Peter Rhodes on curious notes, improving on Shakespeare and the arrival of Queen Camilla

The first diplomatic Tweet to arrive in King Charles III's in-tray was brief but warm: “Please accept my sincere congratulations on your accession to the throne. I wish Your Majesty success, good health and all the best.”

Mel Gibson as Hamlet
Mel Gibson as Hamlet

But then the sender had earlier sent a long, friendly and well-considered note on the late Queen's death: “For many decades, Elizabeth II rightfully enjoyed the love and respect of all her subjects, as well as stature in the international arena... I wish you courage and perseverance in the face of this heavy, irreparable loss.”

Who was the sender of these kind sentiments? It was Vladimir Putin.

They are two remarkable notes, given that Putin's army is currently being hammered by missiles and rockets supplied by Her (now His) Majesty's Government. What is going on in the Russian president's mind?

These are not the sort of greetings anyone sends to an enemy. They are, however, precisely the sort of notes that might be sent by a dictator whose soldiers are retreating, whose political enemies are gathering, whose home-town councillors are openly accusing him of treason – the sort of dictator who, as part of a peace deal, might soon be looking for a few friends and a bolt-hole. Asylum in London for the Putins?

Meanwhile, most of the media is behaving itself in referring to Camilla as “Queen Consort.” I suspect in time we will simply drop “Consort.” The Daily Telegraph, that bastion of the Establishment, has already used “Queen Camilla” in a headline.

Somewhere, probably in a file at Balmoral or Buckingham Palace, will be the final document ever signed by the Queen. If it ever came up for auction, how many millions would it fetch?

Bidding goodbye to his mother, King Charles invoked Shakespeare, taking Horatio's words to the dying Hamlet. It is the obvious closing line for the play but Shakespeare inexplicably throws it away by following it with several tidying-up speeches before the curtain falls. In the 1990 Mel Gibson version of Hamlet, those dull speeches are dropped and the movie ends poignantly with the heartbroken Horatio sobbing: “Good night, sweet prince - and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.” Perfect.

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