Queen Elizabeth's Carry On film quip showed the Royal Family has a sense of humour. But King Charles will have to do without me on his big day – Steve Cardownie

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The news that The Proclaimers hit, I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), has been dropped from King Charles’ official coronation playlist got me to thinking about the times I met members of the Royal Family in my role as an Edinburgh councillor.

Given the duties assigned to me, our paths crossed several times at the many official ceremonies I attended over my 29 years on the council. My first encounter with the Queen was back in October of 1997 when she was opening the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting up at St Andrews.

She was also hosting a dinner on the Royal Yacht Britannia which was berthed in Leith and the council took the opportunity to invite her to officially open the newly refurbished City Art Centre in Market Street. My role was to accompany the Queen through the exhibitions being held on the five floors of the centre and introduce her to the small groups of “dignitaries” that were assembled throughout.

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When we were making our way back down the escalator to the ground floor I asked the Queen if she would kindly unveil a plaque in commemoration of her officially opening the centre. Smiling, she replied with an answer that would not have gone amiss in a Carry On film or on a Blackpool postcard. At the time I put it down to an unintended double entendre but on speaking to her former press secretary, Michael Shea, that notion was quickly dispelled. “No,” he insisted, “she knew exactly what she was saying, she used to pull my leg mercilessly with such comments.” He assured me that I had been just another victim of her mischievous sense of humour.

On another occasion at the Royal Highland Show, I was being introduced to the Duke of Edinburgh when Councillor Billy Fitzpatrick interrupted to make a crack about the weather and the Duke’s clothes which had all within earshot in fits of laughter, including the Duke. It didn’t matter to Billy who he was, and it didn’t seem to matter to the Duke either as they parted with a firm handshake and a wide grin. I also met Princess Anne on a few of her many visits to the city and was always amused to see her enthusiastically singing Flower of Scotland at Murrayfield, particularly when we were playing England.

So, all told, my experiences of the Royal Family are, as you would expect, limited to formal occasions when I was representing the city as an Edinburgh councillor and, in that capacity, I was grateful for their willingness to facilitate requests from city institutions to attend official events. However, for what it’s worth, I will not be glued to a television watching coverage of the coronation on May 6. No doubt there will be a more than healthy audience – within these shores and without – doing just that, but I have another engagement that day which will be commanding my attention.

I will be glued to a TV but I will be anxiously watching Scottish Premiership football in the hope that our immediate rivals will drop points before Hearts take on Celtic at Tynecastle Park the following day. I can safely assume King Charles will have more weighty matters on his mind.

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