Friday, 20 November 2009

2D or 3D, The Queen's dimensions do impress

There have been two revealing and thought-provoking images of Her Majesty, The Queen, on our TV screens this week.
The first was the remarkable footage shown on Channel 4 of The Queen’s coronation and her first few months as monarch – all shot in the gloriously intoxicating aspect of 3D.

As you will see from the crop of movies out this year, 3D is definitely ‘in vogue’ and Channel 4’s week-long celebration of the art of that extra dimension has been boosted by the amazing footage it discovered of The Queen showing her, literally, having new depths.

Fast-forward 60 years and on Wednesday we saw her resplendent in robes and crown opening Parliament. This was all in 2D (sadly) but those pictures will fly around the world as an example of the peculiar but rather splendid nature of our Parliamentary traditions.

These two bits of film left me pondering again about The Queen.

For, whether you are a staunch Republican or an avid monarchist, you can’t deny she has been one of the few ‘constants’ in British life since that ‘3D’ coronation in 1953. Politicians (and political parties) have come and gone as have members of the ‘new Royalty’ (celebrities) but The Queen has remained as a seemingly unshakeable rock in the midst of it all.

She has (amazingly) gone more than 60 years without ever really putting her foot in it, too – something none of us could ever say. Or indeed, let's be honest, any of her family.

It is a pretty impressive record.

I guess , like most people, my opinion on the monarchy has shifted over time. As a young, punky rebel I was very much an anti-monarchist. My preferred version of God Save The Queen was The Sex Pistols’ one rather than the national anthem and for years I argued that in this day and age the monarchy was an anachronism. And an expensive one to boot.

But over the years, as I have seen so much turmoil in the political arena, the solidity of the monarchy has increased its appeal to me. Without a King or Queen as head of state we would have had, instead, either a Prime Minister/President rolled into one or a separate, elected President alongside a PM. E

ither way I am pretty certain that due to their immense popularity at times that would have meant both a President Thatcher and a President Blair at one point. Both presidencies would have been very popular with their supporters – but would have incensed their opponents both here and abroad. And if you look at the nobody who has just become President of Europe that hardly inspires the Republican cause either. I doubt too many people will be buying tea towels with his face on it ....

The monarchy has also ‘got to me’ as I have travelled more and seen what they mean beyond our shores. The Queen (sorry about this Madonna, Angelina or even Jordan!) is the most famous woman in the world and when people see her they automatically associate her with these shores. It is a positive image - something our politicians and political instituitions rarely give.

I also recall watching a documentary which showed President George W Bush (another great advert for a President don't you think?) nervously waiting to meet The Queen at the White House. The US President is the most powerful figure on the planet (sadly) and yet W. knew where he ‘stood’ alongside Her Maj. After all where he is now – while she is opening Parliament?

I have also seen the effects of the monarchy at close range – the lift they give people they meet, the excitement their visits generate, the money their presence brings to projects – and let’s be honest no British politician has the ‘star quality’ to generate that unified enthusiasm.

So yes, whether it is 2D or 3D I now admit that The Queen and the institution she represents ‘works’ for me. I know my younger self is shouting ‘shame’ but I can only shout back – ‘come on Sam, it’s got to be better than a President John Major or a President Michael Foot surely?’

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