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The Age of Elizabeth Windsor If monarchy is to survive, it must be reinvented


June 2, 2022   8 mins

The 70th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne represents a strange juncture in the country’s history. Her Majesty’s stoical endurance through national and personal tribulation has cut deep. There has not been a life of monarchical duty continuously exercised over anything like the same time in British or English history.

But such is the nervousness that hangs over the monarchy’s future, in any rendition of the national anthem there is a palpable charge on the words, “long to reign over us, God save the Queen”. In that moment, one can sense a shivering fear that the Queen’s death may open the path to a troubling future where the forces stacked against the British monarchy, from outside and in, begin to overwhelm it — without there being any unifying idea about what could come next.

The Queen’s being was not always fused in this way with a near ideal form of British monarchy. The joyful festivities for the Silver Jubilee bank holiday in June 1977, for example, felt as much about a country needing to remind itself that one purpose of a monarchy is to create such a national occasion, as a celebration of the Queen herself.

Since Victoria’s reign established the idea that the monarchy’s legitimacy had, in part, to rest on public affection, the British have not continuously loved quietude in their monarchs. There was nothing austere about Edward VII: he ate excessively, smoked too much, gambled, and had a string of mistresses. Queen Victoria feared her son would bring down the monarchy. But after Edward VII died in May 1910, throngs of people waited through the night under a deluge of rain outside Westminster Hall to see the coffin of a man who appeared, at least, rather to enjoy being King. When it came to his funeral procession, the crowds were much larger than they were for his mother.

But the present Queen is a successful part of a continuous story about duty that began with the monarchy her grandfather George V established. She is the last of a family trio. Although Edward VII did as much for the modern monarchy as his parents, his reign belongs to another world, one in which the British monarch still had real political influence. During the constitutional crisis of 1909-10, Edward VII successfully demanded a general election before the Liberal government could pass its budget after its defeat in the House of Lords, and then another before it could expect to legislate to remove the Lords’ right of veto — although he did not live to see that vote.

In Europe, he sought to check German power, leaving the Kaiser convinced his uncle was “Satan”, standing between Germany and its world destiny. By visiting Paris in 1903, against the advice of British officials, and transforming in just four days French public opinion of him, he played his part in the Entente Cordiale of 1904. Working his other nephew, Tsar Nicholas II, while influencing the appointments of the British ambassador in St Petersburg and the Russian ambassador at the Court of St James’, he was also instrumental in realising the 1907 Anglo Russian Entente.

As the pre-1914 European world approached its dissolution, Edward VII, as elder statesman of a continent-wide royal family dominated by Victoria and Albert’s descendants, appeared a peacemaker. A popular song in 1909 proclaimed “as long as there’s a King like good King Edward there’ll be no war”. On the King’s sudden death, the Russian foreign minister Alexander Izvolsky declared: “We have lost the mainstay of our foreign policy.” In France, Edward was mourned in the republican corridors of power in Paris and in provincial towns. When the moment of crisis arrived in August 1914, leaving the Kaiser to contemplate the terrible necessity for Germany to wage war against both Russia and France to achieve any of his ambitions, he complained bitterly that “the dead Edward was stronger than the living one”.

No European monarch could ever have such hope and dread projected onto them again. By the end of the First Word War, Edward VII’s second son had turned Prince Albert’s House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha into the Windsors, surrendered the use of all German titles, and refused asylum to the Tsar and Tsarina, both his first cousins, to protect the British monarchy from the sins of association. Instead of continental leadership, George V ­— who had become heir on the death of his older brother from the Russian flu — offered Britain the idea of a monarchy based on dutiful, quiet service and a largely domestic royal family.

Of course, the Windsor monarchy was still bound to the empire in the Twenties. George V wanted to be an imperial king replete with imperial ceremony; before the war, he had insisted on travelling to Delhi to be crowned Emperor of India. But, whatever its creator’s imperial emotions, the post-1914 monarchy had, in a world where European decline was inescapable, to be detachable from empire. A good part of the Queen’s achievement has been to facilitate that imaginative separation while, through the Commonwealth, preventing the monarchy falling into British parochialism detached from the wider world.

