This weekend heralds the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations and I for one am looking forward to the pageant and concert. 60 years on the Throne is a remarkable achievement for any monarch and I can well remember the celebrations surrounding the coronation 60 years ago. The whole of our street was covered in bunting and without exception every household participated. We had the most enormous street party that went on all day with fancy dress competitions and street sports. It was built on a very strong community spirit and as a youngster I can recalled parading my stuff dressed as a Beefeater feeling part of something special. My father bought a TV a few weeks before the Coronation. It was one of those small 12 inch screens housed in a piece of furniture of enormous proportions. Of course there were a mass of valves involved so space was important. As we were one of the few in our street to have a set, on the day our sitting room was packed to the roof. Rooms in the house were small and we must have crammed in 40 people. I sat at the front on the floor a matter of inches from the set not fully appreciating all the fuss but absolutely loving the spirit of celebration that was involved. As was constantly the case at one stage the picture rolled to the horror of the assembled crowd but my father was ushered to the front to adjust the vertical hold. Those of you old enough will well recall the plethora of things that could and did go wrong with TV sets in those days and it always happened at the most inconvenient times like Christmas Eve. So, on Coronation day my father was on tenterhooks but, surprisingly, the set performed and the assembled crowds thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Of course, national celebrations such as the Jubilee do not solve the many problems we are currently facing but it can be a uniting influence on the nation. We are in need of things which bring us together rather than divide us and whether you support it or not there is little doubt that the monarchy is one of those things which makes us different in this world. It is an institution that has much support and always creates interest around the world. A strong national identity and closer bonds within our communities is vital for the health of our country. The Queen has reigned supremely for 60 years with a selfless devotion to duty for which we should all be grateful. There may be things we would like to see change but I for one think we need to preserve the one thing that consistently generates the highest profile in the world bar none and, if we let it, can have a uniting influence on the country from which we stand a better chance of solving some of the ills of the present.