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Who can rule Britain now? Our democratic institutions have never been so weak

Credit: Cecil Beaton


September 9, 2022   5 mins

I never imagined I’d feel profound grief at the passing of a public figure.

At those points in my life where someone close to me has died, the hours and days afterward felt heightened, timeless and liminal: as though the world has grown thin, and unimaginable truths or possibilities might hover just out of sight. When that mood governs your every waking moment, and that of others too, going about the ordinary business of living feels absurd.

Why would I go to Tesco and buy butter, when death walks abroad? Why would I hang the washing out, when someone who mattered so much is gone? And she did matter that much. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s death is a shattering event, infinitely beyond those who knew her as mother, grandmother, great-grandmother or friend.

In her single person, and in her dedication to a selfless life of public service, our late Queen embodied continuity across nearly a century of seismic change. She sailed serenely through the dismantling of the British Empire, accepting without demur its transmutation to a “Commonwealth” and her role as figurehead of that entity.

In this way, more than any other single individual, she both guided and personified Britain’s transition from the most sprawling empire in history to
 whatever it is we are now. In her calm and stalwart presence, Great Britain managed to act as though nothing had really changed, or if it had it was all for the best.  We could ignore the fading carpets, and the Russian oligarchs buying up grand country estates. We could ignore the ugly buildings where beautiful ones used to stand. We could ignore our apparent inability to build new infrastructure, or to agree over whether or how to defend our borders, or what our history means.

With our Queen still soldiering on, at some level it all felt like the same big story, and we could argue in relative emotional safety about what the next century of “Modern Britain” might be. A great global soft power? A hub of financial corruption? A geopolitical has-been juggling the demands of European and American empires? A great nation dormant and ready to rise again? However you answer that question, we could put off coming to any firm conclusion, as long as she was there to hold it all together.

Now she’s gone. And once the interval of grief passes and the world stops feeling thin, we’ll all still be here. Life will have to go on. And that means we can’t put off answering the questions that have been lurking below the surface on which our Queen sailed so serenely. What happens next? Who will lead us? And, more importantly, how?

No doubt alongside the inevitable ghouls loudly rejoicing for the hate-clicks, we’ll hear renewed calls from the ever-present (and, to date, mercifully unpopular) republicans, to dispense with the monarchy in favour of something more “democratic”. This is an irony given that the very presence of a constitutional monarch has served, for some 334 years, as our guarantor of democracy: the autocratic grit in the democratic oyster. That, at least, is what I wrote after seeing the quiet dignity with which the Queen sat alone at her husband’s funeral, carefully following pandemic-era rules on social distancing.

It was Victoria and Albert who first embraced monarchy as a form of moral leadership, pioneering the sober stoicism we’ve come to associate with our Queen. But it has been Elizabeth who most fully embraced that duty, and led by example – as at Prince Philip’s funeral. In her reign, this symbolic monarchy has taken on ever more intense meaning: for if Victoria still wielded a measure of direct power, as Empress of an immense territory, so the Queen’s moral leadership seemed to become more important, and weighty, as that territory evaporated.

The result has, for those who still treasure that grain of autocratic sand in the English democratic oyster, a sense that it really isn’t just about her office, as Queen, but also about her. Can anyone else fill those shoes, and represent the Crown in Parliament now she’s gone? Even staunch anti-monarchists of my acquaintance are talking of the gap she leaves behind. There’s no one left now to connect us, as a nation, to the age when we still seemed able to get things done.

But we should perhaps worry less about the Crown in Parliament, than Parliament itself. For if our Queen served selflessly for more than 70 years as guarantor of this form of democracy, today that settlement feels threadbare too. The stories pile up: notoriously, for example, as our Queen sat alone in her pew, mourning Prince Philip, we now know No 10 staffers were throwing parties. A relatively minor blip in our ever more dyspeptic news cycles, but it dealt another blow to our collective faith, such as it was, in the fitness of our elected leaders — a failure that stood out with especial clarity when contrasted with our Queen’s calm stoicism and commitment to duty.

But the stories are everywhere. It’s not just that news items relish in painting our ruling class as  venal, mendacious, incompetent, ignorant, nepotistic, or just hopelessly detached from everyday life in the country. Faith in our democratic institutions has been waning for some time. Voter cynicism is not new. But scepticism toward the democratic process is getting worse. Our loss of faith in the very form of our government is chipping away at trust in the electoral process, and this is happening across the political spectrum.

A growing proportion of politics seems to happen somewhere other than in the democratic process; the youth are growing more authoritarian; I worry that for profound structural reasons, we’re no longer forming the kind of citizens for whom that type of government was self-evidently the best. And as that becomes clearer, it’s my suspicion that so, too, will it become clearer that inasmuch as we still live in a democracy at all, it’s no longer one that functions in anything like the fashion first made possible by the events of 1688. And that we can’t go back.

We’re staring now into an incalculably vast void, left behind by the longest-serving monarch in our history. She dedicated her life to serving as the anchor for a liberal democracy. I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that more is passing with her death than an unimpeachable life spent in public service. She held in place an entire order. She stood throughout a convulsive century, as our shield against far greater and darker convulsions. And with the passing of our last anchor to a bygone Britain, her successor will need to find his own way to help the current one flourish.

What kind of leadership will her son be called upon to provide? There will be those who would see that role diminished further, or eliminated altogether. This is a mistake. For if I’m right, we are effectively already under unaccountable technocratic rule. And this is here to stay: the modern world is so complex that we’re likely stuck with at least some technocrats.

And if this is true, the critical factor isn’t electoral politics but the moral fibre, public ethic and aesthetic outlook of whoever is set over all. If we must have unaccountable rule, it should be by someone with as few vested interests as our late Queen, as great a concern for honour, order, beauty, and the natural world, and as deep a respect for leaving things as they are unless there’s a compelling reason for change.

And on that front, I’ll take the man who built Poundbury, over either a faceless swarm of bureaucrats or indeed the woman who can look around three decades of smoking post-Thatcherite rubble and still insist the answer to everything is simply “freedom, low taxes and personal responsibility”.

Let there be no effort to weaken the monarchy still further, by re-running the Glorious Revolution. Far better to do the decent thing and reverse it. God Save the King.


Mary Harrington is a contributing editor at UnHerd.

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polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago

The downside of her long reign was that it enabled us to maintain our illusions about ourselves for far too long. She was the last link to a country that was more civilised than the one that I inhabit now. The forms and habits of civility remain, but the substance has long gone. I wonder what reality will look like.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Just downvoted you and it gave you 5 upvotes – are you paying Unherd for this boost?

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

I don’t downvote people. If I disagree with a comment I explain why. You should try.
PS: I don’t take notice of upvotes, so I don’t feel the need to pay for them. This isn’t a popularity contest.

Martin Terrell
Martin Terrell
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Meant to reply to your perceptive comment but posted a new comment in error.

Angela Kessler
Angela Kessler
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

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Last edited 1 year ago by Angela Kessler
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

What an excellent eulogy Ms Harrington, I thank you.

For myself, the supreme moment of seventy years of self sacrifice was that awful image of Her Majesty, alone and MASKED in St George’s Chapel during the funeral service for her late husband.
For those ‘cretins’ who advised such horror, may they forever hang their wretched little heads in shame.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
1 year ago

“
the woman who can look around three decades of smoking post-Thatcherite rubble and still insist the answer to everything is simply “freedom, low taxes and personal responsibility””. So what is your answer Mary? Oppression, higher taxes and state responsibility? The relentless negativity of the British commentariat, as if Britain was uniquely awful and its problems were not also experienced more widely in Europe, is part of what is grinding national morale down, and is certainly not matched by media commentators in other countries. The UK does happen to be wealthier and freer than most European countries, and to have democratic institutions which are more responsive to popular will than anywhere in the EU. Like the Queen, you won’t miss them until they are gone.

