Image: Exhibition poster. 1977.
NOTHING TO DO WITH THE QUEEN.
1977 was the Queen’s jubilee. Street parties were planned throughout the UK and I was involved in holding my first one man show in a London gallery. As today the spirit of nationalism was palpable. Being more of a fan of Johnny Rotten and The Sex Pistols than the monarchy I called my exhibition,’ Nothing to do with the Queen’. In time my objection to the privilege enjoyed by the monarchy has cooled though not entirely.
You may ask, ‘how does this relate to the lockdown’? To give you an example: The royal family, once lockdown was in place, quietly retired to their second homes. The queen to Balmoral and Prince Charles, on 25th March, to his bolthole in Birkhall; both taking their extensive staff with them. This was at a time when citizens of the UK were specifically instructed not to do so and when numerous fines were issued to the general public for breaking the lockdown instructions when escaping the virus ridden cities to the relative safety of caravan parks, rural retreats or second homes. Even people as illustrious as the Scottish chief medical officer, Catherine Calderwood , having visited her second home twice, was dismissed from her post and shamed in the national press. Just yesterday Neil Ferguson quit after it was revealed that his girlfriend visited him during lockdown.
There are however no playing field divots when it comes to the royal family. What policeman would dare to tell the queen to turn around and stay at home? Many living in our capital in cramped, substandard accommodation don’t have the option of retiring to a second home, and would not object to locking down in Buckingham Palace.
Our society is not equal, we understand that however much we think it should be, but if rules are rules for the general public, even those with considerable public status, why not the royals? The Queen’s recent speech, evoking the memory of Vera Lynn and the fortitude and sacrifice of the brave general public in the war, strikes for me a hollow and contemptuous note.
My teacher at school was certainly not a shining example of the teaching profession. He had two favourite sayings: ” The eleventh commandment is thou shalt not get caught”, and ”Do as I say not as I do”.
It seems the sacrifices that we are all being asked to make are really nothing to do with the Queen.