Up with the bunting in jubilee mansions,
Up with the sun that has already set.
Down with the breadline that makes us remember,
Up with the circus that makes us forget.
From "Cheers!" - a jubilee poem by Roger Woodis in The New Statesman
Forget. That's the key to jubilee. You have to forget. Forget that we're in the 20th century, forget that communism engulfs nearly half the world. Forget that people, a lot of them, are out of work or hungry. Forget that monarchies and kings and queens don't make sense to most people, especially Americans.
If you can do that, or at least suspend judgment for a week or even a day, you can enjoy Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth's 25th anniversary as the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom.
It's not hard.
For God's sake, there is the Queen of England and the entire royal family, princes and princesses and dukes and duchesses and marchionesses and lords and ladies and titles like "Mistress of the Robes" and "Lord Chamberlain" and the "train-bearer" and the "king of arms" and "the silver stick in arms" and ladies and lords and "gold sticks in waiting."
The only thing missing, and this did disappoint some, was that the Queen didn't wear a crown. It did seem a bit silly to go all out with gold coaches and pearly swords and not have her wear a crown.
But no indeed. Sniffed a palace spokesperson, "This is not, after all, a state affair. This is simply a thanksgiving service."
Somewhere it must be written that it is tacky to wear a crown to a simple thanksgiving service.
It was hardly enough to spoil the day, though, and over the weekened the out-of-towners began to arrive in London for the Queen's visit to St. Paul's today.
Monday, the day before the thanksgiving service at St. Paul's, was a day of partying in the villages throughout England and Scotland and in the various sections of London. It was freezing cold and raining most of the day, dark and dreary and altogether unspringlike.
Two couples in their 60s had already set up for the night in front of St. Paul's by early Monday afternoon. It was pouring rain. They had a group of younger people with them, all from Boston, England. They weren't working-class, but a headmaster and head-mistress of a school, a doctor, a pharmacist, a banker and a government official. They had come to see the Queen's coronation 25 years ago, spending the night in the pouring rain then, too. Why? "Because of our Queen," said one. "Because she's there," said another. "She's the symbol of our country. If we lose her we lose everything."
And what if it pours all night? "We get wet," they grin.
On Jubilee Street, in the East End, the heart of the Cockney area, they were dancing in the rain. The working-class buildings were covered with bunting and British flags, more so than in any part of the city.
"We're patriotic," explained one man. "This celebration has brought back the East End spirit. During the war we all very close and then we lost all that. Now we've got it back."
They are unanimous at the East End tenement party in their affection for the Queen and the royal family. "They're a very nice family indeed," said a dustman. "We ain't got much else, now, do we?" cacked a little old lady.
And they don't seem to mind that she is rich and pays no taxes - a very sore point with London's well-to-do set - and they are poor. "That's not her fault, then, is it?"
On the other side of town, at a middle class jubilee beer festival in Alexandra Park in North London, a young team in a sleeveless orange tee-shirt reading "Booze" and shoulder-length red curls was less enthusiastic.
Taking a sip of his beer as he listened to the endless medieval songs being played by a local rock band, he allowed as how "I've very anti-jubilee. And I'm very anti-monarchy. There's been nothing but mass hysteria in the last few weeks. People are overreacting to the situation. And the mass hysteria might get worse. Everything is wrong with our country and people just forget about it. They just have a big celebration and forget about everything," The Setting
Forget. Have a big celebration and forget about everything.
Inside St. Paul's Cathedral (chosen by Queen Elizabeth, George V had his jubilee there, and Queen Victoria had her 60th jubilee there, too, though she had her 50th at Westminister Abbey):
By 10 a.m. half the seats are filled with nervously expectant nobles, commoners, representatives of the Commonwealth countries and official visitors.
Everyone is dressed to kill.
The ladies are wearing brightly colored spring dresses of silk and linens, matching shoes and matching hats ala Queen Elizabeth. Pearls and diamonds glisten on necklines, in hats, gloves cover the hands, prim pocketbooks hang from wrists. Gentlemen are in morning coats - top hat and tails, come in dove grey, some in black - whichever their preferences.
The back of the church is nearly filled. In the front a large block of seats remains empty, the front row of which is composed of gold chairs with rose brocade cushions, fronted by rose needlepointed kneeling pads.
