On a perfect autumn day, with the large ochre-stained leaves of Green Park’s plane trees fluttering across an azure sky, I was privileged to watch the 41-gun salute of the King’s Troop that announces the arrival of The Queen at Westminster Palace for the State Opening of Parliament. The cannons boomed, one blowing a perfect smoke ring that Gandalf himself would have struggled to match.
Afterwards, the massed ranks of The Life Guards and The Blues and Royals escorted Her Majesty back in her carriage to Buckingham Palace, in the full regalia of State. It’s an awe-inspiring sight, but one which attracted only a few hundred people to watch. What a shame. We are no longer world-beaters in rugby, cricket and football. We have a country blighted by political correctness, teenage pregnancy and binge drinking. The divides between rich and poor, North and South, town and country are wider than ever. But here in London, on an autumn morning, we put on an event that nobody in the world can hold a candle to. We are the world’s best at pomp and ceremony. Go and watch it. It will make you proud again.