This morning the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their infant Prince George arrived in New Zealand to commence their tour of the Colonies Down Under. Much speculation has been made by hastily appointed media royal watchers about the Duchess’s wardrobe from pundits who don’t know Stewart Parvin from Primark. A favourite was on ITV This Morning giving us the thrilling revelation that Her Majesty had advised the Duchess to weight her hems so she would avoid a ‘Marilyn moment’.
Barely were the words out of the woman’s mouth than footage emerged of Kate recreating The Seven Year Itch before she was four steps off the chartered plane wearing what appeared to be a cross between an Air Canada stewardess’s uniform and a costume from Soldiers in Skirts. It is terribly difficult for young women to wear formal day dress and the Duchess of Cambridge has barely put a stitch wrong since her engagement to Prince William. But I would question the wisdom a pillbox hat: that shape forever linked to Mrs Kennedy and Olive from On The Busses.
The Duchess’s scarlet Caroline Charles coat dress with regimental gold buttons reminded me of Charles’s earlier royal muse the late Diana, Princess of Wales and a particularly camp white suit frogged in an echo of a Hussar’s uniform. I admired Princess Diana’s style immensely but she did occasionally cross the line between amusing and risible in her choice of piquant fashionable references to location or occasion. I loved the Duchess of Cambridge’s red maple leaf hat worn on the tour of Canada. It struck the right balance.
The fashion is of course important but the real mission for the Duke and Duchess is to capture the hearts of Kiwis and Aussies and assure their loyalty for another two generations with a British monarch as head of state. This I am sure they will achieve with a combination of natural warmth and the irresistible glamour of royalty. I had no idea that The Queen hadn’t been abroad on an official visit for three years before her Roman sojourn to meet Pope Francis. From the moment she steps off a plane, The Queen looks unimpeachably appropriate and conquers all before her including The Pope: the fifth she has met.
Having been in the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital for the past six days finally sorting out ‘the troubles’, I have had far too much time with the newspapers and 24-hour BBC News. It’s not been a terribly edifying time for British politics has it? Words fail me when I witnessed the slightly moist, porcine Maria Miller giving her 32-second begrudging apology for fiddling the British tax payer out of about £90,000 worth of mortgage payments of which a committee of MPs have decreed she must repay in the low thousands.
Mrs Miller is the perfect example of ‘us and them’ arrogance that is written through the Houses of Parliament like a stick of rock. It’s the ‘because I’m worth it culture’ of career politicians who think it is their right to screw the system because they are above the law and you know what? It turns out they are. A lay person would face jail for Mrs Miller’s crimes. An honourable politician would resign. A competent Prime Minister would force that resignation should the MP be obtuse enough to wish to hang on. But we have none of the above in this political climate.
We’ve also had a new revelation that senior Tory MPs have been holding sex parties during Conference at luxury hotels inviting like-minded folk through Grindr. This is nothing new. I think of Boothby at the Kray twins’ sex parties and – to be democratic – Profumo at Cliveden with Christine and Mandi around Lord Astor’s outdoor pool. We have a former Deputy Speaker in the dock for sexually harassing interns and a whole can of worms that hasn’t been opened from the 70s headed by the late obese kiddy fiddler Cyril Smith.
Fraud and sleaze appear to be looked upon as perks of the job once one is an elected member. I do wonder whether the Euro MEP elections and indeed our next General Election will have the lowest turn out of all time. To say the British public is disillusioned with our political class is like saying the population of Rome were mildly irked by the Emperor Nero’s reign. But is Nigel Farage and UKIP any less duplicitous? I relished his barnstorming ‘who are you?’ rant in Brussels when Von Rumpoy was elected President of the EU. Whether the smoking, drinking, hail-fell0w-well-met persona is anything more than a feint is open to question.
When I get back to Bloomsbury Towers I will have to tell you all about My Week with the NHS. It has on balance been a superb example of the National Health at its best. But there were comedic moments such as the folk group who came to entertain the ward one fateful Friday afternoon. The stampede for our private bedrooms was not dissimilar to the dash to the lifts in The Towering Inferno with me leading the charge. But that’s for next time. Until then…