Saturday, 2 June 2012

Jubilee



I have nothing against the Monarchy and am certainly not anti-royalist, on the other hand I am just not terribly interested. I'm not very patriotic. I sometimes wonder if this is  actually due to the fact that I spent some of my formative years in the British Army - obviously I wasn't personally a member of the armed forces at such a young age, rather my father worked as a school teacher and padre in Germany on a British Forces camp. The culture was, unsurprisingly, uber patriotic with a strong emphasis on devotion to Queen and Country. The whole mind set also revolved around what rank you were. My dad always used to tell a story about a fellow padre who told his congregation in his first sermon, "When you walk through the door of this church, there will be no such thing as rank because in the eyes of God there is no such thing as rank." By the end of the day certain members of the  congregation had organised a petition to get rid of him!
Some people undoubtedly see church and religion as part of that pantheon of tradition. Religion is used to bolster up their own sense of power, prestige, hierarchy, tradition and control.  To them, church really is institution and it offers the ability to insist that our attitudes actions, and those of our country (and sometimes the most brutal or questionable actions of our country) are endorsed by that ultimate authority figure in the sky! The values actually enshrined in the gospels, which are antithetical to all the earthly powers that be, are ignored or twisted to be about something quite different, although it is important to acknowledge that we can all interpret scripture through the lens of our own beliefs and understandings.
Judging from the number of union jacks and red, white and blue bunting around this weekend, the  Monarchy clearly does mean a lot to so many people. I don't have a problem with that, a part of me acknowledges that the pomp and pageantry is in a class of its own, and  ritual, history and tradition can play an important part in our cultural and collective identity. I've read plenty of articles enthusing about the Queen's sense of duty and vocation, her sense of service and how she seems to epitomise the values of a more decent and honourable age.I have my reservations about this , the Queen enjoys great wealth and privilege, as do family members who are not so exemplary and those good old days were in some respect the bad old day, however I can understand how she might be a symbol of stability and sound behaviour in a changed and changing world.
Finally, this is not the weekend to be churlish about the Queen! Sixty years has to be worth celebrating, not to mention some extra time off work. If you are so inclined, you can listen to Ro-Ro saying some very nice and  Archbishopy things about the Queen in a very British accent. If not, then just make sure you enjoy your bank holiday weekend!

3 comments:

  1. I am writing this as I am getting my things ready for work tomorrow... Thankfully due to an emergency I worked late this evening (my locum social work – which funds me as I write up my PhD – has resulted in an interesting pilot project at one of London’s busy A&Es, where I work as a senior social worker, trying to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions). This means I’ll probably be able to make tomorrow a POET day (p*ss off early today...). I have to get myself across London tomorrow and if I can leave work early it means there is less chance of me having to negotiate the (soaked...) patriotic souls who will have waited patiently in the rain for a fleeting glimpse of HRH and she bobs down the river. I have had more than this, as I once staggered out of the Litten Tree pub on Horseferry Road after imbibing several pints of Guinness and staggered into a motorcade returning HRH to Buckingham Palace (a few blocks away). Our eyes met and my face must have been one of such surprise that she started laughing... And that was it, eyes finding each other in the muted darkness of an autumn evening, and then a police outrider nosed me towards the pavement and HRH headed through a red light, across Victoria Street and no doubt home to a warm corgi and cup of cocoa.

    I loathe the idea of monarchy, yet retain a good deal of respect and even affection for our present Queen. It is the fact that it is so much luck of the draw and who knows what kind of king Charles or Wills will make. History tells us that the present Queen is the exception rather than the rule. Though what does it matter? What can any constitutional monarch really do? The Queen happily signs into law whatever she’s told to sign and if she ever refused to sign an Act into law, her days as Queen would be numbered, as well she knows. Her power lies in her charm... though this makes me think of Anthony Blanche’s words in Waugh, Brideshead Revisited: ‘Charm is the great English blight. It does not exist outside these damp islands. It spots and kills anything it touches...’

    I am happy to keep the monarch for the time being – if only because without her we’d have ended up with Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair as Presidents. The thought of the latter in such a position makes my bowels shrivel! So Happy Jubilee Your Majesty, you’re better than the alternative... Not a reason for rejoicing, but still a cause for thanksgiving!

    P.D.

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  2. I am sorry to hear you don't seem to have a nice break off! Looking on the bright side, at least you do have work and it is rainy and miserable anyhow.
    What a lovely encounter you had with said Queenie - has to be worth the odd round of drinks:)

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  3. I, like you, am not in any sense a royalist, but must admit to having a sneaking regard for the present incumbent.
    It would worry me not one iota were the monarchy to be dissolved (not literally) tomorrow, but have to admit that 'Joe Public' has a wonderful capacity for making the utmost of occasions like the Jubilee.
    Enjoy your day/days.

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