Traveling with the Queen is much nicer than with any other members of her family for one very good reason.
In consideration for her age and that of her husband her day doesn’t start until around 10.30 which gives us reporters an extra hour or so in bed.
We really needed it here in Australia as we were all suffering from jet lag when we landed in Canberra last week.
The Queen rarely does more than two engagements a day, although the Duke of Edinburgh despite his 90 years, sometimes does extra jobs.
How do they do it? I can’t think of many people of their age who are still working full time 20 or so years after the normal retirement age.
Of course, the Queen has lots of staff who sort everything out for her but it can’t be easy to stand for hours in the 27 degree sunshine as she did last Saturday morning at the Duntroon Military Academy, the Australian Sandhurst.
The Queen, dressed in electric blue, presented new colours to the troops after inspecting their ranks in a ceremony which lasted for 90 minutes, during which she stood the whole time.
When that ended she met soldiers and their families in a garden party, once again staying on her feet for almost another hour. I am always lost in admiration for the Queen when I see her at work like this.
Years of experience have taught her how to cope in a hot climate like Australia’s. I remember her doctor once told me that natural fibres like silk are the key to keeping cool.
She always wears a shady hat too. But most of all she always wears an old pair of black shoes because they are comfy.
Last Friday night when she attended a reception given by the Welsh-born Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, I noticed the Queen was wearing an ivory pair of shoes to match her ivory jacquard dress and silver lace jacket. It must have taken a lot of persuasion to get her to change her favourite black ones.
She looked softly pretty and smart as she mingled with the 700 guests at Parliament House, Canberra.
I thought she looked equally elegant on her arrival in Canberra , wearing an aqua Stewart Parvin miltary style coat over a matching dress.
Australian children seem to love the Queen and chat to her at length when presenting bouquets and stuffed toys. One nine year old boy who met her at the airport told HELLO! ‘She’s just like your Nan. You want to hug her.’
What higher praise could anyone have?
The following evening Aussie surfing champion Stephanie Gilmore, 23, met the Queen at the prime minister’s reception mentioned above. She curtsied and said, ‘Welcome to Australia, Your Majesty, I adore you.’
On hearing this, Prime Minister Julia Gillard turned to the Queen and said, ‘That’s positive reassurance for you.’
The point is that most 23 year old girls in Britain would think it terribly uncool to gush over the Queen like that. But there is something about the Aussie open character that makes such an affectionate outburst seem rather endearing.
The Queen is really enjoying this trip to Australia, her staff tell me. And I can certainly understand why.