The Queen

Betty Windsor’s big blunder.

I dropped by the DVD shop after tea this evening and found a copy of The Queen. Russian soundtrack? No. English soundtrack, yes, but only after switching it from Italian. Good copy? Yes.

The film is about the events following the death of the Princess of Wales, and how Mrs Windsor of Buck House completely misread the mood of the public before submitting to the popular mood.

Helen Mirren definitely deserves a few gongs for this one. The credits should read something like

The Queen
Starring
Helen Mirren
Co-starring
A bunch of other people

Mirren rules the film, which allows no real space for other characters to develop beyond the second dimension. Phil the Greek behaves badly; Charles “Jug Ears” Windsor snivels; the Dear Leader grins inanely, but though he motivates HM the Q to pull the stick out, the character is a caricature (Rory Bremner should’ve been playing him); Mrs Dear Leader behaves as if she’s lower middle class; Alastair Campbell is a vulgar little oik.

26.02.07 Helen Mirren has won the Oscar for Best Actress, and Forrest Whittaker landed Best Actor.

The day the news of Diana’s death broke was the day that I moved back to Cambridge after five and a half years in Manchester. I woke up, switched on my radio, and heard the news. Of course, the news got boring quite quickly because there were only so many times the Beeb could say that Diana had died before you realised that Diana had died. It was a little surprising that Auntie reverted to normal programming. I had been expecting that when Granny croaked, we were going to get unrelenting wall-to-wall coverage, so that when the most popular former member of the royal family died and normal transmissions were resumed, it gave me some hope that after a respectfully short period of time, normality was going to reassert itself.

Although the death of Diana and the fire at Windsor Castle changed the relationship between the monarchy and the public, I’m not sure whether all that much has changed in the past ten years. I imagine the Queen will soldier on until the bitter end, which could well be another ten years or more. It’ll be interesting to see whether Jug Ears wants his go in the Big Chair even although he’s probably going to be the wrong side of 75 by the time he does or whether he steps aside in favour of Prince William who’ll probably be about 40 himself. Out for the count: Princess Margaret and Mummy. Next for the chop: Phil the Greek. Most likely to do something tabloidworthy (or get shot in Iraq): Prince Spliff. Next marriage and divorce candidate: Bill.

Personally, I don’t really care one way or the other about the Windsors. I think I’d prefer their random presence as monarchs of the realm to some elected head of state who would be some sort of political animal. But if they simply became prominent private citizens tomorrow, it wouldn’t bother me. Who then would be in charge of all the kit that the monarch keeps not for him- or herself, but for the nation? There could be a job in it for Mrs Windsor as the curator, and Phil the Greek could be in charge of the car park. Jug Ears could be a tour guide, and Carmilla could be the museum char lady. Andy could perhaps run the museum shop (what the hell does he do these days?), and Eddy would probably be in charge of the CCTV system since he has a background in broadcasting. There’s a sitcom to be got out of this.

Buck House Museum
Curator: Mrs E. Windsor (By Royal Appointment)
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