Peter Ustinov’s concerns over Queen invitation: ‘Made no provision for me!’


    Queen ‘doesn’t want senior royals to take over’ says royal expert

    Peter Ustinov enjoyed a truly remarkable career as a journalist, actor, playwright and author. He became a fixture on TV talk shows and lecture circuits as an internationally recognised raconteur, and won numerous awards in his time, including Golden Globes, BAFTAs and Grammy Awards. One of the dozens of films he starred in, Appointment with Death, airs on Channel 5 at 3:05pm this afternoon.

    Alongside his industry awards, he received a number of state honours from the UK, France and Germany, among others.

    Born Peter Alexander Freiherr von Ustinov in April 1921 in Swiss Cottage, London, he was knighted in 1990 in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. has unearthed an excerpt from a 1991 interview with the late actor, when he detailed the challenges that came with receiving the gong.

    In the interview, reported by the Golden Globes’ website, he said: “The ceremony was the usual mixture of British formality and surprising informality.

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    Peter Ustinov

    Peter received his knighthood in 1990. (Image: GETTY/PA)

    Peter Ustinov

    Peter Ustinov was a regular on talk shows all across the world. (Image: Reuters)

    “While I was actually kneeling in front of the Queen, about to be knighted, the orchestra was playing ‘I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair’, which is not really what I had looked forward to.

    “When they invite you to be knighted, they send you a printed form, the kind you might find at US immigration which says underneath: ‘Cross out the question which is inapplicable.’

    “And the questions — there are two — are, ‘I can kneel’ and ‘I cannot kneel’, followed by a box where you can write whatever.

    “I had to call them up because it made no provision for me because I can kneel but I can’t get up again.”

    Peter Ustinov

    Peter Ustinov sits with the Queen at Durham University in 2002. (Image: Reuters)

    The Queen, he said, was “absolutely charming”, even if Peter was forced to wait his turn.

    He continued: “You’re pushed forward, I thought with unnecessary brutality to the footstool.

    “When you rise, she puts the sword on one shoulder and then lifts it extraordinarily high in order to put it down on the second shoulder which suggests that there must have been a hideous accident at some point in time.

    “In my case, she said to me, ‘I’m delighted to see you here’, and I said to her, ‘Your delight can hardly match mine, Ma’am.’

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    Peter Ustinov

    Peter poses during a 1991 portrait session. (Image: GETTY)

    “And she said, ‘We read that you are as active as ever’, and I said, ‘Yes, indeed, I’ve just come back from New…’ but I didn’t get any further.

    “I was pushed aside by the next person, and it was over.”

    Peter spoke English, French, Spanish, Italian, German and Russian fluently, as well as some Turkish and modern Greek.

    Such was his linguistic talent that he provided his own German and French dubbing for some of the roles he played.

    Peter Ustinov

    Peter left a lasting impression on everyone he met. (Image: GETTY)

    He provided his own voice for the German version in Evil under the Sun, as well as Disney’s Robin Hood and NBC’s Alice in Wonderland.

    He left a lasting impression on everyone he met, and Durham University renamed their postgraduate college ‘Ustinov College’ after he had served as the prestigious university’s chancellor in 1992.

    Away from his work, Peter married three times — first to Isolde Denham, then to Suzanne Cloutier and finally to Helene du Lau d’Allemans.

    His third marriage lasted from 1972 until his death in 2004.

    He died in March 2004 of heart failure in a clinic in Genolier, near his home in Bursins, Switzerland.

    UNICEF’s Executive Director Carol Bellamy spoke at his funeral to represent UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

    Appointment with Death, an adaptation of Agatha Christie’s mystery novel, airs at 3:05pm on Channel 5.

    Published at Sun, 06 Mar 2022 13:00:00 +0000

    Peter Ustinov’s concerns over Queen invitation: ‘Made no provision for me!’