The Queen’s Jubilee

What better subject could I find to restart my blog for my students of English as a foreign language?

Monarchy is of course something special about our English neighbours, looking back on a long tradition and not unanimously  accepted by every citizen in the UK.

And yes, it could be a topic in your examinations, so it’s a good idea to know a few bits about various aspects of British monarchy.

So first we may try to find an answer to this: why is the queen so important for a lot of English people today?

A main reason from my point of view is that the institution of a king or a queen as a representative of the people aside from the quarrels and debates of the political parties offers an important point of reference and even something to hold on to in difficult times. One only has to remember the visits of Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, (the mother of the present day Elizabeth, wife of King George VI) in London during the air raids by the German Luftwaffe. On the Wikipedia site we can read:

[…] She visited troops, hospitals, factories, and parts of Britain that were targeted by the German Luftwaffe, in particular the East End, near London’s docks. Her visits initially provoked hostility. Rubbish was thrown at her and the crowds jeered, in part because she dressed in expensive clothing which served to alienate her from those suffering the privations caused by the war. […] She explained that if the public came to see her they would wear their best clothes, so she should reciprocate in kind; Norman Hartnell dressed her in gentle colours and never black, in order to represent “the rainbow of hope”.  […] When Buckingham Palace itself took several hits during the height of the bombing, Elizabeth was able to say, “I’m glad we’ve been bombed. It makes me feel I can look the East End in the face.” […]

In the picture below, taken from the Indian Newspaper The Hindu’s article on her death in 2002,  she is called a “morale booster”.

But it is time to turn to the jubilee mentioned in this post’s title, in fact the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. When one reads the papers (in my case this means mainly my favourite newspaper The Guardian) you’ll find all kinds of comments from readers, some even going as far as to write: “The sooner we get rid of the royal parasites the better.” (Guardian, 10 February, comment to Ian Jack’s comment “Our attachment to the Queen is perhaps greater than we yet realise” .

The Guardian’s Simon Jenkins describes  her as “studious, stoic and worthy of her diamond jubilee”. He sees in her “the model monarch, not so much ruling as representing an institution that survives all upsets”.

In Stephen Bates’  article “The Queen: from glamorous princess to the country’s oldest ever monarch” we read:

You have to be nearly in your 70s now to remember when the Queen was not head of state here and in 16 other countries, from New Zealand to Jamaica.

Elizabeth II, once a glamorous young woman as iconic as – and just six weeks older than – Marilyn Monroe, was seen as a symbol of a supposedly new Elizabethan age in a Britain emerging from the privations of the second world war and the austerity that followed. Now she is the country’s oldest monarch and the second-longest reigning sovereign in British history.

She has met nearly a quarter of all the American presidents who have ever lived, and a fifth of all Britain’s prime ministers have served during her reign – Churchill, the oldest, born in 1874, Cameron, the latest, not born until the Queen had already been on the throne for 14 years. She has also met most of the world’s leaders of the past six decades and many of its most stellar personalities, and never said anything remotely controversial to any of them.

It is almost impossible now to imagine the Britain of 60 years ago if you weren’t alive then. It was an age when sweets were still rationed, black and white televisions had just one channel and if people wanted to use the telephone they usually had to go out and find a public phone box.

When the BBC broadcast the news of the king’s death on the wireless on the morning of 6 February 1952, many listeners burst into tears and drivers stopped their cars in the streets to get out and stand bare-headed in respect. In 1964 an opinion poll found that 30% of the population still believed that the Queen had been chosen by God.

This picture of the smiling young Elizabeth I found at a fellow blogger’s site: http://designsensibility.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/obsessions-queen-elizabeth-ii/ . I hope Esther doesn’t mind.

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