The recent celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday could have gone unnoticed by me. While I confess I’m an anglophile and compulsive watcher of gritty, dark series like Happy Valley or period dramas like Bleak House and Downtown Abbey, I am most definitely NOT a “Royal Watcher.”
However, I was amused and inspired by a recent story in the Style Section of The New York Times. It features the queen’s cousin and event planner – Lady Elizabeth Anson. Lady Elizabeth began planning parties and events when she was just 18 and at 75, has no plans to retire.
My favorite tidbits from this article, all remarkably applicable to our events:
- Because her clients are high profile and she often has NDAs, she and her staff have nicknames for each client. Shirley Temple is the code name for the queen. Actress Isla Fisher: Sally Dangletrot. We MUST come up with fun, Secret Service-style code names for our clients!
- She invented the reply card! And, “the first time she created one, she forgot to leave a space for people to write their names, and so she end up with a bunch of yeses and nos but no clue who they were from,” states the article. Well, thank god for her. The reply card, even and especially the Paperless Post version, is a huge timesaver!
- She, too, once underestimated the value of a DJ. Me too! But with time, I’ve learned that, no, a Spotify playlist really won’t cut it most of the time. She learned this early:
- Her first event for the queen was a disco at Windsor Castle…
“My business started before the discotheque was invented,” she said. “So when this man told me he was going to charge me £25 to put on records for the evening, I thought, ‘Is this man absolutely crazy?’ Anybody can put on a gramophone record” She soon learned it was “an art form.”
– I say ‘right on’, Lady Elizabeth!
- She thinks on her toes and is unafraid to do the unconventional to solve problems:
At a white-themed dinner…at the cavernous, drafty Victoria & Albert Museum, Lady Elizabeth marched over to “my little Indian caftan man on the Portobello Road” and bought a load of white pashminas to drape on each chair. She hid hot-water bottles underneath cushions. (She also suggested to guests that they wear “heat tech from Uniqlo.”)
– Way to stay on top of fashion technology, too, Lady E!
- Being painfully shy herself, she “arranges party spaces with the timid in mind.” Smart move. We definitely recommend you think about the experience you want all of your guests to have. Even if your CEO is a party animal, be sure to put people at ease when they first arrive by creating spaces for them to park themselves before working up the courage to hit the dance floor or make the social rounds.
I highly recommend the entire article, which you can find here (http://nyti.ms/1r6NikU). I was absolutely charmed that she was quoted as saying “I do not know how to be a lady who lunches.”
Why Lady Elizabeth, neither do I!