Pomp, Sun and Circumstance

One of those really beautiful London mornings. As my office is within walking distance of the Mall, I stood along with thousands to watch the Queen’s procession to Parliament for the State Opening. I think it must have been one of the biggest crowds at this event that I’ve seen – perhaps due to the sun, which hit the breastplates of the Household Cavalry and gave the pomp and ceremony a wonderful lustre.

Once the crown and monarch had passed, cheered and clapped, I slipped into The Red Lion, a famous pub on Whitehall, for a quick drink, only to find myself in a bar packed with people, faces upturned to a large TV, watching the speech as it was happening, in a respectful silence. Then out again, to watch the procession return. No politicians, thankfully, in sight; a great demonstration of the seperation of Head of State and Head of Government.    

There was one interesting little vignette: a small demonstration took place of people protesting in favour of electoral reform. From their purple banners and flags, they looked like the same bunch who lined up outside Lib Dem headquarters after the election. I recognised one of their number as Billy Bragg, the left-wing activist of old who has been a part of any number of causes over the past 20 years. As we waited for the Queen to return to the palace, I noticed that Bragg had broken away from his comrades, and was just standing in the crowd on the route in Whitehall, watching HM go by. Bragg would once have viewed such a sight as intolerable, I suspect. What was he thinking today?    

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