2012 will mark the celebration of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee throughout the Commonwealth. Apart from our friends in Thailand, no one living has participated in such an event. Thus it is truly "historic" and "unique" in the accurate sense of those sometimes-overused words.
How do you feel as we reflect on The Queen’s 60 years of service as Canada’s monarch?
I suspect that, like me, you have mingled emotions and a host of memories.
One is enormous respect for the constancy, self-denial and example of a very private woman called to the Throne decades before she might have expected.
Surely another is the entwining of The Queen’s Canadian homecomings with significant events in our nation’s life - the opening of the St Lawrence Seaway, Expo 67, the Montreal Olympics, Canada 125, the enormous crowds hailing Her Majesty as we celebrated Canada Day on Parliament Hill in 2010.
Others will think of specific memorable moments: The Queen dropping a hockey puck in Vancouver, greeting the inevitable corgi-owners along her walkabout routes, standing stolid in Newfoundland’s driving rain as the Cabot 1997 re-enactment took place. And most of us can recite by heart some of her always carefully-chosen words in speeches - the call for the Crown to represent "all that is best and most admired in the Canadian ideal," and her telling us "I am glad to be here at this difficult time...I am no fair-weather friend" during a visit coinciding with fraught constitutional negotiations.
In a word, Her Majesty has met difficult times and cheering crowds alike with grace, dignity and that self-effacement so rare in today’s celebrity culture. Seldom has she spoken in personal terms, and has never tried to be a "personality." She is simply herself, and that is why we love her.
How can we, a band of monarchists in one of her Realms, possibly honour her in 2012?
One obvious answer is to keep doing as we have done over the last four decades - the coincidence of the Jubilee coinciding with our having a palpably loyal government in Ottawa cannot be lost on any of us; and we of course rejoice in its imaginative and vigorous promotion of the Crown, even as we strive to make sure that the Canadian Monarchy is never seen to be the property of one political party.
However, one of the things that made 1967 such a great year in Canada was individual participation in a plethora of Centennial projects - some large and impressive needing government sponsorship and funding; but many more conceived and executed by communities, families and individuals.
It is that sort of approach I am writing today to urge you to adopt in your own municipality and school district. The League and its branches can approach the national and provincial governments for the re-naming of a highway, the construction of a monument, the renewal of education in civics and so forth.
But we cannot possibly replace the local knowledge, vision and determination of you, our members, cooperating with neighbours, local schools and and municipal authorities
I urge you today to meet with like-minded residents and friends and consider projects which will honour The Queen, reflect the times, be both "doable" and visible/outward-looking and leave a lasting imprint or at least memory. And then to engage support via your City or Town Council, local media, schools, faith centres and service clubs to make ideas a reality.
The more inclusive the net of consultation, the greater will be the involvement, the easier the task and the happier the result, reflecting the spirit of the Jubilee.
The League cannot fund these projects; but we can certainly put you in touch with fellow monarchists in your area, or share our experience with similar undertakings.
I urge you to begin thinking and planning today for your Diamond Jubilee projects. We can’t wait to hear of the outcome!
Please then be sure to send Her Majesty an account of what you did, accompanied by a few photos - which will please her more than any physical gift, which she neither needs nor desires! The League would also like to receive such material for publication in CMN.
Among those projects you might like to consider - obviously I can only give you a very few suggestions to stimulate your own imagination:
- Adding Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee ramps and other accessibility features to public buildings, community centres, schools, places of worship and sports facilities
- Naming a road in a new subdivision as "Elizabeth II Jubilee Drive" Be careful about costs (to residents and businesses) and sensitivities of re-naming existing streets - what you think is the "dull" name of Glen Road might in fact refer to Grannie Glen who farmed there for six generations! Again, this is an example of how local knowledge and bringing in all stakeholders is important. Sometimes it is wiser to add a secondary "district" title to a street sign as you see in Toronto and other cities - such as "Entertainment District" and "Little Italy" and so on. Why not "Ourtown Diamond Jubilee 2012" ?
- Hanging contemporary portraits of The Queen, appropriately but not expensively framed, in public places throughout the community.
- Arranging for a one-time "Elizabeth Second Jubilee" bursary, scholarship or student travel fund.
- Planting a garden of Canadian flowers or plants in a local park with signage identifying "The Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Garden." Easier to maintain are plaques on trees "adopted" for the Jubilee - this could as well apply to existing parks, gardens, floral clocks and similar municipal facilities.
- Cooperating with school community service facilitators to have 60 students visit 60 seniors and/or vets through Jubilee year to honour The Queen - any number of similar "60-themed" service projects could be envisioned whether in a group’s preparing 60 meals for Meals-on-Wheels or children/youth saving 60 cents, $6 or $60 from allowance and work to donate to a Canadian charity.
- Collating a retrospective, whether in art or literature, by display or lecture or 'official opening', to consider how life has changed and we have grown as a people during the Queen's reign - eg, "How The Queen has seen us through 60 years of growth and change." This reflects the late Jack Layton's Victoria Day observation as to how the Crown gives us a non-political lense to observe our triumphs and pains.
- Hosting block parties, communal lunches, a square dance- whatever works for you - to coincide with the Jubilee celebrations taking place in the UK at the beginning of June.
- Speaking to local service clubs about the Jubilee and urging their officers and members to adopt a Jubilee project needed in your community - the Rotary and similar organizations often have the clout, connections and experience to lead the drive to erect a homeless shelter, a youth rec centre or some other facility needed in your town or city and which could be named to honour The Queen and the Jubilee.
- Ensuring that your place of worship holds a special Jubilee service.
- Initiating civic ceremonies (Mayor or federal MP presiding) whereby citizens can take or re-take the Oath of Allegiance - a fine way to begin a celebratory evening.
- Highlighting the talents of local musicians to arrange a Jubilee concert, proceeds going to a Canadian charity.
- Arranging for you, your neighbours and friends to log 60 acts of spontaneous kindness to honour The Queen’s emphasis on friendliness, community and sharing.
- Creating a "Jubilee Twinning" with a community in another Commonwealth country - which could mean anything from an exchange of letters to identification of the need for a well or school supplies - to some sort of physical exchange visit.
- Encouraging local merchants to create imaginative window displays during the June Jubilee week, and perhaps have them judged by the Mayor, local MP or provincial Legislative member.
- Flying the Flag throughout Jubilee year.
- We don't all own kayaks or canoes or motor boats, yet alone yachts. But we can encourage those who do to consider a Royal name/re-name for them - one of our Branch Chairman is naming his kayaks The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge! In this way "Jubilee 2012" or "Diamond Jubilee" might ply local waters.
- Might we encourage folk and family to consider the middle name "Elizabeth" for girls born in 2012? And "Philip" for boys? The Consort has surely shared the Sovereign's burden.