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Jubilee Showcases ‘Genuine Affection’ for Queen Elizabeth

June 5, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT
Amid the pomp and ceremony Tuesday in the U.K., as Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Diamond Jubilee and a 60-year reign, was "a reminder that there is this one woman in this institution that's somehow above the fray," said Ned Temko, a writer for The Observer. Reporting from London, Temko spoke with Jeffrey Brown.

JEFFREY BROWN: Ned Temko, a writer for The Observer newspaper, has been watching the goings-on, and he joins us now from London.

So, Ned, a lot of pomp, a lot of affection. That’s how it looks from here. How does it feel there?

NED TEMKO, The Observer: Yes, much the same way.

It’s been a spectacular four days and, on the most superficial level, a wonderful excuse to party, which lots of people did in just about every corner of this land.


NED TEMKO: But there really is — it was an outpouring of genuine affection and admiration for Queen Elizabeth, and I think a recognition that, over the 60 years during which she’s been on the throne, she’s been the one constant in a lot of people’s lives in this country.

JEFFREY BROWN: Well, so, it’s really mostly about her. Is it also about the monarchy? Is there, I don’t know, more we can read into this?

NED TEMKO: Well, I think it’s about both.

There is still and there will always be a strong intellectual minority who are republican here who basically make the argument that a modern 21st century democracy shouldn’t have as head of state and sovereign someone who is there by basically genetic accident.

But, beyond that, there’s obviously a great deal of support for Queen Elizabeth herself, but, as opinion poll after opinion poll has shown in the last few weeks, also for the institution she’s come to embody and for the monarchy. And it doesn’t half-hurt that almost every other national institution and, above all, career politicians in this country have been undergoing a period of increasing disrepute.

So, against that background, I think it’s a reminder that there is this one woman in this one institution that’s somehow kind of above the fray.

JEFFREY BROWN: Well, that’s what I was wondering. That’s what I was wondering, Ned, because you — it comes amid, oh, you know, lots of economic uncertainty. You have got the hacking scandal.

And so people can put all that aside for at least a few days and look to this one constant, as we heard in that piece.

NED TEMKO: Yes, I think that’s absolutely true. That captures it.

And I think one of the fascinating things is, there was a reference to Queen Victoria, the last person to have served for 60 years on the British throne. When she came to her diamond jubilee, popularity — her popularity was kind of waning. She had become infirm, something of a recluse.

The opposite has happened for Queen Elizabeth. And she is at a peak of her popularity. And I think it was shown in two great traditions coming together, one, this pomp and ceremony — and Britain’s better than almost anyone on the globe at that — and the good old British weather, which, of course, gave us constant rain for the last four days.

JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Ned Temko in London, thanks so much.

And, online, there’s more on all this, including a blog from our colleague Mike Mosettig, who attended the festivities, and a talk with GlobalPost reporter Michael Goldfarb.