Everyone said it was an occasion that made one proud to be British.
Presenters and guests in studios across the world extolled the virtues of a country that is able to put on such a great show, claiming that it set a wonderful precedent for the forthcoming Olympics. People over-ate, over-drank and partied long into several nights, as they celebrated Queen Elizabeth’s 60-year reign.
I felt nothing. Zilch. Nada.
I went to Spain where, for professional reasons only, I watched some of the pageantry on the telly. I wanted to feel something. A glimmer of patriotism, a hint of belonging, a sense of having come home, where I belong, after several years spent living mainly in other countries. I dug deep. And all I found was a longing to leave these shores once more in search of sunnier climes, cheaper utilities, better service – and, most importantly, leave a country that purports to be a democracy, when the head of State is where she is purely by virtue of her birth; likewise, the rest of the Royal family. That defies the very essence of democracy.
The joke is that the many thousands who gathered to catch a glimpse of the Royals this week are where they are by virtue of their birth, too: Down There. They are Her Majesty’s subjects: every one of them poorer, less privileged, and with not a snowball’s chance in hell of ever rising to Her Majesty’s position. The only way they can even get close is with neck bowed or a curtsy. I recently saw a list of DOs and DON’Ts for Joe Public meeting the Queen – it disgusted me.
I back Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood, a staunch Republican, who refuses to attend events at which the Queen turns up – and she was once thrown out of the Assembly for referring to the Queen as “Mrs Windsor”. Good on her. And for any dissonant voices out there venting their fury at this – Plaid’s membership has gone up 23% since she took the reins.
The Royal family is one of the most dysfunctional ones in the country. Her children grew up shaking their mother’s hand rather than receiving a hug. Charles went on to marry a beautiful, young but vulnerable woman, whom he treated appallingly from day one, continuing his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles and, on his honeymoon, even wearing the famously embossed CC cufflinks she had given him.
Both Anne and Andrew are divorced, and Edward revealed himself to have the business acumen of a dead stoat in the film business, despite people throwing chances at him purely because of his lineage.
Thank heavens for Diana in this mix, and the joy that William and Harry have turned out to be – and, also, for Fergie, who has brought up two rather fun-loving daughters, even if they sometimes leave a lot to be desired in the fashion department.
On November 4th 2008, on the even of my 50th birthday, I stood in tears, watching TV, as America stood on the brink of electing its first black President. He has not proven himself to be perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I felt proud of a country taking such a monumental step where, not so very long ago, black people had to give up their seats to white on public transport. Racism is still rife in the States as, sadly, it seems to be everywhere, but Obama has surely given hope to millions of young, disenfranchised Americans – yes, they can do it.
The Royal Family is a smokescreen for the real problems underlying British society – our failing education system, immense poverty, struggle on a daily basis for millions, as they find themselves falling behind on mortgages and bills. Waving your little flag might enable you to forget for a couple of days, but come the hangover, the problems are still there.
As for me: I’m out of here. Again.