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Lise Hand: No need to dance when a megawatt smile lights up the room

She took the roof off the place. Cheers, a standing ovation, the lot. She didn't sing, she didn't dance, all she did was stand and smile.

It was right at the end of an hour-long concert in Dublin's Convention Centre when Queen Elizabeth took to the stage to meet the line of artists who had entertained her, ahem, royally, with a smooth smorgasbord of Irish talent, from Mary Byrne, who sang U2's 'All I Want is You', Westlife and the Dublin Gospel Choir singing 'You Raise Me Up', The Chieftains and, of course and inevitably, the spine-tingling finale of Riverdance, as she's the last person possibly on Earth who hasn't seen the show by now.

However, the highlight was broadcaster Olivia O'Leary's gracious, funny and prescient essay on the queen's visit here.

"We were a little bit worried about the curtsy," she began, before talking about how the queen had caused "a frisson, a sense of something old being laid to rest, a new beginning".

And applause broke out among the 2,000 guests when she paid tribute to former Taoiseach Dr Garret FitzGerald, who died yesterday morning.

The event was MC'd by Gay Byrne, who did a Gaybo while introducing The Chieftains. He warned the audience not to dance in the aisles, "unless of course it's yourself, ma'am," he added cheekily. There goes his knighthood.

But just as the final notes of Riverdance faded, the royal party, along with President McAleese and her husband Martin and the host of the event, British ambassador to Ireland, Julian King, stood up to make their exit.

Then events took an unexpected turn as people stood to applaud. Instead of heading towards the door, she hung a left and headed towards the stage where the artists were lined up.

Looking elegant in a green brocade coat (no hat for the informal stuff), she made her way down the line as the audience continued to clap. And then just before she exited stage left, she turned and unleashed one of her megawatt smiles. She knows a thing or two about showbiz herself.

Afterwards, Harry Crosbie, who staged the event, explained that he had received a call from her staff to inform him that the queen wanted to take to the stage -- after all, it would be the biggest crowd of Irish people by far that she had faced during her visit.

And the irrepressible Harry had a little chinwag with the monarch on Wednesday. "She's loving Ireland, and is really enjoying herself," he said. "I told her she had captured the hearts of the Irish people and she was chuffed."

It had been quite the glittering occasion. Some 2,000 guests were processed through security checks at the O2 earlier in the afternoon, and nobody seemed to mind the long queue beforehand.

It was a most democratic queue altogether -- lords (literally), ladies and gentlemen all lined up patiently in a long queue which snaked around the side of the 02.

All the VIP guests for the evening of fun and fashion, hosted for the royal couple by the British ambassador here, had to wait to be processed through security like the rest of the plain folk. In fact, presidential hopeful David Norris seized the opportunity to do some high-powered canvassing -- and he had rich pickings, since in the queue were Lord Henry Mountcharles, Louise Kennedy, Grainne and Sile Seoige and honorary Irishman Jack Charlton. It was an evening of fashion shows and music -- and for the royal couple, another roomful of people to meet.

And this time there were 250 of them (including this reporter), all neatly arranged into horseshoes of 10 with a team leader. There were sports groups with the likes of Declan Kidney and Aidan O'Brien, high-powered groups with former President Mary Robinson, Northern Ireland secretary Owen Patterson, John Hume, Denis O'Brien and Loretta Glucksman.

Suddenly, in through the door of the fifth-floor room came the queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, accompanied by the President and her husband. Given the size of the crowd, the queen took one side and Prince Philip the other. As he approached this journalist with his hand outstretched, the thought of a fast change of name and profession crossed my mind, given the slagging which was had at his expense yesterday in my report on his longing for a pint in the Guinness Hopstore.

"So what do you do?" he inquired politely. Funnily enough, he moved swiftly onwards on hearing the reply.

And once again the couple took their time as behind them the Taoiseach and Fionnuala chatted with the roomful of friends. It was almost like a normal evening soiree, except for the fact that, impossibly, there were the distinctive white curls of Queen Elizabeth, right in the middle of the melee.

And just after 7pm, the royal couple entered to warm applause. It was a great show. And Herself gave it one hell of a finale.

Irish Independent