Party Pooper
October 15th, 2010

Queen Elizabeth is not feeling festive.

It was reported this week that her biannual staff Christmas party (which entertains more than 1,200 staff members from a handful of palaces, estates, and private residences) has been called off.  It was confirmed by a palace muckety-muck spokesperson that the cancelation is the result of the shaky economy.

I wonder about this.  Specifically, I wonder about the example it sets.  Is it a good example or a bad one?  Let’s explore this.

Position A: It sets a good example.  She is aware that much of the rest of the world is facing uncertainty of some kind.  People are preparing for a modest holiday season.  They are adjusting their expectations (some for the second or third year in a row…) according to their budgets.  For the queen to host an extravagant party during such a time would be callous and insensitive. 

Position B: It sets a bad example.  While many people are scrimping to get by these days (especially in the servant set) there are fewer treats and perks to go around.  As the figurehead of the nation and a person whose own financial circumstances are not tenuous she comes across as miser-y to cancel the event when she could treat her minions to something special.

I think the ultimate lesson of this conundrum is that when it comes to money (which is really what this is all about) rarely is there an easy choice that makes everyone comfortable.  There is no “normal” when it comes to money.  There is no “right.”  And this means that most people are easily made uncomfortable by discussions and decisions surrounding it.  We are each left to choose the path that we think is right, and hope to step on as few toes as possible in the process. 

I hope that QE2 (the woman, not the ship) made her decision with Position A in mind, but I’ll never know (we’re not close…).  I’ll also never know how this decision will strike the staff themselves.  Hopefully they too will believe it sets the right tone and was made with the best of intentions.  At the very least, the people who would have been staffing this massive gala will have the night off.

4 Responses to “Party Pooper”

  1. E Says:

    My opinion – she shouldn’t have cancelled. The world needs “fun” more than ever at this time. I hope the decision was made with the right intentions, but I’m not so sure I believe it. Go back to your blog about traditions – isn’t the ultimate work experience one where that place where you spend most of your waking hours almost like your second family? Take the occasion down a level if you want to address the economy. Cancelling is just one more example of an elderly ruler forgetting that fun has a lot going for it. How do you better life if you forget to smile?

  2. TheKitchenWitch Says:

    Couldn’t she just dial the party down a few notches and make it not so lavish? Or is that shameful? Would it insult her sensibilities to have a modest party? I have no idea how queens think, so I can’t say. But I do feel, like the commenter above, that people sure need a reason to cut loose and have some fun nowadays.

  3. Laura H. Says:

    If her employees have been getting typical raises and bonuses, then sure have the party, but maybe tone it down a little. If (similiar to many companies abroad and in the U.S.) employees have had pay-cuts, no raises, no bonuses, drop in employer retirement savings matching, etc. then a party is in bad taste. This goes for the QE2 and ALL employers. Employees don’t have fun when they think their raises are being served up in the form of eggnog and brisket.

  4. Cathy Says:

    I hope she is doing something for her employees – it could be something that they won’t miss (although I am skeptical). I am completely unaware of the financial strains going on across the pond, but I could see the populace feeling slightly irritated with the state paying for a lavish party when x, y, and z budgets have been cut. But, like I said, I am completely unaware of what’s going on over there right now.