Margaret stands in for her big sister
at the Sovereign’s Parade at Sandhurst.
She would rather dance to her transistor
radio than stand stiff, with flu unnursed,
as newly-minted subalterns march past
stamping their polished boots. A cold wind blows
that makes her shiver with fever. Oh blast,
an unsightly dewdrop drips from her nose.
Photographers snap this unlikely gem
clinging like a stalactite to her beak.
She ignores the unwelcome diadem
as onlookers resist the urge to speak.
Afterwards she sips remedial wine
and decides royal duty is a swine.
Working as a news agency reporter in the early 1980s, I saw Princess Margaret take the salute during a Sovereign’s Parade at Sandhurst. She was nursing a heavy cold, but the royal trouper stuck to her guns rather than cry off.