If you’re living in the UK you can’t have failed to notice that there’s a bit of a celebration going on. Queen Liz has been on the throne for 60 years, which is a pretty long time for anyone to stay in a job nowadays, so we all get a day off work.
I’ve never been a particular fan of the monarchy. I regard them much as I would other socialites and individuals deemed famous just for being famous, or for being born into a rich and privileged family. I don’t particularly see why they should get more of my attention than someone famous for being the daughter of a rock-star who spends their time attending parties and getting their photo in Tatler.
That said, I’m aware that the royal family is a part of our country’s tradition, and I don’t want to entirely discredit this. Stories of kings and queens dominated primarily school history lessons, as did family trips to castles and stately homes in my childhood (my dad has a history degree and a military background, so we did quite a bit of this). It often feels rather archaic, but it’s part of our culture and I know a lot of people draw a lot of enjoyment from being a part of that.
As much as I’m not a fan (I’ve successfully avoiding watching the Queen’s Xmas speech to date as I don’t really see what relevance the opinions of a little old lady who lives in a palace has on my life), I do also appreciate that the royal family do raise a lot of money, both for charity and for the UK’s economy. A massive proportion of our tourism industry is based on the royals. I wonder if there would be a lot of negative impact if we actually did away with the whole monarchy.
So, here we have the Jubilee. Much like the up-coming Olympics, it doesn’t have a lot of personal significance to me. But I do get some enjoyment from it. I see the whole event as a celebration of Britishness, in all its quintessential ridiculousness, kitsch tradition and historical silliness.
Village fetes (complete with competitions for growing the largest vegetable), picnics and street parties. Cucumber sandwiches, scones and jam and little cakes on doyleys. Strawberries and cream and gin and tonic. Days at the races with over-the-top hats. May-pole dancing and ribbons in hair. Jams and pickles in jars with gingham wrapped over the top. Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice. A pint or five in a sunny beer gardens and roast dinners. Pearly Kings and Queens. Croquet. Tea. Stripping off for the one hot day of the year. Topshop. English summer rain. Muddy wellies at Glastonbury. British sea-side traditions, candy floss and the helter-skelter. Sitting on the pebble-beach at Brighton and feeding chips to the sea-gulls. Big Ben and the Tower of London. Beefeaters and guards in beer-skin hats. Brass bands on parade. Red double-decker buses. Hamley’s, Harrods and Harvey Nick’s. Bunting. M&S. Henry the VIIIth and getting lost in the Hampton Court Palace maze. Heckling sellers at the fruit & veg market. Going rowing on the Serpentine. Saucy postcards and Carry-On. The Natural History Museum. Yorkshire Puddings. Ice-cream vans.
Whether you’re a commemorative plate-collector or a complete anti-royalist cynical, I hope you all enjoy the day in your own way. Rule Britannia!
(Geri Halliwell at the Brits, M&S Jubilee cakes, Britannia, Pearls and Swine, my Traffic People Union Jack dress!)