The childish joys of the platinum jubilee
They change the guard at Buckingham Palace –
Christopher Robin came down with Alice.
Alice marries one of the guards.
“The life of a soldier is terribly hard”
From “Buckingham Palace”, A. A. Milne
70 glorious years! And it makes you want to party like an under-seven. The joy and whimsy of the Jubilee festivities captured the childish imagination of all ages. My three-and-a-half-year-old son’s enthusiasm was contagious. I found myself humming the quintaines of AA Milne’s poem above, arranging red and white garden peonies in a blue terracotta jug. It’s a smart poem and a much bigger shout out to 100 Acre Wood, where we usually find Mr. Robin. It depicts Alice and Christopher’s trip to see the Changing of the Guard, where I took my son last Sunday (something we had done before, but not with the 200 silk flags that majestically line the mall, nor under a bright sun). The Jubilee spirit has even become an effective parental tool: “Left, right, left, right, comfortable!” Imitating guards helps happily maneuver the daily procrastination before our exercise: tea, bath, and bed.
Granted, pomp and circumstance aren’t for everyone. (My socialist mum, who until now had never cast me as a “cookie tin royalist” as she put it, provided excellent points on how the money could have been better spent. ) But looking at it through my child’s eyes, I see how much pageantry has a place in our homes and in the national consciousness. My son called it “The Queen’s Birthday Party” and his excitement soared with the unmissable crowns, corgis and colorful mayhem that descended on the capital. Living next to a royal barracks, the sound (and smell) of some of the guards preparing for yesterday’s Trooping the Color has added to the excitement of the neighborhood over the past few weeks. And with impeccable timing, HRH’s party coincided with the schoolchildren’s half-term holidays, in addition to the holiday in his honor. So, we stopped at London Zoo for the “Zoobilee”, and discovered that Her Majesty had opened the Lion enclosure in 1976, and had returned 40 years later – already a zoo! – to host the Asian Land of the Lions space, which has played a central role in the breeding of this endangered species, with less than 500 in the wild. Downstairs, my son and I also stumbled across the “Bugingham Palace” unveiling in Berkeley Square. Once the ribbon was cut, we felt so inspired and created our own “bug hotel”, which is more boutique, actually maybe more YMCA, and now nestled under our blackberry bush. Other lovely events in town include a bunting workshop, at nostalgic yet modern children’s boutique Caramel in Notting Hill (and held simultaneously at their store in Shibuya, Tokyo), using their archival fabric and scraps of Liberty tana lawn. Founder Eva Karayiannis has also launched a UK collection, designed with small suppliers to create cozy Aran knits, kilts, Gansey jumpers and fleece coats, designed to be passed on to other children and generations.