Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Vanessa Redgrave, the prince and that curtsey

It was disconcerting to see Vanessa Redgrave's deep curtsey to Prince William at the Baftas. She didn't quite kiss the ground on which he stood but an inch lower and she would have got her nose dirty.

'Is she taking the piss?' asked the person with whom I was watching her receive this year's Academy Fellowship. 'I don't think so,' I replied as the woman who was once the most famous Trotskyist in Britain turned to young Billy and fawned: 'I would like to say, your Royal Highness, how much I admire your father for his intelligence, humility and kindness.'

Was this really the same woman who for years was one of the leading lights in the Workers Revolutionary Party, and who created an uproar at the 1978 Oscars with an acceptance speech (for best supporting actress in Julia) that laid into 'Zionist hoodlums'?

An interview with Redgrave in the Daily Telegraph before the Baftas suggested that 'like the Prince of Wales, her high-mindedness comes from her status as royalty – in this case theatrical'. That may explain her affinity with the royals, despite her reputation as a radical. So too might the pioneering example of Princess Diana in her support for AIDS charities, since Redgrave's first husband, Tony Richardson (the father of Natasha, Redgrave's beloved daughter, who died in a skiing accident last year), died of AIDS-related illnesses in 1991.

But did she have to curtsey quite so low?

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