OPINION: Two Cheers for a Trifle?
By Nick Pelling
As you all probably know, a jubilee should begin with the blowing of a ram’s horn. This, I believe, was an ancient Jewish practice in which a so-called Yobel – Hebrew for a ram’s horn – was blown to signify important anniversaries. Just wanted that cleared up.
Regarding the whole current hoopla, I think I am suffering from a strange political split condition. On the one hand, I feel that the institution of the monarchy is a sort of hideous capstone on our entire class system. But then, the Queen seems like a decent little old lady, who has performed the task of being solidly and constitutionally boring, so effectively, that it is almost interesting. She is also a human link back through so much history – her first PM was a certain Winston Churchill. I find myself not quite able to raise a glass for the royal soap opera but also not quite able to smash it in disgust.
To put things in context. The first significant royal Jubilee occurred in 1809 when mad George III decided to celebrate his 49 years on the throne. Apparently, he felt that the beginning of his 50th year, rather than the end of it, was the thing to celebrate. Or at least that is what he told the trees. The radical writer Leigh Hunt commented in a rather acid prophetic fashion that all the palaver was nothing but “trifles by which our exquisite statesmen divert the public mind from thinking.” A similar sort of radical pistol-poet sneered, during the 1977 Jubilee, that God should “save the Queen and the fascist regime, they made you a moron, a potential H Bomb”. As I find myself blandly shrugging, I wonder if I have become that moron.
Queen Victoria had two Jubilees, golden and diamond, but nothing ever matched the thrill she got on her accession to the throne in 1837 when the Shah of Persia presented her with a pair of Tibetan goats. I find myself feeling a bit like those two goats, in two rather dim minds. I think I may be suffering from Jubilophrenia.
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