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  • This was our day at Buckingham Palace when Prince Charles gave me an honour. I was flattered and rapidly seduced by all the pageantry. Any republican tendency swiftly evaporated in the face of so much lavish stately interior decoration and the beautiful Dutch Masters. Plus the really pleasant Palace stewards - everyone with a public school education and probably an Art History Degree, or at least a Diploma in English Charm. After a full hour of velvet glove handling - to get one hundred and twenty honour recipients into an orderly queue - we were snaked through lavish corridors of history and gilt for our private minute with his Highness in front of everyone.

    The Guards played English classics from a gallery in the Grand Ballroom. Guests whispered under a sea of fascinators and hats. A Gurkha stood to attention and an usher with a senior military title gestured for me to step up, bow and bask in the fabulous sincerity of the nation's heir. I noticed the way he was discretely briefed by a man holding a ring binder as we each stepped up. I marveled at these well tuned mechanics that gave him a salient fact for a meaningful chat, one hundred and twenty times in a row. Yet when it was my turn, and he said "...it's multimedia you do isn't it?" I just joyously thought "Oh... He knows me!', melted into my role as a grateful subject and beamed from ear to ear! What a lesson in the workings of pomp and pageantry - and how easy to go along with an honours system that's so aloof and irrelevant that it remains named after the British Empire!

    In the quadrangle we waited for the formal photos, and took our own - now that the ushers had let us have our iPhones back. Later in the cab after the Palace, the Prince, the Medal and Sushi in a restaurant that seemed to hover over the city, my mother called about the cat flap.
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