A marriage made in platinum
IN November, The Queen notches up another milestone: the 70th anniversary of her marriage to The Duke of Edinburgh. Epic marriages are a statement of the commitment of one person to another, despite all the trials—emotional and otherwise—that beset them. Fewer people stay the course these days, which means that a platinum anniversary—seven decades—must be viewed with awe.
Royal marriages have not always been so happy, but this one, which far exceeds any other in longevity, has given the nation a backdrop of stability. There’s no question of the personal fulfilment Her Majesty has derived from it and, if Prince Philip has sometimes been frustrated by his role, his grace in carrying it out will go down as a model for correct male behaviour in an increasingly common situation as more women take top jobs.
The Queen is famously resistant to fuss on her own behalf, but might make an exception when she and her husband share the spotlight equally.
How should we celebrate it? The architect Bryan Avery, whose buildings include the Museum of the Moving Image and the BFI London Imax, has an idea. Another great monarch is remembered in the Queen Victoria Memorial scheme, which created the Mall and Admiralty Arch. At right angles to this is another axis: Broad Walk through Green Park. A double avenue of London planes, the Broad Walk is—or should be— reached through the magnificent Canada Gate and runs up to the equally splendid old gates from Devonshire House.
Neither gate is ever opened, however— the carriage drive, which was presumably projected for the avenue, was never built. Mr Avery proposes Broad Walk should become a fountain, made of half-a-dozen rectangular pools of water flowing, one to another, down the gradient. There is much to commend this proposal.
Green Park is almost entirely trees and, although parts are intensively used, the central Broad Walk is strangely empty. Mr Avery’s Great Cascade, as he calls it, would be a popular addition to the capital, with some of the qualities (but not the glitches) of the Diana Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park. Jets could project from one fountain to another; mist might be generated on special occasions. It leaves room for The King’s Troop to fire gun salutes.
In their straitened condition, Royal Parks may not want to take on any more responsibilities, but its objection would surely be overcome if a maintenance fund could be provided. The Queen’s prestige is such that, in these days of super wealth, a single donor might be found to cover the cost.
There may be other ideas of how the anniversary should be celebrated and we look forward to hearing them, but we believe that the Great Cascade deserves consideration. Let’s get cracking on it.
Pinehurst II, Pinehurst Road, Farnborough Business Park, Farnborough, Hampshire GU14 7BF Telephone 01252 555072 www.countrylife.co.uk