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Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Royal Wedding in Milwaukee

Kilbourn Avenue in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on the shore of Lake Michigan, became a little slice of Britain on Friday, April 29, 2011.  Members of the Woman's Club of Wisconsin, est. 1876,  gathered at the elegant clubhouse to celebrate the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Kir Royales were approriate for the many  toasts to the happy couple . . .

Everyone is always eager for an excuse to wear her favorite hat -- though some opted for fascinators.

The printed Menu Card was cleverly contrived to include a picture of "The Kiss" above the words "William and Kate Forever."  Thanks to the tech-savvy staff members who managed the feat!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wedding Central

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge!


Parents host pre-wedding gala at Mandarin Oriental

This is what happiness looks like

(OMG, I'm actually tearing up already)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Westminster Abbey, Royal Connections

Westminster Abbey was founded in 960 and is the tallest medieval church in the country, reaching 102ft at the highest point of the nave; and its facade is the tallest of any English church, at 225ft. As the site of coronations since William the Conqueror in 1066, Westminster Abbey is closely associated with royalty throughout history.  According to the Abbey's website, it has also been the venue for fifteen royal weddings, about to be sixteen.  And since we love nothing more than tickling our "Fun with Wills and Kate" itch, here are some spectacular pictures of royal weddings at the Abbey from the past.

On November 20, 1947, Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) married Prince Philip of Greece, who was made Duke of Edinburgh. They were the tenth royal couple to marry at the Abbey. Their wedding was broadcast by radio to the world. Rationing was still in effect and wartime austerity continued, so the wedding was a time for great national celebration.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Partying with Jane Austen

Yesterday I wrote about Jane Austen in London correcting proofs for Sense and Sensibility. She wrote her letter of April 25, 1811, to her sister Cassandra who was staying at Godmersham in Kent, their brother Edward's estate.  Jane reports on the musical party given by her hosts in Sloane Street, her brother Henry and his wife Eliza, the former Comtesse de Feuillide. 

"Our party went off extremely well. There were many solicitudes, alarms, and vexations, beforehand, of course, but at last everything was quite right. The rooms were dressed up with flowers, and looked very pretty. A glass for the mantlepiece was lent by the man who is making their own. Mr. Egerton and Mr. Walter came at half-past five, and the festivities began with a pair of very fine soals.

Yes, Mr. Walter -- for he postponed his leaving London on purpose -- which did not give much pleasure at the time, any more than the circumstance from which it rose -- his calling on Sunday and being asked by Henry to take the family dinner on that day, which he did; but it is all smoothed over now, and she likes him very well...."

Monday, April 25, 2011

Jane Austen: Sense and Sensibility

Jane Austen (1775-1817) wrote to her sister Cassandra on Thursday, April 25, 1811, from Sloane Street, London, where she was staying with her brother Henry and his wife Eliza, the former Comtesse de Feuillide. Jane was in London to correct proof pages for the publication of her first novel, Sense and Sensibility. Cassandra was at their brother Edward's estate at Godmersham, Kent.

Jane writes to her sister Cassandra of an assortment of subjects. Then she writes:
      "No, indeed, I am never to busy to think of S. and S. I can no more forget it than a mother can forget her sucking child; and I am much obliged to you for your inquiries. I have had two sheets to correct, but the last only brings us to Willoughby's first appearance.  Mrs. K. regrets in the most flattering manner that she must wait till May, but I have scarcely a hope of its being out in June. Henry does not neglect it; he has hurried the printer, and says he will see him again to-day. It will not stand still during his absence, it will be sent to Eliza.

 "The Incomes remain as they were, but I will get them altered if I can. I am very much gratified by Mrs. K's interest in it; and whatever may be the event of it as to my credit with her, sincerely wish her curiosity could be satisfied sooner than is now probable. I think she will like my Elinor, but cannot build on anything else..."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

In the Garden With Kristine

Yesterday, I had just come in from a few sweaty hours out in the garden to find a new post on Margaret Evans Porter's blog, Periodic Pearls, showing her latest snowfall photos - just after she'd done some spring planting. Here in Southwest Florida (otherwise known as "the Sauna") it's already reaching 90 during the day. My garden is glorious and blooming and I thought I'd share some of my own snaps with you. I do not do this to boast, but rather to showcase the garden before everything that blooms and flowers withers away in the Zone 10 heat. Honestly, it's enough to make Lawrence of Arabia faint.

