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Reality TV?

Nick Robinson | 14:45 UK time, Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Drama it turns out can both eerily predict reality and occasionally get things ever so slightly wrong.

Remember the Christmas special The Thick of It? When the Blair figure resigns, the Tory spin doctor is shown running round Central Office shouting "This is the line, right. For the next 24 hours you praise him, right? You praise him like he's your dead brother." Could David Cameron have been watching?

As for the kissing of hands, my latest info is that the movie of The Queen was right to show Tony Blair kneeling and kissing the Monarch's hand. However, this was not what happened today. Quite why this is the case I am still struggling to find out.


  • 1.
  • At 03:08 PM on 27 Jun 2007,
  • Chris C wrote:

The PM would have knelt and probaly made the motion to, but NOT actually kissed the Queen's hands.

If there was an actual kiss in 'The Queen' then thats probably wrong.

If I remember correctly in Harold Wilson's memoirs he said he did not do an actual kiss. Nothing republican in this - it was just the advice he was given.

  • 2.
  • At 03:25 PM on 27 Jun 2007,
  • karen wrote:

The lack of the usual ceremonial conventions is intriguing...perhaps this will happen at the Privy Council though?

  • 3.
  • At 03:27 PM on 27 Jun 2007,
  • Nick Richards wrote:

It won't have happened today because Brown doesn't give a stuff about protocol and tradition. I'd guess it's the same reason as why he wore a lounge suit for all his mansion house speeches.

His spin doctors (and yes he has them...) will present it as modern but I think it's just gauche and rude.

  • 4.
  • At 03:34 PM on 27 Jun 2007,
  • p.haynes wrote:

Comedy can indeed get things spot on. See a comedy alternative view of the changeover:

the clip "The Blair-Brown handover"

see also:

It's hardly rude to NOT kiss someone's hand. If Brown has dispensed with this absurd tradition then good for him.

It's intriguing that the palace was trying to spin its way out of this by insisting that PMs have not kissed the monarch's hand in the past, when that was clearly not true.

  • 6.
  • At 04:37 PM on 27 Jun 2007,
  • Ian wrote:

Would I be right in thinking that the "kissing of hands" would have occurred following each election win and not only 1997? In which case do your sources know whether it really is Gordon who has altered the tradition slightly or whether Tony set the precedent previously?

More frivolously I can almost picture a jubilant Tony (or perhaps arch-republican Cherie?) proposing in 2001 that the Queen should be kissing his hand instead of vice versa, leading to a proposed compromise from the Palace that this particular tradition be effectively dropped?

  • 7.
  • At 05:05 PM on 27 Jun 2007,
  • Martin Donnelly wrote:

Are there gender questions to explore here? Would Brown have been expected to kiss a King's hand? Did Thatcher drop to her knees to honour her sovereign?

Personally I'm glad that a little modernity is creeping in.

  • 8.
  • At 12:37 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Simon Tushingham wrote:

It has always been my understanding - since the crash course in etiquette over 3 years at a seriously right-wing Oxbridge college back in the 1980s - that even if hands were kissed symbollically there was never any actual touching between lips of one person and hand of the other. Surely Debretts or something has the "answer" to this, however twee it may be in the modern world.

I'm not a Catholic but I seem to recall that it is rings that are kissed, not digits etc, so perhaps it really does have an ancient basis.

OTOH, the governmental system since 1997 has appeared to me to have ridden roughshod and at full tilt, but without much true conviction, at many supposedly outdated practises. Lounge suits are one issue, the half-baked efforts regarding reform of the House of Lords or the banning of hunting are another. As a group in power with a huge majority they have seemed to have been surprisingly half-hearted at actually seeing through a lot of the things which they supposedly held dear to their hearts: tinkerers, not reformers. And tinkering leaves a nasty vacuum that can please no-one.

  • 9.
  • At 02:57 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • John Jenkins wrote:

Come on Nick, you should know your constitution! The Prime Minister of this land does not cease to be Prime Minister when Parliament is dissolved for a General Election. They remain Prime Minister until they tender their resignation to Her Majesty (which they usually do when they lose a General Election or lose a Motion of No Confidence in the House of Commons).

Tony would have "kissed hands" on May 2nd 1997 when Her Majesty invited him to form a Government in Her name. He would not have needed to do so on re-election as he would have remained Prime Minister and his post-election visit to see Her Majesty is merely good protocol.

I would have expected Gordon to have kissed hands yesterday though as a NEW Prime Minister although unless, constitutionally, it is not a new Government just a change of First Lord of the Treasury.

  • 10.
  • At 09:01 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Mike C. wrote:

To Ian - whether or not Tony actually kissed hands with Her Majesty in 1997, he would not have done it in 2001 or 2005, as he did not go to the palace. A Prime Minister only actually needs to see the Queen once, when they are first elected/appointed (so Thatcher only did it in 1979, etc.)

  • 11.
  • At 06:00 PM on 29 Jun 2007,
  • John wrote:

I believe TB would have kissed hands in 1994, & GB in 1997, & neither ever again. It is something that is done only when somebody is appointed by the Queen to the Privy Council. It has no relationship with elections or appointments as PM. However the scene of TB doing it in 'The Queen' is about as realistic as it gets (& the film is scarily accurate in other ways too).

  • 12.
  • At 08:57 AM on 30 Jun 2007,
  • Jim Cavanagh wrote:

Does nobody have the proper answer to this question?

Political junkies like me need to know!!

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