"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."

Sunday, 3 June 2012

I Like The Queen

I'm not always a good judge of character, having made one or two catastrophic misjudgments in my time, but I think she's generally okay as a person and that she succeeded to the throne with the best of intentions. All the tributes made to her over this weekend have, more or less, been bang on: she's a hard-working, resolute and dignified Monarch who, with the help of the Duke of Edinburgh, has been a great rallying point for the nation. She is what gives this nation a notion of self, she's a prism through which we see ourselves and, let's face it, sixty years is no mean feat.

These days I do see her as a bit of a pit-prop though; she's the focal point of the nation that prevents the roof from caving in - on the politicians. If we were a Republic we would have even less sense of continuity and stability than we do but because of her there remains an intangible feeling of loyalty to our collective history and our Constitutional Monarchy that shapes our national character. That the prism is refracted and distorted doesn't seem to matter very much so long as we can hold on to the dream.

I believe that without the Queen as a pit-prop the dissent against the loss of our sovereignty would have started long before now and the politicians and eurocrats would have found sooner that nothing stood as a sentimental bulwark between them and the people. In short, they're hiding behind the Queen's skirts, and we let them - so does she. Let's not forget it was Blair who, very early on, changed the Constitution and stripped the Crown of Royal Prerogatives, appropriating them to government instead. Don't let's deceive ourselves that there wasn't a quid pro quo.

I did think, however, that the pageantry of the boats was a sight to behold. The delight on the face of the Veterans as they met the Queen and re-told their stories to the cameras, the happiness of the crowd whose spirits couldn't be dampened by a bit of English weather made me happy too. I particularly enjoyed the steam train joyously toot-tootling on Chelsea Bridge and the old, work-worn barge used for shifting Yorkshire coal from Doncaster to Hull for export. There was also a group whose name I unfortunately missed, singing a sea shanty, "South Australia", and they were fabulous. On the whole this first-time-in-300yrs-spectacle would have been nothing without the people: the thousands of happy Brits, singing in the rain, eating soggy picnics, saluting with Pimms & PG, and cheering her on, made me glad to have at least this one occasion when it's okay to be British.

Sadly, it won't last. There'll soon be another Treaty to sign and more EU laws to implement but there's time enough to rant and rail against them. We deserve one day, just a few hours, when we can forget about the mortgage, the national debt and deficit, the job-searching, the choice between heat or eat, the abysmal education of our children, the increasingly repressive legislation, the governance and the Constitution.

The day ended in sad parody as a choir sang "Britons never, never, never shall be slaves," and millions of people trying to make their way home had their patience tested at several tube stations, which closed down due to "unexpected traveller numbers". Even I thought the feel-good factor would last twenty-four hours.


  1. They're called The Fishermen's Friends

    or more correctly Port Isaac's Fisherman's Friends


    1. Hi PC, thanks for the link. I was making tea when they were introduced so missed it - I thought they were one of the highlights.

  2. I was wondering about this as I glanced at a few news blurbs about it. Thanks for posting it.

    1. Just a few musings and no answers, Kid. It was undoubtedly a spectacular sight and the nation as a whole enjoyed it so I guess that's what counts.

    2. If you want to know more there's a 9-minute video here from my good friend, Seudenimon:


      and a blog post from Katabasis here:


      which both explain in their own way why many people are uncomfortable with the Monarchy and don't have a good word to say about it.

  3. Didn't see any of it GV as was visiting my mother,but intend to so do on iplayer later today.

    Nicely composed post, by the way......

    1. Hope she's well and still going strong :) Prepare for a shock when watching the BBC presentation - I watched most of it with the sound off, left the room to make frequent cups of tea but finally reached for the bottle when they went to do a piece about names for 'Jubilee Babies'. Good luck!


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