Editor’s comment: June 2017
PUBLISHED: 15:34 19 May 2017 | UPDATED: 15:34 19 May 2017
“We mere mortals have grudgingly accepted that we may have to work until we’re 75; Prince Philip is 95. He has more than earned what we dearly hope will be a long and healthy retirement.”
The nation held its collective breath as news broke of an emergency staff meeting at Buckingham Palace. Many people feared bad tidings: a health problem, or at least a diminution of Her Majesty’s duties. I couldn’t get out of my mind the image of a cowed staff forming a semi-circle around the Master of the Royal Household as he demanded: “Right. No-one leaves the room until we find out who stole the fish knife.”
As it turned out it was the sad, but quite understandable, news that the Duke of Edinburgh was to step down from his onerous duties in the autumn. He will be missed, not least as someone who brought considerable gaiety to often strait-laced pomp and ceremony. And there is, of course, his enormous efforts on behalf of charity and the founding of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. (Today’s useless fact: Jeremy Corbyn is an alumni.)
I have been lucky enough to have met members of the Royal Family on several occasions and have never found them to be less than delightful. That they manage this demeanour while undertaking what must be a dreadfully monotonous round of factory-visiting and hand-shaking, day in and day out, constantly inhaling fresh paint fumes, speaks volumes of their notion of service.
And the Duke, of course, has been at it for longer than most. We mere mortals have grudgingly accepted that we may have to work until we’re 75; Prince Philip is 95. He has more than earned what we dearly hope will be a long and healthy retirement.
As the Duke steps down, more duties will inevitably fall on the younger generation of Royals. It will be different, of course. We’ve already seen a more open and emotional approach from some of them, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The Duchess of Cambridge certainly seems to have embraced her role, as the pictures of her interacting with children on Pages 110-111 of this magazine show. Just look at the joy on their little faces - and that was just the lambs.
It is not this magazine’s job to be overtly political, but I cannot help but mention the damage that Paul Nuttall and his UKIP acolytes have wrought upon our region. For some strange reason, UKIP’s barmies have taken to dressing in a manner that is a pastiche of a Cotswold gentleman – tweeds, waistcoat, check shirt, cap, the works. Perhaps they think that such sartorial affectation will endear them to the downtrodden, immigrant-allergic hoi polloi of Lincolnshire.
And that’s all very well, and very funny, unless you actually are a Cotswold gentleman. Having your wardrobe raided by a Scouse slaphead with questionable views is about as welcome as the moth invasion many people have been battling for the past month.
The problem really came to the fore at Badminton, where I had set out to buy myself a new tweed jacket. Faced with rack after rack of the blessed things, I couldn’t bring myself to hand over hard cash in case I was later mistaken for a Send Them Back stormtrooper.
The only thing to do is bide one’s time. Mr Nuttall and his ilk will disappear back under their stones soon enough – probably on June 9 – and the Cotswold gentleman will be free to reclaim his apparel, red trousers and all.
For more of Mike’s musings, follow him on Twitter! @cotslifeeditor