In an age of rapid change, the Queen has been one of the few constants in our lives.
Plenty of us will not see another Jubilee, since a monarch’s first landmark is 25 years on the throne – and Prince Charles is a 73-year-old apprentice, albeit a sprightly one.
This weekend will be packed with potent, enduring symbolism, not least the generational transition from the Queen to Charles during this morning’s Trooping the Colour, when he will take the salute on horseback; and then on Sunday, when she leaves the balcony at Buckingham Palace.
Pomp and theatrics will prevail, as ever with the monarchy. Yet the Platinum Jubilee is very personal too. For tens of millions of people, this may be a final opportunity to thank the Queen for her lifetime of service.
We should also seize every opportunity for communal celebration. The last few years have shown us that. One is not obliged to revel in imperial nostalgia – the Queen won’t. Many people will take pleasure in a bumper bank holiday, in street parties, in extended pub opening hours, or updating watchlists on which neighbours still aren’t flying the Union flag. Daytime drinking and curtain twitching remain national sports. Choose your own patriotism.
Our constitutional monarchy is not the worst system for choosing a head of state. Arbitrary and undemocratic, yes. But there are far inferior arrangements. President Farage, anyone?
The Queen has elevated her accident of birth to an artform. She erred badly after Princess Diana died, and in the protection of her favourite son, Andrew, from allegations of sexual abuse. Throughout national and family crises she has endured, though, becoming a global model for stability, predictability and restraint.
Back in April 2020, as the pandemic hit, she broadcast a message to the nation, offering encouragement to people isolated by Covid-19: “We will succeed – and that success will belong to every one of us. We should take comfort that, while we may have more still to endure, better days will return. We will be with our friends again. We will be with our families again. We will meet again.”
Another good reason to celebrate.