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Lord Sterling, chairman of the Golden Jubilee trust
Lord Sterling, chairman of the Golden Jubilee trust
Norman Baker, Liberal Democrat MP
Norman Baker, Liberal Democrat MP
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW: LORD STERLING CHAIRMAN OF THE GOLDEN JUBUILEE TRUST and NORMAN BAKER MP LIBERAL DEMOCRAT MARCH 10th, 2002

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST: Well it may seem like yesterday to some of our viewers but this year marks the Queen's Golden Jubilee. Fifty years ago of course He Majesty acceded to the throne, the following year came the biggest television event in history up until then, sold about two million sets as well into the bargain, the Coronation, much of the world tuned in to watch and national enthusiasm for all things Royal was very much in evidence. In the 80s as well when Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer. Street parties were held up and down the country as the nation congratulated the happy couple, plans for Golden Jubilee celebrations are going full steam ahead but are the Great British public ready to party or will it be a damp squib as some allege. Joining me right now we have the Chairman of the Golden Jubilee Trust, Geoffrey Sterling, Lord Sterling, good morning Geoffrey.

GEOFFREY STERLING: Good morning David.

DAVID FROST: And the Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, Norman good morning.

NORMAN BAKER: Good morning.

DAVID FROST: Geoffrey if we could start with you, people have been saying it's not building up in the same way as it did before, the raising of funds, the raising of enthusiasm, the number of street parties and so on, do you share that concern?

GEOFFREY STERLING: Not in the slightest.

DAVID FROST: Not in the slightest.

GEOFFREY STERLING: Having been involved in running the Silver Jubilee this is going to be vastly bigger, nobody organises street parties in January and February, I can tell you from the reaction we're getting right the way throughout the country at the moment, the, the wish to pay great tribute to a marvellous lady who's given 50 years of dedicated service to this country and the Commonwealth is certainly there and I can assure you that the reactions that we're getting at the moment are tremendous.

DAVID FROST: Really, in what way, what's an example?

GEOFFREY STERLING: Well to give an example, just take the beacons, in, in 1977 there were 102 beacons, there's already well over 650 and we'll probably be close to a thousand by the time we finish, not just here but in the Commonwealth, Antarctic, Artica, on Mount Kenya, as an example we know of tens of thousands of street parties, and not just street parties because there's other ways of celebrating, garden parties on village greens. I know it in my own, in my own village in the country and other parts as well and the interest from abroad is, is massive, the number of people from television and other organisations who want to be accredited for the 1st to the 4th of June which are the big national events, for the whole country following of course the, the various events which will be taking place in London at that time. I have to tell you that the enthusiasm, the enthusiasm is as much as one could possibly expect but we are British, you don't tell Brits to celebrate, they'll do it if they want and they will.

DAVID FROST: Norman is that your view of the situation at the moment or is that over-optimistic do you think?

NORMAN BAKER: Well I think if you ask people do they want a public holiday and do they want a day off work and do they want some street parties the answer is yes and I'm sure people will do so with enthusiasm. But that's not the same as it was 25 years ago or 50 years ago when there was unbridled enthusiasm for the Royal Family as such, for the Monarchy and as you said in your introduction for the marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana when I think the enthusiasm for the Royal Family demonstrably then is different from what we're going to see now which is just simply people, like the Queen, who think she's done a good job but it's a much low-key, the enthusiasm this time.

DAVID FROST: But do you think it should not be taking place at all Norman, or what, or do you think it should be cut back or, or do you think money's been wasted?

NORMAN BAKER: Well I'm, I'm concerned obviously that the public money could be spent in, in somewhat better ways and that there are, after all, numerous calls upon the public purse but I'm not going to say to people you shouldn't have the day off and enjoy yourselves because people want to do that. But I think if this is presented in some way as a, a mass indulgence of the Royal Family that's not the case. The enthusiasm for the Royal Family has diminished, after all 50 years ago when the Queen was crowned a quarter of the people in this country felt that she'd been chosen by God. So things have dramatically changed in 50 years.

DAVID FROST: Geoffrey was chosen by God to be the Chairman of this campaign of course. But well you heard what Norman said?

GEOFFREY STERLING: Well I do, first of all I disagree with him, which he wouldn't be surprised, we've raised over four and a half million pounds now towards the five which I, I said we would do for that. Because this is right, it should, it isn't government, it isn't the government involved, when the government has support services it goes without saying. Exactly the same as in 77, the response today 25 years after major companies, major organisations, individuals, there's been tremendous in the short period of four months these monies have been forthcoming and I think, and again I think that recently there was a Mori poll which showed that the, the support is as strong today as it was 25 years ago. Of course there are people who have their own views, I mean that's healthy, that's, that's how it should be but the thing is this is celebrating 50 years of duty to this country and the Commonwealth of, by a marvellous lady who represents what we all feel is right and that is duty and I think people are going to celebrate and frankly people love a good party, what the reasons are the Queen herself has made it clear that what she would like is the spirit of people getting together as communities, friends, neighbours and so forth. If we achieve that it would be, that'll be, that in itself will be a great success.

DAVID FROST: There you are you see now Norman, are you going to have a party?

NORMAN BAKER: Well I'll still have the day off I hope and see some friends and have a good time so I shall be celebrating the day off and, and having the sort of community spirit that Lord Sterling refers to which I'm fully in favour of, if it does bring communities together it's a good thing but let's not pretend that it's an endorsement of, of the Monarchy as such, all the indications are that the Royal Family is, not the Queen personally actually, but the Royal Family as a concept is less well regared than it was 25 years ago, it's now seen to be in terms of the individuals involved as, as flawed as the rest of us and as our own individual families and communities might be and the mystique has gone, the idea that they are chosen, they are blue blood, that's now diminished. We're now in the 21st century, the hereditary principle has been abandoned in the House of Lords and people are beginning to wonder whether or not the arrangement we have with the Royal Family, the Monarchy, that should be appropriate for the present century.

DAVID FROST: Alright well two different points of view, we'll see, we'll see what happens on the day or on the days or on the weekend when, actually the main competition I, to the Jubilee will be from Korea and Japan I think probably, won't it, the World Cup.

GEOFFREY STERLING: We will be showing that on our great screens in all the parks first thing in the morning so you can enjoy both.

DAVID FROST: That's, best, the selling point of all, thank you both very much indeed, thank you indeed.

END


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