Frogs, princesses and happily ever afters...

Ellen Widdup’s escape to the country

I LOVE and hate half-term holidays in equal measure.

On the plus side, there are no homework battles to contend with, no tedious daily school run to factor in and no ferrying children to a multitude of extracurricular activities which, in the most part, they are too tired to enjoy.

However, if your kids are anything like mine, you might find the loss of the routine spirals into a week of desperately seeking daily entertainment to stem the constant chorus of “I’m bored”.

But God save the Queen, because this week there is more than enough to keep everyone busy.

What with royal tea parties, ’50s-themed barbecues and picnics in the park to mark the special occasion, we really are going to be spoilt for choice.

It may not be a very trendy thing for a 30-something to admit, but I am an ardent royalist.

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During our time living in London I would often take walks through Green Park along to Buckingham Palace to see if the flag was flying. I was one of those who joined the long queue to sign the book of condolence when Princess Diana died. And when Prince William married the lovely Kate Middleton last year, I was glued to my television set, oooing and ahhing over that incredible dress.

Thankfully, despite my husband’s penchant for punk, my daughter is too young to understand any lyrics claiming we are disenfranchised subjects of the land, unable to elect a head of state.

In her world (where fairies exist and you can find gold at the end of a rainbow) the royal fairytale definitely takes precedence over the Sex Pistols.

She has been busy preparing for the Diamond Jubilee with gusto.

Her usual drawings of butterflies and flowers have been replaced with a rather crude, and not always accurate, interpretation of the Union flag – ironically, such desecration would make Johnny Rotten proud.

She has also been asking incessant questions about the line to the throne.

“The Queen is very old, mummy,” she told me. “She will probably die soon and then Prince Charles would be the king. But if he died too, what would happen then?”

“Well, the throne would be passed down to his son, Prince William,” I replied, wondering if I should also point out that Her Majesty was in robust health and we were celebrating her long reign, not mourning her passing.

She thought about that for a minute.

“But imagine he was eaten by a tiger, or fell out of an aeroplane or got lost in a desert,” she said. “What then?”

She was seriously testing my knowledge of succession but I managed to get through Harry, Andrew, Beatrice, Eugene and Edward before I had to turn to Google.

Together we pondered the long list we found on Wikipedia until we reached the bottom, 46th in line to the throne – a Miss Zenouska Mowatt.

My daughter furrowed her little brow.

“Maybe I could be number 47?” she mused.

“Or you could marry someone higher up the list for a better chance. Like a prince?” I suggested.

The next day we were wandering around the supermarket, throwing bunting, red, white and blue paper cups and Union flags into the trolley when I realised she was a few aisles behind me.

She was stood admiring the various garish baubles, hair bobbles, necklaces and glitter-encrusted tiaras on display among the dressing-up.

This is hardly a rare occurrence. Like many little girls she has a magpie-eye for all things that sparkle.

“You can choose one thing,” I said. “And it must be under �3.”

Her eyes lit up.

First she grabbed a fuchsia bracelet but that was quickly replaced with a set of three gold rings studded with gems. She held them in her tiny hand, delicately caressing one of the ruby stones.

“Good choice,” I said. “Let’s go.”

But she hadn’t finished. Reluctantly she put them back on the stand.

“What’s wrong?” I asked. “They are yours if you want them.”

“No,” she replied curtly. “I think that if I am going to be Queen one day I shouldn’t really wear plastic.”

Rolling my eyes I told her I would find some of my own costume jewellery for her to borrow at home and we headed for the checkout.

But en route she spotted a fake fur shawl in the ladies’ clothing section.

“Perfect,” she declared, adding it to my shopping.

For the last week, despite the heatwave, she has been wearing the leopard-print, convinced it is the right attire to go with her white and silver crown and Beauty and the Beast dressing up outfit.

No doubt it will also be accessorising the pretty red and blue dress I have bought her to wear to Woodbridge’s Elmhurst Park tomorrow for the jubilee extravaganza.

It wouldn’t surprise me if it also accompanied us to Melton Playing Field on Monday for another such event.

Just before bed last night, she hung the garment carefully on the back of her chair.

We read a book together (one of her favourite fairy-tales) and I switched on her nightlight.

“You know I said I wanted a pet?” she started, as I kissed her brow.

“Not that again,” I sighed. “We have been through all that and we haven’t made any decisions yet. If we got a pet, we would have to be sure you were grown-up enough to help look after it.”

“I know,” she replied. “And I’ve been thinking. I don’t think I want a dog or a cat or a gerbil anymore.”

“Oh?” I said, eyebrows raised.

“No,” she said. “I just want a frog. They don’t need walking and they live in the garden and eat flies.”

I shuddered. “I’m not sure about that,” I said. “Why would you want a frog? They are slimy and jumpy and not very pretty to look at.”

“But if I looked after him he might let me kiss him,” came the reply. “And everyone knows if you kiss a frog, they turn into a prince.”

Hope you all have a lovely jubilee weekend. Please feel free to drop me an email at or find me on Twitter @EllenWiddup.

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