Yes, that's English lavender, doing quite well . . . . so far. Mexican petunia's grow against the fence. All of the rocks you see were unearthed by moi whilst planting. There's no real soil here, just lots of sandy dirt and many, many rocks. Sigh.

The Impatiens began as potted plants and now propagate themselves willy-nilly throughout my garden, back and front. I am not complaining.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Jane Digby Post by Guest Blogger Mary S. Lovell

Author Mary S. Lovell

Recently, Victoria did a post on Jane Digby, the 19th century English adventuress, about which author Mary S. Lovell, Jane's biographer, sent us an email. We were delighted that Mary had found us via this blog. Mary is the author of many notable biographies: Bess of Hardwick, Beryl Markham, the Mitford Sisters, and Amelia Earhart. Her latest book, The Churchills: A Family at the Heart of History, will be released this month in the UK and in May in the US. You can read an in-depth review of the book that appeared in The Guardian here.


You can visit Mary's website here for news and information about all of her biographies. We were thrilled when Mary agreed to do a guest post for us on her own travels to Syria and along Jane's own path.

Mary writes:

I was fascinated to see your website marking Jane Digby’s birthday last week, in which you also refer to the current situation in Syria.

When I began researching my biography of Jane in 1992 I went to Syria to track down her grave, and her house in Damascus (which I had been told had been demolished). The same source insisted that her diaries had been burned, but when some diligent research had turned those up intact, I decided I wanted to see the site of the demolished house for myself. It wasn’t easy in those days to visit Syria; it was a closed country and tourism was unknown, so I had to describe myself as an amateur archaeologist to obtain a visa. I not only found the grave, but – with the help of my fantastic young guide and interpreter, Hussein Hinnawi – located what survived of Jane's house as well. It was then divided into flats the main part lived in by an old man whose parents bought it from Jane’s stepson in the ‘30s.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Thos. Creevey and Life at the Royal Pavilion - Part Three

Mrs. Fitzherbert

A Letter from Mrs. Creevey to Mr. Creevey in London.

". . . Oh, this wicked Pavillion! we were there till past one this morng., and it has kept me in bed with the headache till 12 to-day. . . . The invitation did not come to us till 9 o'clock: we went in Lord Thurloe's carriage but the Prince did not come out of the dining-room till 11. Till then our only companions were Lady Downshire and Mr. and Miss Johnstone—the former very goodnatured and amiable. . . . When the Prince appeared, I instantly saw he had got more wine than usual, and it was still more evident that the German Baron was extremely drunk. The Prince came up and were in fear of being too late; sat by me—introduced McMahon to me, and talked a great deal about Mrs. Fitzherbert—said she had been 'delighted' with my note, and wished much to see me. He asked her 'When?'—and he said her answer was —' Not till you are gone, and I can see her comfortably.' I suppose this might be correct, for Mac told me he had been 'worrying her to death' all the morning.

"It appears to me I have found a true friend in Mac* He is even more foolish than I expected; but I shall be disappointed if, even to you, he does not profess himself my devoted admirer.

"Afterwards the Prince led all the party to the table where the maps lie, to see him shoot with an air-gun at a target placed at the end of the room. He did it very skilfully, and wanted all the ladies to attempt it. The girls and I excused ourselves on account of our short sight; but Lady Downshire hit a fiddler in the dining-room, Miss Johnstone a door and Bloomfield the ceiling. ... I soon had enough of this, and retired to the fire with Mac ... At last a waltz was played by the band, and the Prince offered to waltz with Miss Johnstone, but very quietly, and once round the table made him giddy, so of course it was proper for his partner to be giddy too; but he cruelly only thought of supporting himself, so she reclined on the Baron."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thos. Creevey and Life at the Royal Pavilion - Part Two

"I suppose the Courts or houses of Princes are all alike in one thing, viz., that in attending them you lose your liberty. After one month was gone by, you fell naturally and of course into the ranks, and had to reserve your observations till you were asked for them. These royal invitations are by no means calculated to reconcile one to a Court. To be sent for half an hour before dinner, or perhaps in the middle of one's own, was a little too humiliating to be very agreeable.

