Political junkies love 2012’s polls, policy and politicking.
But it’s also bliss for anglophiles.
This week, Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her Diamond Jubilee, marking 60 years as monarch. In July, the Olympics kick off in London, another chance for us who are so inclined to revel in all things British.
On Sunday, Queen Elizabeth was honored with a colossal flotilla – the largest ever in the world – down the River Thames. One thousand boats bobbed down the river along with the lavish Queen’s royal barge, the Spirit of Chartwell, decorated in not-to-disappoint pageantry.
Tonight, a concert featuring Paul McCartney, Elton John and Shirley Bassey – she’s a very big deal in the United Kingdom – will occur outside Buckingham Palace. Bassey, who sang the James Bond theme “Diamonds Are Forever,” will appropriately sing that very song in honor of the Queen.
Later, more than 4,200 diamond jubilee beacons will be lighted across the globe in celebration of the Queen. Some in Australia and New Zealand have already started to glow.
News broke earlier today that Prince Philip, the Queen’s husband, was admitted to the hospital for a bladder infection. He will miss the rest of the jubilee. Certainly, a blow to the festivities. Bad news also marred the 2002 Golden Jubilee, when the Queen Mother and Elizabeth’s sister, Princess Margaret, died a few months before the celebration.
“Good Morning America” is in London for the next couple of days showing Americans the way of life across the pond with their cousins. Piers Morgan, who is British, is hosting CNN’s coverage of the royal happenings. Numerous magazines have printed special issues dedicated to the jubilee.
I’ve been like this since I was a toddler. I inherited it from my mother, who taught me the royal family tree at an early age. Castles and crowns consumed me. But it was in 1981, when Lady Diana Spencer arrived on the scene, that my obsession with the Brits really took off.
To say that British music of the 1980s – namely, Duran Duran, which will play during an opening concert at the summer’s Olympics – consumed me is an understatement. I heart “Downton Abbey” and British movies. I’ll even confess to currently having a crush on Prime Minister David Cameron. Just a wee one.
Chelsea Clinton, another Arkansan, tweeted this Monday about her maternal grandmother Dorothy Rodham, who also lived in my home state for a long time:
Today would have been my grandmother's 93rd birthday. Today, as every day, I miss her and am grateful for having had her in my life for more than 31 years. I also know she would have loved watching the celebrations for Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee — particularly seeing the 1000+ boats on the River Thames in London yesterday! Here's a wonderful slideshow from BBC World News — http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-18314569'
The jubilee makes me regret that the United States doesn’t have a royal family to offer us national cohesion and tradition. Over the weekend, the United Kingdom had thousands of street parties and celebrations to honor the Queen. It’s also celebrating a four-day weekend for the jubilee.
Of course, the United States has holidays like the Fourth of July and Memorial Day as well as the president’s inauguration every four years. But that’s hardly a unified event, as half of voters are disappointed that their candidate didn’t win.
Certainly, some Brits would like to see the monarchy dissolved, but many more want it to remain, especially since Prince William married the glamorous Kate Middleton. William, Kate and Prince Harry are bringing the monarchy into the 21st century, pushing for the monarchy to use social media to allow for more direct communication.
The monarchy represents hundreds of years of endurance, something the United States, still in its infancy, lacks. Perhaps that’s why so many Americans are obsessed with genealogy and their British roots. They are searching for that DNA that binds them to some forgotten duke, viscount or even the queen.
The United States may have defeated the British in the American Revolution, but the country will, sadly, never beat them at pomp and pageantry, no matter how much bunting we put out on patriotic holidays. So carry on and keep calm, Brits, and we’ll be watching from across the pond.
Suzi Parker is an Arkansas-based political and cultural journalist and author of “Sex in the South: Unbuckling the Bible Belt.” Follow her on Twitter at @SuziParker.