Walk a mile in the Queen’s shoes then say she’s useless, claims MAUREEN LIPMAN

I don’t hide it. I am a royalist. I love and respect Queen Elizabeth more than any other world figure. To those who want a republic, wish we were led by one of the actors from Love Island and don’t see the irony of having a head of state who changes every four years from bluffing man to flat cap at toff in trews and send Katie Price or James Corden to launch a ship I say on your own crown whatever.

There is a flashy, emerald envy in the hearts of many Republicans – the same envy that sparkled in the raised glasses of those who would bring down Rishi Sunak for the crime of marrying well.

When revolution comes, does it bring better days, fairer times, fuller pockets? Should Czars and Kings and their innocent families be murdered so criminals like Putin can rule life and death or Macron play the peacock, Viktor Orban repress and impose in Hungary or Chinese President Xi lock up and lock up millions of people?

The Queen talks to (L-R) Maureen Lipman, Almeida Theater Artistic Director Jonathan Kent and actor David Suchet during her visit to the Almeida Theater

Our Queen has led by example. There are few words from her, or reprimands, or even oblique suggestions, but look at her. A mother of 73 years, a working wife and a student of people of all classes and races. A traveler, a diligent administrator, a prodigious hostess, a prize giver, a keen observer of sports, arts and sciences, world politics and progress.

One who has remained constant and alert through 14 prime ministers. Someone who is, of necessity, always on guard, supernaturally discreet, greeting partisans and populists and terrorists of old, calmly. However, if you study the choice of flowers in the background or the brooches and beads she wears, an attentive student might discern her true inclinations. There were blue and yellow flowers on the side table in his last show during the terrible war in Ukraine. She is never overtly political but she is truly a liberal.

Would she have wished for a normal life like the one she enjoyed before news of her father’s death brought her to that solemn day at Westminster Abbey in 1953? Did she regret leaving her children and missing their first steps in those slow, wavy parades through the colonies? Does she ever wish those red boxes were on fire, that her visit to the West Lothian Museum of Weft and Warp was canceled by swine flu and that she could put her feet up with a corgi or three on the couch with a box from NewBerry fruit, watching Kind Hearts And Coronets on the Talking Pictures channel?

Queen Elizabeth II, right, shakes hands with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, left, as his wife Shiranthi Rajapaksa, center, looks on during a reception with heads of government from Commonwealth nations and representatives of Commonwealth nations

Queen Elizabeth II, right, shakes hands with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, left, as his wife Shiranthi Rajapaksa, center, looks on during a reception with heads of government from Commonwealth nations and representatives of Commonwealth nations

The answers are probably yes, yes and yes. But the routine is No, No and No. Every day for 70 years, except church on Sundays, she who rules has let discipline and duty rule her.

I’ve watched her at lunches and dinners keeping the conversations bubbling while carefully pushing her food around her plate, small portions chosen because she must never gain weight. Besides, there will be a formula dinner in the evening with strangers on both sides, whose CVs she will have to scan between changing her clothes, her hair, her jewelry and her landmarks.

How many migraine headaches has she watched the Royal Variety Show? How many brooding anxious moments about her own children and their children did she stifle as a Prime Minister exploded? How many speeches delivered in anachronistic state outfits because tradition must be respected? How many conversations with people like me and Brownie chefs and incoherent dignitaries from unlikely islands?

Her children and grandchildren clearly love her and share the burden, but otherwise she stands alone, without the help and support of the husband she loved.

Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch a flypast at the centenary occasion of the Royal Air Force (RAF)

Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch a flypast at the centenary occasion of the Royal Air Force (RAF)

I love that the queen has her own way of surviving. I guess she rode her horse every day until very recently. Anecdotal evidence says she loves Coronation Street – although I would say that, wouldn’t I? She came to the Corrie set last July and positively jumped out of the limo to visit the cobblestones.

