Monday,20 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1147, 9 - 15 May 2013
Monday,20 August, 2018
Issue 1147, 9 - 15 May 2013

Ahram Weekly

Hail Britannia!

What magic, what mystery lies behind the British monarchy? It has endured for over 1000 years, while other monarchies have faded and died.  Britain’s allure is timeless, and her royals continue to thrive, dazzling the world with their unrivaled pomp and pageantry. If the behavior of younger royals had tarnished the image of the Windsors, the grace and charm of H.M. Elizabeth II has more than compensated for their failings.

On the throne for over 6 decades she remains graceful, elegant and appealing. She has secured the future of the crown of England through her dignified demeanour and her strong sense of duty. The unfortunate death of the beloved Princess Diana and the dispassionate royal reaction threatened the stability and popularity of the monarchy, but the discerning Queen swiftly came to the rescue.  When her early cold response was rejected by her subjects, she immediately shed her royal armour, so stuffy and stifling, and revealed her tender, human nature.  The transformation was a relief and the monarchy was now more stable than ever

The acclaimed, Oscar-winning film, “The Queen”, starring Helen Mirren, revolved around that critical period, and depicted the Queen’s absolute ability to bend rather than break. Her total awareness of the changing times has raised the character of the monarchy which, with Kate Middleton now in their midst, has further enhanced its popularity.

The Queen has slowly become accustomed to the flippancy of the media and has learned to use it to her advantage. She understands how to merge the silly with the serious often making them indistinguishable, to the delight of the press. In her infinite wisdom she agreed to participate in the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, a coup de maitre that blew away the millions who watched incredulously on their TV sets.

For her effort, the Queen was presented with her own honorary British Academy for Film and Television Award, (BAFTA).  John Willis, President of BAFTA, thrilled to the core, declared: ”The Prize was also for the Queen’s performance as the most memorable Bond girl yet”---referring to her cameo role alongside the latest James Bond (Daniel Craig) at the opening ceremony.

On April 4th the Queen hosted a gala at Windsor Castle together with her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, where they entertained 300 filmmakers to celebrate the British Film Industry.  As stars and royals mingled happily, actor/director Sir Kenneth Branagh presented H.M. with her trophy, for her sensational appearance at the games. It was a moment for the history books. With the utmost dignity Branagh addressed the Queen thus: “Several of my colleagues here tonight want you to know that should you wish to take this further into the world of British films, that they have a number of scripts with them here this evening”. The 300 guests giggled and guffawed, so did the Queen and even the Duke.  “However”, interrupted Branagh, “I have to warn you, Your Majesty, not all of these films are fully financed.”A roar of laughter ensued as all movie people are well aware that funding is the filmmakers’ eternal obstacle.  The laughter and applause continued endlessly, filling the magisterial castle with merriment and glee.

It was all performed a spirit of great fun and in recognition of the most popular of art-forms of the present age.  The Queen paid homage to the UK Film Industry, which she had always supported and in return the industry paid homage to royalty.

As most civilized governments, the British government heavily subsidises the Arts, particularly the Performing Arts like opera, ballet, the theatre and the film industry.  Britain has produced a great number of memorable films, not the least of which is the ‘Bond’ franchise and the ‘Harry Potter’ series. Their film adaptations of their great literary classics, from William Shakespeare to Jane Austen are a treasure for all to cherish.

During her reign the Queen has conferred several knighthoods and damehoods to members of the film industry, rewarding them with the highest honour of the land. Among the recipients are names that we love and admire, who have contributed tirelessly to entertain and enlighten audiences throughout the years: The knights include directors, Alfred Hitchcock, David Lean, actors Sean Connery, Colin Firth, Kenneth Branagh, musicians Paul McCartney, Elton John and among the dames the Queen’s favourite Judy Dench, as well as Maggie Smith and Helen Mirren among others.  Even author Salman Rushdie, whose head was wanted by some, was honored by the Queen.

These titles are not bestowed lightly. It is a lengthy process of recommendation and analysis awarded to those whose services have been invaluable to the monarchy.

Hats off to a monarch so concerned with the Arts and so in tune with the changing times even at the   ripe, young age of 87.

It is of little comfort in Egypt, a country that has revered motion pictures since their inception, that Sheikh Abdel- Rehim was handed a year-sentence in jail for insulting a prominent film star. Such behavior continues to ignore the progress of this modern era by dragging us back to the dark and dismal ages.

Mixing sense with a little nonsense is the ultimate wisdom;  would that other rulers learn the meaning of the Queen’s gracious, sagacious gesture of accepting her BAFTA award.

A cameo role alongside 007, after all, is every girl’s dream, even if she is the Queen of England!


“Courtesy is not dead---it has merely taken refuge in Great Britain.”

                                         Georges Duhamel (1854-1966)


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