Inspector of the Queen's Tandems
These days the post of Head Inspector of the Queen’s Tandems is mainly a symbolic role, that is since Her Majesty has forgone the use of the Crown Ceremonial Tandem since that infamous incident involving Prince Philip and the Chinese national Olympic yo-yo team back in the summer of 1976. The current holder of the office, Lord Sprinkle of Doolaly, however is still entitled to the royal gift of an annual trollop, or strumpet, and butt of sack that the post has entailed since first being set up under Charles II, just seventeen and a half minutes after the Restoration. Of course, back in those days the tandem had yet to be invented. However, Charles II had many faults, but a lack of foresight was not one of them.
These days, the Queen’s personal brace of ceremonial tandems is second only to the fleet of tandems owned by Elton John, kept in the former Royal Artillery tandem sheds down in Watford. One of the most interesting of Elton John’s tandems is the Silver-Flight Degenerate that was – as many historians now believe – the very machine that sparked the infamous Manchester tandem riot of 1923. One of its mudguards still bear traces of what is said to be the blood of one of the 17 Tandem Day Martyrs, who gave their lives to prevent the scourge of cycling taking hold in this country in the same way as it had taken hold on the continent, especially in France.
Unfortunately, despite the government outlawing the possession of bicycle clips by making it an imprisonable offence, and banning the important of handlebar bells, the evil epidemic of cycling did gain a foothold in this country. Faced with the overwhelming tide of bicycles the government was forced to legalise cycling just as WWII broke out in Europe.
However, it was felt that the Royal family should be prepared to flee the country, should the worst happen and the Germans invade the British Isles, so they were provided with a special fleet of royal tandems. It was, therefore, the job of the Head Inspector of the Queen’s Tandems to make sure that the fleet of royal tandems was kept in tip-top condition ready for such an eventually. At least, it was for the 27 minutes it took for the members of the Royal household to remember than Britain is an island and any attempt to flee an invading enemy by tandem would – eventually – come to a rather moist end.
However, by then the Head Inspector of the Queen’s Tandems had already been given his ceremonial hat and, by Royal protocol, it was therefore too late to disestablish the role. Consequently, it has remained a mainly ceremonial role right up to this day when the hat is worn by the Head Inspector of the Queen’s Tandems for the official 'Trooping of the Tandems' on the first Tuesday after Easter each year.