“We” are celebrating a birthday today in the UK, although personally, I’m not that bothered.
Queen Elizabeth II is 90 years old today and I see no reason she shouldn’t be entitled to have a birthday, the same as anyone else, but I don’t feel any need to go out and wave a flag or hold a street party.
The royal family is one of those institutions that has a different image to different generations, I think.
For my parents’ generation, the royals were the epitome of Englishness, (despite the fact that they are, largely, German in origin) to be feted and cheered, to be seen kissing babies and accepting flowers from little children and waving in a genteel fashion.
A family of unabashed privilege who were somehow still seen as being in tune with their subjects and “suffered” alongside them in the war.
My generation are probably more cynical in their attitude, seeing a hugely entitled institution that has, in real terms, almost no influence over the country they purport to “rule” and one which seems increasingly out of touch with the society outside of it’s gilded gates.
The current generation is possibly more tolerant of them, having the wonder of mass media to beam glamorous pictures of fairytale princesses and their darling children into their lives, being able to watch the handsome prince doing heroic things with helicopters and/or making a man-of-the-people dickhead of himself at fancy dress parties; it feels as though The Windsors (as I’m sure their inevitable tv reality show will be called) are part of the real world again.
And through it all, Liz has been quietly burrowing into the national psyche.
To be honest, to me at least, she’s always seemed the most normal and down to earth of the lot.
She looks like someone’s gran, she wears some pretty cool hats and she likes her horse racing.
She also looks like she could dole out a pretty good bollocking and her husband, well, he’s the best cantankerous old git you could possibly hope to sit next to at a bar for an hour or so.
He has offended practically every nationality and demographic on the planet but, for some reason, everyone still thinks he’s hilarious, because he absolutely doesn’t mean it, it’s just that his perspective is so spectacularly skewed by always having been able to say whatever he likes and have people laugh politely at his jokes.
I’ve never been overly impressed with their offspring, they all seem to have the slightly desperate air of a generation that knows its time is running out and, although their kids appear to have turned out ok, I think the English royal family has had its heyday and all the image makeovers and revivals it’s going to get and it wouldn’t be a bad thing for it to quietly fade away.
I have nothing against them really and you couldn’t pay me enough to swap places with them, but I don’t believe they are a necessary, relevant or financially viable commodity any more.
I know the argument is that they bring in huge amounts of tourist money, but I don’t think the tourists would stop coming if the royals vanished tomorrow; there is only so much time you can spend with your face pressed up against the gates, being impressed with how much richer somebody is than you.
And they never invite you in anyway.