For the second year running, in two months time the people of Britain will be celebrating a gift from the Royal Family. A gift that will, at least for one long weekend in June, take our minds off the misery of the economic downturn, the pain of possible fuel strikes and of course, the ridiculous rise in the cost of a first class stamp. On that first weekend in June, the nation will be encouraged to come together and rejoice 60 years of the reign of our monarch; Queen Elizabeth II. And with a host of events up and down the country, we all have the opportunity to fully enjoy this remarkable milestone.
Already we have witnessed senior Royals visiting many realms across the globe. Realms that are lucky enough to have HM as head of state, and we've also seen the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh touring the United Kingdom -allowing many millions of her well wishes the chance to express their support directly. The Queen herself has demonstrated that she is thoroughly enjoying getting out there and allowing us all access to her in this very special year, even dropping by at one lucky couple's wedding last week, to wish them the very best personally.
10 years ago, during the Golden Jubilee celebrations, I had my first opportunity to express the gratitude I hold for such an incredible person, whilst the Queen was visiting North Wales as part of the nationwide celebrations to mark her half century on the thrown.
At 15, I was a drummer boy in my local Army Cadet Battalion, already excited about my impending military career, which was just around the corner, that I found myself marching along to the National Anthem. It was also the first time my mother had seen the Queen in the flesh, who was standing in the crowd proudly watching the event.
Back then, it was the proudest moment of my life; little did I know that over the next decade, I'd see her hundreds of times on state occasions, whilst carrying out my duties as a mounted guard in the Blues and Royals, the culmination of which was last years Royal Wedding, from which I escorted the Queen. My mother was also stood proudly in the crowd for that moment, too.
A lot of us, myself included, feel something very personal; something very close to the Queen, and the forthcoming diamond jubilee, will be just the occasion most of us have been waiting for to express how very much we love her. I for one, will be hosting a jubilee dinner for my friends, and I've already been invited to two street parties in London, alone.
But I'm using the episode as the perfect opportunity to sort something out that is most important to me. I'm bringing my Nan to the capital, from the family home of Liverpool, to fully enjoy the experience firsthand. And I have a very good reason to do so, too...
My Nan has not always overly enjoyed the fact that I'm married to another man, and regrettably, she was missing from my wedding day in 2010; but on the weekend of the Diamond Jubilee, for the first time EVER, my nan will be coming to stay with her Grandson, and her Grandson-in-law. Something I am delighted about. And she isn't just coming along to ignore my husband, Thomas... two weeks ago, my Nan Facetimed Thom to tell him personally that she was looking forward to seeing him in June. Believe me, in our household, it was quite a sight seeing an 85 year old chatting away via iPad.
In our family, my nan is treated like the Queen. She is the figurehead. We all listen to her advice, and act upon it. If my Nan wants something, one of her children or grandchildren and now even one of her many great-grandchildren, will do it without hesitation. My Nan is also the most loyal supporter of the Queen, probably in the world; and is the source of all the Royalist passion in my veins. Last year, when I didn't invite my Nan to stay with me whilst I was working on the Royal Wedding, she was most upset, and patiently waited until christmas to tell me how very disappointed she was. I decided then that she was the priority occupant in my spare room for the Diamond Jubilee weekend.
We're taking her to the River Pageant on the Thames on saturday afternoon; Thom has already researched where exactly the best place to stand is, and then we're going on to the Royal Albert Hall for the Jubilee Ball and singalong in the evening. It's going to be an incredible weekend, and I know it will bring many things: Laughs, celebrations, good food and probably lots of fine wine. But I'm hoping more than anything, that it brings love, connection, lasting memories and most of all, fulfilment.
I want my Nan to be leaving Putney, already asking when she can next come and stay... to which the answer will naturally be... whenever she wishes!
Often, and I know I'm guilty of it, we allow members of an older generation to pass by without even challenging their, sometimes, outdated views. It's easier to just leave them be.
But actually, my Nan has proved to me, that people of her generation can change their views on a subject, on a person, and even on sexuality.
My Nan might not be supportive of some modern things, but her youngest grandson being married to another man... she finally is. And I'm very proud of her.
You could say that the jubilee is important for many reasons. It's important to celebrate this momentous reign, which hopefully will go on for another sixty years. It's important to use it as the perfect opportunity to take our minds off work, although I guess I'll be thinking of all those wonderful occasions I have escorted the Queen on duty. It's also a chance to have a few bottles of wine with friends, raising a glass to the occasion... of course, taking the following day off to fully recover.
But for me, more than anything... it's THE perfect opportunity to bring a family together and make right some things that were perhaps, for a little while, wrong.
I'm deeply thankful to the Queen for many things... but this is the icing on the cake for me. A huge Diamond Jubilee cake!