Perhaps The Queen follows Mayan culture. According to the calendar established by this ancient South American civilisation, the world is going to end on Friday.
As I understand it, the Mayan calendar spanned 5,125 years, and, when cross-referenced with our own Gregorian calendar, it means that time ends on 21 December 2012. There are seven million Maya in South America and elsewhere there is evidence that this rather dramatic prediction is being taken seriously: in Russia, there's been panic buying, and in China, dozens have been arrested for spreading apocalyptic rumours. Here in Britain, the head of state has decided that, if the world's going to end, she's not got much time to fulfil her "bucket list" – a programme of things to do before we shuffle off this mortal coil. You may quibble with a few entries on her list, one of which she fulfilled yesterday.
"I've always wanted to attend a meeting of my Cabinet," she is rumoured to have said over breakfast recently. "What a ghastly thought!" came the response from her husband.
"All those little grey men droning on in that bloody politically correct way of theirs, earnestly discussing stuff that has no relevance to us at all. I couldn't think of anything worse!"
But Her Majesty is nothing if not her own woman and so yesterday she became the first monarch since Queen Victoria to sit around the boat-shaped table at No 10 where the nation's policy is decided.
As a result she was able to put a big tick on her list, alongside her other items: appearing in a James Bond movie with Daniel Craig (they couldn't write a part for her in Skyfall so she had to make do with a cameo), shaking hands with Gary Barlow (she specifically requested that she didn't actually want to hear him singing), and travelling along the Thames in a gilded boat (unfortunately, she didn't stipulate that this was only to be undertaken in fine weather). But time is running out for her to complete the list. "I can't understand why you don't just do the things you know you like," said the Duke of Edinburgh. "Going to the races, for instance, or visiting Smythson, or buying a whole new collection of Tupperware."
But no. The Queen was insistent. Before it was too late, she said, she wanted fully to understand the workings of democracy.
And then she expressed a desire to experience some of the everyday obligations and frustrations of her subjects. So, straight after the Cabinet meeting, she was off to try and park anywhere near John Lewis, then she was going to attempt to change her mobile phone service provider and finally she went to a supermarket to try and operate the self-service check-outs.
There was indeed an unexpected item in the bagging area! Now there's not much left on her list. But just watch out for a spectator with a familiarly regal bearing at the Leeds v Chelsea match tonight.Reuse content