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Lucy Mangan on the Queen's Diamond Jubilee


The most important thing to note about the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is that we don’t get any diamonds out of it. As the recipient of silver jam spoons on the occasions of the weddings of both Charles and Diana and Andrew and Fergie (delivered, in my young mind’s eye, personally to our borough’s primary schools by a periwigged flunkey) I had high hopes.

But it was not to be. And so there is nothing to temper my conclusion that we should make this monarchical jubilee celebration the last one.

By all means mark the Queen’s 60 years as head of state and mark it well. Break out every state carriage, polish every guardsman, fluff every plume and fire off every cannon. She deserves it. The Queen rocks. Over half a century of ceaseless devotion to this septic isle, enduring deferential small talk, incomprehensible welcoming ceremonies and Royal Variety performances with a stoicism that should have us all prostrating ourselves in awe at her impeccably shod feet. She should get a medal for her services to court shoes alone. I simply couldn’t do the kind of standing around she does (at 85) in any kind of heel. Though she would, of course, have to award it to herself, which might be slightly vulgar.

Her job, however, is insane. She represents our interests at home and abroad because she is the latest head of a clan that, up until very recently, believed it was divinely appointed to rule. I suspect secretly the idea persists. They don’t say it out loud any longer, but I reckon a certain smug satisfaction suffuses every family gathering. Charles is a firm believer in homeopathy, after all. It’s not much of a leap from that to believing that you could still heal the scrofulous if given half a chance.

Not that you can blame them. It’s 2012 and we do still treat them as demi-gods to be worshipped. It simply shouldn’t be possible in this day and age for a population to go into meltdown over “an ordinary girl” – albeit one with hair so exceedingly lovely that it almost makes her worthy of the title – becoming a princess. (I know, I know, she’s only a duchess so far. But we shouldn’t be living in a world where we need to begin picking up on these distinctions anywhere outside a Ladybird book.)

It's 2012 and we still treat the royals as gods to be worshipped

Our monarchy is usually regarded as a sign of the country’s deep attachment to history and tradition. To hear some ardent fans talk, you would think that without our kings and queens every pre-war building in the country would vanish in a puff of dust. The monarchy is actually a sign of our unwillingness to move forward, to grow up, to detach ourselves from these figureheads who stand in a kind of ermine-clad loco parentis to us all. They are the visible symbol of our fathoms-deep adherence to a class system that has a rigid place for everyone. Their existence both represents and reinforces our stubborn unwillingness to truly embrace the notion that it is a person’s talent and temperament that should determine their success in life, not their parents’ money or their great-great-great-grandparents’ willingness to suck up to the Normans in return for a duchy or two back in the day.

Class divisions are so entrenched that we barely even notice them. Most of us should be growing up mad with resentment and howling for revolution. But it’s hard to do so when the world around you looks so immutable and its different demographics so cleverly separated by physical and, more perniciously, by mental geography. I grew up not even knowing there were such things as private schools. I wondered how when I got to university and assumed there must have been one on every street corner that I’d somehow missed, if they had managed to produce so many undergraduates compared with ‘normal’ schools. It took me years to work out the full extent of the lie perpetrated upon me.

So, dust off the state carriages, as I say, one more time. Let’s give the Queen a great party – after all, it’s only what any 85 year old still plugging away at what must be a criminally boring job, never running off with a skinny divorcee, never burning any monasteries and setting up her own church to better suit her needs or blowing the Civil List allowance on dubonnet and gin, deserves. Just because she is uniquely placed to get it doesn’t mean she shouldn’t. But after that – it’s presidents all round. Yes, we’ll probably end up with Boris Johnson, but you’ve got to start somewhere, you know?

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