I think everyone knows what's been going on in the UK this weekend, and if not, you probably live under a rock somewhere.
Well, the Diamond Jubilee is over, and people had a "Right Royal Knee's Up" for 4 days.
There were street parties, lunches, bunting, flags, pageants, processions, a concert…and a lot of delighted smiles from the Queen.
Anyone who didn't know the national anthem bloody well learned it over those four days, willing or not. Wherever the Queen went, there were random outbursts of "God Save The Queen". So much so, I think she needs a new theme tune.
All in all, it really was a great time. Rain notwithstanding. The Brits really took to the "Keep Calm and Carry On" motto, and no amount of rain, cold or drizzle stopped them from celebrating 60 years of the Queen's rule.
Yes, she still rules. Though not in any political capacity.
The Prime Minister has a weekly meeting with the Queen. He appraises her of what's going on, and in turn she offers advice on decisions. Here is a woman who has 60 years experience in the job, who has met every ruler, who knows everything about them and their countries, and is perhaps the most important ambassador Great Britain ever had.
Above all — she is completely impartial. She is not associated with any political party, and the only thing that matters to her is the health and prosperity of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth Countries, and the citizens of those nations.
Taking advice from her is simply invaluable and most (not all) Prime Ministers truly appreciate their meetings with her.
I think the US Presidents would just love to have someone like her at hand.
The woman has more stamina (at 86 years of age!) than many of us can muster.
She remained on her feet during the entire river pageant — some 5 hours long — and never stopped waving at people. (Her wrist must ache like hell, as must her feet.)
She gracefully smiled through all the (good-natured) jokes, laughing out loud at times.
(I still think at least one of those boats and ships should have hoisted a pirate flag–but that's just me.)
The concert was a fantastic visual treat, with Buckingham Palace all lit up and used as a canvas. Some of the acts were brilliant, some not so much, some were just downright freakish. (Grace Jones and her hulahoop springs to mind…)
The fireworks were absolutely stunning, the beacons were awesome — and the weather played ball too.
And the people…wow. The atmosphere was one of exuberance and happiness, with everyone cheering, doing Mexican Waves down the Mall, waving flags, singing, cheering…just incredible.
My better half, who is a camera man and who covered the entire Jubilee, came back completely exhausted yesterday.
He slogged through the River Pageant, covered the concert, and St. Paul's the next morning. He said people were standing twenty deep along the riverbanks, from Battersea to Tower Bridge. The streets were full of cheerful "subjects", the parks were crowded to bursting with families having picnics, revellers having parties in spite of the rain.
The weather didn't deter anyone. Those his crew spoke to basically said "If the Queen can do all this at her age, we are just going to buck up and do it too. It's the least we can do."
However…they weren't doing it because of patriotism. No "I'm doing it for England." Nope, none of that. They were doing it for the Queen.
The Union Jack flag was everywhere. People were wearing it as hats, coats, shirts, jackets, umbrellas, face paint — you name it. It was hanging out of windows, strung along entire streets as bunting, covered tables as a table cloth, hung from cars.
I know of a "Patriotic Pony", which before all this was a gray…only to be covered in colored chalk from top to bottom — until it was a "Union Jack" pony. (Looked awesome, and they washed it after, no harm done.)
I've seen the Queen at functions many times. She is the epitome of "Stiff Upper Lip". This weekend, however, she smiled, laughed and seemed to genuinely enjoy herself. And sometimes… Sometimes that "Stiff Upper Lip" was in danger of crumbling. When she stood on the stage after the concert and Prince Charles did the speech on the concert stage, and people were cheering her, cheering even louder for Prince Philip, who is in hospital right now, there was a lot of hard swallowing and she looked close to tears.
The same when she stood on the Balcony the next day. I think ER II struggled with her emotions. A lot. I think maybe she didn't quite expect such an overwhelming outpouring of good will.
Well, she should have.
All in all, it was a fantastic long weekend — and not just for us "Plebs", but also for "One".