Beer, Billiards and Burmese Royalty

Before the British seized control of Burma in 1885 the country was ruled by kings who, like all royalty, managed to squeeze a bit of fun into the official routine.

“Ostensibly, the king’s daily schedule was a carefully constructed affair, as set down by age-old precedent. According to one source, the day began fairly prosaically at 5.30 a.m., when his majesty awoke, listened to the news, washed and shaved. He then granted a brief audience to his queens who came to pay their respects, dealt with some official business at eight, and ate his morning meal. In the late morning, he met with members of the royal family and then retired to the library to read learned works. At one, he attended a meeting of his senior generals, then his Privy Council, followed by a midday meal at four, more meetings, and a general conference of all his ministers at six….

In fact, the life of a Burmese king was often much less circumscribed. Tharrawaddy [ruled 1837-1846] for one was extremely fond of billiards… Captain William McLeod, a member of the British Residency at the time, wrote:

‘His Majesty was yesterday from 12 to 5 playing at billiards. he afterwards regaled his friends with a dinner in the Billiard Room. A chest of beer was ordered to be produced, but the Royal Steward reported that the Princes had drained His Majesty’s cellar.'”

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