Just like when Paul Keating dared to place his dirty convict mitt on Queen Elizabeth’s royal back in 1992, another Australian leader has failed to adhere to protocol when dealing with her maj.
Today it was Julia Gillard. Failing to remember that the Queen is a living deity and therefore better than every other human being on the planet, Gillard refused to curtsey (gasp!) before the 85-year-old monarch in Canberra.
Such was the deliberate disresepect shown by the Australian PM, she is said to have had a “black mark” entered against her name – the English equivalent of an African voodoo curse in which the recipient is made to feel so bad about their misdemeanour that they eventually crawl away from their position of power, unable to imagine life without ever again having the gaze of generations of selective breeding cast upon them.
While it’s unknown if the Queen has yet managed to get over the emotion at being treated with such blatant disrespect (although as a Supreme Mortal Being she should not be too far away now) Gillard, compounding matters by having the temerity not to wear a hat in the presence of the godmother of the colonies, was forced to front up to the world’s media and announce that she respected and admired Old Liz.
However, it was not enough for royal ettiquette expert Jeann Broke-Smith, a woman so obsessed with the Windsor family she has spent her life following them around and making a living off their peculiar greeting habits.
“Women should know better,” she said of Gillard. “That is a real no-no. You always have to curtsey to the Queen. Sometimes, obviously for a man, you get to do a little bob of acknowledgement.
“But when you are meeting the Queen, as she takes your hand you shouldn’t look at her – you drop your eyes down and then you go down on a curtsey.”
June Dally-Watkins, an Australian etiquette expert (apparently you can’t be one without a double-barrelled name), said Ms Gillard’s “wobble” was shameful.
“I thought it was really hilarious and of course very rude,” Mrs Dally-Watkins told the ABC. “If she isn’t a royalist, it’s not a matter of that; it’s a matter of paying courtesy to a queen, to the Queen.”
Welsh-born, pro-republican Gillard was unrepentant about her greeting methods, however.
“The protocol advice to us was you either curtsey or you bow your head, you should do what you feel comfortable with,” she drawled. “I felt most comfortable with bowing my head and the Queen extended her hand and so, of course, I shook her hand.”
Later on, as Colonel Gaddafi was being killed in Libya in the day’s slice of actual news, a small five-year-old was roundly applauded for remembering to curtsey as the Queen cast a shadow across her.
Reports that the girl is now blessed and will lead a fulfilled and happy life as a result of the Queen’s pleasure at her deference and indoctrination are still unconfirmed.
As well as Keating’s 1992 gaffe (just where is he now, eh?), other powerful people, either ignorant or unafraid of the dreaded “black mark”, have also managed to offend the Queen.
Michelle Obama placed her arm around the Queen at a G20 reception at Buckingham Palace in 2009. And the Queen Mother was “mortified” when Cherie Blair failed to curtsey on the Blairs’ first visit to Balmoral in 1997.