The Childlike Joys of the Platinum Jubilee

They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace –

Christopher Robin went down with Alice.

Alice is marrying one of the guard.

“A soldier’s life is terrible hard,”

                                           Says Alice.

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 have captured the childlike imagination of all ages. My three and a half year old’s enthusiasm has been infectious. I have caught myself humming along to the quintains of the above A.A. Milne poem, arranging red and white garden peonies in a blue earthenware jug. It’s a clever poem, and a far grander cry from 100 Acre Wood, where we usually find Mr. Robin. It depicts Alice and Christopher’s trip to see the changing of the guard, which is where I took my son last Sunday (something which we had done before, but not with the 200 silk flags majestically lining the Mall, nor in glorious sunshine). The Jubilee spirit has even become an effective parenting tool: “Left, right, left, right, at ease!” Mimicking the guards helps happily maneuver the daily dawdles before our drill: tea, bath and bed.

Granted, the pomp and circumstance is not for everyone. (My socialist mother, who until now had never placed me as a “biscuit-tin royalist,” as she put it, did provide some excellent points of how potentially the money could have been better spent.) But watching it through the eyes of my child, I see how the pageantry has a place in our home and the national consciousness. My son called it  “the Queen’s birthday party” and his excitement mounted with the inescapable crowns, corgis and colorful chaos that has descended on the capitol. Living next to a royal barracks, the sound (and smell) of some of the guards prepping for yesterday’s Trooping the Colour added to the neighborhood excitement in the past weeks. And with impeccable timing, HRH’s fete has coincided with the schoolchildren’s half-term holiday, on top of the Bank Holiday in her honor. So, we have stopped by London Zoo for the “Zoobilee,” and discovered that Her Majesty had opened the Lion enclosure in 1976, and had returned 40 years later—déjà zoo!—to welcome the Asiatic Land of the Lions space, which has been pivotal in the breeding of that endangered species, with less than 500 in the wild. On the ground level, my son and I also unintentionally stumbled upon the unveiling of the “Bugingham Palace” in Berkeley Square. After the ribbon was cut, we felt thus inspired, and made our own “bug hotel,” which is more boutique, actually maybe more YMCA, and now nestled underneath our blackberry bush. Other charming events about town have included a bunting workshop, at the nostalgic yet modern children’s shop Caramel in Notting Hill (and held simultaneously in their Shibuya, Tokyo store), using their archive fabric and Liberty tana lawn offcuts. Founder Eva Karayiannis has also launched a British Collection, crafted with small scale suppliers to create cozy Aran knits, kilts, Gansey sweaters and duffel coats, made to pass down to other children and generations. 

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