Anna Isaac

ANNA ISAAC loves the Jubilee but aint a fan of Polly Toynbee.

Why. Why does Cambridge persist in ignoring public holidays? Why do people hate the Jubilee?

I had an exam on the day of the Royal Wedding and now I can’t go up to London for the Jubilee. I love the Queen. She has had tea once a week with every PM since Churchill. She eats her brekkie from Tupperware. I really like tea and the shiny organised fun of Tupperware. I might tease myself for a moment by trying to decide which I love more…

But can I go and watch her progress down the Thames? No. Can I join in what is a rare occasion to have a nationwide apolitical party? No. This otherwise stupidly archaic institution of Cambridge will not accept national holidays: I have to sit an exam.

Polly Toynbee would probably think that is just as it should be. Apparently the monarchy is the main reason we can’t achieve social mobility. She describes the Jubilee as ‘The wizard of Oz in the Emperor’s clothes’, which is a ridiculous analogy (especially as I’d probs take note of a naked wizard). She claims the monarchy ‘subjugates the national imagination, infantilising us with false imaginings and a bogus heritage of our island story.’

It doesn’t, because we aren’t all morons who forget that colonialism happened as soon as we see a sparkle sparkle crown. The Jubilee is not a cause of regressive class politics. It is a much-needed bit of public joy in these miserable times. I’m not going to wake up on Wednesday a committed Tory who praises wide scale tax evasion or thinking that it’s right for stupid ‘but better-crammed children of a middle class more adept at cementing their children into the upper echelons than ever’ to take university places away from other people because of the Jubilee. I don’t think any one else will either, we’ll all just be hungover.

If the Queen is a privileged snob, Ms Toynbee comes across as something much worse: someone who thinks they are above positive aspects of shared culture. Someone full of self-loathing for the country they come from. I’m not a massive nationalist, but I do think hating symbols of Britain plays into the hands of those who are.

This attitude of “can’t you see you’re all behaving like idiots” and “society is asleep” alienates far more than it inspires. It presumes “the masses” are so entirely separate from these well-educated, clever anti-monarchical lefties. It compounds intellectual class difference.

Yes we are falling into economic depression, yes British society has lots of serious problems, but the Queen and the Jubilee are neither the cause nor symptoms of those problems; the Cabinet is. I suggest you pipe down Polly. Put up some bunting, have some pimms and a bit more faith in the rest of us.

I won’t forget about my overdraft or “real” history if I sing the national anthem drunkenly after exams – but it might take the edge off. As my friend Kate says: ‘She’s the closest thing to a Grandma I have: God Save The Queen’.

  • analyst

    hear hear

  • curious

    Is your friend Kate Middleton?

  • phuqwhatyouheard

    Head of state and church. Unaccountable and ineffective. Largest welfare family in the country etc.

    • Also…

      Tireless servants born into a job and the public eye with no choice in the matter, outstanding ambassadors for the United Kingdom, contribute hugely more to the economy through tourism than they cost through "welfare" etc.

      On a side-note, can one be both unaccountable and ineffective? Seems as though if you're ineffective, you have nothing to be accounted for.

  • umm

    If you like the celebration so much but don't agree with anything it represents then why not just get drunk on a generic bank holiday, why does there have to be a jubilee at all?

  • Keep Calm

    and wait for May Week #lashup2k12

  • Bounder & Cad

    [youtube S80SvZBmzOY youtube]
    The alternative Jubilee anthem – 'Prince Harry Song' – by two Cambridge students.

  • Logic Friend

    This article is more or less pure gold

    • Answer


  • Long Live The Queen

    Rather her than a Bush Jr, Sarkozy or Kim Jong-Il for head of state.

    • Hmmmm…

      Yeah, coz those are the INEVITABLE consequences of having an elected head of state….

  • cue

    ridiculous anti-monarchist ramblings and even more ridiculous pro-monarchist counters. because, obviously, the national press and the whole regime will pay attention to tab comments.

  • Fred Maynard

    Anna, I enjoyed the article, but as a republican I think you're patronising us a bit. To call us "self loathing" when we oppose the monarchy is unfair. I'm a republican because I'm patriotic, because I love shared culture, because I love seeing people celebrating in the streets. We just wish that when we did that, we genuinely did celebrate shared culture, because the Queen is not that. The Queen as a symbol says nothing about our democracy, our constitution, our liberties, what Britain is as a country now. I want to celebrate Britain and its people, and when the only chance to do so comes in celebrating a single person, an outdated relic of a medieval system symbolising aristocracy and autocracy, I feel so sad. In other countries their national anthems are about their nations; ours simply says one person should be "saved", repeatedly. I'm a patriot, and I want a better patriotism, so I'm a republican. Don't call us "above" the better aspects of shared culture; we're not killjoys, we just want to have national celebrations about Britain, and not a morally outdated symbol of it.

    • student2126192

      Not in this land alone
      But be God's mercies known
      From shore to shore
      Lord make the nations see
      That men should brothers be
      And form one family
      The wide world over

      That's verse 4, better?

      • Fred Maynard

        I'd never heard that before; it's rather good. Shame it never gets sung, really.

      • errrrrrm

        that's actually verse 3…

  • jamie

    This is a nice article. You sound nice.
    p.s. I realise a large proportion of people reading this comment are so cynical that they will probably assume I am being sarcastic, but I genuinely am not.

    • crawford


  • Regal Eagle

    And there I was thinking I couldn't like Anna any more than I already did…

  • Mr Cultured

    If I was heterosexual I would probably find Ms Isaac quite attractive.

    (no homo)

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