It’s hard to resist a sweet story. And I think Mustique’s existence as it is today is based on a sweet story. I think Mustique and the story are intertwined.
I’m not saying I’m a huge royalist. I’m not really a royalist at all – but I understand the Royal appeal. The tourist appeal – the brand. Its tradition. Anyhow, Mustique is mixed in with this story. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The base of the story as I see it, is friendship. Because from what I’ve read, Colin Tennant, future 3rd Baron Glenconner and Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret, were friends first. They were both keen theatre buffs as youngsters and engaged in theatre productions together. Fun, carefree times.
Then, after her proposed marriage to Peter Townsend was effectively put down by her hands-tied poor sister – unfortunately also Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – Princess Margaret met her future husband at Colin Tennant’s wedding. Indeed, Anthony Armstrong-Jones was Colin and Anne’s wedding photographer.
When Colin Tennant bought Mustique, it was clear by its undeveloped state, that Tennant needed to promote the island in order to attract visitors. He offered his friend, Princess Margaret a piece of land as a wedding present. She, in turn, paid a visit to Mustique on her honeymoon, sailing past on the royal yacht, HMY Britannia.
‘Does it come with a house?’ she enquired of her friend. Apparently, after her visit, she was sunburned to a crisp and her new husband, The Earl of Snowdon, dubbed Mustique, Mustake.
Nonetheless, she loved the place. Tennant dropped the deeds off back at Kensington Palace. Her house – Les Jolie Eaux, the only property she ever owned – was built in Mustique in the early 1970s.
Princess Margaret loved the simple, natural beauty of Mustique. According to Lady Anne Glenconner’s new memoir, the Princess was a big fan of outdoor living. Even before her Mustique house was built, she’d cozy up in her mosquito net at night, having borrowed Colin’s pyjamas. She’d tie them up with string at the sleeves and bottoms so she’d be spared any extra bites or scratches from branches. Is it just me, or does this Princess sound like a G?
We visited Gelliceaux Bay today, under Princess’s Mustique house, Les Jolies Eaux. It was among the nicest beaches we’ve been in the Caribbean – and completely deserted. You could see the steep stairs from Les Jolies Eaux down to the beach. There looked a track too – like a funicular-type vehicle would come up and down from the property. A boat house sat at the bottom. Understated and simple. Our tour guide, Alf said that her party loved to camp – right on the beach.
It’s sadly true that neither Princess Margaret or Lord Glenconner had an easy time at the end of their lives. But which part of someone’s life do you focus on? The best part or the most recent, end bit? I don’t know. It reminds me of pension schemes. Average salary or final salary?
Sitting on Quest, on a Mustique mooring (because of course you can’t anchor here – you’re required to take a mooring buoy for a minimum of three nights), we’ve stared at the island in all its bonhomie splendour. Sometimes with binoculars.
‘Is Justin Bieber on that balcony?’ I called, pointing at the top of the hill. Towards David Bowie’s old house, Mandalay. The girls began to wave so rigorously in its direction that the figure moved away. Probably just a coincidence..
What is clear is Lord Glenconner and Princess Margaret started the island-living lifestyle that is now Mustique. And in doing so, they used the same theatrical, artistic flair which cemented their friendship in the first place. They used it to build Mustique – as friends together. Friendship is always sweet, no? Mustique seems to have its roots in this sweet story now.