True Brit – ‘Her Majesty’s a pretty nice girl…’

4 06 2012

‘Her Majesty’s a pretty nice girl

But she doesn’t have a lot to say

Her Majesty’s a pretty nice girl

But she changes from day to day 

I want to tell her that I love her a lot

But I’ve got to get a belly full of wine

Her Majesty’s a pretty nice girl

Someday I’m going to make her mine, oh yeah,

Someday I’m going to make her mine.’

 

(Artwork: Warhol / Lyrics: Lennon & McCartney)

I’ll be honest. I’m not a huge monarchist.

In fact, deep down I’m a republican. In my heart of hearts, I know that a system of hereditary royalty, with its inherited wealth and privilege, should be an anachronism in a modern, fair and equable society.

Despite that, I can’t help but admire the Queen. At 86, she remains energetic, industrious and formidable, hugely revered and respected throughout the world.

This little old lady, equally at home in a headscarf or coronet, is the face of a nation, instantly recognisable around the globe, and a prime reason that our small island punches above its weight, on the international stage.

For six decades, she has been the glue that has bound an often dysfunctional royal family together, keeping it afloat – despite the loss of the Royal Yacht ‘Britannia’! That the British monarchy enjoys as much, if not more, public support than ever before – one only has to look at the response to last year’s royal wedding, and this weekend’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations – is tribute to her.       

The pageantry associated with the Queen and her Royal Family, continues to demand huge interest and attention, at home and abroad, and although, largely unquantifiable, undoubtedly generates significant national income. In short, she pretty much pays her way.                   

Despite the typically dismal Bank Holiday weather, one and a quarter million people, clad in waterproofs and huddled beneath dripping umbrellas, lined the Thames, to see yesterday’s Royal Flotilla, while millions more will have watched the live coverage from the comfort of their armchairs.

In fact, for many, the weather probably added to the occasion. After all, there’s nothing we like more than to tough things out in the face of adversity. It’s a national trait, and it will take more than a deluge of rain to dampen our spirit and enthusiasm! 

Tonight, 20,000 more will flock to the Mall for a celebratory concert of popular music, spanning the Queen’s reign, performed against a Buckingham Palace backdrop – to be beamed across the World.  

The grand finale will incorporate London’s first pyrotechnic extravaganza of the summer. Next time it will be the Olympic Games. At least the manufacturers of Union Flags and fireworks will be doing well at this time of austerity.  

The Jubilee concert has been organised by Gary Barlow (look out for him in the Birthday Honours…) who has also teamed up with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber to produce ‘Sing’, the chart topping ‘Jubilee Song’, featuring artists from throughout the Commonwealth – complete with an ‘X-Factor’ performance, on triangle, by Prince Harry!     

Interestingly, earlier today, I received a Facebook message from a young friend in Italy – “I heard the Queen speaking in BBC. I want her here please! …”  I guess if you have been brought up with the embarrassment of ‘premier behaving badly’, Sylvio Berlusconi, mis-representing your country, at home and abroad, Her Majesty must seem like ‘a pretty nice girl’…    

The recently launched ‘New Friends Reunited’ – ‘Home of the Nation’s Memories’ – has tapped into  mounting Diamond Jubilee Fever, conducting a cross Atlantic survey amongst its members, in the run up to this weekend’s celebrations, which poses the question, ‘what do you most associate with Britishness?’  

So, what does it take to be a true Brit?

According to the Friends Reunited survey, the top 10 things that Brits associate with Britain and British-ness are:

  1. Fish and chips – 82%
  2. The £ – 79%
  3. Tea – 74%
  4. Wimbledon – 68%
  5. Rain – 61%
  6. The Beatles – 56%
  7. Cricket – 56%
  8. Football – 49%
  9. Stiff upper lip – 45%
  10. A love of the Monarchy – 43%

And, apparently, the top 10 things that Americans associate with British-ness are:

  1.       Tea – 82%
  2.       Wimbledon – 68%
  3.       Cricket – 66%
  4.       The Beatles – 65%
  5.       Fish & Chips – 63%
  6.       The £ – 62%
  7.       A love of the Monarchy – 51%
  8.       Football – 48%
  9.       Bad Teeth – 37%
  10.       Reserved nature – 36%

What is the ‘bad teeth’ thing all about? I can only assume it implies that Brits are less inclined towards cosmetic dentistry?

Interestingly, 68% of Brits, surveyed, rated their Britishness, on a scale of 1-10, as being 7 or more, with Scots and Londoners least likely to feel ‘true Brits’.

Amongst Brits, naturalist and broadcaster, Sir David Attenborough, tops a list of celebrities who epitomise ‘Britishness’ while across the Atlantic, actress, Dame Judi Dench, came out, top of the celebrity pops. I wouldn’t argue with either of those – national treasures both!      

And finally, but still on lists, 1952 – the year the Queen ascended to the throne, was also the year that ‘pop-music charts’ first appeared – based on the weekly sale of ‘singles’. The top four artists over the last 60 years, in terms of Top 40 appearances, are:

  1.       The Beatles (not surprisingly – with 17 number 1 hits)
  2.       Elvis Presley
  3.      Cliff Richard (with Top 10 entries in each of 6 decades, as much a national icon as the Routemaster bus!)
  4.       Madonna

It might not be,‘We’re all going on a Summer Holiday…’ weather, but it is better today – dull but dry – and the family awaits expectantly… 

Okay I give in. It’s time to hang out the bunting, light the Jubilee barbecue, crack a bottle of Cava, and drink the old gal’s royal health. Cheers!

NB: I’ve just finished watching the Jubilee Concert and, one thing is for certain, we can certainly put on a show. There were many star performances. But the one that will certainly stick long in the memory is Madness singing ‘Our House’- the ‘Nutty Boys’ performing on the roof of the palace, as a projected light show transformed its facade into a terraced block.    

Peter Kaye’s comic cameo, dressed as a Beefeater, to introduce headline act, Sir Paul McCartney, was the best comedy turn of the night, by a country mile. He absolutely creases me up, but he did drop a bit of a howler when introducing ‘Macca’. It was John Lennon, who had the middle name ‘Winston’!

Also, a tad, irritating were those US acts, including the legendary Stevie Wonder, who rather embarrassingly seemed to confuse the Diamond Jubilee celebrations with the Queen’s birthday. Gary might wish he had briefed them better. He could have to settle for an OBE rather than a knighthood!    

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