Having missed most of the Jubilee celebrations in the UK, two scripts have (for me, at least) gone to the heart of the matter.
The first is David Hare’s Guardian comment on the Queen “floating above the stink” of the rest of our disillusioned public life. He concludes:
The Queen is perceived today to be where we might all wish to be – floating some way above the stink. And for that reason the young woman who was phoned on safari in Kenya in 1952 and told to come home immediately is 60 years later overwhelmingly popular. We are grateful that there is one British citizen who is not at the mercy of market forces and shameless profiteering, nor of a government which lacks the philosophy, the intellectual equipment or the will to control them. What was in happier times the Queen’s greatest weakness – that she does not in the circumstances of her life resemble her subjects – has paradoxically, at this point in our history, come to be her greatest strength. Republicans who have recently been cowed into silence – “not a good year for us,” admitted their spokesperson – should take heart. The vestigial idealism which has recently settled on the Queen’s shoulders is a parallel instinct to that which demands television programmes not about rubbish and a publicly funded health service, where the fit pay cheerfully to help the sick. God knows, that public idealism has few enough other places to go.
The second is the Archbishop of Canterbury’s sermon at St Paul’s Cathedral today – which I did not hear, but have just read. He asks for the recovery of a renewed vision of ‘dedicated’ public service – akin to what I posted earlier on the discussions in Brussels last night. He concludes:
This year has already seen a variety of Jubilee creations and projects. But its most lasting memorial would be the rebirth of an energetic, generous spirit of dedication to the common good and the public service, the rebirth of a recognition that we live less than human lives if we think just of our own individual good.