You're never too old to rock a trend
LET'S get one thing out of the way. With the Australian half of my heart I'm a total republican. Australia's head of state should not be the monarch of a far-off realm who occasionally pops in for a visit.
For the purposes of this column, I am referring to her as an international celebrity, like any other, not to tug my forelock. But whatever your thoughts about Lizzie Windsor's role in regard to this great nation, on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee, you do have to admire her. Sixty bloody years of visiting factories and looking interested.
In my life as a journalist, I have had to visit the occasional cheese-making or olive-canning factory. Those are long, lost hours that will never be returned to me. Hours made more bitterly lost by having to wear a disposable paper mob cap and bootees during them.
Unlikely fashion icon
Queen Elizabeth II after horse, Balmoral Jingle comes first in the Ridden Mountain and Moorland event in the Frogmore Ring, Windsor Castle on May 14, 2005. Photo: Getty
I couldn't make myself look interested for five minutes on those tours, immediately descending into petulant remarks, or helpless giggles, if someone fun was on the press trip with me.
I'm not proud of my behaviour on factory tours. Yet QE2 has done it all this time, not to mention the hospital wing openings, the civic receptions, the formal dinners with dingo-breathed foreign heads of state, and all the rest.
Not only looking interested, but making it special for everyone she met along the way. A lifetime of small talk, never relieved by the sport of dropping an inappropriate remark just to see what happens.
Her majesty Queen Elizabeth last month. Photo: Getty Images
''I'd pay a lot of money to see Zac Efron naked,'' is one that has relieved many a dull evening for me. As has ''Do you think Nicolas Sarkozy wears his booster boots in bed?''
On top of all that, her majesty has never been outside without wearing hosiery. Well, maybe she doesn't wear them under her jodhpurs, but never to feel the swish of a summer dress against bare legs … That's my idea of a living hell.
Her entire life is spent trussed up in the kind of ''special occasion'' clothes the rest of us can't wait to rip off when we get home from the races, wedding or investiture. Even on holiday, at Balmoral, she has to wear an itchy kilt. In ''summer''.
As well as deep respect for this level of self discipline and stoicism, I have also come to admire the way she has found her look and stuck to it within all these constraints.
The helmet hairdo. The elbow-crook handbag. The dress with the coat. The tailored dress. Always in a bold colour so everyone can see the tiny figure bobbing among them. Always to exactly the same point below the knee, with variations on the same shoes.
In this outfit here, though, worn at the launch of some new book about Queen Victoria (where I would have hit the refreshments at a run), I reckon Queen Lizzie has taken it up a notch. She's so on trend with that floral print. Not only that, she's given it an edge with the hard shiny black bag and pumps. I could see Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in this outfit, if you added a pair of aviators.
So whatever you think of the concept of a monarchy - and I will certainly be slipping the Sex Pistols' version of God Save the Queen on to the playlist at my Jubilee lunch - do admit Elizabeth II has done a damn good job of it for the past six decades.
Long may she reign. In Britain.