In all the feverish excitement about THAT wedding I hope you haven’t forgotten that the Queen turns 85 this week.
And if you suppose that she will be taking the day off to enjoy a slice of birthday cake with a glass of her favourite German white wine, you’d be mistaken.
H.M. will be working, of course, because her birthday, April 21, is Maundy Thursday, an important date for her as Head of the Church of England.
It’s the day when the Church of England recalls the Last Supper when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, and this ritual has continued down the centuries in a modified form. Elizabeth I used to give poor people gifts of food and bags of money as well as washing their feet.
Every year during the church service the Queen still presents bags of silver coins to the same number of people as her age, on this occasion 85.
Like any other mother or grandmother, the Queen loves family weddings. It’s not often you see our dignified monarch actually run anywhere, but I remember seeing her running after the balloon-bedecked carriage carrying the just married Duke and Duchess of York as they left Buckingham Palace for their honeymoon in July, 1986.
When her youngest son Prince Edward married Sophie Rhys-Jones in June, 1999, at Windsor the Queen sent her personal maid to help the bride get dressed. My palace spies tell me that the maid or ‘dresser’ as they are known at court, then had to rush back to the Queen’s apartment at Windsor Castle.
As she left the bride she explained, ‘The Queen wants me to see her new wedding outfit before she leaves for St.George’s Chapel. She is so excited about it.’
So while everyone is examining the bride’s dress next week I will also be fascinated by what the Queen is wearing.
There should be a few other queens present at the royal wedding but I’ll bet ours is the most stylish of all. Her clothes are always colourful and eye-catching because one of her main aims is to be seen by as many people as possible.
Unlike the rest of us, the Queen has not one but two birthdays. Her second is always celebrated in June with the Trooping the Colour ceremony on Horseguards Parade. This year it will be a double celebration because it falls on June 11, the day after the Duke of Edinburgh’s 90th birthday.
So the appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony of the whole royal family will be even more special this year. And of course, there will be a newcomer waving to the crowd in the Mall.
The new Princess Kate will be standing beside her husband William. The following month her granddaughter Zara Phillips will also wed. It all adds up to the happiest summer for the Queen and the Duke for a very long time.