Harrington: The prize seats

Friday, 10th June


The new Lord Mayor of Westminster, Hamza Taouzzale, at the royal bash with Cllr Iman Less

THERE will be differences of opinion about the BBC’s party at the palace on Saturday evening, but there were several points where Harrington for one began to feel slightly sorry for the Windsors.

Locked into their seats in the name of the jubilee, maybe it was the point at which Jason Donovan brought back his Technicolor dream cloak for an unasked for revival, or possibly the sight of the now 41-year-old Craig David still “rapping” in his comfort tracksuit.

Truth be told, I have at times doubted the “they work very hard” line about the royals’ worth, but seeing them there, having to sing along to Rod Stewart raspily detonating Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline with their wired smiles and waving sandcastle union flags did seem like a hard slog. Pay them more.

Others will tell me such scorn is unwarranted and that this was the concert of a lifetime, capped perfectly by Diana Ross singing “you give me all the after midnight action/I want to get you where I can let you make all that love to me” (Chain Reaction, 1985) at the esteemed VIPs.

Btw, last year Prince Charles came up with a list of his favourite songs for the Hospital Broadcasting Association and it included The Three Degrees, Barbra Streisand – the dark horse likes the shouty chaos of Don’t Rain On My Parade – and Ross’s disco belter Upside Down. So seeing her in the flesh and definitely not miming must have been quite thrilling for the future king in the front row. “Oh mummy, she was brilliant,” the Queen will have learned at breakfast.

I digress, for it is the seating plan that we must mark for the records book. Royals in the front row, but right behind William, Kate, Prince George and Princess Charlotte (all of Cambridge) it was impossible not to spot the new Lord Mayor of Westminster, Hamza Taouzzale, and his council colleague, the newly elected Maida Vale councillor Iman Less.

Isn’t it something that Labour spent decades trying to winch the Conservatives from power in this borough, only to finally bust through just in time to be invited to such a high-profile event at Buckingham Palace? I shan’t take bets on the idea that one or two Conservatives, who may have assumed they would still be in control of Westminster’s ceremonial mayoralty for a few years yet and be called upon for such prestigious attendance, will have turned green with envy.

Four weeks in – and 22-year-old Hamza had a broad smile for most of the evening, sitting in seats that would have gone to the Tories if the jubilee had come a month or so earlier in 2022.

Certainly, the Daily Mail seemed irritated, swiftly reminding people that the mayor had once – wait for it – “appeared in a Stormzy video”.

Its ire was even more plain for Cllr Less, who has already apologised for once stupidly dashing a middle finger at the Crimean war memorial near Trafalgar Square. This, of course, had to all be reheated by them because she sat in the second row of the concert. Still, Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie had to make do with being back in the row behind. And in front, Charlotte seem more than happy with a little wave from Cllr Less before the show began.

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