Whether you’re a committed royalist planning your street party, or a dyed-in-the-wool republican with Jubilee fatigue, you can’t possibly have missed the fact that the Queen will celebrate her 60 years on the throne this week. And, let’s face it; whatever side of the fence you sit on, staying at the top of any organisation for such a long time – even UK plc – is quite an achievement. The media is flying the flag enthusiastically, with blow by blow accounts of the Queen’s tour of Britain and the preparations for the big day, urging us all to join in and be part of the fun. Meanwhile, the Retail world is be-decked in red white and blue and cashing in on the opportunity to sell everything from Union Jack T-shirts to Jubilee macaroons.
While it’s easy to look upon it all cynically as an opportunity to make money and take the Great British public’s mind of our beleaguered economy, there is a bigger picture here. Whether or not you want to celebrate the Queen’s reign, the Diamond Jubilee is a golden opportunity to celebrate our national heritage and the achievements of British commerce and industry.
While our cousins across the pond love any opportunity to raise their flag and sing their national anthem, national pride seems to be something we’ve lost. Instead of saying, ‘look how clever we are’ we’re almost embarrassed by our achievements. And in the construction sector, we’re often so focused on the challenges the sector faces and the loss of our manufacturing to China and the developing world, that we forget to celebrate the good stuff. So, while all those Union Jacks are flying, perhaps now is the time to think about the way in which the UK is still pioneering new ideas, creating extraordinary buildings, driving product innovation and enabling architects around the world to deliver the low carbon agenda.
The built environment is one of the areas in which the UK remains a world-leader and our building products sector is creating technically advanced solutions to meet the challenges of climate change. That’s why, when I see the bunting and the flags and the endless Jubilee souvenirs lining the supermarket shelves, I for one do not sigh at the ostentatious displays of national pride, but hope that it leaves a legacy of celebration for everything we do so well.