But guess what? The Queen and, when he was alive, the Duke of Edinburgh liked nothing better than when something went daftly awry.
A few cock-ups amid all the carefully-arranged formalities were to be cherished. Giggling together, they tried to anticipate when these might occur.
The revelations came in tonight’s BBC1 documentary Prince Philip: the Royal Family Remembers from grandsons William and Harry. Poignantly, because most of the programme was filmed before the Duke’s death in April, they spoke in the present tense.
“My grandfather has a very good sense of humour. He loves practical jokes and teasing,” said Prince William.
“And he loves when things go wrong. You can imagine how for both my grandparents, things have to go right all the time. But when that doesn’t happen, they chuckle. Everyone else gets mortally embarrassed, but they love it.”
Prince Harry picked up the theme: “Everyone will be going ‘the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are coming, we’ve always got it absolutely right, let’s do so again’. Meanwhile the two of them will be saying to each other ‘do you think this will be the time it all goes wrong?’”
The tribute was originally intended as a celebration of Prince Philip reaching 100, a milestone he missed by a few weeks.
Following his death, there was criticism from some over the Beeb’s blanket coverage and watching this you couldn’t help wondering what the reaction might have been to the involvement of the scandal and writ-hit Prince Andrew, though his contributions were minimal.
Better value was Prince Charles, who remembered the father whose choice of bedtime story was Longfellow’s The Song of Hiawatha and – being a naturalist who, according to Prince Edward, “predated Attenborough” – confirmed the existence of the splendidly-named bare-faced go-away bird.
The Duke was something of a bare-faced go-away bird – characteristics: noisy, restless – when standing over Charles recreationally. Unable to light the barbecue, the Prince of Wales would be told: “Go away.” On the polo field the fatherly instruction was: “Stop mucking about.”. And at football: “Stop scratching your backside – do something.”
Prince Philip was a do-er, no doubt about that, planting two million Sandringham trees, painting with Princess Eugenie, carriage-driving with Lady Louise.
When he was around, said Princess Beatrice, “you really had to pay attention”. Especially when a young royal was made to hold a jumbo tube of mustard at one of those relentless barbecues and the Duke’s intervention would send the contents skywards.
Driving the family somewhere Scottish and remote, he came across kids roughing it for Duke of Edinburgh awards. Winding down the window for a cheery “good morning”, he was told to “jog on, grandpa”, although Prince William said the actual words were much ruder.
And he did jog on. “Cricketers all want to score 100,” reflected Prince Harry. “But I think at 99 he came running to the crease, went for a massive six, scored it, but didn’t actually want to get a century. What a fantastic innings.”