Those are for the royals, the immediate royal family including Princess Margaret and her two children, Viscount Linley and Lady Sarah Armstrong Jones, plus the Duke and Duchess of Kent, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Princess Alexandra and Angus Ogilvy, the Earl of Mountbatten of Burma and Princess Alice, countess of Ahtlone.
In front of them are two large throne-like chairs, one for the Duke of Edinburgh and the other for Her Majesty the Queen.
Way, way in the back, sitting alone in row "H" in pearl gray morning coat and looking slightly puffy, is Lord Snowden, estranged husband of Princess Margaret.
"A personal guest of the Queen," explains a press spokesperson. (But only for the ceremony. Not for lunch afterward at Guild Hall.)
The dignitaries begin filing in as the organ music plays, first Prime Minister Callaghan, then the Sultan of Brunei, then Archbishop Makarios, then Pierre Trudeau in morning coat looking haggard and subdued.
Somewhere out of sight and way in the back were Chip and Caron Carter, who didn't get such hots seats but are invited to have lunch at Buckingham Palace with Prince Charles Wednesday and to watch the fireworks Thursday with the queen.
As the first group of royals began to troop in, wandsmen acting as ushers (carrying wands, in fact - "Don't ask me what it is," said one. "Looks rather like a broomstick, doesn't it?") were directing people to their seats and generally being good-natured. One described the fur on the lapels of the aldermen as "either sable or bunny rabbit." The Royal Attire
In fact, it was people's attire, including that of the royal family, that seemed to be the point of most interest since nothing much else was happening except the rather mundane church service.
The immediate family came under scrutiny first. The blonde Duchess of Kent, the prettiest of them all, wore a hideous chartreuse print dress with a smock-like overdress and a chartreuse plumed hat.
The Duchess of Gloucester was in sensible tailored blue and white.
Princess Margaret wore at terrible-looking shocking-pink dress with a matching pink hat with flowers around the rim, lined with flowers.
Princess Anne wore a dowdy sea-foam-green smock. (For some reason all the women including the Queen wore smock-style dresses, which didn't make much sense from a style point of view except in Anne's case because she is pregnant.) Anne had her hair pulled back and wore a matching plaited-ribboned hat with streamers.
Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, actually looked the best in bright, yellow with a yellow flowered hat, three-strand pearls and a huge diamond pin.
She also looked to have the best disposition yesterday. The rest of them seemed pretty glum. Mark Phillips, Prince Phillip and Prince Charles all wore full uniform. Prince Andrew and Prince Edward wore regular daytime suits. "Too young to wear morning coats, " explained a spokesperson.
Finally, once the Queen had alighted from her golden state coach and proceeded up the aisle, the ladies curtseying in her wake, she got the once-over from everyone in the entire cathedral. Shocking pink, just like Margaret, was the singular gasp, and it was naturally assumed by many at first that Margaret had worn the same color as Elizabeth just to irritate her. But no, it was later explained, they both wanted to wear pink because they had both wear pink at St. Paul's for King George's jubilee.
It was, however, the most garnish and inelegant pink and showed up even brighter and pinker on television. (In a recent book, "The Queen's Clothes," it is reported that she tells her dressmakers: "I cannot wear deark colors. It makes me one of the crowd," a remark that prompted New Statesman book-reviewer Julian Barnes to remark: "Who's that woman in the coach with the whatsit on her head next to the bloke with the gongs?" "I think she's just one of the crowd.")
She had cross-strapped white shoes, white gloves and a white bag that stood out obtrusively, two-strand pearls, a huge diamond flower pin and a matching shocking-pink hat with droplets on tassles hanging from the back of it. The Ceremony
Once the Queen and Prince Philip had taken their seats and she had made her furtive little check of the youngest, Prince Edward, behind her, the program began.
The most interesting thing about the entire ceremony was the Queen's demeanor, her posture, her expressions during the service.
