The end of the Second Elizabethan Age, the end of an incredible week in our country’s history, the end of a time that none of us will ever forget.
Especially Holly and Phil, the ITV daytime television hosts who have gone from heroes to zeros, from morning-sofa messiahs to stone-cold pariahs in less than seven days. Their crime? To skip the queue. I know! They skipped the queue to see the Queen lying in state at Westminster.
In this country, queue-skipping carries a maximum penalty of six years in celebrity jail, plus cancellation of upcoming panto appearances and any ancillary money-making schemes.
Will Holly Willoughby’s fans ever feel quite the same way again about paying forty quid for a bottle of her Wild perfume, with its top notes of shame and embarrassment?
Can Phillip Schofield really carry on being ‘one of this country’s most loved television presenters’ as it says on, um, his own official website? Will the pair of them really be sacked?
I hope not. Come on. Millionaire celebrities don’t queue for anything in this forsaken world.
Yet the sight of Phil and Holly grovelling for condolences of their own, alongside panicky explanations that they only skipped the queue on behalf of ‘the millions of people in the UK who haven’t been able to visit Westminster in person’ has been an unexpected shaft of joy in a sombre week.
We all needed a good laugh and boy did this pair of dopes deliver. Still, it got me thinking. Let’s not be petty. Let’s focus on the big picture instead.
In Britain, the death of our monarch brought much national sorrowing and mourning, but it also brought a tidal swell of pride and patriotism, too. Yes, there is much to be sad about, but there is so much more to be glad about. So here is my story of glory, an A-Z review of a week that reminded us all exactly why Britain is so great.
Especially Holly and Phil, the ITV daytime television hosts who have gone from heroes to zeros, from morning-sofa messiahs to stone-cold pariahs in less than seven days. Pictured: Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield at Westminster Hall
Will the pair of them really be sacked? I hope not. Come on. Millionaire celebrities don’t queue for anything in this forsaken world. Pictured: The long-term hosts on This Morning yesterday
A is for autumn, which has arrived with the apple harvest — what could be lovelier? My favourite varieties are the Blushing Holly and the Crimson Phil. Some say these apples are rotten to the core and that they give everyone the pip — but don’t you understand? They were only in the media queue, not the VIP queue, fools. And they were only doing it for you.
B is for Balmoral, which might now be turned into a tourist attraction. Surely that should put a smile on Nicola Sturgeon’s wintry wee face? Get behind me in the queue (not that dread word again!) for The Queen’s Electric Fire Sitting Room, the Cherie Blair Memorial Pregnancy Bedroom and The Breakfast Room where Fergie had to face the family wrath following the toe-sucking revelations.
C is for Center Parcs. On the day of the Queen’s funeral, the holiday resort company went mad and ordered all paying guests to leave their accommodation at 10am and return the next day at 4pm. Following understandable uproar, they then allowed guests to stay, but only if they remained indoors and didn’t smile as a mark of respect. The only people exempt from the rule were Phil and Holly, who didn’t even have to wait in line at the Pancake House. ‘We’re eating pancakes on behalf of the millions of people in the UK who can’t eat pancakes in person,’ explained Holly.
D is for Domino’s Pizza. On Tuesday the company tweeted: ‘Apologies to anyone waiting on their pizza, we’ve just received an order from Holly and Phil.’ They weren’t the only corporates getting in on the chuckle act. Tourist attraction The London Dungeon have just issued a new ‘Holly & Phil’ queue jump pass for ‘people who are too good to queue’.
Meanwhile, online trolling was abundant. One meme had Phil shoving aside passengers queuing for the Titanic lifeboats (‘I’ve got a VIP pass’), while another showed Holly in a wheelchair trying to game her way to the front of the Alton Towers queue.
D is for Domino’s Pizza. On Tuesday the company tweeted: ‘Apologies to anyone waiting on their pizza, we’ve just received an order from Holly and Phil.’
E is for Emma, the Queen’s pony. Just like the surge of electricity on the National Grid when the kettle is put on during television ad breaks, there was a surge of tears on the National Emotional Grid when Emma appeared to say goodbye to HM at Windsor. ‘I think she probably had some sort of sixth sense that Her Majesty wouldn’t be riding her any more and she did her proud by standing there so respectfully,’ said head groom Terry Pendry.
If you know another show pony with a lovely mane who didn’t wait quite so respectfully for the Queen this week, write her name here: H O _ _ Y.
F is for fighting back, which is what Holly and Phil have been doing all week. ITV released a statement clarifying that their highly paid stars were at Westminster in a professional capacity with ‘press accreditation’. They insisted: ‘They did not file past the Queen’s coffin’ and that ‘any allegations of improper behaviour are categorically untrue’. The duo also released a statement claiming that they ‘understood’ the anger people felt, but said they went for everyone who ‘couldn’t go’.
G is for ‘go’, see above. Music festival fans are thrilled that Holly and Phil are also going to provide this service at Glastonbury next year when the queue for the Portaloos gets too much at peak times. ‘We are going to go for everyone who can’t go,’ they said in another joint statement.
