What a celebration! The whole of the UK is bursting at the seams with flags and bunting and red-white-and-blue everything – hats, cakes, costumes, roofs and … yes, even cows in fields. The Diamond Jubilee of the Queen’s coronation is proving to be a lavish excuse for sweeping us all into the party mood – which, let’s face it, we badly need.
Queen Victoria reigned over Britain for 63 years (1837-1901), so only three more years and Queen Elizabeth II will take the top spot. I bet she’s got her eye firmly on that historic Number One. Note how it’s the female of the species that has the staying power! Third in the longevity stakes comes George III with a measly 59 years on the throne.
But right now in my new book my head is all tied up with a ruler who outdoes them all – the greatest Egyptian pharaoh, Ramses II. He reigned over Egypt for a magnificent – if bloodthirsty – 67 years during the 12th century BC. His name means Son of Ra (the sun god of ancient Thebes), which is quite something to live up to. When I was in Luxor in Egypt last year for my research (well, someone has to do it!) I nearly fell flat in the sand in awe when confronted with the humongously massive statues of Ramses that he erected to ensure no one would dare forget him in a hurry. Now that’s what I call hubris on a truly impressive scale.
All frightfully un-English, of course! Instead, for us it’s 1000 ships in a glorious flotilla gliding down the Thames and a nation daubed red-white-and-blue. But a ride across the sky by Ra in his chariot to bathe the Jubilee weekend in sunshine wouldn’t go amiss, Ramses!