Last edited 1 year ago by Stephen Walsh
Mark Thomas Lickona
Mark Thomas Lickona
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

I think Mary might be suggesting that a mere return to Thatcherism may not be sufficient to rescue civilization. Indeed in the Age of Bezos trusting in unfettered capitalism may even be the final nail in decency’s coffin.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
1 year ago

I don’t see how a return to Thatcherism is in prospect. Would that it was.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago

Also fair point

Steven Farrall
Steven Farrall
1 year ago

‘unfettered capitalism’? Depends what you mean by ‘capitalism’? If you mean the dystopian version concocted by Marx as his ‘straw man’, then yes, that’s bad. On the hand, if you mean the ways of the world observed by Adam Smith, that is laissez-faire then that is fine and good. In fact it’s moral. And ‘unfettering’ is exactly what needs to happen. Because that means freedom and the thing about freedom is you cannot have it without (personal) responsibility. And that in turn means a whole lot less government and especially unaccountable bureaucrats.

Mark Thomas Lickona
Mark Thomas Lickona
1 year ago
Reply to  Steven Farrall

Not all regulation is bad? Also, not all regulation comes by invisible bureaucracy? (Is any governance of the market a moral evil?)

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago

Of you ignore recent history, commonsense and the blindingly obviously then yes, you can probably make a case against regulation. To do so an appreciation of Trump will be of assistance.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago

Of course not. We need governance expecially in our day now.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Steven Farrall

Thank you for explaining what ‘capitalism’ (maybe) means. I wonder if you’d be be good enough to explain what you mean by the word “moral” in the context you use it?
I’ve never thought of ‘moral’ as being that closely related to laissez faire: in fact, silly me, I’ve thought is was close to being the direct opposite!

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Morality in business would mean being fair and honest in business which means not trying to cheat, giving value for money and not being so sold on profit that you cease to be a human being. It also means talking to those who feel they have been cheated or need to complain and not hiding behind your staff or the internet.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago

I agree. Something else has crept in that Thatcherism won’t cure although I do agree with her politics. The cure for woke is not capitalism unfortunately as we are seeing capitalism pay homage to woke amongst many of our banks and some other businesses. What the cure is I don’t know except more decency, less cancellation culture and of course freedom of speech.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Precisely, only four European nations see fit NOT to habitually arm their Police. Even Switzerland, the most heavily armed society in Europe, feels it is essential to have habitually armed Police.
Why this ‘priapismic’ behaviour is tolerated is simply astonishing.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

BritPlods level of weapons handling and on- the ground command and control is woeful.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

Yes simply awful, from the Steven Waldorf event and the Mrs Gross fiasco, to the Chief Firearms Instructor at Kidlington shooting a ‘student’ with a .44 Magnum! And many other such horrors, too numerous to relate!

If anyone has to be shot, let the Army do it. They have unmatched discipline, training and esprit de corps in this field, and frankly it is unreasonable to expect a 9-5 ‘civvy’ force such as the Police to do it properly, as history has all to sadly shown.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago

…maybe not use the army in NI though.. many people there for some strange reason don’t fully appreciate their “unmatched discipline”. I’ve no idea why?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Hah, Hah! A case of Irish exceptionalism eh? They got what they richly deserved! Frankly it should have been much more back in January 1972, when it would probably have stopped the whole thing stone dead, as they say. Do you not agree?

David Ryan
David Ryan
1 year ago

I don’t think anyone deserves to be shot, Charles. Unless they themselves are armed and actively shooting at you.

Nick Faulks
Nick Faulks
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

I fear our new PM’s relations with the new King will be difficult. It may help symbolically that she will have been in her job longer than he has been in his.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 year ago
Reply to  Nick Faulks

But he has been waiting for his job a lot longer than she for hers.

Henry Haslam
Henry Haslam
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Not just waiting for it, but thinking about it, preparing for it and learning from his mother.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Since you put it that way, fair point

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Yeah she got a bit extreme there about Thatcher, showing her left wing shaded spectacles.

Martin Terrell
Martin Terrell
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

I think it’s a fair point that Mary makes. The Tory triptych is trite and materialistic. And incoherent. What does ‘freedom’ mean? To do as you please, but be penalised for the wrong thoughts under the gaze of thousands of cameras? What are ‘low taxes’ when we have the highest taxes ever? What is ‘personal responsibility’ when we must look to the state to provide for all our needs?

Sam Sky
Sam Sky
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Terrell

Maybe what you just said is a suggestion that since 1997 we haven’t actually had Thatcherism, despite what ex-leftist millenials like the author want to believe in their naive youth.

Philip Clayton
Philip Clayton
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

What ‘personal responsibility’ can you deploy if your income means you cant pay for energy and food? What personal responsibility can the TWO MILLION people in FULL-TIME WORK classed by the government as ‘in poverty’ exercise? Somehow, when Labour has been in power, economic growth has ALWAYS been higher than under Tory governments, even in the “Winter of Discontent”.

Yes taxes were high but they were spent on frivolous things like affordable housing built by local councils, social services, education, the NHS, infrastructure such as the new motorways and the transition from steam trains to diesel; world leading research into nuclear power stations (now extinct thanks to Thatcher); world leading research into carbon capture conducted by the British Coal Board, stoppped after smashing the miners; and we had the lowest inequality in our history.

I assume you consider lessening inequality as ‘oppressive’. Now, after 12 years of Tory govt, in case you haven’t noticed, we have the highest taxes since the Attlee governmnet and NOTHING WORKS. Forty years of Thatcherism under all governments has made us into a country that is going down the path of Italy and with financial corruption that makes us a global leader.

If any other country had sold of hundreds if billions of public assets, at 30% below market value across the board, what would we have called them? Our privatised water system is the only one in the world and it has been financially ‘engineered’ to pay out billions upon billions in dividends paid from DEBT. The same is true from the social care sector. Our railways are state owned, by Italy, Germany and France. Our housing combines being the most expenisve with the shoddiest and smallest build for the last 40 years.

TWO MILLION people, many with young children, live in sub-standard accommodation (i.e. unfit for human habitation) and this will never change without state intervention. State intevention will not be forthcoming because Tories (and I assume you) don’t believe in it. Never mind those two million can rejoice because they are not being opressed.

What country do you live in? I assume you have no money worries for a start. The UK is a fabulous country if you have money and the phenomenal price rises for frivolities such as food, energy and transport make no difference to you. To you ‘oppression’ is caring for other people less fortunate than you. ‘Oppression’ is caring for the disabled. I’ll bet you think food banks in the 6th richest country on the planet are wonderful; instead we should be rioting if any unfortunate person needs to rely on charity to survive.

If we had a social security system that gave people enough to live on food banks would not be needed. Guess what? They were NOT needed for most of our post-war history. I suppose that means we were ‘oppressed’ does it? You don’t know what the word opression means really.

Try asking some Uighurs,Rohingya, Karens, Kashmiris, Tibetans and dozens of others. Never mind, comfort yourself with your blanket of oppression. If you ever use the NHS just pity yourself because you would much rather pay than suffer the oppression of a state provided service. Or if you ever suffer from a crime, such as a burglary that will never be solved, congratulate yourself because you live in a non-oppressive state that decided to cut police numbers by 20%. I’m sure when you have consulted your sparkling intellect you will be able to reply showing me what a moron I am.

rodney foy
rodney foy
1 year ago
Reply to  Philip Clayton

I’m glad somebody said it

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Philip Clayton

Well said: yruth to power, and in this case real facts to the smug!

