LONDON (Reuters) - “OK, fire up the Bentley. Let’s rock.”
Thus tweeted “Elizabeth Windsor”, comic online alter ego of the Queen, as the flesh-and-blood monarch was about to depart Buckingham Palace on Tuesday morning for a solemn church service to mark her Diamond Jubilee.
It was a typical tweet from the spoof Twitter account @Queen_UK, which has attracted close to 800,000 followers with its running commentary on current affairs from a virtual queen with a razor-sharp wit and a penchant for gin.
As the British media provided around-the-clock coverage of the diamond jubilee, a four-day extravaganza of pageantry and pop music celebrating the real Queen Elizabeth’s 60 years on the throne, @Queen_UK also went into overdrive.
“No Philip, you’re not going dressed as Colonel Gaddafi and that’s the end of it,” was one tweet that appeared just before Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, were scheduled to sail down the Thames with a 1,000-strong flotilla on Sunday.
The real identity of the fake Elizabeth Windsor is not known publicly.
While TV commentators were waxing lyrical about the 86-year-old monarch’s fortitude as she stood for hours on a barge under pouring rain, the Twitter queen was giving her impressions in a rather more deadpan style.
“It is hard to defend the faith in this weather,” she said.
Among many other titles, Queen Elizabeth is known as “Defender of the Faith”.
As the slow-moving event unfolded over four cold and wet hours, the online queen parted company with the reverential TV commentary.
“Starting to wonder if we really needed 1,000 boats,” was one tweet. A few minutes later came this one: “More boats?! Really?!” And finally: “Tell one this is the last sodding boat.”
The following day, the highlight of the celebrations was an outdoor concert in front of Buckingham Palace. While the all-star line-up were receiving rave reviews across the media, Twitter’s Elizabeth Windsor covered the event in her own style.
“Sixty years of reign and they give one Jessie sodding J,” was what she had to say about the British pop singer Jessie J, who appeared towards the beginning of the show.
“One has had nowhere near enough gin to go out there and watch JL bloody S,” she railed as the boy band JLS strutted their stuff.
“Crikey, Pavarotti’s lost weight,” she commented as English tenor Alfie Boe took centre stage.
Veterans like Cliff Richard and Paul McCartney were not spared the acerbic comments. “If Cliff Richard sings more than one song tonight one’s going to have him de-knighted,” was one of several unflattering tweets.
The queen of micro-bloggers was quick to react when American performers, perhaps confused about the meaning of diamond jubilee, wished Queen Elizabeth a happy birthday.
“It’s not one’s Birthday. Awkward,” she said when U.S. rapper Will.i.am was the first to commit the faux pas.
“Jesus, this is awkward,” said a later tweet when Motown legend Stevie Wonder also fell into the trap. Then came signs of exasperation: “Yes, Diamond Jubilee. Not Birthday. Are we clear now?”
The following morning, the solemnity of St Paul’s Cathedral provided more inspiration for the cheeky online royal.
“Dumbledore’s on,” she tweeted as the bearded Archbishop of Canterbury began his sermon. Albus Dumbledore is a fictional school headmaster in the Harry Potter wizarding series.
“He’s rather good isn’t he? One does hope he’ll do more Harry Potter films.”
Later, the genuine queen paraded through London in a horse-drawn carriage, cheered on by huge crowds waving flags. From Twitter came the complaint that “this carriage plays havoc with one’s arse”.
Then came the emotional climax of the jubilee, when hundreds of thousands of admirers cheered Queen Elizabeth and her closest relatives as they stood on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. The crowd belted out a rousing “God Save the Queen”, the British national anthem which includes the lyric “Send her victorious, happy and glorious”.
This, at last, seemed to please the merciless queen of tweets: “Send one victorious!”
Still, it was a relief to withdraw from the glare of the cameras into the privacy of the palace once it was all over. Said Elizabeth Windsor: “Gin O‘Clock!”