Red, White, and Blue – 2 June 2012


Scroll down for photos of Mallow Park’s preparations.

RED WHITE AND BLUE: Everywhere you go, you'll see Union Flags flying proudly. (686148_98143394 Debbie Schiel)

Those three colours: red, white, and blue. They’re everywhere, from newspapers to lampposts. Two weeks ago, they were in the skies as the Red Arrows flew over Windsor, and you can’t go anywhere without seeing a Union Flag displayed in a window. Adopted 200 years ago, it’s cooler than ever now, as the country celebrates the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this weekend and continues to follow the Olympic Flame’s route as the ‘cheese grater’ torch travels around the country.


TAKE TO THE SKIES: My friend Nicole Swaffield posted this photo of the flypast onto Twitter. (AtQUugjCAAE8g2A Nicole Swaffield)

FLYING THE FLAG: A ten-year-younger version of myself, at a 2002 Golden Jubilee party. (June2002_GoldenJubileeBurchettsGreen)Only the most churlish of republicans could suppress a little delight at the sight of junior school children in patriotic outfits and handmade crowns, marching proudly yesterday morning. Some of my peers posted photos of their younger siblings dressed up ahead of picnics on their school fields, while one London teacher took to Twitter to express her own delight at the wonderfulness of teaching on such special days.

“The looks of joy & excitement of all my kids at school as they tucked into the party food for the Jubilee-magic-the best bit of teaching :-D”

— Sandra Lerman, Twitter post, 1 June 2012

THOSE WERE THE DAYS: Processions at Burchetts Green Infants School in 2002. (June2002_GoldenJubileeBurchettsGreen-1)

But the Diamond Jubilee weekend is only just getting started. Here in my hometown of Maidenhead, the area’s annual free party (a fraction of its former size, now wholly on the main central park) has been moved back by a week, to coincide with the national celebrations. All weekend, the Maidenhead Carnival will offer entertainment, amusement, and fun, along with a brilliant opportunity for local charities to raise thousands of pounds. The stage, on which I performed last year, was being set up in a new location as I walked through Kidwell’s Park on Thursday morning, and other preparations including the construction of the dodgems were also under way.

SET UP: The carnival, now in full swing, was only just being set up as I walked through the park on Thursday morning. (31052012244)

PREPARATIONS: Dodgems and amusement rides being set up on Thursday morning. (31052012242)

Tomorrow (Sunday), I’ll be running the PA system at the Mallow Park Street Party, though I’m hoping to pop down briefly to my church’s celebration on Norfolk Road. It’s going to be a busy day, but one that will be extremely enjoyable. Outside my front door, we’ve 500m of bunting, multiple marquees, and plenty of food, not to mention an amazing raffle and a good number of games planned, all to help us celebrate 60 years of reign in style. Though ‘Heavy Rain’ is forecast, nothing (short of any real danger presented by the weather) can stop us having fun: if anything, the precipitation will only add to the British authenticity.

FLOWER POWER: Floral arrangements around the colours of red, white, and blue seen outside a Mallow Park house. (IMG_3435)

MAN UP T'LADDER: A resident adds balloons to a Mallow Park lamppost. (IMG_3415)

PRIDE OF BRITAIN: Mallow Park resident Andrew Richards adds bunting to his house. (IMG_3516)

SHOW YOUR COLOURS: Matthew, my brother, helps with the putting-up of the bunting. (IMG_3525)

MEAT FEAST: Gavin, tomorrow's King of the Barbecue, puts sausages in his fridge to keep them fresh. (IMG_3485)

DECORATE THE HOUSE: My father putting finish touches to our house's decoration, which include a large illuminated crown. (IMG_3550)

Meanwhile, my mate Jake will be on the banks of the Thames in London, witnessing the River Pageant, which will see a thousand craft – both grand, large boats like the Royal Barge, and Britain’s own “Tupperware Navy” of people messing around – take to the water. It is set to be a truly awesome event.

RIGHT ROYAL RUBDOWN: A man prepares the Royal Carriage ahead of Tuesday's procession. (_60557755_014881433-2)

Looking ahead to the start of next week, and I’m excited for Gary Barlow’s concert in front of Buckingham Palace on Monday night, which will be broadcast on BBC One, BBC One HD, and Radio 2. Then on Tuesday, the Queen will travel in the Royal Carriage through the streets of London in a procession route that will, for sure, be watched from the roadsides by thousands.

I have, however, still a large amount of work to do today – due to revision for other subjects, I haven’t touched my History books despite my exams in that subject being a week on Tuesday, and though it’s half term next week, I’m doing a canoeing / kayaking course during the main part of the week, so I won’t have as much time to revise a century of European history as one may at first imagine.

But to everyone, may you all have a very happy and safe (if soggy!) Diamond Jubilee weekend.

Andrew Burdett

Andrew Burdett is a twenty-something from Maidenhead in Berkshire, working for ITV News.

3 Responses

  1. A 'patriotic' admirer of meritocracy says:

    ‘Only the most churlish of republicans could suppress a little delight at the sight of junior school children in patriotic outfits and handmade crowns…’

    Really? Churlish means rude and mean-spirited.

    The potentially negative interpretation of impressionable minds being indoctrinated into celebrating a (hereditary) monarch(y) is not surliness. The British Republican sentiment is not puritanically serious or anti-fun. It may merely question why a jewelled crown is a ‘patriotic symbol’ – I’m also interested in your definition of ‘patriotic outfits’, what exactly do you mean?

    When a person waves a British flag they show an identification with the ideas, beliefs, systems, and culture(s) from which the ‘nation’ attempts to define and ‘unite’ itself.

    It is an insult to our history when the social liberties, political freedom, and educational, cultural, technological, and scientific achievements, are overlooked as mechanisms for unity or celebration.

    Instead, when deciding on what to elevate to a level of national approbation, these advancements lose favour to the mere existence of a family – an assuredly amenable and affable collection of individuals – who have had a limited role in securing the ‘Greatness’ of Britain.

    When choosing how to describe those whose opinions do not match your own, I would suggest avoiding naive and unnecessary jibes. It undermines your writing.

    • Really, seriously, thank you very much for your comment. I don’t think that this space is necessarily the best place to get into a serious debate with an anonymous commenter, but it would have been foolish of me to write what I did without considering how it would be interpreted by others with differing views.

      I know that many people have a problem with the cost of the monarchy on taxpayers – indeed I often find myself doubting whether it really does represent value for money (there’s a publication by Republic that claims the Royal Family cost Britain “up to five times” the official £40m figure). Yes, I find it unfair that one family’s children happen to be born into such wealth and security, while some of the millions that pay for their circumstances live a much less luxurious life. And yes, I think it’s silly that the true monarchists say how comforting the Royal Family have been in times of war and disaster, whereas in fact Churchill is the ‘great leader’ remembered of WWII – not King George VI.

      But for what they bring to the country – and, around this weekend (in an era where so much communication is digital), for uniting neighbours up and down the country – they’re brilliant. In the United States of America, a federal constitutional republic that has never had a royal family, there’s a famous amount of interest in our monarchy. It’s evident, to me at least, that we simply wouldn’t have such large celebrations over a Presidential election result, things that by definition separates people. So for the coming-together of people from all walks of life to celebrate (whatever the purpose), it’s a wonderful thing.

  2. Rory says:

    Great post Andrew. Good luck tomorrow with the PA system! I’m sure you’ll do just fine. 🙂