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Philip Clayton

The billions of public assets included many publicly owned houses that are now rented out by private landlords at unaffordable rents.
I think Margaret Thatcher, who grew up in a modest home, did not realise how intelligent she was and assumed that people who did not succeed were simply not trying hard enough.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

I note you include “…state responsibility” as one of thd horrors you hope to avoid (if Mary H has her assumed wish?).. wow! That sounds so awful: state respondibility no less! OMG run for your lives..

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

You are setting up a classic straw man argument there! She argued nothing of the sort. As for the comparisons with Europe, well the fact is that quite a lot of public services, including the public transport system etc DO run better in a number of (especially north) European countries. No doubt there are complicated reasons why, but for example buses and trains run in an integrated manner in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and do not here (they didn’t even when they were both nationalised either!). You could also compare our health systems!
The legacy of the Industrial Revolution and then its rather rapid decline may be one factor, creating stark regional inequalities amongst the greatest in Europe, probably only to be compared with Italy’s. Then there is the overwhelming economic and social dominance of London, the class system including the long shadow of the relative denigration of trade and entrepreneurship, the terrible adversarial industrial relations, the opposition to almost any form of development in the Southeast etc. They are not easy problems to solve of course, and certainly not in the short term.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Fisher
David Baker
David Baker
1 year ago

As an American deeply saddened by our crass individualism and the severing of all bonds with the deep past, I say, God Save the King

Mark Thomas Lickona
Mark Thomas Lickona
1 year ago
Reply to  David Baker

As an American I am grateful for your coinage of the phrase “the deep past.”

Richard Ross
Richard Ross
1 year ago
Reply to  David Baker

The root of the West’s problems, including Britain’s, lies in forgetting that the most powerful and empowering part of “God Save the King” is not the King. And it’s not “Save” either.
There is a hole at the heart of the West that cannot be filled by materialism or environmentalism or technology, but that hole did not exist at the center of HRH Queen Elizabeth. She knew the basis for our law, our culture, our civilization – knew Him quite personally! – and told us so again and again. “For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life”.
If a few more of us did the same, what might change in our world?

Graham Perfitt
Graham Perfitt
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Ross

Spot on

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Ross

If I could give you ten upvotes, I would.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Ross

Everything!

Lane Burkitt
Lane Burkitt
1 year ago

Thank you Mary Harrington. God save the King indeed.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Thanks Mary. This is more like it, from someone who actually understands what she speaks of rather than the knee-jerk article tossed out on this forum before the announcement of the passing of the second great Elizabethan era had even begun to sink in.

It’s not that i agree with everything in this article – i don’t, but that doesn’t matter. Mary manages to encapsulate the sense that the UK may well be a ship that’s lost its anchor, and the seas are stormy. What we need more than ever now, is intelligent thoughtfulness and less knee-jerking.

Since i’m not religious (although deeply spiritual in other ways) i’ll wish King Charles a fair wind as the good ship Britannia sails on into uncharted waters.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Agreed, but the unanchored malaise seems to have infected all of Western civilization, not just the UK.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Consider the possibility that malaise may be worse in the UK and not as bad elsewhere as MSM projects. MSM is now merely a tool of the oligarchs… Unherd is good but I go to it for a right-wing view. I go to news outlets like DDN and Owen Jones for an alternative (ie not elite owned) opinion.. for a balanced view you need to look at both ends of the seasaw.

Jeanie K
Jeanie K
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

A great problem today for the UK, is that nobody is taught any of her history and traditions. Those who know some are told to be ashamed of it;
How can a country (or even just a person), know where it is going if it doesn’t know where it is coming from?

Zirrus VanDevere
Zirrus VanDevere
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeanie K

I think this is true for all of Western society as such
 anchored we are not.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeanie K

Much of it IS shameful but that can be accommodated in a balanced teaching of GB history. The shame side was hidden until recently and so the pendulum has swung a bit too far, perhaps? Either way, we all need some truth and reconciliation. HMQE2 was well able for that especially on her hugely successful state visit to Ireland. RIP.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

Hold on a moment Mary – didn’t the Queen also believe in “freedom, low taxes and personal responsibility” ? Have your cheap dig at Liz Truss (and Margaret Thatcher) if you must. But if anyone exemplified the importance of service, duty and taking personal responsibility in the UK, surely it was the Queen. Which is precisely why she was so admired and why she will be missed.
One other note: the Queen quite correctly believed in the importance of setting an example. Quietly getting on and doing the job. She did not aspire to be a “role model” (something which seems to involve far more talk than action).

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

“Have your cheap dig at Liz Truss (and Margaret Thatcher) if you must”.
That unfortunately is the ‘default position’ of nearly all who toil in the excitable world of MSM. It’s rather like the catechism, or mantra that must be ignored.
However I admire your temerity for calling it out in the current circumstances.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

I really didn’t want to bring politics into it – but Mary decided to go there. Perhaps inadvertently.
I really don’t want to get into taxation and the Royal family either. It’s not the time or the place.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

I remember that Prince Philip was asked about being a role model and that get the usual reply from him.

Paul O
Paul O
1 year ago

Where the Queen brought civility, dignity and national pride, King Charles will bring the WEF, Davos and Greta.

Mark Thomas Lickona
Mark Thomas Lickona
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul O

I do hope he has not been entirely captured. If the monarchy can be as captured as our politicians have been, I really will despair.

Helen Hughes
Helen Hughes
1 year ago

Have you not considered that it might be the monarchy that is doing at least part of the capturing? We are so used to seeing them as some kind of eccentric but benign institution we can hardly imagine they might be pulling strings – but after the past few years I would be open to believing anything is possible. And for a family in their position an awful lot is indeed possible. It seems obvious to me now, cynical though it may sound, that the Royals are partly about a theatrical presentation to give us a sense of national pride and stability that is in fact just a mirage, in the meantime quietly using quite a lot of power in the background. We humans are suckers for a good story and we Brits have all grown up with this one.

Susan Lundie
Susan Lundie
1 year ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

Suggesting that he is sensibly and subtly working to tone down the WEF/Davos/Greta international push, rather than being a captive?
I had not thought of that cheering prospect from The King’s point of view (how strange that sounds). It had occurred to me that it would be wonderful if Liz Truss had understood the project is inhumane in its conception and was quietly attempting to turn the tide, in Britain at least.
If, between them they might have some effect, it would be wonderful. Made my day. Thank you.

Diane Merriam
Diane Merriam
1 year ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

If there is one general question on which there is no answer, it has been, “What is the Queen’s position on … ?” She stayed out, or above if you prefer, the political fray. As an American for whom there has only ever been one monarch in Britain throughout my 65 years, I still feel her loss as though something has gone out of the world that will never be replaced. She was gracious, loving, both down to Earth and regal. She never broke her promise of 75 years ago that she would spend her life in the service of her people … and even for many who weren’t.

Mark Thomas Lickona
Mark Thomas Lickona
1 year ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

Fair point. There are those who believe globalists are also pulling levers inside the Vatican as well. Unaccountable permanent bureaucrats everywhere. And yet I dare to hope that the Pope himself is not quite the same creature as “the Holy See.”

Zirrus VanDevere
Zirrus VanDevere
1 year ago

You can hope, but I don’t recommend betting on it


Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago

Ah yer a bit too risk averse there methinks: an even money bet might be in order I think.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago

If you look very hard you might find it is the monarchs and their ilk that are doing the capturing? Just as David Icke!!

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul O

I think we should give him a little time in the job before passing judgement. The same goes for Liz Truss. You never know quite how well someone will be able to step up to one of these top jobs until they get them.
I have my reservations about Charles, but perhaps he will surprise us.

Paul O
Paul O
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

You’re right Peter, particularly with Truss. With Charles I’ll give him a chance, but I think he’ll be to British royalty what Tony Blair was to British politics.

