Times critics toast and roast Queen Elizabeth on her Diamond Jubilee

Let's Get the Party Started: Six decades rocking the royal throne calls for a serious British bash, and what's a party for Queen Elizabeth II without a little monarch music? After all, this is a ruler who has knighted such pop luminaries as Elton John and Paul McCartney. So her Diamond Jubilee celebration should be soundtracked robustly.

Here are a few classics to get the sovereign shindig swinging:

1. Her Majesty, the Beatles

2. Killer Queen, Queen

3. She's a Lady, Tom Jones (also knighted!)

4. Dancing Queen, ABBA

5. She's the Boss, Mick Jagger (yep, he's knighted too!)

6. Diamond Girl, Seals & Crofts

7. Love, Reign o'er Me, the Who

8. Goodnight Elisabeth, Counting Crows

9. Royal, the Deftones

10. Everybody Wants to Rule the World, Tears for Fears

Sean Daly, Times pop music critic

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A Real Page-Turner: Elizabeth II has managed to reach her Diamond Jubilee without ever granting a press interview, but that hasn't stemmed the tide of books about her. Here are several recent ones.

Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch (Random House) by Sally Bedell Smith is a sympathetic, personal account of the queen's life, based on numerous interviews with those who know her.

Her Majesty: The Court of Queen Elizabeth II (Pegasus) by Robert Hardman is the U.S. edition of a British bestseller by a journalist who has covered the royals for two decades; it includes an interview with Prince William.

The Queen: A Life in Brief (Harper Perennial) by Robert Lacey is a concise biography based on 30 years of research, with many photos of Elizabeth's early years.

The Real Elizabeth: An Intimate Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II (Henry Holt) by Andrew Marr is an accessible biography by a British journalist and historian that explores in detail exactly what the queen's job is.

The Uncommon Reader: A Novella (Picador) by Alan Bennett, British novelist and playwright (The History Boys), is a comic vision of what might happen when Elizabeth stumbles into a bookmobile and borrows a book to be polite — launching herself into a love of reading that opens her mind but interferes with her royal duties.

Colette Bancroft, Times book editor

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Queen of the Canvas: No woman in modern times has been painted more than Queen Elizabeth II. Probably no man, either. She was born a princess, so the portrait-making began early. And she has lived long. Now 86, the queen has been re-created on canvas in hundreds of variations.

Some were commissioned by her; most were not. Anyone can do a portrait of the queen, and sometimes it seems, surfing the Internet, everyone does.

We spotlight here two of the most famous portraits of Her Majesty, each from a different era and each taking a different approach. She didn't commission either one but agreed to sit for them, so they are, while not official, sanctioned.

The young queen

Pietro Annigoni (1910-1988) painted Elizabeth as a young queen in the early 1950s, when she was in her 20s and just a few years into her reign. It was commissioned by the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers, an ancient and wealthy guild. Annigoni, an Italian, thought the request was from a bunch of poor fishermen and threw it away. A savvy assistant set him straight. Painted in a Renaissance style, the queen, though crownless, has a regal bearing as she commands the foreground while behind her spreads a bucolic countryside.

It is one of the most beloved portraits of the queen ever made and has been reproduced thousands of times, making Annigoni, who kept the printing rights, rich and famous. It hangs in the stately headquarters of the Fishmongers on the Thames riverfront in London.

The mature queen

Lucian Freud (1922-2011) painted Elizabeth in her maturity, in 2001, at 75. Freud, who painted nudes and portraits using thick layers of paint, was considered the most important British painter of his time. Most of his works are harsh interpretations of his sitters and have disturbing psychological undertones.

This is an unusually small portrait, about 9 inches by 6 inches, and shows only the queen's head and neck. She wears the magnificent George IV diamond diadem, but her aging face is given no quarter by Freud. When unveiled, it generated some outrage for what was considered disrespect of the monarch.

The queen must have approved, since she accepted it as a gift from the artist and it now hangs in Windsor Castle.

