I was shocked when, yesterday afternoon, a friend informed me that the Queen had died. I had only just heard a report that she was under medical supervision at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. A BBC news reader noted — twice — that she was “comfortable.” I didn’t like the sound of that, but I also didn’t expect that her death would come so soon.
I am at a loss for words. However, like most people lacking words, this has not stopped me from taking up my pen. I feel duty bound to mark this passing in some way. And Greg Johnson has reminded me that I am, after all, Counter-Currents’ royal correspondent (see here; but whatever you do, don’t see here).
Where to begin? I suppose with an answer to the inevitable question, “Why do you care?” It’s a simple matter, really. My mother was a great anglophile and revered the Royal Family; I was just raised with that. To this day I can dazzle and (mostly) perplex my friends with my knowledge of royal trivia.
And the Queen had been queen all my life. That’s the thing that’s really hardest to take. I don’t know a time without Elizabeth II. I was probably googooing at her image on the telly when I was only a few months old. And I googooed at her for the rest of my life. I got a warm feeling inside whenever I saw her. If her death has affected me, I can only imagine what it’s doing to the Brits. I truly sympathize.
Why did I have this affinity for the Queen, which my father once described as un-American? First, she represents a nation I used to love, from which haled my ancestors. In the last two or three decades, in my own eyes at least, she came more and more to represent the past. I once had a conversation about the Queen with a British friend of mine who is a fellow traveler. I told him that I was quite sentimental about the Royal Family. “Yes, Americans always are,” he said. And he went on to explain that, in his view, the monarchy simply served to legitimate the corrupt establishment – or, as he literally put it, “whoever is in power.”
I can’t really argue with that. Indeed, I admit that it is true. My friend went on to say of the Queen, “Why doesn’t she do something?” Meaning, something about the cultural rot in Britain. There was a peculiar intensity in his question, as if it genuinely pained him. The basic answer to him is that under the present system in Britain, which has been in place for a very long time, she can’t do much of anything (at least not the sort of thing my friend would like to see her do). Queen Anne was the last monarch to veto an Act of Parliament, and that was in 1708. It’s been downhill from there. By the end of Queen Victoria’s reign (in 1901), she had almost no personal power.
By the time Elizabeth II came to the throne in 1952, it had long been forbidden for the sovereign to express opinions about political matters (the only exception being her weekly audience with the Prime Minister, the details of which were always kept strictly confidential). The Queen was raised in this tradition, and both her father and (especially) her grandfather had been much loved by the British public, in part because they were seen as apolitical national symbols whom everyone could love and support, no matter what their political persuasion. (In Britain, even most Labour voters love the Queen — though there are significant exceptions, of course.)
So, the idea that Elizabeth II might have “done something” to have slowed the high-speed, downhill pace of British decline is a tad unrealistic. And what, in fact, could she have done? “Take a stand”? But in her eyes, that would have divided the nation (which is true) and would have effectively negated her primary role as national symbol and uniter (which is also true). In effect, she would have become a politician. This, at least, is how she must have seen things.
In 2008, Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg refused to give his assent to a new law permitting euthanasia (presumably on religious grounds). Under the Luxembourg constitution, the grand duke “sanctions and promulgates” the laws. In response to this, Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, a notorious drunk who later became president of the European Union, declared Henri temporarily unable to perform his duties. In other words, they simply went around him. The constitution of Luxembourg was subsequently amended to state that the grand duke merely “promulgates” laws, but that his assent is not required.
Thus, if Elizabeth II had tried to intervene in, for example, the Blair government’s disastrous decision to make Britain more “diverse,” they would have simply gone around her. Or worse. You see, when you are President of the United States you merely have to worry about the next four years or getting reelected for four more. But monarchy is the Queen’s family business. Her father, George VI, referred to the family (only half-jokingly) as “the firm.” The Queen would not have taken any actions that would have wrecked things for her son, grandson, and great grand- son.
And I don’t think I need to convince my audience that had the Queen “done something,” all hell would have broken loose, and those who truly rule might have rather swiftly transformed Britain into a republic, leaving the royals as exiles haunting the slopes in Gstaad and sitting on the board of directors of Revlon. After the death of the Princess of Wales, the Queen met with Diana’s butler Paul Burrell and advised him to be careful. “Paul, there are forces at work in the country of which we have no knowledge,” she is reported to have said.
Besides, we don’t know that Her Majesty didn’t support “diversity.” It’s been suggested to me that she did, due to her commitment to the Commonwealth and also to her Christian upbringing (“We’re all God’s chillun” or something). And this brings me to another thing I admired about the Queen. I am no Christian, but the Queen’s faith seemed to be genuine. According to some accounts, in fact, she was rather devout. I respect that, even if I can’t get behind much of what she believed.
