QUEENS come in many forms. Some achieve this status by accident of birth (and death), others by a combination of hard graft, talent and inner radiance. I’ve weighed up the respective merits of the Queen of the United Kingdom and the Queen of Country Music, and there is simply no contest. Therefore, I will be celebrating Dolly Parton this weekend.

If you are in two minds about which of these ladies is most worth celebrating – perhaps you have a soft spot for Her Majesty, even if you’re a republican – allow me to make the case for Her Royal Humbleness, the Duchess of Dollywood.

In case you were unaware, Dollywood is a real place – a family amusement park in Pigeon Forge, in the mountains of Tennessee, which is co-owned by the singer-songwriter and provides employment for thousands of people. As of this year, these workers have been offered grants covering the entire cost of their tuition and books they wish to pursue higher education.

By contrast, Buckingham Palace was left red-faced last week after a job there was incorrectly advertised with an hourly rate below the minimum wage, stressing that as a live-in role with meals provided the salary was “very competitive for similar roles in London”. Imagine living alongside that bunch of weirdos. The surroundings might be grand, but they don’t have a single rollercoaster, and they certainly don’t have an eagle sanctuary or a Smoky Mountain River Rampage.

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Windsor Castle does have a very impressive Royal Library, which no doubt someone is competitively paid to keep free of dust, but access to it is tightly restricted and researchers must be accompanied by a staff member at all times. By contrast, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book-gifting programme for children that began in her home state but expanded throughout the world. International partners include the Scottish Book Trust, which uses a Scottish Government grant to provide a free book every month to all care-experienced children and all adopted children in Scotland up to the age of five.

Dolly is particularly attentive to the needs of children who haven’t had the best start in life, as she grew up in a one-bedroom shack as the fourth of 12 siblings. Her rags to riches story sounds like the movie plot – one of her earliest songs, Coat of Many Colours, describes her pride at the patchwork garment her mother stitched for her, despite the mockery she received from her classmates.

Queen Elizabeth is certainly not short of coats – in every conceivable colour – but do any of them have love sewn into every stitch? Hers is more of a riches to more riches story, and I’m not sure even Queen Dolly could compose a heartwarming ballad around her attempt to gain exemption from a carbon-cutting initiative. Estate of Non-Green Colour doesn’t quite have the same ring. “Now I know I’ve plenty money, I’m as rich as I could be/with the environmental loophole, my lawyers made for me.” It needs a bit of work – but “Balmoral” does rhyme with “immoral”, so the bare bones are there.

Speaking of bones, Queen Elizabeth does excel at staying upright, I’ll give her that. But can she play the banjo at the same time? I doubt it. Following a health scare in her mid-thirties during which she collapsed on stage, Dolly vowed to look after herself. “When I was flat on my back, I realized that I could never retire, that I hated it, that I would never get myself in that place again,” she reflected later. Of course, we have no idea if Dolly is even close to retirement age, as a lady does not reveal such details. A lady certainly doesn’t have two separate “birthdays” each year and expect to be celebrated twice.

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Dolly doesn’t just look after her own health these days – she looks after everyone’s. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic she donated $1 million towards crucial research that led to the development of the Moderna vaccine. Despite this, she waited until vaccines were widely available before getting jabbed herself (“I don’t want it to look like I’m jumping the line”). Not only that, but she did so on camera to promote take-up, and she adapted her hit song Jolene to urge “Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, I’m begging of you, please don’t hesitate.” Surely some kind of Nobel Prize is due for these efforts.

The Queen has waited 93 years to go platinum but Dolly first managed it back in the 1970s with her album Here You Come Again. There’s even a documentary about her life and career called Platinum Blonde (“I’m not offended by all of the dumb blonde jokes,” the wig fan once told Vogue. “Because I know I’m not dumb and I also know that I’m not blonde.”)

You can keep your illuminated Stonehenge, bizarre hedge sculptures and special-edition M&S Colin the Caterpillar cakes. Since when did caterpillars turn into Corgis, and why has this weekend turned into some kind of bizarre hybrid of Black Friday and Crufts?

Dolly trills that love is like a butterfly, as soft and gentle as a sigh, but her love for her fellow humans feels more like a robust hug and a lipstick-imprinting kiss. We truly don’t deserve her.