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June 9, 2006

I saw the Queen!

Last night was a gala for the 75th anniversary of the Royal Ballet that was also part of the celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II’s 80th birthday. Security was higher at the Opera House (sniffer dogs and policemen) though I practically walked right in. The Queen arrived last to the Royal box – which is in the Grand Tier on house right – the large box that is third from the stage. It was decorated with her herald and a large garland of flowers. The assembly stood as she entered; the orchestra played “God Save the Queen” and we sat after she was seated. From my vantage point in the Stalls Circle I could see her enter and sit - people to my right could not see her at all. She’s in millions of photos, and as is no surprise, she looks like her pictures. Another way to mark an American – I did know the etiquette on what to do when royalty attends an opera house (in 2000 I was caught unawares when Queen Margrethe attended the Bournonville Festival in Copenhagen. "Why is everyone standing? OH!!") but the only words I know to that anthem are “My country, ‘tis of thee . . .”

After the gala (Carlos Acosta can certainly work up a stir. He outdid himself in the Corsaire pas de deux with astounding elevation) Monica Mason led the assembled company and school in what I thought might be a formal defilé but was a modest and charming moment. “Your Majesty, we have danced for you tonight. Now we would like to sing for you.” And they sang "Happy Birthday, Your Majesty."

The Queen has a Queenmobile – it’s assumedly a Rolls Royce (but it may be a Bentley – I don’t know car grilles by sight) with her insignia on the roof, and the insignia is lit. Had she been driven in New York, it most resembles a taxi light both in size and placement. Someone probably would have tried to hail it.

Posted by Leigh Witchel at June 9, 2006 4:20 AM

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I saw the Queen when she was here last summer -- twice! She seems to be a very nice lady, and does her job without complaint. I heard Prince Philip give a talk several years ago, and he has a very sharp sense of humour. Quite a nice man too. Sounds like you had fun in London!! But it will be good to be home.

Posted by: Tallguy at June 16, 2006 5:10 AM

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