This year, 2012, marks an amazing achievement – 60 years as a reigning monarch for Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, celebrated in grand style in June, with various events and jubilation taking place throughout the year. Sixty years! Phew! What a lengthy time span to be under the public eye, scrutinized at every turn, examined under a magnifying glass to such an extent that even if one of the Royal Corgis had an unusual bowel movement it would warrant a column in the tabloids.
Of course it hasn’t all been a bed of roses. It was in 1992 when three royal marriages (all involving the queen’s children) were headed for the rocks. Poor Prince Charles was being so upstaged by the beautiful and well loved Princess Diana that it just became too much for him and he turned 180 degrees and formed a relationship with the rather less popular and much less attractive Camilla Parker-Bowles. Prince Andrew and Fergie split up and Princess Anne divorced Captain Mark Phillips.
Then one of the family pads caught fire (Windsor Castle) to end a year quoted by the Queen as a ‘annus horribilis’.
Charlie had three English guests that week on a BVI charter and the subject of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee had been the topic of several happy hour conversations, “Sixty years on the throne,” said Alan, “no wonder she has an anus horribilis. One of the royal ladies-in-waiting should have provided Her Majesty with a royal laxative.”
Soon the conversation turned to the pageant: a flotilla of a thousand craft journeying down the Thames through the heart of the greatest European city of all time — London (according to our motley crew that is). “It was Britain that ruled the waves for over two centuries,” said Peter. “We had the greatest navy in the world. From Francis Drake, James Cooke, Lord Nelson and Ernest Shackleton, Britain’s naval heroes furrowed the oceans for others to follow.”
“What’s that have to do with the Queen?” said Alan.
“Well, someone has to do the knighting and dish out all the medals,” replied Peter defensively. “And look at all the waving she has to do. Half her life is spent waving from a car, coach or barge. It’s a wonder her arm doesn’t fall off.”
“Yep, and I heard her wages have been cut in half – down to 50 million quid a year.”
“Now that’s understandable; I mean, she doesn’t have the Royal Yacht Britannia to maintain any more, that’ll save a few million … and cucumber sandwiches are still quite cheap. But I suppose the Royal Barge still needs a lick of paint once in a while,” mussed Pete.
The ribbing went on for another half hour and it brought home the fact that the British love to make fun of each other, their politicians, royalty, family and friends … But if an outsider criticizes the queen, watch out! Blood may be spilt. And if there’s an excuse for a good party … well, all Charlie can say is – along with sixty million Brits: ‘God save the Queen’.
Julian Putley is the author of The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI, Sunfun Calypso, and Sunfun Gospel.