Jun 072012

I am in the process of renewing my permanent residency in the United States. Many people have asked me why I did not opt for US citizenship instead. I told them I was not interested and events in London celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee explain why.

When I watched on Tuesday morning CNN’s coverage of the carriage procession through London, the scenes that played out on my TV screen brought a lump to my throat. The Queen with Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in the 1902 State Landau, escorted by the Household Cavalry – Blues and Royals to the front, Life Guards to the rear — was a sight uniquely British and filled me with pride.

The balcony scene at Buckingham Palace, with the RAF flypast, the Feu de Joie by The Guards and the three cheers for Her Majesty sent shivers down my spine. Why? Because I am British and proud to be so.

At the end of the Diamond Jubilee concert, ABC broadcast the highlights on Tuesday evening, Prince Charles expressed the sentiments of the nation. He said that the Queen had made us proud to be British and I totally agree.

The crowning glory to the concert was one of the best renditions of God Save The Queen I have ever witnessed, even if few people knew the words of the second verse, followed by a truly spectacular firework display. The fireworks were accompanied by extracts from Handel’s Coronation Anthem — Zadok The Priest; Holst’s Jupiter/I Vow To Thee My Country; Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1, more popularly known as Land of Hope And Glory; and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. The Holst and Elgar pieces, capturing the essence of Britain and what it means to be British, stirred my soul and tugged at my heart strings.

From these distant shores, it is easy to see that monarchy is the glue that holds the nation together. The Queen has provided constancy throughout my lifetime. I was born a few days after the Queen’s Coronation on June 2, 1953. While Presidents of the United States and British Prime Ministers have come and gone, the Queen has remained in place as head of state, aloof from the mire of politics.

In some ways the Queen is the granny to the nation, while the Prime Minister is the parent. And when the parent does things that the nation dislikes, granny is always there to offer comfort and solace. She never passes judgement on the policies and actions of political leaders or tries to undermine their authority. She simply helps to make the nation feel good about itself.

To become a US citizen, I would have to swear an oath of allegiance to the American flag. I simply could not bring myself to turn my back on Britain’s pomp and circumstance; propriety and decorum. In swearing such an oath, I would be betraying my heritage, my loyalty to Britain and all she stands for. No thanks.

As Ronald Searle, the creator of the St Trinian’s cartoons, once said:

You can’t simply put on a nationality like a jacket. I remain extremely English whatever happens.

And the same goes for me. I will stick with my permanent resident status and continue to come under the auspices of Her Britannic Majesty’s Secretary of State.

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May 022011

I woke up on Friday morning just in time to see Prince William and Kate Middleton emerge on to the balcony of Buckingham Palace and the couple kiss.

I didn’t get chance to see any of the earlier coverage until Friday evening. My wife and I were on the road most of the day heading to Charlotte, North Carolina, to visit with her brother. Actually, her brother lives in Rock Hill, South Carolina but who has heard of that.

BBC America showed highlights of the Royal Wedding. I particularly wanted to see, and hear, the hymn Jerusalem being sung during the service at Westminster Abbey. My patience was not rewarded. The highlights reached the point where the couple left the church and there had been no hide nor hair of Jerusalem.

Fortunately, Channel 113 was showing a re-run of the wedding in its entirety. Sure enough, the strains of Jerusalem rang through Westminster Abbey followed by a fanfare by members of the Royal Air Force Band and the singing of God Save The Queen.

Jerusalem is a firm favourite of mine. The words by William Blake set to a stirring tune by Hubert Parry embody England and all that it stands for. As an expat, it sends a shiver down my spine and brings a lump to my throat.

BBC America saw fit to exclude both those items from its highlights. And I think we know the reason why. The BBC may well be the British Broadcasting Corporation but anything that smacks of patriotism, flying the flag or Britain’s proud heritage is a no-no these days, unless it serves to denigrate Britain.

I would imagine many in the BBC positively winced at the prospect of having to cover the Royal Wedding, especially in view of the last two Labour Prime Ministers not being invited. It was possibly the prospect of being lynched by an angry and outraged license-paying public that made the powers that be in the organization concede to showing the event.

And I guess the programme controllers thought they could get away with omitting Jerusalem and God Save The Queen from the highlights for viewers in America. Wrong!