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Change and The Queen

12th July 2022

What's the Platinum Jubilee Exhibition like, Rick? Any good? Tell us, as Site Liaison Officer for St Paul's - have they done a good job? 

St Paul's Cathedral's exhibition for
the seven-decade jubilee of Queen 
Elizabeth is modest like Herself.
No fuss. Presented in the crypt, the tea towels
made by schools in Tower Hamlets are
the only new exhibits. Bangla Deshi pupils match
the lotus with the rose, a jet plane with
a mosque. Otherwise it's all from previous
jubilees both of the Queen and of 
her ancestors. Her Silver twenty-fifth
inspired the silk organza cope worn by
the Bishop Gerald Ellison with images of 
London churches and St Paul's, embroidered 
by the master seamstress, Beryl Dean. 

[A second garment is the Prussian Cope 
of eighteen fifty-eight, which Mandell Creighton
wore to marry Queen Victoria's daughter
to the King of Prussia Frederick 
(whose father gave St George's fifty pounds)
but that's not really in the exhibition.]

The humble dish cloth has a pedigree.
For George the Fifth in nineteen thirty-five,
his Silver year, the drying up was done
with symbols of the Empire and the people
whom he ruled - a Sikh, a Zulu, Kiwis, guinea
fowl, a palm tree, thistles, roses and
so on. To mark the Golden Jubilee
of Queen Victoria, a towel showed
a world map with the Empire of the Never
Setting Sun in dark red patches and
each country's capital so many hours
away, if east marked Fast, if west, then Slow. 

An 'Interesting' board game entertained
the loyal subjects of King George the Third
in eighteen ten when he'd been on the throne
for fifty years. The illustrations are
political - No Popery, The Duke
of York Resigns His Office (no change there),
Valenciennes Retaken - on a spiral
course one fifty squares in length. Another
for Victoria creates a tour
among the colonies with sights (Vic Falls,
Gibraltar), outings (tiger hunting, whaling)
and adventures (bush fires, buffalo
stampede, attack by wolves) which nowadays
tour companies avoid if possible. 

The understatement of the exhibition
is forgivable as with an ageing
king or queen a let-down's never far.
Victoria was unamused at having 
to ascend the steps of the cathedral
for her Diamond event in eighteen 
ninety-seven and refused - a shying 
now inscribed in stone. The choir of 
five hundred and the congregation of 
five thousand stood in Paternoster Square 
instead to sing the Old One Hundredth and 
the National Anthem unaccompanied.
The programme's on display with details of 
the long processional beneath two pictures 
of Her Majesty, one young, one old,
which someone has embellished with a beard. 
And ninety-six -year-old Elizabeth 
was absent from the service in her honour 
so the crowds they had anticipated 
failed to show. The monarch made a speech 
to mark her Golden Jubilee year two decades 
back, the year she lost her mum and sis.
'A jubilee becomes a moment to
define an age,' she said. 'Change has become 
a constant and its management is an 
expanding discipline.' One could say that
Her Majesty surfs life's vicissitudes.