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Platinum Jubilee: Dame Joanna Lumley on why she loves the Queen for ducking parliament opening for a horse show

Dame Joanna Lumley has praised the Queen for choosing to attend the Royal Windsor Horse Show – and not the State Opening of Parliament as her mobility declines.

The actor told Sky News the monarch has “earned” the four days’ worth of celebrations planned to mark her Platinum Jubilee next month after 70 years of serving the country.

“I love the idea that she ducked opening parliament, but went to the lovely horse show,” she said.

“The country is shouting ‘Yes, you’ve earned this! Do this plenty!’

“‘You’re still doing the red boxes, you’re still meeting diplomats and all that sort of stuff – so whenever you can, grab the chance to do something you want to do your majesty, because we love you!'”

It comes after the 96-year-old missed her first State Opening of Parliament in 59 years due to “episodic mobility problems”, but was seen smiling at the horse show in the grounds of Windsor Castle days later.

Dame Joanna spoke to Sky News ahead of joining Kay Burley, Alastair Bruce and Rhiannon Mills for its live coverage of the Jubilee weekend.

Watched coronation aged seven in Malaysia

Asked what she most admires about Her Majesty, she said: “I love her for loving animals, because I love animals.

“I love her for liking dogs and horses, sometimes it’s looked like she was happier being with them than with people, which I understood completely.”

The Absolutely Fabulous star, who has just written a book on the Queen’s 70-year reign, recalled the first time she laid eyes on her – on TV at her 1953 coronation.

“I adored her from the first moment I saw her, which was on film when I was seven years old out in Malaysia, where my father was serving with his Gurkha regiment,” she said.

“I didn’t know where London was, I didn’t know anything about England, but I knew that the old king had died and this was the new young one who was going to be the Queen.”

She continued: “Then when I finally realised that in my profession, because I’m an actress and because you quite often get to do these things, that I was going to be in one of the line-ups to meet the Queen, your heart starts beating and beating, because you’re suddenly going to meet this object, this idol, this figure that you’ve venerated all your life.”

Asked about legalising drugs at Buckingham Palace lunch

The first time she met the Queen was at a private lunch at Buckingham Palace with six or seven other people.

And her choice of conversation topic was slightly unconventional, she revealed.

“What made me think that the Queen would be interested in a topic that I had barely thought about, which was the legalisation of drugs… I’m going crimson as I think about it.

“And do you know what she’s so polite and so courteous that she said ‘that’s a very interesting idea’, she didn’t say ‘you’re insane, shut up!’ She’s so remarkable and kind, it’s so precious to meet her.”

Parade will be my Jubilee highlight

Sharing her thoughts on the upcoming Jubilee, Dame Joanna, who was given her honour in December, said she is most looking forward to the Queen’s Birthday Parade.

“What I’ve longed for most of all is the parade, because they always seem so fantastically bizarre,” she said.

“You get marching bands and soldiers, then you get sort of bikers and rambling people and charities.

“It’s such a hotchpotch of things, it’s going to be absolutely enchanting.”

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As well as the parade, the four-day bank holiday weekend will include a star-studded Party at the Palace, featuring Queen, Alicia Keys and Eurovision’s Sam Ryder, and a £15m carnival-style pageant.

“I think the Queen will be absolutely thrilled and touched by all of this you know,” she added. “It’s going to be lovely.”

Looking forward to her Sky News coverage she said she hopes to bring “love, affection and humour” to it.

“I’m so thrilled I’m going to be the one who is allowed to tell the viewers at home what it’s like, what the feeling’s like, what happened when they turned the corner and just went out of view of the camera, and things like that,” she said.

“And just being a friend,” she added. “A lot of people see me as a friend already, from watching my travel programmes – they always know I’m talking directly to them at home.

“We’ll just be sitting there and we’re going to tell you all about it.”

Dame Joanna will be Sky News’ special guest for the famous balcony flypast at Trooping the Colour on 2 June, before joining Kay Burley and Sky Royal Commentator Alastair Bruce from 11am on Sunday 5 June for a full day of festivities. 

Kay Burley, Alistair Bruce and the rest of the Sky News team will bring all the events live as they happen, in our full coverage of The Platinum Jubilee from Thursday 2 June.

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