One is terribly amusing
I have never met the Queen. But I’ve interviewed a couple of famous South Australians who have. They both told me she has a right royal sense of humour. The late great artist and sculptor John Dowie, who created the Victoria Square fountain, was commissioned to immortalise her in bronze for Canberra’s new Parliament House. He said it was a “revelation” to meet her as “she was not at all the woman you expect her to be”.
His stunning, slightly larger than life sculpture depicts the Queen majestically. She’s draped in a cape and wearing a bejewelled crown. When she posed for it in Buckingham Palace she joked with Dowie that “the black cape makes me look like a magician”. He then told her that in his research he’d discovered the very feminine crown she was wearing was crafted for a male monarch, King George IV, and he couldn’t imagine a man wearing it. She quipped that her ancestor did and “he probably looked like Liberace”.
Renmark’s famous son, film cameraman Dean Semler, also had a good laugh with his monarch when he was standing in line at the royal command screening of Dances with Wolves, for which Semler won an Oscar. The Queen came to him and asked what he did on the film. He replied he was the cinematographer. She said: “My brother-in-law’s a photographer.” He quickly responded: “That’s an amazing coincidence; my brotherin-law’s a queen.” When he retold this yarn, he added in his inimitable larrikin way that she “cracked up laughing”.
I recount these royal reminiscences because they remind us that we’ve come a long way from the time when Queen Victoria was “not amused” and monarchs were blessed by God with a divine right to rule over their subjects. Elizabeth II is still Liz Windsor, wife of “Phil the Greek” who also happens to have a wicked sense of humour. He once told a BBC reporter that he purposely kept his arm in a sling for months after a polo injury because it meant he “didn’t have to shake all those hands”.
The Queen is probably laughing up her sleeve at all the fuss being made over her. Here is an 86-year-old great grandmother who literally has a job for life, clearly loves her work and doesn’t mind a good laugh along the way. Her royal role began in February 1952 when her father died. But because she was crowned on June 2, 1953, Britain and her Commonwealth will kick off the Diamond Jubilee celebrations today. To add to her popularity in Britain there will be a four-day public holiday. Some royal watchers say her popularity today is as high as it was on the day she was crowned 59 years ago.
Not long after she was crowned Queen of the British Empire, one of her remote outposts of empire, named after another queen, called Adelaide, welcomed her and Prince Philip. Here too she must have had a good laugh with her husband after their day out the Wayville showgrounds. Tens of thousands of primary school children, some hopping about as kangaroos, others wearing black make-up from head to toe to portray Aborigines, and all the girls dressed as wattle flowers, raced about in front of her in a highly choreographed display of devotion that looked more like a something you’d expect to see in North Korea than South Australia. If you want to have a laugh too, it’s now on You Tube. youtube.com/watch?v=V5-P6d3zr5Q
As a Diamond Jubilee gift maybe we should send it to her so she can have a giggle about the good old days. Now what is her email address? Is it one[email protected] or [email protected]house. org.uk?