Sides of the story – the Diamond Jubilee

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Facts of the matter

The Queen has now been on the throne for longer than most of her subjects have been alive, has outlasted countless governments, and has presided with a probably admirable calm over the slump towards relative insignificance of both the UK in general and the monarchy in particular.

The UK has pulled out all the stops to mark what may well be the last major royal-centred event before we get stuck with King Charles, ordering the nation to picnic en masse and fly flags, and to cap it off called in pop stars, dignitaries and a giant flotilla of boats (we’re a marine power, remember) to give the blandly pleasant old gal her due: misplaced, and somewhat outdated pomp. Important royal events are always tough to cover – most editors demand a positive spin, which isn’t really what the British press is designed for.

And so you get the same obsession with the details of dress without any of the bitchy meanness that gets papers like The Mail off the shelves. The result is a more or less endless stream of praise of the emotional and ‘often witty’ speeches, the glitz and the music. After four days of it, you almost miss the shrieky finger-pointing that makes Britain’s papers what they are.

Laugh-a-minute

One of the few monarchists at the Guardian turns effusive on us, recounting the times he was personally charmed by the Queen (‘my’ Queen, apparently), dwelling as her admirers invariably do on her outfits: ‘and was that not a yellow flower clasped within the band of her green hat?’, he gasps, swooning over his keyboard, one imagines.

He fills out the rest of the blank page space with an odd defence of monarchic privilege: boring lefties who argue that all the pageantry is just a disguise for grossly unjust privilege are wrong: ‘ there is only one thing worse than being poor and that’s being rich but without the opportunity to choose what to spend it on’. That this kind of logical gymnastics can get published in a leading newspaper speaks volumes of the very defensive affection felt in the UK for the Queen, probably more than we admit.

Voice(s) of reason

Also in the Guardian, Alexis Petridis reminds us that the Royals are have had years of training at enduring events far more tedious than anything Cheryl Cole and Robbie Williams can throw at them – think of the decades spent smiling and waving politely at Royal variety shows. The same paper also managed to dig up an Alterative Jubilee, billed as a gathering of ‘old queens’ on a hill somewhere in Scotland, adding that the late Queen Mother was apparently a ‘notorious fag hag’.

And, that’s about it as far as interesting coverage goes. Every major royal event tends to reduce the British press to doe-eyed fawning, with the occasional bitter rant about it’s all wrong and we should never have let Charles II back in the first place. I can only recommend enjoying or at least tolerating the quiet pageantry while it lasts – Charles III will be harder to ignore.

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