Saturday, June 16, 2012

Royal Hoorah

I admit it: I admire HM The Queen. The fact that my own mother is only a year older and has always looked very like Her Majesty is a complication I acknowledge and – I hope – set aside. It isn’t just the longevity that I admire, since I have other relatives who are older than either The Queen or Prince Philip, and some I like and some I don’t.

But… There has never been a breath of extramarital scandal about this couple throughout their exceptionally long and public marriage. This can’t be attributed to Royal pressure on the media, since there has been plenty of gossip about their children over the years, so I have to assume that there’s no gossip because there’s nothing to gossip about. The couple are clearly each other’s rock. That in itself is a remarkable and admirable thing.

I really don’t mind the fact that HM inherited a lot of land, and a lot of goods and property. It’s not as though HM goes out and personally grinds the faces of the poor in order to take money from them. Since 1993 The Queen pays tax on her personal wealth and income like everybody else, some £190 million a year, exceeding the amount paid to her by the Civil List, the Privy Purse, and the Grants-in-Aid for upkeep of Royal Palaces and for Royal travel.

I admire HM’s ability to manage a punishing daily, weekly and yearly round of travelling, meetings and public appearances. She’s done it for sixty years, she stays in touch with everything that is happening politically and she shows no sign of retiring. And she does it all with so much more poise and serenity than Murdoch or Sugar or their ilk.

I haven’t gone out of my way to watch the Jubilee celebrations, and truthfully I had forgotten that today was the 60th time HM The Queen has presided on Horseguards Parade. However, I happened to catch Trooping the Colour at a friend’s house this morning, and I was stirred by the sight of the fabulous costumes and uniforms, the men and music and horses and carriages. I know people moan about the expense of “all that military showing-off,” but if these amazing ceremonials didn’t happen, would the complainers be a ha’penny better off? Unlikely. Would foreign visitors spend so much money in England if the only displays were of grey-suited politicians riding in bullet-proof limos? I know I wouldn’t. So I admired the organization that must go into the pomp and pageantry, I appreciated it all as the splendid theatre it was meant to be, and I was glad I didn’t have to polish all that brass and leatherwork.

I know there are things to criticize about monarchy, but I’m deliberately not going to touch on them here. On this miserable wet windy Saturday I want to make a statement: I enjoy the bright side of it. It makes far better viewing than most “celebrities” do. So, to celebrate her astonishingly long reign, three cheers for Her Majesty.

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