FW Opinion: Jubilee is a lesson in longevity for farming

What does the royal family mean to you? To some, very little; to others they are the cornerstone of Britishness.

If being British isn’t a big part of your identity, the Platinum Jubilee celebrations have probably left you unmoved.

But for many the royal family remains a strong unifying thread in the cardigan of national identity, even as the age of deference fades ever further into the rear-view mirror.

About the author

Andrew Meredith
Farmers Weekly editor
Andrew has been Farmers Weekly editor since January 2021 after doing stints on the business and arable desk. Before joining the team, he worked on his family’s upland beef and sheep farm in mid Wales and studied agriculture at Aberystwyth University. In his free time he can normally be found continuing his research into which shop sells London’s finest Scotch egg.
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In this special Jubilee edition of Farmers Weekly, we salute the long relationship between Her Majesty and her (farm)land of hope and glory.

Whatever your wider thoughts on the role of the monarchy in the 21st century, it seems difficult to argue that a procession of elected politicians could have been more effective than the Queen at marketing the concept of Britishness overseas.

This has undoubtedly contributed to helping demand for our food and drink, and linking it in the popular consciousness with an impression of quality, good service – even luxury.

And while there are many parts of their life we will never understand, the royals are more relatable to farmers than you think.

We too must walk a tightrope between upholding helpful traditions while keeping pace with the modern world.

Like Harry, there are more than a few readers who moved far away from home after feeling that there was no other way to be themselves in the family business.

Others have stayed put, but waited an awfully long time to take on the top job.

Prince Charles will no doubt play a prominent role in this weekend’s celebrations, just as he has taken on more of his mother’s other duties in recent years.

It is well known that his thoughts are never far from farming and the environment, and it is less than two months since he formally opened the new Darlington Farmers Auction Market.

Had the prince and his royal protection officers been back at the mart for the National Beef Association’s Beef expo last weekend, there may have been a more muscular response to the placard-waving protestors who clambered all over the building.

Instead, representatives from the so-called Animal Justice Project weren’t arrested until they came down from their perch as the event was drawing to a close at 5pm.

One assumes they endured, rather than enjoyed, the smoky scents of the barbecue that tantalisingly wafted in their direction for some hours.

I can only salute the vast majority of farmers and families attending who remained utterly unfazed by this noisy, obnoxious group dressed in balaclavas, combat trousers and other paramilitary paraphernalia normally confined to a bin at a Trump rally.

Their right to protest and freedom of speech within the law should undoubtedly be protected, but this petulant display only served to highlight the frivolous nature of their contribution to the debate on farming’s future.

Like the royals, farming should make its peace that it will never be able to please everyone, while not trying to fight on too many fronts at once.

To survive in the long term we’ll need to continually win new allies, invest in the future and not take our existence for granted. Occasionally, there may even have to be sharp adjustments.

Nine out of the 10 people who have held the post of editor of Farmers Weekly have done so during the reign of Her Majesty. I am sure many more will have the opportunity to salute the royal family’s connections to agriculture for a long time to come.

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