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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Even the Rains Held Off for Her Majesty

I have to say that this morning's service of thanksgiving in St. Paul's Cathedral was the most low-key royal event I've ever witnessed.  (See the Order of Service here.)  It really fell flat for me; no carriages, no great crowds (some, but not nearly what there was for Charles and Diana's wedding in the same church), almost no familiar, memorable music apart from "Old 100th" and "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah"; and no particular sense of moment.  I wonder if any of my truckbuddies who watched it felt the same?

Of course, it was very poignant to see the Queen trudging up the steps alone, without Philip at her side; and during the service, she looked very solemn, it seemed to me, and I can understand why.

In any case, it was certainly all very different from Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee service there; but perhaps that was intentional on this Queen's part, for whatever reason.  Here are highlights of the service:

On the other hand, when the Queen and her small royal party returned from lunch at Westminster Hall in the carriages, surrounded by Her Majesty's Life Guards and the Blues and Royals - well now, that was more like it. As one commenter on a news page put it, viewing the awesome procession: "you sure wouldn't want to look up and see the Queen's cavalry bearing down on you with swords drawn." Quite.

Yet all was peace and joy on the Mall today, the Good Lord having apparently scattered all Her Majesty's enemies, confounded their knavish tricks, and even - Deo gratia - restrained the rains long enough not only for the cavalcade but also for the thrilling fly-past of Spitfires, Hurricanes, and Lancaster bomber as well as the glorious red, white, and blue contrails of the famed Red Devils, all of whom appeared exactly on time to salute the Queen as she stood on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, to the rapturous cheers of the crowds gathered below.

And so, with the good news that the Duke of Edinburgh was feeling a bit better and had watched today's proceedings on television in his hospital room, the Diamond Jubilee celebrations drew to a close, leaving all of Britain and much of the rest of the world with colorful memories and a renewed appreciation of the bonds of affection that link Crown and People.

When you consider the everlasting corruption and infighting of politics, a Sovereign who is above all that seems like a mighty good thing.  It wouldn't work over here, of course, but still this American has no hesitation in saying with all his heart - God Save the Queen!

Bonus: Her Majesty's typically very low-key message of thanks to the nation and the Commonwealth:

For comparison, consider the message of thanks sent winging round the world via telegraph to every corner of her far-flung Empire by Queen Victoria - at heart a passionate, romantic soul, unlike her no-nonsense great-great-granddaughter - at her Diamond Jubilee in 1897:
From my heart, I thank my beloved people. May God bless them!

I don't doubt that the present Queen feels the same way, but she just can't say it in those words. Bless her.


Chris said...

The sadness is that HRH Duke of Edinburgh is dying in the midst of all this -- I hope he can hold on until August after all these initial events of the Jubilee are over -- HM rejoices while grieving -- prayers for her.

Davis said...

I can only say BlueTruckRedState has become Jubilee Central for me!

Tim said...

Thank you Russ, for your appreciation of our nation and cherished traditions. As you say, it probably wouldn't work in the US now, but, oh dear, you have missed out on something! The service may have seemed flat, but it was planned very closely by the Queen, Prince Philip and the Church, so must reflect their wishes. I think HM may have thought we would all be Jubilee'd out by then, so, like her message of thanks later, it was short and to the point. If Charles had had a hand, the music would have been more soaring and uplifting. He loves music with a passion, I look forward to his ceremonies, his influence was much to the fore in William and Kates wedding.

Russ Manley said...

Chris - The Duke is of an age where he could keel over anytime - as might any of us - but where do you get the idea that he is "dying"? I can't find a single news report anywhere that suggests that.

Davis - Glad you like the coverage.

Tim - Right you are about the Prince's musical passion. But HM has never had a flair for the dramatic, and in fact I think she positively avoids it. (Her mother, on the other hand, had a charming talent for flair - one of the greatest actresses your country has ever produced - and I suspect Margaret, had she been Queen, would have also taken a rather different approach.)

One other omission I noticed on re-viewing this morning's service: no orders or decorations were worn. So you know HM deliberately wanted to keep the kettle on a low simmer.

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