Crown­ing glo­ries

Cel­e­brate the Queen’s 90th birth­day with a royal tour of Bri­tain

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - JEREMY SEAL

At Lon­don’s exclusive Fort­num & Ma­son de­part­ment store (aka the Queen’s gro­cer), in-house milliner Adrian Philip Howard breaks off sewing on se­quins to talk hats and Her Majesty.

“The es­sen­tial ele­ment is a nar­row brim,’’ ex­plains Howard, who helped cre­ate royal hats dur­ing a four-year ap­pren­tice­ship to the Queen’s per­sonal milliner. “That’s so we all get to see some­thing of her.”

One can only feel for Queen El­iz­a­beth II, who has been in the pub­lic gaze, com­plete with nar­row brim, since seem­ingly for­ever. Yet as the Queen stead­fastly ticks off still more his­toric land­marks — she be­came Bri­tain’s long­est serv­ing monarch in September be­fore cel­e­brat­ing her 90th birth­day in April — there’s no sign we’ll be see­ing less of her. In fact, this year’s packed royal pro­gram is al­ready un­der­way, with spe­cial ex­hi­bi­tions and cel­e­bra­tory events such as a birth­day spec­tac­u­lar (last­ing 90 min­utes and in­volv­ing 900 horses) at Royal Wind­sor Horse Show last month.

A street party for thou­sands of bal­lot-se­lected guests, openings of com­mem­o­ra­tive walk­ways and band­stands, and other ap­pear­ances are sched­uled around the Queen’s other, “of­fi­cial” birth­day this week­end, an ec­cen­tric royal tra­di­tion that is about mak­ing the best of Bri­tain’s un­re­li­able weather and which falls just a day after Prince Philip’s 95th birth­day. Th­ese spe­cial events are in­vite-only, but that leaves plenty for the rest of us to en­joy. The pub­lic cer­e­monies and pageants, palace visits, sou­venir shopping sprees and royal-themed af­ter­noon teas add up to a right royal love-in that loyal Brits and over­seas vis­i­tors clearly find hard to re­sist. Wit­ness the waxworks at Lon­don’s Madame Tus­sauds where the long­est queues are not for the likes of Kylie or Clooney, Sachin Ten­dulkar or Lady Gaga, but for the so-called Roy­als Area. Ev­ery­body wants to be pho­tographed with the Wind­sors, and there are tus­sles for pride of place along­side the Queen, first mod­elled in wax by Tus­sauds when the lit­tle princess El­iz­a­beth was two years old. The waxworks has since recre­ated the Queen on 23 oc­ca­sions, more than any other fig­ure in its long his­tory.

Mean­while, at Fort­num & Ma­son (F & M to its loyal reg­u­lars), with cher­ished “royal war­rants’’ from es­tab-

The Queen’s 90th birth­day cel­e­bra­tions at the Royal Wind­sor Horse Show in May, above; gue­stroom at The Rubens at the Palace, below

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