Kathleen Stern
Kathleen Stern
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul O

If he is unwise enough to ally himself once king with these hated billionaires and the insanity of Greta, who knows whether the monarchy will last. The Queen’s strength was keeping out of politics and espousing extremes.

Carol Jones
Carol Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Kathleen Stern

Yes the monarchy will die Like all monarchies do. Charles is clearly captured.

ormondotvos
ormondotvos
1 year ago
Reply to  Kathleen Stern

The “insanity” of Greta
and all those scientists…

Paul O
Paul O
1 year ago
Reply to  ormondotvos

You mean all those scientists who receive funding for following the narrative and will say whatever the purse string holders want them to say for fear of losing their grants, and then there’s all those other scientists, like the wonderful David Bellamy RIP, who get censored and lose their contracts for not following the narrative.

These days ‘follow the science’ always means one thing. $$$

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul O

David Bellmy is on record as saying: the demise of the human race will be a good thing for the planet. Also, though a nice guy he never qualified as a climate scientist!

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  ormondotvos

Yes: they’re all insane except maybe Trump and Farage! Lol..

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Kathleen Stern

You might need to rephrase your final sentence: it can be interpretted in two ways especially the second element! Lol!

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul O

Sadly “civility, dignity and national pride” won’t do diddlie squat for the environment so yes, let us hope KC3 manages both. As the UK is legally committed to achieving net zero CO2 anything KC3 says on the matter will be noncontraversial won’t it? He can say: “My govt and I…” on the matter! I sincerely hope he keeps up the good work. Of course he can do better and perhaps he will now he has the reins..

Roger Irwin
Roger Irwin
1 year ago

“…we now know No 10 staffers were throwing parties. “
Journalists have form with glossing over this.
What we now know is the party that was held on the eve of Prince Phillips funeral – when politicians and senior staff were away – was held in the press office.
The celebrant was a press officer who was leaving to go back to fleet street. The partygoers were the press bubble.
And it was the only event in or around Downing Street that looked anything like a party. This was the event where people were drunk, there was music, staff were insulted, wine was brought in using suitcases…all the things that the same journalists later suggested were being done by others.
But I don’t suppose many off these journalists during the course of the following days are going to recall how they celebrated Prince Phillips funeral.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  Roger Irwin

Careful there, you’re undermining Mary’s sparse logic with the truth.

Mark Thomas Lickona
Mark Thomas Lickona
1 year ago
Reply to  Roger Irwin

So Partygate was a frame-up/hit-job? Thought maybe.

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
1 year ago
Reply to  Roger Irwin

You’re missing the fact that Boris Johnson held a piece of cake in a closed tin for a whole 9 minutes! Talk about depravity.
Some of my parties have been much worse, and reached ten minutes.

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
1 year ago

God save the King.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom Watson

I can’t get used to that. I prefer a Queen.

Richard Ross
Richard Ross
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

I wonder if you’d get upvotes with “I prefer a King”.
Or banned instead?

Rafi Stern
Rafi Stern
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom Watson

God save us all.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Rafi Stern

A more apt quote!

james goater
james goater
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom Watson

Yes indeed and, interestingly, the official name of the country will once more be accurate. Hopefully, that observation is not deemed too trite.

Richard Ross
Richard Ross
1 year ago
Reply to  james goater

Never thought of this! “The United Queendom” certainly brings up a different image…

Rob Britton
Rob Britton
1 year ago

“the woman who can look around three decades of smoking post-Thatcherite rubble and still insist the answer to everything is simply “freedom, low taxes and personal responsibility”.”
It was the socialists who wrecked Britain. Margaret Thatcher just picked up the pieces.

Helen Hughes
Helen Hughes
1 year ago
Reply to  Rob Britton

Is it not possible they both contributed to the wrecking of whatever we thought we had, and we, as usual, are encouraged to polarise and squabble about whose fault it really was?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Rob Britton

Be fair: they both helped!

Aaron James
Aaron James
1 year ago

I think the Monarchy is Arthurian after all. Buried off in a cave is the force which will come back as all is in darkness ( say, like Yuval Noah Harari’s satanist Transhumanism Great Reset has won). When all the corruption and anti-British plotting are laid bare, when Number 10 is proven to be home to Kleptocract Treason (rather than just suspected as now), then if the Monarchy endures, Charles or his descendants, could be given the Absolute power to reclaim Britain from darkness, and save us all from those corrupt political monsters.

This requires we keep the lineage intact, and on the throne – because we can see before our eyes the Political Process is 90% captured by dark forces.

Susan Lundie
Susan Lundie
1 year ago
Reply to  Aaron James

I was sort of hoping that Liz Truss (who in spite of not being my favourite in any way) is showing little green shoots of possibly coming good, and maybe even a good agent for change. Even so that requires the monsters to be overcome. We shall see. It would be nice to know before moving on.

Last edited 1 year ago by Susan Lundie
Carol Jones
Carol Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Susan Lundie

Lol!!!! dont hold your breath

Last edited 1 year ago by Carol Jones
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Susan Lundie

I think you’ve nothing to worry about: change is guaranteed under Liz Truss! ..just not sure it’ll be the kind of change you’re hoping for unless you’re more of a fire person than a frying pan lady?

Carol Jones
Carol Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Aaron James

Not a fan of the WEF or Harari, but sorry isn’t (UK subject in Canada here) the lineage of the Royal Family German and Greek? Spencer’s lineage and other ancient UK families run rings around the “lineage” of the Royal Family. BTW I think the corruption and malintent you are looking for is more towards the MI6 side, not #10 (puppets they be!)

Diane Merriam
Diane Merriam
1 year ago
Reply to  Carol Jones

The European royalty has been marrying each other for so long, that you can hardly say where any one of them is “actually” from.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Diane Merriam

Ask David Icke: they’re all lizards apparently!

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago

This article is excellent, but in several passages, one sees Britain and its people as a mass of directionless, overgrown children to whom ideas of their own agency or ability to mend broken things, find a path and stick to it (that is how everything “gets done”) are entirely foreign.
I once read a pretty vicious comment by an American (I don’t know where it was, maybe NYT) that Britain was surely going to collapse in a snivelling heap when its favourite grandma passed: without her to hold our collective hand, we’d have to finally grow up.
Perhaps that snarky Yank was right. We all love and admire the Queen and will mourn her passing for very good and legitimate reasons. But as a nation, Britain needs again to rediscover purpose, direction, confidence and agency. Perhaps this period of mourning and reflection on why we hold the Queen in such high regard will lead to the country no longer simply holding her up as a convenient avatar of those values we claim as our own while not doing much to actually live them. We’ll have to put the money where our mouth is and act. In other words, Britain will have to grow up.

Mark Thomas Lickona
Mark Thomas Lickona
1 year ago

This is why the monarchy: Because we need whoever can remember when it was not all for the unfettered Machinery of Mammon. And will preserve and build on that recollection. Maybe save the City of London from becoming even more of a monster.

Speaking of civilization, how can I audition to be Mary’s neighbor In Poundbury? Kidding not kidding. She’s the only one I want to hear from on anything from here on.

James Rowlands
James Rowlands
1 year ago

So now we have Charles..
The question is will the monarchy survive Charles?

Aaron James
Aaron James
1 year ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

not if your sort are the who are called British; you will destroy the nation no matter what, if this is the question you ask today.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
1 year ago
Reply to  Aaron James

The title of this piece is “Who can rule Britain now?” and the subtitle is “Our democratic institutions have never been so weak”. In that connection, isn’t James’s question – about the future of an institution which the article suggests underpins British democracy – a totally legit one to ask, despite the context of the very sad news of the death of Queen Elizabeth II and whatever you think the answer might be? If you would argue not, I assume that you would also take issue with Mary Harrington asking questions such as “What kind of leadership will her son be called upon to provide?”? Is Mary also “destroying the nation” simply by asking such questions today? I don’t think so, but perhaps you may beg to differ?

