Magazine article The Spectator

The Papers Loved That Concert. It Was Gruesome, Vulgar and Unbelievably Tacky

Magazine article The Spectator

The Papers Loved That Concert. It Was Gruesome, Vulgar and Unbelievably Tacky

Article excerpt

The monarchists are cock-a-hoop and the republicans confounded. Even the Queen is reported to be a little taken aback by the huge crowds which came to see the Jubilee celebrations in London. We have, we are told, barely ever before witnessed such wonders.

Not since 1977 - I would almost say 1952 - have the newspapers been so unanimous in their adoration of the Queen. Even the republican Guardian grudgingly praises her. The Independent, which once pretended that the royal family did not exist, is effusive. The Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the Daily Express can scarcely control their glee that those who prophesied public indifference have been proved so wrong. The Murdoch-- owned Times and the Daily Mirror are solid in their enthusiasm for the Queen. Perhaps most spectacular is the total conversion of the Sun, also owned by Rupert Murdoch, to the royalist cause. My theory is that William Shawcross, who should be congratulated for his excellent four-part series on the Queen recently broadcast on BBC 1, has privately helped to turn the Sun's previously sceptical editor, David Yelland, into almost as fervent a monarchist as he is himself.

As for the BBC - the same BBC which was so casual immediately after the Queen Mother's death in March - it seemed to revert to its old self, offering hours and hours of uninterrupted coverage of the festivities. Newscasters shook their heads in disbelief, and Jennie Bond looked as though the crowds had come out to cheer her. Perhaps I will be forgiven for pointing out that BBC World - unlike CNN and Sky News - gave the celebrations comparatively little airtime, and that the BBC World Service, of which I happen to be an addict, relegated the Jubilee to third or fourth item on its bulletins during the small hours. Surely the presence of a million people on the streets of London on successive days was more newsworthy, particularly in view of the great affection in which the Queen is held in many Commonwealth countries. But if the BBC's international arm underplayed the Jubilee, our own home-grown BBC rose magnificently to the occasion. Even Prince Charles, who was reported to be cross with the Corporation for showing insufficient respect after his grandmother's death, singled it out for praise after the pop concert at Buckingham Palace on Monday evening.

A great success all round, then, but I would suggest that it was bought at a price. Those who saw that pop concert may understand what I mean. So far as the BBC was concerned, it was the high point of the celebrations. It certainly drew enormous crowds. Without being an enemy of pop - indeed, I am an erstwhile admirer of some of the ancient stars wheeled out on Monday - I thought it a gruesome, vulgar and demeaning occasion. The Sun's breathless account gives a good flavour. `Sexy Jenny Frost [of the group Atomic Kitten] struggled to pull up her low toga-style dress after she snagged it on the microphone - and almost revealed her boobs.' (Not much of a struggle, I would guess.) According to the paper, `Ricky Martin was first on stage proper with his sexy dancers stripping off their white suits to reveal scanty undies and Union Jack scarves.' Emma Bunton, formerly of the Spice Girls, offered `Big Kisses to William'. The Queen, I thought, sometimes looked perplexed, though Camilla Parker Bowles cheerfully mouthed the words to a song. There were innumerable feeble jokes about Queens, as in Ruby Wax's joke, `There's so many Queens here you don't know which way to turn.' When Prince Charles delivered a somewhat embarrassing homily to his mother, a pretty young singer from the Irish pop group the Corrs stood between them, as though she was the real star of the show, which in a sense she was. …

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