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The Jubilee is a celebration for the whole Commonwealth

Gary Barlow’s Jubilee song shows that Queen Elizabeth II binds many nations in one family

By on Friday, 1 June 2012

Britain Jubilee

I had a suprising and pleasant experience yesterday. Visiting our local primary school I was with Year Six when their music teacher played them the video of the Jubilee song, which is entitled “Sing”. I was both delighted and mesmerised by it. You can watch it here  and see if you agree with me. You can watch Gary Barlow talking about it here 

The song is a good one, as one would hope for from Gary Barlow and his collaborators; but what chiefly touched me about it was the video, which is a stunning collection of images from around the Commonwealth. There were scenes from Jamaica, and from Maasailand; there were scenes that might well have been the north of Kenya, and perhaps the Solomon Islands as well, as well as several other locations that were unfamiliar to me. It is of course a Commonwealth song. (Is the girl singing at the start of the video a Samburu, I wonder?)

It is sometimes said that there is only one true believer in the Commonwealth, and that is Elizabeth II herself, and that the whole organisation exists purely to keep her happy. And it is certainly fashionable to if not sneer, then at least to discount, the Commonwealth as little more than a talking shop. Supporters of the Commonwealth cut a distinctly old-fashioned figure these days. But far away from metropolitan Britain, the Commonwealth counts for a great deal. And so it should.

It is worth celebrating our Commonwealth ties. The greatest of these is of course the English language itself, which is the medium of education in so many countries. When I taught at Tangaza College, in Kenya, there were students present from 52 nations, and we all got on splendidly in English which was for virtually none of them a first language, and for some of them a fourth language.

Other Commonwealth ties are less tangible but nevertheless real. It is good, surely, to belong to an international family. After all, that is what the Catholic Church is, and the Commonwealth is the secular realisation of a religious communion, a shared wealth that may not be material.

I personally am, I suppose, a very Commonwealth sort of person: I have lived in Malta and Kenya, and family members are buried in Trinidad, Barbados, and Jamaica, and various members of the clan are settled in Australia and New Zealand, as well as Trinidad. And that is something I, descended as I am from English, Scots, Welsh and Dutch wanderers on the face of the earth, like very much.

Do listen to the song, and do have a happy Jubilee!

  • Mikethelionheart

    Hmmm. I would suggest most UK Catholics are of Irish, Polish, French, Italian, Spanish and Filipino descent and, therefore, do not give as much of a toss about the Commonwealth as you. 

  • Patrick

     The English live in the same delusion of grandeur today over their
    defunct empire as the Spanish once did  (as addressed in Don Quixote) over theirs. Every colony England ever had rebelled against it on grounds of abuse; England invaded, forcibly colonized, and enslaved the Irish.  Scotland and Wales were also culturally suppressed by the English. Moreover, the English language came from Old Norwegian, German, Latin, and French. Its richness is due to being a hybrid of those four languages rather than to any special quality of the English character.

  • Mikethelionheart

    This is very shocking Patrick.
    I didn’t realise the Scottish and Welsh HAD any culture!!!

  • Mikethelionheart

    Why has my post been deleted?
    Very cowardly and childish of you to do so.

  • Cestius

    I’m not that fussed about royalty, but happy anniversary to Her Maj, she’s doing a good job.

  • paulsays

    Yeah but its soooooooooooooo boring.

  • Dds

    The Jubilee is only for the Queen’s subject i.e. the British people. There is no such family as commonwealth…unless you want to now legitimise colonialism.

  • JByrne24

    I don’t think it has Mikethe…etc.

    Posts often jump around – like some of the contributors in their self-righteous indignation. 

  • JByrne24

    You can’t really blame the English though. They were once the giants (the big [really big] kids on the block) and had a great big footprint – like the USA today. There’s always been a big kid tramping around. Thank God it was never Soviet Russia.

