Thursday, May 24, 2012

Putting the boot in

click photo to enlarge
In one of my early posts I described myself as a republican. A reader from the United States contacted me to clarify my use of the word since he associated it with right wing views and the Republican Party of that country. Of course, I meant it in a wider, not country-specific, sense. I support no political party, but my views are, on the whole, left of centre and my republicanism derives from my belief that the British monarchy has outlived any useful purpose that it might have once had. I see it as a dead weight on our country's progress and, in particular, the foundation on which our particularly pernicious class system rests. I'd like to see it gone or at the very least reduced to an historic relic with no constitutional role.

I recognise that my view isn't shared by the majority of people in this country. The royal family, and the queen especially, are undoubtedly popular, whether you measure this anecdotally or through surveys. This stems, I think, from something else that I regret, namely that Britain is quite a conservative country with relatively little interest in politics (that's a small "c", not necessarily Conservative Party supporters). To most people the royal family is held up as a symbol of continuity, public service, stability, and viewed as a refreshing change from "self-serving" politicians.

Or at least that's what I've long thought. However, recently I've detected a small hint that perhaps our monarchy isn't held in quite the regard that I've always supposed. On June 5th Britain will have a holiday in recognition of the Diamond Jubilee of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Sixty years on the throne is to be celebrated with national pageantry and local parties. It has always been thus. The country's photographic archive features countless such celebrations for successive monarchs depicting feasting, flags, and celebratory conviviality. Yet, with only a couple of weeks to go I discern a distinct lack of bunting, publicised events and flags. Perhaps I'm looking too early and it will all appear in good time for the day. The only place I've visited recently that looked like it was making an effort was Ledbury in Herefordshire. Is what I saw there the shape of things to come, or has national sentiment turned, and will people of a republican persuasion cease to be in the minority and become the majority?

The colourful wellington boots shown above have nothing to do with the Jubilee celebrations, they are simply part of a shop's usual display of wares. However, the sight of the Union flag adorning a pair - surely an irreverent use for anyone of royalist sympathies - prompted this reflection.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 102mm
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/125
ISO: 250
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On