Unless you have been living in a remote cave without access to any news media at all, you already know about the Diamond Jubilee and the magnificent parade by a flotilla of 1ooo crafts down the Thames. The cost for this multi-million dollar spectacle, we were told, did not come from the taxpayers, but was canvassed (and coerced) from the private sector. All the other expenses were paid by the taxpayers… security, policing, armed services participating, etcetera!
I am not vehemently anti-monarchist except when the Royals are visiting Canada… always at our expense, of course… and our politicians and media fall all over themselves in sycophantic adoration. It puts my teeth on edge, to say the least! Cultish hero-worship and public praise of even those who have seemingly deserved or earned such adulation is equally obnoxious… and the Royals certainly don’t fit that category.
Perhaps I would find this less annoying if there were at least an acknowledgment that there is another point of view, that many people view this as anachronistic pageantry at best and as parasitic exploitation at worse.
So to-day I am going to include some things you probably won’t find on the BBC or CBC coverage.
The Guardian ran an article titled Forget the Queen’s Jubilee. Let’s have a knees-up for the Magna Carta… If we want parties and pageantry, let’s have them to celebrate our story of democracy, not an unelected monarchy
The glossy newspaper supplements are out, the BBC (supposedly a hotbed of subversive lefties) is preparing wall-to-wall coverage, MPs are going on holiday for two weeks, the populace is ready to put out the flags and the picnic tables. In an orgy of deference, we are celebrating Elizabeth II’s 60 years on the throne. If any other country were paying homage to an unelected head of state in this way, while the living standards of the majority of the population fall and schools and hospitals struggle with diminishing resources, we would call it “the cult of the personality” and probably think about invading.
Then The Observer ran a reply headed The Queen’s jubilee should be a time of rejoicing for our spoilsports… [it] is cleverly inclusive, because it gives the nation’s curmudgeons a role.
…I can live with the likelihood that the Queen has an inflated sense of her own significance. It doesn’t bother me – she’s canny enough to conceal it. And I like the monarchy’s effect on the trappings of the British state …. In an era when few things are what they seem and people seldom say what they really think, our constitution and oaths of allegiance are perfect – they elegantly reflect an hypocritical and duplicitous world. Our monarchy gives us constitutional irony.
The Economist contributes Once in a Lifetime: What three royal jubilees reveal about Britain.
In the Mass Observation Silver Jubilee files, critics grumble about the monarchy costing too much or entrenching privilege. Supporters say the queen confers global prestige or offers a bulwark against constitutional meddling by politicians. In short, the debate is about the best way to organise society. In both Golden and Diamond Jubilee Britain, by contrast, the issue is whether the queen deserves to be respected, and whether the public can relate to her. In short, individualism is all.
But wait, there’s more! At the Silver jubilee in 1977 the Sex Pistols released a song called God Save the Queen. Some of the lyrics are shown with the cartoon here. The song makes me wonder whether the disappointed, the disaffected, the dysfunctional people of Britain and the Commonwealth, or just republicans and anti-monarchists everywhere, share the vehemence of this song. Do listen, and read the Wikipedia article about the circumstances and consequences of this release. It is a revealing story. The lyrics to the song are here. I have also included Motörhead’s 2000 cover, which gives the song in full, with some fun visuals in the video.