Sunday, September 11, 2022

The Queen, James Bond and Paddington Bear

Embed from Getty Images

Frank Cotterell-Boyce has a lovely piece in the Observer on his experience of working with the Queen on her two late ventures into acting: the James Bond section of the London 2012 opening ceremony and her Platinum Jubilee sketch with Paddington.

There was originally no intention that she should appear in the Bond sketch, but when the creative team went to the Palace to discuss it they were told that she wanted to take part. And when they came to film it she said she wanted a line to say.

And appearing in the Paddington sketch must have taken some skill - remember, he was not there when the Queen spoke her lines.

Cotterell-Boyce writes of the significance of that sketch:

It used to be said that millions of people had dreams in which they had tea with the Queen. Even our dream life is going to have to change. Watching her have tea with Paddington will have to do instead. It’s easy to see why that was so powerful. In retrospect, it was valedictory. A woman waving a happy goodbye to her grandchildren and great grandchildren, an image of love and a happy death.

But Paddington is an evacuee, a refugee, one-time prisoner, pretty much every category of need that is mentioned in Matthew 25. Here, he is being welcomed with tea and good manners. This is a strong statement of a set of values that are not uncontested in the corridors of power. To have them exemplified so joyfully at such a moment meant something.

And I shall use this brilliant quotation from Milne myself, possibly quite often:

We're going to be seeing a lot of that flag in the next few days. I don't know how I’m going to feel about this. A flag carefully placed in the background of a cabinet minister’s Zoom room makes me think of AA Milne’s definition of a patriot as "someone who hates everything about the country apart from its flag".


Frank Little said...

Cotterell Boyce would not have been surprised at HMQ's thespian skills if he had been aware of the royal princesses' enthusiasm for amateur theatricals when young. (Illustration here. I believe that their nicknames of "Brenda" and "Yvonne", so gleefully seized on by Private Eye date from those days.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that AA Milne quote - very useful.
(As an aside, Milne’s Second World War poetry is worth digging out.)