    Although of Irish origins myself I must admit to feeling quite English – BUT a bit embarrassed by all the nauseating tosh*** that always crops up with the royals. They are an important part of the reason for the UK’s failure to live in the real world – and this current “knees-up” will cost us 0.5% of our GDP at a time when we are skint.

    *** “nauseating tosh” is a trade statement of the (FORMER!!!) Anglican Bishop of Willesden (North-West London) who very rightly used the term (a few hours before he was sacked!!) to describe all the senseless fuss and drivel spoken and written about the last royal “knees-up” (royal wedding).

  • davidaslindsay

    In Caritas in Veritate, the present Pope drew on the long, long
    tradition concerning the role of such a figure as the Christian Roman
    Emperor, the Byzantine Emperor, the Holy Roman Emperor, or the Tsar of
    All the Russias. In practice, no such figure ever enjoyed sway over the
    whole world, or all Christians, or all Catholics. Many such a figure –
    not only Byzantine or Russian – was in serious conflict with the Papacy.

    If
    there is still a comparable mission and ministry accorded by Divine
    Providence, then it has been accorded to the British monarch within each
    and among all of the constituent parts of the United Kingdom, within
    each and among all of the Commonwealth Realms, within each and among all
    of the Territories dependent on or in free association with any of
    those Realms, within each and among all of the Crown Dependencies, as
    Paramount Chief of the Great Council of Chiefs of Fiji, as Head of the
    Commonwealth, and elsewhere.

    Such has been the case for a very
    long time. Ireland was incorporated into the Union specifically on the
    promise of Catholic Emancipation, which the previous Irish Parliament
    would simply never have countenanced. The Orange Lodges duly opposed the
    Act of Union. Even 70 years later, calls for repeal were led by
    those to whom the only nation in Ireland was the Protestant, “Saxon”
    nation; leaders who gleefully pointed to the disestablishment of the
    Church of Ireland, with its consequences for the system of tithes, as a
    nullifying breach of the Union.

    The Crown alone made it
    financially possible for priests to be formed in Ireland, and the
    alliance of Throne and Altar delivered breathtaking improvements in
    Irish education, agriculture, industry, and so on. From Ireland and from
    her Diaspora in Great Britain, the Faith was propagated to the ends of
    the earth, under a flag incorporating Saint Patrick’s Saltire, and on a
    scale without any real parallel, not even when one considers Spain or
    Portugal. English, Scots and Welsh Catholics have never had any more
    desire to go down the road of who did or did not “really” belong in an
    English, Scots or Welsh Republic (as they would certainly become if they
    were ever set up) than Ulster Protestants have to go down the road of
    who does or does not “really” belong in an Irish Republic.

    Only
    within and under the British Empire was the old France, “the Eldest
    Daughter of Holy Mother Church”, able to survive, having providentially
    passed from French to British sovereignty so early that Jacobinism still
    forms no part of the heritage there. The fleur-de-lys, on the Royal
    Arms of England and then of Great Britain from 1340 to 1800, remains the
    symbol to this day, and the Assembly quite recently voted without any
    dissent whatever to retain the Crucifix between the Speaker’s Chair and
    the Royal Coat of Arms.

    Back in Ireland, one of the two main
    parties, in what became the 26-County Republic that no one wanted as
    such, was created by British intelligence (as was the other one, which
    duly hanged its former IRA comrades, but that is another story) as a
    merger not least between far wealthier and better-connected Southern
    Unionists, and far more numerous Catholic “ultras” who considered de
    Valera’s Constitution inadequate on that basis. They were united, not
    only by the fact that most Protestants were far closer to much of
    Catholic moral teaching in those says than is often the case today, but
    also by a common aversion to what looked like a sort of Irish Bolshevism
    which they were equally determined to resist, a resistance to which
    they both saw the continuation of Commonwealth ties, ties among which
    the monarchy was not then optional, as an indispensable weapon.

    It
    is within the Union that large numbers of Irish Protestants, including C
    of I ones, still are close to much of Catholic moral teaching. Just as
    it is within the Union that Catholic schools in Ireland, and some
    protection for the unborn child there, will abide long after they have
    been furiously swept away in the Republic that the Catholic “ultras”
    feared no less than did the Southern Unionists.

