Friday, 21 April 2006

God Save the Queen - Long live the Queen

History of England
A History of England poster takes pride of place on the wall of my living room, a poster I bought from the museum shop of Arundel Castle, the seat of the Dukes of Norfolk, with title of Earl Marshall and one of the great offices of state in England.
This office organises coronations and the State Opening of Parliament, as a catholic family, their influence in a protestant monarchy makes interesting reading.
In general, I am a monarchist, a royalist and a keen supporter of constitutional monarchies. It is evident from the event that culminated in the First World War that our world of today has no place for absolute monarchies.
Where they seem to exist like in Nepal where the police have been ordered to “shoot to kill” protesters clamouring for real democracy or Swaziland where the king with his propensity for taking young wives squanders scarce resources on a luxury life they can ill afford.
Learning by visiting
Having spent my developing years in Nigeria, my returning to England left me bereft of the history and culture of a country to which I claim citizenship allegiance.
Rather than reach out for thousand-page books of England, I joined both the National Trust and used my visit to stately homes to piece together events of our history; supplementing that with visits to English Heritage sites all around the country.
Somehow, I like the lineage of reigns that help us document our history in lengths of time that speak of people, events, ideas and their relationships. Victorian values signify conservative outlooks to life, the House of Tudor hosts Henry VIII and the break-away from the Roman Catholic Church, the last of that lineage being Elizabeth I.
Times of the monarch
This follows the time honoured practice found in the Old Testament of the Bible where the Israelites document reigns in the Book of Kings and events in the Book of Chronicles.
It sounds grating to document times in the name of politicians, you never hear of the Lincolnian times related to Abraham Lincoln (Victorian) or the Churchillian times in relation to Winston Churchill (George VI and Elizabeth II from the House of Windsor).
Where there is no monarchy to maintain a human grip on our history and heritage you have to revert to dates and years.
Above the political fray
Beyond that, one can see how the jostling for political position in the presidencies of the United States and France creates a stop-start sense of leadership which can at times thrive on base populism and give rise to dictatorships in other places.
A monarchy subjects the inordinate quest for power to a lesser element of governance with the politicians ceremoniously answerable to a supposedly higher authority.
We would lose a lot to becoming a republic, as some people feel that we live in a time when people should not be born to positions of privilege.
More than value you can quantify
Also many complain about the cost of the monarchy, well, I would be hard pressed to find any other person or group of people who can market the brand of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and the Northern Ireland better than our monarchy. Even so, the head of the church cannot be a Prime Minister no matter how religious.
They are more than good value for money now, for our history past, for our heritage preserved and for our sense of belonging as we look to the future. That position would be wasted on a politician no matter how much of a statesman they may be.
This is not the most forceful piece about the monarchy, but the sentimentality of what they mean would have me supporting our constitutional monarchy without reservation.
God Save the Queen
As the Israelites said at the anointing of their first king – God Save the King – I say, God Save the Queen.
God Save the Queen makes more sense to me than God Save the President or the Prime Minister.
Even more importantly; at 80; Happy Birthday, Ma’am.

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