Thursday, March 15, 2007

9. Presenting the hologram

He led us into a beautifully decorated reception room where we were greeted by a rather grey-looking director of the Polygoon Journaal – the film company that had shot the original film for us at the Houses of Parliament. He was almost speechless with relief we had made it on time, no doubt thankful he had avoided the inconvenience of meeting the Queen without the portrait.

In an adjoining room, we could hear another group making a presentation to the Queen, first a single voice, then lots of clapping, followed by lots of shoe shuffling. Time was short. I manoeuvred Leopold with the display over to a corner where I had seen an electricity outlet. I heard the footsteps getting closer to the large sliding doors.

And then everything seemed to go into slow motion, As I picked up the plug of the display and moved towards the outlet, I recalled how many times our light sources had failed especially when the displays had been subjected to lots of movement. Now here was a display that had been transported from one car to another and had been carried aloft through the streets of the Hague. As the plug got closer to the outlet, I thought, “Don’t fail me, not now, not after what we have been through to get here”. As the pins of the plug entered the outlet, my eyes turned upwards towards the opening of the display where the hologram had been placed and where the light had to shine through.

It will work, it must work….. It did work!

The doors opened and Princess Beatrix – now Queen Beatrix entered with Prince Claus.
Beatrix was mildly bemused by the finished result. She expressed controlled appreciation for our efforts. But that sense of spontaneous humour I had experienced 3-4 months before, was gone. I surmised that there can be no room for such things in royal etiquette. Royal environments are controlled environments that are not designed to accommodate easily the unexpected, the improvised or the unrehearsed. Beatrix’s regal stature now reflected that. Claus, on the other hand, was still Claus and was fascinated and curious to know how the hologram had been made. I avoided the lurid street level details I had experienced in San Francisco but gave him the more interesting technical explanation.

In 10 minutes or so Beatrix, Claus and the Entourage moved off to another reception room to be presented with another Coronation gift and we were left with our coffee and cookies.

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