Queen E’s Visit a Disappointment

Some years ago I chanced upon a busker setting up for a show at Circular Quay. It was an elaborate and lengthy procedure, designed, I suppose, to draw a crowd, and through it all he kept up a stream of one-liners that kept the gathering audience highly amused.

We waited about 15 minutes until it seemed the show was about to begin when, without warning, the busker, noticing a slight drifting away from sectors of the throng, threw a mini tantrum and started to pack up, stating that there weren’t enough people there to waste his time with a show.

I was reminded of this bit of circus interruptus when, up at Parliament House the other day, the Queen went sailing past the assembled royalists (standing, I might add, in an increasingly frigid and unseasonably chilly breeze) and straight into Parliament without so much as a wave or a how’s your father.

From our position at the bottom of the forecourt, we didn’t even get a glimpse, bar a tiny flash of white as she exited the Rolls. By we, I refer to yours truly and City Girl who insisted on coming along and even made a sign for the occasion.

If you’ve missed City Girl on these pages and wondered what she’s been up to, we should explain that, soon after she arrived we discovered that, while she clearly possesses many of the qualities that we require of ‘The Face of Loadedog’, City Girl was a little lacking in some specific areas (grace and deportment, sobriety and the ability to steer clear of the Belconnen Remand Centre) that we felt needed some attention before she continued in her role.

She being temporarily out on recognisance, we couldn’t refuse her request for a little outing, particularly knowing how ardently she admires the royals, English and Australian ones in particular.

As usual, she made a lot of friends while she was there. Her favourite was Julia who hailed from the People’s Republic of China.

It was Julia who suggested we head for the side of the forecourt where, as you can see in the top photo, a thin line of people were waiting with a much better chance of copping a perve. I’m not sure if these people were just the ones who came early or if they were VIP royalists or what, but after skirting the forecourt and approaching the start of that line, Julia’s portly Aussie husband in tow, we were told in no uncertain terms not to cross the road and to go back to our spot amongst the plebs.

Cops and ‘security people’ were sparsely dotted around the court and amongst the crowd. It may have been paranoia but it seemed to me that they gathered in slightly higher concentrations right in our vicinity. It was nothing like City Girl’s visit to the War Memorial to meet Princess Mary, however, and I think she was actually a little miffed at the lack of attention.

She did get interviewed briefly by Megan Doherty from the Canberra Times, and photographed, by Megan’s photographer, holding her sign with the correct side facing up. Clearly Megan has an eye for photogenic talent, but she spoiled City Girl’s enjoyment of the attention somewhat by asking her if she was going to create a disturbance. ‘Moi?’ said City Girl. ‘But I love the Queen?’

As some compensation, later on a small group of children asked her for an autograph, a request she’s always willing to oblige.

It was pure coincidence that a group of City Girl’s new acquaintances from the BRC, her ‘pussy posse’ as she calls them, turned up. Clearly they’re a bit slow in adopting City Girl’s many fashion tips, but apart from that they seemed like nice enough girls, though I did keep my hand on my wallet while they were around.

As the appointed time loomed, the tension rose. The assembled security men assembled in a tighter cordon around us, looking menacing in their security man, alert but relaxed, stances.

That’s Julia above, at left, and her hubby top right. Julia insisted City Girl come to the front, desperate for the Queen to get a glimpse of her sign. This was not to be because, when she finally drove past (some ten minutes late, and some twenty minutes after I’d started thinking the wind chill was too unbearable to withstand just for a glimpse of the frigging Queen), she didn’t come within 100 metres of where we were and she wouldn’t have seen it if it was the size of bus.

The lucky few on the other side may just have caught a glimpse of Her Famousness.

The Queen alights at the doors of Australia’s Parliament House and disappears inside.

‘She could have come around and given us a little wave on the way’ said City Girl, sounding more than a little miffed. The sense of disappointment was palpable amongst the crowd as they dispersed, cardigans flapping in the breeze, back to their comfortable bungalows and their dreams of what the party must be like inside the House.

Perhaps it was because she was running late and she would really have loved to do a spin around the forecourt and acknowledge her fans, but she couldn’t keep her distinguished guests waiting. Perhaps the security agencies advised against it. But I couldn’t help wondering if, like the busker at Circular Quay, the Queen didn’t put on a show for us because there weren’t enough people there to waste her time.

The Queen’s visit in 1963

Like heroin, one gets accustomed to adulation. When the Queen visited Australia in the sixties, crowds in the tens of thousands mobbed her. Tuesday night’s arrival at Parliament House which, like her arrival at Fairburn Airport, attracted about 400 gawkers, must have been for the Queen a bit like if the Rolling Stones came to play in Canberra and could barely fill Tilleys.

The Republic debate has been fueled by this visit. The fact that the Queen has attracted as little interest as the Commonwealth Games she’s here to open seems destined to makes clear to all observers that the ‘auld country’ monarchist brigade are dwindling few. Of course, if simple popularity determined our head of state, Princess Mary would beat the Queen hands down, and if we changed our allegiance to the Danish throne, at least an Aussie would be in the picture. But we all know we’re stuck with the Queen till she and Johnnie Howard cark it and the Labor Party wins an election, at which time (like within the next twenty years – surely?) a favourably sponsored Republic plebiscite will pass without a murmur.

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