How long has the Diamond Jubilee been going on for now? Two weeks? Two years? Anybody? How long have we been in Afghanistan? Had the Jubilee coverage already started before we invaded? Was there even a time when it wasn’t going on? I honestly can’t remember. I feel like I’m emerging from a claustrophobic pod, bleary-eyed and disorientated, after being sensorily deprived and relentlessly bombarded with nothing but Royal white noise.
Not being a Royalist, I’ve barely watched any TV over the past few days (except for The Terminator which, I’m pleased to say, hadn’t been re-versioned with digitally inserted Union Flag bunting, or a scene in which Schwarzenegger’s ruthless cyborg enjoys a Pimm’s with Sarah Connor as they watch the Jubilee Thames pageant together). Still, I definitely feel like I’ve seen and heard enough about the festivities – even accidentally.
For me, the highlight of the weekend’s coverage was a live local news report coming from a damp street party in the Midlands, which concluded with the reporter instructing some children – cowering beneath a sodden gazebo – to cheer for the camera. They mustered a half-hearted “hooray!” (bless their Dunkirk spirit!) before one of the girls broke off into a wide-mouthed yawn, which brilliantly conveyed the aching tedium of it all.
My wife sternly told me on Sunday afternoon that she wouldn’t think kindly of me if I revelled in the fact that street parties up and down the country had been torrentially rained off, and I can honestly say that I haven’t revelled one bit. It’s perhaps not my cup of homemade Jubilee punch, but I genuinely felt sorry for everyone having to squeeze into local community centres to escape the deluge. It meant that footage of celebrations up and down the country looked more like the Louisiana Superdome post-Hurricane Katrina rather than the spirited community get-togethers they were meant to be, which was actually rather sad after all the planning that must have gone into such events at local level. There you are, see, I’m not a monster!
But having said all this, can the coverage stop now? It’s all just a bit, well, too fucking much.
Unsurprisingly, the Mail Online has led the way with typically gut-wrenching, sycophantic coverage. In fact, with celebrations gradually drawing to a close, the main headline on the newspaper’s website was re-written three times over a few short hours this afternoon – just to make absolutely sure that it was fawning enough to secure Paul Dacre a knighthood.
“Tens of thousands descend on Buckingham Palace at climax of Diamond Jubilee,” said the Mail Online’s original headline. That was then tweaked to read “tens of thousands of cheering subjects,” before they finally settled on the more understated “One and half MILLION adoring subjects descend on London at climax of four-day Jubilee“. Yeah, that should do it.
The Mail Online has also dedicated as many column inches to lambasting the BBC’s coverage of the Diamond Jubilee than it has to the pomp and ceremony of the Jubilee itself – and from which they appear to have derived just as much pleasure.
- “Appalling! BBC cut to Dick and Dom playing ‘Bogies’ as Tower Bridge rises in salute to the Queen.”
- “Bizarre! BBC cuts away from river pageant and shows a repeat of Keeping up Appearances in A SNUB TO THE QUEEN!”
- “Matt Baker gets Queen’s name wrong! Calls her HRH Ian.”
Admittedly, it is difficult to defend some of the BBC’s Jubilee coverage. We had the Thames river pageant on in the background for an hour or two on Sunday (in case Jubilee Police ‘snatch squads’ were monitoring people’s television signals) and I remember looking up at one point to see a bearded man in a plaid skirt knighting Tess Daly with an oversized sword. Obviously, that could/should have been so much bloodier, but it hardly screamed ‘quality coverage’.
And of course, the minute you drop Fearne Cotton into any major broadcast the tone plummets to the level of a zany charity telethon. Place her at the future state funeral of the Queen, and rather than seeing Her Majesty lying in state I’d fully expect to see her slumped in a bath of beans, with Pudsey pissing around in the background and Fearne shouting “wicked!” at shuffling lines of tearful mourners.
However, it riles me that the Mail Online should be the one to bemoan the BBC’s coverage, which it said “smacks of yet another desperate attempt [by the corporation] to appeal to its precious youth audience”. Especially when every Royal article that has appeared on the Mail’s website over the past few days has been accompanied in the right-hand sidebar by umpteen pointless articles about the TOWIE cast holidaying in “Marbs”, and the usual ten-a-penny articles about Kim Kardashian (the most recent being a fascinating article about Kim “challenging her spaghetti string bikini not to ping off as she squeezes her infamous curves into a two-piece”).
The Mail Online became the world’s biggest newspaper website (well ahead of the BBC News website, it was keen to stress) by running trashy, bullshit ‘celebrity’ stories that appeal first and foremost to a youth audience, and which encourages them to click through the site – so they’re knowingly chasing a similar crowd. Still, they managed to sound suitably arrogant and superior in their condemnation of the Beeb.
Furthermore, I object to the Mail’s supposed ownership of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Admittedly, the point of the whole shindig was to doff our caps in the direction of Westminster and applaud 60 years of the Queen waving and turning up for stuff. But it’s surely not beyond the realms of taste and decency for people to expand on what the occasion personally means to them.
“We saw Clare Balding aboard the magnificent rowing barge Gloriana shouting that the event was all about ‘empowerment’ and ‘diversity’. Er, no it wasn’t, it was about the Queen,” scoffed the Mail’s Bel Mooney. Yeah, fuck diversity! This is about one woman, and nothing else.
Similarly, following his speech at today’s St Paul’s service, the Mail Online spoke scathingly about the Archbishop of Canterbury, who they accused of hijacking “a celebration of the Monarch’s 60 years on the throne and head of the Church of England” in order to spout his “liberal views” about the financial greed in the City and various environmental concerns. Pipe down, preacher man! How dare you express thoughts about the true state of our nation, which our glorious Queen reigns over! Why couldn’t you just have thrown down a few vol-au-vents, waved a flag and fucked off? You’re ruining the party!
Anyway, it’s nearly over now. Mercifully, while I’ve been writing this, I’ve missed Rolf Harris Paints the Diamond Jubilee, which just leaves us with a weekend highlights package before normal service can resume.
As the Jubilee wind downs, the Mail Online proudly announced that this was “the weekend we remembered who we were”. Even though I genuinely hope that everyone who wanted to celebrate has had a good time, I just hope we can all forget just as quickly. I’d hate for this gushing celebration to be terminal.