The author chronicles her personal and professional life as lady-in-waiting and confidante to her childhood friend Princess Margaret, as well as her turbulent marriage and a motherhood marred by tragedy.
Being very common, I have something of a mania for aristo-lit: a passion for stories about big houses and the wanton eccentrics who inhabit them ... Nevertheless, I have to admit to being somewhat unprepared for Lady in Waiting ... Is [Glenconner's] memoir a horror show or a delightful entertainment? A manual for how to live, or how not to live? In truth, I’m not sure even she would know the answer to these questions ... Much as I loved reading about the way, say, that she and her mother, the countess, would gather jackdaw eggs using a ladle attached to a walking stick...after a while there’s no ignoring the painful and widening disjunction between the outward whirl of her life and the repeated tragedies that befall her family ... In the end, her book isn’t only a record, funny and sometimes dazzling, of a way of life now almost disappeared. It’s an unwitting examination of English repression: both of how it gets you through and of how it can slay you.
Given [Glenconnor's] proximity to the royals, I went into Lady In Waiting expecting juicy stories about Princess Margaret that would rival The Crown's revelations—and Lady Glenconner, with her tales of partying with Mick Jagger on Mustique and attending Queen Elizabeth II's coronation, delivered. What I didn't expect, however, was tearing up while I read them ... With a relentlessly matter-of-fact tone, Lady Glenconner acknowledges the extraordinary difficulties of her personal life ... misfortune befell her five children in a way that seems almost mythic in its devastation. Her stiff upper lip never quivers ... In Lady In Waiting, Lady Glenconnner balances the gossip you wanted with the story of a bygone lifestyle—and its costs—that you didn't know you needed.
... a candid, witty and stylish memoir. It is as richly spiced with malice—I doubt if Bianca Jagger will relish the put-down of her own princessy ways, or Jerry Hall the spiky comments on her lack of social grace—as it is darkened by the tragedies that befell the author’s three sons, two of whom predeceased her. But the glory of this book—a banquet of imperious egos—derives from her reports from the front on life with Princess Margaret and life with, and quite often, without, her own late husband ... This is a more nuanced portrait of Margaret ... Amid the madness of it all, moments of real pathos glimmer through a sparkling surface.