Lennie Bennett, Times art critic

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Queen of Hollywood: Unlike her mother Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (you know, the virgin with the Larry Fine hairline) the current queen of England hasn't been showcased in many feature films. Only one, actually: Helen Mirren's Academy Award-winning portrayal in 2006's The Queen. Scant childhood moments in the background of The King's Speech don't really count.

But, oh, the cameos Elizabeth II has provided — or seems to have provided. They are actually comically portrayed by Jeannette Charles, 84, who has been capitalizing upon her close resemblance to the queen since the mid 1970s.

She has donned a sensible hat and issued the royal wave in at least 20 movies, impersonating the very model of British decorum and sometimes winding up on her keister. God save these "Queen" memories of Jeannette Charles:

Saturday Night Live (1977) — The queen joined Monty Python prankster Eric Idle in hosting a fake telethon raising cash for Great Britain. Charles' introduction to U.S. viewers had some believing she was the real McCoy.

The Rutles: All You Need is Cash (1978) — The queen was a huge fan of these faux Beatles (including Idle), awarding them MBEs at the equally bogus Lunchtime Achievements Awards.

National Lampoon's European Vacation (1985) — Looking bored in a Buckingham Palace reception line, the queen perks up with the arrival of Clark and Ellen Griswold (Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo). Then Ellen wakes up.

The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988) — Detective Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) stops a brainwashed Reggie Jackson from assassinating the queen at a baseball game.

Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002) — Possibly the only woman never swooning for the swinging secret agent's charms, the queen knighted him instead.

Steve Persall, Times movie critic

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And, if you want to toast her yourself: Pinky fingers extended, a dab of clotted cream and two lumps, please — high tea has gotten rare as hen's teeth in recent years. But like a scene from a delicious Trollope novel, a few stalwarts keep the Earl Grey steeping.

• The Milk n' Honey Tea Room (2092 W Busch Blvd., Tampa; (813) 931-1462; 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, Saturday until 3 p.m.; $16.95 and $18.95) will do a special Jubilee Coronation Tea in honor of the Queen on June 2, with a menu owner Kathy Glenn has culled from tea rooms all over England. The comfortable tea room is especially appropriate for kids, with a dress-up corner of hats and feather boas to put on in the high-tea spirit.

• Moving from Victorian Village to a bigger location on Dale Mabry last year, Empress Tea Room (12924 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa; (813) 988-9027; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday; $16.95) has always been the grand dame, its delicate bone china pots of tea accompanied by sandwiches, pastries, scones (and soup or salad for an extra charge), served in either a formal indoor space or the "garden room." Set your sights on the sinful Devonshire cream or the Regency chicken salad sandwich with almonds.

• Mac Ingles moved into the Victorian Village space vacated by Empress and opened the Crown Parlor (6810 E Fowler Ave., Tampa; toll-free 1-888-520-5843; 7 to 11 a.m. daily; $19.95) in October 2011. It is high tea by private party only, with a 10-person minimum. Guests get their own two-tier serving tray of four finger sandwiches, two different kinds of scone, three tea cakes and four different desserts. Reserve at least 24 hours in advance.

• Nearly a year old, Tabitha's Tea (2052 Badlands Drive, Brandon; (813) 438-8901; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday; $23) represents the efforts of mother Barbara Madonna and her two daughters, Gloria Madonna and Lori Mincey. They do a traditional high tea buffed up a bit with soup if scones and tea sandwiches aren't quite sturdy enough for you, all served in a suitably rarefied setting.

A Corner of England (6297 Central Ave., St. Petersburg; (727) 345-5353; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday; $17.99) is a long-timer that changed hands about a year and a half ago. It's a go-to place for baby showers and Red Hat rumbles, with 20 blends of imported organic loose tea from Assam, India, as well as silver-tiered caddies packed with goodies from quiche and sausage rolls to cakes and scones.

Laura Reiley, Times food critic

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Queen Elizabeth II's mother is Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. The name was incorrect in an April 25 story.







Times critics toast and roast Queen Elizabeth on her Diamond Jubilee 04/25/12 [Last modified: Thursday, May 3, 2012 4:25pm]

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