The debates can get quite heated because we are diametrically opposed, politically speaking, and it often ends in a draw, with both of us agreeing to disagree. We're respectful of each other's views. For example, I would describe myself as a feminist; Mike is respectful of my feminism because, as he says, he doesn't know what it's like to be a woman. Mike describes himself as a Royalist. I'm respectful of that because I don't know what it's like to be British.
It's not that I'm against British royalty per se. It's just that I don't have a category to fully understand what it is. Not quite celebrity, not quite government. A GMO - Glamorous Monarchic Organisation. In fact, before I moved to England some 15 years ago I only had two images in my head of the British royal family: Charles and Diana on their wedding day and the cartoon image of King George III from the Schoolhouse Rock series.
Fair to say, it wasn't a well-rounded political view point.
I was thinking about this last night while I ironed Mike's good shirt and dug out his clean shooting tweeds. As part of the Estate team, he will be meeting HRH Princess Anne this morning. Her Royal Highness is our visiting dignitary.
If you're reading this and you are an American, you are probably thinking 'Which one is that?' Princess Anne is the Queen's daughter. You might know her as an Olympic Event rider. She wears her hair in a bun. Her daughter Zara is the other British royal wedding scheduled this year. That's all I knew about the Princess Royal. I had to look her up on Wikipedia.
Mike is quietly looking forward to meeting Princess Anne. I'm not a royalist. I think more like Justin Halpern's dad, that it's just one more day I can't wear sweatpants. I can't let the chickens free range either, and I can't go stalking. Secret service don't like to hear rifle shots in the nearby woods.
I shouldn't be so flippant. It's an honor for Mike. Last July, we received an invitation to attend HM The Queen's Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, and we were two of a handful of people presented to Her Majesty. I stood in the middle of Buckingham Palace lawn, in a borrowed hat, having a discussion about grey partridge and labradors with the Queen of England. It was a huge honor though, let's face it, Mike was the welcome guest, I was totally the 'plus one' on that invitation.
The experience reformed my view of royalty. The Queen was the most dignified person I have ever met. She was also educated and witty - she even made a gamekeeping joke. She is obviously really good at her job. That is not a job I would like to do. I'm not a people person, and the thought of spending every day of my life fulfilling social obligations with no hope of retirement would give me apoplexy. I have a lot of respect for the Queen.
So, as I was writing this post, I heard Princess Anne's helicopter coming in to land, in the field just across from our cottage. I put on a clean(ish) coat, went out, and stood to wave to her alongside my neighbors (all six of us). The Princess Royal was just a tiny figure in a white coat.
Don't get me wrong, it's a lovely bit of cultural theatre to watch but I'm not a convert to Monarchy and the associated class system.
I was reading the itinerary for today's visit (I found the puppy chewing on it) and saw that the Princess and her lady-in-waiting were scheduled to have lunch in one room, Lord and Lady were having lunch in a different room, and the Lord Lieutenant (a monarch's personal representative when visiting a county) was having her lunch in a third room. All at the same time. I asked Mike why they weren't all having lunch together. "Protocol I suppose", said Mike. Is the class system so strict that royals can't share a meal with aristocrats, who in turn won't deign to share their table with a civil servant?
Lady S stopped by our cottage yesterday. She wanted Mike to find her some new hens for her garden. On her way out, she took three boxes of eggs and said 'Oh Mike, I haven't got any money for these.' and left. Mike accepts this as a tithe levied by the estate. I see it as taxation without representation. I think we're going to have to agree to disagree on this one, too.
I won't see Mike until after he's met the Princess Royal. I hope it goes well. I have to get on and dig the new vegetable patch now. As the princess flies over the house, she may catch a glimpse of a lone peasant working the soil, but thinking revolutionary thoughts.