I am so very sad not to be in London this weekend to take part in the festivities for Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, as she celebrates 60 years on the throne.
Until recently I’d never seen a colour picture of the Queen’s absolutely exquisite coronation gown, embellished all over with symbols of the four British home nations. Designer Sir Norman Hartnell’s sketch is below. Fan Bing Bing eat your heart out!
Few of us Brits can even remember a time when she wasn’t our Head of State – she’s been a fixture in all our lives since we were babies - and I’m sure no British person can even begin to envisage the country without her.
It’s going to be a huge four-day party in the UK, starting tomorrow; partly because we don’t have an annual equivalent of the Fourth of July or Bastille Day and therefore have to grab any opportunity we can to show our national pride and patriotism, and partly I think because most British people are, deep down, very fond of the old girl.
I find it amusing that someone chosen entirely through an accident of birth, (in many ways hereditary monarchy is one of the fairest and most truly random ways of choosing a head of state) so perfectly embodies many of the qualities that British people like to imagine they possess.
Neither flamboyant, showy nor remotely glamorous, like us she can seem reserved, diffident and bit shy on first acquaintance, but underneath seems genuinely warm, honest and friendly and is apparently very witty. We make her do some of the most boring things imaginable but appreciate that she does them stoically, without fuss or grumbling and without seeming to enjoy her enormous wealth and privilege too much. We like that she prefers to spend her vacations under the rains of Scotland rather than cavorting on the nudist beaches of the Mediterranean (I just boggled my own mind there) and feel that it is entirely right, natural and proper that she clearly prefers dogs and horses to people.
Funnily enough, in many ways since moving to America I have come to appreciate the monarchy even more than when I lived back in the UK.
Seems to me that an elected presidency can sometimes be a tricky conundrum for Americans, who have to reconcile their personal feelings for the man (always a man) currently in office with their respect for the office he holds and their belief in the country he represents.
In the UK we have carte blanche to loathe, criticise and disrespect all our politicians equally and without reservation (surely healthy in a democracy) while saving all our patriotism, respect and pride for the little old lady, who with immense good grace and not a whiff of personal scandal, has done everything we’ve asked of her over the last sixty years. I personally wouldn’t have it any other way.
Thank you ma’am and have a fun weekend.
It’s going to be all Jubilee here on the blog over the next four days, in between baking for Jubilee parties and getting up at 5.30 am to watch the festivities.
Brits lucky enough to be on the scene please comment and tell us how things are going and what you’re doing; expat Brits and Commonwealth kids, tell us if and how you’re celebrating; I’m fascinated to hear from everyone what the Queen and this weekend means to you (if anything). Americans, will you be getting up to watch?