Above all, the emotional rituals of the new Windsor monarchy were tied to the rituals of remembrance created by the losses of the First World War. These liturgies were reinvigorated by the Second World War both in its national mythos of virtuous sacrifice and the imperial mobilisation of the Indian Army as the largest volunteer force in history. On 11 November 1920, George V unveiled the Cenotaph as part of a procession to Westminster Abbey for the funeral of the Unknown Warrior. On entering the Abbey two-and-a-half years later for her wedding to the future George VI, the then Duchess of York – the future Queen Mother – laid her bouquet on the tomb in honour of her brother who fell at the Battle of Loos, beginning a tradition for royal brides, upheld by the Queen and later the Duchess of Cambridge. At her own request, the Queen Mother’s funeral wreath was placed on the grave. The fusion of the seasons of monarchical life with the national remembrance of war is why the Queen’s absence from last year’s Cenotaph service was such a watershed moment. Nothing could state more potently that her reign is coming to an end.

In its post-1914 casting, the monarchy was far from constitutionally irrelevant. George V played his part in normalising Labour governments, and effectively demanded that Ramsay MacDonald form the National government when MacDonald came to the Palace to resign in August 1931. Until the Conservative party changed its leadership rules, the monarch had the formal discretion to choose a Conservative Prime Minister on the departure on an incumbent, a power the Queen exercised when she chose Harold Macmillan in January 1957 and Lord Douglas-Home in October 1963. But during George V’s reign, a great deal of constitutional service became passive: dealing with boxes without active responsibility for their content and performing the constitutional ceremony of the opening of Parliament.

In this requirement for quiescence lay a problem that would haunt George V and perhaps does the Queen. It is not only the monarch who must accept an inert role, but the heir after years of waiting for the Crown to be theirs. In George V’s case, his eldest son’s temperamental constitutional unsuitability was thoroughly compounded by his unwillingness to make a conventional marriage and have children.

But Edward VIII’s short reign paradoxically strengthened the Windsor monarchy. Once George VI acceded to the throne, he was helped by the very fecklessness of his older brother. What story could more demonstrate the idea of necessary duty than one where the stammering second son had to take the Crown from a once-idolised brother and remake himself as a public man? During the Second World War all aspects of the Windsor monarchy became one when that King and his Queen partook in the national experience of aerial assault by working in Buckingham Palace during the Blitz and refusing ministerial advice to send the young princesses to Canada.

The Queen’s inheritance of George V’s monarchy was complex. As was the case with her grandfather and father, the duties of the Crown should not have fallen upon her. But by the time she was born in 1926, her father had, given his brother’s attitude towards marriage, good reasons to suspect they eventually could; and her grandfather hoped, while she was too young really to comprehend what was happening around her, they would. If she shares with them an ability to accommodate duty foisted by circumstance, her temperamental dislike of excess has had to work, not in an age of war but amid rapidly rising consumerism and then a turn to performative public displays of grief. To heighten the dissociation, the appetite for communal expressions of emotion began in the days after Princess Diana’s death, when the Queen’s self-containment was the very opposite of the new aesthetic.

Given this divergence between the monarch and the times, it is perhaps unsurprising that the wholehearted affection felt for the Queen has only come in the second half of her life. This is in part the effect of the sheer duration of her endurance. But it is a function, too, of her character. She has absorbed change she had little reason to like, and so reinforced the story of duty to which the House of Windsor laid claim. Precisely because the country is significantly more secular than when she came to the throne, her Christianity is also an asset. Where the religious rituals of national life might appear hollow, she plays her part blessed by faith. Since some of the symbols are complex in a multi-national Union that was never a spiritual union, she also appears at ease in the ambiguity, seen at worship as she is at Sandringham in a church of which she is head and at Balmoral at Crathie Kirk, a church where she is not. As the United Kingdom has become more divided, she has simply carried on as head of state, as if as long as she performs her duty, the country will be more than it seems on the surface to be.

