I just watched the Queen's speech from Westminster Hall, which was excellent. However, all of the ceremony that accompanied it (the Speakers of both the House of Lords and the House of Commons were there, dressed in their gold-embroidered robes, along with trumpeters and other officials) made me wonder why Canada's Diamond Jubilee celebrations have so far been pretty lacklustre by comparison. Yes, a Diamond Jubilee Medal was issued, but the initial presentation of it in Februray was overshadowed by the controversy of awarding one to every MP, some of which refused it or returned it. Yes, a "Diamond Jubilee Week" supposedly began on February 6th, but it was barely acknowledged by the media (save for a captioned photo or two of the Queen's personal standard being raised on Parliament Hill). Yes, Speakers Kinsella and Scheer presented a loyal address to the Queen while visiting Buckingham Palace a few weeks ago, but the media hardly cared (and the Diamond Jubilee was barely acknowledged in Question Period on Feb. 6th). Yes, the Prince of Wales will be touring New Brunswick, Ontario, and Saskatchewan in May, but we haven't heard much about this tour so far (by contrast, we knew more about the 2011 royal tour - dates, locations, etc. - well before it took place in June and July), and, if HRH 2009 tour is any indication, the media will go out of their way to spoil the visit by publishing countless opinion polls on the supposedly bleak future of the monarchy in Canada, triumphantly pointing to sparse crowds as "proof" of the Prince's unpopularity in Canada, and interviewing cynical British "analysts" who believe that Canada will inevitably become a republic at the end of the present reign.
Meanwhile, the Canadian media continues to insist on restricting the Diamond Jubilee (which I thought was a year-long event acknowledged by every one of the Queen's realms) to an exclusively British event of a mere four days in June, when a lavish flotilla of boats will travel down the Thames. Never mind what Australia, Canada, or any other realm is doing to mark the occasion. No. The "Diamond Jubilee" (which has become, in the press, synonymous with the aforementioned flotilla in London and other primarily British activities taking place in June) is an exclusively British occasion to honour Britain's Queen, Britain's royal family, and Britain's constitutional monarchy, and we'd better get used to it. A number of Canadian communities supposedly recieved federal funding to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee, but I would imagine that a lot of these local celebrations will go unreported by the CBC and other news outlets (which are, after all, much too busy encouraging us to think about how partisan politics and hockey - those two perennial features of Canadian society that have all but eclipsed the monarchy on the radar of "what it means to be Canadian" - will unite us as a people). More to the point, the Government of Canada seems to have vastly overestimated the significance of these local, "grassroots" celebrations and their impact on everyday Canadians (who would much rather be staying inside to watch hockey or complain about the government). This isn't 1897. It is highly unlikely that Canadians will turn out in large numbers in their municipal parks to honour a Queen whose role as Canada's head of state sounds, to put it starkly, "foreign" to them. I'm not suggesting that this is ideal; I'm only being realistic.
I recently spoke with someone who complained about the Conservative government encouraging Canadians to have street parties and other celebrations to mark the Diamond Jubilee. "Why, then, can Britain have celebrations of this kind, but not Canada?" I asked. The reply I got was "because the Queen is one of them," which only reinforces my belief that a lot of people are either unaware of the Queen's role in Canada or have simply fallen hook, line, and sinker for the media's rather narrow interpretation of the Diamond Jubilee that I mentioned a moment ago.
Again, I hate to sound pessimistic, but as far as Canada is concerned, the Diamond Jubilee seems to have no sparkle, as of yet.