Tuesday 5 June 2012

Jubilee Thoughts 2

Like (I suspect) many men of my generation, I tend to associate the Queen with my mother. To further confuse things, both these ladies mingle somewhere in my 'mind' with Peggy Archer, the matriarch of Ambridge. All three have been present through the whole of my sentient life (and the same actress - if you accept the castist paradigm of The Archers - has played Peggy from the beginning), so there is of course a special emotional tinge to my monarchism, at least as it relates to the present incumbent. This might make it extra suspect in the eyes of stern rationalist republicans, but there has to be an element of emotional attachment for any institution to become deeply embedded in national life and to last long.
There are good rational arguments in favour of monarchy of course, the clincher being those two dread words 'President Blair', but it would be idle to defend it purely on rational grounds. 'O reason not the need!' Lear implores Goneril and Regan when they question his need for such a large retinue of knights. He knows that, once you start applying reason too rigorously to institutions based rather on tradition, mystique and emotion than on need, the whole social order is in danger of collapse and terrible things can be unleashed - look at the historical triumphs of rationalism: the Terror, the Gulag, the Killing Fields, the Great Leap Forward... And indeed look at what happens in King Lear.
As a reactionary, I am of course firmly in favour of the monarchy on the grounds of its deep continuity with the past and its embodiment of a historically grounded national identity - and, come to that, of the increasingly threatened hereditary principle. But as a retroprogressive, I also admire the monarchy (in its present form) as a great exemplar of the principle of changing in order to stay the same. Long live the Queen, I say! Preferably long enough to outlive her immediate heir... But the monarchy is surely strong enough to survive a Carlist Interregnum and return to business as usual in due course.


  1. Due to a probable mental imbalance, I don't find the words "President Blair" terrifying. But I don't think heads of state in a witless future republic would be drawn from the pool of ex-PMs. Far more likely would be the clapped out and second- or third-rate, so we would be lumbered with President Michael Martin or President John Prescott.

  2. Ah yes - President Prescott! Now there's a truly alarming prospect - tho Mrs P wld make a fine First Lady...

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  4. I think Alan's elder brother, Tony Partridge, would be a shoo-in for a future republic - and easy for the BBC, too, as he could offer a running commentary on his own pageantry.