Thursday, July 22, 2010

Anna Sparre

The Swedish Countess Anna Sparre, Queen Astrid's best friend, was moved to write her memoirs of her friendship with Astrid by a touching anecdote. Fifty years after Queen Astrid's death, a young girl preparing to attend a 1920's themed party asked Anna for advice in choosing a dress. Anna told her to look through her boxes of old clothes to find something suitable. Each dress the girl pulled out evoked many memories for Anna, weddings, celebrations, images, melodies...Suddenly, her young companion seized a fine, muslin dress, patterned with flowers, so delicate it might have been woven by a spider. The girl was delighted and eagerly asked if she might wear this dress to the party. "No, not that belonged to Queen Astrid," replied Anna. "Who was she?" asked the astonished girl. Anna was stunned. "You don't know who Queen Astrid was? But, my dear child, it's not even very long since she died."

Not long, perhaps, for Anna, but for her companion, only 19 years old, half a century was a long time...Anna softly brushed the dress against her face, as a swirl of memories rose before her. The last time she had seen Astrid, a week before her death, on vacation in the Alps with King Leopold, the Queen had been wearing this dress. Leopold had warmly admired her beauty: "Isn't she radiant? Like a butterfly. Ravishing." After the tragic car accident in Kussnacht, the King had given the dress to the Countess as a poignant memento of the Queen. Anna had long considered writing memoirs of Astrid, but had always hesitated to do so, finding the painful memory too close, or fearing she might not portray the Queen accurately. But now, at last, she was inspired to make the attempt, to keep Astrid's memory alive.

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