A two-fingered Jubilee salute to those republicans
THE HARD WORD | The Monarchy just gave a great big two-fingered salute to the doubters, the haters and the critics… and I loved it!
THE world’s largest ever parade of boats, 1,000 in all, sailed down the Thames last week for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, in scenes reminiscent of Canaletto’s Lord Mayor’s Parade, painted more than 260 years ago.
1.2 million people lined the river in truly awful conditions, to watch the historic occasion while an average audience of 10.3 million people watched on TV.
10,000 ticket-holders had the best seats in the house for the Jubilee concert on Monday evening but behind them stood over 500,000 on The Mall and in St James’s Park while television viewing audience’s peaked at 17 million making it the most watched programme of the year.
A million more turned out for the carriage procession on Tuesday.
These are undoubtedly phenomenal numbers. But with it, like any Royal occasion, of course came the criticism.
That most negative soul, Polly Toynbee, at The Guardian screamed: “What are we celebrating? A singularly undistinguished family’s hold on the nation, a mirage of nationhood, a majestic delusion.”
Graham Smith, Chief Executive of Republic whinged: “It’s not chosen by the people, doesn’t represent the people, and as an institution it isn’t fit for purpose,” while a handful of his little cronies ‘protested’ over the weekend with placards that read “royal dictators not welcome.”
I stood along the Thames for that unforgettable river pageant. It, like everyone else, was literally left frozen. But that was merely an afterthought.
Two days later I returned to the celebrations, to watch the carriage procession make its way along The Mall, before scurrying along the famous strip with hundreds of thousands of others to get a view of the Queen, and kings and queens to be, on the Buckingham Palace balcony as the RAF soared overhead. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, and it will stay with me forever.
The Jubilee was a celebration of the monarchy and a nation. It provided the entire country with a chance to forget the troubles of the ‘real world’, and celebrate with friends and family, or complete strangers. Britons were actually talking to each other!
Just weeks away from the London 2012 Olympics, it was also a timely reminder that the Brits know how to put on a bloody good show.
Kill-joys may well argue the money to throw the party was money that wasn’t there to be spent in the first place, but in fact the events themselves were funded privately. How much are we taxpayers forking out for the Olympics? But even the most vehement republican could not deny the global PR generated by Her Maj’s celebration.
Why is it so wrong to get swept up in the mystique of it all? Why is it so wrong to possess such a high regard for an 86-year-old woman born into a position of privilege? This country’s national identity is so indelibly linked with having a monarch, so why are some so determined to throw it all away?
The Jubilee was a nod to the fact that a monarchy can live and thrive alongside a democracy. Why does it have to be one or the other? Queen Elizabeth II wields no political power yet is a glowing, tangible reminder of this country’s rich history.
Long may her heirs uphold the position with as much aplomb. Long may the monarchy continue and long may we let our hair down once in a while.
God save the Queen.
Image: Julien Behal/PA Wire