Princess Lilian’s humour.
One day I was waiting at the bus stop beside the English Church in Stockholm, laden with plastic bags, since I had just been shopping in the British Embassy Commissary. There were quite a lot of people in the queue. A large black limousine passed us with Princess Lilian in it, dressed in a beautiful ball gown and a glittering tiara, clearly on her way to some grand do (I later discovered that it was to a Nobel prize-winners’ ceremony).
As the car passed, she must have spotted me, since the car stopped a hundred yards past the bus stop and then reversed back. Princess Lilian leaned out of the window and said in her mock serious/ mock playful voice “Come on, Father Gordon, get in. This is the best offer you’ll get all day”. The chauffeur got out and helped me into the back of the car with all my plastic bags; Princess Lilian kissed me; and off we drove. The looks on the faces of the bus queue were wonderful to behold – a mixture of the affection Lilian always inspired, and sheer astonishment that she had bundled a heavily-laden priest into her limo to get him and his shopping home!
At the Rectory, she kissed me again, said “See you on Sunday” and drove off in blue silk and diamond tiara, waving to some of my neighbours who saw this end of the drive. My stock with them rose considerably that day!