Posted by: christinelaennec | May 29, 2012

We’re gonna have a Jubilee

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:

Everything you need for your Jubilee street party. John Lewis Aberdeen.

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):

Cath Kidston teatowel with Royal Corgi

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.)

Corgi pajamas in Marks & Spencers

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”):

Ad for Marmite (“Ma’amite”)  outside the supermarket

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.

More Jubilee merchandise.

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.



  1. I love this post Christine, and I love the Jubilee stuff too, I was in Cambridge last month and I couln’t resist a Jubilee teapot….
    Have a wonderful week

  2. What a marvellous post! You’ve picked out some great memorabilia, I especially like the marmite advert. I don’t like marmite but I might be tempted to buy a tub of that limited edition one just for the jar. The solar queen, too, is hilarious, and the mug at the end is very good.

    I think you’re right that the Scots don’t make much of royal visits. The whole idea of the royal family seems very far removed from the lives of most Scots, I suppose, and of course quintessentially English, which counts against them. In my experience, if Scots have any interest in, or respect for, royalty it’s usually the Queen on the receiving end of it. She is amazing for her age, and I think a lot of people admire her stoicism and dedication to duty. They also seem to appreciate the fact that by dint of her hard work she’s keeping her son off the throne. From what I can gather, most people would prefer Prince William to step into her shoes, rather than his father.

  3. Wonderful post, Christine! I, of course, love all the corgi merchandise. I expect you’re right about the royal family enjoying their non-star status in Scotland. And I love the story about Prince Edward and the drunk!

  4. Interesting post. 🙂 These are the first Jubilee merchandise I have seen so far (I am not big on shopping, maybe I should look around more), and no one around us has been talking about the Jubilee yet. I wonder if someone will celebrate it here of just enjoy an extra day off. 🙂

  5. I find it so interesting that the Scots have such a laid back attitude concerning royalty and all the fuss. This explains my Scottish ancestor’s casual approach to fanfare! How wonderful to be crossing the road with a Prince! I don’t think I could be so casual, I might have hyperventilated afterwards. But it is marvelous that they can enjoy a bit of anonymity in such a public life. And I do believe they work very hard to be ambassador’s to your wonderful countries. I love all the memoribilia. I have an old book about the Royal Princess’ Elizabeth and Margaret when they were children. So exciting that it has been so many years! Enjoy your Jubilee, (even if you have to work).

  6. Well now. As an incomer to Scotland I have to say I prefer their attitude to the Queen. And everything else to be honest. Is phlegmatic (not easily excited) the right word? I ken.

  7. We are a non-monarchist household – I’m Scottish and my husband is from Northern Ireland. I can’t think of any good reasons for having a monarchy, and when the Queen visited Aberdeen University in the 1990s the only member of our department who went was a US citizen. But I do agree the Queen does an admirable job; it’s just not a system I care for.

  8. lol, the post made me laugh – such a good opportunity for merchandise of all kind! I used to have loads of Diana and Fergie stuff, however gone by now, which I regret a bit, especially the Fergie and Andrew engagement puzzle (!)

  9. sign me up for the corgi jammies. very nice. 🙂

  10. I heard that before about the Scots nanchalant attitude toward them. I’ve a great friend in Dundee who was with Prince E at a horse shoe and he was in his wellies walking about like anyone else and no one was bothering (or perhaps paying any attention) to him. Love the scots!

    • reckon it’s nonchalant

  11. Seems as though the Queen really has something in common with Marmite. You either love her or…

  12. You have stirred up quite a discussion here!

  13. love the peek into the comings and goings on in your world…so different than here in the states! those corgis could sell just about anything couldn’t they!?

  14. Thank you all for your comments! It’s great to have different points of view and I’m pleased that my impression of the Scots’ “phlegmatic” attitude (great word Jill!) is correct – though if you asked the residents of Ballater you would get a different story I’m sure.

    I’ll try to report back about the celebrations. One thing I am interested in is the chain of beacons being lit this weekend the length and breadth of Britain! The cold rain has descended so I don’t know how that will go.

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