With Jeremy Corbyn accepting an invitation to join the Privy Council, the republican will have to kneel before the Queen and kiss her on the hand when he takes the position. Of course this is unlikely to go down well with his far-left supporters, as well as the man himself — who today appeared to refrain from singing God Save the Queen at the Battle for Britain memorial service.
So Mr S suspects that Corbyn may wish to take a leaf out of Tony Benn’s book on this one. In a Radio 4 series, Benn discussed his political diaries, including samples of the original recordings from which he had first dictated entries onto his dictaphone.
In one intriguing entry from 11th June 1975, he describes a reshuffle where all the ministers who were changing position had to hand over the seals of state. The republican reveals a trick he had come up with to avoid having to kiss the monarch’s hand by which he put his thumb across the back of the Queen’s hand as he takes it and kisses his hand instead of her highness’s:
‘We went into the Privy Council, and we all had to get down on one knee on a footstool and have the oath administered and go forward. I of course was affirmed and kissed hand, and I always put my thumb out and kissed my thumb. And we all stood there holding our little red boxes, I mean it really was ridiculous.’
Steerpike advises the Queen to keep a close eye on Corbyn’s thumb when he does get on bended knee.