The Queen And Paddington: How A Bear Became An Unlikely Royal Mascot

Paddington has been popping up everywhere among the tributes to the Queen, from toys in the carpets of flowers, to films appearing in TV schedules. It all stems from a sketch during the Platinum Jubilee, when the monarch and the bear made an unlikely but heartwarming pair.

It has been “extraordinary” to see how people have turned to the lovable brown bear for comfort as they have mourned the Queen, according to Karen Jankel, daughter of Paddington creator Michael Bond.

“If somebody told me a year ago that the Queen was sadly going to die, and when she did, that Paddington would be a very large part of it, I would be utterly amazed.”

Paddington teddies and marmalade sandwiches have been placed among the tributes – so many, in fact, that the Royal Parks have asked mourners not to leave any more.

Artistic illustrations of Paddington have become tributes too. Paddington was not previously closely associated with the Queen, but that changed three months ago, after Buckingham Palace came up with an idea to film her acting opposite the Peruvian bear to launch her televised Jubilee concert.

“One of the last times most of us saw the Queen close up was when she did that marvellous sketch during the Jubilee celebrations,” Ms Jankel told correspondents.

“That was the final image of the Queen for many people – that’s what they remember, and so they associate her with Paddington.”

That sketch showed the Queen offering her customary good-humoured hospitality to the clumsy bear, and pulling a marmalade sandwich out of her handbag.

It was a reassuring appearance from the smiling monarch despite the fact she could not attend the main live event itself because of her health.

It was written by some of the people who worked on the Paddington films. “We knew Paddington and the Queen stood for, and still do stand for, certain similar values – the idea that, be kind and polite and the world will be right,” co-writer James Lamont recently told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“It just felt very natural that those two could share a space together. They would both welcome each other, because they’re both cut from the same cloth.

“We also thought there was some inherent comedy in the idea of Paddington, who we know is a bit of a klutz and a bit of a bull in a china shop at times – putting him in Buckingham Palace in front of the Queen, when Frank Cottrell-Boyce, who worked on both the Queen’s appearance with James Bond for the London Olympic Games opening ceremony in 2012 and the Paddington sketch, said the monarch put in “a brilliantly-timed comic performance”.

“What an astute idea it was to have her act with Paddington, because Paddington embodies so many of the values that she stood for,” he said.

“Paddington is all about kindness, toleration, being kind to strangers, politeness – these things that are about character. And those are values that she’s embodied throughout her life.

“And they’re not values that are uncontested at the moment, so it was not purely a cute thing to do. It was significant, I think, and that’s why it’s resonated so much.”

The sketch culminated with the pair tapping their teacups in time to the famous rhythm of pop band Queen’s We Will Rock You, as the group opened the concert in front of Buckingham Palace where etiquette and behaviour are obviously paramount.”

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