But the idea of the domestic royal family has been a greater burden for the Queen than it was even for her grandfather. If, on the other side of her reign, lies a great unknown, it is one she has played her part in bringing about. What she has given of her own qualities to the kingdom coexists with mishaps with her heirs. In marrying her third-cousin for love, she inserted the Windsors back into the part of Victoria and Albert’s continental diaspora that had made it back to Britain through the wreckage of the First World War and its aftermath. But no more European royal weddings would materialise. Instead, Prince Charles was left caught between the idea he could marry for love and the eventual necessity of a near arranged domestic aristocratic marriage he was ill-equipped to tolerate. Meanwhile, the Queen’s longevity means that there have been three generations of spares to pain and embarrass her. Like George V before her, the Queen will not to live to see where the story of her life as royal parent of Prince Andrew and grandparent of Prince Harry ends.

For a moment, the future can wait, as it did for George V. His Silver Jubilee in May 1935, six months before his death, turned out to be an emotional occasion. After the crowds had lined the streets to see him and Queen Mary process to a service at St Paul’s, he took to the radio to declare: “I can only say to you, my very dear people, that the Queen and I thank you from the depths of our hearts for all the loyalty — and may I say? — the love which this day and always you have surrounded us.” After driving through the East End, he said, “I’d no idea they felt like that about me.”

The problem he bequeathed the monarchy as a father had an unexpected resolution: Mrs Simpson was the strange grace note in the story, the contingency that spared the country a disastrous monarch during an attempted conquest. Since Andrew and Harry are not heirs who can be broken or redeemed by the Crown, there will be no resolution to the contrasting problems they cause; the Queen must pass them unabridged to Prince Charles.

Beyond his brother and youngest son, Charles will inherit a Crown that has reached a stasis by very virtue of the Queen’s remarkable success. She was sufficiently formed by the Second World War to be George V and George VI’s spiritual heir. But no child or grandchild of hers could ever have been like her, whatever kind of parent or grandparent she was. She must know the future monarchy, if it survives, will be one that has of necessity again been reinvented.

By giving unflinching service according to the Windsor character script and rituals she has emphatically answered the question of what purpose a constitutional monarchy still serves. There will not be such a sharp rejoinder to republicanism ever again. This will be Prince Charles’s burden. It will also belong to us all who are the Queen’s subjects. If we want the monarchy to continue, we will have tacitly to give our consent to leaving the Age of Elizabeth Windsor behind.


Helen Thompson is Professor of Political Economy at the University of Cambridge and co-presenter of UnHerd’s These Times.

HelenHet20

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Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago

Perhaps an under-appreciated value of our constitutional Monarchy is that it keeps our history alive. I am not at all enamoured with Republicanism because is has become so politically divisive. While America seesaws between blue and red hated figures, our Head of State serenely stays in place above political warfare; and provides the mature view that history will run its course in its own time while it elevates and then spews out its politicians with regularity. While we have a history we have context; if the republicans can revise and decontextualise our history they stand a chance of enforcing their own ideological Year Zero.
The danger with our heirs is that they have adopted a degree of politicisation: Charles’s environmentalism and William’s sympathies for emotive issues. They could inadvertently create the divisions which modern Monarchy can avoid. At the beginning of the 20th Century the Monarchy could get away with political influence, but after the disasters that then ensued with the heads of republican countries behaving like God-ordained monarchs, and millions dead, a depoliticised Head of State may continue to be a figure that unites.

Mark Gourley
Mark Gourley
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Very good piece and I agree, Edward VII was the last monarch who could successfully play a personal part in international power politics – not least because (with the exception of republican France) he was related to most European Heads of State!.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago

I remember the 1977 Jubilee. We had a street party, on the council estate, all Union Jacks, bunting and cup cakes.

I was 21 at the time and didn’t give the monarchy any thought. It was just a good day that left a vaguely pleasant feeling of, I suppose, patriotism.

I still don’t spend much time thinking about the constitutional implications of the monarchy. The Queen, for me, is a symbol of some vaguely felt national pride.

Tv hit jobs like The Crown, and Diana, have been setting Charles up to fail for a long time. The culture has turned against anything resembling patriotism as it rewrites our history negatively.

