Scroll Top

Patriotism: “the quality of being patriotic; devotion to and vigorous support for one’s country”

Union Jack buntings

My husband and I have always tried to attend some of the historic events in the capital, one being the funeral of Princess Diana. I felt I just had to be there and was glad we went. I will never forget it and it was a day I was proud to be British. The respect of the crowd on that day towards each other was something to behold. Crowds parted silently, without any qualms to let disabled people in wheelchairs pass through to afford them a better view at the front for when the gun carriage came past, nobody minded being pushed back. When the carriage was due to arrive, a hush fell upon an already quiet, sombre crowd and all that could be heard was the clip clopping of the horse’s hooves and the odd whimper from a sad mourner.  As the carriage passed, people bowed their heads in respect and then as if an invisible hand swooped around us, we all turned around and headed to the park to watch the service. Few people spoke, there was no pushing or shoving, people were lost in their own thoughts. Throughout the service you could have heard a pin drop, and here we were in our thousands listening to the scriptures being read out loud across our capital….it was certainly a day to remember.

We celebrated with joy with Prince William on the day of his marriage to his own Princess. The mood in the city was jubilant and it was so good to be amongst people rejoicing with the young couple. We drank champagne on the Mall and celebrated with them in style.

There were other occasions but the saddest was the bidding farewell to our Queen Elisabeth. On this occasion we took our 17 year old. Upon arrival, we made our way through the crowds and laid our flowers in one of the parks, a small token of our appreciation – by an uncanny coincidence, we happened to lay them next to a Welsh flag…. others had gone before us! Despite me being English and only recently moving to Wales, I felt a well of emotion rising in me that this was something at least that connected us.

It was an eerie experience walking around London the evening before the funeral where the roads had been cordoned off and people were filing through the great Hall where Queen Elisabeth lay in State. I was sad, very sad that we were unable to join the queue, but kudos to those who did. I admire that kind of commitment and dedication that required hours of waiting in a line that stretched for miles.

We made our way to the park to watch the funeral on the screens as it was impossible to get to the Mall. I was grateful for my husband’s navigation skills, and as the procession started, the sound of Scottish bagpipes filled the air, we were all in this together.

On the way home, I was eager to hear what our son thought of the whole event. To my surprise the answer was “nothing”, in fact “boring”. My husband prodded a little further, asking if being in the capital on such a historic occasion was something he’ll perhaps look back on. But no, he wasn’t impressed. I then pointed out that Scottish young people seem proud to be Scottish and proud of their country and culture, similarly the Welsh young people are that way too, so what was he proud of as an English boy? He ventured to say that English patriotism is only seen when a big football match is won…. I was stunned at his response and wondered what on earth had happened to patriotism.

I reflected on this for quite some time as it made me think – am I still proud to be English / British? Much has been done in our country and dare I say education system to try to strip us of any sense of patriotism… branding many, particularly during Brexit, as Extreme Right Wing racists. Where has our sense of pride in being British gone? How can we restore it especially in our young people? Open to thoughts…..