Golden slumber

Forget the Golden Jubilee - let's give the Queen a retirement do.

Ray Crowley

Topics Politics

Last year it was the UK general election that threatened to mess up my birthday celebrations. This year it’s another non-event planned for the first week of June – the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.

The plans for Her Majesty’s big day sound as naff as an Olympic Games opening ceremony. The ‘People’s party’ will start with bells, whistles and drums (played by dwarves and hobbits no doubt), and beacons will be lit across the country – culminating in Liz herself lighting a big firework. But she won’t be sparking the fuse with an ordinary zippo – no, the millennium flame has been alight since 2000 in a parish church in..…Great Yarmouth.

The long-lasting light will be carried to the Queen by specially appointed runners who have survived cancer (couldn’t she have chosen people more fortunate to do her dirty work?), and finally handed to her by two lucky children (aah). After the big rocket there’ll be a wall of fire on the palace façade, like the wall of fire they had on the River Thames for the turn of the millennium (remember that? No, neither does anyone else). Don’t the royals recall what happened at Windsor Castle last time someone played with matches?

The following day will see a ’50-year parade’, a procession highlighting the big events during Elizabeth’s reign – from ‘rock ‘n’ roll and punk to fish and chips and sushi’ (1). They should just have a parade with lots of people at the front, reduced down to one or two people at the back – capturing the declining number of people who actually give a fig about the Queen and her jubilee.

Let’s be honest. Over the past 50 years, people have become less and less interested in the monarchy. If you asked the man or woman in the street what they think of the royal family, they’d most likely say Caroline Aherne is good in it, or Prince Philip should stop offending aborigines and fat kids, or something about Harry getting high, Wills blowing out Britney, or what a buffoon Charles is. The idea that these deadbeat royals have influenced important changes over the past half century is as laughable as they are.

For many, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee will only be interesting because it’s also the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Sex Pistols’ single God Save the Queen – or because we’ll be getting a day off work.

Apparently, palace staff are about as excited about the big day as I am – especially as they’ve all been asked to contribute to a kitty to buy their boss a gift. Contributions of between £5 and £20 are recommended, depending on rates of pay. But why stop at palace staff? Why not get the whole country to have a whip round to give the Queen a golden handshake on her jubilee?

The idea of the monarchy as political or cultural figureheads died a long time ago. And now that we have the London Eye and the non-wobbly Millennium Bridge, we don’t even need the motley Windsor crew for tourism. Retiring the Queen would do the great service of saving us from all the planned festivities.

At least with Olympic Games’ opening ceremonies we know it’s just a bit of poncing about before the real thing begins. In the case of the Golden Jubilee, this is the real thing. I’d rather watch curling.

Read on:

Down with ‘The People’s Monarchy’, by Brendan O’Neill

(1) ‘Fireworks and flypast for Jubilee finale’, Daily Telegraph, 14 March 2002

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Topics Politics


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