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All The Queen’s Authors

It is said that if a butterfly flaps its wings in New Mexico, at just the right point, a hurricane will occur in China.

At 12.13pm on 8th November last year, finalising details of a lunch meeting in the Garrick, Christopher Joll suggested to me that
‘Maybe we should found the Society of Guards Authors... it would be a dining club with VERY high epicurean standards.’

Running off fifteen names of published authors I instantly knew of, I envisaged a simple lunch in a pub. “Why not”, I replied and duly sent word out. Within days, numbers rose to over sixty and by February our ranks had swelled to over a hundred and twenty, all of whom had been published or were publishing in some form or other; a staggering array of talent that numbers two Fellows of the Royal Society of Literature and includes Royal Colonels, Colonels, Field Marshals, Generals, Soldiers, Statesmen, Politicians, Humanitarians, Actors, Broadcasters, Historians, Diarists, War Correspondents, Novelists, Heralds, Biographers, Photographers, Sculptors, Travel Writers, Film Directors, Poets, Rock Stars, Musicians, Illustrators, Screenwriters, Artists, Garden Designers, Journalists, Crime Writers, Charity Leaders, Composers, TV Presenters, Children’s Writers, Barristers, Veterans, Businessmen, Entrepreneurs and Publishers.

I doubt that there is anywhere else in the Armed Forces that spawns such a concentrated source of continued creative thinking.

On 10th May, forty members of this very individual dining club gathered in Whites for the inaugural Household Division Literary Dinner, appropriately titled All the Queen’s Authors. I knew we were in for trouble when three Generals attending owned up to arriving by London Bus, no names no pack drills but they weren’t in the Household Cavalry.  The historian and author, Lt Gen Sir Barney White-Spunner was the obvious choice for chairman, noting in his speech that no less than three books were being published that day from the pens of former members of the Household Division. Fellow historian Lord Egremont bravely threw his coronet into the ring and agreed to be the speaker at this unruly event at which the noise level must have been rattling the windows in Wellington Barracks. Like a dashing lion tamer in those wondrous travelling circuses of yore, the baron stood proud, cracked his whip and entranced the assembled company as he worked his magic over us.

Thereafter matters inevitably became increasingly confused, but the consensus was that All the Queens Authors would now be a biennial fixture, allowing sufficient time to recover and even write a book in between.  Lt Gen Sir John Kiszely will be the next chairman.

The moral of the story, well, watch out for butterflies and, of course, carry a very large net!

Harry Bucknall

Harry Bucknall’s next book, A Road For All Seasons, journeying the British Isles, will be published by Little Brown in March 2019.

Lt Gen Sir Barney White-Spunner introduces
the speaker FM the Lord Guthrie
and Lord Egremont on the left

Lord Egremont

Lord Egremont

Seated Front Row L to R: Rupert Chetwynd, Christopher Joll, FM the Lord Guthrie, The Lord Egremont,
Lt Gen Sir Barney White-Spunner, The Lord Astor, Lt Gen Sir John Kiszely, Algy Cluff, Tim Spicer
Second Row L to R: John Browne, Simon Doughty, Michael Craster, Andrew Sinclair, Malcolm MacGregor,
Simon Mann, Roger Field, Magoo Giles, John Jeffcock, Justin Davies, Hugh Redmayne, Stuart Watts, Maj Gen Murray Naylor, Philip Wright
Third Row L to R: James Kerr, John Sunnucks, Harry Bucknall, Tarka King, Rupert Uloth, Sir William Mahon Bt,
Maj Gen Mike Scott, Jamie Blackett, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, Richard Greenly, Roger Swift, Mark Evans, Patrick Hennessy, Andrew Johnson

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