Today marks the 60th anniversary of the Queen's accession to the throne. I think I can speak for pretty much all of my compatriots when I say that this is a joyous moment, well worth celebrating, for the Queen is a remarkable woman, the very model of a modern constitutional monarch. She has reigned over her peoples (not just us British, of course, but the Commonwealth nations too) with the perfect balance of wisdom, discretion and dignity. There is simply no national figurehead who comes even close to matching her. Truly we are blessed and if I had my way she'd been reigning for at least another 60 years. (That should put her wretched son out of the picture, at least).
Just as much as we love our Queen and the events surrounding the Diamond Jubilee, so - and I believe again I speak for most of us - we loathe the other big event in Britain this year: the wretched 2012 Olympics. Maybe some of us got briefly excited in those heady moments when we first "won" the right to stage these Olympics (in the way you do when you're in competition with foreigners) but let me assure you that that excitement is now long past. We have since recognized, as most Olympic hosts do in the end, that hosting the games is a most burdensome expense which brings few rewards and endless headaches, such as the traffic chaos caused by statutory Zil lanes down which the Olympic nomenklatura travel from the airport to the games.
Robert Hardman has a brilliant piece on this subject in the Spectator, which I urge you to read. Here is a taste:
The tickets have all been handed out fairly and efficiently. No one has grumbled about crashing websites or foreign tour operators snaffling the best seats. There are no snatch squads of lawyers and police ready to pounce on inappropriate signs and seal off London’s A-roads for a few VIPs. Yet the overall crowd figure will stretch into the millions, with billions more watching around the world. The promotional value is incalculable. And the cost of this global event? The taxpayer is being charged £1 million for administration bills plus whatever it costs to police the public. At worst, the entire thing might cost, say, half a beach volleyball arena.
Having bumbled along purposefully and quietly for the last few years, the Diamond Jubilee tortoise is suddenly overtaking the £9.3 billion Olympic hare. And the contrast between the two mindsets is startling. Is it too late for the grandees of the Olympic movement — and they don’t come much grander — to learn a few lessons from one who really knows about winning hearts and minds?
Long before the Diamond Jubilee trumpet had sounded, the Queen had already taken a few important decisions about her 60th anniversary on the throne. The Lord Chamberlain’s Office, which patrols use and abuse of the Royal Arms, declared an amnesty on merchandise, to the delight of hard-pressed retailers and manufacturers. Every mug and tea towel is welcome, not just the official stuff from the Royal Collection. Nor would the Palace plan any big set-piece events. Instead, it would work with any private organisations or charities which wanted to organise one, provided there was no prospect of the taxpayer being left with a hefty tab.
Unfortunately the rest of the piece seems to be hidden behind a paywall, as so many of the best things are these days. Still, if you're discerning enough to subscribe to Ricochet, you'd be mad not to subscribe to the Spectator, too, no?
Anyway, happy Jubilee, Your Maj! And I'm only sorry the weather's so rubbish (due to "Climate Change", no doubt) and that I'm unable to share it with you, being as unfortunately, I'm sunning myself by a swimming pool in Puglia.