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What impressed most who saw it was that the Queen herself appeared to be quite overwhelmed by the sacramental side of it. Hence, in the spectators a feeling of…awe, pity, pathos, mystery. The pressing of that huge heavy crown on that small young head became a sort of symbol of the situation of humanity itself; humanity called by God to be his regent and high priest of Earth, yet feeling so inadequate. As if He said: “In my inexorable love I shall lay upon the dust that you are glories and dangers and responsibilities beyond your understanding.” …One has missed the whole point unless one feels that we have all somehow been crowned and that coronation is, if splendid, a tragic splendour …br> What is happening now is not just a matter of individual aberration. It was announced that the 10th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana would be commemorated with a rock concert. Performers would include Princess Diana’s “favorite band,” Duran Duran, as well as “hip hop star Pharrel Williams.” A press illustration of Duran Duran accompanying this story showed one of its members dressed, presumably for a joke or because of the attraction to the bright colors and decorations, in the blue-and-gold jacket of a Naval Chief Petty Officer with three good-conduct badges. Innocent enough, perhaps, yet there is something grating about this — that uniform is meant to indicate a lifetime of service to Queen and country, and to have a special dignity, tradition and gravitas about it. Here it is deliberately turned into mockery.
This isn’t just a matter of British ritualistic snobbery. Every country needs some kind of solemnity and dignity, some sense of occasion: the respect that patriotic Americans accord the U.S. flag, for example, is not something freakish or pathological but an expression of something normal and necessary in any functioning culture. And would a few eyebrows not be raised if a commemorative ceremony at the White House, say, or Arlington Cemetery, was entertained by a band wearing unearned military decorations for a joke?
It is highly doubtful that this cheapening of honors and public ceremony will buy the government popularity anyway: the huge success of books and films of The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, and even Harry Potter, suggest that British people, in common with others, actually like old-fashioned ideas of chivalry and knightliness, rather than endless parodies and mockeries of them. Similarly, the great solemn crowds at the funeral of the Queen Mother suggest there are times when they believe dignity appropriate for public ceremonies.
At the Millennium celebrations the government had a unique opportunity do create some monument bespeaking achievement and nobility, the commemoration not only of the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of Christ, but all the great achievements of British history in that time. It spent the equivalent of nearly $2 billion of the useless, tawdry Millennium Dome.p>Journalist Liz Lightfoot wrote of taking her family to the Dome on the day it opened to the public and of eventually arriving after a long wait in deafening steel band music at the “Body” exhibition (featuring a large distorted human body which people could walk through. It was necessary to see this figure to appreciate its full crudity and ugliness). They entered through some brown curly wires, which she told her children were meant to be intestines: br> /p>
“What’s that bug, then?” asked John. “Have we got bugs in our tummies?” asked Jamie, looking horrified. It was only two days later, watching television, that I realised the curly things were supposed to be pubic hair and the bugs were lice.”br> The lice were animatronic and waved legs and feelers. Animatronic pubic lice and knighthoods to rock singers sum up one aspect of the Blair Government’s cultural legacy pretty well.