The Queen’s Jubilee Flotilla
I had a very Jubilee weekend last week. On Sunday, I saw the flotilla float past in the rain. On Monday, for the concert, I stood in the Mall where thousands of people waved flags and sang along to Tom Jones. The flotilla verged on disaster; the concert was great–possibly Monday’s improved weather was the determining factor.
On Sunday, as the queen’s barge finally came past, she gave one of her trademark waves in my direction. I gave her a wave back. It was a jolt, an electric moment. I can’t explain it (that sense of connection) in rational terms, and I realise there are many sensible reasons to find the British monarchy ridiculous.
Yet, last weekend, there was an undeniably potent, heartfelt energy, particularly during the concert: thousands of people happy to be both citizen and subject. Because the current queen never says anything publicly, and presents no viewpoints or philosophies, one can lavish on her one’s national loyalties and hopes in ways that would feel wretched and sycophantic if directed at a party leader.
Crowds gather on the South Bank to await the flotilla:
As we waited in the drizzle, a woman climbed a nearby tree. The police called for her to get down–the crowd booed them, told her to stay up. It was a very Blakean moment.