Patriotism is not a dirty word, although you would think that it was, the way that some people view it.
There has been a lot of patriotism on display during the last few weeks with the run up to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, the culmination of which has been the various events that have taken place during the course of these last four days.
The UK seems very reluctant to "do" patriotism. I don't know if it’s in the more reserved nature of most Brits, but you would never normally see the chanting and flag-waving that we see from our cousins on the other side of the Atlantic.
It may be that we are more multicultural. Whilst the United States has always been a melting pot for all of the world's nationalities, there seems to be far more integration of these "foreigners" into America than there is in the UK. Don't get me wrong, I think that it is vitally important that people do not forget their roots, but I believe that it is equally important that if you wish to make your life in a different country to the one of your birth, with a different culture, you should conform to the new culture. Why make the effort to leave your country of origin in the first place if you are not willing to make that effort?
The difficulty with the multicultural aspect of this country is that sometimes the symbols of nationhood, the Union Flag for example, are hijacked by the extremist element. The British National Party have the Union Flag as their political symbol and the fallout from this is that this flag, this national symbol of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is often associated with right wing extremist views and is likely to alienate, rather than integrate, immigrants to this country.
There is also an almost cynical element which makes patriotism uncool, making people feel that it is wrong to be proud of the nation from which they come. But again, I believe that this is because it has been hijacked by elements that use patriotism as an excuse to cause trouble. How often have we seen images of English football crowds in various foreign countries, their faces painted with the Cross of St George, or the crowds adorned in red and white, fighting with local people or the local Police? And I use the word English deliberately, as it is rare in this day and age that there are reports of Scots, Welsh or Northern Irish doing the same.
And this leads to another problem. If one of the home nations qualifies for a competition, the team management will often call for "the entire nation to get behind the team". But when that team is England, which it so often is, I suspect that many Scots, Welsh and Irish are reluctant to "get behind a team" whose "supporters" are linked to so much violence and destruction.
I will be interested to see what happens in Ukraine during the Euro championships that are about to start, particularly when there is so much reporting, in this country at least, of how extreme and right-wing the Ukrainian "fans" are.
But I digress. The sort of patriotism that we have seen over the last week or so is the sort that you would hope to see. Whole families, or all ethnic backgrounds, waving Union Flags and singing patriotic songs, to some extent mirroring our American cousins. But unlike them, now that the celebrations are over, there is that risk that Britons all over this nation will resort to the non-demonstrative race that existed prior to the Jubilee, and this will give the extremists the opportunity to hijack once more the symbols of our Nation.
So where do I stand? When I joined the reserve Forces 11 years ago, I had to declare the following:
"I solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors and that I will as in duty bound honestly and faithfully defend Her Majesty, her heirs and successors in person, crown and dignity against all enemies and will observe and obey all orders of Her Majesty, her heirs and successors and of the generals and officers set over me."
I made this declaration freely and willingly. I think that that answers the question.