Over the past four days Britain has put on a spectacular show to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee.
The events, which cost UK taxpayers something in the region of $4.5 million, included an extravagant music concert, the pomp and pageantry of a giant flotilla on London’s River Thames as well as more than 10,000 street parties across the country.
The general consensus has been that the long bank holiday weekend, dedicated to marking Elizabeth II’s 60 years on the throne, was an astounding success for the British monarchy.
“In the current harsh economic climate the Jubilee celebrations are a welcome relief,” says Richard Adeshiyan, former editor of UK national black newspaper, New Nation. “People have come together and put aside their problems to organize street parties and get involved.”
In fact, on many levels the festivities have brought families and communities together to show their genuine affection for the Royals. Indeed, a recent opinion poll shows support for the British monarchy is at an all-time high, with eight in ten British adults (80 percent) in favor of Britain remaining a monarchy.
So what about the likes of black British folk? How involved have they been in the celebrations and what, if anything, does this show about racial integration?
For some ethnic minorities, Her Majesty’s position as Head of the Commonwealth has made them her most loyal subjects. For others, though, the history of discrimination is enough for them to turn their backs on the Establishment.
Henry Bonsu, co-founder of UK black-owned digital radio station, Colorful Radio, says ethnic participation in festivities like the Diamond Jubilee is “an interesting barometer to the extent we are integrated.”
Since the Golden Jubilee there has been more minority involvement, especially in the street parties, says Bonsu. Despite this, however, there is still a drift of black people taking pole position outside Buckingham Palace because there is still a “sense of detachment” from the Establishment and “big institutions.”
In reality, race relations are still evolving in the UK. There has been improvement since the Stephen Lawrence murder trial, though a sizable number of UK minorities quietly complain about institutionalized racism or a glass ceiling in the workforce.
On a positive note, London and many of the UK’s urban communities are self-described multicultural melting pots, with high numbers of mixed-race relationships. Despite underlined tensions, these highly diverse neighborhoods contribute to acceptance of different cultures.
It takes a certain mindset for minorities to truly see themselves as embedded in the fabric of a nation. The Diamond Jubilee celebrations show there is still a way to go but there has been improvement.
Follow Kunbi Tinuoye on Twitter at @Kunbiti