The power of a queen is not determined by her physical stature.
Nor the impact of an actress by her tenure on the screen.
Dame Judi Dench won an Oscar for her fleeting performance of Elizabeth I in “Shakespeare In Love”.
Outshining, to some minds, many of the juvenile leads.
Whether on set she wore the perfume that bears the name of ‘good Queen bess’ I must confess I do not know.
However it would have been most appropriate, for this work of olfactory archaeology must by one of the most ancient scents on the market today.
Lost for many years, the recipe for what fancies itself to be the fragrance worn by England’s Great Virgin, was rediscovered in the library of the Royal Horticultural Society in a volume enticingly named ‘The Mystery and Lure of Perfume’ by C J S Thompson.
It reads thus:
”Take 8 grains of musk and put in rose-water 8 spoonfuls, 3 spoonfuls of Damask-water, and a quarter of an ounce of sugar. Boil for five hours and strain it”
How closely these instructions have been followed by Patou, who worked with Historic Royal Palaces, to restore the perfume is unknown.
The result, however, is distinctly pleasing.
Old fashioned in an imperially-laundered way, it is an aroma by which to set sail and conquer continents.
Subtle, yet persuasive, it is not provocative or alluring, this is a pretty, clean, restrained rose to be admired, but not defiled.
One imagines it was once used in great quantities and in so doing to similar effect…
A side note on Dame Judi, though her appearance in this instance might have been short, her presence on the British stage and screen is long.
She first appeared professionally in 1957 at the Old Vic, forerunner to the National Theatre. She has gone on to play practically every major female part in Shakespeare and Renaissance drama, Chekhov, Ibsen and the modern canon.
She won her first BAFTA film award (of six) in 1966, her first for television in 1968, the same year that she opened in the West End premiere of Cabaret as Sally Bowles to huge acclaim.
And whilst she has amassed more than 25 major film awards over her 55 year plus career it is to the theatre that she belongs.
Perhaps best known to the rest of the world as ‘M’ in the Bond films, at the age of 79 she has been voted ‘Greatest Theatre Actor of All Time’ by her peers and fellow professionals in industry bible “The Stage”.
Rose Queen of the Theatre.
The Perfumed Dandy.