Saturday, August 8, 2009

Turning our backs on the Queen

Because of health and safety, we are no longer expected to walk backwards before the Queen, observes Anne-Elisabeth Moutet.

So 'elf'n'safety have proved that they outrank the House of Windsor. From now on, no one, except for two particular courtiers and Jack Straw, the Lord Chancellor, will walk backwards from the presence of the Queen. The practice is deemed too dangerous, we are told, but Her Majesty can't bring herself to see it disappear altogether.

In anyone else, you would suspect that this would derive from the levity that the sight presents (and the irrational hope, perhaps, that Lord Irvine might one day return to the Lord Chancellor's office). But in the case of the Queen, what you see is what you get. Whatever her personal preferences, she is resolved to follow the law of the land at all times.

I wonder, though, how it was decided that the Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps and the Queen's equerry would be the ones selected. Did the current holders, Charles Gray and Andy Calame, draw lots? Did they have to pass a strenuous physical exam? Will they be forced to carry beepers that whistle out a warning to passers-by during the procedure, like articulated lorries? And hasn't Mr Straw done enough backing down to last a lifetime?

© Copyright Telegraph Media Group & Anne-Elisabeth Moutet 2009

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