Pomp gone awry amuses queen


Queen Elizabeth II dutifully sits through endless hours of displays of military pomp rehearsed to the second — and secretly loves it when everything goes wrong, Britain’s pageant master says.

Maj. Sir Michael Parker, who has spent 46 years producing grand events, told The Daily Telegraph newspaper that the sovereign is most amused when showpiece spectacles descend into calamity.

Parker, 71, has produced more than 320 events, including the 80th, 90th and 100th birthday celebrations for the monarch’s late mother and World War II victory celebrations.

Parker recalled the 1977 Silver Jubilee beacon-lighting in Windsor Great Park, west of London, which was his first national spectacular. He stuffed the beacon full of fireworks, as he worried that it might not catch light fast enough. The Royal Signals major who was positioned to press the detonator did so prematurely, with the fuse lit by the monarch still fizzing some 60 meters away.

“Can’t think why you bothered to ask me!” she laughed.

The sound system was failing and a deafening firework mortar then went off instead of a flare.

” ‘Your Majesty,’ I said, ‘I’m afraid it’s all going terribly wrong,’ ” Parker said. “Her face lit up. ‘Oh good,’ she said. ‘What fun!’ “