Long To Reign Over…?

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.

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