A British-American bluestocking living in the UK writes about politics, pop culture, and emerging new paradigms as they unfold on both sides of the Atlantic. (New content.)

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Party Like it's 2012! The Brits Pull Out the Stops for HRH

Typical of the decorations up across Britain
When the going gets tough, the Brits just throw a party. And the Diamond Jubilee promises to be the biggest party of the new millenium. The Royal Wedding of Kate and William last year will pale in comparison to all the pomp that is surrounding the celebration of the 60th year of the reign of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second. She is the only monarch other than Queen Victoria to have reigned this long. And whether one is a Royalist or a non-Royalist, whether you think the Royals are irrelevant or part of what drives tourism to this big island, one cannot but be a bit astounded by the embracing of this celebration and of Elizabeth. She is an institution and the only stable figure during sixty years of enormous change in Great Britain. Think of this: if a British person was born after 1952, she is the only monarch that they have known.

I was here for the Golden Jubilee in 2002, and it had none of the same passion. There was some celebrating, but not on the scale that we will see this time. Because the Queen has now surpassed the record of all monarchs except for Victoria for the longest reign, they are pulling out all the stops. In 1947, after the death of her father, she made a promise to the British people: "My whole life whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service...God help me to make good my vow and God bless all of you who are willing to share in it." She has kept her promise and the British people are well aware that in a world of celebrity, she has done it with a total lack of vanity and often through great personal challenges. She has also vowed not to abdicate, but to continue to reign for the rest of her days. Now, that's a real sense of duty.
I can't even properly describe what Britain looks like right now. For almost a month, Union Jacks (the red, white and blue) have popped up all over the cities. There are flags everywhere: hanging out of people's windows, fluttering on cars and in front gardens. The Union Jack is now on hats, mugs, tablecloths, faces, and there is bunting strung on trees and between houses all across the country. One young couple painted the facade of their house in a Union Jack. 2012 bonfires will be lit all across the island in public places and back gardens so that they will be visible from outer space. There are block parties planned all over the country with 9,500 street closures applied for in England and Wales alone. Great Britian has become mad for the red-white-blue. The great flotilla on the Thames is also promising to be a huge spectacular.  I can't help but smile. It's impossible for me to not feel a bit of British pride myself. After all, this has been my home for the last decade. But there is another reason.

The joy that I feel in my heart when I see this great outpouring of British pride is that one Union Jack is one less European Union flag. Seeing this great display of the flag that symbolizes the glory of the sovereignty of Great Britain clearly shows that the British are tired of all the machinations of what is happening in Brussels. They are very well aware that they are not Europeans they are British first. And as the Eurozone crisis deepens and Europeans begin to cross the channel and invest in Great Britain, it is quite obvious that this is probably the most secure place to be (except, perhaps for Switzerland). Despite the naysayers, the monarchy continues to be a great drawing force for tourism and goodwill across the world. Yes, she may only be a figurehead but she continues to be a uniting force.  The Queen herself has always steered clear of controversy (except for a blip during the late Princess of Wales' death) and has remained steadfast and true to the British people. She has always remained above the fray. And despite the disassembling of the world around her, she continues to be the one unchanging face.  In a world of quick fixes, tweets and the ephemeral...she stands solid. Not bad for a woman who stands regally at a breath over five feet tall. I think she deserves a party.

Honestly,perhaps the whole of Britain needs a party to brace themselves for the year to come. With Europe in the greatest turmoil since World War II,  the future seems uncertain. For now, raising a glass to the one constant seems most appropriate. And throwing in a bit of British red-white-blue can't hurt. No Brussels blue to be seen...hallelujah!

One of the many British block parties being thrown across the country.