The Queen's Middle-East trade mission

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by Barry Everingham

The Queen of Australia has been on trade mission to some of the Gulf States where in deference to her Arab hosts her hands arms shoulders neck and ankles were covered. Barry Everingham reports.

AS USUAL the trip is billed as a state visit, but don’t be fooled by that — she’s on a mission selling Britain and British goods; the word “Australia” will not pass her lips.

Another reason why our current ridiculous Constitution which gives us this outdated and outmoded system needs correcting.

Queen dresses appropriately during a visit to a mosque

I happened to be the only Australian reporter accredited to cover the first royal visit to the Gulf States in 1979. It was an incredible experience and I was given an unparallel insight into how these trade missions operate.

Like the current visit it was all about British trade and British expertise.

The then  Labor Government of Britain subjected the Queen to an embarrassing request from the royal family of Saudi Arabia — for her to meet the then king of the desert kingdom she needed to be made into an honorary gentleman!

So did her two ladies in waiting — the Duchess of Grafton and Lady Susan Hussey. What they and their boss thought of the charade was never revealed; well not publicly. When my memoirs are published all will be revealed.

As is the custom the Queen gave her hosts gifts –in return to those she received. By the time the trade mission was completed the royal yacht Britanniawas practically sinking under the weight of the gifts she received from the local princes.

Gold handbags, urns brimming with priceless jewels, lapis lazuli fruit stands with prancing gold horses encrusted with diamonds — to name just a few.

And what did she give them?

A framed picture of her and Philip and a very ordinary silver tray!

By the way all members of the media party were given a Longines watch.

The Queen enjoys gossiping; she told a guest at a banquet she gave on the yacht: I was speaking to mummy last night (the Queen Mother) and she said the Customs strike was still on. She said her mother went on: good news for some, I thought, with their nice presents!

So the Australian head of state is again on the move promoting trade — with Great Britain!

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