Calm, compassionate, reasonable, level heads are required now. May Queen Elizabeth II rest in peace.

Carol Jones
Carol Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

yes! hear hear

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

I notice Aaron seems to dip into illogically spiteful comments occasionally which is a pity given I’ve seen he can provide interesting commentary.

Paul O
Paul O
1 year ago
Reply to  Aaron James

But Britain is so much more than the royal family.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul O

List please.. I’m not doubting you: just curious to what you put on the list is all. Please lust by priority for clarity..

Diane Merriam
Diane Merriam
1 year ago
Reply to  Aaron James

If there had anyone on the throne other than Elizabeth, the monarchy may not have survived to this day.

R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

The real question is will the nation even out-live the monarchy?

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

Both will survive. There’s just too much pointless catastrophising around these days. Most of which is nonsense.

Carol Jones
Carol Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

All monarchies end

dj Stach
dj Stach
1 year ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

Hopefully not.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago

A beautiful piece. The role can be ued or not used and she used it well, almost without bringing attention to it. Quietly getting on with what needed to be done unpolitically. She made the role something different by just being faithful in carrying it out well.

David Barnett
David Barnett
1 year ago

May the Almighty grant King Charles wisdom.
A great start would be to repudiate the ideas of Klaus Schwab and the WEF to which he, and our technocratic overlords, seem uncomfortably close.
Repudiating “the great reset” (aka neo-feudalism) would have tremendous grass-roots appeal, thus revitalising the monarchy.
Our representative system is rigged in favour of fiat-money wielding technocratic mediocrities. We need leadership to guide us to a more democratic, less-micromanaged country. The monarchy could be a tool to shift the balance of power peacefully back towards the individual citizen where it belongs.
Look to 1930s Europe to see where unwise governance leads.
How about it Your Majesty? Can we arrest the current slide to disaster? Will you help us move away from tyranny to real democracy – assuring the monarchy’s relevance?
May the Almighty grant King Charles wisdom, and the opportunities and courage to act on it.

James Anthony Seyforth
James Anthony Seyforth
1 year ago

It’s certainly true that the f*ckwit things we are now pale in comparison to the greatest generation and our knowledge and community suck… But they did in some sense leave an entire generation to themselves after a post-war evaporation of meaning.

What else would you get but rock’n’roll, drugs and liberalism if those with the connection and knowledge to the real past just put up and shut up in the name of stoicism, and accepted widespread decadence.

Also isn’t the now King a mad Eco-warrior? How is that going to, God save us, or save the King?!

Last edited 1 year ago by James Anthony Seyforth
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago

Bring back the birch! And hanging too!

David C
David C
1 year ago

One of the best articles in Unherd for a long time, timely thought at a time of national identity crisis.
God save the King.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 year ago

Elected heads of state, at least those who are not also heads of government as in France and the USA, have not exactly been a great success. They are inevitably superannuated politicians, usually fairly minor ones, and hence when called upon to make contentious decisions regarding who should be the head of government are inevitably subject to suspicions of favouring a certain party.
If they fail or are immersed in scandal – Kurt Waldheim comes to mind – half the electorate will blame the other half for electing them.
Idiosyncratic as it may seem, having a head of state who is there just because he’s there, frees us all from blame or shame if it all goes wrong and increases the likelihood that it will all go adequately well.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago

“having a head of state”, as in Hitler, Stalin, Jong-un or Mussolini?

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

One of those was originally elected by the demos and the others are/were there as a consequence of coups, murdering their opponents or the installation of puppet dictatorships. All were very highly politicised despots who were not there by consent and who could not be abolished by the actions of an elected government. I fail to see what you’re getting at.

Rhys Jaggar
Rhys Jaggar
1 year ago

 A geopolitical has-been juggling the demands of European and American empires?’
Now there is a statement embodying all the weakness of false arrogance present in Britain the past 50 years.
Just look at little Iceland a country that sorted its banks out the way that the UK and the USA were far too cowardly to do. They didn’t bail them out, they correctly cast them as villains and told them to get their own houses in order smartly.
Iceland has no pretensions to being a ‘Great Power’ and is supremely interested in the quality of life for its citizens. It is of course inestimably helped by its geothermal energy, which will allow it to completely by pass the energy tyrants of the globe (who, far from equating to Vladimir Putin, reflect far closer allies whose one-sided attitude to diplomatic relations is not worthy of calling them special friends).
Everyone says that Iceland is ‘a little country’. So what: if the Central Belt conducted itself the way the Icelandics did, that would be possible. If that meant withdrawing financial control of London-based organisations from Scottish relations, so be it. I’d say the same about the North of England and Wales. You’ll never run the UK for the benefit of the shires and smaller nations of the UK if you let the City of London stay in control. So take control away from them and take responsibility to do it better yourselves.
Norway is another small country that beat the UK 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 in the final of the North Sea tennis tournament. Norway has an enormous Sovereign Wealth Fund resulting from its sane exploitation of its North Sea resources. It rightly decided that this was a one-off bounty which should not belong to the one generation that happened to be living at the time of its exploitation. As a result, the cost of Norwegian government no longer needs novel taxation. Our super-heroine Maggie let the windfall profits be used to fund unemployment benefit. So we have a lot to learn there about responsible resource management.
I’m sure we can learn much from the Scandinavians about forestry, just as they no doubt can learn some back from us. We don’t need the EU and US empires to aspire to there: we can regenerate our sustainable forests in dialogue with smaller nations on similar latitudes who see forestry as a strategic industry.
I fervently believe that a super-majority of the UK populace don’t care about empire, don’t care about ‘being a major power’, they want to live in a solvent, innovative, human society that doesn’t take any crap from belligerent nutcases in the USA, in Brussels, in Tel Aviv, and if such nutcases exist in Moscow or Beijing, not from that lot either.
Nations of less than 10 million population have shown that they can have GDP per capita significantly higher than the UK and their human contentedness metrics are much higher too.
We’re not going to compete with China or India to be the next Big Swinging d**k, so let’s not try to and let’s focus on making Britain a happier, innovative, more relaxed place to live.

Thomas Condon
Thomas Condon
1 year ago

Amen, Mary!
God save the King!

Ben P
Ben P
1 year ago

Personally, my faith in any kind of objective journalism is vanishing as every event is hi-jacked by various outlets who weaponize them in order to cling on to their readers/subscribers.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago

Indeed… “freedom, low taxes and personal responsibility” is the cure for many of today’s problems. As it was for decades.

