In 2007, a poll found that 80% of Americans had a favorable view of the British queen during her last visit to the U.S.. This fascination is peculiar if things are viewed from a historical standpoint. America declared independence from Great Britain in 1776, and both countries fought for eight long years in the Revolutionary War. There was another clash between Britain and America in the War of 1812. Obviously since then Americans and Britons became allies who fought side by side in World War I, World War II, and in the Middle East. Alas the majority of American’s seem to love the queen more than the British.
The diamond jubilee celebrations will not be like any other royal occasion, this one will be special. To mark the 60-year reign of her royal highness — only the second monarch in British history to reign for so long — a series of events will take place. The queen will visit cities around the country and she has sent members of her family to visit the outposts around the world. An extra bank holiday has been marked to extend the celebrations across four whole days. On top of that there will be pageants, parades, parties, river rides, thanksgiving services, flame beacons, and a concert to top things off. These events will bring out large numbers of people across the country.
The pomp and spectacle will be overwhelming, the choreography supreme, and the crowds enthusiastically waving union jack flags. A critical look into the House of Saxe Coburg (also known as Windsor), a hereditary dynasty originally imported from Germany is strictly off limits within British media. These main shared events are to define what it is to be British. The people will be celebrating this jubilee to feel good about themselves and positive about the future. At least that is what we are made to believe.
It will certainly be a media spectacle, a gorgeous extravagant show, similar in form to all the other shows mounted so successfully at intervals throughout the last century. It is guaranteed to underline certain enduring features of the British state, like its High Tory and predemocratic character, the close symbiotic relationship between the Crown, the armed forces and the Church, the absence of a codified constitution and the weakness of the democratic culture. I would have thought that Americans would be appalled at such an undemocratic country but there seems to be less criticism of those practices outlined.
I thought Americans would want to see Britain become a more democratic society, where our political system is based on the power of the people, not on privilege and inheritance. The jubilee is a major event designed to reinforce support for the monarchy, to celebrate the inheritance of public office. The way in which British media and politicians talk about the jubilee and the Queen makes no room for any sense of public accountability or scrutiny. The logic of the jubilee is simple: the Queen is a great monarch and so the monarchy is a great institution we must unquestioningly celebrate.
If we’re to promote values about accountability, equality and democracy, then we must be prepared to challenge the jubilee head on. We must question and reject the idea that we should all be sheep flocking around the latest offering from our marvellous monarch. We must challenge this celebration of an institution that is morally and politically indefensible. I respect the Queen for her duty to our country but I think the days of Kings and Queens are truly over. It's part of the class system that holds the UK back.
The Monarchy is our heritage, defining Great Britain and the Commonwealth. It is wonderful to know that she still cares for this country and what it stands for. But in times of great austerity, huge youth unemployment, the dismantling of the National Health Service, and so on, the calls for democratic change need to be fought for in the UK. Will our friends across the pond help us? God save the Queen, and long may she reign.