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Three cheers for the Queen
ONE of my earliest memories is as a young boy sitting in the school hall watching the Investiture of the Prince of Wales.
We had been given a morning to knock together a few daffodils and leeks to wear and then, sitting on the dusty wooden floor of what doubled up as the Junior school gym, we peered at what was probably a very small TV to see Prince Charles ‘crowned’ by his mother.
I never questioned whether this ancient ritual had any bearing on my life. It so obviously did. The Queen was head of the nation, my parents and teachers informed me, and this was her son who would one day be my king.
The questioning came later, as these things always do.
But even in the days of rebellious youth I somehow never found the explanations for republicanism to hold water.
Even in those years when the blood would boil with righteous injustice over social inequalities – it still does today, or at least becomes tepid – the arguments that we should do away with something as unique as our monarch, to jettison such links with our past, and in practical terms throw away our best tourism asset never stacked up.
Since then I have found other reasons why I am happy to remain a subject of the British Crown.
This week it appears I am not alone. To the annoyance no doubt of the Moaning Minnies it seems the vast majority of the British people are quite content to have The Queen as our head of state. The crowds that lined the banks of the Thames in their millions, the Mall in their hundreds of thousands gave lie to the impression tradition, honour and duty play no part in our modern lives.
Is it a question then that we have witnessed a sort of mass denial in Britain, that we among those few nations that still hold our hereditary leaders dear simply haven’t advanced as far as other nations? Not at all.
In fact, I believe we have reached what could be described as a comfortable and even inevitable, certainly enviable, state of compromise with those two human forces: logic and emotion.
Or to give them their other titles: the head and the heart.
Yes of course we realise that an un-elected, hereditary head of state is illogical. Our heads tell us this. We the people should have the right to choose who governs us. We the people should be capable of picking from our ranks the best of us to decide our laws and how they should be imposed.
Only it doesn’t work like that. We the people are not complete rational beings. We are swayed by emotion, we listen as much to our hearts as our heads. In short we can never collectively produce a perfect democratic form of government. Instead we attempt to wrap our democracies around nation state identities. Hence why the Americans react to their increasingly polarised democracy with almost religious fervour, constantly seeking to find a President that symbolises their nationhood but, due to the fact he – or one day she – is a politician, never finding it.
We on the other hand have neatly separated our head of state from the hurly-burly of political bile. We can apply our irrational rationality to the different political colours and candidates, yet put all that to one side when as a nation we wish to collectively express our love of country – and its people.
That then is the rational yet irrational reason why I find I can continue to support our monarchy.
It seems many others have come to the same conclusion.