Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Palace Linen Cupboards

The yearly ‘Wardrobe Amounts’ for each member of the Imperial family contain fascinating insights into their daily lives.

In 1835 Nicholas I’s valet purchased 50 yards of Flemish material for ‘Bathroom Sheets of His Majesty’ for 150 rubles. Other examples abound. The palace linen cupboards were well-stocked.

I thought other palaces had similar “linen” comforts until reading  H. Fischer’s “Private Lives of the Kaiser Wilhelm II and His Consort”:

“ … The Hohenzollern household never enjoyed a reputation for more than superficial opulence, and the paucity of its linen has often been the subject of ill-natured comment at other courts, — a state of affairs which the present Emperor's English mother tried to correct by large purchases during the reign of ninety-nine days; but when, after Frederick's death, trouble arose as to who was to foot the bills for these extravagances, — Court-marshal von Liebenau designated them so in his junker-like contempt for insular notions of nicety, — Her Majesty removed most of the newly-acquired house-linen, and her successors, in consequence, often experience the chagrin of sleeping between sheets only partly fresh, especially in winter, when there are difficulties about drying linen. To be sure, Auguste Victoria has laid down a rule, stipulating that the royal couch be furnished with clean linen every day in the year; but as there is only a very limited stock to draw from, it happens sometimes that only one clean sheet is obtainable, and, in that case, the upper sheet of the two used on the previous night is taken for the under. Whenever that happens, Her Majesty is exceedingly anxious that the Kaiser should not find it out, for, as may be well imagined, such evidence of penury would be likely to jar on his notions of divine appointment. If one thinks himself little short of Deity, it must be exceedingly embarrassing to discover that one's linen chest affords only a single sheet at certain seasons…”

I prefer my winter palace!

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