Following on from last week’s post about the Silver Jubilee, a much more recent memory, from almost exactly ten years ago.
In most people’s minds, the Golden Jubilee is memorable for only one thing, this piece of ridiculous posturing. That was the start of a rock and pop concert in the gardens of Buckingham Palace which was otherwise most memorable for the fact that the Queen herself only turned up halfway through, after the likes of Ozzy Osbourne (shoehorned into the running order after the success of his television show) had finished playing.
What does tend to be forgotten is that, a couple of days before, there was a classical music concert there, too.
Quite why my parents applied for tickets for that show I have never known. I have never thought of them as ardent royalists, that’s for sure, so I have always assumed that they felt that this was a spectacle that they couldn’t miss out on, should they be lucky enough to be allocated tickets. Which they subsequently were.
However, by the time that the tickets arrived, a problem had arisen. Dad was going to be out of the country on business on the day of the concert, and the tickets had their names printed on and were only valid if presented with a passport, so as to confirm that the person holding the ticket was the person to whom it had been allocated.
Mum then had an idea. Why not take her eldest son, who had almost the same name as her husband? Classical music and hanging around royals might not be his favourite thing in the world, but surely he would not mind going with her.
Indeed I didn’t. In fact, the look of envy on Helen’s face – she of the job which had already caused her to meet the Prime Minister, various other ministers and several senior royals – was worth it alone.
The things I remember about the event are not really connected to the music. Mike Batt (of Wombles fame)’s band played on a small stage as a prelude to the main show, there were a couple of (I think) Romanian opera singers, someone sang something from the Barber of Seville and I have a feeling that Bryn Terfel might have been involved somewhere, too. That is about as far as I go, even though our seats were reasonably close the front of the stage.
We were given a small cool bag containing a picnic. Included in that – the only dish I remember – was a variation on coronation chicken called ‘jubilee chicken’. I still have the cool bag, it is just the right size for a takeaway for two, although I doubt anyone intended it to be used for that.
There were stiltwalkers wandering around the gardens, which we pretty much had free access to. This turned out to be a good thing. The one thing that the organisers definitely got wrong was that they clearly underestimated the number of people who might want to use the bathroom. Even by the usual standards of big events it was shambolic. There were women weeing in the bushes of Buckingham Palace*!
The Queen did turn up a little earlier for this show (though well after Mike Batt, who didn’t play a single Wombles number). She was still quite some distance from the hoi polloi, though. I remember her as a speck in the distance, in a yellow or golden dress. It remains the only time that I have ever seen her.
*Probably the first time this has happened**
**Although you can’t rule out Di and Fergie having a go, not after what Charles did in the Highgrove bushes with Camilla