By Rod Mcguirk, The Associated Press on December 14, 2023.
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – King Charles III paid a light-hearted tribute to the late Barry Humphries at a state memorial service Friday in Australia, recalling his own apprehension when the comedian’s alter ego, Dame Edna Everage, played a prank on him a decade ago.
Video of the prank during a Royal Variety Performance in London in 2013 was widely replayed after Humphries died in Sydney in April aged 89.
Humphries, in the character of the snobbish Everage, approached the then Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, as they sat in the theater’s royal box.
Everage looked at her ticket then explained to the laughing royals before leaving: “I’m so sorry, they found me a better seat.”
Charles alluded to the joke in a message read by Australian Arts Minister Tony Burke at the memorial service in the Sydney Opera House.
“I suspect that all those who appeared on stage or on TV with Barry’s Dame Edna, or who found her appearing at the back of the royal box, will have shared that unique sensation where fear and fun combined,” Charles wrote, prompting laughter from the audience.
“Those who tried to stand on their dignity soon lost their footing. Those who wondered whether Australia’s housewife superstar might this time just go too far were always proved right. No one was safe,” Charles added.
Humphries’ comic characters “poked and prodded us, exposed pretensions, punctured pomposity, surfaced insecurities but, most of all, made us laugh at ourselves,” Charles wrote.
Among celebrities who sent video tributes to the Australian-born entertainer, who spent decades in London, included composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and comedians Jimmy Carr, David Walliams and Rob Brydon. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also paid tribute.