Bored Queen Looks On As London Becomes A Nuthouse

Will McStay provides a round-up of last weekend’s Jubilee madness

This weekend was a special weekend all over the country as in a show of patriotism; Britons waved flags, wore novelty hats and ate lunch together to celebrate 60 years of Good Old Liz. Apart from being a welcome boost to the bunting industry, which after the Royal Wedding last year and this year’s bonanza now has a turnover higher than most of our country’s financial institutions, it spawned 3 days of madness in London.

I recently returned from a year abroad in France, and after the furore that followed the socialist leader Francois Hollande’s election win I thought I had seen all the patriotic madness I was ever likely to witness. However, I was very wrong. Here is your special step by step account of this weekend if you missed the action:

Thousands of men, women and children lined the Thames to watch what was effectively a canoeing display, supported ably by the RNLI who were ready to step in and tow vessels if any of them became too tired. The BBC coverage flitted between carefully selected members of the crowd to show the “ethnic diversity” of Britain, Sally Gunnel looking dangerously unbalanced on a large rowing boat and Ben Fogel, whom the BBC were keen to show was still alive following the ‘Swimming with Crocodiles’ series.

After the rowers had passed, the royal barge left its moorings and sailed down the river, with the Queen looking stately but extremely bored as she engaged in small talk and looked upon the frankly underwhelming spectacle of a couple of hundred rowing boats edging their way down the Thames. A spectacle, which, no matter how many times Huw Edwards told me was astonishing, stunning and (insert superlative here), far less impressive than Pippa Middleton’s bum, which I am sad to say received next to no media coverage and was faced away from the cameras for the whole event. Such was the lack of excitement that at one point the commentators started to talk about the direction of the wind (left to right as you looked at the royal barge in case you were wondering), and this was in-between several references to the one same joke that has littered all coverage of the event the whole weekend, the contrast between the Reign of Queenie and the rain during the celebrations. ‘How Very British’, they all said…

The organisers attempt at diversity extended to Monday, when this time Northerners were to feel included when token Geordie Cheryl Cole performed with Gary Barlow for the Queen. Elizabeth however, was unlikely to hear much of it as she had earphones on the whole time.  The musical treats didn’t end there as Gary Barlow had also clocked up enough air miles to take the whole of London to Legoland recording a Commonwealth song with sounds from around the world; “Sing it louder, sing it clearer, Knowing everyone will hear you, Make some noise, find your voice tonight” exclaims the chorus, a sentiment that is as strong and powerful as it is entirely meaningless.

Will.I.Am continued to show an American misunderstanding of the whole event as he wished the Queen happy birthday (it was her sort of birthday as well, but that was hardly the point), whilst one of the genuinely touching and amusing moments was to be found when Prince Charles referred to Her Majesty as ‘Mummy’.

The Queen took lunch at Westminster Palace on Tuesday where she was greeted by a man who had evidently not remembered his speech, but had very clearly remembered his pre-school nativity play training to look up when speaking publicly. His head nodded up and down furiously as he checked his notes like Churchill in a car insurance advertisement.

Coverage of the lunch was interspersed with the stories of the Queen’s sacrifice, which although I do to an extent sympathise with, was extremely insensitive when one considers the number of bedrooms in Buckingham Palace and the number of homeless people on the streets of London.

The whole weekend was homage to the word cringeworthy, but I loved it. What I have written may all seem very negative. But I think, and I hope that you will agree, a bit of madness and self-expression is what makes life worth living. One can talk about how much the royals, music, art and theatre cost in terms of the number of baby incubators you could buy but isn’t art, opulence, humour and expression the reason we are living and not surviving? I was accosted by a man in a Prince William mask at Waterloo station at 1am on Monday morning, and can honestly say I found it a very amusing experience. As I watched the celebrations this weekend, I couldn’t help laughing almost constantly. So, this is a plea, to all London and England, let’s do this more often. I have taken the liberty of compiling some events we may wish to hang more bunting for and celebrate over the next month:

  • June 9 – Jonny Depp’s Birthday
  • June 12 – 36 years since the Wurzels’ Combine Harvester track scores a number one
  • June 15 – Neil Patrick Harris’ birthday
  • June 22 – Cyndi Lauper’s birthday
  • June 28 – Enrico di Nicola becomes first president of Italy in 1946

If nothing else, I’ve got a mate in the bunting business who could do with a few extra quid…