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Putting on the Ritz

Pauline Nevins  May 26, 2020 - Auburn Journal


Lady Muck. That was the name given to me by my late sister whenever she thought I was acting above my working-class station. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, then you haven’t watched enough episodes of Downton Abbey, the award-winning British TV series.

Speaking of which, I was delighted to hear the voice of actor Jim Carter, who played Carson the Butler on Downton Abbey, narrating the fascinating documentary “Inside the Ritz.” Who better to describe the history and inner workings of the famous London Ritz Hotel than the famous Mr. Carson, butler to the family of Lord and Lady Grantham.

I actually felt like Lady Muck two years ago when I sat with a straight back sipping tea in the Palm Court at The Ritz. This was September, and my daughter had fulfilled her promise of a belated Mother’s Day gift of high tea at The Ritz during our European vacation.

Before tea, we toured Buckingham Palace and The Royal Mews, where the Queen’s horse-drawn carriages are stored, including the dazzling Golden State Coach that has carried every monarch to their coronation since George IV in 1821. Ten years ago, I’d seen the world’s only replica of the coach parked in the lobby of the London Bridge Resort Hotel in Lake Havasu, Arizona, of all places.

Located near the exit from Buckingham Palace is the 40-acre Green Park. Winding through the park is a footpath that leads to a street by The Ritz. With ample time before high tea, my husband and I embarked on what we thought would be a pleasant stroll. We were thankful we could collapse periodically on a park bench and plop down on the green-striped deck chairs available to rent for the equivalent of $2 an hour.

The Ritz documentary included a word or two from Lord Julian Fellowes, the writer and creator of Downton Abbey. “Special events are happening all over the hotel at every table in every chair,” he said in his posh voice.

Our visit was certainly special.

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