Robert Lacey shares memories and cherished souvenirs in the library in his North London home.
My mother Vida worked hard and expected the same from me and my younger brother Graham.
She met my father Bill when they were both clerks at Lloyds Bank, then she left to become a school dinner lady so she could be with us in the school holidays.
I grew up in Bristol and got my 11-plus scholarship to Bristol Grammar School.
The football team I supported was Bristol Rovers – their team scarf and hat are on the sofa – and I loved our centre forward, Geoff Bradford.
He played just once for England but he did score a goal!
This photo, signed by the Queen, shows my wife Jane when she was a maid of honour at the Coronation in 1953.
She was then Lady Jane Vane-Tempest-Stewart, daughter of the Marquess of Londonderry, and we met through friends in 2002.
I was divorced from my first wife Sandi, with whom I had three children, and Jane was a widow with four children. We’ve been very happily married since 2012.
OUT OF AFRICA
Before I went to Cambridge University to read history in the mid-1960s I signed up to do voluntary work abroad.
Robert lived in Jeddah with his wife and children for two years in the late 70s. He kept catechism boards (pictured) as a memento of that part of the world
Because I’d been on a French exchange trip while at school, I was sent to a missionary college in Lomé, the capital of French-speaking Togo in West Africa, where I taught English to every grade in the school for a year.
These tribal masks are a reminder of that time.
WILD LIVES OF THE ROYALS
I have a collection of royal souvenirs and especially love my Edward VII and Queen Alexandra coronation mugs and cups from 1902.
I felt most of the royal correspondents were rather sycophantic so I thought I’d be less deferential in my breakthrough book, Majesty, in 1977.
I was like David Attenborough discovering an exotic species of wildlife.
The royals are endlessly fascinating and it’s a pleasure being historical consultant for screenwriter Peter Morgan on The Crown, having already worked on his movie The Queen, starring Helen Mirren.
These are programmes for Forty-Five Minutes With Hamlet, the latest show by the charity Kent Opera, of which I’m chairman.
We used to bring opera to prisons, but now focus on Shakespeare, getting ex-offenders and those who are about to be released from jail involved with drama.
We then work with charities to help place them in jobs – one of our contacts was Jack Merritt, who was killed in the terror attack at London Bridge last November. A tragic loss.
For my book The Kingdom, about the Saudi royal family, I took my wife and children to live for two and a half years in Jeddah in the late 70s.
Friends I made there included journalist Jamal Khashoggi – I co-wrote his last three articles before he was murdered.
These catechism boards are a memento of that part of the world – with their naughty rooster and cheeky pelican, they’re Beatrix Potter-like stories with an Islamic twist.
Read the full article: Daily Mail