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The Queen's Birthday

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So, once a year Nairobi society gets together to celebrate the Queen's birthday. As far as I know no-one bothers to do this sort of thing in Britain but as Kenya aspires to be Britain of the 1950s this is quite a big deal. The only reason for attending is to see which innappropriate speaker the Kenyan government has sent. Last year it was George Saitoti. My money's on Ruto this year. Not even fish and chips and Stilton could make me want to attend such an anachronistic event. Is this really how we want Britain to be known around the world?

Not me. Britain is about so much more. I'm proud of London, Edinburgh and many other great cities that I have been lucky enough to live in. We are at the forefront of art, music, science and so many other things that are worth celebrating. Britain was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, Tom Paine and The Beatles. We saved the world from Nazism. Other countries mark their independence, victories over oppressors or revolutions. We mark the Queen's birthday.

I'm sorry but this was my response this year.

Dear Joy,
For 30 years I did not once celebrate the Queen's birthday and I certainly have no intention of starting now simply because I live overseas. It is worth pointing out that this is the year 2009 and medieval notions of monarchy have been ditched by most of the rest of the world. It would be nice to think that we could celebrate more sophisticated, more inclusive notions of Britishness but that apparently remains a pipe dream. Until then I will graciously decline your kind invitation safe in the knowledge that 1000 generations of Crillies will be pleased that I have not attended. Rest assured that I will be the first to celebrate the execution of whomsoever is on the throne when we finally come to our senses.
Your loyal, erm, subject
Rob Crilly


J. | June 17, 2009 1:50 AM | Reply

suggest you add marmite and possibly the Spice Girls to the list of things British, worth celebrating.

Rob Crilly replied to comment from J. | June 17, 2009 7:43 AM | Reply

Marmite? And I thought I'd gone too far

Graham | June 17, 2009 9:02 AM | Reply

I also dislike the "dress code" the Embassy dishes out at these things. And like you, I think Brits can generally be a lot more inventive when it comes to inventing ideas for a piss up and a plate of chips.

nuttycow | June 17, 2009 1:49 PM | Reply

Wow.. a harsh response!

Couldn't you have just sent your apologies like a normal person?!

Mark Larkin | June 18, 2009 5:52 AM | Reply

I didn't realise that it happened everywhere. The QBP, as it's known here in Paris, is mostly similarly anachronistic (there a Marching Band at Dusk!), but is also used as a trade showcase.

I get invited, and usually go, as it's quite fun and my only contact with the Embassy. Along with confirming my anti-Royalism (but not enough to forego her pork pies, you may cry!), it usually also stirs up some incredulity at the Foreign Office. These people are employed at vast expense to be experts on their local country. The cloistered environment of a big Embassy means they probably have better insights on Britain's Got Talent (AKA Britain Needs a Good Book) than what's going down in the problem banlieux parisiens...

Onnik Krikorian | June 18, 2009 10:00 AM | Reply

Strangely, I might actually go for the first time today. In fact, the British Ambassador and the Deputy Head of Mission seem eager to push me to attend even though it's really not my thing.

No marmite, though, but there will reportedly be stilton. However, it seems Pimms is the drink of the day in Yerevan and unfortunately not beer, but on a brighter note, I don't have to adhere to the "uniform or lounge suit" dress requirements.

Anyway, if I do go it will be because of Charles and Gideon -- the best Ambassador and DHM we've had in Armenia in the 10 years I've been here -- and not for any other reason. I will, however, live in hope that there's some beer.

Never flown the flag, before, but might as well show up. In the past my reluctance too was to make a point about such events. Now, however, it will be to show my approval of the younger, more dynamic British Embassy in Yerevan.

Rob Crilly replied to comment from Onnik Krikorian | June 19, 2009 10:03 AM | Reply

My absence at previous QBPs has, as far as I can tell, not brought the monarchy to its knees. Or indeed been noticed. But I live in hope.

What do you think?