I expect the MSM to run a relentless Boris style campaign against Charles until the left manage to remove the last representation we have of what we once were.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

The Berlin Garrison of the British Army celebrated the 1977 Jubilee in Hitler’s 1936 Olympic Stadium.
There were about 5,000 in attendance in a stadium built for 100,000. All very amusing!

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
2 years ago

not really.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Alison Tyler

Well then let’s say all very British then?

Noel Chiappa
Noel Chiappa
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

have been setting Charles up to fail for a long time”
Well, Charles has done his bit too. While he has on occasion done some good things (I’m thinking here of his defense of the press over reporting during the Falklands war, and his architectural thinking, in particular his mixed-use small-scale urban developments in the Duchy of Cornwall holdings), he has created many of his own problems, in particular he too often goes overboard in progressive notions – he was ‘woke’ before the term existed.
We’ll see how he does.
Noel

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Noel Chiappa

He has punted organic farming, which is good enough for me.

Paul Smithson
Paul Smithson
2 years ago
Reply to  Noel Chiappa

His involvement with the likes of Davos, the WEF, etc, says that he is part of the unelected elite that think they have some God-given right to rule over us plebs.

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

I am rather afraid that his mother (whose simple faith I respect and rather admire) genuinely believes that she is God’s special little person chosen to do the job she does (and for which she is very well materially rewarded.)

Whether Charles believes that or not, he is going to learn that his opinions, whether valid, misguided, off-the-wall or merely laughable will need to be kept to himself when he sits on the big chair. This is the big lesson he needs to learn from his mother : if he doesn’t he might learn a far less pleasant lesson from the great British people. Perhaps not as pointed as the one taught to Charles I, but ending with the exhortation “Don’t slam the door when you leave,”

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
2 years ago

Leaving aside your snide first paragraph, Charles has hardly being “woke” and his causes are radical to some degree, certainly interesting and often pathfinding, but not very political. He is well aware that the role of the monarch is very different to that of the heir, and he has used that to his and the nations advantage. His tragedy was in his marital life but that is now happily resolved. He will make a very fine monarch on his track record to date.

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago

I really like your first paragraph! Seems to me, a Yank, that Queen views herself as the pope, chosen by god–isn’t that even part of the ceremony?
Time for this tosh to end. Charles has more than done his bit!

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

they do..

Hugh Eveleigh
Hugh Eveleigh
2 years ago

There is much sound reasoning in this piece altough I question that affection for the Queen only showed itself in the second half of her reign. She has always, particularly in many of the Commonwealth Realms, received huge affection wherever she went. I also sincerely hope that there is no question of ‘if’ the monarchy survives but perhaps ‘how’ it might. Reinvention has been an ongoing aspect of her reign and when the Prince of Wales assumes the throne there will be, I imagine, other more pronounced changes but I hope he keeps the wise common sense of his Mother and refrains from commenting politically. As Prince he can just get away with it, as Sovereign he cannot and must not. A sovereign is the a-political inherited representative of everyone (unlike republics). Leave republican presidents and all politicians to opine and legislate. Political results will always cause divisiveness. Our sovereigns need to ensure distance and aloofness from political shenanigans.
Tomorrow is Accession Day and thus the day on which King George VI died. For Her Majesty a time of reflection and for us a time to give thanks for the continuing life of a Queen the likes of which may well not be seen for quite some time. Vivat.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Hugh Eveleigh

Reflection requires courage and she has plenty of that!

David Whitaker
David Whitaker
2 years ago

The thing about the Queen is that she has never shown her limitations. Because she has never expressed an opinion or revealed anything of herself, her intelligence, comprehension and abilities cannot be graded. If she has feet of clay we have never had sight of them, and we are happy to imagine that indeed she is not so handicapped. We are able to project onto Her Majesty all the wisdom, dignity and selflessness that we yearn for ourselves and would wish our leaders to have. Prince Charles has let us hear his voice, however, so we know he has a voice and we know that it is just an ordinary voice. Even if everything he has said were perfectly innocuous, we can extrapolate from his voice to an entire, imperfect, person. The Queen, by contrast, may in fact be perfect. She hasn’t given a hint of not being so. Long may she continue.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  David Whitaker

The organic farming opinion is not ordinary.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago

Off course the Monarchy will survive, indeed must survive. ‘We’ tried Republicanism under the ‘Blessed Oliver’ but it just wasn’t corrupt and venal enough. So we opted for the testosterone charged, totally corruptible traitor, Charles II and have never looked back.

