Frills, fops and fascists
Thursday 31 May 2012
The royal jubilee weekend brings me warm memories of the last jubilee in 1977.
Back then we celebrated how long the Queen had been getting on our nerves with a trip to Woolworth’s to look at the Singles Chart board.
The Sex Pistols single God Save the Queen, an anti-royal mix of buzz-saw guitar and vigorous taunting, was the number-two top selling single.
But Woolworth’s wouldn’t stock it. In fact they wouldn’t even mention it – the Woolies chart board was made up of those individual stick-on letters. A shop assistant laboriously spelled out Rod Stewart and Kenny Roger’s hits at numbers one and three. But number two was unnamed. The Sex Pistols getting so high in the charts was a triumph. The way they were left blank on the Woolies chart board seemed a bonus, an extra piece of pop-Dadaist street theatre in a plastic alphabet that reached even the provincial Yorkshire of my teens.
The Sex Pistols’ unpatriotic intervention wasn’t just absent from Woolies – the BBC banned all play of the single on its stations.
The Independent Broadcasting Authority demonstrated its complete lack of independence by joining the ban.
Johnny Rotten sneered/sang his apparently unbroadcastable – unmentionable even – sneering/singing lyrics, “God save your mad parade” years ago. Unfortunately, the words still fit.
The prospect of Britain’s most boring pensioners, Ms E Windsor and Mr P Mountbatten, being chugged down the Thames in a massive gold barge is mad enough.
They will be accompanied by all kinds of ludicrous claims. On Radio 4’s Today programme I heard Ms Windsor described as a “spiritual leader” like a “shaman” – so presumably she will be wearing stag antlers, chanting away while off her royal head on magic mushrooms at the weekend.
For another mad parade, see Ms Windsor’s widely publicised lunch.
The royal family gathered together relics of royalty from round the world for a jubilee “sovereign monarchs” lamb dinner, followed by a photo shoot that made the shifty bunch look like the Addams Family.
Much criticism was rightly made of Ms Windsor welcoming murderous heads of state like the king of Bahrain, who loves his subjects so much that he wants them shot in the street when they protest for democracy.
But the weirdest thing about the Windsor’s big day in was how many impostors she invited.
In the official photo the Queen sat between the king of Bulgaria and the king of Romania. The king of Greece was in the next seat.
This is odd, because all three countries are republics.
Bulgaria and Romania became republics over half a century ago. When their communist governments fell, neither Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha of Bulgaria nor Michael of Romania asked for their crowns back.
Simeon did lead a somewhat right-wing privatising party in his native land, but in fairness he did so by winning votes, not crazy ideas about bloodlines.
Even the Queen’s lie about the king of Bulgaria contained another lie – if she had to give him a royal title, he should have been called Tsar Boris. Pretending he’s a king when he isn’t was OK, but using his official monarchic moniker was apparently too ridiculous.
While the artist-formerly-known-as-Tsar Boris and Romanian Mike went along with the Queen’s deluded fantasy they were “sovereign monarchs”, at least they don’t make any such pretence to Romanians and Bulgarians.
The same cannot be said for the “king” of Greece, who regularly hangs out with our Queen.
Known as “Constantine the Little” in Greece, he is a truly pathetic figure – king Constantine swore in the fascist Greek colonels after their 1967 coup.
When the uppity fascists refused to be nice to their king, he tried to launch his own feeble counter-coup, which was a laughable failure.
Since Greeks rose up in 1973-4 and brought back democracy the people have utterly rejected Constantine because he helped the fascist colonels. Constantine then made himself even more unpopular by suing Greece for millions of euros of “reparations” for losing his throne.
Constantine isn’t even a Greek citizen, let alone a Greek king – the Greeks said he can only have a passport if he puts his surname on the application.
They won’t accept “king” in the space marked “occupation” either.
He has refused to comply, preferring to swan about with a Danish passport identifying him as “Constantine of Greece”.
In the Sex Pistols song, Rotten sings “God save the Queen / the fascist regime.”
With Eurotrash like Constantine and dictators like the king of Bahrain, those lyrics are also still pretty accurate.
But sadly I will be visiting my in-laws so will miss the protest this Sunday from 12-5.30pm on Westminster Bridge held by anti-royal group Republic.
We are also invited to celebrate the divine right of Queens with street parties.
If people want to enjoy barbecued sausages and beer in public, good for them. But this supposedly spontaneous public eating is also backed by government cash.
“The Big Lunch” charity is helping to organise many jubilee street parties. As the name suggests, The Big Lunch is a brainchild of one of Cameron’s Big Society thinkers, Paul Twivy.
He was also a founder member of the government backed Big Society Network.
When Cameron was claiming charities would spontaneously make up for cuts, the Big Society Network argued that people shouldn’t “always turn to officials, local authorities or central government for answers to the problems they face.”
But the Big Lunch got £295,000 from the Department for Communities between 2008 and 2010.
Government funding seems to have gone down, but this year the Department still gave the Big Lunch another £35,000.
In fairness to Twivy, he seems to have become disillusioned with Cameron, and has since criticised cuts to charities.
So official backing for the jubilee includes sending pensioners down the river in golden boats, forcing everyone to take a day off work, wall-to-wall balls from the BBC and money to tthe Big Lunch.
If anyone talks about jubilee celebrations being all about spontaneous royalist celebrations from the little people, remember that it’s more big fib than Big Lunch.
“The worst of the punk rock groups I suppose currently are the Sex Pistols. They are unbelievably nauseating. They are the antithesis of humankind.” (Bernard Brook-Partridge, Conservative Chairman of the London Arts Committee, 1977): here.