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'My life was very, very calm before . . . '--Rose Queen Aimee Lynn Richelieu : Even in Royal Whirl, Queen Must Do Her Homework

November 28, 1985|MARINA MILLIGAN | Times Staff Writer

Although she is a queen, Aimee Lynn Richelieu is still, first and foremost, a student.

When necessary, "she is excused from classes but she's not excused from the work," said Jane Strauss, an English teacher at San Marino High School, where the 97th queen of the Tournament of Roses is a senior.

Aimee can turn in her assignments late, but must make up any work that she misses, her teachers said.

Ken Burrows, secretary of the Queen and Court Committee, said he has often seen Aimee and her princesses studying in the car as they are driven from one event to another.

"My teachers are really being cooperative and are putting up with me having to miss classes," said Aimee, who has a 3.4 grade-point average and whose class schedule includes physics, U.S. government and English.

Next fall, the 5-foot-9, brown-eyed brunette hopes to join her brother at the University of Southern California and major in cinema or business.

Since Aimee was crowned on Oct. 24, she has started each day at 6:30 a.m. For the next 15 hours, she is either going to school or attending one of the 80 to 100 events scheduled before Jan. 1.

On a recent day, for example, she spent the morning at a photo session and luncheon sponsored by Kodak and then was interviewed by The Times and TV Guide. Then she went home to study.

"The past two weeks have been difficult, but the excitement keeps me going," Aimee said.

Aimee and her court recently toured the Avon Products plant in Pasadena, turned on Christmas lights in Beverly Hills boutiques and visited children at the City of Hope.

The Queen and Court Committee supplied each member of the court with a wardrobe of two wool skirts, two wool blazers, three shirts, an after-five dress, an evening gown, a raincoat, a white rabbit fur jacket, four pairs of shoes, two sweaters, belts, purses and hose, Aimee said.

Aimee said she now spends about 30 hours a week at various events.

"She's not at home 90% more now that she is the Rose Queen," said Aimee's mother, Linda Richelieu, who was a semifinalist for the 1952 Rose Queen title.

"It's not grueling, but it is a different type of experience for her to always be on cue," Richelieu said.

Recently, Aimee spent one of her rare free days studying for an exam. That night, the Queen and Court Committee called to tell her that a television interview had been scheduled for the next morning. She missed the test and had to make it up later in the week.

"My life was very, very calm before I became the Rose Queen," Aimee said. For most events, Aimee can usually get ready in about 45 minutes. But special measures are sometimes required.

For example, to prepare for the Queen's breakfast at 7:30 a.m. recently, Aimee forced herself up at 4:15 a.m. At 5, she was scheduled to have her hair and make-up done. An hour later, a photo session was scheduled.

Aimee is still something of a Cinderella at home.

"My status around the house hasn't changed," Aimee said. "I'm still Aimee the daughter and Aimee the sister."

Her mother said that Aimee still must do routine household chores such as cleaning her room, doing her laundry and helping with the dishes.

"We're a very close-knit family," said her mother, a divorcee and a substitute teacher in Pasadena schools.

At San Marino High School, which has produced many court members, classmates are not treating Aimee any differently than before her crowning. Her friends have been helping her "keep her feet on the ground" and assisting with schoolwork, Aimee said.

Most of Aimee's Rose Queen appearances take place during the week, and she spends weekends doing homework and catching up with her friends.

Her selection as Rose Queen is a dream come true, Aimee said.

"Ever since I was a little girl it was a dream of mine to be a princess," Aimee said.

Aimee was selected by nine judges from among 916 contestants in a four-stage process that took more than a month to complete, Burrows said.

The original applicants began a series of walk-throughs in the middle of September and two days later the number was cut to 262. That group was reduced to 60 after brief question-and-answer interviews.

"We were looking at poise, carriage, and appearance, a girl-next-door type, someone very wholesome," Burrows said.

Aimee bristled when asked how it felt to be a beauty queen, contending that she and her court are "liaisons between the Tournament of Roses and the public" chosen by the committee not for their beauty but for "poise, personality, speaking ability and academic standing."

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