Usually one of the things that's so charming about seeing the royal family in their natural habitat are the wonderfully normal details that can be spied in the background.
Take the myriad shots that prove that the Queen favours cheapie bar heaters to keep her apartments at Windsor Castle toasty warm (One does worry about One's bills). Or that, at age 96, she seems to have developed quite the ferocious sweet tooth with both an $8.8 box of mint chocolates and a $420 Fortnum and Mason bonbon sampler regularly seen in the background of shots of her greeting dignitaries in the castle's Oak Room.
But now we have the reverse of the situation with 17 seconds of video of Her Majesty raising the question of just how straightforward Buckingham Palace is being about her health after the shocking news she would not be attending Friday's service of thanksgiving at St Paul's after experiencing "some discomfort" during Trooping the Colour.
"Discomfort" would suggest a slight twinge or maybe a low-grade ache here and there: Nothing that a children's Panadol and boiled eggs on her lap in front of a Songs of Praise re-run couldn't sort out. (Actually, that should probably be the gripping police drama Line of Duty which Her Majesty binged her way through during the pandemic.)
Whatever is actually ailing the indomitable monarch, "discomfort" this surely is not.
In less than a year, we've watched the nonagenarian go from sturdy presence to being hospitalised for some mysterious reason, having to permanently rely on a walking stick, deploying the Maj-Mobile, her $118,000 luxury golf cart, during an outing to the Chelsea Flower Show, missing the State Opening of Parliament for the first time in nearly 60 years, and for the first time ever, not been at Horse Guards Parade to take the salute during Trooping the Colour.
We have had worrying first after worrying first while Buckingham Palace has been energetically trying to sell the notion that all that is wrong are "episodic mobility problems."
Right. And the Titanic only pre-emptively docked mid-voyage.
Early on Friday morning, a new video posted on Twitter revealed how increasingly frail and wobbly she is, casting doubt on Palace's "discomfort" line.
Here's how things played out in London.
On Thursday night, after all the excitement of Trooping and her four-year-old great-grandson Prince Louis putting on a meme-tastic display on the Palace balcony during the air force fly-past, she returned to Windsor Castle where she lit the first of the 3500 Platinum Jubilee beacons around the world.
The royal press pack was dutifully there waiting to watch her push an enormous globe-shaped button with a gaudy crown adornment.
Videos posted by said trusty reporters show her making her way confidently, albeit hardly speedily, out to the Castle's quadrangle for the ceremony using a walking stick while a small assembled crowd waits. So far, so sedate.
But then the big moment comes, a reminder that much of royal life involves small curtains, shovels and the occasional bottle of Waitrose champagne meeting the hull of a frigate.
The clip shows Her Majesty leaving heavily on her walking stick as she stands in front of the 'button,' before awkwardly poking her stick forward and starting to slightly sway as Peter McGowran, chief yeoman warder from the Tower of London, turns and starts to march away. Then for a good two or three seconds the Queen seems to stand there, looking slightly uncertain before looking off at a medalled-up aide to her right. He quickly steps forward, his concern clear and stands poised to help her take the two – TWO – small steps necessary to reach the on switch, before she unsteadily covers the short distance on her steam.
This very shaky performance will only stoke fears about just how fine Her Majesty really might be.
Thus far, the strategy the Palace has ruthlessly adhered to is to release precisely zero details about her health, in turn only exacerbating fears.
Clearly, there is something mechanical going wrong for the sovereign. In 2003 she had knee surgery and she is known to have hip problems. In February when she received two top military brass at Windsor she somewhat dryly commented, "Well, as you can see, I can't move." The same month she tested positive for Covid.
Elsewhere, there have also been rumours that she has some sort of problem with her heart, which would hardly come as a surprise given her very advanced years.
The videos of her beacon-lighting only make her unsteadiness on her feet painfully obvious and must surely call into question how much longer she can continue doing a job that demands a certain in-person element.
Her pulling out of service at St Paul's only double and triple underlines this.
While a lengthy stint sitting in a draughty church hardly seems like something a sane doctor would recommend, Her Majesty is a woman dedicated to her faith. In the lead up to the Jubilee celebrations, this service was always the event seemingly written in red pen in her diary; the one outing it looked like we were guaranteed to see her attend. This is not something she would willingly skip or a choice she would have made lightly.
(So too would a number of considerations and adjustments have been already put in place, as they were at Westminster Abbey in March for the thanksgiving service for Prince Philip, to ensure her comfort such as not having to climb any steps or walk any long distances.)
There is also the fact that she is experiencing "some discomfort" after Trooping, an outing that only involved two brief Balcony turns.
First, she appeared alongside her cousin the Duke of Kent (a royal Colonel who at 86-years-old is sadly a bit past getting in the saddle for the parade) for 11 minutes to take the salute.
Then, about 25 minutes later she reappeared with the remaining cadre of working members of the royal family, including William and Kate, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their three kids, where she stood for a further 10 minutes.
So, we have a day where a 50-minute trip via Range Rover from Windsor Castle to Monarchy HQ in central London, followed by a combined 21 minutes of standing on the Balcony, followed by a family lunch and making the return trip has left her too worn out to appear at St Paul's?
Contrast this with her Diamond Jubilee 10 years ago when she and Prince Philip stood in the cold and rain for four long hours on a specially decked out barge as part of the royal flotilla down the Thames, eschewing the throne-like chairs provided for them. Comfort? Pah! That's not how queens do things.
As the beacon-lighting videos prove, even keeping Her Majesty upright and occasionally on her feet would now seem to be an increasingly impossible task. Given her job is one predicated on ceremonial outings and public appearances, how much longer can she try to carry on with things when clearly the most basic outings are now physically beyond her?
Her spirit is clearly as strong as ever; her flesh, not so.
Whether we see the Queen again during the Jubilee, which runs for three more days, remains to be seen but clearly this celebration is the beginning of the end of her public life.
When she stepped out onto the balcony for an air force fly-past, she looked out across the massive crowd and simply said, "Incredible." And she has been, for 70 long years.
But it's time for her to step back – let her have her chocolates and her TV and her bar heaters – it's time for her to let her son have a crack at the top job.
• Daniela Elser is a royal expert and a writer with more than 15 years experience working with a number of Australia's leading media titles.