    One could go on,
    and on, and on. It is impossible to construct a purely secular or
    atheistic argument for having a monarchy, and countries with them have
    exemplary records in constructing social democracies not just happening
    to be compatible with Catholic Social Teaching, as in Scandinavia, but
    profoundly influenced by it, as in the Benelux countries and up to a
    point in the United States. And as in Britain, Canada, Australia and New
    Zealand. It was at least a generation before quite different forces
    began any serious assault against the Christian-based moral consensus
    that those measures were so popular precisely for upholding, and those
    measures themselves only came under sustained attack a generation later,
    when those forces reached political dominance.

    At the same time,
    the institution of the monarchy also came under such attack,
    especially, at least in Britain and Australia, from newspapers strongly
    supportive of the dismantlement of the Common Good. We now have a
    Political Class which regards both the 1960s and the 1980s as
    unquestionable, and which treats the monarchy and everything that it
    embodies – social cohesion, historical consciousness, public
    Christianity, the Commonwealth, increasingly also the Union – as if it
    did not exist.

    What we saw when Her Majesty all but literally embraced His Holiness was not a new alliance. But it could not possibly have been a timelier one.

  • davidaslindsay

    The Commonwealth is so important that countries with no British colonial history are now joining it.

    And the monarchy binds together the 16 Commonwealth Realms, the 10 British
    Overseas Territories with permanent populations, the three Crown Dependencies, the three inhabited territories dependent on Australia, the one inhabited territory dependent on New Zealand, and the two states in free association with New Zealand, as well as the Melanesian half of the people of Fiji (the other half being descended from Indian indentured labour), whose Great Council of Chiefs, which elects the President, continues to acknowledge the Queen as Paramount Chief even though Fiji became a republic following two coups in 1987 and has not exactly had a happy history since.

    Although Saint Helena’s Dependencies of Ascension Island and, especially, Tristan da Cunha are also very distinct, that gives the minimum, if admittedly quaint, figure of 35 and a half countries, every one of them now an elective democracy, with the only weak link in the country with the weakest link to the Crown. Not to mention that the Crown binds together the four constituent parts of the United Kingdom, of which inherent generosity of spirit all the rest is a natural and beautiful extension. All four, like all 35 and a half, have Christian majority populations.

    We are one family, even though any member is free to leave at any time; indeed, we are if anything even stronger by virtue of that freedom. What our unifying institution represents has never been more important than in today’s world.

  • Charles Martel

     Congratulations, you have just redefined the word ”ignorant”.

  • Charles Martel

     J. Byrne, please keep your anti-royal comments to yourself. The Catholic Herald is an English newspaper. Show some respect to English Catholics. Anyone who whinges about a bit of a knees up is being boring and puritannical. Cromwell would have clicked the ‘Like’ button under your comment.

  • Mikethelionheart

    I wonder were my post has ‘jumped’ of to.

  • Cu Sasana

    And this is why our people remain sidelined. Bowing down to a Protestant Queen under the guise of being an English Catholic is sickening. No Catholic in England can accept the Queen as being OUR figurehead or representative until the abolition of the Act of Settlement.

  • Simon Davies

    Britons don’t kowtow to their monarch. And what about Catholics in Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, the Scandinavian monarchies, or, indeed, in any nation with a non-Catholic head of state? Have you ever read the scriptures? There is no conflict between a protestant monarchy and a catholic populace, as, indeed, there isn’t a conflict between a catholic monarch and a protestant populace. Tallis and Byrd didn’t have a problem with the first Queen Elizabeth, and we don’t really have a problem with the second.

