JAN MOIR: Just imagine Charles and Camilla huddled in front of an electric heater!
Her face is on our stamps, her head is on our currency, her status as leader of the country has been inviolate for 65 years. Yet what do we really know about the Queen?
Does she like pink, does she wear fluffy slippers, is she ever tempted to tell Prince William to zip it?
So much about HM remains an enigma, but every now and again the velvet curtain is lifted to give a peek behind the scenes inside the royal residences.
And every time it happens, I love the Queen a little bit more.
She is just not what one might expect from one’s monarch.
Instead, like any 91-year old great-grandmother who has spent a lifetime in service, she seems to prefer ease over luxury, home comforts over home improvements.
Meanwhile, up in her beloved Balmoral, life goes on for the Queen much as it has done for decades. The draughty old castle still has pre-Seventies plug-points and appliances with those leads of twisted cord
Over the years I have come to love her omnipresent indoor handbag, her unchanging shampoo-and-set, but most of all her taste in interior decoration, a style that could be called Regal Frugal, with hints of Shabby Palace Chic.
We’ve seen her breakfast room at Buckingham Palace, with its Tupperware tubs of cereal and Roberts radio plonked next to the newspapers.
We’ve seen her sitting room at Balmoral Castle, with its fireside chairs and curtains covered in thistle print fabric (love) and little gingham day-beds for her doggies (more love).
Now we go through the keyhole once more at Balmoral, this time to the castle’s library.
Camilla Duchess of Cornwall and Prince CharlesBattle of Britain memorial service, Westminster Abbey, London
Who lives in a house like this?
This week, a photograph was issued of the Queen showing Julie Payette, the governor-general of Canada, around the bookshelves of the ol’ McHomestead.
Comparing it with an official Silver Jubilee snap taken in the library in 1977, we can deduce that very little has changed since then, and that the royal budget remains on the strangled side of tight.
As usual, evidence abounds of the Queen’s admirable thrift and lack of interest in her surroundings, as evinced by the hideous green-on-green colour scheme. Ugh. It’s the kind of couldn’t-care-less décor you might have found in the waiting room of a failing dental practice in post-war Taunton.
The room still has the same brown furniture and the same books on the same shelves as it did back then — but even the Queen has to refresh. The armchairs and sofa have been relieved of their British Regiments fabric and re-covered in Frog Sick Green which clashes horribly with the Teletubby Dipsy Green of the carpet.
Meanwhile, the Queen herself is upholstered in the trusty kilt and venerable cardigan she has worn for at least a decade during her Highland holidays.
On an occasional table sits a miserablist arrangement of flowers, like something you might find on the window sill of a funeral home.
Knicknacks? Of course, Ma’am.From the fridge-sized clock on the mantelpiece, the athletic figurine lampshades, the ship in a bottle to the statue of a man rescuing a child or a seal pup — it’s difficult to say — the only thing that they have in common is their plug-ugliness.
Surely this is a job-lot of unloved presents from Commonwealth worthies, decanted into this forgotten room with its unread books and chairs with their backs to the large television?
I don’t even believe the Queen ever sits in those chairs, because once she climbed aboard in her tiny buckled shoes, she’d never get back out again. Not without a footman and a hoist, at any rate.
Canadian Governor General Designate Julie Payette meets Queen Elizabeth II during a private audience at Balmoral Castle, Scotland
That is before we even get to the cheap convector fire stuffed into the fine marble fireplace, exactly like the one she has in her sitting room. Not to mention the balding hearth rug, the box-pleat valances on the sofa and the sawn-off television table.
Dearie me, it really is all so adorably dreary.
Yet that is what is so impressive about Her Maj — that lack of ostentation and grandeur, combined with the absence of any need to impress.
However, I don’t imagine any other members of the Royal Family live like this.
Hard to imagine Charles and Camilla huddled in front of an electric heater amid Highgrove’s seven-star luxury. And pictures of William and Kate’s ￡4.5 million Kensington Palace refurb revealed soft lamps, scented candles, thick, pale carpets and the kind of plush vibes of the neutral, country-house luxe that the duchess is known to covet — and spent more than ￡1.5 million trying to recreate at their Anmer Hall retreat in Norfolk.
Meanwhile, up in her beloved Balmoral, life goes on for the Queen much as it has done for decades. The draughty old castle still has pre-Seventies plug-points and appliances with those leads of twisted cord.
There is a general air of make-do-and-mend, of everything scrubbed to within an inch of its life.
The Queen updates her furnishings by using the fabric from an old sofa to cover some cushions, and she is good to go for another decade at least.
And when she does go, Regal Frugal will die out with her. You can count on that.
Student Sophie Pointon has been jailed for 16 months for falsely accusing a taxi-driver of sexually assaulting her
Student Sophie Pointon has been jailed for 16 months for falsely accusing a taxi-driver of sexually assaulting her.
