In the week in which the Queen has celebrated her 96th birthday comes yet another chat show reminder that the greatest threat to the longevity of the monarchy itself stems from two quarters uncomfortably close to Her Majesty.
In no particular order — Prince Andrew and Prince Harry.
Coincidentally both men are said to be her favourites. Her favourite son. And her favourite grandson. Whether they actually are her blue-eyed, blue-blooded boys is a matter of debate.
Parents usually steer clear of giving the impression they have a favourite. And the Queen, with her reputation for discretion, is unlikely be so gauche to let slip that she has hers.
Whatever the truth, her so-called favourites are doing her no favours.
Worse, though, given the damage they’ve done to the institution she still heads up, is the question of whether she herself, however unintentionally, has become their enabler.
Andrew is lying low after his controversial appearance as chief shoulder to lean upon at Prince Philip’s memorial service. A more honourable man (to use his self-description) would have had the grace to stay in the background on the day.
Yet a wiser queen would also have realised (or have been advised) that allowing him to escort her centre stage would come across as a slight to public opinion. It will look even worse if she invites him on to the palace balcony on jubilee day.
Ditto with Harry.
The Duke of Netflix, fresh from tea with granny at the palace, was once again this week opening his heart — and his gob — on American TV. He’d been to see the Queen recently, he said, because he was “just making sure that she’s protected and got the right people around her”.
Bearing in mind that this is a woman who can draft in the Household Cavalry, the RAF, the Royal Navy and James Bond to name just a few protection agencies at her disposal, why would Harry suddenly feel the necessity to review her security?
As for “the right people around her”? Who would he consider to be the wrong people? Prince Charles? Prince William? Angela Kelly, the working-class Liverpudlian who is reportedly the Queen’s closest confidante?
To listen to Harry, actually he’s the monarch’s closest confidante. “We have a really special relationship; we talk about things she can’t talk about with anybody else.” It’s hard to imagine what these things might be outside of Harry’s admiration for Harry and Harry’s pressing need to give Netflix some further royal meat for the documentary they’re making.
Much of what he said during the interview was the usual piffle. His latest fawning US interviewer, Hoda Kotb, makes Oprah Winfrey sound like Walter Cronkite.
She questioned him about feeling peaceful, putting backpacks down, what he did on “random Wednesdays” and whether his son had inherited his “cheeky thing”.
Harry, whose cheeky thing has long since been submerged in his fathomless pool of sanctimony, positioned himself once again as saviour of the world.
Such is his immodesty these days, he doesn’t even do false modesty.
What will most concern the Palace, however, after his afternoon chitchat with Her Majesty, will be that hardly were the teacups in the dishwasher than he was giving an interview about it. So, given his track record for TV tête-à-têtes, why was he invited back in the first place?
There is a sense that the Queen is attempting to keep him onboard as much as is possible with a man whose chief source of income comes from slagging off his royal relatives.
Such generosity is all very well for a mother and grandmother. But surely those “right people” around her, who can read the public mood, will know that distancing the Queen from a pair who have shamed and disdained the monarchy would better protect it.
Her Majesty’s popularity stems not just from the fact that she’s been around for so long, but that she’s always tried to do the right thing by the public — the taxpayers who finance the monarchy and the many wings and wing-nuts of the House of Windsor.
To celebrate her birthday this week, the Palace issued a glorious photo showing her holding the reins of a pair of fell ponies. It would help if the same Palace would encourage her to loosen the tethers to the two donkeys, too often, also by her side.
Sky News senior Ireland correspondent, David Blevins, from Portadown, has been reporting from a new patch this week. He’s in the US covering the Johnny Depp/ Amber Heard libel court case. A brilliant journalist with a great measured delivery, Blevins has, of course, much experience in covering Stormont. No surprise then, why his Sky bosses may have felt he was uniquely qualified to cover a saga of two squabbling parties, ripping strips out of each other without any thought, seemingly, as to how infantile and pathetic this looks to the rest of the world.
Getting away from it all has become more of a challenge with airports facing massive delays. Not for the first time, travellers at Belfast International have been queuing out the doors. As one passenger points out, surely bosses will have an idea in advance of how many passengers they’ll have on any given day and can make contingency plans. For people trying to head off on a hard-earned break it’s unacceptable that the bit about “getting away from it all” you most want to get away from is the “getting away”.
Still with the Queen’s birthday and Mattel the toy makers marked her big day with the release of an Elizabeth II Barbie doll.
Outside of perhaps Mother Theresa, it’s hard to imagine a less likely candidate for glorification via Barbie plastication. It does look like a younger version of the Queen although the cinched in waist is a bit overly Marilyn Monroe.
Other tribute Barbies include Beyoncé, Elvis and Priscilla, Cher and Twiggy. Big hair is a recurring theme. And yet JK Rowling who has long tresses, gets a short cut. Her doll could pass for Liz Truss.