There are no pictures of the Queen having a laugh on the internet, discovers columnist Craig Cliff .
Dear Your Royal Highness,
Please accept this telegram on the occasion of your diamond jubilee.
To be honest, you haven't been at the forefront of my thoughts these past 29 years but every so often I will be struck down with QEII fever.
Like the other day. Do you know how long it took me to find a photo of you eating on the internet? I'd seen yet another snap of you toasting a head of state and it occurred to me that I'd never seen you cutting into a nice side of beef, or swan, or whatever it is you royals eat. Do you keep those silky white gloves on? According to the etiquette guides, one mustn't eat with one's gloves on, but I needed to see firsthand.
I spent an hour of my life scouring Google and YouTube, refining search terms ("Queen eating", "Elizabeth II dining", "chow time at Buckingham Palace") until, finally, the internet relented.
There you were, seated next to your friend, Margaret, on the porch of a log cabin on Balmoral Estate, a serviette across your tartan skirt, a plate of chicken and salad atop your lap. You are looking up at the camera, curving your regal mouth into an obliging smile for whoever Margaret has roped into taking the photo. Your third-rate silver cutlery is poised over a drumstick, your hands completely bare. On the rail next to you, catching the glint of the Aberdeenshire sun, is a glass of gin and Dubonnet with a fat slice of lemon under the ice, just as your mum liked it.
And you know what, Your Majesty? I felt scandalised by this image. You could have been my nana at a family barbecue. You almost look like you were having fun. If there's one thing I've learnt in my time on this earth, it's that the Queen does not do fun. The preceding hour of internet stalking you could attest to this.
Perhaps it's because one mustn't rub it in the faces of the less fortunate, you having all those tiaras and flashy coats, those hunting estates and Beefeaters. Or perhaps havin' a laugh is simply not the English way. (If this is the case, you're the last English person left on the planet.)
Hey, don't get me wrong, I respect the effort you've put in. You've been in the public eye your entire life, not just these past 60 years, and yet where's the funniest home video of you slipping on a banana peel or pile of corgi doodie? In an age when no-one bats an eyelid at the latest starlet's nipple-slip or up-skirt, I can only find one photo of you eating.
When the rest of your family has been dragged over the coals for their foot fetishes and fancy-dress costumes, you've kept your dignity. You are beyond reproach, a schadenfreude-free zone. This is your greatest achievement.
So that's what I'll be toasting every time an image of jubilee festivities flashes on my TV screen.
To the Queen, for never letting the veil slip (apart from that one time at Balmoral), and for reminding us that pomp and pageantry are not just for the North Koreans.
Your humble subject,
Craig Cliff is a Wellington writer who likes to have a laugh. He writes a fortnightly column.
- The Dominion Post