". . . Lord Hutchinson * was a great feature at the Pavilion. He lived in the house, or rather the one adjoining it, and within the grounds. ... As a military man he was a great resource at that time, as we were in the midst of expectations about the Austrians and Buonaparte, and the battle which we all knew would so soon take place between them. It was a funny thing to hear the Prince, when the battle had taken place, express the same opinion as was given in the London Government newspapers, that it was all over with the French—that they were all sent to the devil, and the Lord knows what. Maps were got out to satisfy everybody as to the precise ground where the battle had been fought and the route by which the French had retreated. While these operations were going on in one window of the Pavilion, Lord Hutchinson took me privately to another, when he put into my hand his own private dispatch from Gordon, then Secretary to the Commander-in-Chief, giving him the true account of the battle of Austerlitz, with the complete victory of the French. This news, unaccountable as it may appear, was repeated day after day at the Pavilion for nearly a week; and when the truth began at last to make its appearance in the newspapers, the Prince puts them all in his pockets, so that no paper was forthcoming at the Pavilion, instead of half-a-dozen, the usual number. . . . We used to dine pretty punctually at six, the average number being about sixteen. . . . Mrs. Fitzherbert always dined there, and mostly one other lady—Lady Downshire very often, sometimes Lady Clare or Lady Berkeley or Mrs. Creevey. Mrs. Fitzherbert was a great card-player, and played every night. The Prince never touched a card, but was occupied in talking to his guests, and very much in listening to and giving directions to the band. At 12 o'clock punctually the band stopped, and sandwiches and wine and water handed about, and shortly after the Prince made a bow and we all dispersed.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Thos. Creevey and Life at the Royal Pavilion - Part One

Thomas Creevey

"It was in 1804 when I first began to take a part in the House of Commons, at which time the Prince of Wales was a most warm and active partizan of Mr. Fox and the Opposition. It was then that the Prince began first to notice me, and to stop his horse and talk with me when he met me in the streets; but I recollect only one occasion, in that or the succeeding year, that I dined at Carlton House, and that was with a party of the Opposition, to whom he gave various dinners during that spring. On that occasion Lord Dundas and Calcraft sat at the top and bottom of the table, the Prince in the middle at one side, with the Duke of Clarence next to him; Fox, Sheridan and about 30 opposition members of both Houses making the whole party. We walked about the garden before dinner without our hats.

"The only thing that made an impression upon me in favour of the Prince that day (always excepting his excellent manners and appearance of good humour) was his receiving a note during dinner which he flung across the table to Fox and asked if he must not answer it, which Fox assented to; and then, without the slightest fuss, the Prince left his place, went into another room and wrote an answer, which he brought to Fox for his approval, and when the latter said it was quite right, tne Prince seemed delighted, which I thought very pretty in him, and a striking proof of Fox's influence over him.

George IV as Prince of Wales by Reynolds
 "During dinner he was very gracious, funny and agreeable, but after dinner he took to making speeches, and was very prosy as well as highly injudicious. He made a long harangue in favour of the Catholics and took occasion to tell us that his brother William and himself were the only two of his family who were not Germans—this too in a company which was, most of them, barely known to him. Likewise I remember his halloaing to Sir Charles Bamfyld at the other end of the table, and asking him if he had seen Mother Windsor lately. I brought Lord Howick  and George Walpole home at night in my coach, and so ended that day.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In Memoriam

 George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, later George Gordon Noel, 6th Baron Byron, FRS
22 January 1788 - 19 April 1824

The Art Needlepoint Company Offers Cruise on the Queen Mary 2

The Art Needlepoint Company was founded on the simple idea that art, like good design, should be available to everyone. Their canvasses represent a large variety of artists from nearly all centuries and genres. With a myriad of thread and stitch choices, stitchers can unleash their creativity to make each canvas their own.

