Friday, June 1, 2012

Apologies in advance, from a Brit to Lebanon

[Originally posted at NOW Lebanon, with my original italics restored]

Starting tomorrow, the United Kingdom will embark on no fewer than four days of state-imposed, taxpayer-funded celebration of the country’s hereditary dictatorship. Her Majesty Elizabeth II (to use a much-abbreviated version of her official title) has now held the throne for sixty years – comfortably surpassing the reigns of Bashar and Hafez al-Assad combined – a fact for which millions of her subjects will be gathering over the course of the compulsory holiday to express their delight and gratitude.

The BBC – whose journalistic integrity on matters monarchical approximates that of a Stalinist propaganda rag – has a fawning promotional guide to the events, which are almost comically tedious: a barge flotilla on the Thames here; a lawn picnic there; a Gary Barlow concert over there. There’s even going to be a “service of thanksgiving” at St Paul’s Cathedral, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, for which a “special prayer” has been drafted “at The Queen’s direction”. One line “thanks and praises” the Almighty for “blessing” Britain with “ELIZABETH [sic], our beloved and glorious Queen”, thus reaffirming the nakedly theocratic notion – popular with despots since time immemorial – that the sovereign has been personally hand-picked by God.

This festival of dictator worship would be regrettable enough were it merely confined to British soil. But it appears there are mortifying plans to export the hysteria to Lebanon, in what is being billed as ‘Britweek’. One might have thought that in the current regional upheavals, the representatives of leader-for-life autocracies might keep something of a lower profile – none more so than Liz, who was spotted last month lunching cozily with the sanguinary King of Bahrain, among other tyrants.

But then, keeping a low profile in the Middle East has never exactly been a British specialty. For what it’s worth, some of us – this Brit included – have at least some sense of shame, and of contrition. Sorry, Lebanon.

NB: If you’re in Britain and would like to demonstrate against the celebrations, see here for details of the official Jubilee Protest, organised by the fine people at Republic.


  1. Hey Alex, an interesting post. They are even celebrating Queen's Diamond Jubilee in our office and during the weekend.

    Anyhow, keep up the postings...

    1. Thanks very much! Sounds ridiculous.