The queen – a real woman

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I was lucky enough to go to a huge event yesterday with TL –  absolutely huge if you’re a scientist. It was the Convocation of the Royal Society. The Royal Society has been concentrating on sciencey stuff since 1660 and every big boffin worth their mad hairdo, from Newton on, has been a member. Every 50 years, they throw a big party, and this one coincided with the 350th anniversary as well so it was extra special. The Queen was there, as well as the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince William, Princess Anne and the Duke of Kent.

One of my more intriguing hats, or I suppose I should say tiaras, is being a UK Royal commentator for the Flemish TV station VTM. I worked on the Daily Express for six years and did tons of stuff on the Royal family so there’s actually not much I don’t know about the subject. I’ve been able to surprise people quite a lot in pub quizzes over the years. But, despite having met Princess Diana, chatted with Fergie, hung out with those in the know and all the rest of it, I’ve very rarely seen the Queen in the flesh. Yesterday really was very special for that reason.


The arguments over Royals-vs-President make me sleepy, but I do admire dedication to duty, stoicism and dignity and, of course, no one does these better than our Queen.

She walked in at the end of a specially commissioned fanfare performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra – enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end – and sat throughout the speeches, her face shaded by a rather pretty blue hat.

Was she amused, entertained, enthralled, or even bored? It was impossible to tell. She is a cipher, a symbol. She has been careful not to let us know too much of what she is thinking or feeling over the past 57 years since she was crowned. In these days when we seem to know every sorry thought limping through the howling wastes between the ears of celebrities like Jordan, I love the Queen’s sphinx-like air of mystery.

She is a real woman, doing a real job (though we could argue until the cows come home over that job) into her eighties, and for that reason alone I think she is inspiring.

And, of course, I got to wear my purple satin slingbacks and my new frock, which everyone said was too posh ever to leave my wardrobe!  Thank you, Ma’am.

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