Oscar Holdway López | Opinion
Since ascending to the throne in 1953, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has been a living symbol of our nation. She embodies every British citizen, as well as centuries of British history and culture. However, the Queen herself is an important bridge between Britain’s past and the modern era we now live in. Her extraordinary reign has outlasted 14 different UK Prime Ministers, from Winston Churchill to Boris Johnson, as well as an astonishing 170 Commonwealth leaders from around the globe who served under the realm. The monarchy is one of Britain’s most powerful tools, giving us a longevity and stability that other nations could only wish for.
Unlike a President, a monarch is not elected by the people but appointed by God and answerable only to God, according to British constitutional understanding. The sovereign is crowned by an Archbishop, not a politician. Their mandate is clear: to be a figurehead for all people, a living representation of British values and a symbol of unity. It is for this reason that the monarchy deserves our loyalty. Our laws, when signed by Her Majesty, are approved by the highest authority: God. It is this divine right that gives our laws legitimacy and ensures the rule of law over power and wealth. This is a key difference from secular Republic states. Without the monarchy, the laws are approved by people who could potentially be influenced by their own selfish interests, such as power and money. A glance at African and South American Republics will tell you all you need to know.
Critics will suggest that these principles are not relevant in today’s world. While we may not take this so literally anymore, these ideas are still ingrained into all parts of our society, from our legal system to our Parliament. The Crown serves as a warning to legislatures, reminding them of the true weight of their actions and the importance of the job they have been entrusted with by the people. The result is a healthy respect for law and order and less abuse of power by lawmakers, who realise they can never be the ultimate authority.
The monarchy separates the role of the Head of sState from our lawmakers. Our politicians are not given the responsibility of being a symbol representing the United Kingdom. Unlike in the USA, the British Prime Minister lives in a relatively modest terraced house and, for the most part, is not usually liked by the majority of people. Flags are not raised; salutes are not given; and music does not accompany the Prime Minister in a show of patriotism. The Prime Minister is merely a subject of the Crown, no different to any of the rest of us. Even the title of Prime Minister stems from the Latin phrase ‘primus inter pares’, which means ‘first amongst equals’. This has granted the British people the ability to criticise and protest against our lawmakers, while not seeming to criticise the country or being sneered at for being ‘unpatriotic’. Our ultimate loyalty lies with the Crown, not with those raising our taxes.
It would be inconceivable for the phrases chanted on the streets of the USA recently, aimed at President Trump – such as “not my President” – to be recited outside the gates of Buckingham Palace in this country, regardless of people’s position on the monarchy. The respect for this institution is unique. The Crown is a unifier of our people, has no political leanings and no vested interest or special loyalty, save for to its subjects, to the nation and to God. It represents all of us, regardless of our differences. The monarch has a unique capacity to judge the mood of the nation and deliver vital words of inspiration or comfort whenever needed.
This is seen most notably in times of crisis. “We will meet again”, Her Majesty calmly reassured the British people during the coronavirus lockdown. Words that touched every household in the nation. Words that, if delivered by a President, could never have had the impact of an apolitical monarch. In contrast, across the pond, chaos erupts at every press conference with the President. A mixture of the media’s odd obsession with bashing Trump, coupled with the President’s unique personality, leads America’s Head of State to make remarks which his critics claim are “not presidential”. The truth is that you cannot carry out the duty of a Head of State to unify the country and represent every household, while simultaneously being in the executive branch – arguably the most divisive job of all.
Across the world, monarchs have higher approval ratings than Presidents and Prime Ministers and, while not perfect, they do guarantee the separation of two important roles. This allows us to have grudging disdain for our politicians as they take more money out of our pockets, while simultaneously keeping our quiet British patriotism with our ultimate loyalty to the Crown.