POOR Quentin Bryce.
There she was at Yarralumla, enjoying her last afternoon tea. Colleen from facilities management had baked one of her famous marble cakes.
But someone was missing. Not her boss —it was too much to expect the Queen to come. But the presence of her immediate minion might have been nice.
Suddenly, with a crash, the doors burst open and in bustled Tony Abbot: “PMQs overran your excellency. Your son-in-law is, like, totes annoying. Questions, questions, questions.”
“No matter,” she muttered, shoving the last slice of marble cake in his direction. “Now, where’s my retirement carriage clock? I see no box.”
“Ah,” said Tony, as excitable as a puppy, “Forget about that. I’ve got you something absolutely tops as a parting gift.”
“Spill your guts Tone or I’ll sack your government. There’s still time.”
“My gift to you is — drum roll please — a knighthood! Ta dah! Arise Dame Bryce.”
Colleen let out a shriek and spilt her tea. Silence descended in the high-ceilinged reception room.
Even the kangaroos, scattered between the house and the lake, seemed to have stopped grazing and were now gazing in Tony’s directions.
“Ta dah?” said Tony again, in case the room hadn’t heard the first time around.
Quentin’s eyes narrowed. “So what you’re saying is, I’m not getting a carriage clock?”
It must have been difficult for the GG.
Her republican leanings are more than rumour, and yet she acquiesced to spending five years channelling a monarch, like some kind of regal John Edwards. And now she’s been saddled with a title forever connecting her to that faraway throne.
Commentators and politicians of all ilks were incredulous last week as the Prime Minister reinstated knighthoods to the Australian honours system.
Abbott had sent us into a “time warp”, said Bill Shorten. Knighthoods were “anachronistic”, said John Howard, while the Greens’ Adam Bandt compared their reintroduction to an episode of Game of Thrones.
But for all the cringing, I know a group of people who would surely covet this latest must have retro accessory — us.
The gays would go ga ga over a good old gong.
All that finery and frippery and bowing and curtseying — it’s so high camp. Like a cross between a Christmas pantomime and a ball in pre-revolutionary Paris. How marvellously spectacular.
Meanwhile, receiving one’s knighthood, at least at Buckingham Palace, has all the trappings of a typical evening down a gay bar.
You spend hours fretting over what you should wear.
You then stand around in a sweaty non air conditioned room with complete strangers except… oh yes, isn’t that the guy from the telly?
And, at some point, you’ll probably find yourself kneeling in front of an old queen.
No, there is a difference. You get a cup of tea and a sandwich after your knighthood.
In the UK, you can barely move for gay knights of the realm.
Since her coronation, the Queen’s been handing them out to her honourable homosexuals faster than Vladimir Putin can annex the territories of sovereign states.
Raconteur and all round musical wit, Noel Coward was an early nod to the gays by Her Maj.
And that Elton John is a sir, is no surprise.
Not only did he perform at Princess Diana’s funeral he also got civilly partnered at the same British town hall where Charles and Camilla got hitched.
Ian McKellen, the Shakespearean actor best known for playing Gandalf the Grey is also in the club.
Knighthoods are thinner on the ground, it seems, for gay women.
Your trusty reporter could only find Baroness Barker — a grande dame who came out last year in the Houses of Parliament while discussing the merits of same-sex marriage.
However, when it comes to the friends of the friends of Dorothy, there are richer pickings.
Welsh songstress and all-round diva, Shirley Bassey, is in the club as is Helen Mirren who was made a dame after her Oscar-winning role playing the Queen.
Although you can’t help thinking the real queen might have used the ceremony to have a quiet word in her ear: “Oi, Mirren, next time this sword won’t be landing gently on your shoulders.”
As for Australian recipients, we shouldn’t be surprised if Kylie soon becomes Dame Minogue of Erinsborough.
In Britain she is already an Officer of the British Empire, while solidly republican France has bestowed upon her the title of chevalier — otherwise translated as ‘knight’. So she’s kind of already made it.
However, a constitutional crisis looms if Barry Humphries is eventually knighted. Will Dame Edna Everage have to become Dame ‘Dame’ Edna (pictured)?
Four dames and sirs can be created each year, so which of our community’s most loyal citizens will get the call to Yarralumla?
Will we see Dame Mitzi Macintosh of Erskineville maybe? Should we be barracking for Lady Margolyes of Hogwarts? Or, Sir Mitcham of the Beijing pool perhaps?
What goes around comes around, they say, and now it’s the turn of knighthoods. But with many openly mocking Abbott’s embrace of old fashioned honours their time in the sun might be briefer than a gay marriage in Canberra.
So, Quentin, if you don’t want your title I know a dame or two on Sydney’s Oxford St who’d gladly take it off your hands.
10 Notable Nobilities:
Sir Elton John — Knighted by the Queen in 1998 for his work in raising funds to fight AIDS. In a civil partnership and with an adopted child he’s the very model of a modern homosexual.
Sir John Gielgud — UK actor and director whose career spanned eight decades. His fear that acting roles would dry up in the 1950s, following a homosexual offence conviction, were unfounded. He died at the age of 96 a year after his partner.
Baron Alli of Norbury — As if being a multi-millionaire media mogul and internet entrepreneur weren’t enough, Alli is also one of a very few openly-gay Muslim politicians. His picture hangs in London’s National Portrait Gallery.
Baroness Barker of Angach — Health spokesperson for the British Liberal Democrat party, Barker notably came out publically last year during the successful same sex marriage debate in the UK.
Lord Smith of Finsbury — In 1984, Smith was the first British politician to publicly proclaim his homosexuality and in 2005 the first to openly acknowledge his HIV positive status. During Tony Blair’s prime ministership Smith was minister for sport and culture.
Baron Browne of Madingley — One of the globe’s most successful gay business people, Browne was CEO of oil giant BP for almost two decades. In 2006, he opted to resign after allegations about his Canadian boyfriend were made public.
Sir Nicholas Hytner — Director of London’s National Theatre and theatre film and opera director behind hits such as Miss Saigon and The History Boys.
Baron Paddick of Brixton — Formerly one of London’s most senior policemen, openly gay Paddick twice stood for Mayor of London. Credited with starting a local program in South London that eventually led to the UK government reducing penalties for people found with cannabis on them.
Dame Helen Mirren — Award winning actor, who has played the Queen on several occasions, received a knighthood for services to theatre. Last year, Mirren said she thought the new Doctor Who should be a “gay, black female.” The role went to a straight white male.
Dame Nellie Melba —One of the most famous singers of the late Victorian era, Melba was the first Australian to achieve international success as a classical musician. Her legacy lives on through a series of desserts created for her in Paris.
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