One is ter­ri­bly amus­ing

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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?

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