“Puritans, eat your heart out”, observed a friend who is well acquainted with how in the 17th century the British monarchy learned a valuable lesson from being briefly overthrown.

Published: 7 June 2022

As I watched the main events and cheering crowds of the jubilee weekend, I was gleefully thinking how annoying they must be those who despise the country they live in, its history and its traditions, and regard royalty as a pointless anachronism.

If I were uncharitable I’d suggest that it was vengefulness by a BBC executive rather than atrocious incompetence that had — during a sporting montage on a giant screen outside Buckingham Palace — a tricolour appear in place of the Ulster Banner alongside the English three lions, the Scottish saltire and the Welsh red dragon.

For as long as I’ve lived in England, there have been people who find no contradiction in sneeringly referring to the queen as German because of some forebears, while denouncing as racists anyone who opposes unlimited immigration.

They also dismiss the royal family as parasitic idlers and deny they are a huge diplomatic and financial asset.

Representing her country, as queen, Elizabeth has visited more than 100 countries and hosted 112 incoming state visits, some of them from terrible people. In 1978, for instance, to sweeten an immensely lucrative trade deal, she had to welcome to Buckingham Palace – with a retinue that included a foodtaster – the murderous tyrant Nicolae Ceaușescu of Romania who was executed by later by his own people.

How effective she was is indicated by some of the innumerable tributes from foreign dignitaries paid her in the last few days. President Macron, who though still furious about Brexit, described the (French-speaking) queen as “the golden thread that binds our two countries, the proof of the unwavering friendship between our two countries and our nations”.

“Your life has been a gift not just to the United Kingdom,” said former US President Barack Obama, “but to the world.” His wife Michelle infuriated decolonising warriors with her thanks: “From welcoming a nervous First Lady to Buckingham Palace to the extraordinary warmth she extended to our entire family, I feel deeply honoured to have spent time with Her Majesty over the years.”

That must have been particularly annoying for those who had been thrilled by the preposterous suggestion by Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, that an unnamed member of the royal family had made a racist inquiry about what colour their expected baby was likely to be.

They won’t be pleased either at the photographs of her dancing in the arms of her friend President Nkrumah of Ghana in 1961 at a time of upheaval over civil rights in the US, as she was discreetly working to develop the multiracial, voluntary Commonwealth, whose leaders are so attached to her that even the republics wanted her as their Head.

They have accepted Prince Charles as her successor for the simple reason that to have as your leader someone who is apolitical but has known the countries involved and their leaders for a long time, is a priceless asset to making the organisation work.

The jubilee weekend also matters hugely back home, where Brexit is being misrepresented as Little Englandism, as the United Kingdom’s enthusiastic internationalism has been proudly displayed to more than a billion viewers.

The extraordinary range of nationalities, cultures and skin shades (not to speak of Paddington Bear) that performed in the queen’s honour in the jubilee concert or danced and laughed in Sunday’s pageant, did so because of their affection for this tiny nonagenarian who they feel respects understands and respects their backgrounds, their faiths and their cultures.

As do all those millions of white Brits who feel ignored or belittled by the liberal elite but not by the woman they talked to or watched or listened to carrying out some of her 21,000 domestic engagements.

She has travelled around England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland since she was a child, listening and looking and learning about the lives of her subjects. She is a patron of more than 500 organisations including the Women’s Institute, in which she has been active for 80 years: as a way of spreading their enthusiasm for crafts and fun, for the Jubilee, members have been knitting corgis and hiding them in their communities.

At a formal and often sombre level, of course, have been events she takes with the utmost seriousness, particularly honouring the armed forces and praying for their dead. And like many of her Northern Ireland subjects, she and her family have suffered from terrorism.

This wise old woman used the celebrations to showcase her vision for the House of Windsor. For what may well be her last televised public appearance, she stood on the palace balcony with three heirs to the throne, Charles (with Camilla), William (with Catherine aka Kate) and George.

Taught by his mother and father the importance putting country before self, Charles became a naval officer who encouraged both his sons to do the same. In the year before lockdown, he attended 521 public events.

William has emulated him and George is already learning from royal seniors the importance of that old-fashioned concept of duty — mentioned so often in tributes to the queen.

The monarchy’s future depends on her heirs following Elizabeth’s example in being willing servants of their people.

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