First married to Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough (against her will), then to Lt. Col. Jacques Balsan.
Consuelo was a great beauty of the late Victorian/early Edwardian era. She was one of the “dollar princesses”: Incredibly wealthy American socialites who married into the English aristocracy. thereby exchanging new world fortunes for old world titles. These marriages were often loveless and based on money, as was Consuelo’s. She was ultimately forced into the marriage by her domineering mother and was reportedly weeping behind her veil during the ceremony. The Duke of Marlborough received $2,500,000 in railroad stock as a marriage settlement.
The couple was ill-matched from the beginning, but did produce two sons. Consuelo undertook many philanthropic projects and was particularly interested in helping women and children. She and her husband separated in 1906, then formally divorced in 1921. That same year she married Jacques Balsan. In 1953 she published a candid autobiography, The Glitter and the Gold, recounting her life at the top of society in the Edwardian era.
you were born on the west coast. black sand and thrashing waters, the kind of dangerous parents warn their children about. you could swim before you could walk, and you can feel the ocean in your bones, a soft ache that will never go away
you were born in canterbury. winter is nothing more than a warm embrace to you. your body convulses and shifts endlessly like the land below you, and your whole existence feels on edge. rise and fall
you were born in the wetlands. you know rebirth better than any, and yet you still feel trapped. you wake early every morning, and you know just how silent the farm can be. your life is an endless cycle of this knowing and yet you can never do anything but watch
you were born in te hiku-o-te-ika. the old gods still live inside of the earth, and you are surrounded by them. tane mahuta stands tall and so do you. breathe in, you exist at the top of aotearoa
you were born in the alpine mountains of otago. land of the red earth, isolated village, you are difficult to get to and difficult to understand. you are calmest when the wind is thin and the snow cold. poor child, you will never be able to comprehend your vastness
you were born in the cities. there is a disconnect in your identity, and no matter how many times you shift around, you will never feel at home until the hum of traffic has settled under your skin
you were born in the king country. war torn kid with too much blood on your knees, in your mouth, on your arms. there’s a rage inside of you that will never go away, but nor will the strength that comes from the bones of the kings in the soil below you
you were born in marlborough. the dry season has lasted several years, and you just want to know when everything will feel okay again. soon, i promise you
you were born on the volcanic plateau. you will never know where you belong, but that’s okay. nowhere will be able to contain you but the open vastness of the desert road. you are all too much, from lake taupo to mount ruapehu, you are unknowable
you were born in the bay of plenty. you have never known hunger, but you know suffering. you are the softest of children, raised on summer warmth and placid rivers that you know better than the back of your hand
you were born in heretaunga. you survived a place that wanted you dead. through the floods, the earthquakes, and the droughts, you still stand. you are so much stronger than you know
- As the Queen’s Watchdog, Claudia is composed, ice-cold, efficient, and deadly. Her associates know her as the fiercely clever, terrifically independent swordswoman with an even sharper wit. The Undertaker knows that behind closed doors, this blue rose is actually quite affable, with a sterling sense of humor that has just the right amount of cheek and saucy wit.
- Despite her strength and self-sufficiency, Claudia is delicately feminine and always insists on looking immaculately put together. (“Don’t you know? There is power in beauty. It may not have the sharp edge of the sword or the sudden death of a bullet but you must not forget—beauty has toppled empires and started entire wars. It has destroyed, cultivated, maimed, and ruined kings, princes, and sovereigns alike. Those who overlook beauty as a superfluous trifle are the same ones who have lost their battles to me.”)
- The very first time she met the Undertaker, she made him laugh using just one line.
- Eventually, the Undertaker became so intrigued by this elusively charming young woman he purposely interfered in one of her cases, just so he could have a chance to talk with her honestly and without precedence. Needless to say, Claudia was not pleased. Or:
“Ah, I’ll admit, perhaps my actions were a bit hasty—“
“My not-so-dear Undertaker, you let a rogue assassin escape. The same rogue assassin who attempted to murder the prince of Wales, poison the duke of Marlborough, and burn down an entire marquessate.”
“Why, you do have to admire his ambition, don’t you?”
[cue fight scene and Undertaker falling head over heels in love]
- Claudia’s favorite scent is that of fresh violets—the kind that grow wild in the secret wood just outside Lancashire—with the morning dew still clinging onto their indigo petals.
- Her mother died of septicemia following the birth of Claudia’s younger brother. The boy only lived for six months before he too passed away—this time from scarlet fever.
- Claudia wears a blue butterfly pin in her hair. The pin is made of tungsten, an incredibly hard and rare earth metal. If she’s ever in a tight situation, the pin can be used as a dagger to slice and dice her enemies, giving her enough time to escape.
