Elizabeth Renzetti had an interesting and rather well-written article in today's edition of the Globe & mail about the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Although it was sympathetic to the monarchy and the Queen who has embodied it for sixty years, there were a couple of things that I thought were a little perplexing. Take, for example, the title of the piece: "A 'steadfast' Queen gets Britain ready for a party." Or what about a line from the second paragraph: "In the months leading up to this weekend’s Diamond Jubilee..." (my emphasis).
What is going on here? It seems as though the media (both in this country and elsewhere in the Commonwealth) would like us to believe that Her Majesty's milestone anniversary is basically an exclusively British party taking place in London over the course of forty-eight hours. The royal tours being carried out on the Queen's behalf in the other realms, the bestowing of Diamond Jubilee medals, the multitude of "grassroots" community events taking place throughout Canada, and other exciting features of the supposedly year-long Jubilee (isn't that what jubilees were, historically, anyway?) are seemingly being relegated to the status of mere footnotes in the media's narrative of our Sovereign's sixty years on the throne. What "really matters," according to this narrative, is the party in London. Yes, the realms might be well-represented, but it's a British party through and through, and we'd better get used to it. I can almost guarantee that our national broadcaster will play up the Britishness of it all, conveniently ignoring the principles laid out over eighty years ago in the Balfour Declaration and in the Statute of Westminster. We saw it happen last year with the royal wedding, and unless the folks who bring us our news have read up on the evolution of monarchy in Canada and elsewhere, we are likely to see the same focus on the British facet of a supposedly divisbile institution. A century ago, this may have been a perfectly-acceptable way of covering major royal events with international significance (i.e. significance to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and other realms). In 2012, it is unhelpful, as far as educating Canadians about our system is concerned.
The media needs to take a more holistic approach to the Diamond Jubilee. Instead of treating the Prince of Wales' recent homecoming, the bestowing of Diamond Jubilee medals, and so forth as being the hors d'oeuvres before the "main course" taking place this weekend in London, these elements ought to be thought of as being individual components of the main course itself. If this weekend's Thames river pageant is being thought of as the roast beef, as it were, of the Jubilee, then the other events I mentioned a moment ago should be thought of as the beans and potatoes. Are we, as Canadians, going to benefit at all from an otherwise exclusively British jubilee celebration? Not really, insofar as promoting the Canadian nature of the Crown is concerned. Rather, it seems as though this year's Diamond Jubilee celebrations are hearkening back to the days of of the indivisible Imperial Crown, when the realms were mere footnotes in the shadow of the United Kingdom. I don't mean to be overtly sceptical, but a "colonial" jubilee isn't exactly helpful as far as convincing republican naysayers that our monarchy really is the local manifestation of a Crown without borders, so to speak.