Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Royal Day Out

So yesterday was the State Opening of the British Parliament, meaning that for the fifty-oddth time in her reign, the Queen was obliged to dress up, ride across town, and read a speech that someone has written for her as if she meant it.

It may be something of a silly little ritual, but as with everything she undertakes, no one does it better.

Like her grandmother, the late Queen Mary, I think the Queen, as she enters really old age, is gaining a remarkable aura. Writing about Queen Mary, Sir Osbert Sitwell described "the particular sort of film-star glamour that in advanced age overtook her appearance, and made her, with the stylization of her clothes, such an attractive as well as imposing figure." Precisely.

It makes her, I suppose, somewhat less purely endearing than her late mother, whose considerable stateliness was always leavened with a certain joie-de-vivre, a cosiness that promised (and likely frequently delivered) gins-and-tonics and catty remarks. At the same time, it gives her a quality that is hers alone; one that someday I expect we will rather miss.

Apparently the venerable ceremonies that took place yesterday at Westminister included some sort of traditional Running of the Yeomen, here seen poised at the starting point.

Prince Philip aside, the only other member of the Royal Family who seems to have attended was the Princess Royal. Now, I love me some Princess Anne, but I have to say - I really do wish she'd wear a dress. She's starting to scare me. And it's such a waste of good jewelry.


  1. Have you read The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett? Brilliant. It's Herself as I can only hope she truly is.

  2. I haven't yet, although it looks enchanting. I did read "Untold Stories" over the summer and was deeply, deeply smitten with Mr. B.

  3. "Across town"! How about "across the road"?

    "Uncommon Reader" quite a lovely fantasy — hard not to wish that it might be true.