Watching the Diamond Jubilee river parade this morning on TV (on fast forward...because it went on and on and on!) - I just thought: all of this is SO British.
Of course it's the Queen and the royal family, and cheering crowds, and flags...and typical British rain.
But also - the informality of it all, was so British.
Did you notice? The Queen and Prince Philip never actually sat in those chairs on the boat? They stood all the time :-) Maybe it was too cold to sit down and she wanted to keep moving, or maybe she just thought it was too formal to sit while everyone else was standing and waving.
The Thames River parade itself was very British: a bit slow, lots of ordinary people, lots of little boats with strange themes and decorations and the royal family standing around chatting with eachother.
Living in Japan I am constantly aware of how different the British royal family and the Japanese imperial family are, and how they are regarded by ordinary people.
The British family have modernised and become more accessible to the media. They still do the formal ceremonies and photographs, but there are the lighter, more-casual events too - and generally they do them well, without looking stupid.
British people feel affection for "the royals", like a long-running TV drama. We love to complain about them - cost too much money, out-of-date in a democracy, boring people - but basically they are respected and the royal spectacle is enjoyed.
After Princess Diana died and the royal family stayed in Scotland, there were many complaints about the Queen being out of touch with the country's mood and Prince Charles is nowhere near as popular as his mother.
But....it all goes on and on, and even cynics like me get up early to watch it all on TV.
With my finger on the Fast Forward button...for the boring bits!