Joanna Lumley appeared on This Morning today and spoke about her new book A Queen for All Seasons about Queen Elizabeth II.
In it, she shares first hand encounters with the Queen ahead of her Platinum Jubilee next year. She also spoke about a meeting with Princess Anne, which didn’t go as smoothly as she’d hoped.
Describing the book, Joanna told hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby that it’s a ‘compilation’.
“It’s like a bouquet which I’m handing from the nation, from the world to Her Majesty, saying, ‘Look your Majesty, this is what everyone thinks of you. It’s all compiled into this book, made into different themes – it’s not a history book, it’s not a probe into her life. It’s reflections of the Queen from all different parts and it builds up the most fantastic character in the centre of it.
“Here’s somebody we all know so well but don’t really know.”
On watching the succession to the throne when she was a little girl, Joanna said,
“We were miles away in far away Malaysia. I didn’t really know England at all. Suddenly you see these rain-lashed grey streets, this gorgeous golden carriage and crowns and the splendour of it and the sound of the bells and people shouting and in the middle of it – this little figure of the Queen. It was bewitching, like a fairy story.
“The Queen has kept it as a fairy story as she’s never, ever failed us. All things have come crashing down and burnt and disappeared, but the Queen is the constant – a figurehead to our country. She’s kept the commonwealth going, this feeling of brotherhood around the world.”
Speaking about meeting the Queen, Joanna said,
“I was given the OBE and I was told where to go and how to walk and you kind of go, ‘It’ll be okay’ but of course, when you get there, you’re kind of thinking, ‘Left, right, left, right, hold the hand,’ so I met her then. But I’ve met her since then. One of my favourite times was when a friend of mine called Pete Goss was launching a big new ship by the Tower of London and the Queen was going to name it. I’d named his earlier ship. I was standing in line and she only knew me as an actress. She said, ‘What are you doing here?’ And I said, ‘Because because because’ and she said, ‘Oh I see.’ And you suddenly realise, we’re watching the Queen, but she’s watching us.”
“We’ve got some terribly touching stories, which seem like private stories. One I love is a man called David Nott who had been out in Syria and seen the most catastrophic things. He was at a lunch with the Queen, she gives them sometimes, and they’re very intimate, I’ve been to one. And they’re thrilling – it’s quite small and wonderful. He was sat to her left and during pudding, she turned to him and said, ‘Where have you come from?’ And everything came rushing back and he couldn’t speak, he was slightly deaf from the explosions in that war-torn country.
“The Queen noticed this – she opened up a box that had biscuits in it – she snapped it in half and she said, ‘These are for the dogs.’ The corgis were under the table and they bent down, fed the dogs and spoke about the dogs. He didn’t have to speak at all and she said, ‘There, that’s better than talking, isn’t it?’ So touching, so sensitive.”
On meeting Princess Anne in Wales at a children’s charity event, Joanna said,
“She’s very astute and wildly clever and she notices everything. I was talking too much, and somebody came round with a plate of chocolate biscuits. Because I’m senior to Princess Anne in age, nothing else, I would talk talk talk and I got the biscuit just up to about there and I saw her looking, I put it back, having breathed on it. She gave me a bit of a look.”
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