Just finished watching Stephen Frears' film 'The Queen' - well made and moving. Reminds me of two times my path crossed royalty.
When I saw Princess Diana at the premiere of 'Hear My Song', Adie Dunbar's movie, at the Odeon Marble Arch. Old Joseph Locke got up on stage and sang Danny Boy to her.
The other occasion was when I met Prince Phillip at a Barnardo's conference at the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre in Westminster (The Wife's Conference Centre for him i guess). I knew, even when he was right over the other side of the room, that he was going to come over to me. His yellow teeth would have been stinky on anyone less rich. He asked me what I was doing there, I explained I made films for Barnardo's. "Do they pay you properly then?" he asked.
The Queen I've only ever seen when I walked onto Fleet Street one day only to see the whole royal family drive by on their way back from Saint Paul's from some kind of memorial service.
I remembered, watching the movie, being in Nevers in France when Charles married Diana and not being bothered to watch the wedding, which surprised my French hosts. I had republican tendencies even at that tender age.
The night Diana died I had been at a party at Maggie O'Kane's in Tufnell Park. I heard the sad news at around 5 in the morning on the radio in my bed at 19 Carleton Road - where, the following week in the living room I watched the funeral procession leaving London through Hendon and my childhood manor. When I went back to Maggie's house the next day to pick up something, her husband, also a Guardian journo, already had a conspiracy theory. That's journos for you.
It must have been that Sunday we were in town, lunching at an Italian restaurant in Covent Garden, when I read one of the Sunday papers, the Mail i think - inside was the usual critical stuff about Diana (less topical, feature-type pieces), in direct contrast to the breaking news on the front which was already canonising her. That's journos for you.
As Blair says in the film, she made a lot of people happy. And she did a lot of good. So I suppose it's good to have those strange days captured in this film. Those strange days when my Irish Republican sister-in-law went down to the sea of flowers at Buckingham Palace.