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Champagne commentary marks the Queen’s last event.

Like many, I was saddened by the death of Queen Elizabeth II, and the end of an era, but I mostly avoided the somewhat overwrought media about it in the days that followed.

It hadn’t occurred to me to watch her funeral, so I was surprised when a friend texted and asked if she could come over to my place and watch it together.

I made pasta and she brought a bottle of champagne, but the interesting thing was that she is a former editor of the Australian Women’s Weekly, so she was completely, and I mean completely, invested.

We had to switch channels and listen for a while until she decided she liked the BBC accents best. It was like having my own royal commentator.

Her vast knowledge of all the tiny details surrounding the royal family brought out my inner republican, so it was quite the night.

No place for fashion police

Nothing quite unites two mature women watching a royal event than when Kate, the Princess of Wales and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex appear.

No one should really be taking on the role of fashion police at a funeral, and they both looked magnificent: Kate in a wide-brimmed hat with veil, sharply tailored coat and the beautiful pearl and diamond necklace  worn by both the Queen and Princess Diana before her, and Meghan in a caped dress and hat that dipped over one eye.

I noticed some critics on Twitter remark that it was bad form to wear no sleeves at a funeral, but one wit quickly replied: “Meghan is American, and they have the right to bare arms”.

My friend and I oohed and aahed over the precious stones in the crown, (some of which were ostensibly “stolen” from India and under dispute) but the most interesting aspect among all this pomp and pageantry was the millinery.

Yeoman Warders, commonly known as Beefeaters, with their red, blue and white rosettes.

From the chic hats worn by female attendees at Westminster, the black toppers of the Yeoman Warders (Beefeaters) with their red, white and blue silk rosettes, the Soldiers of the Life Guards with 43-centimetre white plumes in their helmets, to the flat discs of the sailors’ hats marching in formation around the coffin that looked so splendid shot from above.

“I wonder what they make the bearskin hats out of now?” said my friend, as we noted the tall black hats of the Royal Guards.

Real bearskins from Canada

As it happens, they are still made of real bearskins, imported from Canada, much to the consternation of animal activists, and a matter that was debated in British Parliament earlier this year with no outcome.

One of the best hats belongs to the general officer’s full dress. It is black and adorned with a white plume that curves jauntily over the crown, and of course, the marvellous feathered bonnet of the full dress Royal Regiment of Scotland, which to my mind is preferable to skinning bears.

The intricacy of royal and military regalia could be likened to French haute couture. But to my mind, the uniforms on show at the funeral came with even more heritage, a sense of arcane magic. I’m glad we watched it.



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