The Daily Express, which seems to have replaced Lady Di by the weather as a front-page feature, tells us that we are heading for a heatwave. The suggestion lifted spirits on the allotments this morning, for day after day of dark skies overhead and mud underfoot have gradually converted a cheerful bunch of old codgers into a mass version of Victor Meldrew. And the massed ranks of chickens seem similarly inclined, unlike ducks they don’t enjoy the wet stuff.
Once we had spent our usual couple of hours scraping up muck and shouting angrily at both the hens and each other, we settled in the shed for a brew. First topic up was the Olympics and the fact that there are still thousands of unsold tickets, that annoys somewhat those of the gang who devoted yonks to placing unsuccessful bids. However we quickly tired of Lord Coe, and all his works, and turned to Britain’s number one soap opera, the Royal family.
We were prompted by a new opinion poll carried out by Ipsos MORI. It shows that the anti-monarchists, who get so much press coverage, are in a very small minority. Only 13 per cent were in favour of a republic, the lowest proportion for 20 years. A whopping 80 per cent want to remain subjects of the Queen. Support for the monarchy was highest among the over-55s, at 88 per cent, but even in the 18-24 age group 73 per cent favoured the present system.
The poll also showed that the Midlands was the most loyal part of the country, with 89 per cent preferring the monarchy to a republic, compared with 77 per cent in the North and 76 per cent in the South.
A spokesman for Ipsos MORI said; “Since the Royal wedding the publicity the Royal family has received has been phenomenal, particularly for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The resulting jump in support of five percentage points since the royal wedding is very pronounced”. And therein lies part of the explanation for the seemingly endless support for the monarchy. For vast numbers the Royals are the most revered soap opera of them all, and we Brits adore soaps, the perfect escapism, a way to live ones life through the supposed lives of others. How else does one explain the mass hysteria at the death of Princess Di or the equally hysterical obsession with Kate Middleton’s bum?
There is of course another factor. In a constantly changing, and often insecure world, even those who espouse soaps treasure continuity. And the Queen has provided this in great measure. Over 60 years of great change she has provided a constant background, a reminder that at its heart our society doesn’t change, is always there for us. And the us is important, there is no question of political allegiances. We hear a lot about the ‘posh boys’ at the top, but in a strange way the Royals, the poshest of them all, are seen as of the people.
When I was a boy my Gran was typical of most of her generation in seeing the King as an earthly version of God. She once stood within yards of him and for the rest of her days treasured that moment above all others. Few now interpret the monarchy in that way, but only this week when the Queen and the Duke visited the Burnley area thousands jostled for just a glimpse.
We codgers like to think of ourselves as rational beings. Logic tells us that revering an unelected head is irrational, that the Royals are merely hman like the rest of us, albeit a somewhat more privileged version. But we are totally in support of the concept of a monarchy. Why? Because, as the Duke of Edinburgh once pointed out, their great value lies in what they prevent. The alternative would be a President and people such as Blair and Cameron on the balcony of Buck House!
Not a pleasant thought is it? Both prime ministerss have proved to be secretly coorupt in their dealings with the Murdochs. Both have used the honours system as a means of boosting party funding. Both have lied to the nation, or failed to reveal what they should have revealed. That is how politicians are now, and they have lost the trust of the people. If they, or any other politician, were head of state the nation would more easily flounder and split asunder.
Had I written this just days ago I would have added that the Queen has never put a foot wrong in sixty long years. Sadly she did just that this week by including some extremely dodgy characters in her Jubilee reception for monarchs from across the world. But doubtless she was advised by the hopeless Foreign Office, and in any case who amongst us has not erred more than she has?
So forgive us if we don’t dress up in cardboard crowns or applaud Lords in ermine, but condemn us not for we are just as fervently in support of Her Majesty, albeit for slightly different reasons!
THE WORLD OF FOOTBALL; “He has won six million dollars in as many years”…Rob Lee, Sky Sports 2 “Bilbao have a corner in a very good position here”….Stan Collymore, Channel 5 ” He ( John Terry) wears his shirt on his sleeve”……Ray Parlour, Sky Sports News “It could easily end up a goalless draw if neither side scores”…..Phil Brown, Radfio 5 Live