Current affairs

To Jubilee, or Not to Jubilee…That is the Question!

02 Jun 2022 | Written by By Carolyn O' Donnell and Paul Phillips

Have you got your flags in hand and bunting ready for this week’s Jubilee celebrations? Or are you keeping your head down in the hope that it all passes by quickly? We take a look at both sides of the debate. Don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments section!

First up, it’s Paul Phillips who we can safely say won’t be donning a Union Jack hat…

I’m looking forward to the Platinum Jubilee celebrations. I love a challenge.

It’s going to be tough avoiding the wall-to-wall coverage from our press and broadcasters. I’ve contrived to do just that for every Royal jubilee, wedding or funeral that I can remember.  

When I was working for national TV news companies I managed – by sheer fluke – to never be on duty when the country ‘came together’ to tug a forelock in the direction of the Monarchy.

I simply do not understand the saturation coverage, which I’ve always thought is based on the media’s misconception of what the nation is really thinking. There’s a lot of indifference, I contend. 

I’ve never been to a street party and waved a mini Union flag. There are no commemorative mugs or plates in my kitchen cupboards. 

There will be arguments that in these troubled times the celebrations will lift the country. They may well do but the hangover of our social reality will soon kick in. 

This isn’t anything personal against the Queen. I’m sure she is very nice and not too many people do the same ‘job’ for 70 years.

It’s what she represents that rankles most; a Head of State by accident of birth sitting in a position of potential power over a democratically elected Parliament. It is an outdated bastion of hereditary privilege and the apparent blind deference to it completely baffles me. What on earth is the ‘Majesty’ and ‘Highness’ stuff all about?

The pageantry verges on the ludicrous. Gold coaches, the ‘fancy dress.’ Did you see what some people were wearing for the recent State opening of Parliament? Why? Is it supposed to hark back to some finer time that never actually existed? Or is it to underline the idea that some people should be regarded as much more superior to others?  

I’ve had all the arguments. 

“The Monarchy brings in a massive amount of cash from tourists.” I reckon they would still visit the Royal buildings whether or not a Royal was there. The Palace of Versailles anyone? And who goes to the Colesseum, on the off-chance of spotting a gladiator? 

‘I suppose you would rather have a President?” Um, yep, that’ll do. An elected Head of State to represent the UK seems a sensible idea to me. 

I had one memorable debate with someone who genuinely told me she would rather her taxes were spent on the Monarchy than spent on education. She argued that she doesn’t have children so why should she pay to educate someone else’s? I’ll leave that there.

I don’t want to be made to feel that I must celebrate something I just don’t believe in, or that I’m an unpatriotic outlier for not doing so. It’s not my party. I’ll sigh if I want to. I may have invented a syndrome for this. Instead of FOMO I might have FOBI – Fear of Being Involved. 

I wonder if there may be a re-think about the Monarchy when Queen Elizabeth II is no longer with us. Perhaps she will be known as Queen Elizabeth The Last. I won’t hold my breath though. 

But what’s the other side of the (royal) coin? Carolyn O’Donnell tells us why she’s loving the Jubilee

Raised in one of Britain’s blighted colonies, as a child I was fervently anti-royal and firmly pro-republican. But then, thanks to my Celtic ancestry, I moved to England, and what can I say? After a few years marinating in the therapeutic balm of warm ale and cream teas, my views have evolved. 

Now, I get teary just thinking about the monarch’s passing. She’s shown remarkable dedication to duty throughout her reign, her dignity an undeniable asset to soft diplomacy and the back channels of foreign influence, not to mention charity work. 

The Queen has done stellar work for seven decades pretending to be interested in all kinds of people and events that probably bore her senseless. For that alone she deserves a Platinum Jubilee, not to mention the opportunity to kick back with nachos and a few episodes of EastEnders whenever she feels like it. 

Unsurprisingly, the Queen has become frailer, so I was also pleased to see her at the recent opening of the Elizabeth Line, engrossed by an Oyster Card

 Her Majesty likes horses and dogs too, and I’m all in favour of that. Corgis are cute, and as we know, Britain’s got talent when it comes to sports you do sitting down. Team GB excels when seated on a steed. Princess Anne, another resolute hard worker, has form in this area, representing the UK in the 1976 Olympics as part of the three-day eventing team. Her daughter Zara won a silver team medal for Britain in the same discipline in 2012. 

Even if you’re royal, it takes work to sit properly in a saddle. All the money and pointy bras in the world can’t buy equestrian expertise as Madonna found when she broke her collar bone in a riding accident

Some countries’ ideas of a parade mean rolling out tanks and nuke launchers, but thanks to the royals we get world-class pomp and pageantry, with obscure rituals in immaculate uniforms, carriages, statement hats, and enough glossy quadrupeds to fill Windsor Great Park. Just think of all the jobs this creates for people with otherwise outdated stable hand skills. At least they won’t have to worry about digital transformation.

Still on pageantry, but where else would you see a wedding like Meghan and Harry’s? The wedding spectacle – and even the weather – was tip top. William appears to be shaping up nicely in the impartial gravitas department, and Kate certainly knows how to dial up the glamour at a James Bond premiere. Though being 100 feet tall and 2 inches wide certainly helps. 

Charles has been a divisive figure at times, but most people now acknowledge he’s done excellent work advocating for the environment and I buy the organic food that is a product of a partnership between Waitrose and the prince’s Duchy Originals business.

I’ll be off to Suffolk to celebrate the Jubilee with street parties, window displays and bunting  that will bring everyone together in a flurry of good cheer that we all need after the past couple of years. There’s even going to be a country fair with a dog show to find the pooch and owner who most closely resemble a member of the royal family. What’s not to like?

Most of all I’m celebrating for the treasured memories. Who will ever forget getting an extra Easter thanks to the Jubilee? Just as we’ll be mulling over The Beatles and UFOs till the end of time, so too will we remember Diana, Princess of Wales. 

You can believe the hype, people. I met her at a cocktail party where youth, i.e., unimportant scruffy people like myself, were required. Wiping my hand on my skirt I prepared to dislike her intensely as I bristled in feisty Republican mode. 

Resistance was futile. She was too glamorous, too tall, and too damn charming. There are entire relationships I can barely remember, but I’ll never forget Diana’s radiant beauty or her telling me that sometimes she had to stand on tiptoe to get away from old ladies with a strong grip.  

So what’s your take on the Jubilee? Let us know if and how you’ll be celebrating in the comments.

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