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Lady in Waiting

My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown
Narrated by: Anne Glenconner
Length: 9 hrs and 8 mins
4.8 out of 5 stars (2,353 ratings)

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Summary

The remarkable life of Lady in Waiting to Princess Margaret who was also a Maid of Honour at the Queen's Coronation - and is a character in The Crown this autumn. 

Anne Glenconner reveals the real events behind The Crown as well as her own life of drama, tragedy and courage, with the wonderful wit and extraordinary resilience which define her.  

Anne Glenconner has been close to the Royal Family since childhood. Eldest child of the 5th Earl of Leicester, she was, as a daughter, described as 'the greatest disappointment' by her family as she was unable to inherit. Her childhood home, Holkham Hall, is one of the grandest estates in England. Bordering Sandringham, the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were frequent playmates.   

From Maid of Honour at the Queen's Coronation to Lady in Waiting to Princess Margaret, Lady Glenconner is a unique witness to royal history as well as an extraordinary survivor of a generation of aristocratic women trapped without inheritance and burdened with social expectations.   

She married the charismatic but highly volatile Colin Tennant, Lord Glenconner, who became the owner of Mustique. Together they turned the island into a paradise for the rich and famous, including Mick Jagger and David Bowie, and it became a favourite retreat for Princess Margaret.    

But beneath the glitz and glamour there has also lurked tragedy. On Lord Glenconner's death in 2010 he left his fortune to a former employee. And of their five children, two grown-up sons died, while a third son had to be nursed back from a coma by Anne, after having suffered a near fatal accident.   

Anne Glenconner writes with extraordinary wit, generosity and courage, and she exposes what life was like in her gilded cage, revealing the role of her great friendship with Princess Margaret and the freedom she can now finally enjoy in later life. She will appear as a character in the new series of The Crown this autumn.  

©2019 Anne Glenconner (P)2019 Hodder & Stoughton Limited

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Money doesn't make happiness

Lady Anne Glenconner's long life has been one of devoted service - service to her husband Colin Tennant who became 3rd Baron Glenconner, to her 3 adult sons, and to Princess Margaret whom she served as lady-in-waiting for 30 years. Were the recipients of her dedicated service worthy of it, I wonder? Lady Anne's childhood at Holkham Hall in Norfolk, the beloved estate of her father 5th Earl of Leicester, was idyllic: paddling on the river (which she did unsupervised from the age of 5); romping with various dogs and horses ( her mother's only information before her daughter's wedding was that men did what the labradors did, except she'd be lying down); picnics and endless games with her sister and with Princess Margaret who was at neighbouring Sandringham. Lady Anne's honeymoon started disastrously with her new husband's demented and fearsomely vile and arrogant behaviour, screaming at hotel workers as they dragged a double mattress up 4 flights of stairs on their 1st night. Never mind, next night he planned a 'surprise' for his new bride: watching a live sex show in some seedy Parisian dive which disgusted Lady Anne. Today Colin Tennant would surely have been medicated for a mental illness, but they married in 1954 when not only were such conditions undiagnosed and untreated, but marriage was for life, whatever. So Lady Anne suffered the tumultuous, outrageous temper tantrums (he was thrown bodily off a flight; would lie screaming at night in a foetal position on the floor; assaulted a shopkeeper in India who annoyed him). She indulged him with kindness as he spent vast amounts of money on houses for himself and others; on the island of Mustique which he bought and made a hedonistic hang-out for the super-rich; on unimaginable extravagant entertainment - and on mistresses. Princess Margaret had a reputation as a demanding and difficult woman. Lady Anne knew her intimately and although she doesn't correct this view, her portrayal is sympathetic and compassionate. Here is a fun-loving woman imprisoned by her royalty whom lasting happiness eluded. (Tony Armstrong-Jones left notes for her saying 'I hate you'); happiness with Roddy Llewelyn lasted only 6 years; whose health was ruined by a a lifetime of chain-smoking (emptying the Princess's ash-trays was a Sisyphean task for those waiting on her). The adult lives of her 3 sons were tragic. Motorbike madness resulted in the youngest being left for dead (his recovery took years of Lady Anne's devoted dedication); the eldest was addicted to drugs whilst still at school and he finally died of hepatitis C; the middle son left his wife and child and later died of AIDS. It is here that Lady Anne becomes reflective and we feel that all that wealth, luxury, privilege, travel, royalty fades into insignificance. Lady Anne is now in her late 80s. You can tell when she is tiring and when she's started again after a break; and when she's truly moved by what she is saying. She is most interesting and human as she makes clear the high costs of her "extraordinary life.". Definitely insightful and fascinating.