She seemed to be in either a very bad mood or a terrible slump. She didn't have her usual energy walking up the aisle. She slumped in her chair, not sitting erect. She swung her feet under her chair. She toyed with her purse handle, she kept looking around, absent-mindedly, especially in the direction of the extremely well behaved and almost reverent British press. She stared up at the 365-foot-high painted dome, and she scratched her nose at a lot. Something she never, never did once on her whole trip to Washington last year for the Bicentennial. One British journalist wrote that the Queen often looks grim and in a bad humor when she is trying not to cry, for instance at princess Anne's wedding. But still, this was very odd behavior. She seemed not to be listening, and would forget to look at her program. Throughout the ceremony she kept heaving visible, deep sighs and staring wistfully off into the distance.
There was a cold draft in the cathedral blowing up from the stone crypt below, the crypt where Nelson and Wellington are buried, and it gave the cathedral, especially during the choir's anthems, an eerie feeling. You could shut your eyes and be totally overwhelmed with a sense of history and majesty that sent shivers down the spine, yet open them to find this tiny little woman in shocking pink tassles scratching her nose.
The Archbishop of Canterbury gave his address: "We thank Almight God for a building which has stood the test of years because its foundations are strong. This is no material building which can be seen by the eye or touched with the hand . . . sounding more like a routine from Peter Cooke and Dudley Moore than a real archbishop.
And then it was time for the end of the service - and high time, too, since Prince Edward and his little cousins had begun to squirm royally in their gold, rose-brocaded-cushioned chairs.
It was time to sing "God Save the Queen."
"Everyone stood and belted it out.
Then the Lord Mayor in robes presented her with the pearly sword - yes, there really is such a thing.
She turned then, and, with Philip and Charles a respectful pace behind, began the slow procession, to the curtsies of the ladies, down the aisle and out to the screaming, loyal subjects.
The Queen's mood seemed to change once she began her walkabout among the subjects over to Guild Hall (sort of like town hall) for lunch. Guild Hall is where the banquet was held after her coronation. She smiled, stopped often and chatted with them and seemed to be having a jolly time. She even asked one lady which one of the royals she thought had the most fabulous hat. The Speech
Once at Guild Hall, the luncheon guests, including Chip and Caron Carter, ate salmon, trout, beef, peas, and raspberries.
And the Queen made a speech. It was simple, and it was obviously written by Her Highness herself. She even got off a little humor.
"In the olden days," said the Queen, "Jubilees were celebrated at the golden 50th yead. The horns were sounded and a period of 'rest, mercy and pardon' was proclaimed. There was a distinct sabbattical flavor about the processings. It is beginning to dawn on me that a silver jubilee is of a somewhat different nature"
She talked about the Commonwealth had managed a slight barb: "It's is easy enough to define what the Commonwealth is not. Indeed, this is quite a popular pastime."
And finally, poignantly, and to great applause: My Lord Mayor, when I was 21, I pledged my life to the service of our people and I asked for God's help to make good that vow. Although that vow was made in my salad days, when I was green in judgment, I do not regret nor retract one word of it."
After her luncheon speech the Queen and Prince Philip took another, lighter and faster, coach back to the palace.
Through this entire day, there was a relaxed security, although guards were posted everywhere. There seemed to be no concern about having the Queen ride unprotected in an open-air carriage through the streets of London. And indeed, there was no need to worry. She was followed by hundreds of thousands of commoners who stood outside Buckingham Palace chanting, "We want the Queen" until she finally appeared on the balcony with her family to grant them a wave. Then she disappeared inside.
Two portly older ladies in hats and gloves stood in Alexandria Palace in the north of London at the jubilee beer fest. They clucked and nodded their admiration of the Queen in unison. "She's such a gracious lady. We've got such a wonderful Queen and she does her job, that she does. I hope we never dispose of monarchy. I'm sure we can't do any better under any other rule."
A young man, half dazed with drink, stood over to one corner, unshaven, moving slowly to the music.
"I disagree with the monarcy, with what it represents," he says. "But it's very much a symbol. It's all caught up with tradition. Places like America and Australia are looking for some sort of roots, and I suppose perhaps they're searching for this thing. Where we belong or something like that."
And an old cabbie, brought up in the East End of London, driving away from the jubilee ceremony, cocked his head halfway back so a passenger could hear and said, in a thick Cockney accent: "I'm not exactly what you'd call a royalist, Miss, but what are you going to replace the Queen with? President Nixon?"
And after a self-satisfied guffaw, he continued, "It seems to me like Presidents are always either getting assassinated or doing something diabolical or retiring. Our monarchs are beyond reproach."