  • Rich C

    Oh really? Canada? Australia? New Zealand? They all rebelled against England on grounds of abuse did they? What about the former colonies of Bermuda, Turks and Caicos, and Cayman Islands, which are all still British oversea territories? Why don’t you go and ask a Falkland islander if they feel abused by the English… 
    You missed the point entirely about the English language. All modern languages are derived from older ones. The point was simply that these countries share a common language and it is something that unites us. No comment was made about “its richness” and there was no implication of “any special quality of the English character”.

  • Rich C

    The Queen’s subjects are not just the British, she is head of state of 16 different nations.

  • Cu Sasana

    QE2 is a seemingly harmless old lady who smiles and waves and says very little other than carefully scripted soundbites. I do not believe that she is a threat to the Catholic People, any more than I think the Dalai Lama is a threat. However, to pray for the continuing good health and to essentially kowtow* to a monarchy which explicitly excludes the Catholic man or woman is, to my mind, dangerous and far further than our commitment to “give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.”

    *By specifically praying for the head of an apostate religion and celebrating her reign so obsequiously, our “leaders” (Vincent Nichols mainly) are sidelining our own people.

  • JByrne24

    Some British people believe that the royals, and all the nauseating tosh that goes with them, are a significant part of the reason why Britain fails so often to address its real problems. It is not just the “knees-up”.
    British people, whether Catholics or not, are fully entitled to express their strongly felt opinions about this.

  • Charles Martel

     Simon, Nice to hear from someone who has some common sense as well as a historical perspective. James II was accepted by many ordinary protestant folk as their rightful king in 1685, even though they had serious problems with his Catholic Faith. Many Anglicans fought and suffered for their loyalty to him. Let’s not forget that. While not sharing her religion, we must accept that Queen Elizabeth II is our monarch. We pray for her happiness, long life and wellbeing, while also praying that “with us in the one true fold she may be united to the Chief Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son.” I am astonished at the historical illiteracy (let alone ignorance of Catholic social teaching) of many of the posters on this site, though reading about plummeting academic standards in the UK and the shallow PC brainwashing that goes on in our schools, perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised.

  • Charles Martel

     Incorrect. Go away and study harder.

  • liulan991

    tinyurl.com/73huk6r

  • Cu Sasana

    “Historical illiteracy?”
    Owning a Catholic Bible was classed as treason within the last 300 years, Catholic emancipation only occurred within the last 150ish years and 40 years ago Catholic Civil Rights protesters were gunned down in Derry. Sorry for not sharing your enthusiasm for a vehemently anti-Catholic and non-English monarchy.

  • jdhummerstone

    ” Every colony England ever had rebelled against it on grounds of abuse.”
    Who is this fool?

  • Charles Martel

    ‘Non-English’ monarchy? What ARE you talking about? You surely know that many many of our monarchs came from abroad: Germany, Normandy, Holland, Scotland, to name a few. And my answer would be SO WHAT? And as for your other point, that the monarchy is somehow intrinsically anti-Catholic, you’re failing to distinguish. The English monarchy is an institution going back a thousand years. It then morphed into the British monarchy, merging with the crown of Scotland. There have been anti-Catholic laws, of course, along the way, and I will grant you that the monarch is head of the C of E, but English Catholics do not feel hard done by because of that. I think you’re obsessing over the past. It’s really time to move on.

  • Pete Broadbent

    I wasn’t sacked.. still here!

  • Cu Sasana

    You speak for all English Catholics in asserting that the Act of Settlement (no Catholic monarch or Prime Minister) does not aggrieve us, do you? If a Catholic cannot sit in that seat, then I’d say that, yes, it is intrinsically anti-Catholic. I am not obsessing about the past when I still cannot be monarch or PM on account of my faith. This is very much a current affair, and we can only pray for stronger Church leaders, prepared to stand up for Catholics and not kowtow to the secular wishes of the day.

  • Rich C

    The Act of Settlement concerns the succession of the Crown. It does not bar Catholics from the office of Prime Minister.

  • Cu Sasana

    My interpretation of “cannot advise the monarch on ecclesiastical matters” (ie the PM’s duty of selecting the next AoC) means that a Catholic would find it very difficult, if not impossible per se.