06 January 2018

Bronwen & Carmencita

It's always a treat reading the obituaries reprinted from UK newspapers in the local weekend paper; the Telegraph's are usually the best, with the Times a close second. A good obit is a real artform, and with those papers the early file writing was often done decades ago and kept on file for use in this distant 21st century. This morning's DomPost has two good examples for two notable women.

Bronwen, Lady Astor (1930-2017), the society model ('though she was actually middle class') who was from 1960-66 married to the Viscount Astor, heir to the family title and fortune. Cut dead by smart society after her husband was intimately involved in the Profumo affair [of 1963], she was widowed at 36 and spent the rest of her life deeply involved in Christian psychotherapy and spiritualism. On Astor, the Telegraph remarked: 'She spent a vivid old age in London, finally feeling she could return to the capital from self-imposed exile in the countryside after the Profumo scandal. She continued to windsurf and fish for salmon into her eighties...' (although presumably not in London).

And Carmen 'Carmencita' Franco (1926-2017), daughter of the murderous Spanish dictator, who as a 10-year-old was coached into delivering stirring Fascist messages and salutes to the children of Spain, and who at her father's deathbed in 1975 was careful to augment his last words to appoint as monarch Juan Carlos de Borbon - father of the current king, despite Franco omitting to mention his name. The Times reports that in later interviews about her father, Carmen, who was created the 1st Duchess of Franco by the new king, said she 'never saw him angry [and] the thousands of ex-Republicans shot by Franco's firing squads for decades after the civil war's end in 1939 she never referred to'. She enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle as the daughter of a wealthy dictator: 'The miniskirt-wearing Carmencita relished packing suitcases and going abroad, the farther from Spain the better. In the US she danced with John F Kennedy, yet the country she adored was India, although her first visit was no introduction to world poverty: she was the guest of the Maharajah of Jaipur'.

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