image caption: Gurmukh Singh

Platinum Jubilee Celebrations

The expression Jubilee refers to celebrations associated with certain milestone years in the reign of a monarch. So, the Platinum Jubilee of the Queen commemorates her being on the throne for 70 years since her coronation on 2 June 1952.

Queen Elizabeth II is the longest serving head and, especially, female head of state in history. At 95 years she is the oldest living and longest reigning current monarch in the world. She is also the head of state of a number of other countries like New Zealand, Australia and Canada. She is the head of the Commonwealth of Nations, an association of 54 sovereign states which were British colonies or dependencies of those colonies.

Over the decades, through her total dedication, unique role and personality, the Queen has come to be loved like a motherly figure in a family of nations. She has remained fully involved and caring, yet neutral in her role. The family symbolism applies to her relationship with these countries and very diverse peoples and cultures around the world. Symbolically, she has held this family of nations with a colonial past, loosely together like children growing up to become adults to find their own paths. The Queen has played an important role so that these nations have remained together supporting each other while sharing certain British values.

During her 70-year reign, the royal family has gone through many ups and downs and even scandal, but she has remained steadfast and maintained calm dignity while carrying out her public duty. She deserves and has consistently won public affection. To quote a journalist, the death of Diana pitched her reign into crisis and in more recent years the scandal surrounding Prince Andrew and the exile of the Sussexes has overshadowed a jubilee year that she will mark for the first time without her late husband, Prince Philip.

While she proposes to carry on as the monarch for the rest of her life, she is also preparing for the next reign by delegating much responsibility for state functions to Prince Charles who, together with his son, Prince Williams, will continue to come forward as required. Prince Andrew, Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, are no longer taking part in state functions. As much as the Queen is slowing down, and other members of the Royal Family are taking on more of what she used to do, there is little sense she is in any way detached from the goings-on within the House of Windsor now. Like an ageing and wise parent in a family, the Queen may be slowing down but she is very much there when needed. Royal succession planning has become clearer with recent events like state opening of the Parliament. In due course, by the time Prince Charles takes over, we are likely to see a slimmed down monarchy. There is a sense that Prince Charles will focus his reign on a smaller core group of Royal Family members to carry out the working roles within the House of Windsor.

As I have watched the historic Platinum Jubilee events, I have been on the lookout for British Sikh participation, trying to catch a glimpse of the occasional turban wearing Sikh in the audiences. Perhaps more co-ordinated Sikh effort is needed to take part in such national events in future.

Gurmukh Singh OBE

Principal Civil Servant Retd