When Buckingham Palace announced earlier this year that the Queen would be "travelling as widely as possible", I did not think she would travel so widely as to encounter a member of my own family. In this life, many are called. Few are chosen. So when Will, my eight-year-old son, was offered the chance to see the Queen – or, as he insists on calling her in hushed tones and with zero irony, Her Royal Highness – he didn't have to think twice.
On Tuesday, he gathered with his cub troupe (pack? group? military division?) in Richmond Park with a posse of CRB-checked adults who had very generously given their time to put on a show for the Queen and Prince Philip.
The Royal party had apparently specifically requested that their route be lined with "young people in uniform". Yes, the email from the scoutmaster did raise a shudder. But, to be fair, the monarch is patron of the Scout Association. And the uniform consists of a funked-up T-shirt and baseball cap. And they're not armed. Or, at least, they're only armed with emergency wet weather gear and boxes of raisins for sustenance. ("NO NUTS, PLEASE.")
Despite all this, as my son beamed a proud smile and came home talking about how he was "this far away from her – and she was wearing a white dress, she always wears a white dress...", his lily-livered, Republican Lite mother, a two-for-one Prosecco liberal if ever there was one, quivered slightly and frowned.
This is becoming a familiar, sickening feeling this year in the run-up to the Jubilee and the Olympics: being caught between a rock cake with a Union Jack cocktail stick in it and a hard place. There's the pull of the iconography, the joy of the flag-waving and, hopefully, the sense of relief that, hooray, finally we can be proud of something.
But then there's also the sense that it so easily morphs into hysterical conservatism, jingoism instead of patriotism, and before we know it people are making calls for the introduction of military service. Cubs I don't mind. That much. But the real thing? No, thanks.
As June approaches, the sight of all the adorable red, white and blue sprinkles on cupcakes in every supermarket in the land floods me with self-loathing. I know I'll eat them, I know I'll cheer, I know I'll wave my hankie with the best of them. Because if you are going to poop a party, then this year you are really pooping a big one.
Anti-royalists, admit it now. We are doomed. UK Plc is a heartbeat away from dabbing at its collective moist eyes whilst murmuring – as Cameron did during last summer's riots – of "the country's moral collapse". God save the Queen. But heaven help us all. Now pass the sodding bunting.Reuse content