One of the main highlights of the festive season in Britain.
The time of the year has come again.
The time to eat, drink and be merry. The time to spend an awful lot of time in an enclosed space with people you don’t like very much, even though you are connected by lineage and blood.
The time to debauch like no man’s business, without worrying about one’s work commitments the very next day or anything else for that matter.
The time to watch one of Britain’s longest running soap operas — The Eastenders, replete with a cast of characters, whose family drama makes yours look like a love in. Americans who know a thing or two about British soaps will know exactly what I am writing about here.
And above all else, the time for the Queen’s speech.
At three in the afternoon, it is customary in the family get together, today to listen to her majesty’s speech about the events of the past year.
This tradition started during the reign of her grandfather, King George V in 1932. Back then, there was no such thing as the television set and millions of people were glued to their radios, to hear his majesty speak to his subjects, throughout the empire — when there was such a thing.
And this tradition has been maintained ever since.
But this is a Queen’s speech with a difference.
This would be her first Christmas without her husband, Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh and one thinks that her message would strike a tone of poignancy and sobriety, given the degree to which Britain is grappling with the Omicron virus and the economic difficulties stemming from Britain’s exit from the single market.
However much you dislike the monarchy, there’s something extraordinarily powerful about the continuity and adaptability of this institution that makes you quietly root for it.