By Mick Krever & Juliet Fuisz, CNN
Queen Elizabeth II and her cousin, Margaret Rhodes, were born just a few months apart.
They were constant playmates, and have been close friends throughout their lives. Rhodes was there when Elizabeth was smitten with Philip, and was a bridesmaid at their wedding.
So as Queen Elizabeth awaits the birth of her great-grandchild and the next heir to the throne, one would expect Rhodes to be unbearably excited, right?
“Not terribly,” she told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday, exploding with laughter. “Well, you know, everybody has babies, and it’s lovely. I don’t get wildly excited about it.”
“Really?” Amanpour asked, not even for the next heir to the throne? “History?”
“Yes, all right, I’m prepared to be excited,” Rhodes relented with a smile.
Amanpour spoke with Rhodes at her cottage in Windsor, England, on the grounds of the Windsor Castle, which the Queen gave her as a gift.
“I’m lucky enough now that I’m here, in this house, which I’ve been in now for thirty two years, because [the Queen] comes to the little chapel in the park, that I go to most Sundays,” Rhodes said. “And so, like yesterday, she was here having a drink.”
Rhodes was barely a teenager when he uncle, Elizabeth’s father, ascended to the thrown as King George VI.
“I can remember to this day that I shamingly hopped on the dance floor saying, ‘My uncle’s now king!’ Which was a very shaming thing to do, but I did it.”
Her uncle and aunt, Rhodes said, did a good job of raising their children, among them the future Queen.
“The king and queen in those days made an enormous effort to give, to keep their childhood sacrosanct,” Rhodes told Amanpour. “It was just a time for learning and enjoying. And I think that they succeeded awfully well.”
Rhodes was with Elizabeth when she met the boy who would become her future husband, whom she said was “incredibly good looking.”
“I think that in the way thirteen-year-olds do,” Rhodes said, “she fell in love with a very, very, very handsome young man.”
Decades later, Rhodes went on, Prince Philip has been shunned to a reputation wholly separate from his looks.
“He is condemned now for his largely, what they call gaffes,” she said. “And actually what it is, is saying what he thinks, most of the time.”
Amanpour responded: “He’s good old-fashioned politically incorrect.”
“Yes,” Rhodes agreed.
Speaking of Philip’s granddaughter-in-law Kate Middleton, queen-to-be, Rhodes said she had seen little of her, but was complementary.
“I think she’s got a way with her that’s going to be very appealing,” Rhodes explained. “And I think that she won’t, sort of vie for coverage, which Diana perhaps did a little bit.”
The British monarchy, of course, is the subject of countless portrayals on screens large and small.
Just three years ago, The King’s Speech, which portrayed King George VI – Rhodes’ uncle and Queen Elizabeth II’s father – and his struggle with a stutter.
“I cried in the film,” Rhodes said. “It was so well done, and I think it did show the difficulties he surmounted.”
But there was one section, Rhodes, went on, of which she was a bit dubious.
“There was one moment where he was making the King say a whole lot of frightfully rude words in a sort of barrage,” Rhodes said. “And I did say something to the Queen about that, and she said she’d never heard her father use bad language at all. So whether that was true or not, I don’t know.”
CORRECTION: This article mistakenly said that Queen Elizabeth was awaiting the birth of her granddaughter. She is awaiting the birth of her great-grandchild, and the gender is not yet known.