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On bunting and Empire

June 2, 2012

I was amazed today, particularly given the amount of press coverage that has been given over to the Queens jubilee, that so few people are bothered. In our town/village less that 5% of homes have any sort of bunting flag or decoration.

The community centre jubilee Fayre had some people attending, but it wasn’t a sell out by any means.

In a couple of days I will be in India, the heart of the old Raj, the crown of the British Empire, over which Queen Victoria ruled. Of course India separated from the Empire before our present Queen was crowned, however the Union Flag, the British Monarchy, and what is now known as the “commonwealth” is very much at the heart of the meaning of this weekends celebrations. This is precisely why the Queen has dispatched her grandchildren around the world to greet all her (loyal?) subjects.

I’m not sure how much the Indians we will meet will be aware of the jubilee, and if they are aware how they feel about it, but I am feeling apprehensive – I don’t personally feel that we can do much celebrating about a monarchy that first authorised and then presided over the systematic exploitation of much of the world. Nor do I feel particularly proud of our efforts to put things right since we `gave` the countries of the empire their independence.  The third world countries have got poorer not richer – people still die every second from hunger, from water borne disease, from preventable illnesses. Meanwhile we are corporately spending far more than we will give in aid this year to eat of union jack plates in streets that are festooned with bunting.

It doesn’t make any sense to me – I just hope I don’t end up having to try and explain it to an Indian.

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