Monarchy in the UK
June 13, 2012
Queen Elizabeth II – Diamond Jubilee 1952-2012
London. It’s a mad busy place. Arriving on a Bank Holiday weekend, AND the day of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, it’s a mad busy crushing place. God save the Queen and spare a thought for us; we need to get from Paddington to the Strand. Luckily London cabbies are famous for ‘the knowledge’ of their city, and with assertive intimacy our driver navigates a non-stop maze of detours, parting the waves of hundreds upon thousands heading toward the Thames to see the jubilee flotilla. London is all flags and bunting, keen for a pageant, a show of colours, and a right royal wave. The English are proudly patriotic and protective of their Queen, yet politely, give the few foolhardy republicans willing to stick their heads above he parapet a hearing. Not that anyone was really listening mind.
In a store the following day I over-heard a women – hair in scarf, like Liz on a Balmoral Estate outing – ask the shop-assistant if they were feeling patriotic. As the women placed two Union Jack egg-cups on the counter the assistant explained how over-joyed he was to finally see the Queen; after waiting five hours in the cold and wet for the thousand ship armada. “You should feel proud she says.”
From the suburbs of London (we visited cousins in Enfield) to the towns on our way to the East Midlands (the countryside of Rutland for a weekend breather from the city), it’s more flags, and more bunting. Clive James in his Telegraph column cheered enthusiastically for the punter: “A royal event may be rained on, but can’t be rained off. Come hell or high water, it must proceed… what astonishes even those of us expatriates who have lived here for decades is the courage of her people. No amount of threatening water can daunt them. Early in the day, small groups of people who had camped out all night were interviewed. Already coated in plastic, they were ready for anything the heavens could throw down.”
David Mitchell in the Observer noted, slightly tongue-in-cheek, that while the Queen’s subjects took a holiday, so did the media; the world beyond Britannia ceased. “Colourful and eye-catching ‘souvenir editions’ hit the stands and were snapped up by millions, who leafed eagerly past the wide-angle photographs of pageantry and cheeky close-ups of the younger royals to find… nothing. That section of the papers between a front-page celebrity snap and news from Syria seemed to have disappeared.”
But then this doesn’t happen every day, does it?