The Queen's Diamond Jubilee - A personal View

Posted by on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 Under: Queen's Diamond Jubilee

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee - A personal View

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee - A Personal View
| June 2012

What a mixture of things: the grand and the little, the national and the local, the wonderful and the wacky, the things which tugged at your heartstrings, and the ghastly!

Aylesford Church was full of white flowers, all containing photos of the Queen over her 60 year reign; and in the main service we marked the occasion and the National Anthem, which after all is a prayer for the Queen.

On the TV in the afternoon the marvellous spectacle of the river pageant gradually deteriorated into a British feat of endurance as the rain came down. A thousand "ships" - rowing boats, gondolas, barges and anything that floated - typified the diverseness of the whole occasion: a stately, magnificent royal barge, weirdly dressed spectators, a pretend horse rearing up on the top of the National Theatre, and a dozen bedraggled singers belting out "Rule Britannia" in the pouring rain. Kate looked stunning throughout; my heart went out to the Queen, standing in the freezing cold for hours, grim determination on her face towards the end.

In Aylesford a wonderful street party in Mount Pleasant survived the weather. Tarpaulins kept the drizzle at bay, and the highly organised residents enjoyed a full roast dinner and vats of cocktails! I came round the corner to find myself standing next to the Queen - a perfect life-size cut-out, complete with handbag!

Next day in Aylesford the bell-ringers in church belted out a 45 minute Quarter Peal in the tower while the Union Jack flew from the flagpole above them. In London the huge concert was getting under way at the same time. It was an odd mixture of opera and pop, rap and rock, at one time the conductor bedecked in angel wings, at another, performers popping up on a balcony or on the roof of the palace. The wonderful and the yukk! but, everywhere, lots of fun and LOTS of heartfelt warmth for the Queen. And what a lovely sight at the end, with children from Kenya, pop -eyed with excitement, on stage with veteran performers, excited military wives - and the Queen, all in gold, touched by this real warmth.

And then the last day: spectacle, pomp and pageantry: all the spectacle you could wish for, but with personal touches too: the Queen looking all on her own as she walked up the aisle at St Paul's without Prince Philip; the crowd outside spontaneously shouting "God save the Queen", so loudly that they could be heard inside; the Archbishop's clear challenge about dedication and his warm words of praise for the Queen; the interviews with ordinary people invited to have lunch with the Queen at Westminster Hall; and finally: the vast crowds outside the palace, the Queen's evident happiness, and a banner in the throng saying, "Elizabeth the Great".

In Aylesford we had a huge street party in the High Street. It was tremendous fun, trying to work out how to put up the gazebos, sharing food, neighbour meeting neighbour, someone playing the bagpipes, and parish councillors, our MP, church members and other residents, all turning to, to help out and have fun. We even had a cake, specially commissioned for our party! And of course, in typical British fashion, it ended in rain. One of my last memories of the day is of a little child, tired but satisfied, struggling home with his parents, clutching a bedraggled Union Jack, as the rain came down.

A wonderful, rich, memorable weekend, for the Queen and the country!

Chris van Straaten

In : Queen's Diamond Jubilee