I will be very curious to see how many people in Aberdeen celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee next Tuesday. Personally, I will be at work because although we have been given an extra day of holiday, it isn’t necessarily expected that we will take it on June 5th. (Whereas my workplace’s doors were locked for last year’s Royal Wedding and we were all sent home to watch it on t.v.!) So I’ll be interested to see whether and how it is celebrated here. Her Majesty has said that she hopes the Jubilee will bring communities together. One event that I’m aware of is that our church’s new hall will be formally opened on the 3rd, and it is being named the Jubilee Hall, as suggested by our very Scottish Kirk Session. (The Kirk Session is made up of all the elders of the church, about 50 in our church. I missed that particular meeting so I believe it was 100% Scottish!)
Needless to say the opportunities for merchandising have been exploited to the full. There is no lack of Jubilee ware and street party supplies:
There are a lot of rather light-hearted takes on the Jubilee. Linda at Occasional Scotland has a photograph of a wonderful piece of Jubilee kitsch, a Solar Queen whose hand waves when powered by the sun. Corgis seem to figure prominently. I find this tea-towel rather witty (though I bought it as a present for someone else):
You can even buy Jubilee corgi pajamas, so you can celebrate in your sleep! (Notice the bunting – Marks & Spencers, like John Lewis, is a British chain so all this will have been decreed at HQ in England.)
And I presume Her Majesty will be amused by the recent Marmite advertising campaign. Marmite, for non-UK readers, is a brewer’s yeast spread; and the Queen, in case you haven’t heard, should be addressed as “Ma’am”. There’s a very common expression here: “It’s like Marmite, you either love it or hate it.” Hence the joke in the scroll “One either loves it… or one hates it”. I like the two corgis epitomising these opposing reactions, and the crown formed by a toast rack on top (“toasting the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee”):
The Scots, generally, aren’t fervent Royalists in my experience. I remember the Queen visited the University of Aberdeen in 1995. I succumbed to temptation and went along to see her – it wasn’t difficult as there were only two groups of schoolchildren waving Scottish flags! More recently, Michael and I found ourselves standing next to Prince Edward at a street crossing in town. Amongst the few of us waiting to cross along with him, the only one who acknowledged the presence of a Prince was a very drunk man who accosted him with “How ya doin’ wee laddie?!” The Prince and his security man crossed over, and only then did I notice a red carpet rolled out in front of the recently refurbished His Majesty’s Theatre. There were a few journalists, who snapped photos and promptly left, and the Lord Provost, there to greet him. Everyone else around remained steadfastly nonchalant.
I’ve also been told by those of a nationalist tendency that the current Queen is NOT Queen Elizabeth the Second of Scotland, because Queen Elizabeth the First was never the Queen of Scotland, only of England.
I have some friends who are infuriated by the cost and privilege of the monarchy, but most people I know here seem to have a kind of low-key affection for “wee Queenie” as one friend calls her. I think the Royals probably enjoy being (relatively) left alone in Scotland. They must come in and out of Aberdeen all the time to go to Balmoral, but you never hear about it. On the Western Isles I’ve heard people occasionally mention that the Queen was in the neighbourhood. But as with Prince Edward’s visit there doesn’t seem to be a particular fuss about it and I’ve never heard any fawning. Certainly she seems to take her job very seriously and I can’t think of many women her age (86 I believe?) who are still putting in a full day’s work on a very regular basis. I would be pleased if the forecast for a “continuing period of reign” comes true.