Celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee this weekend has given a happy lift to an otherwise grey and predictably wet Bank Holiday weekend. Whatever you may think about having a hereditary monarch as head of state as opposed to an elected president, I think the United Kingdom has a lot to thank Elizabeth II for.
Despite living through the kind of radical changes and at times earth-shattering events that might make most of us panic or at least lose our sang froid, she has remained a figure of grace and serene dignity. Some of those changes and events must surely have dismayed her, even filled her with despair on occasion but she has never given in to bewailing or lamenting her lot, which, despite all its attendant wealth and privilege, is not always the rose garden one might assume it to be from a distance.
There is probably a great deal of truth in what her namesake and predecessor, Elizabeth I, said in 1601 "To be a king and wear a crown is a thing more pleasant to them that see it, than it is pleasant to them that bear it." One has only to think of the constant invasiveness of the media or the pressure constantly to exhibit charm, interest and diplomacy without ever being free to express a personal opinion or the impossibility of being able to go anywhere alone and without a watchful security presence, to begin to have qualms about royal blood being always a life-enhancing asset.
The Queen's position is in many ways an anomaly in this day and age and she might have lived a life rather empty of meaning and purpose but she hasn't. She has turned the role that was landed upon her into something both useful and rather wonderful. I doubt there are many other human beings alive on this planet with her experience of and exposure to those of other cultures, traditions, mindsets and attitudes - I suspect she is the British Foreign Office's best asset! And I think we are fortunate to have a person like that as our head of state.
There are those who huff and puff about this, as they do about her being the head of the Church of England when it ought to be a churchman (sic) but I think we could have plenty worse - this diminutive, dignified and serene lady exemplifies a way of being that is predicated on faith in God and humanity and a belief in hope and the future no matter what. What more do you want in a head of State or Church? So I must beg to differ with the huffers and puffers and I think we are remarkably blessed to have this Queen of ours who has stuck with us for 60 years in the post.
If the footage of the fabulous river pageant yesterday on the Thames is anything to go by, the Queen herself has clearly been enjoying her Diamond Jubilee celebrations as have we more modestly at home under the damp bunting and rainy skies!
|Damp up-cycled bunting. I hope no one wanted to wear those jeans I cut up!|
What better symbol with which to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee than wild English rose petals decorating a jubilee cake made with ingredients from all over the UK? (Apart from the sugar that is - our cold and rainy islands are not conducive to sugar cane plantations!)
It's an almond sponge with Scottish raspberries embedded in a cake made with Welsh butter, Cornish flour and eggs from the bantams in the garden. There are Scottish raspberries too in the filling which is clotted cream made on a local Oxfordshire farm. It is, I have to say, very good, although rather rich!
The crystallised rose petals are petals from the wild roses in the garden, brushed lightly with egg white and dusted with sugar. As they dry they become crisp and the rose scent / taste intensifies rather beautifully.
|Jubilee Cake - made from as many ingredients as possible sourced from all round the British Isles.|
I hope that you too have had a chance to enjoy some of the Jubilee celebrations wherever you are and if you are not a Brit, enjoy them with us vicariously, even if the whole royal thing seems a bit strange to you!