Fred Paul
Fred Paul
1 year ago

Grief. The realisation of the importance of this one person in our lives. As a Canadian, I’m stunned. Although my much older brothers served in the Canadian Army in WWII under a king, I’ve only known and served the queen. It cuts me deeply. And sensing how our Commonwealth nations are grieving together, I come to realise how close we are. Although countries like The United States are saddened, theirs is a fantasy view of kings and queens akin to Disney. Ours is grief that cuts through to our hearts and souls. The monarchy was real, and she was real.
Trump has demonstrated the critical weakness of republicanism. The elected head of state will have a bias along party lines. And their interests are biased toward those who fund their elections and public favouritism, which can be manipulated with the help of spin doctors, such as Steve Bannon.
In a Westminster style of government, the head of state, the entity who “owns” the country, is none political and is not influenced by deep pockets and political quid pro quo. The monarchy is a watchdog to ensure that the privy council and the government respect and maintain the constitution and the people are served wisely. The queen/king selects the prime minister, the person most respected in parliament – usually the party with the most seats, and they report to the monarchy. There may be slight differences, but that sums up the process. That is our democratic safeguard that the republican system does not have and why Trump was elected head of state when he did not have the popular vote, and the Electoral College, designed to prevent despots from securing that post, failed.
Mary Harrington, the author of the article, laments two issues. The empire’s demise and who will lead the country forward. This concern is shared with all Commonwealth countries whose head of state is the monarchy. King Charles III is now the king of Canada, New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, and others. There is hope.
The queen was well aware of these four countries’ increased interest in forming a union promoting freedom of movement to fill job needs and shared traits since Britain’s exit from the UE: investment, mutual defence and trade. With our similar laws, justice, government, language, democracy, wealth and world leadership, our opportunity to form a union is the envy of every country in the free world and the fear for the rest. A confederacy would continue the individual country’s sovereignty. It would be the envy of The United States, whom, sadly, we can no longer solely rely upon. It is no surprise that of the two countries in North America, Canada, a Commonwealth nation, stands in third place for freedom when The United States, proud of their war of independence, is in the 62nd slot in Freedom House’s list of countries. https://tinyurl.com/y798kheh
CANZUK is a possibility and reality. All four countries have matured and grown to the point where we can quickly form a confederation to safeguard our shores and promote industry and democratic stewardship for the betterment of our citizens. We can become sponsors for our Commonwealth brothers and help them to develop faster and more effectively. And the one critical point of distance between us has no true impact. If China can sell toothpicks in New York City competitively through shipping containerisation, what would prevent CANZUK, with markets in Asia, North and South America, Europe and Africa, from doing it just as effectively?
She saw it as a possibility of a union that far exceeds the old empire. An authentic promotion of her countries’ collective democracy when it seems the world is on fire. This was her love and hope for the Commonwealth. Perhaps, it would give us consolation as we continue to grieve her passing. 
Our king and the future promotion of our unique culture and the rule of law will give us hope and purpose to build a better future and protect our sovereignty and way of life. In her honour.
If you want to read more about CANZUK and what you can do, read this soft sale link: https://www.canzukinternational.com/

Carol Jones
Carol Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred Paul

Sorry as a UK subject living in Canada– I find your promotion of this group to be utterly tasteless. Shame!

Fred Paul
Fred Paul
1 year ago
Reply to  Carol Jones

And why so?

Fred Paul
Fred Paul
1 year ago
Reply to  Carol Jones

I have no problem with what I wrote. I offered an alternative to the gloom and doom that Mary Harrington wrote in her article. I did some research on “this group” and found out that the leader and founder is also a Brit, or king’s subject. You can be a subject to the monarch but not the country. You are a citizen of that country.
I also find you to be at odds with the rules of discussion on this platform. If you insist on continuing this agenda of yours, I will take appropriate measures.

Last edited 1 year ago by Fred Paul
Fred Paul
Fred Paul
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred Paul

By the way, Carol Jones, this is what you said. In case you wanted to edit your comment:
Carol Jones
 4 hours ago
 Reply to  Fred Paul
Sorry as a UK subject living in Canada– I find your promotion of this group to be utterly tasteless. Shame!

Kat L
Kat L
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred Paul

If you don’t live in America I will assume that what you know of us or why trump was elected is seen through the lense of liberal media and can forgive you for your ignorance. Beyond that, he hasn’t been president for awhile now and the country is worse off than its ever been. The country is about to implode under Biden, he and his handlers who seem to believe that they are living out an episode of ‘the west wing’ get to own it.

LCarey Rowland
LCarey Rowland
1 year ago

Mary, this is a tender tribute to Her Majesty, read tearfully by this American. As for “the autocratic grit in the democratic oyster”. . . God save the King.
Chin up, Mary, and Cheerio. Perhaps this will be a Glorious Evolution, as Charles, whose sensibiilties seem to be more toward the actual life issues brought on by the limitations of our planet, steps up to redefine conscientious, unpolitical leadership in an age of confusion and global scarcity.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
1 year ago

Superbly written, thankyou.

nigel roberts
nigel roberts
1 year ago

Mary advocates for human flourishing which is admirable. Human flourishing requires liberty, for how can people flourish if they are not free. Human flourishing requires low taxes, for how can people flourish if the fruits of their labour are confiscated? Human flourishing requires personal responsibility, for how can humans flourish if they have neither aspiration nor self control?

Susan 0
Susan 0
1 year ago

Am I the only one who finds the Queen’s death rather sudden? To go from looking as she did on Tuesday to being dead within two days seems a bit unbelievable. Why aren’t we being told what was wrong with her, what she died of? “Mobility issues” and “age” aren’t really answers. Of course respect for privacy is important but surely we should be given some explanation of our Queen’s demise? I sincerely hope there is nothing sinister in all this.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Susan 0

As someone who’s witnessed dozens of deaths (i used to work in the NHS), the end can develop fairly quickly. Working shifts with two days off per week, i can well remember leaving at the end of a shift and coming back onto the ward two days later to be astonished that someone who was walking, talking, laughing etc had passed away quite peacefully in the meantime. Obviously, they had an underlying illness but might have been preparing to be discharged. Eventually, i became used to this.
The Queen looked very frail on Tuesday as she dispatched and greeted the old and new PMs. Perhaps once this duty had been accomplished, something clicked in and her body, mind & spirit told her it was ready to depart.
I very much doubt there’s anything more to read into it than that.

Susan Lundie
Susan Lundie
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

As a retired health professional myself, I absolutely agree. The dear soul was 96, her body was clearly greatly complaining, she would have been desperately missing her husband, and she had just blessed the arrival of a new PM. She may well have felt reassured after conversation that a genuine attempt would be made to put the nation back on track. One cannot ask more than that. In her shoes, I might well have sat back and relaxed. As you so eloquently point out, the time was now.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Susan Lundie

At 96 years of age, one hardly needs to be accredited with an advanced degree to know that the final breath can come at any time.

Carol Jones
Carol Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

So glad you are there! and know of the Queens health issues. I too am a medical professional and frankly it is always best to enquire. For the family if no other reason. When a head of state dies it is a necessity to ask that question. I was also taught to ask the question but not presume the answer.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Carol Jones

I hope your sarcasm has served you well as a medical professional. Do you seriously think the finer details need to be splashed all over the media for your delectation? Or that if something was genuinely amiss, one or more of her immediate family wouldn’t be asking questions? You’d make a great conspiracy theorist, but at 96 years old someone is allowed to die of old age – even quite quickly – without being ripped apart by a post mortem examination or a public inquest.

Diane Merriam
Diane Merriam
1 year ago
Reply to  Susan 0

If I had to guess, I’d say heart failure. Look at her hands from two days ago. They were almost blue.
For all that she tried to hold up under it, I think Phillip’s death was actually the last trigger. The one person she had always had to lean on, the one who was always there for her, no matter what. It’s not at all unusual for people who had such a good, lifelong partnership to not outlive the other by much. The stress of losing them is just too great.

Richard Ross
Richard Ross
1 year ago
Reply to  Susan 0

I’m sure the tabloid ghouls will be out in due course, with all the details that are pointless for us to know. I think we have to expect that in the first weeks after Her Majesty’s death, quite a few things are left unsaid, and rightly so.

John Ramsden
John Ramsden
1 year ago
Reply to  Susan 0

Very elderly people can deteriorate rapidly, within hours, even if they don’t have some kind of obvious emergency such as a stroke or heart attack. Also, she was clearly fairly low in the water already, albeit with sprightly interludes. Let’s not forget either that it had been quite a trying and emotionally charged week for her to bid farewell to one prime minister and in quick succession meet the new one.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Ramsden
Martin Terrell
Martin Terrell
1 year ago

Brilliant writing and very perceptive. Thank you Mary. I will miss the Queen and will go on admiring the ideals she embodied. But I do wonder whether symbols of tradition and continuity also hide or distract us from more radical change in society. We’d miss our monarchy, but other cultures have been more resilient. Or is it that a secular society like ours would be even worse off without vestigial reminders of higher ideals?