- Even though Claudia was a woman, she was allowed to keep her family’s surname because of her connections to the queen and her duties as watchdog.
- Her “official” husband was a wealthy businessman who was part of the gentry but not the aristocracy. They had a polite working relationship though it was mainly a marriage of convenience—Claudia needed to marry for the sake of respectability and her husband, while rich, desired a title and a place in the House of Lords.
- Claudia and the Undertaker like to tell jokes in German just to see how long they can stretch out a pun before it becomes ridiculous.
- Claudia once visited the Undertaker on a particularly rainy day and fell ill. She spent the night with him wrapped up in blankets, drinking tea from glass beakers, while the Undertaker entertained her by telling wildly random stories and selective gossip he heard from the prostitutes in the streets. That was also the night Undertaker got those signature braids in his hair: while the Undertaker was lying next to her she just picked up a few strands of his hair and began braiding. The Undertaker never took them out.
- One Christmas Claudia gave the Undertaker a Grecian funeral urn as a joke but he thought it was the best present he’d ever received and promptly began storing his cookies in there.
- During Claudia’s tenure as watchdog the Aristocrats of Evil used to meet at the Phantomhive country manse once a week to exchange information and play poker. Just a group of the most notorious men and women in the entire world, sitting around a velvet card table while Tanaka dealt the cards and they played outrageously complex games of poker and blackjack. The air would be thick with cigar smoke, women’s perfume, and the scent of decades old bourbon.
- Claudia liked to collect hand painted teacups from all around the globe. Hence why Phantomhive Manor is chock full of porcelain tea sets and why Ciel never uses the same teacup twice.
- It was Tanaka who taught Claudia the art of the sword and, as she improved, their sparring sessions would invariably leave the training room, with servants just nonchalantly moving out of the way as Tanaka and Claudia dueled across the hallway, down the stairwell, and into the dining room.
- Claudia read Norse mythology to Vincent and Francis when they were children. (The illustrations in the book were watercolors done by the Undertaker.)
- The Undertaker’s favorite thing about Claudia are her hands—soft, delicately boned with slim, agile fingers and sharp, femme fatale nails. She wore no jewelry save for a simple diamond band on her ring finger. She, in turn, loved combing her fingers through the Undertaker’s hair.
- Claudia almost signed a marriage contract between Francis and Aleistor Chamber before meeting the viscount’s only son and heir and deciding that her daughter might actually kill the overly loquacious and flamboyant boy if she ever had to talk to him, never mind living with him.
- Claudia once had to go undercover as a carriage salesman named Ted.
- Claudia and the Undertaker used to ice skate on the Thames when it froze over during the winter. This would always have to be at night when no one was there and the Undertaker would perform a series of ridiculous tricks while Claudia pelted him with snowballs.
- She is an avid amateur art historian with a special interest in landscapes and aquatic paintings.
- The Undertaker oversaw Claudia’s funeral. Her body is preserved in a marble mausoleum located underground, beneath the Phantomhive family plot. The scent of dried violets and orange blossoms permeate the dark, still air as the Undertaker makes it a priority to replace all the flowers in the mausoleum once every month.
You: “Men were men and women were women in the 17th century”
Philippe d’Orleans, brother of Louis XIV, flagrantly gay and dandy, in a long term relationship with the Chevalier de Lorraine, and loved to dress in female clothing too.
Hortense Mancini, royal mistress and female libertine, flagrantly bisexual and enjoyed to dress as a man on the odd occasion.
Aphra Behn, poet and playwright, general libertine, most probably a lesbian and defied gender roles by managing to make it big in a man’s world some 200 years before feminism was a thing. Also advocated racial equality and denounced slavery.
James I, King of England (and Scotland), VERY VERY GAY. Boyfriends included the 1st Duke of Buckingham and Esme Stewart.
John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, one of the greatest soldiers in history but also “irresistible to either men or women”
John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, a poet and libertine who was defying ideas about masculinity anyway but who, on the good authroity of @thepurposeofplaying, was probably not cisgender.
Anne, Queen of Great Britain who was most probably gay and had romantic relationships with Sarah Churchill and Abigail Masham.
It was extremely in vogue for women to dress up as gentlemen, mainly for the pleasure of men, but also because they damn well wanted to because THEY LOOKED GOOD. Here is Elisabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate, Duchess of Orleans, in her male attire:
Mary of Modena, Queen of England, in her attire:
And here is Lady Frances Stewart (who, incidentally, was the model for Britannia, the personfication of Great Britain) in her attire:
Here’s what contemporaries have to say about the fashion styles of the age:
‘The Favourite,’ directed by
Yorgos Lanthimos has wrapped. Official Synopsis Hints At a Royal-Centric lesbian love triangle
The film stars Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone as noblewomen jockeying for power in the court of Queen Anne, played by Olivia Colman.
