Friday 9 September 2022

The Queen is dead. Long live the King.

A Romanian femme fatale once asked me if Englishmen ever felt emotion. I replied yes, when we thought about the Queen.

Yesterday morning I said to a friend how awful it will be when the Queen dies. Perhaps I had a premonition.

Double rainbow over Buckingham Palace yesterday.

Philip Larkin wrote this quatrain in 1977 at the time of her Silver Jubilee.
In times when nothing stood 
But worsened or grew strange 
There was one constant good 
She did not change. 

What a shame that he turned down the position of Poet Laureate when Margaret Thatcher offered it to him, knowing that the headline in the sun would be FOUR LETTER WORD WRITER BECOMES QUEEN'S POET, or something like that.

Charles Moore today.

As he surveyed the plans for Elizabeth II’s Coronation in 1953, her first prime minister, Winston Churchill, looked once more at the official photograph of the Queen on his desk. “Lovely, inspiring,” he said to his doctor, “All the film people in the world, if they had scoured the globe, could not have found anyone so suited to the part.” And then the old man began to sing the hymn “Forever with the Lord”, about pitching “my moving tent a day’s march nearer home”. He meant that he felt safe to die now that this young woman was on the throne.
....More than 60 years later, “the film people” began to take a great interest in the Queen, whose skills, Churchill believed, outmatched theirs. Through the medium of The Crown, Netflix glamourised this undemonstrative, un-thespian woman for a global audience of millions. It was melodramatic, often inaccurate, sometimes unkind, but it was also a compliment. It recognised that the Queen had become archetypal.


Actually the Queen, just because she was Queen was always an archetype. Every British person aged over five has dreamt about her.

This is the end of Churchill's remarks on the death of the old king and the accession of Queen Elizabeth II, as we must now refer to her to distinguish her from the new one.

This is what Mary Kenny tweeted:
Mournful though Elizabeth's passing may be, it was a wonderful death. Doing her work until the end, laughing and joking last weekend with her priest, and then departing in peace, her family around her. A blessing.
Of course a lot of catastrophic things happened in her long reign. So much that was beautiful and traditional in her kingdom in the first years of her reign, until and after Suez, were swept away in the 1960s and 1970s and subsequently. She did not prevent those things happening, but had no power to do so. She had a lot of political influence but we have no idea how she used it, whether for good or ill, except on behalf of that pointless organisation the (no longer British) Commonwealth.

This is what I wrote when Queen Elizabeth II's reign surpassed Queen Victoria's and she becomes England's, Great Britain's or Ireland's, or Canada's, etc. longest reigning monarch.

Talking of Queen Victoria, Frederic Harrison said his first memory was of his father paying a very rare visit to the nursery and saying, 

'Frederic, I am going to tell you something now that you will remember for the rest of your life. The King is dead.' 'I said, "Oh, papa, who will be King now?" and my father said, "We are not going to have a king. We are going to have a queen." 'I said, "So, it has come to that."'


  1. Good blog. Thanks especially for the Churchill clip, the first part of which seems equally appropriate today.

  2. I used to be a monarchist until I realised it has a lot of pitfalls I don’t like, hereditary ruling class being the pill I was not willing to swallow. That being said, Elizabeth II was a monarch I admired, doing her duty with dignity for a very long time, without fault. It takes character to do that. But that inequality will be the end of this system. London land is owned by 6 families in total, everything is a landlease. When you really dig who controls that country politically, it is a handful of people. Of course, it is a Constitutional monarchy and executive branch is elected, but it always looks a bit rigged those elections (you are really choosing between the existing elite anyway), just like in US.
    The elitist view has worked well for centuries, but I wonder if it will last in the following decades, a massive discontent is brewing underneath.

    1. There's the opposite argument that a true monarch with hereditary heirs will take care of their society far better (or with far better intentions) than a transient politician, whose main incentive is to loot the public treasury while the opportunity still presents itself before the following election. This is much how a homeowner will treat the property with far more care than a renter.

    2. I think the opposite is true. Elites are incredibly
      important – destroying elites was one of the worst things the Bolsheviks did if not the worst. Now elites is being deliberately replaced by social engineering. I rather grieve to see the WASPs being replaced in the USA.

    3. Nobody is doing social engineering…
      There is some upward mobility in US, less in UK, but not as much as you may think, old money still very much in power.
      Bolsevics- I agree with you there, the killed 300 thousand Romanians, the social elite. Look at who’s now ruling in politics, these pathetic excuses for human beings

  3. Not keen on this day

  4. side note: I regard the unintelligible an unattainable high benchmark for all other supranational organizations

    not a good day today

  5. The nineteenth-century English essayist Walter Bagehot, pondering the complexities of the British monarchy, advised against active participation by the monarch in political affairs. “We must not,” he said, “let daylight in upon magic.” What Bagehot called the “impressive” side of monarchy must be maintained by discretion, ritual, and taste.

    Elizabeth exuded those virtues spectacularly throughout her seven decades on the throne.

    I intend to say a prayer for the Queen.

    An American remembrance of the Queen
    Roger Kimball

    I expect nothing of Charles III. He is old and stupid and possibly malevolent. Nor do I expect anything of William V, assuming he is ever allowed to succeed. George V was unfortunate in his progeny, and its quality has been dropping ever since. If all else had been sound, monarchs of low intellectual quality might not have been a problem – though I suspect it would always have had damaging effects given that our constitution is monarchical and in need of some ability at the top. But they were stupid at a time when intelligent monarchs were an essential safeguard against a political class that, since about 1940, has never risen above the worthless.

    And now she is gone, and we must go through the traditional motions of mourning her loss. The worse things grow for the rest of my life, the more she will be missed. Probably, she will be missed a lot.

    On the Passing of Her Majesty the Queen
    Sean Gabb via 

    1. This reminds a joke heard quite a few times, approx. 'the state secret is nothing' [i.e. the act of classification is its only object]. I'd light the mysteries of publicly private life.

  6. There's a place here in the city where I live in France, west of Nice, where a British submarine landed some servicemen who met with members of the French Resistence during WWII. A stone and two flag poles, flying the French flag and the Union Jack, mark the place. Both flags were at half mast today. The tower of the medieval fortress nearby flies the French flag and it was at half mast too. I was surprised to see the Union Jack on the City Hall. Cannons fired on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice in her honour.

    1. No reason not to keep doing this little on the day for some years.

  7. Charles Moore reminded me in his lovely piece that if you visit Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam you see the picture of Princess Elizabeth, three years Anne’s senior, that she pinned to the wall of her bedroom.