Thursday, 9 May 2019

Brexit Britain, though convulsed in political crisis, is still a country where old men of Merit can have a peaceful luncheon with their Sovereign at Windsor Castle

These old men and women were gathered together this week to sit down to luncheon with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor Castle. Apart from the fact that they are all white, they have something else in common : they are all recipients of the Order of Merit. The decoration, has been awarded to them in the past by the Queen as citizens who have provided service of 'exceptional distinction' to their country in the Arts, Learning, Sciences and other areas, such as Public Service. The Order is restricted to a maximum of 24 living recipients from the Commonwealth realms and a limited number of honorary members.

In the assembly, seated from left to right are :
Grand Old Man of Natural history Television Broadcasting : David Attenborough (93)
Investment banker and Philanthropist of the Arts : Jacob Rothschild (83)
Distinguished Mathematical Physicist : Professor Roger Penrose (87)
The Duke of Edinburgh (97)
Queen Elizabeth (93)
Celebrated Architect : Norman Foster (83)
August playwright : Tom Stoppard (81)
Ex- and, to date only, female Speaker of the House of Commons : Betty Boothroyd (89)
Ex-Anglican, Archbishop of Armagh : Robin Eames (83)

Standing in the back row :
Ex- Head of the Department of Engineering Cambridge : Prof Ann Dowling (66)
Prince of Painters : David Hockney (81)
Ex-Director of the British Museum : Neil MacGregor (72)
Inventor of the World Wide Web : Tim Berniers (63)
The Astronomer Royal : Martin Rees (76)
Ex-Prime Minister of Canada : Jean Chr├ętien (85);
Ex-Prime Minister of Australia : John Howard (79)
Professor of Heart Surgery at Imperial College London : Professor Magdi Yacoub (83)
Ex-Private Secretary to the Queen : Robin Fellowes (77)

If the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen and the Prime Ministers of Canada and Australia are subtracted, the remaining 14 old Brits have a collective age of 1117 years.

One of the most memorable events of the meeting was when the royal couple were photographed speaking with their guests and the Queen commented on the recent arrival of her great-grandchild, Archie. "Life is good for Your Majesty?" asked Jean Chr├ętien. "Yes, thank you," she replied. "Another great grandchild" he continued. "How many of them have you got now?"
"Eight", she said.

Brexit Britain, a country where, within the ranks of the Establishment all is well and as it should be, as indeed it was a century ago when King George V and Queen Mary were on the throne in 1919.

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