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10:23am on Tuesday, 5th June, 2012:

Day Off


To celebrate The Queen's not having died yet, we all get a day off work today here in the UK. Yay!

I have to confess, this diamond jubilee lark hasn't really captured my enthusiasm. The 1,000-boat pageant on the Thames might have been impressive if we'd have seen more than 50 boats together at some point. The rain managed to remove any sense of the spectacular from it, although admittedly it did show our stiff-upper-lips in action as we blithely carried on as if the sun were shining gloriously. The fact that the sun did indeed shine gloriously the next day was a great advertisement for the changeability of British weather. It was a shame that Prince Philip had to go to hospital with a bladder infection, but to be honest I'd have taken that option myself rather than have to endure hours of listening to aging pop stars who can't quite hit all the notes they could 30 years ago. The word on the street is that Philip caught his infection from having to stand for so long in the rain; he had to stand because The Queen stood, and no-one gets to sit down in her presence while she's standing. Maybe they ought to change that rule.

There was much said this time round about how the celebrations in the streets weren't as enthusiastic as they were for the silver jubilee in 1977. I remember that jubilee: the people then were saying that there wasn't the same enthusiasm as there was for the coronation. It was largely a half-hearted affair; much the same as this weekend's jubilee, in fact. I suspect that these events are always half-hearted affairs.

I like having a monarchy. I see it as a defence against the power-mad. It's easy for a mad politician or general to kill a head of state and proclaim themself to be the new head of state, but with a monarchy you can't do that: you can't kill the head of state, you can only change who is the head of state to the next in line. There's always some figurehead about whom the people can rally. If anyone wants to take over the UK, they have to dissolve the monarchy first; that reveals their aims, though, so they can be resisted sooner.

I don't buy the anti-monarchy arguments about cost (because all heads of state cost; at least the monarchy brings money into the country). Neither do I buy the arguments about unfair privilege: the day the government passes a law saying that only people who didn't go to private school get to be members of parliament is the day I'll accept that fairness has reached a level where where we can consider choosing our monarch a better way (which is to say, at random). I like it that the monarch has no political agenda and is merely descended from a power-crazed person, as opposed to actually being one. I like it that the monarch can actually be sullen, dim, bad-tempered, ugly, mad or bald, just like the rest of the population.

I hope they give us another day off for the platinum jubilee in 2022.

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Copyright © 2012 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).