New plot details for the period drama reveal that Weisz and Stone’s characters vie for power and influence in Queen Anne’s court by any means necessary — including seduction.
Described as a “bawdy, acerbic tale of royal intrigue, passion, envy, and betrayal,” the film is set in 18th century England during the court of Queen Anne (Colman). Weisz plays Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough and confidante, advisor, and secret lover to the Queen. The power shifts when the Duchess’s younger cousin (Stone) arrives to court, and the two women battle for influence and the Queen’s affections. Via IndieWire
He arrived outside Taps for the third time and checked his watch. 6.45. He’d been round the block three times and it was still far too early. Should he go in and wait? Or should he wait outside? Or should he walk around a while longer to avoid looking too over eager?
“Jesus, Jamie. Getting a bloody grip on yerself man. She’s only a woman”
But what a woman. He hadn’t been able to get the image of her out of his head. He’d spent the whole day languishing around his apartment like a lovesick teenager, thinking about her. The soft curl of her hair on her shoulder. The way she looked at him when she’d run her finger down his cheek. He’d also fielded several angry calls and text messages from his friends wondering where he’d run off to.
“Ye’re no Cinderella, ye know’ grumbled Rupert “Ya didna need to be running off before the clock struck midnight.”
“Ah, but my work there was done, Rupe. I’d already been swept off my feet” He recounted his meeting with Claire and his plans to see her that evening.
“Ye were cramping our style there anyway.” laughed back Rupert.
“Aye, I can see how 4 married men in their thirties and forties would have been the toast of the club” Despite his big talk, Rupert had been happily married to his childhood sweetheart for 15 years and was as blissfully happy now as he had been the day he married Gina.
Rupert laughed again. “Aye, well. Gina asks are ya coming to dinner on Wednesday, she’ll likely grill you about the lassie but the kids have been asking for their Uncle Jamie.”
“I’ll be there, wouldn’t want to disappoint the bairns. Or Gina.” he added wryly.
He’d then spent an inordinate amount of time picking out clothes and trying to decide if the fact he had his knickers in a knot about going out for a drink with a woman he had spoken to for probably no more than 7 minutes meant he had severe emotional problems. Why was he so uptight? Whilst he’d not exactly been Glasgow’s version of Casanova, he had been on dates in the last few years. There had been the nice dentist that he met in the supermarket and gotten to talking to over a discussion on the merits of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc versus Napier. They’d had dinner a few times. He’d even kissed her, but he felt no desire to pursue her and when she text him to let her know she’d been asked out by someone else, he’d wished her joy and simply never thought of her again. He vaguely realised now that probably hadn’t been her main motivation is revealing that tit bit to him. Then there was F&B journalist he’d met at a craft beer fair when he’d first started diversifying the farm. They’d gone out once she’d spent the entire night talking about her ex, who was a musician before puking in his car on the way home. He’d seen her at a few events since but she’s given him a wide berth. His car still smelt a bit on hot days.
But this, he knew, was different. He wanted to see her, to be in her company, to breath the same air as her. The thought of hearing her laugh, of maybe being the one who made her laugh…
After his fourth lap of the block he arrived back outside the bar. 6.55. He took a deep breath and pushed the door open. It was quiet, being Sunday night and the bar contained about a dozen people. A small group of men in the corner drinking stout and discussing the different brews, a couple at the bar, and Claire.
She sat at a table near the window, staring out at the street. There was a book of poetry spine up in front of her and she had glass and bottle in front of her. Her hair was pulled back slightly, but was starting to escape near the front. She wore black jeans and a black shirt.Her pale skin seemed to glow. She was lovelier than he had remembered.
“I promise to try not to spill that one down you” he said with a smile. She looked up at him and he motioned to the drink in front of her. “I’m not saying I won’t, but I promise I’ll try”
She smiled back and stood. There was an awkward moment when neither of them seemed to really know what to do. He wanted to touch her, but a hug seemed too familiar, a handshake too formal. Claire solved the dilemma by putting her hand on his arm.
“It’s lovely to see you, Jamie” she said sincerely and he felt the heat rise in his face slightly.
“Oh great” he thought, “now I’m blushing” Claire sat, not seeming to notice the colour which had flooded his cheeks. She gestured for him to do the same. “I’ll just get a drink, can I get you another? A whiskey this time?”
“Oh, no, a little early in proceedings for whiskey yet. I’ll have another of these.” She tipped the bottle towards him. Lady Broch Taurach pale ale. He grinned at her. “You like that do you?”