Now, stitchers can come together on the Company's first cruise aboard the Queen Mary 2 sailing from NYC on July 27th 2011 on a six day crossing – a time for unwinding and relaxation and when the weather is most often ideal to travel across the pond. Lorna Bateman, one of England’s better known embroidery and needlepoint instructors will be onboard and there will be technique instruction every day with chances beyond class time to stitch together and learn from one another. A variety of topics will be covered. The cruise vacation will culminate at the Royal School of Needlework in London and for those who wish to stay on for an extra few days, there is a planned a tour of the tapestries at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The Calmady Children by Sir Thomas Lawrence
During the cruise, stitchers will learn how to stitch a face, enliven an abstract image with a variety of stitches or give dimension to a landscape by shading with thread. We’ll teach them how to select a masterpiece canvas to match their skill level or learn how and why to select fiber best suited for particular canvases. The Art Needlepoint Company's cruises and retreats have an educational component to them; both an art history education or cultural review of a particular destination (cruise) as well as an educational component of needlepoint focused on stitches and ways to interpret paintings with threads.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Julian Fellowes Writes Titanic Screenplay for ITV

According to The Daily Telegraph, Julian Fellowes has been tapped to write a screenplay about the Titanic disaster to be aired by ITV to mark the centenary of the ship's sinking. Fellowes, who also penned Downton Abbey, Gosford Park and The Young Victoria, explained that he wants to approach the subject in a different way from James Cameron's 1997 movie.

He also suggested that he wants to portray the British people on board the ship in a more sympathetic light.

"Far be it for me to buck a Hollywood tradition, but I think that those generalisations [about British people] are not as interesting as real life," Fellowes said. "Obviously, the special effects of the Cameron version can't be rivalled on television, but what we can offer, and what we are hoping to offer, is a much more human version of the story."

He added: "Ours is more a tale of the people on board told from the perspective of the different classes and the crew. We are using real characters and fictional characters, but we develop the real as much as the fictional."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

In Memoriam: The Titanic

On this, the 99th anniversary of the sinking of the luxury liner Titanic, we have yet another book out on the disaster, but one that promises to be more logical than lurid in it's approach to the already well churned material surrounding the tragedy.

The latest book is Titanic: Nine Hours to Hell - The Survivor's Story by W.B. Bartlett. The publishers blurb for the book call it: "A major new history of the disaster that weaves into the narrative the first-hand accounts of those who survived. It was twenty minutes to midnight on Sunday 14 April, when Jack Thayer felt the Titanic lurch to port, a motion followed by the slightest of shocks. Seven-year old Eva Hart barely noticed anything was wrong. For Stoker Fred Barrett, shovelling coal down below, it was somewhat different; the side of the ship where he was working caved in. For the next nine hours, Jack, Eva and Fred faced death and survived. They lived, along with just over 700 others picked up by 08.30 the next morning. Over 1600 people did not. This is the story told through the eyes of Jack, Eva, Fred and over a hundred others of those who survived and either wrote their experiences down or appeared before the major inquiries held subsequently. Drawing extensively on their collective evidence, this book weaves the narrative of the events that occurred in those nine fateful hours. The stories of some are discussed in detail, such as Colonel Gracie, a first-class survivor, and Lawrence Beesley, a schoolteacher, who both wrote lengthy accounts of their experiences. No less fascinating are the accounts of those who gave gripping evidence to the inquiries, people like the controversial Lady Lucille Duff-Gordon, steward John Hart who was responsible for saving the lives of the majority of the third-class passengers who lived, or Charles Joughin, the baker, who owed his survival to whisky. This is their story, and those of a fateful night, when the largest ship ever built sank without completing one successful voyage."

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Omnipotent Magician: Lancelot 'Capability' Brown 1716-1783 by Jane Brown

Victoria, here. UK magzines, newspapers and blogs have covered the recent publication of a new biography of Lancelot Brown by renowned garden historian and biographer Jane Brown.  John Phibbs in his Country Life review assures us that they are not related. But they certainly could be, for they share a remarkable knowledge of gardens and gardening.  Ms. Brown will be making an appearance at Hay-on-Wye, among other festivals and meetings.  Alas, I will not be able to see her in person.  But I intend to send for the book, which can be ordered in $$ through Amazon.com or direct in pounds from many booksellers.

