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Artillery Row

The last jubilee?

Many of us will never live to see a jubilee again — what will sustain the Windsors without spectacle?

This is going to be the last jubilee for some time. Spectacle is major part of the Windsor family’s appeal, but once this platinum jubilee is over, the opportunities for spectacle are few and far between.

Jubilees begin at twenty-five years. Charles isn’t guaranteed to make it to his silver. He’s already seventy-three. If he misses out, the next jubilee could be sometime well into the second half of this century. William’s generation is all married. There are children everywhere. Cutting ribbons won’t be enough — but what else have they got? How many babies can they produce in the next fifty years? It will be sometime before another royal household high-up in the line of succession is established. Perhaps when it comes to stability, the royal family has done too much of a good job.

The Queen has survived everything from counterculture to cancel culture

This might matter less if the private probity that is expected of the royal family alongside the public spectacle was in better repair. War, hardship and anxiety are back (in so far as it has been away). There is almost certainly more to come. There are multiple opportunities for someone to say the wrong thing. If Charles becomes the political, interfering monarch his detractors portray him to be, the potential is strong.

The Queen has survived everything from counterculture to cancel culture. But the biggest reputational risk she faced came after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales when she simply didn’t keep up with changing middle class attitudes to grief and celebrity. This sort of thing seems more likely to recur under Charles, never the most in touch of the royals. Meghan and Harry, wherever they are, are only a social media post away.

So the royals will — by default or decision — be less in the public eye for the right reasons. We might think a period of quiet could be no bad thing. But isolation was exactly what jubilees were designed to solve. For long periods of her reign, Victoria was so reclusive that she rarely opened Parliament. Royal popularity plummeted. Refined over the last hundred and twenty years to a fine art, royalty on show has helped revive the crown.

The smooth and splendid procession of government, the weddings televised globally, scattered that fairy dust. Without that, what has the monarchy got? The risk is that the perception grows that they are mere celebrities with rival PR operations and dubious relatives. To go from one of the great queens of our history to rich kids bickering about who lives in what palace is not a bad business model for modern celebrity families. However, it is hardly a good look for taxpayer funded royalty.

Are we sleepwalking into this being not only the last royal jubilee for a long time, but the last one ever?

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