Following the Queen’s death, renewed calls for republicanism and revolution have spread from Perth, Australia to Perth, Scotland.
These kinds of thought experiments are healthy exercises for democracies around the world. I would argue that a constitutional monarchy is indeed the only way forward for the United Kingdom – and perhaps even for other countries.
A May 2021 YouGov poll suggests less than a quarter of Britons want to abolish the monarchy
The ultimate matriarch
It’s clear we’ve lost the kind of leader you hardly see these days: a woman who influenced political events as head of state for decades; a lady who redefined the power of soft diplomacy.
Sertan Sanderson reports for TBEN from London
Queen Elizabeth II traveled to more than 100 countries during her lifetime, and with every hand she shook, the Queen smiled her welcoming smile to all the realms of the Commonwealth and beyond in an effort to address — and restore — the past.
She paved the way for the meeting of modernism and monarchy and led the way with devotion, dedication and dignity, always seeking a force for nation building, as the whole postcolonial world was undergoing seismic change.
With each former colony proclaiming independence, Britain quickly shrank from empire to little more than an arbiter. Nevertheless, the Queen certainly had her turn, overseeing this avalanche of social transformation at home and abroad for 70 years.
As the empire on which the sun never set entered the twilight years of imperialism, she opened more and more aspects of her own life to the public, as the empire’s “exoticism” had to be replaced with that of her own family in order for the public to believe in the monarchy.
Television cameras entered the halls of Buckingham Palace, giving the public access to a privileged world shrouded in mystery for centuries.
She later agreed to pay taxes on her private income, and when her beloved home, Windsor Castle, was destroyed to ashes in 1992, she decided to find new ways to fund the repairs out of pocket.
It would be going too far to say she became “one of us” – but at least she managed to show that she was no holier than you.
Queen Elizabeth tirelessly met world leaders during her reign, always seeking consensus and report
keep the peace
The Queen reliably stood out for her considered and balanced approach at home, which is in stark contrast to the UK’s lack of reliable political leadership; the country has witnessed the weak cabinets of four prime ministers in the past decade alone.
Those 10 years have been marked by social division and dissension among each of those leaders – from the Scottish independence referendum to the Brexit issue to the COVID-19 response, there seems to be no sense of social consensus or cohesion in Britain anymore.
However, the Queen remained a rare constant, serving as the glue that holds the UK together.
At the same time, there is no doubt that there are problems in and with the royal family, with some of her clan’s less graceful members appearing to stumble from one blunder to the next. But that’s beside the point. Of course there is dysfunction in the royal family. After all, it’s a family.
But those family dynamics, those power struggles, the related speculation in the tabloid press (and today on social media) remind us how human these people – the royals – are.
Yes, they are allowed to stay in palaces built on and exploiting much of the rest of the world. We can and must contradict that. And we can also argue the point of having a constitutional monarchy in the first place. But we should also not forget that the crown that houses the stolen riches from the African continent and beyond also stands for reconciliation, rapprochement and even restitution. It represents decades of efforts to right the wrongs of centuries and bring about change without rebellion.
In the line of duty
Those who use the monarch’s death as a platform to call for revolution seem to forget how much transformation has happened in Queen Elizabeth’s life and how she has mastered those changes as head of state, Commonwealth leader, defender of the faith, iconic figurehead and mother of a family clan.
When she ascended the throne in 1952, the Queen was proclaimed a servant of God; I’d say she single-handedly managed to change that definition of monarchy.
Thanks to her steadfast commitment, future princes will have to fulfill their duties as servants of the people. To me this promise of service is the ultimate act of democracy, but to King Charles it may be a burden heavier than the crown that will now rest on his head.
Edited by: Rob Mudge