There is a lot happening back in Britain right now – big sporting events, political change and maneuvering, and press speculation about relationships in the royal family. All this comes at a time of unusually high temperatures in the mid-80s. Remember that very few homes and a lot of businesses do not have air-conditioning in the U.K., so that weather is not quite as nice as it sounds to our Coastal Georgia ears.
Don’t feel too sorry for the Brits, though, since by this weekend they are likely to be back to the normal highs in the 60s with rain, so the cardigans can come back on again.
The good weather in the first half of July has meant that the famous Wimbledon tennis tournament, founded in 1877, did not have to cancel or postpone many matches due to rain. Along with watching the tennis tournament, another popular pastime is watching the royal family watching the tennis tournament.
The women’s finals were particularly exciting as the duchesses Kate and Meghan enjoyed the match from the Royal Box with the American Meghan supporting her American friend Serena Williams, although this was not enough to help her win against the near-perfect Simona Halep. Rumors continue to swirl in the British press about the rivalry between the wives of the royal princes, all intensified by the recent royal christening of the new royal baby Archie, son of Prince Harry and Meghan. There has also been some grumbling (as the British would say) about the high levels of privacy around this christening and how few facts and photos the latest royal couple are sharing with a voracious public. There have been complaints that Meghan and Harry are not “playing fair” as they want to “have their cake and eat it, too.” Some complain that, on one hand, they ask for privacy to live their lives and bring up their new son outside the public spotlight, while on the other hand, they expect the British government to use taxpayers’ money, around $3 million, to renovate their new home in Windsor. They left London to move to a 19th-century, four-bedroom-plus-nursery home located on the Frogmore Estate, which is on the royal family’s property near Windsor castle about 45 minutes west of London near Heathrow Airport.
So now we move to the political landscape back in Blighty. By the way, “Blighty” is an affectionate term for Great Britain used mainly among expatriates that originated in British India in the 19th century and became more common during World War I. The only possible American equivalent I can think of is when a traveling U.S. citizen talks about “back in the good ol’ U. S. of A.” – which, believe me, is a phrase they use a lot!
Anyway, back to British politics. After the failure of “Brexit” to make its original deadline and the need to delay the date of the U.K.’s “divorce” from Europe to Oct.31, 2019, the British Prime Minister Teresa May has stepped down.
She lost the confidence of the nation as the Brexit process became embarrassing and, as the Brits would say “a complete dog’s breakfast,” which means a total mess. She resigned as Prime Minister, and so her party is going through a “leadership contest” in which they (the party, not the electorate) pick the new party leader who automatically becomes Prime Minister. The results will be announced on July 23.
There are currently two contestants remaining, Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson. Boris is seen to be much more eccentric and full of bullish optimism, while Jeremy seems to be defined by his calm and cautious approach. There is a lot more information at www.bbc.com.
During these challenging times, sometimes full of shouting and disagreement, I always get a great deal of comfort from the long-view perspective of history. So I say goodbye this week with a quote from the great British Prime Minister Winston Churchill who led the land of my birth through World War II: “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” God bless America and everyone back in Blighty as well!