Written by Phil Maggitti
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Thursday, 3 March 2005

BUCKINGHAM PALACE - Shortly after the private ceremony in which she conferred knighthood on Microsoft founder Bill Gates yesterday, Queen Elizabeth II began "operating sluggishly," said a Buckingham Palace spokesperson.

"Her royal highness definitely began slowing down after meeting Mr. Gates. Today it's taking her noticeably longer to do the simple things she normally does, like chastising servants and mocking the way Camilla Parker Bowles walks. What's more, she seems obsessed with sending the same e-mail messages over and over to all the persons in her address book."

The queen was examined by her personal physician, Sir William Gull, this morning after she had complained of feeling overloaded. She also reported that remembering her dogs' names seemed to take more memory than it normally did, leaving her with less memory for other tasks, like recalling whether or not she had taken her medications.

"We are obviously concerned about her majesty's condition," said Gull. "We are especially worried about the blue, deathlike tint that seems to have replaced her normally pallid skin color."

As he was leaving Buckingham Palace, Gull told reporters gathered in the rain outside that he had placed a call to Mr. Gates's office in Redmond, Washington, hoping to shed some light on the queen's condition.

"I must say we were treated cavalierly," said Gull. "We were put on hold for the longest time, and we were forced to listen to this dreadful music, which was interrupted periodically by a condescending voice that suggested we visit some Web site and figure our problem out for ourselves."

Sources close to the queen described her meeting with Gates as "cordial," despite his repeated questions concerning the possibility of bundling the word "Sir" with his name.

"Mr. Gates was disappointed to learn that as an American citizen he is not entitled to use 'Sir' before his name," said William Shawcross, the queen's official biographer. "When he was told he could put the initials 'KBE'-for Knight Commander of the British Empire-after his name, he complained that no one outside the UK would know what that meant, and that people in the United States might think he ‘was a chiropractor or something.' He was also miffed that his wife would not be able to call herself the Duchess of Redmond."

In related news, an official at Microsoft said she expected the Queen Elizabeth II Service Pack to be released shortly. It will replace all previous royal service packs, and once it is installed on a computer, it can never be removed.

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