Simon Carr:

The Sketch: The Queen's gentle dusting of humour outshone the Speaker, king of drivel

Vain, pretentious, the Speaker is in a new stage of development... he is a monarch in his own right


A body of ancient soldiers, the last of the Light Brigade perhaps, marched down the aisle behind the pikemen, who wore their pretty box hats gay with flowers. Tight black cavalry trousers, red tunics, gold frogging.

There are those who like to call it Ruritanian. But there are many little girls in modern Britain who have a princess inside them – the symbolism transcends politics.

The Queen's speech was a model of formal discourse, dusted gently with humour. That might be too strong a word for it. When she spoke of "the pleasurable duty of treating with 12 prime ministers" a ripple of contained laughter spread among the 1,600 parliamentarians and guests. Then: "Prince Philip is, I believe, well-known for declining compliments of any kind." Warm, slightly knowing laughter. Compare and contrast this with the Speaker of the House of Commons. He excelled himself. John Bercow is in a new stage of development. He is a monarch in his own right.

His subjects in the Commons supplicate his favour. He has manufactured a language to suit his position. It's a great pleasure for those of us who've long observed him. He started his address with something grand, sonorous: "Time also tells its own story." There are many things you can say about such a remark but the most obvious is: Time doesn't do any such thing, you nana. He also told Her Majesty: "You have allowed the times to move around the rest of society." This doesn't mean anything either. It's drivel.

He implied that the Britain of her youth was dull, drab, small and inferior – and that things had been much improved by the equalities agenda in which he had played such a prominent part. He then called her "a kaleidoscope Queen [tacky baubles reflected in glass to amuse children] in a kaleidoscope country in a kaleidoscope Commonwealth". That caused much spluttering at the back.

My favourites were the quotes from Gandhi, the dhoti-wearing anti-monarchist prophet of humility. The one who got the British out of India. Ideal candidate in the Speaker's Book of Quotations to pay the Queen a compliment. "If, as Gandhi asserted, 'the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others', then Your Majesty must have found Yourself countless times over the past six decades." Vanity, pretension, egotism, ignorance – how John Bercow delighted his critics!

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