‘How long has the dog been on the show?’ she asked my character’s pet, a Saluki cross called Cerberus. “He came with me, ma’am,” I replied. “And is he a good actor? “I harbor quite a bit of liver in my clothes, ma’am,” I admitted. As a dog lover, she moved on, smiling that understanding smile.

It was strangely moving to see her walk through the famous Corrie railway arch as the band played not their anthem but the program anthem.

I wondered if her feet in those tiny round-toed shoes would give her enough support for an arduous stop-and-go around the artificial backdrop of a Salford street that started emitting while she was in the ninth year of his reign.

The Queen received two ambassadors in audience via video link from Windsor Castle during the pandemic

The Queen received two ambassadors in audience via video link from Windsor Castle during the pandemic

Her recent birthday photo, wearing a raincoat and flanked by two huge white horses, seemed to say, “Here is my most faithful support system, now that I’ve lost my soul mate.” But that’s what we do, right? We read the thoughts and feelings in this most enigmatic and public of servants. In the meantime, she keeps her own advice and only reveals what she owes.

I remember one day in 2001, during the nine months of the musical Oklahoma! of the National Theatre, when a special rehearsal was announced. We were called in at 10:30 to listen to the barn climb scene and the song The Farmer And The Cowman, led by me as Aunt Eller. As we had been playing the show eight times a week for months, it wasn’t a popular call but the rumor mill of royalty ran wild so we put on our corsets and stetson’s and tied ourselves up…and back up.

The queen had indeed been invited to watch us rehearse. (Unsurprisingly, the late Duke of Edinburgh was able to visit another musical, Chicago, with its ladies in peplums riding chairs, instead.)

Then there was breakfast in a private room at The Ivy restaurant, to which I was invited. I was unable to speak to Her Majesty but as I was leaving she caught my attention and said, “I believe you are coming to the Palace soon?” (I had received a CBE.)

Queen Elizabeth II and the Prince of Wales (known as the Duke of Rothesay in Scotland) with a tree they planted at Balmoral Cricket Pavilion to mark the start of the official Queen's Green Canopy planting season

Queen Elizabeth II and the Prince of Wales (known as the Duke of Rothesay in Scotland) with a tree they planted at Balmoral Cricket Pavilion to mark the start of the official Queen’s Green Canopy planting season

‘Yes Ma’am,’ I replied, ‘if I can find something to wear.’

The downfall – and that says a lot about the monarch’s intelligence, memory and whimsy – is that, five months later, I took my little bucket hat to Buckingham Palace in gray linen Tomasz Starzewski, she said in popping a medal on my coat: ‘Well, I see you’ve found something to put on.

It was pure relief to her loyal following when earlier this month she trumped in teal at the Platinum Jubilee Windsor Equestrian Show and clearly had a great night. Those of us who worried about spending two hours outside on a wet evening had to remember his love for a quick Highland picnic on a rock, whatever the weather.

Is there anyone who would like to change clothes three times a day and wear an itchy belt or tiara? How many of you want to wear protective gloves in a scorching climate to shake hands with a thousand talkative strangers for an hour straight?

Queen Elizabeth ll, Prince Phillip the Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Anne at the official opening of Parliament,Houses of Parliament 1970s

Queen Elizabeth ll, Prince Phillip the Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Anne at the official opening of Parliament,Houses of Parliament 1970s

Oh, you Corbynistas and Champagne socialists who yearn for the last days of the privileges of royalty, why not walk a mile in his shoes? See how much you value your own freedom from duty and responsibility and how tiring it is to be the guardian of the Church and all the traditions and heritages of an entire country and always be up to date and aware of every changing trend in a multicultural country.

When I recently appeared on ITV’s coverage of the upcoming celebrations, I was rather oddly enthused that Her Majesty was a real ‘geezer’. In my defense, M’lud, the word is derived from the obsolete word “guestrer”, which means someone who walks around in disguise or a performer in a masquerade.

So with the utmost respect, I happily stand by that.


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