Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Queen Elizabeth makes history, it's almost enough to make you want to become a monarchist

I've never made any secret that I'm not a monarchist. It is in the tagline for my blog. I do things which conflict with that. For instance, I avidly collect magazines and some memorabilia whenever a royal event happens. I also read articles and lurk on message royal message boards. Not to mention that I went to Britain for William and Catherine's wedding and hit royal landmarks during my recent trip.  

I'm a complicated individual. Don't judge me.

However, I also disagree with the monarchy. Not based on anything political but on principle. The idea of bowing down to someone because of an accident of their birth is an anathema to me. During twitter arguments I secretly rejoice when a republican has made a valid point and fume when a monarchist has shot it down with a predicable, yet valid, one. I have a hard time understanding monarchists who admire the royals for the sake of admiring them. Showing deference because they believe royals and those in authority are somehow 'better' than the rest of us. It is just not true.

On this occasion in particular, my republican leanings make me wonder what we are celebrating for. The Queen's longevity? She definitely has great genetics. Sure, her stellar sense of duty should be acknowledged but it also goes without saying. Yet people try. At the rate we are exhausting saccharine platitudes, will there be anything left to say in the future? Is it any wonder the republicans are vociferously presenting the other side? In all honesty, I think members of the Republican movement make themselves look bad when they try to argue against it. Railing against an 89 year old woman would make anyone look bad.

However, sometimes you can also have too much of a good thing. In the last four years we have had the royal wedding, Diamond jubilee, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, now this. Planning for her 90th birthday is underway and there is even speculation about her Platinum jubilee in 2022. Haven't we run out of cake yet?

Despite all of this, reading the coverage about Queen Elizabeth II becoming the longest serving monarch in British history, I can't help but feel a small sense of pride. She made it! Looking at photographs of her, I see her evolution, the growing respect. Her sense of duty is unquestionable and all in all, I would say she has been an asset to her realms. History will be kind to her. Because she has set the bar so high, the same cannot be said about those that come after her.

Based on this, getting off the fence has its appeal. Even if it only for one day. Despite this temptation, I know that I will never be a monarchist (nor a true republican), but I will always remain fascinated. 

© Marilyn Braun 2015

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Will the Queen's legacy be in what she says or what she does?

As the Queen draws closer to breaking Queen Victoria's record for the longest reigning sovereign in British history, there will be much commentary about the significance of the moment. Much of it will be the inevitable saccharine tributes with the oft-quoted 21st birthday speech thrown in for good measure. But some of it will be critical as well. As in the case of David Starkey's comments that the Queen "has done and said nothing anybody will remember." Although I think that is a harsh assessment, when it comes to her actual reign, he raises a point.

Other than 1992's 'Annus horribilis' speech and her aside right before the 2014 Scottish Independence referendum for people to "think very carefully about the future," I genuinely can't think of anything that will provide history with the defining words to encapsulate her reign. The Queen is the embodiment of keep calm, carry on, and only respond if the problem doesn't immediately go away. On occasion it backfires and she is brought to heel for it. But moments like that are rare.

It could be said - and no doubt it will be - that it is not what she says, it is what she does. Or doesn't do. The Queen does not give sound bites. She does not give interviews. She does not pander to the public. She does not need to. She steers clear of controversy and remains neutral. It is one of the reasons why she is so well respected. She may not say much but, how can you argue with such a shining example of selfless duty?

In the last 63 years, had she expounded on every topic like Prince Charles, the media would stockpile the ammunition. Her public pronouncements have been limited to her annual Christmas speech and at the State Opening of Parliament. I can't think of anything memorable in either case. But then again, I'm not expecting to. I doubt anyone else is either. The times of looking to the royal family to set an example are long gone.

When the Queen dies and newscasts look back upon her reign, the images are likely to be filled with scenes from her coronation, along with public appearances of her waving and smiling throughout the decades. Commentators who have only observed her at distance will speak for her, using the word 'duty' over and over again to define her legacy and what she was really like as a person.

In the absence of her own words, she will leave us to draw the definitive conclusions.

© Marilyn Braun 2015

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.