I looked in vain for an author's website. Judging from the number of books she has written, I assume she has little time for websites, blogs or social media.  Can't say I blame her.  One can spend (waste?) hours on Facebook, though I must say I enjoy (almost) every moment I spend writing blog posts.  Below, since I haven't read it yet, the description of the book from the publisher:

Capability Brown, by Nathaniel Dance
ca.1769   National Portrait Gallery
"Lancelot Brown changed the face of eighteenth-century England, designing country estates and mansions, moving hills and making flowing lakes and serpentine rivers, a magical world of green. This English landscape style spread across Europe and the world. At home, it proved so pleasing that Brown's influence spread into the lowland landscape at large, and into landscape painting. He stands behind our vision, and fantasy, of rural England.

In this vivid, lively biography, based on detailed research, Jane Brown paints an unforgettable picture of the man, his work, his happy domestic life, and his crowded world. She follows the life of the jovial yet elusive Mr Brown, from his childhood and apprenticeship in rural Northumberland, through his formative years at Stowe, the most famous garden of the day. His innovative ideas, and his affable and generous nature, led to a meteoric rise to a Royal Appointment in 1764 and his clients and friends ranged from statesmen like the elder Pitt to artists and actors like David Garrick. Riding constantly across England, Brown never ceased working until he collapsed and died in February 1783 after visiting one of his oldest clients. He was a practical man but also a visionary, always willing to try something new. As this delightful, and beautifully illustrated biography shows, Brown filled England with enchantment – follies, cascades, lakes, bridges, ornaments, monuments, meadows and woods – creating views that still delight us today."

Friday, April 15, 2011

Regency Reflections: A Visit to Regency London Part One

Victoria here, inviting you to come with me to Regency London! Do not forget to don your special eyeglasses, the ones that will eliminate all evidence of city development after 1820 or so, including Victorian remodeling, post-Blitz reconstruction, contemporary skyscrapers, autos and buses, and modern clothing.

Substitute for horns, diesel engines and ever-present sirens the clip clop of hooves, the squeaking of cart-wheels and the cries of peddlers and hawkers of milk, eel pies, fresh buns: "Who will buy my ...." 

We shall start at the old address, No. 1 London (above), the site of Apsley House, home of the Duke of Wellington. The original Adam house was re-faced in Bath stone; the Duke entertained here, particularly at the Battle of Waterloo annual anniversary banquet, beginning in the appropriately named Waterloo Gallery.

I will not go into raptures over Apsley and its treasures -- we have done that before on this blog. In fact, several times. Try 1/19/11 and 7/13/10. And visit the website
here. But keep in mind that neither the exterior nor the interior are original. While the exterior was remodeled before 1820, the interiors reflect more of the tastes from the Victorian era.

Here is the entrance, as it was refaced in Bath Stone after the Duke purchased Apsley House from his brother Richard, Marquess of Wellesley, in 1817. Originally the house was smaller and finished in red brick.

The map below shows the route we will take on this visit to Regency London.  We start at Apsley House, approximately at A on the map, which is the tube stop just outside of Apsley House. The layout of the streets in 2011 is quite different from 1811. Today the broad boulevard of Park Lane (in green) connects with Piccadilly and other streets in a dizzying traffic circle. Apsley House is entirely cut off from the other streets, and the buildings that stood beside it were long ago demolished. The rather dark picture above shows how Apsley House stands isolated behind all the traffic.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

On The Shelf - Discovering New Authors - R. F. Delderfield

Victoria, here. When starting a new post on Discovering New Authors for our readers, I decided to go back to one of my old favorites, R. F. Delderfield.  And in doing so, I have found a bunch of novels he wrote that I haven’t read.  Hallelujah!!!  Lots of fun to come. 

Ronald Frederick Delderfield (1912-1972) was born in London and was anything but an aristocrat.  His father supported causes like women’s suffrage and temperance, becoming active in politics and eventually co-owner and editor of a newspaper in Exmouth, Devon.  Delderfield started work at the paper in 1929 and had his first play produced in Birmingham in 1936. After the war, he wrote more dramas and continued his reporting.

