Last night we went to a party in a house just off Trafalgar Square, and at midnight we walked back down the centre of the Mall to Buckingham Palace. I’m not much for pageantry but there was something ethereally graceful about seeing the great mall in full flag colours, softly lit, with people strolling about and a very low police presence.
At the party I’d met Canadians who had flown over with fancy dress outfits from Toronto, and here I am, living approximately 2 miles from the event (the helicopters I can see on TV can also be seen from my window), barely bothering to turn on the TV.
British life is punctuated with these TV events, in which obsequious presenters commentate over shots of empty tarmac. I remember the whole family watching Winston Churchill’s funeral, Prince Charles’s investiture, Diana’s wedding and funeral, and a hundred other events, and take it all for granted – a church, a balcony, a planned route, long-shots of bishops, a surfeit of hats, cheering flack-bedecked mums, a communal tapestry in which the public sew the stitches.
I watched the wedding with Shelley Von Strunckel, who kindly cracked the champagne for a bit of pageantry. Beautifully filmed by the BBC, it sadly featured no Daleks, which is a shame as the Dalek has existed in the background of British life almost as long as the Queen, and makes an appropriate tribute.