However to survive it needs to massively downsize along the lines of all other European monarchies. Frankly today it is an embarrassing cocktail of Imperial pompousness and pseudo medieval nonsense.
Just look at those who are currently Knights of the Garter*, all those Grace & Favour parasites, the farrago of domestic quarrels that drive the Media to new heights of ecstasy. In fact could one really imagine a more dysfunctional family?

Fortunately and despite these shortcomings, the Monarchy is still far preferable to today’s alternative.The sheer horror of the idea of President Boris & First Lady Nut Nut, or even worse (if that is possible) President Blair & First Lady Cherie, is too much to even contemplate.

(* Claimed to be the oldest Order of European Chivalry.)

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
2 years ago

The least bad option of an uninspiring selection? may have unexpected possibilities we don’t know of yet..

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Alison Tyler

Exactly.

Liz Walsh
Liz Walsh
2 years ago

Although I freely admit that a modern vernacular translation of honi soit qui mal y pense is probably “eff ’em if they can’t take a joke”, a constitutional monarchy is arguably less divisive than almost any alternative. And the interregnum of Cromwell’s commonwealth had almost nothing to commend it.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Liz Walsh

I agree with your opinion on the benefits of the Constitutional Monarchy, but I must disagree that the Commonwealth had nothing to commend it.

Although perhaps not an outstanding success, Cromwell & Co did give the wretched Scotch ‘a damned good thrashing’, that equaled if not exceeded that of Edward I three and a half centuries earlier. This also certainly facilitated the ultimate conquest of 1707*.

Additionally Ireland was brought to heal, yet again, but not, it must be said, with quite such beneficial results. The nascent Empire also saw the capture of Jamaica**, the establishment of the regular Army, and defeat of the greedy Dutch by a massively enhanced Navy.

Finally, come the Restoration, whilst the ‘Republican’ flame died in England it remained smouldering in the American Colonies, with cataclysmic results in 1776.

(* Rather misleadingly called the Act of Union.)
(** A consolation prize it must said, as the primary objective was the island of Hispaniola.)

Last edited 2 years ago by SULPICIA LEPIDINA
Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago

Beautifully written, interesting and poignant piece, thank you.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

It is full of minor mistakes, which rather undermines it!

David Yetter
David Yetter
2 years ago

Viewed from the other side of the Pond, where we have devolved from republican virtue to democratic chaos (note, the lower case letters, that is not as statement about the eponymous political parties), it seem to me that under Elizabeth II, the primary role of your monarch (and by extension the royal family) — shared by other still existing European monarchs — has become celebrity in the service of national unity. Yes, the monarch still has some constitutional roles which in theory extend beyond the purely ceremonial, but these are so rarely exercised that we don’t notice them. Yes, the role of Head of the Commonwealth carries with it a serious diplomatic role. But on a day to day basis, the job is celebrity in the service of national unity.
Again, viewed from the other side of the Pond, it is fairly clear William and Kate are and will be good at this. Charles I’m not so sure about, though the fact that with the help of PR consultants Camilla seems to finally be earning some public affection suggest maybe he’ll make a go of it.
It would be a shame if you followed us Americans in to the absurd state of affairs where we feel we must like our head of government as a person, rather than support his (or, prospectively her) policies and believe he has the ability to get them implemented — that affection is lodged on the monarch so that voters don’t need to like a prospective PM has always been the best political (as distinct from cultural) argument I have seen put forth for the maintenance of largely ceremonial monarchies.