41 people found this helpful

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I was surprised

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Lady Glenconner read her memoirs. That she was reading made it all the more enjoyable, she wasn't just telling a story she was reliving it all. I cried as she described the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth and the death of her son Henry. She made Princess Margaret more Human. I will listen again. A lovely woman, tha I you for sharing your life.

20 people found this helpful

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Lady in Waiting

An amazing life story, wonderfully brought to life by its author. From a childhood at Holkham, to experiences at Court and a life spent mainly on Mustique, Anne Glenconner tells a great story. There is also deep tragedy, which is not skated over but described unflinchingly. I’m so glad to have listened on Audible rather than read the book. I cannot recommend this more highly.

15 people found this helpful

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What a woman!

So much more than a story of a lady in waiting. Forget The Crown’ this would make a great film.

11 people found this helpful

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Fabulously fantastic

What a compellingly grippy book. To hear it read by Anne too is terribly lovely. Her devastating life is so sad, but not without it’s fabulously funny highs too. One finished the book feeling like one of the family !

10 people found this helpful

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A wonderful, wonderful listen

Beautifully written, beautifully and simply ready by the author, this is funny, startling, and often deeply moving. Unusually for a memoir with lashings of royalty, it is neither a “tell-all” nor a fawning attempt at ingratiation. I’m so glad she wrote it, and sincerely hope she sticks to her plan to live to 100 and more. Pure listening pleasure.

6 people found this helpful

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Touching

This book is brilliantly written and beautifully read. I just wanted it to go on and on. Lady Anne had so much heart ache, but coped with it so touchingly. I do admire her.

12 people found this helpful

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So interesting

It was so meaningful to have the story read by the author. I found it stimulating with a sense of I can do anything through out the story.

5 people found this helpful

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Loved it! A true insight

Thoroughly enjoyed this heartfelt story. A real insight into aristocratic life without being pompous. Heartbreaking at times and a reflection on how a stiff upper lip was the order of the day. What a fascinating family they are!

5 people found this helpful

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what a read

a fascinating insight into a world most of us will never occupy. inspirational and brilliant.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Alchemist
  • 22-10-19

Such an amazing listen

What a beautifully written book- absolutely captivating (especially as it’s read by the author). Thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Pia Hansen
  • 31-07-20

An interesting look at en era gone by

An interesting account of an extraordinary life. It adds to the pleasure that Lady Glenconner read the audiobook herself. I highly recommend it.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 30-03-20

Excellent

If you are interested in the Royal family and enjoy hearing about how the families of British aristocracy live this book is for you. Highly entertaining, funny and sometimes sad.

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  • Skiathete
  • 25-01-20

Fantastic book enjoyed every minute

I really enjoyed this book. I am recovering from a traumatic brain injury and have found listening to Lady Glenconner reading this story of her life genuinely absorbing. The author has overcome great adversity and sadness and yet managed to carry on and not let the many dreadful things that have happened bring her down. I would highly recommend this book to anyone and have already done so.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-12-19

A life worth knowing

A Fascinating story with contrasts that can only have been known by a few. At times shocking and also amusing. The overriding feeling of coping with what life throws at you is a beacon. Fabulous.

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  • Sandra
  • 01-12-19

fantastic

i absolutely loved this. thanks for sharing your beautiful lifes story with us. It's was marvelous.

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  • Angelina
  • 28-11-19

Exceptional story!

Very enjoyable, especially because it's read by the author. Very interesting and funny, at times touching and emotional. Absolutely brilliant and highly recommended!

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  • Charnell
  • 18-11-19

A glimpse into glamour

An honest account of a gilded cage, and proof that human nature - good and bad, but always complex and nuanced spills messily into every level of society. Honest, heartbreaking but heartwarming too.