Dear Editor, Next Monday, June 4, a royal pageant will turn the river Thames in London into a floating court; the cost of which is reportedly £12m.
The last time London’s waterway saw such an extravaganza was in 1662 for Charles II’s introduction of his wife Catherine of Braganza to the English people. Then, as now, England was bankrupt.
Catherine’s main attraction as a wife was the value of her dowry which had been negotiated to include the island of Bombay, the port of Tangier, the promise of free trade with Brazil, and two million Portuguese crowns in much needed cash!
When Charles’ special envoy to Portugal, Sir Richard Fanshawe, boarded the ship sent to Lisbon to convey the young Catherine to her new home, he was surprised at how soft the bags of gold appeared which had been loaded onto the vessel, and as he poked one and then another with his sword, sugar rather than coins spilled out…
As Catherine was credited with having introduced tea drinking to England, perhaps it was thought the sugar would come in handy? In any event, then, as now, the show went on.
Serena Wylde, By email