Claire Dunnage
Claire Dunnage
1 year ago

I have nothing against the queen but I really don’t feel the deep sense of loss at her passing away that Mary does, did she know her personally?

Alex Tickell
Alex Tickell
1 year ago

Since the fifties the whole concept of democracy has been a sham, we were ruled by economics, every waking action was dedicated out of screwing every penny out of the system, the workers gradually made ground until the eighties when Thatcher saw what was happening and decided to make a stand to save the old democratic order….the unions were rightly crushed and we were saved, until now, where the most pernicious enemy is the media and the battle ground the minds of our children.
This social battle is unwinnable and on nearing the end of my life I feel a profound sadness for what we have lost……..and more importantly, what we will become.

Martin Terrell
Martin Terrell
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Tickell

Wish you were wrong!

Robert Eagle
Robert Eagle
1 year ago

Another secret of HM’s success was that she was a queen, not a king. While we tend to regard our kings as mad, bad, weak or just plain annoying, queens – on the whole – command much more respect.

Rick Lawrence
Rick Lawrence
1 year ago

Well said, Mary

Jeff B
Jeff B
1 year ago

If one can set aside biases and the desire to fit events to one’s own preferred narrative, then evidentially recent events demonstrate the enduring strength of our constituional and democratic institutions. They have been tested both procedurally and by the storms of intemperate political debate and have come through intact. It is the weakness of politicians and activists that is the problem. Too intellectually weak to engage in considered and rational debate; too morally weak to accept that they might be wrong and too weak in character to accept compromise and respectful coexistence.

Martin Terrell
Martin Terrell
1 year ago

The comments are really interesting. We need an erudite commentator like Mary Harrington to consider whether our monarchy is a smokescreen for more radical changes in society and governance, or those changes happen regardless and the monarchy survives because there is continuity and meaning that survive because it works and we want it to work.

Last edited 1 year ago by Martin Terrell
Dr. G Marzanna
Dr. G Marzanna
1 year ago

Another brilliant column Mary, perhaps your best yet. I agree profoundly.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago

Isn’t it astonishing how much one person can achieve by doing so little that was tangible? Monarchs of old led their armies into battle on horseback and achieved less than a quiet little old lady from her own home! All she had to do was literally turn up maybe say a few less than dramatic words and she was, as my own sister put it “an amazing woman”?
I will say her visit to Cork (and Ireland) was a triumph but that was a highly politically charged few days which she carried off with aplomb! There is a huge photograph of HMQE2 in a fishmonger’s shop with the Queen’s head thrown back and real laughter from her when the fishmonger told her that we call an ugly monkfish a “mother-in-law fish”. Later, to her bodyguards’ consternation she walked freely among the people of Cork who turned out in their tens of thousands to greet her. So yes, even we rebel Irish remember your queen with great fondness.
But to attribute even a tenth of the “power” Mary Harrington gives her is, if true an amazing achievement. The moral seems to be even if you do very little do it with the maximum dignity and grace and it might even hold the nation together in the midst of a calamity such as the UK is undergoing at present. Or maybe the load was just too weighty and it was a good time to bow out before it gets any worse. Whichever is true poor ol’ KC3 has a very large pair of shoes to fill.

Rachel Taylor
Rachel Taylor
1 year ago

The role of monarch is as a tie-breaker in a democratic system. A democratic system will always have opposing factions. Unless you have a universally accepted way to break the tie, you will end up with conflict. The armed forces swear an oath of allegiance to the sovereign, not as a third party, but as an absence of party.
Queen Elizabeth is loved by many because she performed exactly that role to perfection.

James Kirk
James Kirk
1 year ago

Guff and nonsense. She was a venerable 96 year old lady. What was she supposed to do? Live on for another twenty years to stave off the weeping of the emotionally incontinent trembly lip brigade?
Nothing will change for the worse through lack or replacement of a head of State. We have, coincidentally, a new King and a new government who with luck will get us out of the hole we’ve fallen into. Try and bring a more positive attitude to the future. I loved the Queen, she would take a dim view of all this spineless maudlin hysteria.

Ray Adnrews
Ray Adnrews
1 year ago

Now’s the time to declare Britain a caliphate.

nigel roberts
nigel roberts
1 year ago
Reply to  Ray Adnrews

Won’t be long, on present trends.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago

Jeez Mary tries to ensure her prediction of the collapse of liberal democracy comes to pass.
Mary, like many of her peers in the MSM, seems to think she understands the ordinary British people when she ventilates hyperbolically about our inevitable doom. One word – Brexit – gives the lie to her claim “For if I’m right, we are effectively already under unaccountable technocratic rule. â€œ
She and her media peers in their little MSM bubble don’t understand the British people at all.

Alex Tickell
Alex Tickell
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Ian, the fact that we achieved Brexit will make no difference, the identity politics and mind games aimed at our children are no respecters of democratic norms and even conservative friends are beginning to accept the changing moral and social face of the West.
Wea re now living in a social madhouse and Mary is right….she is almost always right.
Twenty years ago I was telling my friends that the battleground had shifted from economics to social and cultural themes. This prediction has now come to pass and we are being bought by worthless leaves from the money tree into compliance.

Kat L
Kat L
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

I was listening to triggernometry yesterday; their guest was Matt Goodwin. He had some surprising observations about aspects of brexit that Johnson implemented and said that what people wanted and expected are not what they will end up getting. It will be in fact worse. I never heard of this fellow as I’m an American but if what he said is true I am very sad for y’all.

Rachel Taylor
Rachel Taylor
1 year ago

Well, the only thing I have in common with a pig-ignorant journalist who thinks the last 30 years have been “post-Thatcherite rubble” is a belief in the enduring role of the monarchy.

Nicholas Taylor
Nicholas Taylor
1 year ago

The Queen kept the political classes looking over their shoulders, but I doubt they will view King Charles with the same gravity. On the other hand, he has already had decades of experience, which the Queen lacked when she ascended, except via the example of King George VI. While Charles is certainly above politics, I wonder whether the populace has confidence in him as, at least in principle, the guarantor of last resort in case nebulous interests start to take over our democracy-once-removed. If not, our lack of a formal constitution is a weakness, though how this might be exploited and to what end is unclear.
What is clear to me, however, is that politicians, not just present ones, tend to have firm agenda, whose ends may bear little relation to the needs of the majority of people. As a rider, diehard anti-monarchists who might be seduced by a republican constitution hurriedly cobbled together by shady figures in a back room should be careful what they wish for.
Whether Mrs Thatcher’s determination to run down the state from the late 1970s was a novel ideology, reaction to outdated practices of legacy industries, or just following a trend already in progress, it was accompanied by steadily rising inequality. This levelled off around 1990 but disempowerment of employed classes appears to be still rising. One might argue that unionised heavy industries were already disempowered through inefficiency, and the presently discontented unionised industries are in a similar position. Why otherwise should it cost about the same to travel in a crowded train in the UK as in a spacious one in Switzerland, a country whose average income is 3.5 times the UK’s?
The different levels of internal inequality in the countries are marked out by the median-to-average ratio of 81% in the UK compared to 96% in Switzerland. The effect is even more stark in the USA where the ratio is 65%. This adds up to a weakened populace which, without an effective constitution (one does wonder about the US one), or a weighty moral anchor that few would risk pulling up for fear of unpredictable consequences, could be increasingly ignored or exploited.

Mark Rackham
Mark Rackham
1 year ago

The Queen became the Nation’s devil’s advocate in a rapidly evolving social and political environment. She held politicians across the divide to account, ensuring that they avoided the extremism of the minority for the stability of the majority. Democracy has become a con, a proxy vote as the direction of politics and the establishment’s policy becomes influenced by corporate manipulators in cahoots with external institutions like the WEF, the WHO etc who will dictate future World order. This reset chapter for global “cohesion” has been in the making since the 1950’s, as we are supplanted by AI, and controlled with digital currency towards owning nothing then who will own this World order. The new Monarch has bought into it, so who will be our conscience our defender, or are we to hush whilst being steered down the path of Logan’s Run and The Island.

