The news of the week (among many other interesting things, of course), is that Queen Elizabeth marked 60 years since her accession to the throne on Monday. That’s a rather remarkable achievement, no matter what your feelings about the venerable old lady. She’s only the second regent to achieve it, after all. And for the most part, there’s a general upwelling of enthusiastic support for her from the British public. The popular voice seems to range from respect to effusive brown-nosing. There’s not much space in the media for any negative voice. Thankfully, there isn’t too much of the sycophancy either – this being a mercifully rare example:
But when she does leave the stage, it will seem like a wrench in the fabric of nature, a tilting of the world’s axis. For through 60 years, from the aftermath of war to the digital dawn, she has been the nation’s seraphic Holy Mother, serene, unflappable, concerned for our welfare, wryly amused by our follies.
“Have you come far?” she used to ask garden party guests. We have all come so far, our lives have changed so much, the monarchy has been rocked to its foundations, during her reign. But she has never changed.
— John Walsh (writing for The Independent)
It’s not universal, of course. People like the Republic Party are rather less amused by what they call “60 years of a head of state with no election”. I got in contact with these guys when I procured a mug from them in April last year, which proclaimed “I’m not a Royal Wedding Mug”. I liked the pun, and thought that the whole wedding shebang was horribly overwrought. And after looking into what they stand for, I must admit that it makes sense. I even received their email updates for a few months. But I soon tired of their approach. They’re making an awful lot of fuss this year when they should probably just take it easy. Public opinion in favour of the monarchy is at a high not seen for decades, and trying to fight against that isn’t going to do any good.
Personally, I think she’s done a great job. It can’t be easy being a multi-billionaire while trying to make an effort to have some sort of rapport with the proletariat. When Charles and Andrew were at their philandering worst, there was a fair bit of talk about getting rid of the monarchy (or at least, a lot more questioning of the value it brings). But over the last fifteen years or so, that has largely been turned around. I can’t see anything changing on the monarchy front until a few years after she goes. Once Charles in on the throne making the odd political gaffe (like this recent one), it might be a different story altogether. Prince William might be able to keep things steady (he’s certainly more popular than his father), but he isn’t immune from getting involved in political faux pas either.
Oh well, luckily as an Uitlander I don’t have to worry too much about identifying too closely with the political establishment. I really couldn’t give a hoot about any of the main political parties (although it is rather amusing watching them squabble over scraps), and I’ve never cared overly much for the Royal family either. But this year, I’ll go a little easier on them. They deserve a break every 60 years or so. But only if I get a day off in return…
- The monarchy is more secure than ever (newstatesman.com)