Jubilee was a welcome celebration of British culture

28/06/2022

Quintessentially British affair unites the nation, despite generational divides and Queen's absence

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Image by Garry Knight

By Molly Duffy

No matter your views on the monarch, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations of the long weekend at the beginning of June were all encompassing. They engulfed British society and the public into celebrating all things British. Without even trying you likely felt the patriotism throughout the weekend with shop windows, street bunting and flags of the Union Jack and the Queen everywhere.

The television and radio were no escape from the celebrations, with the BBC providing extensive coverage of the numerous official events to celebrate the Queen’s 70 years on the throne. The celebration was all consumed by popular culture and also British society. All over the country, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee was an excuse to celebrate with friends and families, something which was important following the various restricted periods during the Covid-19 pandemic. Streets across the country were closed for street celebrations, British themed parties were hosted, and drinks were drunk, so overall it seemed like the perfect excuse for a party.

Even if the royal family are not everyone's cup of tea, unless you hibernated over the weekend, it was likely that everyone got involved. For me personally, the entire weekend made me appreciate the royal family just a little bit more. The celebrations allowed me to recognise that there was something quite unifying and nice about everyone celebrating together. There was a real sense of community running throughout the weekend's celebrations.

The extent to which the entire country erupted in Jubilee celebrations is significant and poses the question of what the future will hold for the royal family. It is undeniable that the Queen is a well-liked monarch who, reigning for 70 years, has been Head of State for the majority of the public’s entire lifetimes, thus she has been a constant figure of security in times of hardship and prosperity.

The Queen is by far the most popular member of the Royal Family, with 45 percent of Britons voting for her as such in an Ipsos survey conducted this year. However, the adoration for the Queen does not necessarily extend to the rest of the Royal Family. Further, YouGov discovered that overall 62 percent of the general population believe that the monarchy is a good thing although attitudes are unlikely to remain the same for the future Head of State; it will be a tough act to follow for the future Kings.

Will the patriotism and extensive celebrations for the Queen continue for the future Kings of the United Kingdom? Prince Charles, the next heir to the throne, is by no means as openly trusted and respected as the Queen, with only 49 percent believing he will do a good job as King. In order to maintain the popularity of the monarch, he will have to win over the hearts of the country. Prince William, on the other hand, is already more popular with 74 percent of the population having faith in him as King according to Ipsos, 2022.

Additionally, there is also a generational divide when it comes to the views of Britain on the monarch. The love and admiration for the Queen is most commonly expressed by the older generation in Britain. In light of the Platinum Jubilee, YouGov conducted a survey investigating Briton’s views of the monarch. The older generation of Britons are evidently much fonder of the Queen than the younger generations, with 77 percent older than 65 believing that Britain should continue to have a monarch, whilst comparably, this was only believed by 33 percent aged 18-24. This poses the question of whether an event so all consuming in celebration of the monarchy will happen to the same extent again?

With little faith being instilled in Prince Charles and approval ratings of the monarch declining among the younger generation, it could suggest that the role of the monarch in Britain is becoming increasingly unstable. It is unlikely that we will experience a celebration of the monarch to this extent again in our lifetimes and we certainly won’t celebrate another monarch's Platinum Jubilee.

Nevertheless, the absence of the Queen from some of her celebrations meant that the focus of many of the festivities was on the heir Prince Charles and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. This in turn might have already started to win over public opinion... In fact, could this Jubilee celebration have even won over some of the younger population to the value of the monarchy and be a stepping stone towards greater support for future monarchs?

The all encompassing nature of the Platinum Jubilee festivities immersed all aspects of society into celebrations. It was difficult not to get involved and thus, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat patriotic even whilst watching the questionable choice of icons performing at Buckingham Palace. The long weekend was enjoyed by all, with an extra two days off work, so the Platinum Jubilee was somewhat exploited as an excuse for celebration.

Yet, at the same time, not being a Royalist myself, it made me appreciate that there is something quite nice about the monarchy on a surface level as a fundamental part of British culture. The act of drinking tea and eating scones with cream and jam is indeed quite a comforting, unique, and quintessentially British way to celebrate. I for one would be happy for another excuse to celebrate in the future.