A right royal eyeful

Buckingham Palace stands sturdy and resolute as the centrepiece of episode 1 of The Queen's Palaces.

The BBC's grandly royal show, in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year, affectionately strokes the institution of monarchy as it opens its stately homes for a public viewing.

Oh, but how regal they are.

Buckingham Palace is just the start, when the show begins on Prime on June 7.

Future episodes will reveal the art, the architecture, and the stories behind the fabulous Windsor Castle and the quite terrific Holyroodhouse.

But the most fabulous shimmering diamond that sparkles from The Queen's Palaces is not the buildings themselves. It is British journalist, newsreader and television presenter Fiona Bruce.

We meet her as she strides up the steps of some palace or other.

We see her standing tall and statuesque as the Romanesque columns in the background, as the camera pauses gently and lovingly on her businesslike black high heels, before panning up, up her sturdy calves, and onward to her strong utilitarian knees.

It does not stop there.

Northwards it travels, relentless and unstoppable, before two inches up we see the hemline of that blue silk extravaganza that clothes this English rose, and a deeply pleasing single-frame flash of inner thigh.

Onward and up the sturdy frame does the camera continue, stopping briefly to catch its breath as her dark, sensibly cut hair tickles and caresses her pale but elegant neck.

And then ... the cheekbones, the strong delicately chiselled chin, the angular yet austere nose, the eyes ... the eyes ... But where was I?

Buckingham Palace, of course, is the official London residence and office of the British Monarch, located in the City of Westminster.

The focus for British people at times of national rejoicing and crisis, the building was originally a large townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1705, on a site that had been in private ownership for at least 150 years.

Fiona Bruce, who was wonderful on Antiques Roadshow and fabulous in anything else she has been in, tells us all this.

She gesticulates, using those slender, yet persuasive hands to explain everything we need to know.

And yet Fiona's deep, authoritative, yet silken voice transports us to the past.

Breathless with the desire for information we hang off every word of that wonderful woman who studied French and Italian at Hertford College, Oxford.

She has even interviewed French and Italian art experts in their own languages.

How absolutely wonderful - intelligent: interesting; gorgeous; desirable; statuesque.

The Queen's Palaces.

It's a show about buildings.


- Charles Loughrey



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