Well, given the day that’s in it, I thought I finish a fine evening with something both conversational and (hopefully) enlightening… So here’s a little interlude with ‘Her Madge’, as she’s never quite been reported before, by the one time London Editor of the Irish Press, Des Fisher:
About number seven came “Desmond Fisher of the Irish Press, Dublin, Ma’am.”
“Oh, an Irishman.”
“Yes, Ma’am. And when are you going to come over to Ireland?” It wasn’t deliberate. Without thinking, I had broken the code. Her majesty did not seem at all put out. I did not bother to look at the flunkey for his reaction.
“Oh, I’d love to come to Ireland. How do you think I would be received?”
I was off. I told her that, in my opinion, the great majority would welcome her despite the present problems. Of course, there was a minority that would disapprove. And undoubtedly there would be some danger from a very few. But had not her sister (the late Princess Margaret) been in Ireland very recently and didn’t she like it?
Her majesty had seemed to have been going through the motions with my earlier colleagues. On occasions like these, she gives the impression of being rather vague and not quite knowing what it is all about. As soon as she began to talk about Ireland, she seemed to relax and become an ordinary human and not a sort of pasteboard automaton.
“Yes, indeed,” she said. “Margaret told me all about it. She enjoyed Birr Castle immensely. She had a marvellous time there and she loved Ireland. She said it was great to feel so free.”
“That’s good, Ma’am,” I replied. “Well, does that mean you might soon follow?” The animation in her face drained away. She straightened up and tucked her handbag closer under her arm. Somewhat wistfully she replied: “It is not something I can decide very easily. I would have to take whatever advice I am given at the time about going. So I’ll have to wait and see. But I would like to come to Ireland some day. Thank you.”
Her majesty gave me a nice smile and passed on.