, when I went away with the Queen for a small talk behind the house where we now sit. I got knocked down, and I’m yet not sure who it was,” he said, adding he might have to think of getting lifeguards very soon – ”Just in case.”

”Your Majesty,” I then asked, ”what is the most important aspect of being the King?”

”To find that balance between presence and absence to best rule the country. The King should never be too available, but has of course duties to take care of. As you can see, this country is prospering again, and more money means more culture, events, festivities, fashion and buildings, everything we need to make our lives more luxurious. But at the same time not forget those we need to protect and who in a way provide us.”

The King then looked thoughtful, and said: ”Please don’t print that last sentence.” I told him I couldn’t guarantee that.

”Well, let me explain,” he said. ”There are some who are born into wealth and some who have to provide wealth for others. That is how the system works; that is godgiven and natural. But we have a Baron here at the court by the name Nykvist. He was raised under poor conditions, but has climbed upwards to the nobility. He has been hated and not accepted by other nobles for that. But I protect him, as he has worked hard and brought the country forward.”

”Your Majesty: The near future of Drottningholm?”

”Oh, there are so many nice things waiting to happen. At first, I want to move into the palace when it’s ready. Then I want entertainment here. People shall have fun, with theatre, opera, dances, shows and weddings. And we will have a few weddings here, as far as I know. Drottningholm has a golden future waiting.”

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~ by theresecarfagno on May 12, 2009.

2 Responses to “Meeting the people of Drottningholm”

  1. То что бредомысли это точно :)
    Видно настиг творческий кризис. Мысле нет о чем писать :)

  2. Drottningholm isn’t a good rp sim in my view..Yes it has a dcs meter, tonness of notecards sent daily…..But the sim was long full of what seemed bots to boost the traffic, there is not a lot of roleplayers and now several of the top ones are leaving….nothing thrilling…
    No interraction with the other important SL historical courts- it is a very closed environment actually. And the palace is ugly and quite empty..the queen hasn’t got even a bed to sleep in….

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