I was never interested in history at school, maybe it was the teachers, maybe the subject but I have a feeling it was me always preferring to look ahead. Always trying to second guess what was coming next, living for tomorrow.
I do remember one thing a history teacher told me, though. His name was Mr. Conroy. I remember him particularly because he was responsible for my brief acting career. He cast me to play King Henry VIII in the school play, A Man for All Seasons. Although this brief taste of monarchy itself might not qualify me as an expert, at least it gives me some form of perspective.
Anyway, it’s not Henry VIII, or even my fourteen year old representation of him, that has coloured my attitude towards the Queen all these years. Mr. Conroy explained how the monarchy works, how having an unelected head of state protects us all against the worst excesses of government.
Imagine, he invited, a government intent on radical change. One that set out to infringe our basic human rights. They would have to get those draconian measures past the Queen and she would stop them. She is our ultimate protection against tyranny, or at least according to Mr. Conroy.
So, as long as we have our Queen, nothing really bad can happen to us.
There are critics of the monarchy who feel aggrieved that the opportunity to reign isn’t open to all. To those people I would point out that being the Queen can only be properly carried off by someone who is actually, well, royalty.
Another important quality of a successful Queen it’s that she doesn’t have a choice. Whether she wants to be or not, she’s got the job and got it for life. Surely a big advantage over someone like Tony Blair or David Cameron who would do anything to be in her position. Being Queen is a bit like being God, I suppose. It’s not a job you can train for. You have to assume the position, you can’t be appointed by someone else.
I’ve heard criticisms that the Queen is too posh, that she doesn’t lead a normal life and that she’s out of touch with common people. I don’t think a monarch can be anything other than posh and out of touch. If the Queen had to work in Tesco, or was a dinner lady, she wouldn’t have time to be the Queen. If she wasn’t posh, then who else could be?
On the whole, I tend to agree with Mr. Conroy that the Queen is a good thing. I think she does protect us from despots and that she has a valuable role in holding the country together and promoting good.
Long live the Queen!
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