Duty Call. May 2015.

Dear Rowley,

Weren’t you shocked to hear that FIFA is run by porcine, money grubbing lardy cake males with greasy palms and laxer morals than a dope peddler haunting the backstreets of Tangier? No, me neither. One becomes more and more convinced that – as when mixing Pimm’s in a bucket –  the scum always rises to the top. Blatter and his fellow D-list Bond villains seem to have inherited the earth and don’t even have the grace not to gloat. They might as well carry mailbags reading ‘Swag’ and T-shirts printed with ‘Am I Bovvered?’

Every time I see a ‘welcome to my lovely home’ piece in Hello involving an Ecclestone girl and acres of real estate – salve F1 – I cringe at the cost of doll’s houses these days. In my day heiresses looked like Barbara Hutton not Barbie. The afterlife is going to be a such a disappointment for those girls after a life of mink-lined, gold-plated, ocean going excess. At the risk of sounding like Citizen Smith, the divide between have nots and have yachts  is becoming far too pronounced in London.

It seems such an irony that  you can only start avoiding tax when you’ve reached an astronomical level of wealth. One doesn’t have to be Maynard Keynes to spot the flaw in that system. Meanwhile the rest of us cough-up our widow’s mite in advance twice a year as meekly as serfs waiting in line to doff caps to the Sherif of Nottingham. So as you can imagine Leona Helmsley’s ‘little people’ don’t feel terribly well disposed towards all those bankers who have been doing a Robin Hood in reverse.

As you know darling I’m not one of the great unwashed who laid siege to Fortum & Mason a couple of years ago.  I’m a shopper not a fighter.  But I do believe in fair play. We fully expect the President of Kazakhstan to be as bent as a bottle of frogs and Sepp Blatter as amoral as Jabba the Hutt. But I am dismayed to see British politicians exposed covering-up, cashing-in and grooming powerful cronies with all the subtlety and guile of trout ticklers. Men who should no more be trusted with Britain’s governance than Cruella de Vil with a sack of puppies seem to be buying their way into the decision-making process.

I could bore like Barbra Streisand about politics and particularly about London being carved-up between ruthless landlords and developers. But as Churchill used to say if you’re so impassioned or incensed by current affairs then go into politics rather than on about them. Wouldn’t it be divine to say that one, like The Queen, is above politics? Speaking of Her Majesty, I mistimed a meeting at Turnbull & Asser HQ off Park Lane so decided to sally forth into Hyde Park and watch the preparations for the State Opening of Parliament.

I was just trotting towards Apsley House when a Hussar’s regiment in full dress rode past escorting two gun carriages. Half an hour later the mounted regiment of the Blues & Royals rode past en route to escort HM to the Palace of Westminster. British ceremonial has a gravitas unrivalled in the world. All The Queen’s horses, men and women are so well-practised, well-groomed and sure-footed as only those have endlessly repeated such state occasions can be. When one sees soldiers of other nations on parade they always look as if they have hired their costumes from Berman’s & Nathan’s. I watch Trooping the Colour and think the scarlet-clad regiments look battle-ready and entirely fit for purpose.

It was rather ungraciously noted by the British press that The Queen, now aged eighty-nine, appeared rather tired as did the ninety-three-year old Duke of Edinburgh. Well, how many eighty-nine year olds do you know who would willingly put on full evening dress at 11am in the morning, climb in and out of the Diamond Jubilee State Coach, shoulder a six-yard ermine and velvet robe, set the Imperial State Crown on her head before parading in heels through the House of Lords? It must be hard enough delivering a word-perfect speech written by others without having a crown of diamonds and pearls weighing on your brow as heavily as the Stone of Scone.

We are very fortunate that The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh have kept their covenant with the British people and continue to do what they consider their duty. The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall were also in attendance at the ceremonial that is second only to a Coronation as the monarch’s most symbolic constitutional duty. Another no-show from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge though their presence would have spoken volumes about their willingness to stand in the line of succession.

Queen Victoria could have avoided much of the criticism from Parliament and her people had she not clung so stubbornly to her widow’s weeds and instead appeared more often amongst her subjects. Had the British public known that their mourning Queen was so well travelled – visiting Nice in high season while repeatedly claiming the State Opening of Parliament was too much for her – she might well have been forced to abdicate. Though she travelled incognito as the Countess of Kent, Queen Victoria darted in and out of Europe like a kingfisher visiting relatives or the French Riviera. Queen Elizabeth II has learned from the mistakes of her great great grandmother and sets an example that should be followed to the letter.