SARAH (The Duchess of York)
There are more than six hundred rooms in Buckingham Palace, but my life would be contained in fewer than six of them. My new residence was Andrew’s old bachelor quarters in East Wing. I just moved in with him. Through that was hardly the ‘done’ thing. It was never an issue, which makes me think about how the Palace was run – that it could bend and ignore things when it cared to.
Our apartment was on the second floor, on the corridor that overlooked the chipped-stone quadrangle where I park my car. The corridor was papered in green silk and carpeted in deep red, and it stretched for so long that one could hardly see the end of it. It was lined with wardrobes and china cabinets and oil of British Victoria at sea. One each door was fixed a typed card within a brass holder, naming the royal resident therein.
The pervading atmosphere, wrote Ingrid Seward, ‘is that of a gentleman’s club on a wet afternoon; quite, understated and slightly faded’
Inside our suite there were five rooms and two bath rooms in a row, with interconnecting doors: a spacious flat, but hardly grandiose. The rooms were done with Victorian density, much the same as when Andrew had lived there alone, and Charles before him: damask curtains, pleated lampshades, bland carpeting, brownish wallpaper.
The exception to the color scheme was my dressing room, on one end, which Diana redid in pink and white when she briefly lived here. Of ordinary size, it was crammed with massive oak and rosewood wardrobes, a dressing table, and a large canopied bed. Next in the line the dining room, where we’d entertain guests at the long mahogany table, or work at our separate desks. But when Andrew and I dined alone, we would move next door to the sitting room and set up at small serving table by the television.
Finally there were Andrew’s bedroom and dressing room, an absolute time warp. Dozens of stuffed animals blanketed the bed, while pink teddies hugged each other atop a lamp. Boys’ guns and bachelor bits lay everywhere – and I accepted it all as it was. I didn't mind the weighty furniture, or the museum-piece clocks from the Royal collection, or the sad electric fireplaces. I saw the apartment as a transitional perch before the proper home we would get for ourselves. Watch a film, have a glass of wine, and do not worry over the sofa being green or pink. As one who’d never had her own flat, I wasn't used to taking over places and making great changes.................