There are few things that bring people together in the world anymore. People are divided in politics, in sport, in culture and under every balkanisational category one can think of these days. However, today with the birth of the new royal son, this blog sends congratulations from Texas for the future King, may God save him and grant him a long life. Below, I’d like to just share a couple of thoughts on why the monarchy in this 21st century where tradition is considered uncool, is such a wonderful thing for the UK, the 15 other realms where she is head of state and the 54 nations of the commonwealth she is head of.
Today, while listening to the Clive Bull show on LBC 97.3, (the internet is an amazing thing) a guest made a very astute observation I had never thought of. He said monarchial events are like the UK’s celebration of national identity. See in the United States we have the 4th of July, in France Bastille Day, in Canada Canada Day and the list goes on and on. But Britain has no such day (unless you include England’s St. George’s Day or Scotland’s St. Andrews but those belong to England or Scotland, not the UK as a whole) because it is the world’s oldest constitution and system of government still in existence. It predates all of these nations around the world that can point to its “founding” to a date in modern history. The coronation, the royal weddings, the Diamond and Golden jubilee under Elizabeth II, the state opening of Parliament, all give Britons a chance to celebrate the tradition of what it is to live in a country that has been the most successful in maintaining continuity with its past and the most successful in lasting for centuries. It allows Britons to celebrate the continuing of a great and wonderful nation. Yes, the British monarchy has been wise to adapt to changes in the world but what the monarch represents is continuity, tradition and how to do things right, and that means being a constitutional monarch leading a democratically elected government. The outpouring of people to the hospital where the child has been born or to Buckingham palace awaiting the announcement are so important because it is Britons sharing in the tradition that has been going on for centuries, waving union jacks and just celebrating being British. Even the national anthem celebrates the monarchy. No, the monarchy doesn’t define Britishness, not by a long shot, but it symbolises it to the world, it makes us admire and love the country because it stands for the nation and its beautiful traditions in a way the whole world can see. The diamond jubilee in particular was such a wonderful spectacle, I will never forget the Queen walking out onto to the balcony with Charles to one side and William to the other with British World War II planes flying overhead streaming red, white and blue. Truly awe inspiring.
I hope the nation never loses its monarchy. Right now, polls show Britons overwhelmingly support the institution. As a young boy visiting the UK for the first time (after memorising the monarchs in order dating back to Edward the Confessor) I remember seeing the changing of the guards, Buckingham Palace from the outside and Windsor Castle from the inside and thinking absolutely this is wonderful. Americans still today flock to the UK not for the weather but to see the grand tradition of Britain’s history being seen right before our eyes with the monarchical institutions. In America, we followed the royal birth, as well as the wedding of William & Kate and monarchs going back for a long time with immense interest. Despite the loss of tourism money and the fact the monarchy is much, much cheaper than our Imperial Presidency, losing the monarchy would turn Americans, commonwealth nations and people the world over to thinking Britain is no longer Britain, it is just some European Republican Island that once was great. Luckily, as the events of today and the past years show a Republic of Britons isn’t going to happen anytime soon. God Bless the Royal Family, God Bless the British people, thank you for our language and the great institutions of capitalism, representative democracy and free trade you gave to us and most importantly God Bless the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. A long and happy life to the new future King!