July 12

Prince of Wales overwhelms reporter’s republican spirit.

In “A princely day in the British rain,” Paolo Totaro reveals ( The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 July 2008) how the magic of monarchy affected her.

 In a downpour outside Buckingham Palace, and huddled under an inadequate umbrella, she tells how she and two colleagues were waitng to be  escorted  into the palace courtyard for a promised post-ceremony press conference with Kylie Anne Minogue, OBE.

To her surprised that once Prince Charles arrived she and her fellow Australians were whisked into the Queen's ballroom. Her account follows.

“The ballroom stood as Prince Charles entered the archway. His face and demeanour are so reassuringly familiar that it felt more like seeing an old friend arrive than a king in waiting.

“And so began a very strange experience, one that I thought would arouse a reporter's innate cynicism (and republican spirit) but which elicited a different, funny kind of affection I did not expect.

… a precious thing indeed…


“For close to two hours we observed Prince Charles close up as he sashed and pinned, gave out medals, shook hands, and even created a couple of new knights.

“Not once did he falter in this practised and choreographed centuries-old dance of congratulation and reward and genteel small talk.

“ Every now and then he touched his cufflinks with one hand in a gesture that is so innately Prince Charles that it should be trademarked.

“The people he rewarded were as varied in background, in achievement, in education and in class as the modern City of London itself.

“There were professors of medicine and bobbies, architects and former soldiers, ex-cabinet secretaries and veteran civil servants, retired diplomats and septuagenarian charity workers.

“There were community leaders from Pakistan, Muslim teachers, several veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

“And of course, there was Kylie Minogue. What was striking was the humanity of the event: the genuine, almost childlike joy that these men and women displayed as they received their honour, watched by their children, their partners or like Minogue, by a proud mother and father.

“All had achieved in their lives and had been marked for reward.

“The monarchy has outlived its role in our political system, there is no doubt. But a public thank you for a life well lived is a precious thing indeed.

“As God Save The Queen played and Prince Charles left the ballroom, I caught myself hoping that one day we might still get to hear God Save The King.”·          


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