Leading article Australia

God save our CM

The Spectator Australia

The Spectator Australia

Getty Images

The Spectator Australia

17 September 2022

9:00 AM

It doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, ‘God save our gracious constitutional monarchy, long live our noble constitution monarchy, God save the constitutional monarch’. But that is the essence of what two weeks of emotional outpourings really amount to; this is what lies behind the endless television specials, news correspondents hanging around outside Buckingham Palace wondering what to say next, reams of newspaper opinions, royal-looking logos and graphics and loads of dead flowers and stuffed Paddington Bears outside the gates of the Palace (they asked people to stop leaving marmalade sandwiches – the rats, presumably).

Ultimately, this is not a celebration of the celebrity life of Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Mountbatten-Windsor. It is a reaffirmation of the supremacy of the democratic system of governance known as a constitutional monarchy.

The Paddington Bears are more revealing than they at first seem. It was only during the Platinum Jubilee festivities back in June that the cute film with the Queen, Paddington and the marmalade sandwiches was aired. Prior to that, the Queen was a socal media celeb only thanks to her similar comedic cameo role in a James Bond spoof for the 2012 London Olympics and, of course, for her starring role as the lead character in the Netflix hit The Crown. Astonishingly, for the best part of 70 years this very private individual was known to the public by her handbag, her horses, her corgis and, er, that’s about it. It is astonishing that after 70 years in the public eye, after a squillion encounters with the public, after being scrutinised by the world’s media for decades, pretty much all that anyone could find to visually convet an emotionsal response to the Queen’s death was a cute little advert made a couple of months ago.

That alone is testament to how over her entire life, and often presumably at great personal cost and pain, the woman herself never resorted to trading on her own emotions in order to garner public affection.

Today’s celebrity-obsessed, emotion-driven Millennials have grown up in a world that demands visual totems or ‘emojis’ in order to instantly convey and advertise ‘personal’ feelings. So it’s not surprising that many latched onto the bear and the marmalade film – a superb bit of cross-brand promotion which managed to simultaneously flog the Paddington books and movies, the Queen (the monarch), the other Queen (the pop group), London tourism, the grandeur of Britain’s old homes and the entire category of British marmalades and cream buns. (The skit was written, incidentally, by Simon Farnaby, who co-wrote Paddington 2 and who plays the footman in the spoof.)

That the Queen and her ‘Firm’ have so cleverly cultivated popularity without ever choosing to stoke populism is the single greatest achievement of Elizabeth’s long reign. It’s a trick that no other royal family has ever managed to achieve. It is something no presidential dynasty has ever pulled off. And it is something that no other form of government, no dictator, no junta or no republic has succeeded in emulating. The longevity of the loyalty to Her Majesty is testament above all to the enduring power and attraction of a constitutional monarchy, where the sovereign is the source of all authority without ever exercising any and is placed in the pinnacle position in our Constitution not in order to wield ultimate power, but in order to deny it to anyone else.

For that reason it is imperative that the constitutional monarch remains above politics. Prince Charles fell into the trap of allowing his concern for the environment to spill over into embracing and even advocating for political outcomes, most noticeably and unacceptably by promoting the ‘Great Reset’ on behalf of the World Economic Forum and by his relentless climate change doom-mongering. He has now solemnly pledged to leave such activism to others and, at this stage, we must take him at his word.

Strip away the pomp and ceremony – all of which is emulated (poorly) and copied (tastelessly) by every despotic regime in the world – and what makes these celebrations so important is they are not a personality cult. No rent-a-crowds. No bussed-in supporters. The crowds are there thanks to the authenticity of the institution.

Here in Australia, through a unique blessing of history, we are privileged to enjoy all the benefits of a constitutional monarchy with very few of the financial costs. We would be insane to give it away.

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Published by Nelle

I am interested in writing short stories for my pleasure and my family's but although I have published four family books I will not go down that path again but still want what I write out there so I will see how this goes

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