Wednesday, 15 November 2006

God Save the Queen!

Above (drumroll please) is the debut You Tube video from Roman Miscellany, taken on my digital camera (apologies for the quality).

On my way to work at the diocesan archives this morning I made a detour at Green Park and walked to The Mall, the ceremonial street linking Buckingham Palace to Whitehall and Trafalgar Square.

Why? Today Her Majesty the Queen solemnly opened Parliament and so I thought I might catch a glimpse of her in the Australian State Coach. Amazingly there were more soldiers around than spectators and I overheard a number of confused tourists asking police officers what on earth was going on! It's rather impressive that such pagentry continues regardless of whether or not there are actually crowds of spectators. The State Opening is not a gimmick but a time-honoured ritual expressing the fact that the Monarch is our Head of State and it is her Government and her Parliament that sits in Westminster. This comes across in the Queen's Speech, even though it is written for her by her Government.

The first part of the procession, whizzing past around 10.40am, were the coaches containing the Imperial Crown (which you can just make out through the window of the carriage in the first photo below) and the other royal insignia. Such is the symbolic importance of these items that the Guards lining the street present their arms.

Very little happened during the next twenty minutes, except a car passing containing lots of excited looking page boys in their red uniforms. Then the royal procession slowly emerged from the Palace at 11am, as the bells of Westminster Abbey wafted over St James' Park. The unfortunate consequence of using digital technology on such occasions is that you're too busy concentrating on the camera to observe all the finer details of the spettacolo. However, I certainly noticed Princess Anne in one carriage.

Despite the 'reforms' of Tony 'Bugnini' Blair in our State Ceremonial, it's good to see such pageantry alive and well in the twenty-first century!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sure that Her Majesty is pleased (privately, of course)that while Prime Ministers and their governments come and go, the Monarchy carries on. Though one does wonder if some focus group isn't busy trying to find ways to dumb it all down. In former, hereditary times the House of Lords glittered with peeresses in all the family jewels. It all looks a bit dull these days.

Apparently, the 'wimmin peers' don't like to be called peeresses nowadays. I found an intersting note on the Parliament website from a meeting that the Lord Chancellor had with a few Baronesses - or should that be Women Barons?

"The deputation stated that they wished to be distinguished from the wives of peers and that they would like in future to be called “women peers” and not “peeresses” (as was the present position on the lavatory doors)."

Where will it all end?

12:11 am  
Anonymous Dave Hill said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the ceremonials, Father. Sadly, few people seem to have been impressed by the speech that followed!

I've a link here that may interest you btw.

As for Anonymous, what a peculiar attitude. Do you think the ladies should not be allowed to be referred to differently if they so wish? Is that not their prerogative? Should their autonomy not be respected? Rather unChristian of you to argue otherwise, I feel.

8:28 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd be grateful if you could (for we non-English) to treat of the subject of prayer for the Queen at the end of the Mass. How does this all work for a Protestant head of state? Is this why the prayer does that she and her family may "finally...attain unto Thee..." rather than praying for a conversion to Catholicism (putting aside the treasonous tendencies this may have entailed in times past)?

1:59 am  
Blogger Fr Nicholas said...

When I get the chance, I'll look into this matter. Obviously the prayers for the Queen at the end of Mass were for her as Head of State rather than Head of the Church of England. English Catholics have always been keen to show that it is possible to be good Catholics (owing obedience to the Pope) AND good British citizens (owing obedience to the monarch and his/her government).

9:45 am  

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