Wednesday, May 08, 2013

The Queen and Fergie - at it again...

The Queen was three minutes early for the State Opening of Parliament this morning and Sir Alex Ferguson announced he was quitting as manager of Manchester United.

Conspiracy theorists will clearly weave a connection between these two momentous events, not the first Fergie to cause the Queen problems; suffice it to say only one had the nation enthralled.

And so it was, that Gold Stick in Waiting met up with the Lord Great Chamberlain and the Yeomen of the Guard to help announce the Government's plans for the next 12 months.

Ably abetted by the Earl Marshall of England, the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, and various other colourful refugees from Gilbert and Sullivan productions, UK PLC 2013 was set its course.

In these straitened times you might have thought the Cap of Maintenance could have made its own way to the State Opening of parliament.

And surely the recent double-dip would also persuade the Imperial State Crown, not to mention the Great Sword of State, to take the tube, or at least to hitch a ride with others booked for the performance.

But no, an extra state coach was laid on to transport these extra bits and pieces from royal residences to the House of Lords where the event takes place. And that wasn't the only extra coach as one was also laid on for the Heir to the Throne, making a surprise appearance with his missus.

The early arrival of the Queen caused a bit of a frisson among the various Highs and Mighties with the Lord Great Chamberlain,aka the Marquess of Cholmondeley, (I kid you not) looking a bit off his mark.

The LGC is identified not just by his jack of hearts kit but a white version of the snooker cue used to such success by Ronnie O' Sullivan at the weekend.

Having successful parked the Queen and Prince Phil out of the way for a few minutes the white stick was produced again as Prince Charles, who came as a Lord High Admiral, turned up at the door.

It is said that he will be playing a greater part in affairs as his mum and dad take advantage of their ages to dodge some of their more tedious bookings, of which this may well be one.

But the face of he-who-would-be-king was also being studied for immediate reaction to the Fergie (Sir Alex that is.) retirement news. Would his mum ever follow suit? No clues on the face-apparent.

By now, the Queen had slipped out of the crown she wears for washing up into the Imperial version - which must surely have enough diamonds to clear the national debt.

And with Fergie parked for the moment, Prince Phillip escorted the Queen into the chamber, scanning the up-market crowd as if checking they all had tickets.

Meanwhile down in the Commons the elected waited for the call. Tradition demands that Black Rod, as he is known to his mates, turns up at their door which is impolitely slammed shut in his face.

He then bangs on it with his stick - they all have one - and demands they adjourn to the House of Lords to get their orders.

All very well except that the Commons didn't know Her Maj was running early and kept the Rod,wearing a nice lace neckerchief and black tights, sweating outside.

He already knew once inside he would have to face the curse of the Rods, Labour MP Denis Skinner, who always keeps his republican backside firmly in its seat on such occasions.

"Royal Mail for sale, Queen's head privatised," was Denis's welcome as the Commons laughed and the Roddy grimaced, issued the royal invitation and promptly fled.

Back in the Lords Home Secretary Chris Grayling, who has an Equity card as Lord Chancellor, had the job of presenting the Queen's speech - carried in an ornate cushion cover - to the name recipient.

The speech, of course has nothing to do with the Queen whose voice is merely rented out for the morning by the Government of the day.

Sitting listening, two hundred of the seven hundred members of the House of Lords bothered to get up early enough to get a seat and their daily allowance.

Here can be found many of the people who caused chaos during the latter half of the last century and who were thought to have gone to their punishment.

A handful of MPs had also pushed their way in having been led by an animated Dave and Ed who had suspended hostilities obviously in awe at the news from the north.

As a rather bemused Prince Phillip looked on and the Heir stared into space the Queen managed to speak for ten minutes without once mentioning Sir Alex.

Everyone looked pretty indifferent as she spoke in that accent which differentiates her from mere mortals about Dave's plans for the next year. But, Prince senior did appear to smile when the Queen said there would be a cap on the money the elderly had to contribute to their care so that no-one would have to sell their house.

With Buckingham Palace now safe, the LGC produced his wand again and the royal couples headed home.