So now, in this land so steeped in its own beloved history, hardly have we recuperated from the jollifications attending the marriage of Kate and Wills, than we are plunged into the year-long run-up to the next royal caper – the celebrations to mark the Diamond Jubilee (i.e. sixty years, for those of you not up with this sort of thing) of the reign of Queen Elizabeth the Second of this realm. We loyal subjects are to be granted an ‘extended weekend’ of celebration. There is to be a Big Jubilee Lunch. (Who will be invited to that, I wonder). Greenwich – that famous borough through which runneth the Greenwich meridian – will be granted Royal Borough status – and no, I have no idea what that means and I doubt many of its residents do either. There will be a pageant on the River Thames involving 200 boats. And 2,012 beacons will be lit all across the country – an occasion of truly medieval drama. There will also, of course, be street parties. Royal occasions are big on street parties. And all this will doubtless involve the waving of hundreds of thousands of Union flags, a deal of more or less vacuous speechifying and the thunderous rendering of countless pieces of pompous music.
Well, well. I suspect that W and I are not alone in noting that we shall celebrate the event by leaving the country for that entire weekend.
Am I – are we – the only ones who see this whole thing as a slightly ridiculous, wholly obsolete and unethical jamboree? It smacks of that principle which has, for perhaps the whole history of mankind, sustained emperors and dictators the world over – give the hoi poloi a coloured flag to wave, a stirring tune to sing and hum, tell them in ringing tones of devastating sincerity that they are integral part of something grand, powerful and of inestimable importance and they will overlook – for a while at least – the profound inequalities with which their daily lives are shot through and the inverted ethics which their nation so adroitly practises upon them.
In this era of savage cuts – which may or may not be the best way, I’ve no idea, of dealing with the mess we’re in – people are losing their jobs; many families are losing their homes; many more are finding it hard to make ends meet, to feed their children and keep a roof over their heads. And these same people will be the very providers out of the public purse to which they contribute via their taxes, of the money for this bizarre junket. Would that the owner/occupiers of Buckingham Palace could see their way to parting with just a little of their own astronomical wealth – even a token, in order to show some sort of understanding of and sympathy with the lives of those from whom they receive such homage. But that ain’t gonna happen. There’s something awry in the state of Denmark. Or England.