Rhys Bowen: Part 2!

If you read last month’s issue, you’ll remember Rhys as our feature interview!  She was so incredibly interesting, however, that we just had to split that conversation into two!  This month, we visit with Rhys about her life among the aristocracy, her observations on society and enjoy a bit of personal fun from her life. You’ll see exactly how this fabulously intriguing woman incorporates all those tidbits into can’t-put-down reading heaven!

RB: You have to realize that while we have had two world wars, you would think the British upper-class no longer existed because everything has changed, but it really has not. There is a very strong class system in England still. People still think of themselves as “them” and “us.”
A really conclusive example is when William and Kate almost broke up because her mother used the word “toilet” instead of the “lavatory,” and if you were an upper-class person you never say something so common. It’s considered a lower-class word, therefore Kate was deemed not suitable for William. It was a big thing in England. They had huge headlines called “Toilet Gate” and it broke them up for quite a while. All because her mother was deemed not suitable because of the use of one word.
InD: I have been told that the class system is still very structured and very strict there, but I had no idea it was to that point!
Obviously, the upper-class has more money than the lower-class, but they shop at Safeway and do everything everyone else does. I was at a cocktail party in Cogswell, which is a very snooty area, and the hostess said, “My dears, you will not believe who just bought the house across the valley.” And everybody leaned in said, “Ooh, do tell.” and she said, “My dear...he’s a grocer!” and everybody laughed. It would not have mattered if he owned the international Safeway chain because he was still a grocer to them and therefore not one of “us.”
InD: Would his neighbors have associated with him or talked to him?
No. They would not have invited him. They would say something like, “Darling, you are not going to invite the little man are you?” “No certainly not.” or “Isn't he awful?” Or “Did you notice, he did not use the correct fork?” That still exists.
InD: Wow! What does your husband think about all of that? Having lived in America for so long?
In many things he says and certain things that he does, it is still very ingrained. If you are among the upper-class, the first thing you do is to try and link yourself to someone who is at your level. “Wait a minute! Didn't you go to so-and-so's wedding?” “Of course, I did because we were at school together.” “Well then, I know your aunt.” And you've established the links. That's what they do.
InD: So, what is their opinion of you? How do you move in that society with him?
I am his wife and I know how to behave and which forks to use. I speak correctly, so everything is fine. I get along beautifully with my in-laws. I am sure my brother-in-law’s mother asked, “What family does she have?” about me. “They’re middle class professionally but they are not one of us, are they?” It doesn't bother me. I am so much more successful than any of them, that it makes it really rather nice. [both laughing]

Read the entire interview in the March 2020 issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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