Thoughts on the Diamond Jubilee

Posted by Helen Wednesday, January 18, 2012 ,

With the Diamond Jubilee rapidly approaching, Peter Whittle, Director of the New Culture Forum put up an excerpt from his recent book, Monarchy Matters. Here are a few paragraphs:

The monarchy is the embodiment of our history. That history is now woefully under-taught in our state school system (one recent poll showed that a large number of children were under the impression that Churchill was a nodding toy dog in a TV advertisement). Too much of our educational establishment has instead concentrated on forms of social engineering. Pupils are leaving school without the most basic knowledge of key dates and events in our history. Newcomers are given little idea of what they should be integrating into. Could not the jubilee be the perfect inspiration, the ideal moment, for a popular celebration of our national story?
This could be done in simple yet effective ways. For example, could we not see the formation of acting troupes, who would visit schools across the country to present accessible, entertaining and informative shows that depict the great historical personalities and moments in British history? This can work wonders for children’s imaginations: I vividly recall, as a primary-school kid, learning about our maritime history in just such a way. And why not revive the old tradition of presenting each schoolchild with a free jubilee mug? For a modern twist, there could be a competition for the children themselves to design it.
The past decade has seen a boom in public sculpture: more has been erected in our towns and cities in ten years than in the whole of the past century. So much of it is banal – meaningless to the people who live with it and too often the result of entrenched social and political agendas, which are, in any case, fast falling out of fashion. Could not the jubilee see a flowering of new commemorative public art, of the type that has been a feature throughout our history – fountains, obelisks or just simple statues? It could be financed by public and private subscription, which has been the basis for some of our most famous monuments and statues.
Talk of sculpture brings me to a final thought. Would it not be good, one day, to see a likeness of the Queen occupying the now famous fourth plinth on Trafalgar Square? That this might indeed happen has been rumoured in recent times, but so far nothing has been confirmed. Of late that empty platform has been a temporary home to various waifs and strays – nebulous concepts that are literally immaterial, ‘challenging’ ideas that fail to challenge, gimmickry and trivial personal preoccupations. It would be both popular and appropriate to install a permanent, regal statue of our Queen. But perhaps her reign needs to be at an end before that could happen. In which case, the longer we have to wait, the better. Trafalgar Square is the most famous public space in the country, and it is what we show the world when it visits. It is a meeting place, the town square of the capital, which also celebrates our past. But our history carries on. And there could be no better affirmation.'
How could one not agree?


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