Nicholas Taylor
Nicholas Taylor
1 year ago

I am indebted to Stephen Diehl (writing in Medium on an unconnected subject) for reminding of this quotation from Carl Sagan in 1995 ( referring to the USA of course) which may or may not be relevant: “I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness”. When the present outpouring of sentiment has faded, we’ll be back to what passes now as reality, assuming we know what that is.

LCarey Rowland
LCarey Rowland
1 year ago

God save the King and God save the Brits! from the trivially divisive political circus that reeks havoc upon the world world at large.
Today’s funeral ceremony was a breath of refreshing Albion air, compared to the contentious politics in the wider world.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago

“..or indeed the woman who can look around……. and still insist the answer to everything is simply “freedom, low taxes and personal responsibility”.
Except apparently in your personal life

Don Lightband
Don Lightband
1 year ago

Is it true then that PM Truss is referred to by the distinctly reptilian-sounding “Liz” to avoid at all costs any confusion with the ‘Elizabethan’?

dj Stach
dj Stach
1 year ago

The monarchy seems to fill quite a void in the British soul bereft of Empire and the loss of the Queen is understandably traumatic. But I would advise against such hyperbole as her “standing as an anchor of liberal democracy”. If she had been a queen in a non-democratic Britain, I’m sure the laudatios would have been just as sympathetic. Ultimately, the British monarchy is an attraction for tourists and a security blanket for many Britons to cuddle.

Last edited 1 year ago by dj Stach
Philip Clayton
Philip Clayton
1 year ago

“Faith in our democratic institutions has been waning for some time.” Might that be because they are not democratic? I loathe monarchy but not the individuals who are part of it. As being determines consciousness you can’t blame the ‘royals’ for who they are and how they behave. In the end they are where they are as an accident of sperm and egg as we all are. They happened to draw the ‘lucky sperm’.
The fact is that the monarchy exists to justify the most unequal land ownership in the Western world and inheritence of the same. Something like 84% of all land in the UK is ‘owned’ by private (and still largely aristocratic) families.
We talk about our ‘revolution’ with the execution of Charles the first. It was nothing of the sort. Unlike the French we executed a king and left all the rest of the aristocracy largely untouched. This not only lead to the restoration but also to the continuation of the largest ‘aristocracy’ in the world.
As Tom Paine said a very long time ago the idea of a hereditary monarch is as absurd as a hereditary doctor or a mathematician. Yet still we bow and doff our caps, tug our forelocks, and gush endless verbiage about the ‘monarchy’.
If any ‘normal’ person had received several million quid in carrier bags, and admitted it, they, and the donors, would be banged up. Not Charlie though.
Obviously there are problems with Republics, and Presidents,but at least we can get rid of the fuckers. The monarchy is the political equivalent of herpes.

Kat L
Kat L
1 year ago
Reply to  Philip Clayton

There doesn’t seem to be any remedy for the swamp. They go into office and never leave or they leave as millionaires.

Martin Terrell
Martin Terrell
1 year ago
Reply to  Philip Clayton

That’s a tad extreme for the polite discourse of UnHerd. Defenders of monarchy accept the irrational aspects but will argue that these are outweighed by the benefits. For me, it’s a sense that ‘the state’ is represented by an ideal, which happens to be represented by one human being chosen by lottery. The politicians of left and right do not own the state, as much as they would wish to – which is the alternative. It’s an ideal, a theory, that is far from perfect and more hope over experience, but it is still worth appreciating, as the alternative is worse. And dull.

Philip Clayton
Philip Clayton
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Terrell

It might astonish you to know there are hundreds of countries that manage without a hereditary monarchy. Ever heard of Germany, or France? Do the left or the right ‘own’ the state in France or Germany? Apropos of all the garbage about how much the monarchy brings into the country through tourism can you explain why Paris has more foreign tourists than London? Do you not comprehend what the monarchy exists to justify and defend? As Thomas Paine wrote:“A hereditary monarch is as absurd a position as a hereditary doctor or mathematician.”
Tsar Nicholas 2, the last before the revolution, showed his ‘democratic credentials’ by filling in the census form. Under occupation he put ‘Owner of Russia’. Do you not see any injustice in not just being born to be a ‘monarch’ but also your position justifying a continuing aristocracy which is the richest herditary land ownership on the entire planet? Do you not even acknowledge any problems with inheriting tens of thousands of acres and inumerable home simply by birth? Can you not even see a scintilla of injustice in that?
What do you mean “represented by an ideal”. An ideal what? An ideal to aspire to? Oh if only you work hard enough you too can be a monarch? About 20-25 years ago Charles made a speech which included the sentiment: “The problem with modern youth is they expect something for nothing.” This from a man who should have written a book titled: My Struggle To get To The Top; How I Defeated All The Odds Against Me.
People who believe in the monarchy are like religious people who believe in a non-existent god, despite all evidence to the contrary,and it becomes a mystical nonsense. I repeat: An ideal what? Do you not think for a second that Charles does not now think of himself as “the owner of Britain (& Northern Ireland)?

Javier Quinones
Javier Quinones
1 year ago

Look up: In Defense of Not Mourning Queen Elizabeth to balance out all the disgusting fawning over her


Nicky French
Nicky French
1 year ago

I normally love your columns but my god that was terrible. The mawkish sadness about a privileged 96 year old no one k ew is unreal. Saying that our undemocratic institution is what Keeps democracy alive is double speak that big brother himself would have been proud of!

Nick Faulks
Nick Faulks
1 year ago

Could Mary Harrington not have waited one more day before throwing in her own spiteful political prejudices?

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Nick Faulks

Giving her the benefit of the doubt, that stuff might have slipped in by force of habit rather than a deliberate intent to politicise this.
However, on re-reading the final paragraphs, the suggestion that the Glorious Revolution was a mistake and should be reversed is frankly bizarre. She really has given up on democracy (see also her previous article). I know moving out to the country (as she has done – and it’s had the same effect on me) tends to make you more conservative, but this is taking it a bit far.

David Simpson
David Simpson
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

I assumed she meant, reversing back to the Glorious Revolution, not past it.

Mark Thomas Lickona
Mark Thomas Lickona
1 year ago
Reply to  David Simpson

I think she was referring to the Guillotine, i.e., anti-monarchism, as very much not the way to go at this moment. Even if Charles III strikes one as weak or silly.

Philip Clayton
Philip Clayton
1 year ago
Reply to  David Simpson

Only in Britain can an event replacing one monarch with another be described as a “Glorious Revolution.”

Will Will
Will Will
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

“However, on re-reading the final paragraphs, the suggestion that the Glorious Revolution was a mistake and should be reversed is frankly bizarre.”: I had to read that twice and still couldn’t make head or tail of it.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
1 year ago
Reply to  Nick Faulks

God save the King and all that (I’m a Yank now living in Brazil) – I agree with Mary’s hints that the prior probability is that Charles is a plonker, but I too was jolted by the reflexive swipe at Thatcher (she also, perhaps rashly, hinted that Bezos, who was allowed to flourish in the beginning by favorable tax treatment by the Government, is remotely related to “pure” capitalism ).

That said, I also agree with an earlier comment that Mary (perhaps Joel Klotkin too) is the only author on UnHerd who I always flock to, and always find something noteworthy and of consequence by reading all her articles.

Mark Thomas Lickona
Mark Thomas Lickona
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Pearse

Not sure that tax breaks for Bezos is the opposite of “unfettering” capitalism?