Why the queen who lost the British Empire is still revered -- Elizabeth II lucky she’s not locked in the Tower of London
Posted on Monday, June 04, 2012 at 08:09 AM
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|Queen Elizabeth II celebrating her Jubilee|
Her sixty-year reign has coincided with the total loss of the British Empire and a deeply reduced place for Britain in the world.
Just consider 1953, the year she came to the throne.
It was still the aftermath of the Second World War and Britain was first among all countries in Europe.
The detested Germans were defeated and partitioned and their economy and country seemingly in ruins.
Fast forward 60 years and the Germans are running Europe again and Britain is back to being sick man of Europe along with Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Ireland of course.
They hardly have a voice in European affairs which are now basically overseen by France and Germany.
Back in 1953 the new Queen oversaw an empire that governed vast tracts of land in Africa, Asia, Europe and elsewhere on the globe.
During her reign the British were reduced to fighting Argentina over an utterly nondescript island called Malvinas/Falklands and playing second fiddle to American forces just about everywhere.
The decline and fall of the British Empire under Elizabeth in another era would have resulted in a trial and the Tower of London for a goodly spell methinks.
Indeed, like the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, there would have been cries of “Off with her head.”
(Many of her predecessors were topped for far less. See Anne Boleyn etc.)
Instead, she is becoming more beloved as she gets older; the sheer longevity of the woman and her ability to carry out her duties at the age of 86 is impressive even to the most avid Republican.
But she must wake up and wonder sometimes where it all went wrong, She came into office as a hugely significant figure on the world stage, with giants like Churchill in her government.
Now it’s the nondescript David Cameron she meets and now the monarchy may even lose Australia and Canada at some point in the near future – not to mention Northern Ireland given the shifting demographics there.
She has become a symbolic figure, which she always was to some extent, but she no longer wields true power.
Unlike the fall of the Roman Empire, it was not the Barbarians at the gate, rather it was the enemy within, as the British simply lost out to Germany in Europe and the US in the world in terms of the scope of their power and influence in the post industrial revolution age.
Rule Britannia, indeed, but nowadays only on a small sliver of the earth, unlike when Elizabeth came to reign in 1953.
Royalty’s new reality was summed up wonderfully by the Guardian editorial writer describing the celebration on The Thames on Sunday as a flotilla of ships and boats honored the Queen;
“Sunday was a day for dressing up. But it was hard to watch the royal men in their sometimes preposterously over decorated uniforms — lord high admirals of ever-declining fleets, commanders of air forces whose future effectiveness hangs in the balance, fighters of wars about which middle Britain has deeply mixed feelings — and take any of it too seriously.”
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