In tomorrow’s world we must all work together as hard as ever, if we’re truly to be United Nations.
Queen Elizabeth II
I don’t know much about her, except that I once saw her at Waterloo Station when she was about to board the Eurostar to Paris. It was a close encounter but one that did not change my life much. She lives in a kick-ass palace and she comes out every now and then to take flowers from admirers and wave at adoring crowds, because as she once said herself: I have to be seen to be believed. She makes a damn good speech and if we’d sell all her jewelery it’s likely that we’ll be able to buy enough rations to feed a small African country for at least a decade.
She’s is the Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, and Saint Kitts and Nevis. She is 5′ 4″. Her nickname is Lillibet and she was the first British monarch to circumnavigate the globe in one trip.
I talk lightheartedly about Queen Elizabeth II, but the truth is the respect and love the British people feel for her, is almost palpable across the British Isles (and even in some countries all of the world) in the build-up to the Jubilee celebrations this coming weekend. On 3 June, London and the world will witness the ‘most extravagant royal pageant since 1662’. The River Thames will be flooded with over 1,000 vessels, including the royal barge. The cost? A whopping £13.3 million. Lucky there’s nothing else going on in London this year… Except for the Olympics.
However, it is also said the Jubilee will give a £924 million “uplift” to the leisure and tourism industry… much needed dolly-dosh in a time of austerity and recession. The Monarchy itself has been valued at £44 billion – making it one of the most valuable of British brands… So, why not sell it to the world and cut back on our deficit?
Earlier this week, walking down the streets of Soho, it felt as if the Empire was enjoying a momentarily revival as Union Jack flags were hoisted and stringed across streets, alleys and snickets in preparation for the Jubilee festivities. Not a single shop window passed on the opportunity to decorate their windows and aisles with the red, white and blue. Britain is peacock and proud, and so they should be. Since 1952, this lady has been ruling the British Isles and the Common Wealth with a silent dignity no other monarch in the world has been able to match.
Elizabeth II certainly deserves this party. During the celebrations nearly 4,000 photographs of the river pageant will be taken every second. Some 332 million images of royal-themed events will be captured and more than 75 million will be shared on social media networks. In London 9,500 streets will be closed for street parties. It’s going to be a Royal Party in the true sense of the word.
I won’t be taking part in the festivities as I am in France and Belgium, but I was lucky to briefly soak up the excitement and anticipation in the streets of London two days before I left for France. I saw men, women and children walking proud and full of expectation and I thought to myself: When people come together in good spirit, much can be achieved. When we realise, collectively as a human race, how good life really is and we count our blessings even when times are tough and uncertain, we have so much more power to change our circumstances and the world around us.
So, when Queen Elizabeth said “Like all the best families, we have our share of eccentricities, of impetuous and wayward youngsters and of family disagreements”, I am almost certain she was not just talking about the Royal Family.
God Save The Queen
Images: FR Lubbe
Text: FR Lubbe