29 April 2011

On Pageantry

Watching the festivities today, I heard from several directions, that Pageantry is something very British, and something that Britain can be especially proud of.

I can only assume that the people saying these things have been in very few foreign countries. On the whole, pageantry is something Britain does exceptionally little of.

In the USA, every high school has a marching band, and public celebrations on the scale of a Royal Wedding are fixtures in the calendar, taking months of preparation every year. The New Year Tournament of Roses typically draws a live attendance of a million; the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade gets an annual TV audience not much smaller than the population of England. Attempts in Britain to hold comparable events are tiny, amateurish, and attract only bemusement from spectators.

So let's hear no more of the "British love of pageantry". Are their conclusions to draw instead from the relative lack of public celebration in Britain?

One point is that parades such as Mardi Gras and Saint Patrick's day are Roman Catholic in origin, and were suppressed in Britain by the Reformation. The untrustworthiness of the weather here is perhaps of some significance also; we were very lucky today with weather, since there is now a thunderstorm here in Luton.

The most conventional observation would be that the Britain's Royal events are elitist, while American festivals are inclusive. Or, to put it another way, what's the point of having a Royal Family if you have to organise your own parades? That would be almost as stupid as having a Royal Family and electing a government.

1 comment:

A Nonny Mouse said...

Well observed. It isn’t festivities the British do well, it’s class distinctions.