Wednesday 16 September 2015

Has Queen Elizabeth II done a good job?

I am a monarchist - in the sense that I regard a good King as the ideal form of government (although not always the best in any specific time and place). Many people assume from this that I would want the country to be run by The Queen. But that is not really the case.

This year there are some national celebrations of Queen Elizabeth having become our longest reigning monarch, including celebrations of her achievement. I like the Queen as a person, and she conducts herself extremely well in her role - but surveying so many years, I find it hard to recognize what the Queen has done to make a positive difference to the United Kingdom.

Despite having an 'on paper' role in many important things like choosing the Prime Minister and heading the Church of England, the constitutional monarch is either mostly or perhaps entirely 'a figurehead', and so far as I am aware, the Queen has never used her powers directly - except via the Governor General of Australia to dismiss the Australian Prime Minister in 1975.

Aside from the Queen herself, The Royal Family are a pretty disgraceful bunch, who have epitomized most of the pathologies of modern life. And since the 1969 BBC TV documentary The Royal Family, the publicity people employed by the Queen have encouraged the tendency to regard the monarchy as a long running soap opera; justified by their entertainment value, their 'common touch' (they certainly display that), and the supposed goodwill created among foreigners and the related boost to tourism and imports...

With the British monarchy, after so many centuries of being willingly subordinated to parliament, there seems to be near zero resistance to being used as media puppets and rubber stamps and a strong sense that - with the exception of the Queen herself - they see the whole thing as a family business rather than a sacred responsibility. They grasp the privileges, but reject the responsibilities - especially the moral responsibilities, of their positions.

As is usual in modern bureaucracies, people fiddle with the rules but are unprincipled about applying them when they go against Leftist principles - and when Queen Elizabeth dies Prince Charles is not, according to the rules traditionally-interpreted, eligible to become King - because he is divorced and is not an Anglican (indeed, he is not a Christian) and is married to a Roman Catholic. Since the monarch is Head of the Church of England, this rules him out; but hardly anybody mentions this, and modern Brits would regard the enforcement of such rules as 'discriminatory'.

In sum, I find no desire in me to celebrate the long rule of Queen Elizabeth; despite my personal regard for her. I suspect that she deplores many of the things that I deplore about Britain, I know she wants us to be a Christian nation, I know she works behind the scenes - but I am afraid that this is not enough, by no means sufficient.

The Queen ought to have been an example of principle, she ought to have provided us with leadership, her views on fundamental matters ought not to be in doubt At some point - and many more times than once - she should have used her veto powers to prevent obviously anti-Christian laws and to prevent evil persons from assuming positions of power (indeed, the Queen's friendship-with and patronage-of the likes of Jimmy Savile and Anthony Blunt seems to betray an extreme moral blindness): her position on these matters should have been clear and explicit and to have led to action. She should have put the monarchy on the line while it still had something to contribute.

Forty years ago the monarchy had great prestige and potential for good - but the prestige was dissipated and the potential for good was unused.

In a nutshell, under Queen Elizabeth's reign, the British monarchy has become indefensible. That is not a cause for celebration.


J. B. said...

Thanks for this. I have the same general disposition: a monarchist, and I want to like the Queen as a focus and motive for my Canadian patriotism. But I lacked the contact with and knowledge of the Queen to make any assessment of the 'job' she has done. Glad to have some discernment from you. Sad result.

JP said...

Many conservatives expect the Royal Family to take a strong stand for “tradition” in the face of leftist anarchy. There is simply no reason to expect this, because the Royal Family has no traditionalist or right-wing inclinations whatsoever. They are members in good standing of the leftist political elite. I challenge anyone to cite a single example of them standing up for traditional principles or defying leftist orthodoxy. Those who think the Royal Family are somehow a secret bastion of traditionalism who have been muzzled by the Left are clinging to vain hope in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The Royals are not hypocrites or puppets — they speak and act in accordance with their genuine beliefs.

August said...

I'm thinking something similar. I think she has done what she has felt her duty, but that there were particular moments in time where the political class was in sufficient disarray for her to step in. She should have, but did not. Being so far away, I often wondered if I was accurate in my assessment. I also wonder to what extent she feels a hostage.

Nathaniel said...

It is interesting she's ruled longer than the previous four Kings combined! Then before that Victoria also ruled for a very long time.

Mercurius Aulicus said...

You may be interested in a traditionalist libertation view at "Elizabeth the Useless:
Sixty Years a Rubber Stamp" By Sean Gabb