Saturday, June 8, 2013
MM Special Report: Coronation Anniversary
When Elizabeth II was crowned, Britain was full of British people (shocking, I know). The population was pretty solidly Church of England with some other Protestants and a few Catholics everyone kept a close eye on. Today Britain is multicultural, full of people from the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and nearly every country in Europe. The Church of England that was so staunch at the time of the coronation (ask the Duke of Windsor if you think otherwise) now has women priests, bishops and gay “marriage” and is more about social welfare than Jesus Christ. Anglicans are now a tiny minority, even in England, and must keep their tone low so as not to upset the Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Muslims now part of the population. And for all of the changes, it seems people have never been more unhappy in the UK than they are now. I doubt there were any republican protestors at the coronation as there were at the recent Jubilee celebration, and if there were, the BBC would certainly not have given them any airtime. When the coronation was held, people seemed proud to be British. Today, every news day seems to have nothing but people angry about how terrible Britain is; racist, intolerant, uncaring toward the poor, discriminating against this or that group, angry about having a “class-ridden society” or being the “black sheep of Europe”, I could go on and on. It makes one wonder, if all the changes that have been made are for the better (as we are told); why does everyone always seem so unhappy with the way things are?
When Her Majesty was crowned sixty years ago, there were many who called to mind the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, which was so glorious some took to calling the Queen herself “Gloriana”. Even the socialist Prime Minister Clement Attlee said that he hoped the coronation would mark the beginning of a new Elizabethan Era as great and glorious as that of the first Elizabeth. That was the era when the English sea dogs beat back the seemingly unstoppable might of the Spanish empire, when explorers charted new waters and colonists started to settle new lands. By contrast the Second Elizabethan Era has seen British troops beat back the might of Argentina, sent bureaucrats to battle red tape in Brussels and seen people from other lands arrive to colonize Britain. Hardly the same. In the past, Britain fought for mastery of the seas. Today it argues in Belgium for the right to fish off the British coast. In the past great poets and playwrights heaped praise and glowing tributes on their beloved monarch. Today bands that attack the Queen are called “iconic” and celebrities are applauded for refusing the Order of the British Empire. In the time of the first Elizabeth, Catholics were brutally executed because of the fear that they might be disloyal. In the time of the second Elizabeth, disloyalty to the monarchy is not only tolerated but even celebrated in some circles.
All of this has happened, again, just in the last few decades, during the reign of the current monarch. King Edward VII or King George VI never had anyone crushed to death or drawn and quartered but the British Empire was proud of itself and its place in the world with British people, the world over, pretty solidly united in at least who they were and what they stood for. They were loyal to their monarch, confident that, on the world stage, they were the “good guys” and were having a positive impact on the world. Today, such is certainly not the case. In the Elizabethan or even Victorian eras, British power grew and influence expanded because there were great opportunities for success. It was tough, it was hard work, dangerous and meant risking your fortune as well as your life and limb, but if you succeeded you could count on becoming not only quite wealthy but honored and celebrated by your countrymen. Today, on the other hand, initiative and hard work is discouraged. The successful are scorned, derided and practically robbed while the unsuccessful are rewarded with appointments to a European commission or even a “life peerage” in the House of Lords. And, yes, Queen Elizabeth I may have knighted pirates but Queen Elizabeth II has had to knight the likes of Mick Jagger and Elton John. To my mind the gentlemen privateers were by far the more worthy.
Everything, absolutely everything, seems to have changed in the last sixty years, save perhaps for the Queen herself but not excepting the monarchy. The loss of male preference in the succession and the (partial) removal of the exclusion of Catholics are historic changes to the monarchy. The House of Lords, already de-fanged during the reign of her predecessors, was effectively ended under Elizabeth II with the expulsion of the hereditary peers and more seems to be on the way. British values themselves have changed though no one seems able to agree on what they have changed to. Though, again, none seem happy about it with one side bemoaning the changes and the other which pushed for them still claiming that they have not changed enough. The Queen has, herself, taken up some of these changing values. She too has advocated for at least some of them, using all of the popular labels like “diversity”, “inclusion” and “tolerance” and so on. However, Her Majesty has never thrown over the old values that Britain had when she was first crowned sixty years ago or even before. By her very example she has continued to embody the stoic courage and resolve of the “keep calm and carry on” generation. She is still married to the same man King George VI made her wait to marry those many decades ago and she still lives out a sincere Christian faith. Politicians (put in office by the public, so they cannot escape blameless either) may have robbed her of any real political role or power but she does still possess a moral authority that no one else in the UK or Commonwealth has. It is a pity, and no fault of her own, that if often seems like no one is listening to her.
So, the Queen goes on, as she has for the last sixty years, doing her duty, following the advice of her ministers, doing her best to set an example and to embody the values of an increasingly diverse population that cannot seem to make up its mind what its values are or whether it is right to have any values at all. It is not an enviable position to hold but everyone in Great Britain and across the Commonwealth should be glad that she does. Looking back on the coronation sixty years ago and with the upcoming changes announced for the next coronation, a few have already begun to ask, “what is the point?” but yours truly, of course, is not one of them. I refuse to give in, I refuse to let the republican mob win. It is there insidious influence which has been at work in monarchies around the world, stripping them little by little of any meaningful role in government or even national life as a whole only to then turn around and wonder out loud what the point is of having a monarchy at all. No. Not now. Not ever. I will not play their game, I will not play in to their hands and I will not accept their narrative. So long as a monarchy exists it is something worth defending, otherwise loyalty becomes meaningless. The Queen was crowned 60 years ago and she made a solemn vow to God on that occasion to carry out the duties of a constitutional monarch and everyone in the UK and all her realms and territories (I am tempted to say the English-speaking world) have no higher duty than to be loyal to her, come what may, in good times or bad. She is the Queen, the anointed sovereign and personal loyalty to the monarch must, absolutely must, be something that distinguishes all monarchists. The last sixty years have not been glorious, unfortunately, for Great Britain but it is when times are tough that all those who are truly loyal must show that nothing in the world can break the sacred bond between a sovereign and her subjects.
God Save the Queen!