Yes, Swedish TV did report the Jubilee celebrations the other night, cheering patriots and all; and with a reprise of the original coronation of seventy years ago – golden carriage, golden crown, golden everything. OK, so we Brits do this kind of overblown flummery well, if that’s what turns you on. I doubt whether any other nation can compete with us in this line; except perhaps the USA. I asked Kajsa how it compared with Carl XVI Gustav’s coronation in 1973. She couldn’t remember it. From what I gather, talking to other Swedes at a party last night, he simply swore an oath to his government in private, to be a good social-democratic boy, and then was given the keys to his castles. No pomp and circumstance at all – or none that Kajsa could recall.
If you’re going to have a monarchy – and the major drawback of a directly-elected President to my mind is that it might land us with someone like Trump, or a favourite comedian, or Boris Johnson for that matter – then this is the kind of monarchy you want. Keep the hereditary aspect, roughly: restricting your choice to Windsors; but sack all the marginal freeloaders – younger sons, daughters, cousins, uncles; make the other royal relatives do proper jobs; take away most of their palaces, their silly clothes, and all those medals they’ve never actually earned – and have them living as much like their ‘subjects’ as is possible. (OK, perhaps just a little better. We don’t want them resorting to foodbanks.) It might also be good to restrict your choice to people who don’t actually want to be king or queen, although that might prove difficult; and to have them dragged to their throne, like Speakers of the House of Commons are symbolically dragged to their chair. One other desideratum might be that they should have disabilities of some kind that could be seen to put them at least on a ‘level’ with their subjects, and so curb their royal arrogance. Carl Gustav is shy and dyslexic. George VI of Britain, of course, had a severe stammer, which was what always commended him to me – a serious stutterer in my youth. As it happens I’ve met – briefly – both Elizabeth II and the Swedish Crown Princess Victoria, and been impressed by their naturalness and lack of arrogance; and in Liz’s case by her intelligence (we talked about America), which surprised me in view of my prejudice at the time that all royals were brain-dead inbreds. Liz II has done a remarkable job over the past 70 years in seeming pretty ‘ordinary’, despite the luxury in which she lives, and despite her family problems – which are perhaps a sign of ‘ordinariness’ in themselves (there must be other families with ‘nonces’ in them) – and in giving offence to virtually no-one.
So although I shan’t be celebrating her jubilee – no street parties in Kantarellvägen – I shall be tolerating it. And hoping that whoever succeeds her – the poor bastard: it must be a rotten job – can maintain the tradition she has set, and perhaps succeed in downsizing the whole excessive, vulgar and tasteless institution.
Not sure Lizzie Battenberg wanted to be Queen…but her mum surely did!