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Donkin's World: Rule Britannia?

Richard Donkin joins in the Royal Jubilee celebrations this weekend.

Sixty years is a long time to be on the throne. Our bunting was bought for the Queen's Coronation in 1953 and decorated a lorry belonging to the Batley ironmongery business Dixon Hall that has been run by four generations of my wife's family. The bunting is silk and I was thinking it's probably pretty rare now but we still put it up.

I'm going to be sailing in the pageant on Sunday in the Yorkshire fishing coble, Gratitude (white with black and red stripes) and I get to wear a special fishing smock made for the occasion. We had a ridiculously early start time, but it's been put back to mid-morning for comfort reasons (there's no loo on the boat but someone is taking a small portaloo [think bucket]).

If the Scots vote for independence, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics will be among the last occasions we have to fly the Union Jack in a public celebration. Some Scots may not be sad about that but I will. I'm not a strong monarchist but I think the union has been a good thing and I do think that Britain is great (not in the chest-puffing sense of the word, but Nice Britain doesn't have the same ring to it).

I'm happy to be English at rugby matches and happy to be a Yorkshireman at cricket matches but I'm also happy to be British, love Scotland and find Wales enchanting. Perhaps Scottish independence won't matter too much since we're all grown ups now. After all, I still love the Irish and they have been independent for years.

Nationalism was strong in the early 20th century. Now we seem to have regionalism, sort of micro loyalties. You only have to see the proliferation of the Cornish flag (barley seen 20 years ago) or the flag of Orkney where there's still a strong affinity with Norway. Maybe one day we may see city states re-emerging like those that once dominated Italy. But I hope on this weekend, at least, we can be one big family. I'll be needing my porridge on Sunday.


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