THE PLATINUM JUBILEE
The Somerset Guardian, 8th June 2022
The rain held off just long enough for the West Harptree Jubilee celebration to be completed. Along with communities across the land, towns and villages in North East Somerset paid tribute to The Queen. The prayer we all make in the national anthem: “Long live our noble Queen” has been well and truly answered. It is a jubilee that has never been matched in the history of the Crown from Alfred the Great via the Normans, the Plantagenets, the Tudors, the Stuarts and the Hanoverians to the present day and is unlikely to be repeated. It was an opportunity to say ‘thank you’ for The Queen’s life of service and for the country to unite.
Yet, monarchy is more important than jubilees. It is a constitutional question about what leads to good government, especially in a democratic age. The United Kingdom’s settlement and constitutional evolution has been a boon to the nation. It has provided stability and continuity. In the eighteenth century the idea that the state extended beyond the person of the monarch was crucial for the economic progress of the nation. It encouraged investment and allowed us to afford to defend our interests in a way other countries could not.
In the nineteenth century, with the march of democracy, another long-serving queen realised the limitations of her power but provided a focus and an effective representation of the people to the ruling class, which was still essentially an oligarchy. As other nations faced revolution the British Constitution continued to evolve. In the twentieth century, the monarchy twice provided a centre of unity when wars threatened the existence of the state and now, in the twenty-first century, the Queen remains the living embodiment of her kingdom.
The constitutional monarchy provides steadiness, a link to our history whilst unifying at home and impressing abroad. The occasionally sung third verse of the national anthem (the second is almost never sung) is conditional: “May she defend our laws and ever give us cause to sing…God save The Queen”. This condition has been fulfilled by our sovereign but we sing this not just for Her Majesty but because our constitutional system works and helps us to prosper.
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