The best of British (Part I): A right royal knees up

by Carmen Allan-Petale

To me, English people don’t seem that patriotic. You hardly ever see the British flag being flown and my friend once said that at Glastonbury no-one liked to have it hanging from their tent in case they were criticised for being right-wing.

That all changed this past weekend. Never have I seen so much British bunting in the windows of so many houses. People displayed their country’s flag with pride. It was, of course, Queen Elizabeth’s 60th diamond jubilee. And it was a reason to celebrate.

Dave on the flag-lined street

Many neighbours around the country took to the streets to hold parties. They were events on all over London, such as the one we stumbled across at the Southbank Centre where DJ Goldie was playing his favourite tunes from the past 60 years.

It is doubtful whether there will be another diamond jubilee in our lifetime and millions of people seemed to realise this, crowding the footpaths, eager not to miss it.

The Queen celebrated in style. Her parade up the Thames broke the world record for the biggest number of boats to travel in a flotilla – 1,000. There were countries from the commonwealth represented on many of the vessels, with Australians rowing their way down the river. Aussie lifesavers from Bondi beach were also on patrol to make sure everyone was safe.

The flotilla travelling down the Thames

The Queen herself travelled on a barge adorned in gold and nearly 10,000 flowers from around the world. She was flanked by Phillip, Charles, Camilla, William, Kate and Harry. I sometimes feel sorry for the Queen’s other grandchildren, as they always seem to miss out riding shotgun with their grandma at these grand events. They were on some other boat.

You can just make out the Queen as a tiny spec of white

Dave and I hosted a small afternoon tea at our house, baking traditional British fare. We had a Victoria Sponge, finger sandwiches, a cheese and bacon tart with salad, and cupcakes – all washed down with Pimms, which I like to think of as the British summer cocktail.

The Victoria Sponge we made – decorated with British colours

We sported masks of faces of the royal family and headed down to the riverfront to enjoy the show. Unfortunately we timed it a little late and didn’t anticipate the crowds. We managed to shove our way to the front and I caught a glimpse of the Queen in white as she sailed past.

All dressed up in our British masks

In true British style it rained the whole weekend and the poor choir singing for the queen as they journeyed down the river were dripping from head to toe.

Not that we could see all that much – we just caught a glimpse over the shoulders of the more die-hard royalists who’d been queuing for hours in front of us. Some had been waiting overnight!

Once the flotilla had passed, we headed off to the pub to celebrate in a truly British way – by downing a few gin and tonics. And as she’s someone who has a G&T every day before dinner, we think Liz would’ve approved.

The royals at the pub

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