Don’t let red tape get in way of pageantry

NO country in the world can equal the British when it comes to pageantry, patriotism, loyalty and efficiency when celebrating, paying tribute to and recognising a moment in the history of Great Britain. These occasions often include acts of remembrance to very special men and women who have selflessly over the years given their lives, too often literally, for their country.

As we witness the wonderful festivities which are taking place across the British Isles, around the commonwealth and by ex pats in far flung countries around the globe, celebrating and paying tribute to Her Majesty’s historic Diamond Jubilee, it is heart warming to see the majority of the population celebrating so genuinely and enthusiastically this momentous occasion with pride, admiration and joy.

Who could not be moved by the spectacle of the Queen and her Consort Prince Philip standing shoulder to shoulder at the many events which have marked this momentous and remarkable moment in history? How typical of this remarkable pair to stand stoically for four hours in the cold and rain aboard the royal barge the Spirit of Chartwell on Sunday. Not for a moment did they wish to disappoint the hundreds of thousands of well wishers waiting to see them along the seven mile trip along the banks of the Thames.

Whoever decided that her Majesty should travel for the first leg of the journey in the old royal launch from her beloved Britannia deserves a medal. Let us hope the significance of this detail was not lost on a certain ex prime minister whose first big mistake when he came to office was to scuttle the Royal Yacht Britannia!

It is little wonder that the Monarchy is so immensely popular at this time. As the financial stability and political future of the UK and many countries around the world look rocky, uncertain and lack solid leadership and direction, it is reassuring and unsurprising that the Queen is regarded to be more popular than any elected politician. As noted by Melanie Phillips in the Daily Mail ‘A recent poll suggests that four times as many people think the Queen is more concerned than politicians about their future, and three times as many believe she is more in touch with ordinary folk.’ People increasingly believe that politicians ‘don’t care about them, they merely want their vote’. The Queen wants nothing from anyone; her life has been and still is devoted to serving the public.

The national and local Jubilee pageants and celebrations have taken many years to prepare, it is stunningly obvious that the people who have been working to produce such dramatic and memorable spectacles and celebrations have not been constrained by bureaucrats hell bent upon sticking to the rule book and hiding their narrow short term agendas behind red tape. Sadly there are a number of long lasting popular schemes and projects planned around the country which would have marked this very special occasion of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee which have been scuppered for this reason.

It is sad and disconcerting to be told by representatives from local authorities and national agencies that had they been around in times gone by we would not today see such iconic landmarks as Jack and Jill, the Long Man of Wilmington, the White Horse, Chanctonbury Ring or indeed the plantation of trees in the form of a V on the Downs near Plumpton, which so visibly celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897.

The on-going plans to create a giant E on private land above Firle have now regrettably hit a bureaucratic brick wall. This project planned as a visible tribute on behalf of the whole of Sussex to mark this historic milestone has moved on from the original concept of planting native trees.

Taking into account the concerns of certain anonymous individuals and small environmental organisations and authorities, the final plan was to clear overgrown scrub and vegetation. This would create additional precious open grass chalk land which supports rare butterflies and other species, leaving behind existing shrubs, scrub and small trees in the form of an ‘E’ without planting a single additional shrub or tree. Was this acceptable? No, such creativity and patriotism does not apparently fall within any of the bureaucrat’s existing rule books or tick the right boxes.

The team driving this project and the hundreds of people who have offered their support are obviously very disappointed; they tried so hard to achieve a lasting visible tribute to her Majesty. If anyone can think of a site which would be acceptable please let us know. It would be sad and I believe unforgiveable if we allow political correctness, red tape, bureaucracy and minority groups to win the day.

Carola Godman Irvine