His first novel, Seven Men of Gascony, published in 1949, is the story of seven soldiers in Napoleon’s army up to and including the Battle of Waterloo. Makes my eyes dance just to think of it.

Two Few For Drums (1964) tells of British soldiers in the Peninsular War in Portugal. A young and inexperienced officer must lead his squad through enemy territory to rejoin Wellington’s army. Oh, another joy awaiting.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Your Lover's Eye

Through artist Victoria Carlin, the tradition of painting lover's eyes survives in the 21st century. Recently, guest blogger Jo Manning did a series of posts on lover's eyes for us and explained their history and the story behind these cherished keepsakes. Today, the cost of purchasing these antique eyes is astronomical, but through Victoria's brush, you can now have a portrait done of your own, or your lover's, eye at an affordable price, thus the tradition endures.

Victoria studied at the School for Visual Arts and the Student’s Art League of New York. Additionally, she studied at Jerusalem’s Betzalel Academy of Art. Victoria  eads painting workshops in Italy, England, Canada and the United States. Victoria's talents and reputation as a serious fine artist has brought her numerous and prestigious commissions for portraits of both private and public figures. Victoria’s work hangs locally as well as internationally in Israel, Ireland and Ecuador.

After much success in the world of fine art, Victoria has now followed her passion - blending her superb talent with a rich heritage of romanticism - making her exquisite pieces available to everyone, as the perfect gift for that special loved one.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Christening at Holdernesse House


 The Royal Lady's Magazine, and Archives of the Court of St. James's

April 1831

Royal Court Fete at Holdernesse House
(the name was changed to Londonderry House in 1872)

The preparations for this unique and splendid entertainment were completed on Wednesday morning; and a brilliant illumination which was displayed in front of the Drawing-room suite of windows, was lighted by 6 o'clock. It consisted of the Shield of England, surmounted by a Royal Crown, with the word "Adelaide"
beneath, and enclosed by an immense wreath of laurel; every part being in the exact colours of the object sought to be represented; and on each side was a star, with the letters W. A. A Guard of Honour of a hundred men, commanded by Captains Hulse and Clinton, was stationed outside the mansion in readiness to receive the Royal visiters on their arrival. Considerably before six o'clock the whole of the select company invited to be present at the Christening and the Banquet had arrived, and were assembled in the grand yellow Drawing-room, where the ceremony was to take place. Before the above hour the Royal Family had also arrived, with the exception of the King and Queen.

Holdernesse House

At length, shortly after six o'clock, her Majesty arrived. Her Majesty was accompanied by the Landgravine of Hesse Homburg, and attended by a numerous suite, and escorted by a guard of honour. On her Majesty's carriage drawing up at the door of Holdernesse House, the noble host, Lord Londonderry, advanced and assisted her Majesty to alight. The Queen then took the arm of Lord Londonderry. The Marchioness of Londonderry was waiting to receive her Majesty at the foot of the grand staircase, which her Majesty ascended leaning on the arm of Lord Londonderry, and was by him conducted to the Grand Drawing-room, where the company were assembled, and the Ceremony of the Baptism was to be performed. Her Majesty and the noble host were preceded to the drawing-room by Lord Castlereagh, the eldest son of Lord Londonderry, bearing wax-lights; and they were immediately followed, first by the Landgravine of Hesse Homburg and the Marchioness, and then by the ladies and gentlemen of her Majesty's immediate suite. During this period the vestibule and all the mansion resounded with the national anthem, which was played by the band of the 3d foot guards, stationed at the foot of the grand staircase.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Upstairs, Downstairs

OMG! They've cut scenes from the original BBC version shown in the UK, the most important to U/D fans being Rose's return to Eaton Place. A scene loaded with memories and pathos. You may recall I had the scene up in the sidebar last week. Click here to see it, so that you won't be denied. Philistines!

Now that I've got that off my chest, I must say that I love Maud, Lady Holland, world traveler and owner of an adorable monkey. They've taken the ubiquitous "crotchety, severe old matriach of the family" and changed her up into a delicious and fiesty lady who deserves more screen time. I'll teach you to smoke, indeed! You can read an interview in which Eileen Atkins discusses her role here.