by David Jones
I have never been sure whether the majority of British people really are supporters of the monarchy, or whether as a nation we just enjoy any old excuse for a knees-up.
After last weekend, I am firmly convinced that the former is the case.
Jubilee fever was real enough and the symptoms were everywhere to be seen, despite the appalling weather.
I drew the line at putting on a red, white and blue hat and did not wave a flag, but it was difficult not to get caught up in the excitement of it all.
My rather more sedate contribution to the knees-up was to enjoy a spectacular firework display at which the several thousand people present appeared to be monarchists to a man – and woman – but I think the large amounts of beer and wine swilling about may have had something to do with it.
Earlier in the day, I enjoyed another spectacle – the River Pageant, not least because of the large number of Kent-based vessels taking part.
Though I am not a 100% supporter of the royal family, I have deep respect for the dedication, not to mention the stamina, of HM herself and a bit of sympathy for the often unfairly maligned Charles. As for the rest, well some of them anyway, they ought to get proper jobs and stop free-loading at our expense.
That said, it cannot be denied that, as a nation, we take great pride in the royal family, the Queen in particular, and participate with genuine enthusiasm in any event which celebrates the monarchy. The number of street parties in Medway and elsewhere, of course, provides the proof of that.
The monarchy is sometimes criticised for being a colossal waste of money. This short-sighted view overlooks the fact that the Queen, with a bit of help from William and Kate, is a tourism money-spinner, generating many millions for the economy – almost certainly far more than it costs to “run” the monarchy.
Of course, it would be absurd if the only reason for the existence of the Queen, William and Kate etc was for them to be tourist attractions on two legs, a kind of human Big Ben.
They provide the glue, as previous royals have done, which helps our nation stick together, especially in difficult times, in a way which no other country in the world can match.
Watching TV on Sunday, while pondering whether or not to put on the central heating, a German baker, who had created a monstrous royal-themed cake, popped up on the screen to be interviewed.
He said he was puzzled by Brits who questioned the purpose of the royal family when it attracted so many visitors.
“We have a new president in Germany,” said Herr Baker, “but I don’t even know his name. But everyone in Germany knows the name of your Queen.”
And that, I thought, said it all.