REGAL COMMUNIQUE FROM Commonwealth-manufactured mahogany writing bureau doubling as traditional televised post-prandial leg-stretch/retire-to-the-other-room interlude. On the dot of 3pm, Christmas Day, networks cut to single shot of flag hanging limply above random royal palace. Camera fades up on bejewelled resident of No 1, London, The World, standing in front of paltry display of cards, framed photos and more Commonwealth-manufactured furnishings. HRH purses lips. “Once again it has been a busy year”. Clippage of Liz and Phil shaking hands with red-cheeked labourers and watching brief demonstration of British Industry At Its Best. “My husband and I made several tours abroad”. Footage of royal party watching an ethnic dance and accepting clay pot-cum-fertility symbol. “But there have also been moments for reflection”. Cut to serious montage: memorial dedications, a clutch of Princes in uniform, Her Maj nodding sagely while chatting to a wounded veteran in a military hospital. “Yet I am cheered continually by the spirits of my British subjects”. Union Jack-waving yokels are glimpsed pressing flesh with a Windsor personage. “I have been particularly moved by…” Insert this year’s royal “event”, i.e. birthday pageant/Red Arrows flyover/nuptials. “And I wish you all a peaceful Christmas and a prosperous new year”. Queen purses lips and holds pose uncomfortably as camera lingers a little too long before fading to black. Message over. Mum: “She’s looking good for her age”. Dad: “Pfft, not as good as last year”. Gran: “Oh dear – *sob* – I’ll be through for pudding in a moment.” Used to be on the radio, first done by George V in 1932; switched to TV in 1957, when it was done live until HRH got sick of interrupting the brandy butter; pre-recorded from 1960. Strictly an Auntie Beeb production until That Diana Interview and the Palace threw a strop. Now alternates twixt BBC and ITV, but aspic-hewed format untouchable by broadcasters upon pain of swift exile to regal journalistic hinterland (aka 30 Minutes With Prince Edward On A Wet Tuesday Afternoon Next October If You’re Lucky).