The Queen is more than a tourism money-spinner

by The Codgers' Club Friday, June 8 2012

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.

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Categories: Royalty | Jubilee

Is our Duke really "gaffe" prone?

by The Business Blog, with Trevor Sturgess Friday, November 26 2010

Poor old Philip.

Every time the Duke of Edinburgh opens his mouth, his words are dismissed as a “gaffe.”

They are nothing of the sort, of course. He has a cheeky sense of humour and a knack of telling it like it is. Although the PC brigade - and parts of the media - love to imply that his comments are the ramblings of a rather dotty old fellow, and by extension, a royal waste of money, he is a shrewd observer of our times.

When he asks expats in the Gulf what they are fleeing from, it is a perfectly relevant question. When I was a sports journalist in Bahrain, covering world class sports up and down the Gulf states, it was normal, as you do, to gossip about the people who lived and worked there.

We knew lots who had quit England for various nefarious reasons - to escape prosecution, debt, miserable marriages and other domestic issues. In the Gulf, they shed their British inhibitions and transformed into colourful characters, making a huge contribution to the development of the Gulf states that created the economic force we can see today.

They worked hard and played hard. There was an expression “Up and Down the Gulf” meaning that those people would keep on turning up in different Gulf states, often to stay one step ahead of the law or some other pursuing entity. In the Gulf, they were released from the tensions of living in “little” Britain and its often dismal weather to blossom under a blazing Middle East sun, and, OK let’s face it, a senior role in society.

Lower in status of course than their Arab masters, but higher than the masses of hard-working Indians, Sri Lankans, Thais and Filipinos who provided the essential support and labouring services. For the only time in my life, I could afford a cleaning maid - a lovely Thai lady of uncertain years.

I’m not sure whether, say, a senior banker with Standard Chartered, is fleeing from anything but I wouldn’t bank against it. He or she may be there for career development and financial reward. But professionals too are often pleased to be well away from home territory.

The Gulf is a good place to work if you want to escape certain realities. In a Nottingham department store, I bumped into a couple of sunny disposition in the Gulf who had transformed into sullen Brits as they returned to those realities. Phil’s gaffes make a good headline. But he is often closer to bar-room chatter than many a PC scribe.

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Categories: Royalty

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