Perhaps the biggest news of 2022 was the death of Elizabeth Windsor, Queen of England. A sad event for her family and of course many English people.
Her father George (“George VI”) died in February 1952, a few months before I was born. Elizabeth was crowned just over a year after I was born. So in my lifetime, I have only known one English monarch.
Back in 1968 when the Queen was a relative novice, I started studying Economics and Political Studies for A level. The first essay was titled “Is the Monarchy a God or Bad Thing?”
The basics about Monarchy is that it operates best when nobody looks at it closely. And its apologists would say that it brings consistency and stability to a troubled political world. And….er it is good for Tourism.
Of course Mickey Mouse is good for tourism in Florida but he is not the Governor of the State.
I have some sympathy for the view that the monarchy is consistent. But there is something about Elizabeth Windsor and her children that roots her reign in 1952/53. Stamps and Banknotes and portraits suggest that rather than being constant, the Monarchy is actually stagnant.
It is a stretch to believe that the Royal Family is politically neutral. They are too close to the tweedy cousinage of aristocracy for that to be convincing.
Of coursem Mrs Windsors hubby, an economic migrant from Greece …..Philip…..an unconvincing Duke of Edinburgh did attempt in the 1960s with the connivance of the BBC to portray the family as just another family. It had limited success. Likewise the Silver Jubilee in 1977 was undermined by public apathy and ridicule…cue the Sex Pistols version of God Save The King.
Arguably the institution was saved by Lady Di, the only eligible virgin in England that Charles could marry. Arguably rocked by royal divorce (including Andrew and Anne) and redeemed by William and Kate, rocked by Andy and those allegations and redeemed by the noble service of seventy years…and rocked again by Harry and Meghan.
Later this year, in May, Charlie will be crowned. At 74, he is unconvincing as a Prince Charming. It is as if the world stood still from 1953 to 2023. All those English folks who bought a TV set and invited the neighbours in to see the Coronation…does that really work in 2023?
Of course the Royal Family has a longevity gene and it could well be that Charlie lives and reigns as long as his mother. So he could still be King of England in another twentyyears.
More likely he will sit on a throne for ten years before abdicating. He is a curious relic of the 1950s and deference.
It is all going to be interesting.
” it could well be that Charlie lives and reigns as long as his mother”
Given that he is 74 in order for him to reign as long as his mother (70 years) he would need to live to 144. No man has been verified to have lived longer than 116 years.
THank you for this contribution Derek.
It seems inappropriate to point out that only an idiot would take me seriously.
SDLP should be able to reverse fortune in the council campaign 2023?
Do you think they’ll be able to make gains on Belfast City Council?
Not sure. They will be relying a lot on constituency work they have done and whether veterans can hold on.
Things like school crossing patrols, gritting roads, potholes and the like SHOULD help.
A lot depends on the mood of the electorate about big issues like Stormont.
A certain amount of buyers regret that Alliance did so well last year.
SDLP are in fact I hear putting forward slightly more local council candidates than last time so hopefully that’s a sign they have reason and evidence to suggest their vote will in fact be up.
Apologies for delay in replying.
I just dont know the answer.
My gut feeling is that it will be patchy.
I travelled thru North and South Belfast last week. Going into Belfast and maybe onward later this evening.
Very interesting blog. I am a UUP voter but I find your analysis very interesting.
Thank you. I appreciate you saying this.
I found your comments on Slugger very interesting but they are wasted there? The comments on Slugger are soon forgotten or deleted or lost. Your piece on Desmond Gillespie for example. If you don’t mind me suggesting it I think they would not be wasted or lost if you blogged them here.
Thank you again.
It is complicated. This Blog started in August 2011 as an alternative to the pomposity of Bloggers and their self importance.
As you probably know the title “Keeping an Eye on the Czar of Russia” is a tip of the hat to journalistic self importance.
It was also set up as a kinda nuisance alternative to Slugger O’Toole which I perceived had an agenda of pro Alliance pro liberal unionism.
One of the eraly decisions I made was to NOT publish any comment from a declared member of the Alliance Party.
Well initially it was jocular but I believed Alliance was over represented in the media and certainly on Slugger.
There were days when I only got two or three views and ironically Mick Fealty linked to this Blog and it took off in a very big way.
In 2013, I was averaging 800 views a day and often got over 1,000.
For a Blog which started in a light-hearted subversive (to Blogging) I found that I had seriousness thrust upon me,
I had suddenly a responsibility to people who view and comment.
I dislike Slugger O’Toole intensely. I very much regret publishing some original posts there.
Even if invited into the inner circle and how Slugger “works”, I would decline.
The Blog is defined by who it quotes, who it values….Fintan, Malachi, Ruth, Newton, Miriam.
On one level I see myself as the (dis)loyal opposition to everything Slugger stands for. I have managed to get into Slugger Parliament as a commenter without taking an oath of allegiance.
Secondly I rely a lot on my memory and your kind words re my Desmond Gillespie comments underscore my need to set records straight.
The records are all somewhat selective.
The book I will eventually publish is based on the idea that the footnotes to the Troubles are much more interesting than the BIG FACTS.
Thirdly Slugger is a bigger platform.
I reach many more people there.
I have tried to re-boot this Blog on several occasions but failed. In part this is because I devote too much time to Slugger but other factors include years of disenchantment with SDLP.
They are very bad with their history and even worse in dealing with their friends.
Across 18 constituencies there are ex MLAs councillors and rank and file members who have treated badly as power tends to rest with a chosen few.
I am one of those treated badly but I keep coming back for more. In election season I can do my best for them.
My support for them is somehow empowered on Slugger because I try to be honest. Using my own name is also worthwhile.
This Blog has been good to me. It got me to Texas to deliver some lectures to my best friends post grad students.
It also got picked up by the British Library as a valuable asset for students interested in Norn Iron.
And thanx to my friend in Texas is on the reading list in two or three colleges in USA.
I am proud of this wee Blog. But strange things happen. I applied to be an election observer for the Assembly some years ago and wasinitially acceped and then declined as someone had reported that this Blog might invalidate me as a neutral.
I appealed and was accepted as an observer.
But I am always curious about who touted on me to the Feds.
Simply put David, I cant reboot this Blog and comment on Slugger. I have other non-political blogs as well.
I wont close this Blog.
Someday, I will hand over the passwords to my sons and it might be considered worth keeping as a family legacy.