God Save the Queen but what is Patrotism?
This weekend the country is celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in all manner of ways: the river pageant, street parties, at Epsom Saturday or at home in their own community with their family and friends but is all this patriotic? Kate Middleton’s wedding to Prince William last year began the monarchists’ celebrations and now Olympic fever is in the air for the first time since 1948. Is all this coincidental timing or are we being taught a lesson in patriotism?
When asked to classify myself I alternate between ‘English’ or ‘British’ (though never ‘European’) and this, in itself, raises a conundrum as the commonly accepted definition of patriotism is “love of one’s country”. Can country be expanded to the United Kingdom and is the question of Scottish devolution going to alter our classifications of our English selves? Are the Scots who are also celebrating the Diamond Jubilee being “patriotic” in doing so if they then vote to separate themselves from the rest of the UK when the question of whether Scotland would retain ‘British’ institutions such as the pound and the monarchy is still under debate?
Moreover, can the monarchy still be seen as a British institution at all? Whilst the Queen is Head of the Commonwealth, as Brits we are viewed as inherently proud of our traditional heritage and Conservatives, in particular, are portrayed in this way, but what about our dreams of a meritocracy? Whilst gender equality may be said to be being addressed as any future royal sons or daughters will have equal right to the throne, does a hypothetical ruler based on nothing but bloodline really add to the democracy of modern day Britain? It must be stated that this is not being argued from a Republican standpoint but merely that of devil’s advocate, wanting to comprehend the world we live in and the apparent hypocrisies that invade it.
Our children are being taught in both schools and their homes that they can become “whatever they choose to be” and whilst many do not grow up to fulfil their childhood dreams it is not too far-fetched to question whether the Royal Family could be damaging aspirations. How many little girls said they wanted to be a Queen, a Princess or a Barbie and out of those three only Barbie was ever truly laughed at as “you know Barbie is just a toy”. Is this what our monarch has become, a toy to parade at receptions and as Head of State when needed but hidden and not considered otherwise? Thrown to the bottom of the toy-box until tourism needs another boost or we feel inclined to nurture ‘patriotism’ among the ranks? How do you tell a son or daughter that they can never become a King or Queen, simply because of who you were, the person who gave birth to them? How do you encourage them to fulfil their dreams and aim high in this meritocratic society and then calmly explain that unfortunately, every rule has an exception and our monarchy has become just that.