Ten Years Til Platinum
It must be a hard time to be a critic of the Queen. She celebrated her Diamond Jubilee a few weeks ago, and although most of the events put on in celebration for her were for the more financially fortunate, people turned out in their thousands to watch her boat join 1000 others in a float down the Thames, through the centre of London, for free. This was despite the weather which at the time I thought was ridiculous for summer, but am slowly realising is rather par for the course around these parts. At least we weren’t the floating choir, who had to stand in the rain with electronics wrapped around their faces, cheerfully belting out patriotic songs for several hours.
We had a little post set up along the side of the river, just like everyone else, along with a healthy supply of snacks, alcohol and raincoats a few hours before the boats even began to arrive, in order to get a position where something would be visible beyond the throngs of onlookers. I caught my glimpse of the Queen on her boat, as well as everyone’s new favourite Kate, and felt I could check something else off my list, albeit from a distance.
The following evening brought a concert outside Buckingham Palace, for a select audience of the rich and influential. However, it was broadcast via a live feed to Hyde Park, and that was where I found myself catching the end of it on giant TVs amongst a new mob of people displaying the same patriotic fervour, finishing with a whole ton of strangers singing along to Let It Be.
This jubilant attitude also lead to street parties in various parts across the city and the country, as everyone celebrated the Queen having survived 60 years on the throne. Having a 4-day weekend to celebrate didn’t hurt either.
A couple of weeks on, and the pro-Royals sentiment is still around. The Queen and her gang keep cropping up in the papers, and popularity polls put them in fairly high regard. Significantly higher than they were in 1997, after Princess Di’s death, and far higher than any contemporary politicians.
There’s been a general feeling of goodwill and high spirits about, as the country seems to show that they are happy with keeping the Royal Family about a while yet. Never ones to miss an opportunity to cash in on someone else’s work, the record labels made some noise about re-releasing the Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen”, which was originally released in 1977 in line with the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Times were different then, but this time the singer, Johnny Rotten, came out saying he was against the move, and I never actually heard it once, or anyone talking about it, during the celebrations.
There definitely are arguments against keeping the Royals, the most common probably being that they are expensive to keep, they don’t really do anything, and they sustain a societal imbalance between the rich and the poor. However, there are also counterarguments to each of those, being that they also bring in alot of money through tourism etc, they don’t do much but at least what they do is charitable and at worst inoffensive, and that societal imbalance would continue just as well with or without a Royal Family – an example being the United States.
After discussing this with a friend, and arguing that although there might not be much of a particular practical to keep them around, there was also no real reason to get rid of them, I was criticised as my main reason for maintaining the status quo was just that it was ‘nice’ to have them around. If that’s all I had, it wasn’t much of an argument, he said. But, as I thought about it, so long as they have no real negative effect, then isn’t that really one of the best reasons? A symbol that gives a country a sense of identity, history and place, and one which just makes people proud to be part of a greater whole, happy with where they live. Despite the weather.