The 22-year-old, who was a criminology undergraduate at the time, invented the lie after arguing with the Muslim driver who refused to accept a ￡10 note soaked in oil from a kebab she was holding.?
His refusal was founded on religious reasons, although he would also have had a case on the grounds of basic decency.?
After she’d rowed with the driver following a drunken night out in Leeds, Pointon told police that the father-of-five had molested her.?
She later continued the deception by signing a statement describing her ‘horrendous’ ordeal.
Her jail sentence might seem harsh, particularly when compared with the one given to Muhammad Mohsan, a teenager who was also recently jailed for 16 months — for sexually assaulting five women on London buses over a period of two years.
Yet Pointon’s crime had serious repercussions, too.?
Behind the luxury of anonymity, she could wilfully and spitefully have ruined this man’s life.
False accusations of rape and assault are a crime against men —but they are also a crime against other women.?
Especially against those who really have been sexually attacked or raped, but fail to convince a judge and jury of the merits of their case.
Women such as Pointon make it that much harder for the real victims to get justice.?
And that is their disgrace.
Jane Fonda turned up at the Emmy awards this week looking less like Jane Fonda and more like pop singer Gwen Stefani
Jane Fonda turned up at the Emmy awards this week looking less like Jane Fonda and more like pop singer Gwen Stefani.?
However, this is totally cool, everybody, because that was her intention.
Swinging her unlikely ponytail, 79-year-old Jane said that 47-year-old Gwen was her style inspiration, and why not? When you get to your eighth decade, you find your stimulus where you can.
Jane was wearing skin-tight hot pink, dripping with diamonds and emeralds, as peeled and primped and glazed as a cold-water prawn.
In Hollywood that night, she was at the forefront of a clutch of over-50 female stars from The Land That Forgot Time who all looked fabulous.
Michelle Pfeiffer (59) appears to have been preserved in iridescent aspic since The Fabulous Baker Boys; Susan Sarandon is now 70, but with a wasp-waist that is evidence of her devotion to Pilates, while Jessica Lange (68) looked both regal and beautiful with her magnificent sweep of hair and Gucci dress.
But it was Jane who raised the most eyebrows, primarily because she seems to be no longer capable of raising her own.
Her appearance might owe something to the dark arts of the Hollywood cosmetologists, but what else is Jane supposed to do??
Swinging her unlikely ponytail, 79-year-old Jane said that 47-year-old Gwen was her style inspiration, and why not? When you get to your eighth decade, you find your stimulus where you can
She has been a star and a beauty for her entire adult life.?
Should she just give up and embark on the slow desiccation into cronedom and wearing fleece??
Or should she carry on raging against the dying of the light, her slim figure and sculpted face testament to a lifetime of discipline, self-restraint and the punishing regime of the beautiful and the damned.
To me, she looked not only wonderful, but also heroic.?
Still a star, still viable and a survivor, in every way. Move along now. Nothing not to admire here.
Yes, correct. I am obsessed with celebrities publishing cook books.?
Particularly stars such as Kirstie Allsopp, who have no professional culinary expertise, but want to take us on a food journey through their life. No thanks!
We already know how to make a Bolognese sauce and a batch of scones, thanks all the same — but there really is no escape.
Here we learn that Kirstie grows her own cucumbers in Devon, that salmon is one of her favourite fish, and also that the hazelnut is her favourite nut. Marvellous.
Yes, correct. I am obsessed with celebrities publishing cook books. Particularly stars such as Kirstie Allsopp, who have no professional culinary expertise, but want to take us on a food journey through their life
Alongside recipes for scrambled eggs and fruit salad, she includes instructions for chocolate brownies and other baked goods that she has never tasted because she is on a semi-permanent diet.
She claims her pizza dough is her ‘own version of a Jamie Oliver recipe’, but, in fact, it is exactly the same.?
And she has a novel solution for dealing with family meal-times.
Her blended family — two stepsons and two sons — are all fussy eaters but Kirstie solves this problem by cooking them all separate meals.
Suffering monkfish goujons! Where does she find the time??
Apparently it is partly thanks to ‘our amazing nanny called Heather’ who cooks for the boys when the Location, Location, Location star is away filming.?
Kirstie makes it look so easy!
I am underwhelmed with the model for the proposed statue of suffragist Millicent Fawcett in London’s Parliament Square.
As the first woman to be so honoured, she joins 11 statesmen including Nelson Mandela, David Lloyd George and, of course, the magnificent, hulking bronze of Winston Churchill.?
All these effigies are noble, proud and evocative.?
By comparison, Millicent and her placard look diminished and ordinary. Some even claim she looks as though she’s hanging out the washing.
Margaret Thatcher should have been the first woman in Parliament Square.?
Now we’re stuck with Millie, please make her look more like a heroine than a dowdy laundress.
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