London's Imperial War Museum
I was lucky enough to attend The Sun newspaper’s Military Awards, affectionately known as The Millies at the Imperial War Museum on Tuesday. You could describe it as a mini Oscars ceremony for the heroes of our armed forces on active service, except that every one of the recipients who had put his or her life on the line neither wept nor postured on the podium. They all spoke articulately with impressive modesty and it was, if my smudged mascara was anything to go by, terribly moving.
Princes William and Harry presented awards and showed they had inherited the natural compassion of their mother, Diana, and the good humour of their father, Prince Charles. There was an affecting moment when a bereaved mother laid her head on Harry’s chest and he responded by putting his head down towards hers and his arm round her shoulder. Nothing fake about that.
You can read more about it all on The Sun's website here.
But it was not a mawkish occasion at all. A host of famous actors, comedians, and icons of popular culture added glamour to the presence of men and women in uniform and there was a real buzz of excitement. I myself had a teenage moment on being introduced to Alexander Armstrong of Brit comedy duo Armstrong & Miller.
That man is so gorgeous, so amusing. It’s lucky he hadn’t changed into his Royal Airforce uniform to do one of their signature sketches (World War II pilots speaking chippy street slang and claiming their human rights in the face of the enemy) or I might have not have been answerable for my actions.
At our table I sat next to a really charming man, Michael Ball, heart-throb singer and actor who has just finished starring in Hairspray. I warmed to him instantly when he confessed to leading a mutiny in his school cadet force, which took the form of firing blanks at their commanding officer. Not clever, not heroic, not funny. Except it was, very.
I hope my pals abroad will enjoy being introduced to Armstrong & Miller in one of their most famous sketches. You can find more of this perfect juxtaposition of the heroic and the absurd on You Tube.
Images from top: http://www.london-se1.co.uk, http://www.digital-tv.co.uk, http://www.onenationmagazine.com, http://upload.wikimedia.org