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Columnists

Another way to love her

Jo Ind

The editor wanted me to write about Kate Mountbatten-Windsor for Icon of the Month.  'Well,' I thought, 'she is an icon and Kate Middleton is an anagram of Naked Tit Model so there must be something to say about her' - and so I tried.

A week later I picked up the phone. 'Simon,' I said. 'My problem is that I couldn't give a monkey's about Kate Mountbatten-Windsor and if I'm going to do something that involves arranging childcare, it's got to be something I care about.'

Don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against Kate, per se. She seems to have all the right attributes for the job - she's professional, she understands clothes and she's thin.  It's just...deep sigh

The diamond jubilee and the marriage of said Kate to her prince have posed a familiar dilemma: 'Should I watch or shouldn't I?' If I don't turn the telly on, I feel a party pooper. If I do, unbidden questions appear before me like Banquo's ghost. 'Who are these people? What do they really represent? Should we really be celebrating this symbol of our class system?'

I want to take part in our national party, but there's something about the monarchy that means I can't quite get my flag out and wave it when invited.
By contrast, I have never felt so proud to be British as I did when I watched the Opening Ceremony of Olympic Games. I didn't even know what it meant to be British until it was pageanted it before us in all its quirky, witty, creative, farting, self-deprecating, socially-reforming, deeply-inclusive glory.

'So that's who we are,' I said feeling both pride and belonging in one tearful sweep of recognition. For once, I wasn't on the outside looking in (royal weddings) and I wasn't being proud on my own (watching my son in a nativity play). I/we was/were proud together.

There is much talk about the legacy of the Olympics but what about the legacy of the opening ceremony? Danny Boyle gave us an amazing gift that night. He told our story for us. He made 'for everyone' our theme, our dance and our song. (By the way 'everyone' includes the Queen who alighted in our hearts on a parachute of charm and humour.)

Now he's given us that, what do we do with it? How can we build on it? How can we remind ourselves of who we are and develop those symbols and images so our story stays fresh and true?

The church can't do that for us - though I hope it can make a contribution.  The royal family can't do it on its own - though it has a part to play.  Danny Boyle can't do it again - though when he cuts a feature-length film of the ceremony and releases it on DVD, I hope somebody will give it to me for Christmas. Our nationhood is about more than the church, more than the royal family and more than Danny Boyle. It's about everyone - quirky, witty, creative, farting, self-deprecating, socially-reforming, deeply-inclusive, glorious us.'