“oh yes, my friend Joe at work introduced me to craft beers and he’s a big fan of a little brewery near Inverness, Lallybroch, I think they’re called. I’ve developed a taste for this one”
He nodded and headed to the bar. Lallybroch microbrewery was the most recent expansion he had made to his family business. Lallybroch had been in his family since forever and was a the main factor in his decision to leave oil and gas and come home to Scotland. He was strangely chuffed that she was drinking his beer, brewed on his farm and although he knew it to be simple coincidence, he could not help but feel the same jolt of serendipitous good fortune that he’d felt when he had, quite literally, bumped into her the night before.
He returned with the drinks and sat down next to her so they could both look out of the window. Its started to rain. Because of course it had. It was Scotland. They chatted aimlessly and easily and Jamie’s nerves dissipated slightly. He was still incredibly aware of her, but she was so unassuming, so funny. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had so much fun. She told him about her job at the hospital. She’s a surgeon. He told her about Lallybroch. She picked up the bottle in front of her. “I’m impressed. And who or what, exactly is a Lady Broch Taurach?”
“Well,” he settled in to tell a much loved story. “Lallybroch has been in my family since the eighteenth century. Back then we owned the whole estate, and our family were Lairds. The estate was called Broch Taurach, the Laird and his Lady were named for the estate. We just have the farm now, but it’s plenty. The farm itself is a proper working hill sheep farm and we have some highland cattle as well. We have a tourist bit, with a gift shop and a restaurant and the such. And then about 18 months ago I opened the brewery. We sell to quite a few places. ‘The Laird’s bedroom’, which is a stout and the pale ale” he gestured to Claire’s drink “are probably our top sellers. I live in Glasgow most of the time, running the business side of things and my sister and her husband run the farm day to day”
“A brewer, my dream man” she said with a giggle taking a swig. By this point they’d both had more than was probably sensible or wise on a Sunday night and were both finding life and each other hilarious.
“So how did you end up in Scotland? A wee Sassenach lassie like yer self?” he deliberately thickened his highland accent in the second half of the question and once again felt a warmth in the pit of his stomach at the sheer pleasure of making her laugh.
“Oh, well” her face darkened a bit “Well, it was my husband. Frank.”
“Your, your husband?” he swallowed audibly.
“Oh we’re divorced now. That tends to happen when your wife finds you in bed with your Phd student” She said this flippantly enough, but her jaw was set and her eyes had dulled.
“I’m sorry t’hear that, Claire”
“It’s fine, really, it’s just, well” She gestured vaguely into the air in a manner that conveyed that whilst things might be fine now, at some point in the not very distant past they had been a long way from fine. “It probably wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t just lost the baby” Tears welled in her eyes and he could see her trying to master herself. He reached forward and took her hand.
“You don’t have to tell me. You don’t owe me anything, but if you want to talk. Well, I’ll do what I can to listen” She gave him a watery half smile at that.
“Thank you, but really. It’s in the past. It was very hard at the time. I had to do a lot to move past it, but I did and I try not to look back.”
She squeezed his hand.
“I think I might let you buy me that whiskey now”
Several very good whiskeys later he had in turn told her all about Geneva, his terrible relationship history and the real reason for his being in the nightclub on the previous night.
Claire was doubled over with laughter as he reenacted the various conversations he had with people in the run up to the night itself.
“Why everyone seemed so sure I was gonna meet the love of my life in a dodgy Glasgow disco with sticky carpets and one pound shots I’ll never know? They must have really thought I was a hopeless case”
“I’m fairly certain that was why we ended up there as well. Glenna, one of the nurses I work with, has been trying to set me up for the past year. I know that Altered Images is definitely not poor Mary’s scene and from the way Geillie and Glenna were literally trying to throw me in the path of every man that came by, I suspect this was another attempt at finding me ‘a braw laddie’” She did a truly awful Scottish accent and they both laughed again.
“Ya know what, Claire?” he asked as he regained his composure, “I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as much as I have tonight, with you” Her colour heightened slightly at the compliment and she looked him in the eye.
Her eyes are the same colour as the whiskey he noted abstractly. Warm and golden, and so deep and rich you could lose yourself in them.
The moment was broken by the bar man coming over and asking them to drink up. Glancing around Jamie realised they were alone in the bar. He glanced at his watch.
“I er, well” He stuttered trying to find his thoughts. He did not want the night to end, but given that it was a Sunday night could think of no way to extend it.
“Would you like to come back to my place?” Claire asked outright with no hint of nervousness. “I have whiskey” she added teasingly, seeing him hesitate.
“Aye, why not?” He suddenly felt very alive and not a small bit reckless. He had no expectations of her, but the idea of irresponsibly drinking Scapa Glansa on a Sunday night with the woman of his dreams seemed like too good a chance to pass up.
“I only live around the corner, we can walk” Gathering up her book, which lay discarded on the table, and bag she held out a hand to him. He took it and together they walked out into the rainy night