Thursday, 29 July 2021
First things first. I have written to the Queen, to thank her for her hospitality. It gave me more of an education in three months than I had had in the previous 35 years. For one thing, it introduced me to the England football team, with their skin tones, and with their unselfconscious displays of Catholicism.
Connoisseurs of crossings will have noticed that they did it in not only a Catholic, but really quite a Mediterranean, way, kissing their hands at the end. Whatever their roots in the West Indies or in West Africa, via working-class England in general and working-class London in particular, they are not High Anglicans.
The last trace of a Saxon, Protestant England is England's last Wettin monarch, and she is 95. Her Heir Apparent is an Oldenburg, meaning that the Danes will eventually supplant the Saxons on the Throne of England after all.
The next monarch but one has endorsed a dominant popular cultural force that now defines itself as much by the taking of the knee as by the singing of the National Anthem with the wrong lyrics; they are "God save the Queen," not "God save our Queen."
But then, 13 of the 26 members of the recently near-triumphant England football squad, 50 per cent of the total, would have been eligible to play either for Ireland (in the case of Harry Maguire, for either part of Ireland) or for what used to be called a New Commonwealth country.
Well, of course. What else could anyone possibly have expected? That is working-class England. Half the people in it are at least a bit Irish, or at least a bit New Commonwealth, or both. Anyone who might object to this, even leaving aside an Irish dimension that was already at least 100 years old in 1948, to which aspect of the pre-Windrush Britain that almost no one could now remember would you wish to return? The music? The food? The weekly bath nights?
19 years on, the Queen's Golden Jubilee remarks about multiculturalism are downright banal. At the time, though, certain newspapers still felt the need to pretend to be shocked. But the reason why we now hardly ever come across the word is because Britain, right down to every village, has moved beyond it, to a degree of fusion that does not yet have any international parallel. Listen to the music. Try the food. Look at the very faces of the England football team.
Or ask Stormzy's gym buddy, who will probably be King in 20 years' time, and certainly in 30. His mother was no scholar, but she was no fool. She did more for the Hanoverian monarchy in Britain than any other member of her dynasty, which has been its closest ally since even before that monarchy officially existed.
By the middle of this century, the Throne will have passed forever to her heirs, thereby legitimising it in the eyes of her partisans, whom she had hoodwinked into imagining that she was the harbinger of a new order. She was still pulling that trick even in death. She was a political genius, and there is every sign that so is her elder son, who is the chief cheerleader for the multicoloured, knee-taking, politically unquestionable England football team.