For us the Diamond Jubilee celebrations are over leaving most with a feeling of anti-climax. The nation participated and poured over the proceedings throughout the weekend making its support for the Royal Family quite clear. The wonderful river Pageant recreating that Canaletto riverscape, the concert that provided some great performances and the service at St Paul’s underlining the Monarch’s role in the church, together with her abiding faith.
There were some negatives in the celebrations such as the poor BBC coverage of the pageant. The commentators dumbed the whole thing down by their banal comments and the BBC’s increasing tendency to enter into discussions with lightweight guests who seem to know little of interest about the proceedings. I also felt the BBC did not seize the moment with its camera work, missing many opportunities to produce film of lasting merit. The concert had some great moments and some odd ones. Tom Jones was superb, his strong versatile voice still showing all the power of his youth. Paul McCartney on the other hand could not put in a performance of merit. For all that he was part of one of the finest moments in pop history he never had the greatest voice. He should stop performing. The establishment will not let him, of course and I understand that it has been confirmed that he will close the Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Games!
The hoola-hooping Grace Jones showed herself to be a phenomenon. At the age of 64 she displays a body worthy of a 25 year old and a stamina to match. I can’t hoola-hoop for 1 minute let alone 5 whilst singing in front of the nation.
I still cannot understand why Will I Am was there. He has no British connections as far as I know and his accompaniment of Stevie Wonder on Happy Birthday was dire. Still, I enjoyed it overall and it gave us all another opportunity to wave our flags and sing God Save the Queen.
The vain attempts of the republicans to generate some kind of protest during the weekend fell on deaf ears and left them licking their wounds and realising theirs, for the foreseeable future, is a lost cause.
However, the Jubilee stood for more than just an anniversary. It was moment when we truly celebrated an institution that we love and admire as something that identifies us in this world as being different whilst carrying with it all the values that have made this nation great.
In 2007 South Africa staged the Rugby World Cup and Nelson Mandela used the occasion as a means to unite the nation in a single objective to support the national team in their quest for victory. Rugby was, for most of its history to that point, a sport almost exclusively for whites and as such a symbol, for the black majority, of apartheid. To unite the whole nation in its support of the national team was a mammoth task that most would have thought impossible. The 2009 film Invictus would have us believe that is exactly what happened and I am sure for a short while it did. The sense of euphoria that accompanied the South African win in the final was palpable throughout the nation and it would have been Mandela’s hope that the resulting unity could be put to work in the long term to regenerate the nation. It is my impression that unity was short lived. True, South Africa now has a government elected by the whole of its people but it has failed to fulfil the promise of the Mandela era.
It is clear that the task of creating the feel-good unity of a nation through specific events, although a difficult task, is not as difficult as using it to build the nation and its communities into something stronger and more prosperous for everyone in the longer term.
The Jubilee has undoubtedly created the feeling of one nation and re-enforced our beliefs that it is a force for good and could also be also for change. Today’s Monarchy is not representative of the old imperialist attitudes of the past but is very much of the present but preserving all the heritage and history that the nation values.
The Monarchy is not an answer to the problems we face in the nation nor does it purport to be. Nevertheless, we do need stronger ties between all parts of our country and communities. We need to have the courage to stand up for what we believe and to regenerate the spirit of industry and endeavour that made our nation great. This does not constitute a recipe for a short term fix to put food on the tables of those that cannot afford it but maybe the growth in national confidence which permeated these celebrations might just provide the catalyst for the growth that the country so desperately needs.