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I may be a lot of things, but a royalist I am not. Neither am I interested in the latest gossip about Fergie’s weight problems, nor about the length of Charles’ tampons. However, it seems (judging from the last sentence) that I have had my share of royal input over the last years, and inevitably part of that input was about the Prince of Wales’ former wife. I was completely astonished at the time at how long and how extremely this dominated the media, and after watching Stephen Frears’ latest production, I come to the conclusion that I may have had this in common with Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II herself. It took me exactly 10 seconds to completely believe the characters (maybe not caring too much about them and hence not knowing them too well helps with this), and even if Hellen Mirren is  much too young and Queen Mum much too, say, robust, there was no doubt that I was invited to become an intimate part of their royal chores. They appear to be watching a lot of tv, have their hobbies such as hunting and talking bad about relatives, enjoying their one-liners and wondering about why the rest of the world can possibly be as ignorant as it is.

A newly-elected Tony Blair shooting star  (with his trademark fake grin, switching it on and off like Batman’s Joker) jumping into this and helping out with some fundamental ideas about how to simulate humaneness must have come as quite a disturbance. That he himself basically reacts to the electrical pinpricks of his spin doctor without himself appearing to be much more than a dish-washing, Ikea tray carrying and Everton-(I hope I got that right) jersey wearing regular household accessory does not matter: it’s the facade that counts, be it in the form of a “flag” at half-mast, or some catch-phrases for the press (“She was the people’s princess.”) He is the natural ally for a Prince of Wales who does not have the guts to modernise royal procedures, but dances around the concept of modernisation like around a golden … horse, in that case.

The cast is all brilliant, honorary mention for Prince Philip (is that the Queen’s husband’s name?), whom I recently forgot to praise for “The Green Mile”, but who has this sadness about his looks which enriches every role he plays, and the beasty Queen-husband with his snotty side-comments in particular.  Whenever he is “on camera” (in the British media, that is), you can read a whole book in his face, entitled “How do I get out of here?” It seems to suggest that that guy despite everything has a human side? A lovely family soap opera, all in all, with excellent actors and a good and tender humour.

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