Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Witless Tribute to Dear Old Queenie; Television

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Witless Tribute to Dear Old Queenie; Television

Article excerpt

Byline: VICTOR LEWIS-SMITH

The Queen at 80 BBC1

WANT to climb the social ladder, but can't even afford a foothold on the bottom rung?

Then why not follow Honest Vic's low-cost, three-stage, self-improvement course?

Firstly, move to the Lincolnshire village of Eaton, and send your children (free) to the local school, so you can truthfully tell astonished dinner party guests and business colleagues that "all our boys are at Eaton", without having to fork out a fortune in fees.

Secondly, hyphenate your surname (though be careful always to purchase a high-quality hyphen - I bought mine from a dodgy car boot sale, it got jammed, the barrel backfired, and it shot my Christian name off into the middle distance).

And thirdly, if you can operate a microwave, seek work reheating frozen dinners in any of the hundreds of pubs around this country called "The Queen's Head", so you'll then be able to claim honestly at dinner parties that "I am the Queen's head chef."

Ironically, if you actually were employed in the Windsors' kitchens, you'd probably earn less than half of what even the humblest pub restaurant would pay. Worse, only white social climbers should expect to serve the royals, because the vast palace staff contains barely a minuscule handful of what Prince Philip so amusingly refers to as "slitty eyes" yet the Windsors can't be prosecutedfor discrimination, since Parliament specifically exempted them from the Race Relations and Equal Opportunities Acts.

However, no such criticisms were allowed last night on The Queen at 80, a fulsome tribute to Her Majesty, during which Jack Straw insisted (without laughing) that "She has represented the diversity of this country brilliantly during the 50-plus years of Her reign," and eagerly joined the chorus of worthies who praised Her as "a human sacrifice to the British state."

Yet the more we heard about Her lifetime of " service" and "duty", the more She looked to me like the head of a family of parasites feeding shamelessly off the public purse, and long before the end I was (once again) more than ready to strangle the last king with the guts of the last priest.

Admittedly. the Queen has performed Her anachronistic function in a thoroughly professional manner for more than half a century, yet the sheer fawning relentlessness of this programme's regal homage quickly brought out the Dave Spart in me.

ANDREW Marr (a teenage Maoist turned apprentice Dimbleby) delivered an oleaginous script so witlessly uncritical in its praise that even Princess Margaret sounded saintly, and the countless scandals that have stained the Windsors' already tarnished reputation since the Second World War were simply airbrushed out of history, leaving a royal image that was as unsullied and as uninteresting as a postage stamp. …

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