The Queen Does Not Inspire; That’s a Feature Not a Bug

31 May 2012

Can’t republicans do better than this?

If keeping quiet and cutting ribbons is all we can expect of our head of state then perhaps we can agree she’s done well — but surely we can expect more.
As a national figurehead and leading public figure the queen has utterly failed to do anything of note or worth. After 60 years who can quote a famous speech or point to a moment of crisis or celebration when the queen offered leadership and inspiration?
For all the failures of the monarchy — in principle, practice and in political terms — the queen and the institution offer little in return but an empty chair where an inspiring national figure could have stood. 
That’s Graham Smith, Chief Neep at Republic, writing for CNN. Who, pray, would be the kind of inspiring national figure who could offer leadership and inspiration? Asking the question reveals there is no satisfactory answer. The peculiar genius of monarchy, at least of the kind exemplified by Queen Elizabeth, is that it removes politics (of which there is more than enough anyway, thank you very much) from the office of Head of State. One need only look to the United States to see the difficulties that come with electing a Priest-King. 

That said, I rather agree with Freddy Gray that there is a danger of overkill this weekend and that the Windsors should remember that you can have too much of a good thing and that, like so much else, PR-stunts are vulnerable to the law of diminishing returns. 

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Show comments
  • john

    Re: CS Lewis quote: Total B/S. Nobody worships Presidents. Atheletes,film stars etc are “sort of” worshipped everywhere including Britain. Prostitutes no! NB CS Lewis wrote a ton of idiotic quasi religious bumf.
    Still nobody has explained why a (800 year) democratic people can’t choose its HofS.

  • daniel maris

    I really objected to that tw*t Mark Easton on the BBC suggesting that the only reason Britain has a monarchy is because we are famed for our eccentricity and we like dressing up. As if Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands were famed for their eccentricity.

    Constitutional monarchy is a perfectly rational form of government and has many advantages over political presidential government. In a way it symbolises or offers a mirror to our own irrational egotism and thereby satisfies it. People do dream about the royals a lot…monarchy seems well suited to our subconscious selves.

    However, I personally feel alienated from the idea of Charles as monarch. His comments about a certain totalitarian ideology disqualify him I think.

    Perhaps we should move to an elective monarchy whereby any legitimate descendant of Queen Victoria might be eligible for election. The monarch would serve for 25 years but could be re-elected for one term.

  • Steve Campbell

    Well done our Head of State, 60 years of never facing an election, 60 years of unreported finances, 60 years of living off state hand outs. She make Mugabe look like a beacon of democracy.

  • rosie

    She separates the pomp from the power. That’s enough for me.

    And it’s a very good thing for the ones with the power to have to go and explain themselves once a week to someone much grander and more established who knows more about it all than they do.

  • Barry

    Worried about democracy? Try pushing the European Commission in a different direction and see how far you get.

  • Kennybhoy

    PS My last post was addressed to Maister Massie as well as john.

  • Kennybhoy

    john on May 31st, 2012 3:44pm.

    “We Britons should rejoice that we have contrived to reach much legal democracy (we still need more of the economic) without losing our ceremonial Monarchy. For there, right in the midst of our lures, is that which satisfies the craving for inequality, and acts as a permanent reminder that medicine is not food. Hence a man’s reaction to Monarchy is a kind of test. Monarchy can easily be “debunked”; but watch the faces, mark well the accents, of the debunkers. These are the men whose tap-root in Eden has been cut: whom no rumour of the polyphony, the dance, can reach – men to whom pebbles laid in a row are more beautiful than an arch. Yet even if they desire mere equality they cannot reach it. Where men are forbidden to honour a king they honour millionaires, athletes, or film-stars instead: even famous prostitutes or gangsters. For spiritual nature, like bodily nature, will be served; deny it food and it will gobble poison.”

    Excerpted from “Equality” by C.S. Lewis, originally published in this magazine on February 11,1944.

    The full essay can be read at the link below.

  • Fergus Pickering

    Because she’s a monarch, you dickhead. You want to elect one? For how long?

  • Nicholas Hallam

    I think we will find out just how inspiring the nation finds HM in the next few days.

  • john

    Nick: What has an appointed temporary position for a Baroness (let’s dump titles too) got to do with a hereditary Head of State? Please clarify why we shouldn’t have a choice.

  • Nicholas

    Wind your neck in John. I’m a supporter not an apologist which is why I’m not going to rise to your puerile provocation. Go and ask the question of Baroness Ashton or any of the other thousands of appointed not elected apparatchiks and quangocrats who rule over us infinitely more vexingly than HM The Queen.

  • john

    Can some monarchy apologist explain why we are allowed no choice in our Head of State? How can this be consistent with democracy?

  • normanc

    Those paragraphs are as convincing an argument for retaining the monarchy as I’ve read.

    If every politician interfered in our lives and businesses as little as the Queen does we’d be in a far healthier position than now.

    Imagine Tony Blair (or any politician from left or right) in that chair.

    As for overdoing it, if Royalty isn’t your thing do what I will be doing: buy lots of coffee beans, fire up Diablo 3 and close the curtains to emerge blinking into the sunlight next Wednesday.

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