“Early May”*

*second chapter of Juliet Nicolson’s The Perfect Summer, 1911 (2006)

“…The quantity of public engagements that packed the #Queen’s diary for the month of May filled her with gloom. Four “Royal Courts” were planned – the official receptions to each of which more than a thousand worthies would be invited and at which the season’s debutantes would be presented. In anticipation, The Times had carried a “semi official intimation”, released on the instruction of the Lord Chamberlain’s Office and directed at the leading Court dressmakers, to discourage the making and wearing of the hobble skirt. This highly fashionable close-fitting garment, another design by the trend-setting Frenchman Paul Poiret, forced women to totter like geishas and made the deep curtesy required in the presence of the Sovereign impossible. The word of warning in The Times was a triumph for the Rational Dress League in its long campaign for the abolition of restrictive female clothes, sparked after their President, Viscountess Harberton, in the middle of a bicycle tour of the Home Counties, arrived in the salon of the Hautboy Hotel in Ockham, Surrey wearing “bifurcated garments”. The management had asked her to leave, arousing in her and her loyal allies a lifelong outrage.”

#Queen Mary, born Victoria Mary of Teck, known as May until her coronation.

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