You know the old saying it’s much more fun in the green room than on the show? Well, a lesson learnt today. You know I’ve been doing a series of features for ITV This Morning recently called Luxury Lookback? Well, the darling producer Darren suggested to Philip Schofield that I’d be a good booking for the Diamond Jubilee royal carriage procession broadcast today. So I got myself suited and booted and reported for duty at the Ritz entrance to Green Park in preparation for a royal fashion and jewels interview with Tatler editor Kate Reardon. It promised to be a hoot despite the almost certainty of torrential rain come balcony wave hour.
I knew it was going to be a rum do when I was met at the gate by a vision of loveliness with a headset who steered me towards a golf cart festooned with bunting to be whisked into the ITV compound slap bang next to Buckingham Palace. I was ushered into a green room in which I was the least known person in the room: various members of the royal household past and present, royal biographer Sarah Bradford, soprano Kathryn Jenkins, Dame Barbara Windsor, Dame Kelly Holmes and Miss Reardon to name a few.
Dr Starkey was giving it some gravitas live on the screen with Philip and Mary Nightingale and – as the youth have it – was ‘going viral’ on Twitter with his awe-inspiring knowledge of royal history. The gossip of the day centred largely on the previous evening’s royal rock concert around the Victoria Memorial. The general consensus was that Cheryl Cole should really be contractually obliged to lip synch from this day forth, that Grace Jones’s rendition of Slave to the Rhythm while simultaneously swinging a hula-hoop round her waist at the age of 64 was a wonder of the world and that the star performance was Dame Shirley’s Diamonds are Forever.
We all agreed that the ‘sleb’ presenters chosen by the BBC were entirely inappropriate and let the side down with cheesy comments about Her Majesty. Worst offenders were Jimmy Carr, Lenny Henry and Miranda Hart who has had barely a nanosecond of fame compared to The Queen’s 60 glorious years on the throne. Where were the old favourites? We needed a bit of Cilla to introduce Sir Paul and a bit of real glam such as Dame Judi or Kenneth Brannagh to give it up for Dame Shirley.
Hats off to The Queen. She endured four hours of River Pageant and the very next evening sat through two hours of music she probably found execrable. But she did it with a smile. I was touched to see HM arrive at the concert wearing the Gieves Ltd boat cloak made for her as a tribute from the tailors on her Coronation year in 1953. She really should have worn it for the River Pageant but though it looks terrific with a tiara, the boat cloak does’t have similar gravitas when wearing a hat.
While we’re on the River Pageant, wasn’t it infuriating to read the tabloid Wednesday Witches saying the Duchess of Cambridge was trying to upstage The Queen by wearing a red McQueen dress. Excuse me? The Duchess knew full well the Royal Barge interiors were red ergo she would disappear and allow The Queen to shine in Swarovski spattered white. The ‘ladies’ of the press even criticised the Duchess’s tartan scarf saying it clashed. Really Rowley! The Tartan was that of the Strathearne clan and the Duchess is titled Countess of Strathearne in Scotland. And we all know that particular nationality likes to feel included at the best of times.
Back to the Green Room. It got to 3pm and Kate and I had a sneaky suspicion that fashion was being put back by the half every time a celebrity demanded to go on our ship out. I wasn’t offended in the least. The nation loves to see Barbara Windsor doing her patriotic love a duck patter even though the entire green room gave a collective groan when Joan Collins ended her interview saying ‘the Windsors are, well how can I put it, a Dynasty’.
I love to watch the celeb pecking order at work. When Dr Starkey came in to draw breath before another appearance he was greeted in a very charming fashion by Suggs who had sung on the roof of the Palace the previous night. Dr Starkey introduced himself and Suggs said ‘I know who you are, Sir’. Interesting to see Kathryn Jenkins texting furiously like an autistic child and not really engaging with a room. Perhaps shy? I felt as if I was living one of those fantasy dinner party games whereby you populate a room with people you’ve always wanted to meet.
So who was most fun? No competition, it was Dr Starkey. He is owlish, waspish and showed great perseverance with a bottle of ITV cava after the broadcast. I never drink before being on telly knowing what an arse it makes of one. As it turned out, I could have drained ITV’s bar dry because Kate and I never got off the starting block. Time slid by and when The Queen was due to make her balcony appearance we knew it was all over bar the shouting for our Jubilee broadcast.
Was I bitterly disappointed? Was I buffalo. I’d have loved to have waxed lyrical about The Queen giving the Lesser Stars of Africa diamond brooch a rare outing but there we are. The Lesser Stars – otherwise known as Granny’s Chips in honour of Queen Mary – is the most precious piece of jewellery in The Queen’s private collection. It comprises the third and fourth largest stones cleaved from the biggest diamond ever mined. Cullinan I and II are in the sceptre and Imperial State Crown respectively. For me to see those stones worn by Her Majesty so close-up made the day.