cc9zn2yv9d
cc9zn2yv9d
2 years ago

To paraphrase Churchill, ‘constitutional Monarchy is better than any of the alternatives that have been tried from time to time”.
The average Constitutional Monarchy (about 20% of the world’s current governements), has a life expectancy of 340 years or so. (And note, Consitutional Monarchies are almost never ended by referendum, only by pompous politicians making decrees. If it is ever put to a vote, the populace takes one look at their venal politicians and votes to continue with their monarchy
)

Meanwhile the average life expectancy of a the 400-500 odd republics attempted in the last 200 years has been less than 20 years before falling into dictatorship, genocide, or civil war. 70% of the world’s states are called ‘reublics’, but the number that are ‘Soviet Socialist’, or ‘People’s’ or Islamic, or whatever ensure that the vast majority of those are disasters.
NO intelligent being could ever consider swapping the statistical safety of a constitutional monarchy for the inevitable evils of a republic.

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
2 years ago
Reply to  cc9zn2yv9d

I think you underestimate our society … a mature Country, both politically and socially, could clearly transfer from a monarchy to a republic.
It is inevitable … monarchies are an anachronism and their won’t be long in coming

Iris C
Iris C
2 years ago

I enjoyed this article very much but disliked your damning of Prince Andrew.
Prince Andrew flew helicopters in the Falklands War, hovering over HMS Sheffield while his crew rescued naval personnel from the burning destroyer and undertook other risky rescues at that time. I do not forget this bravery in our country’s interest, or his support of the Queen since her husband stepped back from official duties. He has an outgoing personality (seen in childhood photos) and his company was enjoyed by the many people whom he met during official visits.
He was not always wise in his choice of friends but that could be levelled at many prominent Americans, and the accusation of sexual assault being made by an American who was 17 at the time and had been sexually active for many years prior to the alleged incident, has been vigorously denied.
Wouldn’t it be nice if our press started showing some patriotism?.

.

D Glover
D Glover
2 years ago
Reply to  Iris C

an American who was 17 at the time and had been sexually active for many years 

Victim blaming? She was sexually active because she was being run by two pimps called Jeffery Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell. Those are the friends Andrew chose. ‘Not wise’ is a kind way of putting it.

Scott S
Scott S
2 years ago
Reply to  Iris C

I find it amazing that you are willing to defend Andrew, while no doubt hoping for the monarchy to carry on after the current Queen has died. I know you are coming from the angle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’, which I agree with, but his actions to me at least, shows he has something to hide. In this regard, as the royals rely on popularity to keep them going. I think it would be best if supporters of the Monarchy punt Andrews barge well away from the Royal flotilla.

Last edited 2 years ago by Scott S
JR Stoker
JR Stoker
2 years ago
Reply to  Scott S

I don’t quite see how you accept the concept of innocent until proven guilty if you in the same sentence suggest he has something to hide! More “Sentence first, trial later” methinks.

Scott S
Scott S
2 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

I disagree, it depends what is being hidden, and what he is charged with. They may be entirely unrelated. But feel free to fight Andrews corner, if you feel it is the right thing to do.

Last edited 2 years ago by Scott S
JR Stoker
JR Stoker
2 years ago
Reply to  Scott S

At the moment I don’t think I have an opinion, not publicly anyway, we still have laws of libel. I would prefer to wait for the trial

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
2 years ago
Reply to  Iris C

Just because someone is brave in combat it does not follow that they are necessarily a good or virtuous person in other parts of their life.

And the vigorous denial of misconduct came from Andrew, of course. Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he? Just like he said that one of his faults was that he was just “too honourable”.

If he has a fault, it’s his unassuming modesty.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
2 years ago

If the history of England was a set of books it would be between two bookends, Elizabeths I and II.

D Glover
D Glover
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

That’s the best comment here.
In 1588 Queen Bess sent a fleet into the channel to forestall invasion by Spain.
This Queen minds her own business, and signs any law they put in front of her.

Liz Walsh
Liz Walsh
2 years ago

Her devotion to duty and resolute rationality have been an inspiration to a great many. She has modeled the life of a believing, yet modern, adaptable,individual. It is probably no accident that she enjoyed a lifelong loving marriage. As her constitutional powers waned, she did a more important thing: set an example for the young. Cicero himself would have approved.

