Friday, June 1, 2012

The question we are all asking ourselves: will it rain? And several Royal facts the papers won’t tell you

It can surely not have escaped the attention of the rest of the world that our glorious, glorious Queen Elizabeth is this weekend celebrating 60 years of occupying the throne. (Note to foreign readers: not literally, of course. Although we Brits are sticklers for tradition and custom, no one in his or her right mind will have expected that she literally spent all that time with a crown on her head and keeping a sceptre straight in her right hand. It used to be like that, of course, but we British do like to move with the times a little, whatever French cooks thing).

Prince Philip, who has in the past demonstrated a superb organisational flair suggested that the Queen should row most of the stretch, but that idea was ruled out on health and safety grounds because the Queen is apparently not qualified to row more than half a mile in any 24 hours. (And, it will surprise, our foreign friends who think Brits are utterly in thrall to their monarchy and all it stands for, if she does do so and health and safety gets wind of it, she risks a stiff fine just like the rest of us. We didn’t behead Charles I just for the hell of it, you know). It has to be said senior courtiers, who were appalled by the suggestion from the off as they regarded it as insufferably infra-dig, were for once wholly supportive of what is quite obviously an intrusive piece of unnecessary bureaucracy. (NB If you think that’s far-fetched, take a look at these this and this.)

Whatever: the Queen won’t be rowing, although as a compromise (Labour insisted that she should, at least, make some kind of demotic gesture in solidarity with all those who have no choice but to row to work every day, so I understand she will symbolically ‘touch an oar’.)

The following day there is to be an open-air concert outside Buckingham Palace, when the Queen has agreed to ‘strum the first chord’. The line-up of artistes (I think that’s the word) was only finalised last week and, it has to be said, has not met with universal approval. Cliff Richard is set to perform, as are The Moody Blues (or the two of them still alive), Leo Sy Duck in Gravesend (a favourite haunt of Charles Dickens’) to The Pig and Whistle at West Molsey where the Queen is due to down a pint of Jubilee ale and polish of a plate of pie and mash. Prince Philip originally suggested (with the enthusiastic support of his daughter Anne, who takes after him in many ways) that the Queen should row most of the stretch, but that idea was ruled out on health and safety grounds because the Queen is apparently not qualified to row more than half a mile. And, it has to be said senior courtiers, who were appalled by the suggestion from the off as they regarded it as insufferably infra-dig, were for once wholly supportive of what is quite obviously an intrusive piece of unnecessary bureaucracy.

Whatever: the Queen won’t be rowing, although as a compromise (Labour insisted that she should, at least, make some kind of demotic gesture in solidarity with all those who have no choice but to row to work every day, so I understand she will symbolically ‘touch an oar’.)

The following day there is to be an open-air concert outside Buckingham Palace, when the Queen has agreed to ‘strum the first chord’. The line-up of artistes (I think that’s the word) was only finalised last week and, it has to be said, has not met with universal approval. Cliff Richard is set to perform, as are The Moody Blues (or the two of them still alive), Leo Sayer, Sir Mick Jagger and Sir Paul McCartney, Lulu, the last remaining Bee Gee, Kira de Something or other (the one from New Zealand), and several other bands, singers and what-not who are thought to personify the Zeitgeist of the past 60 years. There was a lot of loose talk about disinterring Noel Coward and Jimi Hendrix (who is now regarded as an honorary Brit because he lived in the house once occupied by George Frederic Handel) but again health and safety were rather against it all, as I write that idea has gone to appeal and no judgment has yet come down. We do know that Brian May (who was lead guitarist for Queen, not married to the Queen as far too many people in the US seem to believe) will also strut his stuff, and if you’re a nostalgia buff, the concert outside Buck House is not to be missed.

But that, rather neatly, brings me to the dilemma central to this entry. Let me make it plain: I am neither a rabid monarchist nor a rabid republican, but I would like to see it all, from the Queen swimming upstream to Windsor Castle from the Tate & Lyle pier in Rotherhithe to what promises to be a really fabulous open-air concert, succeed. And it all, as does so much else in Britain, come down to the weather.

The Met Office have ruled out unseasonal snow, but are adamant that they cannot ensure that it won’t piss with rain. And rain would, of course, ruin it all. So far the forecasts are by no means optimistic. Rain, I’m afraid to say, has been forecast. Usually at this juncture, we Brits fall back on the hope that, as a rule, the Met Office, more or less totally useless to a man and woman, always get it horribly wrong. But . . .

So let us pray: no rain, please God, no rain. The idea of the Queen spending most of Sunday and Monday huddled under a large umbrella with just Prince Philip and Prince Charles for company while everyone else whistles cheerfully and insists it doesn’t matter, is just too awful to contemplate. Think about it: Britain would be the laughing stock of the world and it would surely be curtains for the Coalition. Think about it.

. . .

I realise that there are many, many, many people who simply cannot get enough of our British Royals and there are many books which will reveal the inner workings of the our monarchy to satiate that appetite. There are, however, several facts which aren’t that well-known about the Windwors, so here are a few:

Prince Harry, though still a young man, has shagged more women than most of us (though not me) have had hot dinners.

Prince Philip is a very proficient spoons player and even applied to appear on Britain’s Got Talent. Unfortunately, senior courtiers, who have a fine ear for these matters, nixed the idea and, it has to be said, the Queen, who otherwise is wholly supportive of Philip, agreed with them. So no Prince Philip on our screens.

Charles, a keen gardener whose garden at Highgrove is a classic of its kind, is often satirised after he admitted ‘talking to his plants’. What is not as well known is that he has a very good relationship with a herd of cows at Highgrove and will often doss down in the cowshed for the night if he feels his presence will cheer them up.

Anne, the Queen’s only daughter and second child, now has to shave every two days.

Prince Andrew has a ‘love child’ in every continent. In fact, he has several in every continent, but only one in North America.

Edward, who plays the cello rather well, was once offered a job with the Halle Orchestra. But he had to turn it down, again on the advice of those oh-so-stuffy seniour courtiers.

William can fly a helicopter blindfolded.

The Queen once admitted that she was a keen EastEnders fan and even wanted to knight several leading players in the soap. But yet again - you guessed it - senior courtiers persuaded her not to do so.

Prince Philip has the world’s largest collection of original Bill Hailey recordings, and turned down a multi-million from Bill Gates to buy them.

. . .

UPDATE (June 4, 2012): A reader has kindly alerted me to the fact that a diamond jubilee doesn’t celebrate 50 years, as I mistakenly thought, but 457 years, and I have now corrected this entry accordingly. Apologies to all readers who had begun to doubt their sanity (‘Surely it's not 50 years? I mean it just can’t be, can it?’) and, of course, to you Ma’am.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for keeping up "Furiner's" up to date on the Jubilee....:}
    My girlfriend bought me a tin of shortbread with the Queen's Jubilee on it...as a keepsake.
    Kate

    ReplyDelete