PA­TRICK FREYNE

Be­hold the queen’s 90th birthday bash, held in an en­closed sec­tion of her favourite gar­den, Britain

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The queen of Eng­land is 90 and UTV Ire­land cel­e­brate the oc­ca­sion by show­ing a mas­sive birthday party (Sun­day, UTV Ire­land) hosted by her cheeky royal ho­mun­culi Ant and Dec.

As we don’t have a monar­chy in Ire­land I did a lit­tle re­search on how this sys­tem of govern­ment works. Wikipedia ex­plains it like this: “Queens are de­vel­oped from lar­vae selected by worker bees and spe­cially fed in or­der to be­come sex­u­ally ma­ture. There is nor­mally only one adult, mated queen in a hive, in which case the bees will usu­ally fol­low and fiercely pro­tect her.”

This seems about right. So tonight the queen takes a break from guz­zling royal jelly and tend­ing her bloated egg sacs to watch all of her horses and all of her men ca­per in an en­closed sec­tion of her gar­den, Britain.

The work­ers are, of course, thrilled to have this break from their joy­less toil and they cheer when Alan Titchmarsh emerges to talk lov­ingly about the up­per classes. A hum­ble, self-abas­ing vas­sal for his royal bet­ters, Titchmarsh mod­els him­self on the talk­ing teapot from a Dis­ney princess movie.

Royal jug-heads

He is also a font of knowl­edge about mi­nor roy­als and dig­ni­taries and oil despots. We see these en­ti­ties in the VIP en­clo­sure, which is es­sen­tially a shelf of sen­tient Toby Jugs. Titchmarsh ex­plains who’s who.

There’s Prince Wil­liam, Kate Mid­dle­ton (al­ways re­ferred to by both names for she is but a sim­ple peas­ant girl), the King of Bahrain, Prince Dona­tus, Land­grave of Hesse, Lady Malfeth of Foon, Goz­beth the Slayer, the Un­pro­nounce­able Xtys­saghetjt, Tiny Ty­coon from

Whizzer and Chips and Enya. Ev­ery­one looks slightly ill-at-ease. This is be­cause no one knows where Prince Ge­orge is. Prince Ge­orge is the eerie 1930s tod­dler who lives in the palace. He dresses in clothes from the early 20th cen­tury but no­body knows where he got them (“I keep buy­ing him nor­mal clothes,” shrieks Kate Mid­dle­ton. “Where did he get those clothes?”)

Child’sPlay2

He’s tricky. He ap­pears when you least expect it on the cover of Hello! or frol­ick­ing across the screen on Sky News or scream­ing silently from your mir­ror when you’re alone in your house. “How long can we keep cov­er­ing up the miss­ing ser­vants and the ex­ten­sive net­work of bur­rows?” weeps Prince Wil­liam.

Or course, this hap­pens off screen. Out front the pageant is all lev­ity. Ant and Dec emerge to gen­tly rib the monar­chy. The duo seems rel­a­tively happy with their lot. Oc­ca­sion­ally one of them drops to their knees and screams “I can’t feel my soul!” or “Am I real?” but it’s easy to ig­nore.

The queen has, we are re­peat­edly told, a won­der­ful sense of hu­mour. Royal watch­ers are al­ways say­ing this with­out of­fer­ing any ev­i­dence. I think it’s based purely on the fact she has never put any­one to death for telling a joke, which is an im­prove­ment on pre­vi­ous monar­chs.

Ant and Dec rat­tle through a long list of ran­dom royal fac­toids and bi­o­graph­i­cal data about the queen. As a child she and Mar­garet had a dolls’ house (a whole thatched cot­tage built on their grounds). As an adult she likes a flut­ter on the gee-gees (900 horses ap­pear today in trib­ute to her).

It gets weirder. There’s a re-en­act­ment of her child­hood pony-rid­ing lessons with Princess Mar­garet, played out by ac­tors. Why show a 90-year-old woman scenes from her own past? Is it to fool her into be­liev­ing that her life is flash­ing be­fore her eyes? Is this all a plot by Prince Charles to make her think that she’s dead?

Wham­bam, thank you ma’ am

Then the queen’s wartime ac­tiv­i­ties are praised and field am­bu­lances and air raid sirens fill the field. I zone out here so I’m not sure what the na­ture of her ser­vice was.

They hold a Shet­land pony race to dis­tract her (good dis­trac­tion tech­nique – the words “Shet­land pony race” in­stantly clear my whole brain). Peo­ple ap­pear in an­i­mal out­fits (se­ri­ously) and run about. These in­clude two peo­ple in a pan­tomime corgi out­fit. “Pan­tomime corgi,” thinks Prince Philip. “The most dan­ger­ous prey of all.” Later, he will hunt them through the estate.

The queen’s com­mon­wealth sub­ject peo­ples emerge to of­fer trib­utes – Fi­jian war­riors, Cana­dian moun­ties, Azer­bai­jani horse-folk, haka-danc­ing New Zealand po­lice­men – all hap­pily cel­e­brat­ing the abu­sive re­la­tion­ship their na­tions once had with the Bri­tish monar­chy.

Var­i­ous celebri­ties ap­pear. Jim Carter, aka the but­ler from

Down­ton Abbey, is there to re­mind us of our place in the so­cial hi­er­ar­chy. Gary Bar­low sings a song, then jumps into a Union Jack-cov­ered jaguar and drives off at speed (like Pa­trick McGoohan in The Pris­oner, he will be ap­pre­hended by a rolling sphere be­fore he reaches safety).

He­len Mir­ren, who once played the queen in a film, emerges to lec­ture us about how great the monarch is. The real queen glares down at Mir­ren. “I will con­sume the false queen,” her face seems to say. “I will suckle on her mar­row and take her power for my own.”

Even­tu­ally the Bri­tons present the queen with a gi­ant cake, ap­par­ently baked by the child labour­ers in chef cos­tumes that are flank­ing it. There’s also a bit of a dis­play of mil­i­tary prow­ess when King’s Troop Royal Horse Ar­tillery march out and ap­pear to fire into the crowd. The roy­als look thrilled un­til they re­alise that the shells are blank.

Praise you

As the cel­e­bra­tion ends, there’s a bit of waf­fle about how mar­vel­lous the queen is, de­feat­ing the odds to be­come queen and reach­ing the age of 90 de­spite her great wealth and priv­i­lege.

Then she and Prince Philip get into a peo­ple car­rier and rush back to their cas­tle to hide from Prince Ge­orge be­fore night falls. Vi­cious cor­gis are re­leased and the peo­ple start to run for their lives.

“When Brexit hap­pens ev­ery day will be like this,” weeps a happy Titchmarsh, vault­ing over an elec­tric fence with a sali­vat­ing corgi at his heels. “God save the Queen.”

The real queen glares down He­len Mir­ren. ‘I will con­sume the false queen,’ her face seems to say. ‘I will take her power for my own’

PHO­TO­GRAPH: LEON NEAL/ AFP/GETTY

Worker bees Ant and Dec pay homage to their 90-year-old queen.

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