Peter Rhodes on curious notes, improving Shakespeare and the arrival of Queen Camilla

Mel Gibson as Hamlet

But the sender had earlier sent a long, friendly and thoughtful note on the late Queen’s death: “For many decades Elizabeth II rightfully enjoyed the love and respect of all her subjects, and the stature on the international scene. I wish you courage and perseverance in the face of this heavy and irreparable loss.

Who was the sender of these good feelings? It was Vladimir Putin.

These are two noteworthy ratings, given that Putin’s army is currently being hammered by missiles and rockets supplied by His (now Her) Majesty’s government. What is going on in the head of the Russian president?

That’s not the kind of greeting you send to an enemy. Yet these are precisely the kind of notes that might be sent by a dictator whose soldiers are retreating, whose political enemies are rallying, whose town councilors openly accuse him of treason – the kind of dictator who, in the of a peace agreement, could soon be looking for some friends and a bolthole. Asylum in London for Poutines?

Meanwhile, most of the media behaves by referring to Camilla as “Queen Consort”. I suspect that over time we’ll just drop “Consort”. The Daily Telegraph, that bastion of the Establishment, once used “Queen Camilla” as a headline.

Somewhere, probably in a file at Balmoral or Buckingham Palace, will be the last document ever signed by the Queen. If it ever came to auction, how many millions would it bring?

Saying goodbye to his mother, King Charles invoked Shakespeare, bringing Horatio’s words to the dying Hamlet. It’s the play’s obvious closing line, but Shakespeare inexplicably throws it away by following it with several tidying up speeches before the curtain falls. In Mel Gibson’s 1990 version of Hamlet, these tedious speeches are dropped and the film ends poignantly with Horatio’s heartbroken sobs: “Goodnight, sweet prince – and flights of angels sing to thee to rest.” Perfect.

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