The strapline of this morning’s Guardian on the Jubilee finale was: ‘Without her husband, the essential loneliness of the Queen’s role was movingly evinced.’ This is a classic example of what psychologists call projection. The only lonely people over the last few days have been the British republicans, who only managed to muster a hundred or so is their demo near the former County Hall building on the South Bank. And, of course, the Guardian which is the only British national newspaper to come out for republicanism. This weekend the Guardian did not flaunt its republicanism; it carried all the pictures of the hundreds of thousands around the Mall, though it did not produce a souvenir Jubilee edition. Instead it dutifully reported that The Times had put 125,000 onto its circulation with its Jubilee special. (In fact, the present owner of The Times was a republican long before the Guardian. But he is far too canny a businessman it insist that his newspapers wave the tricolour flag.)
The Queen was visibly moved at the climax of the Monday night concert, when she was called by Paul McCartney (All my loving) to join the stars and address the thousands in the Mall and the millions watching on television screens. Amongst them was Sir Elton John who composed the elegy to Princess Di in the most horrible year of her reign. But on Monday Di was forgotten and the Queen was supported by Charles and his new spouse. The royal box was full of her children and grand-children and on the back row was her present Prime Minister. No sign of Tony Blair who took to television screens and whipped up emotions after Diana’s sudden death.
Far from being lonely Elisabeth II has more support than even Queen Victoria at her prime, and still has a husband to support her. She may outlive Charles and even if she does not Charles, judging by his speech on Monday may not be the disaster that has been predicted. Since we live in the age of opinion polls, he knows how unpopular he is, and just how many of his subjects think he should do the decent thing and abdicate in favour of his eldest son and the woman in the designer red dress.
But republicans should not lose heart. The jubilee events are a triumph for royal public relations but they are rooted in the past. The royal barge, the Spirit of Chartwell, Churchill’s country home, reminds us of past achievments. And should also remind us that Winston was a card carrying member of the British aristocracy, who did his best to get Edward VIII to keep the throne. (If he had succeeded he might have done for the monarchy years ago.) Far from being a Commoner Princess Di was a member of the same family.
Prince Charles in his Monday night speech spoke out for those suffering the effects of the recession, much as his uncle the Duke of Winsor spoke out for the Welsh miners. He still spoke with a plum in his mouth.
But then so do most of the cabinet. Posh boys mostly, apart from Baroness Warsi, who is due for the high jump. The case against the monarchy is that it helps to perpetuate the existing elites. But this holiday weekend it is the elected Prime Minister who looks more out of touch with the people than the monarch.