Fougère Bengale (Parfum d'Empire)

I do still envy you dreadfully having been there and seen it all when I was not allowed to go when I wished it so very, very much. Queen Alexandra of England wrote these words to her son and daughter-in-law, the newly crowned King George V and Queen Mary, after the Imperial Delhi Durbar of 1911. The subject of the complaint was India-- a lifelong dream (and disappointment) for the dowager Queen.

Alexandra's resentment -- nursed silently but bitterly for decades -- began in 1875 when she was barred from joining her husband, the Prince of Wales, on an eight-month diplomatic tour of the Subcontinent. Having dreamt for years of seeing India, she begged to be permitted to go. But Queen Victoria deemed it cruel of "dear Alix" to contemplate abandoning her children for so long; Parliament concurred, allocating only enough funds for one Royal to travel on. The worst hurt came directly from "Bertie" himself, whose eagerness to leave her behind struck Alexandra as obscene. His many infidelities she could tolerate... but a tryst with her India? He could not have wounded her more deeply had he taken her closest friend to bed.

If Alexandra had sniffed her husband's collar upon his return home, the telltale scent of his grand dalliance with India would have smelled very much like Fougère Bengale. The mingling of India's exotic fragrances with the very patrician (and British) aromas of lavender and shaving soap would have rendered her speechless with fury. Only the most pitiless of smooth operators would flaunt the proof of this rendezvous under his princess' nose!

Alexandra lived out her life without ever setting foot in the land which had called her Empress. She never rode an elephant, witnessed a tiger hunt, or woke to the plaintive cry of wild peacocks. She forgave her husband many things, but never this. Perhaps it's a good thing Fougère Bengale did not sit on his dressing table... for it might have ended up dashed to royal smithereens.

Scent Elements: Lavender, geranium, patchouli, tarragon, Assam tea accord, gingerbread accord, blond tobacco, hay, oakmoss, tonka bean, vanilla