I took no interest in the Jubilee whatsoever, it simply wasn’t for me. Yet I could not fail to be struck by the number of people who did, and by the positive way in which they did so. It seemed to me to be a harmless piece of fun which brought joy to a lot of people beyond the Queen herself, including in Northern Ireland. In fact, even though I had not participated in it whatsoever, I came to think it would be better if we had more celebrations of this nature.
It does bear emphasising that, aside from a small bunch of lunatics in Derry who were allegedly protesting about something else, the celebrations drew absolutely no opposition in NI whatsoever. This is marked contrast to other celebrations of Britishness, most obviously the Twelfth.
It seems to me, therefore, that we need to consider both these points – that we need more celebrations like that of the Jubilee, and that we need to recognise the contrasts with other “celebrations” which are much more contentious.
I am never one for simplification, but it strikes me the contrast is obvious: the Jubilee celebrations were a positive display of being pro-British, whereas the Twelfth and others too often become a negative display of being anti-Irish. As a result, the former became a harmless bit of fun yet the latter often becomes a bitter point of contention. After all, what precisely is “British” about putting a Tricolour at the top of a bonfire and burning it?
Therefore I wonder if this is a fair question: is there any learning from the positive experience of the Jubilee that we could transfer, for example, to the Twelfth?