The celebrations of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this weekend have an air of unreality about them: it is a time of memory, nostalgia, thanks and respect for a woman who has always done her duty and done her best, and seeing them is like watching a dream.
She represents an era that now is in the past, one of comfortable familiarity and stability when the British institutions are in their place and life as it has been known (or imagined) goes on for ever. Even though huge change is in the air, many people -and not just in the UK – refuse to think about it because it is easier that way. The Queen symbolises not just decades of prosperity for the world but centuries of tradition and continuity, and the overwhelming popularity of the monarchy is partly because of the reassurance and hope it gives for the future as it has done for the past.
It is also because of the character of the Queen herself. She loves her country and her subjects and in many ways has given her life to them: that is recognised now, after 60 years, and she is much loved in return for herself. When this Jubilee holiday is over reality will return as further reminders of global change force themselves forward, but meanwhile I hope she is able to believe the sincerity that underpins the great events which have been organised for her and her reign, and to believe at last that the many demonstrations of affection and of honour are genuine, and are well deserved.