Yesterday Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom surpassed Queen Victoria as the oldest reigning monarch of the country. Queen Victoria lived for 81 years, 7 months, and 29 days. As of today, Queen Elizabeth has lived for 81 years, 7 months, and 31 days. Historian David Starkey celebrated this event by publicly bashing the Queen’s philistine attitude and lack of education.
Good for him. Despite his job being based around history and therefore constant looking backwards, he still recognises the need for forward-thinking and change from dogmatic devotion of custom; in this case he advocates a move from the Church of England and for Prince Charles to become King as soon as possible. It’s particularly bold for him to venture his own opinion through his series, ‘Monarchy’, which plays to the (perhaps stereotypically) conservative historian crowd.
For years the present Queen has been practically useless, functioning only as a figurehead and a symbol for the long history of Britain; generally wheeled out to impress and intimidate the Americans and their short 200-year historical background. One could go so far as to say she’s as ineffectual as George W. Bush: like two kids in a playground, except where Bush runs around with ADD pushing over the smarter kids and beating up the weaker kids, Queen Elizabeth just sits quietly in a corner on her own stroking her doll’s pretty hair. Sure, the British Prime Minister sometimes goes over out of sympathy and asks if she wants to play but she just says no and shyly continues sitting on her own. All the other kids view her with pity: they’re nice to her but also think she’s kind of creepy and weird. As this metaphor is quickly losing its structural integrity, I’m going to bail out now.
Our Head of State does nothing. The Royal Family does nothing but provide fodder for tabloids (like The Di-ly Express) and occasionally venture from their palaces to wave at the proles and get their photos taken pulling pints or some other friendly community-centred activity. The British Royal Family is, at the moment, a sad remnant of custom, a lonely bastion of Britain’s ancient traditions, and a reminder of the Imperial power the British Empire used to hold. But now it doesn’t and the Commonwealth doesn’t need a monarch. We need to look forward to make ourselves the nation we want to be instead of clinging conservatively to the past and the nation we used to be.
Still on Christmas Day, we’ll all gather around the TV at 3pm to hear the British Anthem and listen as the Queen gives her futile opinion on the year. It would be nice if she actually said something of any import or something that we’d remember longer than the time it takes the turkey to cook but, sadly, our de jure ruler is no Philosopher-King. Hell, I doubt she’s even read ‘The Republic’.