London has seen plenty of Royal events in its long history – and the latest, the arrival of baby Princess Charlotte, came as the city was also caught up in the pageantry of the 70th anniversary of VE Day, and of course the drama of the General Election.
There has been a sense of history and of memorable events coming together. But London is also a city where nothing stops for people to ponder for long. Barely had Prime Minister David Cameron completed his speech following his visit to the Queen to accept office, and posed for photographs with his wife, and began to form the new Government, than a group of angry protesters turned up, shrieking and waving placards with obscene wording on them – they had come to denounce the Conservative election victory. Some daubed slogans on a memorial to women who served in World War II – it’s still not clear why, but it must be assumed that it was because they were unable to reach the main Cenotaph which is Britain’s hallowed shrine to its war dead. Others fought and shrieked at police. The group has announced that it will return again with larger numbers: an unattractive prospect.
London in the spring can be delightful as people enjoy the parks and fill the street cafes and pubs. Once the weather gets really hot in July and August, London doesn’t function so well – it’s really a place best enjoyed in the mild weather for which Britain is famous.
Political talk at present is focused on whether or not the union of England and Scotland can remain – will this still be a United Kingdom a decade or so from now? The sweeping victory of the Scottish Nationalists – taking all but one of Scotland’s Parliamentary seats – makes for a massive reality that dominates debates. There is also talk about the complete collapse of the Labour Party and of the Liberal Democrats – and about the fact that so many media commentators, especially in the BBC, were themselves so wedded to many of the attitudes and assumptions held by these parties that they were unable to see the strength of opinion against them or the popular support for the Conservatives.
Your EWTN correspondent is busy with many projects, of which one is leading regular Catholic History Walks around London. Most start from Westminster Cathedral, some from St Patrick’s in Soho, or the Church of the Precious Blood at the Borough, London Bridge. Exploring the many centuries of London’s history puts things into perspective – politics, riots, a Royal birth, anniversaries of wars and battles. London is changing all the time. Among the things that the Catholic historian senses in today’s London are: the Church is still very much alive, and the Faith is somehow the one thing that makes sense of humanity’s muddles.