This morning I opened my eyes and jilted Chris Hayes my normal Sunday morning date and turned to BBC America. In all its glory was the lead up to and then the eventual Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant. It is at moments like these (as it was with the wedding last year) that my British pride crawls all over my skin and makes my toes tingle. Still wearing my jammy bottoms I donned my Union Jack sparkly t-shirt and armed with a bucket of tea I sat down to watch.
No one does this stuff the way we Brits do. No one. There is no another country on the planet that can match us in sheer brilliance when it comes to pageantry. Just like the wedding last year this entire weekend is pomp and circumstance at its finest.
Half way through the proceedings my Mum called from England and for an hour we sat and watched the flotilla together, pointing out all the wonderful elements, gossiping about the outfits and generally enjoying the entire thing, 3,000 miles apart. I shall never forget the day of the wedding last year when she called me to say that she was wearing her “nightie, red white and blue ribbons and a white hat”. I would have killed to get a photo of that.
I noted how much I enjoyed the sea cadet boats, sporting all of the flags of the Commonwealth (I was a sea cadet, so it warmed the cockles of my heart), I made particular mention of the fact that despite the rain, no one seemed to mind standing and getting soaked for hours on end. I noticed how the Queen and Prince Philip (86 and 90 respectively) stood during the entire proceedings, not once retreating to the comfy “thrones” that had been constructed on the Royal Barge, despite the Queen having her knee “done” just recently.
Being former Woman’s Royal Naval Service it absolutely delighted me that the Princess Royal was resplendent in her WRNS uniform, as was Prince Andrew in his Royal Navy Uniform (The Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales were also in their Naval Uniforms, Prince Harry was in his Army Air Corps Uniform while Wills was in his Royal Air Force Uniform). It also delighted me that at the end of the Flotilla, The Royal Symphony Orchestra played a rousing version of the Hornpipe, which had all of the Royal Party bouncing on their heels. A wonderful chorus of “Rule Britannia” by an absolutely rain sodden choir gave way to “God Save the Queen” and it was over.
The Queen looked like a diamond herself against the red backdrop of the Royal Barge in a stunning white outfit dotted with crystals. It will be several days before the celebrations are over. Tomorrow night there is a star studded concert in front of the palace followed by a lighting of the beacons all over the United Kingdom and indeed the World. Tuesday, an extra “bank holiday” for Britain sees the final celebration a service of Thanksgiving. London will get back to normal for a few weeks before hosting the Olympic Games which promises to be even more spectacular.
3,000 miles away I raise a glass to The Queen, possibly the greatest Monarch since Elizabeth I, may you “long to reign over us” Your Majesty, here in my little acre in North Carolina you make me proud to call myself a Brit.