LCarey Rowland
LCarey Rowland
2 years ago

Helen, thank you. This synopsis and explanation is quite illuminating . … for this American author, who once chanced upon a May 12, 1937 original edition of the Times of London, which yellowed edition happened to be the commemorative issue for George VI’s coronation.
Thereupon, this author proceeded to write and publish his novel, Smoke, which explores what perils the ill-fated continent of Europe was approaching in the year 1937.
Your explanation here has helped me to better understand that royal entity–that mystery crowned with an enigma– the royal House of Windsor, nee Saxe-Coburg.

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
2 years ago

“Beyond his brother and youngest (sic) son”

How many sons does Charles have? Grammatical rigour in Cambridge professors has clearly relaxed of late!

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
2 years ago

There are a large number of minor errors in this article (please discipline the sub-editor; “Lord” Douglas-Home was particularly weird, given he was Lord Dunglass, the Earl of Home, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, and Lord Home of the Hirsel; surely there was plenty to choose from without making one up?!) which does undermine what is otherwise an interesting piece.

Last edited 2 years ago by JR Stoker
JR Stoker
JR Stoker
2 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

When I wrote the above I had not noticed that the writer was a Cambridge Professor. Which makes the numerous errors disgraceful!

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
2 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

There was a time when being a professor at Cambridge was a sign of great distinction and deserved great respect. No more, it seems.
I offer two words in evidence : Priyamvada Gopal

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
2 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

oh dear me, the pedantry !!

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 years ago

I am always reminded that a vast percentage of people who comment, and pass opinions on individuals in The Royal Family, ( obviously excluding constitutional, historical and political elements) have not only never met any, nor anyone who knows or has spent time with them, but have absolutely no idea nor experience of life at that end of British life… On most other subjects, would be commentators would happily say ” .. I have no idea… I’ve no experience first hand or otherwise”…. but not on this subject

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
2 years ago

I see. So Edward VII was the architect of World War I. Good going Eddie.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago

I admit I only skimmed this article, but wasn’t the point that Eddie poked his nose where it did not belong? The present monarch hasn’t made that mistake. At least not to our knowledge.
Whatever happens, let us hope that the outcome is not decided by The Cambridge Dinner Party Circuit, with drinks supplied by the CCP -. Fill your boots.

Last edited 2 years ago by Terry Needham
Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

Could anyone elucidate this constitutional crisis of 1909-10? When Edward VII successfully demanded not just one but two general elections?

“— although he did not live to see that vote.”

Does that vote refer to the second general election that he apparently demanded and got (“
, and then another 
”)? Or the vote on the Liberals’ intended moves “to legislate to remove the Lords’ right of veto”?

It’s the fifth paragraph down.

Andrea X
Andrea X
2 years ago

That was news to me too, along with the fact that Queen Elizabeth helped to choose the Tory prime minister (11th paragraph).

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrea X

The suggestion is that she guided the succession to the job after the unexpected resignation of Harold MacMillan. No clear candidate had emerged in the choice between RAB Butler and Quintin Hogg and HM may have suggested Alec Douglas-Home as a possible compromise. But it is far from clear that that is what happened and it was the grey-suited grandees* of the Conservative Party that recommended Sir A for the job, and HM formally agreed.
*Oh, that we had such an efficient system now!

Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago

Dustshoe, it’s the Parliament Act:
https://www.parliament.uk/about/how/laws/parliamentacts/

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Righty-o. Thank you.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 years ago

The” Nu Britn” Royal PR, aimed at people pleasing, and internet fawning and approval craving is actually a ” hari kiri” act via turning the Saxe Coburg Gothas into an intra M25 bunch of Mr and Mrs Clackett- Lane- Services….

