October 1, 2021
UK school children to receive a free ‘patriotic’ book from the government on the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee
by Nikki Griffiths
Queen Elizabeth II will become the first British Monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee in 2022. Ascending to the throne on 6 February 1952, her 70 years of service is nearing the record of Louis XIV of France who reigned for 72 years and 110 days. The Platinum Jubilee will be marked in the UK throughout the year, culminating in an extended bank holiday, from Thursday 2nd to Sunday 5th June 2022, which will see a star-studded concert performed, and street parties planned across the country.
As part of the celebrations, the current Conservative government, lead by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, plan to create a new children’s book which will celebrate “UK and Commonwealth achievements” over the last 70 years. The book, which will explore the role of the monarchy and what the Platinum Jubilee represents, will be distributed free to primary schools. So, what do the Tories consider our achievements to be, worthy of sharing with young and malleable minds?
According to a statement released by the Department for Education (DfE) this week, the book will cover landmark achievements and teach children about recent and historical events, such as the the invention of the World Wide Web, the construction of the Channel Tunnel, and election of the first female Prime Minister … Margaret Thatcher. The book will also highlight the UK’s ‘best’ art, design, and culture. Recently appointed Education Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, said:
“For 70 years Her Majesty The Queen has played an instrumental role in the events, people and places that have helped shape the United Kingdom and Commonwealth.
“From the hundreds of charities and organisations of which she is patron, to the 14 Prime Ministers who have served during her reign – thousands of children will be able to read about our great nation, its history and future.”
The monarchy has been a statistically popular institution amongst Britons. According to a poll carried out by Statista, a leading provider of market and consumer data, in which 1,629 respondents were questioned last year, 62% of Britons think the monarchy should continue to have a future. Overall, support grows to 85% for the over 65s but drops considerably to 42% for 18-24 year olds.
Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee 2022 told PoliticsHome:
“I cannot endorse this proposal from DfE highly enough. Next year Her Majesty the Queen will celebrate 70 years as the sovereign to our great and grateful nation, during which time she has helped to foster and maintain a sense of pride and identity that is unique.
“She remains to this day an extraordinary and graceful link between this generation, generations past, and the generations to come, through not just her own reign but also the future reigns of the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and now her first great-grandchild, Prince George.
“It is imperative on all of us to bestow this unique and cherished identity onto our children to ensure that the UK remains the proud and patriotic nation it is today. This commemorative book on the Queen’s reign can be a vital resource in achieving this aim.”
Have the Tories have read the room correctly? Is this really want school children need and what their parents want? Global professional services firm Deloitte compiled the The Deloitte Global 2021 Millennial And Gen Z Survey, collating the views of 14,655 millennials (born 1983-1994) and 8,273 Gen Zs (born 1995 and December 2003) from 45 countries across North America, Latin America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. The overall findings highlight the importance of social issues and concerns for the future of these generations:
After a year of intense uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, political instability, racial discord, and severe climate events, millennials and Gen Zs around the world are determined to hold themselves and others accountable on society’s most pressing issues.
The events of the past year have shifted their top personal concerns. Healthcare, disease prevention and unemployment climbed up the list. But climate change and protecting the environment remains a top issue, coming in at No. 1 for Gen Zs and third for millennials. The survey also reveals that millennials and Gen Zs have serious misgivings about discrimination and inequality.
It will therefore be interesting to see what the Tories include in the book, highlighting what they believe to represent ‘the true spirit of the last 70 years’. Do primary school children and their millennial parents really want to be lectured on the Britain’s ‘glowing’ history, glossing over so many of the pressing issues of recent years which will impact the future of the country? Or is it a perfect time to pause and reflect on achievements? Will this free book really be a celebration of the Queen’s longstanding reign, or an excuse for the government to sidle their selected form of British patriotism into schools?
The Department for Education has not yet revealed a budget for the project, and is also yet to clarify how many books each school will receive. They will shortly be inviting contractors to submit tenders for the production and distribution of the book.
Nikki Griffiths is the managing director of Melville House UK.