The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

A Senior Cinderella

By Nancy B. Collins © 1988

Issue: October, 1988

I think most Senior Citizens like to hear good things that have come into other people's lives. I believe they are hoping that something good will come into their lives in their senior years to cheer them along too. Keep hoping, for this could happen. I am going to tell you a true story that happened a few years ago in my family to my husband's nephew and wife.

Richard Collins called me one beautiful fall day in October 1986 and asked me if it would be all right if he and his wife Lady Ethel paid me a visit the next day. They live in Roanoke, Virginia. I said that would be fine, but what is all this about "Lady Ethel"? I knew his wife's name was Ethel, but he never had called her "Lady Ethel" before. He said he would tell me all about it when they got here. He said they would arrive in a royal procession complete with chauffeured limousine and a personal body guard. He also said he would go by my daughter's home in Danville and bring her on down with them.

I told Richard I would make plans for us all to go out and eat and he said Lady Ethel was not very well and asked me if I could just fix a salad and a few sandwiches and let us all eat at my home. I told him I would work it out.

When I hung up, I called my daughter, Adnia, who lived across the way from me and told her what was going on. She said she would come over and help. She allowed as how she guessed they were still human beings and said let's just plan a nice sit down meal. We opened the large dinning room table and put a fresh ironed white linen cloth on it, got out the good silver, dishes, and ordered flowers for the table.

Adnia went to the market and got fresh meat and vegetables. We made a large congealed salad and got all the other do dads together that makes a good meal. We planned to have ice cream and cake for desert.

Oh yes, Richard also said there would be a news reporter here to cover the event. I was more than ever feeling like a lost babe in the woods, but went on and let things fall in place.

They arrived at the appointed hour with curtsies and hugs and kisses. Lady Ethel was a bit feeble. Her body guard and husband got her into the house and made her comfortable. She seemed to be doing fine and enjoying all the attention she was getting.

I finally got to talk with Richard. He showed a paper, more of a petition, signed by Judge Robert Merhinge in Richmond certifying that Lady Ethel is an English Lady of the Monarchy of the Government. Among the papers was a declaration from the Parliament of England certifying her royal bloodline.

Since Lady Ethel was of royal descent, she was entitled to travel in a chauffeured limousine and have a personal body guard. Her royal roots go back to 1871, according to the court papers. She is declared a direct descendant of the late Baron Von Elkins and the late Baroness Edwinne Phillip who wed Prince Edward in 1871. Lady Ethel would not give her age, but she could remember 13 presidents. She was in very poor health, suffering from diabetes and heart trouble.

It was not until the 1970's that Ethel Piggins found out she was of royal descent. How she found out was just a coincidence. A friend of Richard's who studied genealogy as a hobby recognized the name Piggins and traced it to nobility. In Wales there was a castle and moat which belonged to Lady Ethel's family, but the government of England took it over after World War I.

Lady Ethel was born in Sydnorsville, Virginia, just outside of Martinsville. Her parents moved to Elk Ridge, West Virginia, a small mining town, when she was just an infant. Her parents died while she was very young. Some of her family raised her. It is believed her family came to this country before World War I, which was a hard time for everyone.

Richard Collins met Lady Ethel in a hospital. She was a nurse and he was a male nurse. She was a bit older than he was, but they fell in love and got married.

Lady Ethel has been received by many dignitaries such as the former President Carter She was invited to have coffee with the Reagan's and many other things of importance such as changing of the guards in England.

Richard finally got through telling me all about Lady Ethel. He said while they were here, he would also like to see my aunt Annie, as he called her, so he sent the chauffeur to get her. We all sat down and had a real good time. My daughters Nell and Adnia and the body guard and chauffeur all helped me serve and do the dishes. By that time the news reporters were here. They made pictures and got the story about Lady Ethel. When things slowed down, we all went out and looked at the beautiful limousine. It had a beautiful plush lined coach for her and her guests. She could lie down or sit up, either one she wished to do. The guard sat up front with the chauffeur. No one was allowed to smoke in her coach.

They left late in the afternoon after a very good day. Lady Ethel was really a very sweet person. Richard had always been a good husband. Lady Ethel told me while she was here that she was doubtful if she would live much longer and she hoped Richard would find a nice woman and marry again as he had to look after her so much while she was not well. For a few years, Lady Ethel had a very exciting life.

So, let's never give up. Something very rewarding may just come into our lives even if we are in our golden years.