LAST EDITED ON 31-03-02 AT 09:16 AM (GMT)
This morning's papers refer slightly, if at all, to the late Queen Mother's interest in ballet and her friendship with Frederick Ashton. Here is an excerpt from Julie Kavanagh's 'Secret Muses', her biography of Ashton.
"With Queen Elizabeth, however, Ashton was in his element; they were, as a mutual friend put it, 'absolutely each other's cup of tea'. Contrary to her sugar-plum-fairy image, she has what Hugh Casson describes as 'this streak of strong granite and a sharp edge. Fred was caustic and she liked that.' Both were gifted with the common touch and shared an indomitability of spirit, a legacy from the war years. The Queen Mother's famous remark when Buckingham Palace was bombed - 'Now I can look the East End people in the face' - comes to mind in her page William Tallon's description of an evening at Covent Garden, during which there was a bomb scare and everyone in the building was evacuated - all except Ashton, who sat alone in the Crush Bar, later remarking to the Queen Mother, 'I've lived my life amongst these bricks and mortar. I'm going down with it.' 'Quite right', she replied."
The late Queen Mother at the Royal Opera House last August on the evening of her 101st birthday. The Royal Ballet was giving its final performance under the direction of Sir Anthony Dowell.