Remember what happened on 6 September 1997? No, of course you don’t, you’re a Salisbury Review reader. It was Princess Diana’s funeral. Cast your mind back. A time of mass hysteria, open sobbing in the streets of London, from English men as well as English women. And what about the bizarre spectacle of mountains of wrapped flowers, left on the streets of Kensington and Knightsbridge? Why would you leave lovely (and expensive) flowers covered with cheap cellophane hiding their beauty and preventing them being composted after they had wilted?
According to officials at the time, 10 – 15 tons of bouquets and thousands of candles and stuffed toy animals were left in various places in and around Knightsbridge.
6th September 1977 was also my younger son’s 21st birthday, celebrated as is usual with many friends and relatives. Yet I fielded telephone calls on that morning “just checking it is cancelled”, clearly expecting it to be cancelled. These came from people who had not come within 200 miles of Princess Diana, let alone known her. In previous ages in England the philosophy was “the show goes on” and did go on, regardless of personal tragedies, national disasters, even enemy attack from the air.
Being Salisbury Review readers, we did not cancel the 21st. but just the questions asked begged another question – why? The answer surely lies above, mass grief bordering on hysteria brought about by posturing, (virtue signalling in the new idiom), and the senseless worship of a beautiful, weak, self-centred and ruthlessly exploited woman who has almost become a latter-day saint.
Fast forward to last year. Millions of people up and down the country every Thursday night at 8.00pm stood outside their homes furiously clapping, even banging pots and pans, in a mass outpouring of thanks to NHS staff and workers in the health industry generally.
I find it hard to believe that it really was millions but a YouGov survey of 1664 adults (admittedly a stupidly small poll) reported that 69% had joined this government supported clapping demonstration. There are about 50M adults in the UK so YouGov thinks over 34 million of us took part in this empty gesture, serving only to advertise our caring nature. Or perhaps to claim to have such a caring nature. Either way a substantial section of our population thought it a good idea to express emotions so publicly.
For the avoidance of doubt, this clapping for carers nonsense is not remotely comparable with, for example, the 2012 street parties held up and down the country for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. These parties were not organised to exhibit publicly great patriotic emotion as was the public display of grief for the death of Princess Di and one’s overwhelming gratitude to the NHS.
No, they were organised purely for enjoyment, the camaraderie of company with like-minded English loyalists. Their aim was only to celebrate with near neighbours the 60 years reign of our wonderful and dedicated monarch. Alcohol, music and children’s entertainment were standard. Above all, they were organised as individual parties, not as one national public display of patriotism.
So far so good you will think. But hang on. Figures from the Local Government Association of England and Wales estimate, by using Road Closure Orders, that about 2 million people attended these street parties. Doubtless this estimate is more reliable than that of YouGov quoted earlier in this article but you get my drift. A further 2 million people are thought to have attended public community celebrations, so 4 million in total celebrated the Diamond Jubilee. Can it really be true that eight times more of our citizens advertised their mainly phony worthiness than did those who enjoyed a happy gathering of friends and neighbours, whilst thanking their Queen, (without saying it aloud), for her 60 years of service to the country?
In these intervening 33 years there have been many examples of our mass refusal to keep what should be private, private. Grief and gratitude are but two. Television presenters think nothing of inviting people afflicted by tragedies onto their shows to ask them how they feel. During the interview these presenters express their (probably fake) sympathy whilst the tears well in their victims’ eyes and their voices break in front of millions of viewers. Others, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry spring to mind, are not victims, although Prince Harry might be.
They get themselves on TV deliberately to display their care for the planet, the poor, persons other than white, other than heterosexual and the latest fashionable crusade against any perceived wrong to mankind. In doing so they bare their souls and publish intimate and damaging details of their family. This of course encourages their followers, a` la Princess Di, to think even the deepest and private feelings can be displayed in public.
If all this is true then we had better get a grip as a nation and return to our previous national traits. Stiff upper lip please, no more weeping and wailing and definitely no more emotional excesses in public and on TV. Keep calm and carry on.