Hard to ignore the fact that today our monarch celebrates 60 years on the throne. And from the massive press and media coverage, it would seem as though the entire nation is forgetting, for one glorious, self-indulgent, weekend of madness, that the nation is financially and morally bankrupt, and that the last remnants of the British Empire disappeared in 1997 when Hong Kong was returned to the Chinese.
But perhaps that explains this outpouring of sentimentality and Dunkirk spirit. As neither a royalist or a republican, why should I deny anyone else the right to a bit of jubilee therapy – or come to that, Olympic torch treatment – to help ward of the worst ravages of the recession. Have your street party; line the streets to ogle heroic torch bearers; shed a tear or two along with the media hungry celebrities and hysterical TV reporters – you won’t get another excuse for a decade or so.
What ticked me off, was turning on my TV screen this morning to watch the news, and being confronted with the prospect of a three hour special of non-news: highlights of last night’s Jubilee concert; a woman mopping the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral in preparation for the special service (by-the-way, what happened to the Occupy protest?); descriptions of the medals on the uniforms of the police officers; interviews with the folk who turned up early to jostle with each other for a prime vantage point; reading out vacuous text messages, and, as is typical when they can't find any 'real' news, TV reporters and newspaper correspondents interviewing each other in a state of frenzied arousal.
But the highlight on the day’s news, on which everyone seemed to have some profound insight to share, was the catastrophic news that Prince Philip was hospitalised with a bladder infection, and would miss the final day of the celebrations. “Will they leave Philip’s chair empty during the service, or will another Royal occupy it?” Who will accompany the Queen in the State Landau?” Perhaps Philip was greatly relieved at being able to watch the events of from the comfort of his hospital bed, reaching for and pressing the button on his remote to turn off the sychophantic Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Elton John. Perhaps Camilla deliberately infected Philip so that she could take his place in the state limo or balcony. In any case, the Queen herself seems as though she is having more fun without Philip:
Accolades for the Queen poured in all day, not least from the Archbishop, who referred to her: "selfless devotion to others", "lifelong dedication", and "living proof that public service is possible". But the highest praise was reserved for her incredible fortitude in bearing the strain of continuing the celebrations without her consort at her side. One commentator linked the Monarch's courage to the morale boosting slogan drafted by the British Government during World War II – KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON (which has lately become one of those irritatingly ubiquitous mantras on mugs, posters, T-shirts, etc.). Well then, perhaps we should all take a lead from the Queen's sacrifice and selflessness and stop whining about the economic and social hardships that her Government are currently subjecting us to.