H is for Harry and Meghan, who have returned to California with much food for thought. And once they have digested this week’s events, what happens next will set the tone for transatlantic royal relations for the next decade, if not for ever. Will they carry on acting like a pair of spoilt Cinderellas who just had the cherry nicked off their second slice of cake? Or has the sombre majesty and precision-drilled pageantry of the past week made them understand their roles at last? We will find out soon enough.
E is for Emma (pictured), the Queen’s pony. Just like the surge of electricity on the National Grid when the kettle is put on during television ad breaks, there was a surge of tears on the National Emotional Grid when Emma appeared to say goodbye to HM at Windsor
H is for Harry and Meghan (pictured), who have returned to California with much food for thought
I is for the person in the queue who is you.
J is for Major Johnny Thompson, the handsome equerry who was such a hit performing his ceremonial duties this week. Should there be a queue to lie in a state alongside Johnny, please know I am not the sort of woman who would jump that queue.
K is for Kirsty Young. ‘She made history, she was history,’ said Young during her BBC broadcast from Windsor. It was the perfect, pithy quote that best summed up the Queen.
L is for Liz Truss. Someone needs to have an urgent word with her about her official wardrobe. Was her bargain-rail funeral dress with its front and back slits entirely appropriate? And I wish she’d invest in what the Queen’s dresser would call ‘proper corsetry’. More sartorial horror ensued during her visit to the UN in New York this week, where the PM wore a dark wrap dress, bare English legs and pointed nude kitten heels to meet President Macron. Mrs Thatcher must be spinning in her Aquascutum tweeds.
M is for meltdown, which is what everyone is having.
N is for names. Back at Queuegate, more than 50,000 people have signed a petition for Holly and Phil to lose their jobs. Oh come off it. Perhaps they made a mistake, but they don’t deserve that. If This Morning fans think this is the worst way celebrities use their leverage, they are very much mistaken.
O is for over. Is it over yet? Not quite.
P is for pallbearers, the real heroes of the week. There is something about their shuffling endeavour, their step-by-step progress in the face of peril and hazard that sums up the dogged British spirit. All it would take is one stumble — and the outcome would be too terrible to contemplate. Just thinking about it must surely make them wake up screaming. What do pallbearers have nightmares about, I wonder? They probably have nightmares about being Holly and Phil.
Q is for queue, both the noun and the verb. Queueing is something so very dear to the British psyche and heart. We lead the world in standing behind others — always have done, mate, always will. In this, we are nothing if not versatile. We champion the single-file format along with the solitary line that breaks into multiple strands, should we ever find ourselves in front of several kiosks or tills. We are a river, flowing into a delta; we are the stem that branches into many blooms.
P is for pallbearers, the real heroes of the week. There is something about their shuffling endeavour, their step-by-step progress in the face of peril and hazard that sums up the dogged British spirit
Queueing is something so very dear to the British psyche and heart. We lead the world in standing behind others — always have done, mate, always will. Pictured: Mourners queue to see the Queen lying in state
Seconds after the queue to see the Queen lying in state opened, there was a ticketing system in place, ropes erected, zigzag tracks laid down, numbers and names taken. Did anyone break that sacred system? You tell me.
R is for regret. Phil and Holly have a few. But then again, too few to mention. They did what they had to do. They saw it through with quite a large exemption, actually. They planned each charted course. Each careful step along the queue byway. And more. Much more than this. They queued their way.
S is for Small Pleasures. A biscuit with a cup of tea. The crunch of leaves underfoot. And Eamonn Holmes making the most of Holly and Phil’s discomfort. ‘They said they didn’t get a fast track — lie. They said they didn’t pay their respects to the body — lie. What else were they there for? I mean, let’s just tell the truth about the whole thing,’ he fumed on GB News. Delicious.
T is for Telling the Truth. It is also for Telling the Bees. Let us also celebrate other seasonal British rituals, such as Turning on the Heating. Turning on the Big Light. Turning off This Morning With Phil And Holly.
U is for uproar.
R is for regret. Phil and Holly have a few. But then again, too few to mention. They did what they had to do. They saw it through with quite a large exemption, actually
V is for VIPs who did queue. Including David Beckham, Susanna Reid, James Blunt and his wife Sofia Wellesley. Line of Duty actor Daniel Mays described the experience as ‘magical’ and said it ‘made me proud to be British and proud to be a Londoner’.
W is for waiting. For days, we were waiting for the special report on This Morning that was the reason for Holly and Phil jumping the Queen Elizabeth queue in the first place. ‘Here is this ever-moving line, which is in real contrast to the stillness of her,’ said Holly, putting on her best sadface. Was that it? I’m afraid so.
X, Y & Z
X marks the spot where the reputational rot set in, Y is for why oh why did this ever happen to them and Z is for zone, as in war zone. As Phil and Holly are now accredited journalists keen to bring the news from world hotspots on behalf of their viewers, can we expect to see them reporting from Kyiv next week? We’ll all be queueing around the block for that.