Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Journal of Lynton Charles

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Journal of Lynton Charles

Article excerpt

Monday evening, early

Cheryl and I go down to the Palace on a beautiful evening to take our places at the great rock concert. And even Cheryl is amazed by the size and enthusiasm of the crowds. But when we stroll through Buck House -- once the dwelling-place of the ultimate class enemy -- and are shown to our places on a grandstand just behind the Royal Box, the feeling can only honestly be described as surreal. Can we truly be here, supper-boxes on our laps, about to tuck in to champagne in the company of Lord Lieutenants and -- of course -- ordinary folk chosen by lot?

But the whole thing is a tribute to The Master, in a way. If it hadn't been for him, this lot would never have modernised, there would be no party tonight, and the royal family would be looking down both barrels of an emerging republicanism. They have a lot to thank us for. Everyone does, in my opinion.

And they are not such a bad lot, you know. Not the privileged ogres of legend. The man sitting next to me, in blazer and white shirt, introduces himself as Sir Percival Trench-Tooth, Lord Comptroller of the Household Privy. We get to talking, and he strikes me as a charming chap. He knows Her Majesty well, and is keen to stress how up to date she is and conversant with the realities of modern Britain. We become quite friendly, quaffing champagne, until, below us, a ripple of applause turns to a thunder and the Queen herself appears, flanked by her family. "Good show!" expostulates Sir Percival.

Radiant does seem to be the appropriate word for her. Clad in yellow so that you can pick her out half a mile away, she exudes an indefinable quality the grace that has stood her -- and the country -- in good stead these 50 years.

Monday evening, later

Did I really write that last lot of total bollocks? …

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