OPINION: Who would have believed we would see Madness playing on the roof of Buckingham Palace, see a spotlit couple singing love songs in a palace balcony window and watch the familiar stone frontage magically change with light play to Our House – in a royal Diamond Jubilee concert that leaned more towards traditional music hall than slick show business, writes Pat Veltkamp Smith in And Another Thing..
All those ageing Botoxed blokes, whose mouths hardly opened enough to sing songs they'd made famous, and the truly awful jokes about Her Majesty having to rent out the palace grounds for a show to make money to pay the rates.
But Her Majesty was so magnificent, travelling down the Thames in wind and rain in an ivory-coloured boucle dress and coat braided with silk ribbon and with a silk organza frill, designed with a nod to her three jubilees.
Made by the Queen's dresser, Angela Kelly, it was embroidered with gold and silver spots and embellished with crystals to represent her 60 years on the throne.
The small figure of the 86-year-old monarch could be seen for miles through the mist and lowering skies on the grey water of the Thames, her outfit a pearly gleam through the red and gold decorations on boats and uniforms.
She who once said she had to be seen to be believed, got it absolutely right.
The royal couple did not sit on the velvet thrones placed at the front of their boat, but gained a little shelter behind the tall backs, smiling waves visible to all, even those standing 20 deep in places for hours on the riverbank.
More people lined the route and watched the concert than queued to see the royal wedding last year.
Older Southlanders might recall the strange, jubilant shout of wartime mayor Abraham Wachner when sales rocketed on a Saturday morning at his Don St family clothing store. "Kelly's on the roof," he would cry. And tired dads, struggling to buy shoes for school-aged children, were said to groan, "Lucky old Kelly. Wish I was there too."
When Shirley Bassey belted out full strength, a highlight of that concert, lots of us probably wished that too.
But the coverage was great. Truly for once, thank God for the telly.
» Pat Veltkamp Smith was Southland Times women's editor until 1997 and is a former president of the Southland Justices of the Peace Association.
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