Having been invited to the Press and Stakeholders’ briefing at Guildhall only a few days ago, it was a delight to witness the Jubilee Celebrations in reality. Present day Britons had perhaps never seen the like of it in their lifetime and on such a scale. It made its mark as a truly people’s pageantry with all its noise and humour. At the same time it was within the serenity of St Paul’s Cathedral that we could capture the mood of the monarch in her quiet reflections on ‘faith’ and her resolve to uphold it in all its diversity of belief and worship in present day Britain.
Despite the cold, damp weather on the day of the River Pageant on the Thames, there was no dearth of enthusiasm as thousands flocked together to witness the event on its banks and as millions more revelled in their street-parties within their communities. The Queen, ably supported by Prince Philip, left her subjects spell-bound by her stamina as she stood through the four and a half hours on the Royal Barge. She has no doubt come a long way from the ‘fragile beauty’ at the time of her coronation, yet maintaining her resolute determination with grace and decorum for the dignity of the office she holds. She continues to embody the very best of our national values while she meets the demands and challenges of a modern age. She embodies duty, service and goodness in the best of the British tradition.
The Concert and the Street Party before the Buckingham Palace Gates was again one big delight. It was a great show that close to two billion people witnessed across the Atlantic and the Commonwealth and of course around the world besides those in the British Isles. The Buckingham Palace stood transformed, through splashes of lights and revelry, into “Our House on the Middle of the Street, Our House!” It gave us the feel that the plebeian Queen was calling us home to the party. The rock band on the Palace roof-top (much like Joseph Stein’s Fiddler on the Roof immortalised in a different space and time by Sheldon Harrick’s lyrics and Jerry Bock’s music) seemed almost prophetic about a new age that was unfolding through the reign of Her Majesty.
We were reminded by one of the commentators on ITV as we witnessed the pageantry that the Queen was perhaps the only monarch in our times who is professionally qualified to change the spark-plug. Barring its constitutional overtones, it speaks volumes of the Queen in person. Not many are aware that prior to her ascension to the throne and as a young woman in the post WWII days she, as a subaltern, drove a lorry through the streets of London in her contribution to restore civil life and order.
A significant part of the Jubilee Celebrations was the personal recognition that she accorded to her Commonwealth of Nations. There was a 200 member Commonwealth Choir that sang at the Street Concert before the Queen. There was a smaller Commonwealth Youth Choir that greeted her upon her arrival at Mansion House soon after the Thanksgiving at St Paul’s. The Queen, as the supreme head of the Commonwealth, continues to inspire as we work towards cooperation and development under her dedicated leadership.
With the parade winding its way through the streets of London and the horses escorting Her Majesty back to Buckingham Palace after the lunch hosted by the Company of Liveries at Westminster, it was a reminder that we do so well with ceremony and pageantry. Her presence on the balcony at the Buckingham Palace to witness the fly-past in her honour was also a reminder that the Royal Family is now pruned down to essentials. There was just the nucleus of the family who would be bestowed with a role for the future. The Queen very subtly set the trend for the future and reminded us once again that it is always the monarchy that drives the change here in the United Kingdom.
The Queen, as one commentator observed, taught us the value of “keeping calm and carrying on” while we all came in to celebrate a generous and compassionate lady that has touched the hearts of millions throughout the world. She remains for us as Hindus and as a community which adds value to the life of this country, an upholder of ‘faith’. She is a ‘constant’ in a changing world and a constant embodiment of goodness. We as British Hindus place her at the fulcrum of our life in this country, the still point of the turning wheel that we turn to for order and stability. May the Lord grant her a long, happy and glorious life to rule over us with her presiding care.
Accreditation: We are grateful to our Representative Mr Prem Patel from Golders Green Swaminarayan Temple who has so generously provided the photographs to illustrate the text
The Governing Board
Hindu Council UK