The British have always chuckled at America's flamboyant patriotism and jingoistic self-love, but this summer the tiny island nation has two occasions that will test its modesty mettle: the London Summer Olympics and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Incessant flag-waving and ceremonial chest-thumping is already inducing hangovers for some of its citizenry and there's a sense (at least from where he sit) that the mood's shifting from a celebration to cynicism.
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The party. It all started out so well. For those who aren't royal-watchers, the Diamond Jubilee marks 60 years of Queen Elizabeth II's reign, the second longest reign in British history just behind Victoria's 63 years from 1837 to 1901. Her original coronation date was June 2, 1962, but the celebrations have already begun in advance of the anniversary. As for the Olympics, the London opening ceremony is July 27. The pageantry kicked into full gear in March with a formal address by the queen at Westminister Hall followed by a "Jubileeregional tour."
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North East London, March, 29
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And it hasn't been just an elite sort of celebration. The Telegraph reports today that Britain is preparing to mark the jubilee with 10,000 street parties across the country bringing more than 6,500 roads to a standstill (double the amount of "community events" prompted by last year's Royal Wedding). "Britain’s street party tradition has been well and truly resurrected which is fantastic as it helps bring communities closer together," says Flick Rea, chairman of the Local Government Association’s culture and tourism board.
It's even gotten a little creepy with wax models of the queen "which will portray Her Majesty as she appeared in the official Jubilee portrait photograph released in December 2011," reports the AP.
On the Olympic front, the famous torch has been making its way across the island all month surrounded by legions of flag-waving Brits. Below is the torch making its way through the village of Okehampton, England.
The hangover. But then, the hangover began to set in and growing crowds of Brits began to resist the endless displays of national pride. The torch, for instance, why do we do that? On Monday, The Guardian's Philip Hensher put a wet rag on the tradition with the a sobering historical fact. "The Relay of the Flame [was] invented by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels in 1936 and inexplicably sustained for the London 1948 Olympic games." And what about all of those Jubilee ceremonies? The Guardian's Simon Hoggart calls them a glimpse into "Flummeryworld."
On the commercial level, things have gotten even worse. British blogger James Ward has been collecting snapshots of the latest marketing trends for sandwiches, jams and diapers in Britain. In light of the Jubilee, there's a quite consistent theme:
"I suppose this ... was inevitable given the perfect storm of both the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics this summer," he complains. "The combination of the two has caused some companies to go so completely demented that they seem to have forgotten what the products they sell are actually for. Pampers, for example, have launched a range of Union Jack nappies." Community weblog Metafilter points to a line of sick bags perfectly suited for this particular blogger.
But the most time-intensive lampooning of Olympics-Jubilee hysteria comes from British comedy troupe Twenty Twelve, who've coined the phrase "Jubilympics":
Yep. Looks like Brits are already getting a hangover from the patriotism extravaganza. For those with an allergy for this sort of thing, it'll likely be a long summer.