The Brit List: Summer of London – The Royal Summer

7. The Jubilee Greenway Walk

A photo of the Thames Barrier from the Jubilee Greenway, section 6, between River Thames and Greenwich. (walklondon.org)

The Queen is an avid supporter of the great outdoors, and it’s fortunate that she likes land because she owns so much of it. The Crown Estate is one of the largest property holders in the UK, with a worth of £7 billion. In fact, some people, like The New Statesman, estimate that the Queen is the largest  property owner in the world, though we imagine that depends on how you do the calculations.

Anyway, the Queen appears eager to make sure that her subjects get to enjoy some of England’s green and pleasant land.

In 1977, the Queen opened the Silver Jubilee Walkway, a 15-mile path that connects London’s most famous attractions.

In 2009, the Jubilee Walkway Trust opened the Jubilee Greenway Walk, a 60-kilometer (37-mile) route – one kilometer for each year of the Queen’s reign. The walk, which is for use by pedestrians and cyclists, connects many of this year’s Olympics sites.

But there’s more.

Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge is a charity-supported effort to protect outdoor recreational spaces as a “permanent living legacy” of the Jubilee.

The Challenge has set up a way for communities, “whether in a dense city or the middle of the countryside,” to vote on which areas they’d like to be preserved.

The charity’s patron is none other than the Queen’s grandson himself:

By the way, the Fields Challenge makes it clear that it is known as the “Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge” everywhere except for Scotland, where it is known as the “Queen Elizabeth Fields Challenge,” dropping the numeral two after the Queen’s name. That’s because, as far as some Scots are concerned, there never was a Queen Elizabeth I of Scotland since the two kingdoms weren’t formally united until 1707, more than a century after the death of Elizabeth I of England. Over the centuries, of course, there have been many tensions between Scotland and England, and issues of Scottish political governance are still very much alive today.

Still, quibbles about the numeral after the Queen’s name might strike some as an absurdly esoteric and trivial point, when the result is that you end up having to give two different names to a charity organization that promotes open space. Or perhaps it’s that, as William Faulkner famously wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

Please feel free to discuss the issue below, backing up your arguments with specific references to Anglo-Scottish political, economic and religious history. Extra credit will be given to appropriate mentions of Mary, Queen of Scots, as well as her continuing legacy as debated by historians and portrayed in fiction. You may open your test books now.

NEXT: Jubilee-Inspired Merchandise

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