Our Man in Westminster
Iknow everyone complained about the weather hitting the Queen’s 90th Birthday celebrations over the weekend, but is it not entirely appropriate that the response was to enjoy ourselves anyway, whatever was thrown down from the skies?
This was part of a perfectly British response.
Equally appropriate were the various responses around Ashford. When you are celebrating something as momentous as the Queen reaching 90, you need to make a permanent mark. That’s why it was good to see so many trees being planted.
It was a great pleasure to support Ashford mayor George Koowaree as he added a new tree to the town’s Memorial Gardens. It should also be said that George managed to do this in almost the only halfhour it wasn’t raining over the weekend.
We were slightly more soggy in Bethersden on Sunday, when I helped the chairman of the parish council, Keith Brannan, in a similar but subtly different commemoration.
Bethersden had already planted an oak tree to make the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. To enhance it, they commissioned a local blacksmith to make a decorative guard with an ingenious carved band around it in lieu of a plaque. The rain made no dent on the enthusiasm with which we all sang the national anthem after the ceremony.
I know that similar events were happening all over Kent, and indeed over the whole country, as everyone took time off to mark this historically extraordinary birthday.
The fact that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were both able to play a full role in the national celebrations shows all of us how a sense of duty can drive people on at any age. We are very lucky as a country to have her as head of state.