Perhaps the only spectacle more tragic than Helen Mirren’s ‘I give you the Queen’ Oscars acceptance speech, is her people’s desperate attempts to bounce Buckingham Palace into extending an invitation for tea. The story appears to have begun in the gossip columns of the Daily Mail; a piece dated 8 February and headlined QE2: Queen asks Dame Helen to dinner is diluted to ‘…is planning to…’ in the first paragraph and is reduced to speculating on the form any invitation might take by the end. Even here it’s made clear that the queen has not seen the film and has no plans to. Nevertheless, this was enough to spark a media frenzy, with others jumping on the story. Hell, some people think she’s already booked in for lunch.
But by the end of the month, all were back peddling furiously with everyone careful to place a question mark at the headline’s end or carefully insert a ‘may’ and to include key information: ‘The film’s director, Stephen Frears, has already suggested that he, Mirren and screenwriter Peter Morgan would visit the queen at the palace next month / “It is speculation…” a palace spokeswoman said.’
It’s hard to have sympathy for such pathetic sycophancy. After all Forest Whitaker didn’t thank Idi Amin without whom he wouldn’t have won an Oscar. They forget who, or more importantly what, the queen is.
From her birth an incredible effort has been made to convince the queen that she is above us all and to sustain the myth that god (for who else decides upon birth right) has chosen her to head up his church and to be Britain’s and many other countries’ head of state. Servants fill her many palaces and do everything for her. Wherever she goes people stare in awe. When she has people for tea it is not an intimate affair. She sees her subjects hundreds at a time, spending around twenty seconds with each individual on the topic of ‘what do you do?’ and the poor suckers go weak at the knees for the duration. Then they boast of how they’ll talk of their encounter to their children and their children’s children. So clearly she is above us all.
The idea that the queen will be at all interested in a made-for-TV film of her life (particularly one that deals with the post-Diana episode) is too naïve for words. Dame Helen Mirren and her people have failed to realise that just to be seen to take an interest in such lowly affairs is to step down from her pedestal. The queen is hardly likely to respond in such an undignified manner as to appear excited at the prospect of an actress receiving a Hollywood gong for impersonating her on screen. Of course she hasn’t seen the film.
The queen’s response to all this hoo-ha may fairly be summed up as: ‘Is one bothered?’