By Ian Hamilton
Anyone of a literary turn of mind must regret the passing of John Galsworthy. Had that distinguished author lived for a further hundred years he would have seen the apotheosis of his finest creation. The Forsytes, who knew the price, if not the value, of everything could never have foreseen this. A Forsyte to marry a Royal! Even old Jolyon might have conceded that the family had met its match.
This lack of foresight is not John Galsworthy’s fault. No one in 1910, could have expected that a son-Royal would go to a Scottish University. Such places were like Roger Forsyte travelling second class on the railway. You never knew whom you might meet. ‘Now look what has happened!’ Nicholas Forsyte could have said, ‘I told you so!’
Enter Franz Lehar! See how he saves the day! Listen to the swelling music of The Student Prince. None can doubt their love. Yet as the operetta progresses the music assumes a minor key. In an entrancing tenor voice the prince sings his yearning exit on one side of the stage. On the other side his Violetta, brave in her resignation, sings her way back to her humble cottage. We all knew that it could never be. The Country, the Prince, the Queen, Violetta and God have been saved.The terrible embarrassment of the nuptials will not take place.
It has taken a long time for Trade to meet the Queen. Tonight, or tomorrow, or someday before the nuptials, Her Majesty is to meet Mr and Mrs Forsyte. They are to eat together for the first time. It will be a private occasion. Only a few equerries will attend to show the Forsytes how to unfold a napkin.
One might have thought that Her Majesty would have shown a little more haste to meet these strange people who have worked for their living. How wise she was, how very wise, to wait until ten days before the wedding! After all, going back to the saga of the Forsyte family, a mere engagement is not proof that a marriage will follow. Even the Forsytes have known a broken romance.
Now back to John Galsworthy. His Queen and country need him. He must write the dialogue for this most difficult of all meetings. It is not an easy one, even when it’s held timeously. To postpone it until they have Commemoration Mugs to drink their tea from makes it doubly difficult. What can they talk about when the head of the House of Windsor meets Mr and Mrs Forsyte? Trade is out. Never has a Windsor married into a family who work. Other subjects could be equally embarrassing.
‘I must give you an order,’ says Her Majesty, breaking a long, brittle silence.
‘Oh yes, please,’ says Mrs Middleton, producing a pen and notepad from her handbag. ‘Anything will help with all the expense we’re having with Kate.’
‘I was thinking of The Royal Victorian Order,’ says Her Majesty icily. ‘But perhaps the BEM will be more appropriate.’
Meanwhile across the stage, headed by old Jolyon himself, walk one by one the ghosts of the Forsyte family. Trade has conquered the royals.
Come back John Galsworthy. Your Queen and Mrs Middleton have need of you.