A word that keeps coming to mind is “dutiful.” There were controversies over the course of her 70-year reign, but never as a result of the Queen’s bad behavior. To the very last, she did her duty. She seemed selfless, in fact. As Princess Elizabeth she gave a speech in 1947, on the occasion of her 21st birthday. In it, she said, famously, “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.” And she seems to have meant every word.
By contrast, we have the likes of Meaghan Markle and the Hollywood brain trust, whose idea of a moral life consists in retweeting woke garbage and signaling about “the current thing” — but not actually doing anything. The real answer to my friend quoted earlier is that the Queen did “do something.” She spent her life visiting the sick and dying in hospitals and working on behalf of charities that, in many cases, actually accomplished something. She positively affected the lives of countless people, in large and small ways. By the time of her death, she was perhaps the one thing that still united Great Britain. All of that was what she was supposed to do. And she did it flawlessly. She also loved horses and dogs, by the way, and there’s a special place in heaven for people like that (I imagine this is how I will eventually be able to meet her).
Folks, it feels like the last adult in the world has died. I fear we are now completely lost. I am realizing as I write this that so much of my fondness for the Queen had to do with the tacit thought “as horrible as the world is today, it still has the Queen in it. It still has one last representative of an older way of life; a representative of decency, service, duty, honor, and tradition.” And now, suddenly, that light has gone out. I know it’s a terrible cliché, but that is exactly how I feel: a light has gone out.
Now Charles is King – and, really, he’s not half bad. Many have dreaded this day coming. Charles has always been perceived as a bit aloof, a bit old-fashioned, possibly a bit too intellectual, and as lacking the common touch. (However, the strong stand he has taken against modern architecture, as well as his commitment to a kind of “soft traditionalism” have endeared him to folks like us.) I loved Helen Mirren’s portrayal of the Queen in the film of the same name, but in some scenes she plays the Queen as a bit too “grand.” If one watches footage of the real Queen’s interactions with ordinary people, she is extremely plainspoken. Why should she put on airs, after all? She’s the Queen.
For many, it remains to be seen whether Charles is capable of conveying the same naturalness. I think that he is. He may be a bit odd (and perhaps also a bit too grand), but by most accounts he is also kind and generous. And Camilla is a real trouper, the consensus being that she is quite down-to-earth. For years some people, especially Americans, have asked “Couldn’t they just skip over Charles and make William king?” This is absurd. It would require either Charles abdicating or Parliament passing a special constitutional amendment, which is not going to happen.
I predict that there will be a great outpouring of public grief over the death of the Queen, possibly approaching Diana-like proportions. (Almost, but not quite: The Queen’s death was expected, whereas Diana’s was a great shock.) It’s fascinating how fickle the public is. When Diana died, the knives were out for Charles — until he walked outside the gates of Balmoral holding little Harry by the hand to look at the flowers and cards that had been left there by ordinary people. The next day photos of Charles holding Harry’s hand were splashed all over the papers. “A Father’s Touch,” gushed one of them. And then all was forgiven, and the public realized they were mourning with Charles, not against him.
I predict that, in the wake of the Queen’s death, much sympathy will be directed at the former Prince of Wales, who is now 73. This will help a great deal with the transition. He might even become a beloved figure. After all, he’s old and grey now and it’s easy to love the elderly (unless they’re George Soros). No one dared criticize the Queen in her last 20 years. Charles’ oddness might come to be celebrated simply as British eccentricity. It’s really sort of like having Doctor Who as king, isn’t it?
In any case, I think that the monarchy will survive this. As the deposed King Farouk of Egypt once said, “One day there will be only five kings left in the world – the King of Spades, the King of Clubs, the King of Hearts, the King of Diamonds, and the King of England.” Another reason I love the British monarchy, much to the consternation of my friends, is that even though it has been corrupted, like everything else in our world, the monarchy still carries on traditions that are thousands of years old. Concerns over the Queen’s health began a few days ago when she cancelled a virtual meeting of the Privy Council (no kidding). “Privy Council?” I can hear my liberal colleagues saying, “That sounds medieval!” Yes, exactly. I like that.
There’s a tendency to think that the monarchy is a great charade and that behind closed doors the Royal Family don’t really take seriously such things as heraldry and swan upping. But all accounts seem to suggest that they do. I’m very glad there are such people still left in our god-awful, vulgar world. Even if they do serve to legitimate “whoever is in power.” Call it a weakness of mine, if you like.
The Queen is dead. Long live the King!
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