There was a classic TV moment half an hour before the Diamond Jubilee race at Ascot this afternoon, when Clare Balding inadvertently suggested that Her Majesty the Queen was one of the world’s leading racehorse mares. I collapsed laughing, but what else was one to extrapolate from this commentary:
“And yes, there’s her Majesty in her new box, from which she can see both the paddock and the final stretch. And what a record – twenty one wins in succession”.
Poor Clare was getting overexcited about the world’s most amazing filly, Black Caviar: she did win the Jubilee, by the way. (The horse, not Clare).
However, assigning 22 wins to the Queen is if anything a massive understatement, because Elizabeth II has had 60 winning years in a row. I’m not sure even Lester Piggot could’ve ridden Elizabeth Windsor to 21 (or 22) wins on the trot (even less at a gallop) but one thing is for sure: the Monarch’s regal victory is entirely her own. Typically, she has always given massive credit to a husband for whom I don’t care that much – frankly, he is unpardonably rude at times – but this modesy and steadfast loyalty is what has endeared Her Majesty to Brits of all ages and classes since 1952.
Oddly enough, this setting of astronomically high personal standards was perfectly reflected in the remarks of winning Aussie jockey Luke Nolan. Having made it 22 victories in a row for hot favourite Black Caviar, Nolan apologised for “overshadowing” the day by misjudging the final few yards. Here we have a guy who, with this amazing nag, has travelled halfway round the world and still pulled off a great victory – albeit only by a short head. Yet he still felt “I could’ve done better”. We need more of this. Not for the money, but for the personal satisfaction of having fully deserved one’s day in the sun. Good on yer Luke cobber, you’re a bonzer bloke.
I’m not really a Royalist, but I am a Lizzyist. My admiration for this woman knows no bounds, but for the life of me I still cannot grasp why a lachrymose press pack continues to see the Royal Family as being in good shape. I think it is in terrible shape.
One of my criticisms of rampant feminism is that it tries (and fails) to interfere with human chemical mechanisms going back a good 1.5m years at least. That Elizabeth II’s children are prime examples of an absent mother and elephant-skinned father is difficult to deny. Charles’s rebellion against his Dad consists of talking to plants, developing a massive organic foods business, and designing things in a half-arty fashion. Andrew has meekly accepted his father’s values by shagging everything available on legs and being a studied anti-intellectual. And Edward is a needy, spoilt late addition from head to foot. Only Princess Anne gets my vote – for turning her father’s rudeness to good use, and being a bloody good horsewoman and mother.
The Queen is far too traditional to ever disinherit her son in favour of William – probably the firm’s best hope – and so like it or not we are going to get Charles III. I fully expect him to go the same way as numbers I and II.
But I digress. My main point tonight is this: all over the planet, there are people prepared to be honest with themselves, to do what’s expected of them, to forego any and all excuses, and take easily-ridiculed concepts like duty, service, loyalty and standards seriously in the best sense of that word. Very few of them are heads of State, politicians, bankers, lawyers, accountants or footballers. But the examples are there for anyone willing to see them. A solid and creative anthropological study of why and how they happen is long overdue.
But before saying goodnight, let me say that while watching Royal Ascot this afternoon I was astonished to discover that the 1950s BBC sports commentator Peter Dimmock is still alive. Not only alive, but at the age of 91 still in full control of his faculties and as entertaining as ever. A solid and creative genetic study of how and why he happened is equally overdue.