Political Promise

God Save The Queen: She Might Need It!

In Elliot Colburn on August 23, 2010 at 8:21 am

By Elliot Colburn

Queen Elizabeth II could celebrate her Diamond Jubilee in 2012, marking 60 years as Queen, and could even surpass Queen Victoria as the longest reigning Queen in world history in September 2015 at the age of 89. However, exactly what will happen after the death or abdication of Queen Elizabeth II is unclear. Since the 1990s, especially after death of the People’s Princess Diana in 1997, public opinion of the Royal Family throughout the Commonwealth has taken a downward spiral. While the debate about whether or not the Royal Family should still exist is not new, a resurgence of republicanism has added a new log to the flame. The conflicting arguments seem to be a Modern Britain without a pointless Monarch versus a Britain with a Monarch who attracts much of our tourism.

Media and public interest into the Royal’s private life began in the 1980s/1990s, and some sensational claims were made, especially in regards to the wealth of the Queen.  Reports of affairs and suspected divorces, the Royal Family became the subject of ridicule, so much so that the Queen announced in a speech in November 1992 that it had been her Annus Horribilis (Horrible Year). In March Prince Andrew had divorced his wife Sarah, and in April Princess Anne was also divorced. The Queen had eggs thrown at her in Dresden during a state visit to Germany in October, and Prime Minister John Major announced reforms to Royal expenses. Charles and Diana formally divorced and the year ended with a lawsuit against The Sun who had published the text to the Queen’s speech before her address. The lack of statements and correspondence from the Royal Family following the death of Diana added to the hostility. Since the 1990s, exposure of the Royal private life, in the memoirs of Diana, Paul Burrell, the media, has damaged the Royal image still further, in addition to Charles’ controversial marriage to Camilla Parker-Bowles and the images of the “Party Prince” Harry.

Anti-Monarchical protests and sentiments have been reawakened at the turn of millennia. In November 2009, Prince Charles’ visit to Canada was marred in Quebec by nationalist protests. Recently one of the most famous countries of the Commonwealth, Australia, has also turned foul. PM Julia Gillard unexpectedly reawakened the republican argument in the run up to the 2010 Election, claiming that despite her admiration for Queen Elizabeth II, Australia needs to “move forward” and become a Republic following the death or abdication of the Queen. If Canada and Australia, two giants of the Commonwealth, enter negotiations to become Republics following the death or abdication of the Queen, it is predicted that many others, including New Zealand and Jamaica, will follow suit.

More recent polls show the British public content to retain a Monarch, however, the international scene following the death or abdication of Queen Elizabeth II and the ascension of a new Monarch may not compare with that of 1952. Politicians around the world today seem very fond of words such as ‘Modern’, ‘Moving Forward’ and ‘Change’. Could this mean an end to something so old yet so much of an icon, as the British Monarchy?

  1. An interesting article; however I disagree.
    In a rapidly changing world, one where time and space has been shortened, many of the world’s countries and cultures are becoming ‘modernized’ which often means ‘universalised’. Individual and group identities are undoubtedly evolving which can simultaneously lead to the erosion of one’s traditions and history. This is taking place throughout the globalised world and it helps explain why there has been such a profound resurrection of old customs and traditions, a reinvigoration of nationalism.
    The monarchy, for many throughout the commonwealth, represents a timeless symbol of unity and history (some bad but also much good). History shapes the cultures of the world and that cannot be easily extinguished. Whilst politicians may focus on ‘change’ and ‘modernity’; we have also seen that many of the same politicians remain ‘out of touch’ and ‘far removed’ from public opinion. People, throughout the world are fearful that their societies are being wholly revamped and remodelled for the worse and with that, their historic identity goes too. To an extent, it happened under New Labour through their promotion of ‘cool Britannia’.
    The monarchy is seen as the figurehead of the countries and migrants of the Commonwealth. Throughout the world the Queen is heralded, coming back from India recently it was clear she is seen as a marvel. The future generation of monarchs will be held in high esteem too, just look at how Prince William was received in New Zealand this January and South Africa at the World Cup. The monarchy will play a pivotal role in the future in uniting the converging forces of history and modernity – helping to ensure its not a bloody battle.

  2. The problem with the monarchy vs. republic debate is that we are not asking the right questions. We are living in a shared constitutional monarchy where we have the democratic experience of voting for representatives to make our laws and to vote them out if they fail us. With that democratic experience in place already, is it sensible and in our interest as citizens to leave the position of head of state in the hands of politicians? I think the case for keeping the position out of the hands of politicians to be far more desirable and sensible in our democracy. No politician is elected by 100% majority. To expose the position of head of state to a politician who might be elected by a 40% majority with 40% to other losing candidates and 20% not bothered to vote… can that politician in question truly be considered head of state? It sorta delegitimizes the position. Nobody voted for the Queen and since the position is hereditary no one will so we are sparing ourselves the spectacle of nasty mudslinging contests that are our elections on a head of state level. If no candidate can secure 100% votes, but gets elected anyways then can we really legitimately call him/her head of state? Head of government maybe, but not head of state. If the alternative to our monarchy being head of state is not much better or not even in existence than there is no point in changing our current arrangements. How many people voted for Miss Julia Gillard? Half. On what grounds is Miss Gillard asking for such a big constitutional reform? On who’s authority? Head of state is a position of power, and that is what politicians are after. Do we really want to give it to them so easily and just trust them with it?

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