Mike Michaels
Mike Michaels
2 years ago

WEF stooge and Great Reset salesman Charles? No thanks. The monarchy dies with Elizabeth.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 years ago

excellent

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
2 years ago

If the British Monarchy is to survive it will have to diminish considerably, and in doing so, brings it’s very existence into question as a Royal Family in the terms we understand it now.
In reality the European Royal families must all be at risk … in essence they are an anachronism that have had their day.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
2 years ago

The only thing we really know about Queen Elizabeth are the black marks *Princess Margaret *Charles *Harry *Princess Diana *Prince Andrew. I really do not remember any successes. Compare this reign with her namesake Elizabeth the first.
ps Should their name not be Mountbatten rather than Windsor

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

or the ‘Hun’ for short.

Scott S
Scott S
2 years ago

I’m not a royalist, never have been, but what really put any doubt our of my mind was the absurd reaction when Diana died. This placed me firmly in the same camp as Christopher Hitchins. Having said all this I do respect the Queen, mainly because of her longevity of duty and her ability to remain neutral, by not bleating on about the latest green lunacy or some other latest elitist craze, which cannot be said of any of those in line. This alone gives me reason to think the Queen should be the last monarch. Do you really want to see King Charles 3?? When all the prequels were really bad?? No need for a 3rd installment. I do love the history of our Kings and Queens, but the time has come to make the monarchy history. At least with a presidential system we can get rid of the WEF loon who is elected to office every 4 years, unlike the next King, who we will be saddled with for a least another 20 or 30 years.

Last edited 2 years ago by Scott S
William Cable
William Cable
2 years ago
Reply to  Scott S

First of allassuming Charles III will be thr same as the 1st 2 because they have the same name is stupid. 2nd ceremonial heads tend to 5-7 year terms so you can be stuck with them fir maybe a decade. 3rd, you say ‘we’ when in fact it only has to be 50%+1. In a parliamentary system that’s fine because the other 49% still get seats in Parliament. With a president is winner take all, making it impossible for the president to be truly unifying and encouraging them to be more partisan. In Ireland, the President is so powerless it becomes a jobs for the boys system most people don’t even bother to vote for.

Scott S
Scott S
2 years ago
Reply to  William Cable

Hopefully Charles will not be as awful as the previous 2, as humanity has moved on, mainly down to nipping the monarchs powers in the bud, so yes, my witty quip was disingenuous.
However, Charles is already embroiled in ‘cash for honors’, so I believe he is not as clean cut as people think. I would say Charles will not unify anything for reasons stated above, and regarding ‘jobs for the boys’, the monarchy is the archetype of this mind set.

Last edited 2 years ago by Scott S
William Cable
William Cable
2 years ago
Reply to  Scott S

The cash for honours thing is pretty minor by politicians standards. As for ‘Jobs for the Boys’ no, the monarchy is not the anything like that mindset. The point is you can’t dole the crown out as a reward to a loyal crony the way you can a presidency, or keep it as your own retirement package

Scott S
Scott S
2 years ago
Reply to  William Cable

I do see your point in regards to the Irish President etc. But I don’t see why the UK cannot put forward its own version of a ‘Republic’. The basis of my thinking is that positions of any type of power should be based on democracy, not birth right. I’m afraid, although I’m open to other views in order to modify and improve my own, your arguements have not changed my mind. Stating in the same paragraph that cash for honors exists in regards to Charles, and monarchy does not involve itself in cronyism, is in itself an absurdity. I believe, we will have to disagree on this issue William.

Last edited 2 years ago by Scott S
Andrea X
Andrea X
2 years ago
Reply to  William Cable

He may well style himself as George or Edward (less likely).

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrea X

It was announced several years ago that he would assume the name ‘George’ on accession.

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
2 years ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

He’ll still be ‘Big Ears’ to me………..

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
2 years ago

And you will be Noddy to him I suppose

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
2 years ago
Reply to  William Cable

It was announced some years ago that if Charles became King he would rule under the name ‘George’. And the personal qualities and character of a monarch are irrelevant. It is their constitutional function that is important (they represent uncahallengeable authority in the abstract – very helpful since most politically-charged humans seek to exercise concrete personal power, which is, to say the least, no picnic).
Saying a human being qua human being has some moral faults and frailties is hardly news, is it?