Proud to be British

June 6, 2012 6:02 pm

The recent Jubilee celebrations and the forthcoming Olympic Games make it a great time to be British

On a recent trip to England, I was struck by the amount of Union Jacks to be found on just about everything one can buy alongside many shops crammed with royal family merchandise. Admittedly, I have not visited for some time, but I could feel something of a buzz in the air, a kind of excitement and I have to say and happily so, perhaps even a feeling of being proud to be British?
With all the doom and gloom in the news these days, the disaster of the global economy, endless conflict, live broadcasts of former leaders being tried for war crimes, 2012 is set to be a contrastingly special and very positive year for Britain to showcase itself to the world as the fine country it truly is during: the Diamond Jubilee celebrations – the largest royal celebrations ever seen – marking 60 years of Queen Elizabeth II on the throne, followed shortly by the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games, when the whole world will tune in on London for two weeks.

Whilst pootling around Dorset on the first part of my trip, I noticed a war ship off the coast of Weymouth, where the Olympic sailing events will take place, and wondered if it were there in relation to the upcoming Games. My suspicions were confirmed by a story on the evening news informing viewers that the first Olympic security drills had taken place that day.
During the couple of days in London, pottering around the busy streets, I saw resealed roads, construction sites, scaffolding on buildings with signs such as ‘reopening in June or July’, either in time for the royal festivities or for the world’s most watched sporting event. Apparently, these two important milestones have been the catalyst for London’s rather overdue face lift. I am sure other parts of the country connected to the events have also benefited in some way.

And here we are, having just witnessed the final day of what has been an amazing Diamond Jubilee show, honouring the Queen and all the hard work she has continuously done, living up to the pledge she made after her coronation in 1953 to dedicate her life to the job. The country has had an exceptional four-day weekend, thanks to the official rearrangement of bank holidays.

Spectators, whether at home or actually present, have reveled in the best of British, during the main Diamond Jubilee programme. On Saturday June 2, the Queen attended the Epsom Derby. Sunday saw the Big Jubilee Lunch, in which neighbours were encouraged to share lunch and hold street parties. Perhaps the highlight of the four days was the spectacular Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, in which the Queen and her family lead the flotilla in the Royal (and very plush) Barge that was hand decorated with golden leaves and flowers. There were up to 1000 boats from across the UK, Commonwealth and around the world, involving about 20,000 people, as they rowed along the Thames forming a magnificent flotilla. Nothing like this has been witnessed since 1662, when the river was quite different. Oh I wish I could have been there!
British and Commonwealth musicians performed at Buckingham Palace on Monday and yesterday, on June 5, the celebrations have ended with a service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral. The Queen was seen beaming with joy as she observed activities and clearly found the entertainment and tributes delightful. I can only imagine that she was both grateful and impressed with all the hard work that went into planning and carrying out such an extravaganza. Although her Prince was taken to hospital and had to miss the concert and final day, the Queen held strong to the very end.

Queen Elizabeth has not only been our queen but a symbol of patriotism in Britain

Unfortunately, this once in a lifetime experience coincided with the 50th anniversary of my high school and so, I found myself sitting at Mr Pickwick pub in Bern after three days of late nights, little sleep, surrounded by classmates from the new world, who couldn’t care less about the royals in general, or appreciate all the fuss. I caught snippets on the TV of the flotilla and crowds lining the Thames and thought at that very moment that I might have to buy the DVD, make a jug of Pimms, gather with fellow countrymen and women and celebrate at a later date!

There is no doubt that all the stops were pulled out to make a spectacular show for the second sovereign in British history to reach the Diamond Jubilee.
London is used to putting on big shows and it could be said that the Diamond Jubilee was a pre-opening of what’s to come, or a rehearsal for the Olympic Games. When the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics closed in a most spectacular fashion, which I attended at the famous National Stadium, aka the Bird’s Nest, everyone said the UK would not be able to match China. Four years on, Beijing is a faded memory and the question now is, will the 2012 London Games be able to match the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations? I still maintain, in the words of Archie from the movie ‘A Fish Called Wanda’, “England is a fine country!” and I am very proud to be British!

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