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.