How will history remember Queen Elizabeth II?

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21 April
15:50
21 April
16:10

It seems to me that the Queen is a major political figure, perhaps, more important than people have realised for some time. Although I think, historians have recognised her importance in the last 20 years or so.

What she has done, very obviously, is being able to keep monarchy alive and to keep the idea of monarchy going at the time when, in other countries, it disappeared over the course of the 20th century.

Simply because she’s been the Head of the state for such a long time, with direct access on regular basis not only to British political leaders but also, of course, to international political leaders, particularly through the Commonwealth and with the regular briefings on political affairs that she has with the Prime Minister. I think, there is now a recognition that it is actually an important aspect which makes her quite a significant figure. Also, it is something that politicians and political leaders show: there is clearly a lot of respect towards her, both among British leaders and among international leaders. 

The Queen addresses leaders of the 53 Commonwealth nations (Malta, 2015.) Photo credit: BBC

What she has done, very obviously, is being able to keep monarchy alive and to keep the idea of monarchy going at the time when, in other countries, it disappeared over the course of the 20th century. One could say: “is that something worth doing in the first place?” because if we people don’t really believe in monarchy, it is probably not a great thing to keep it going. But, I think, what she has done is to keep the focus above party politics, which clearly has worked and has survived some of the crises of the 20th century. In her reign, of course, the biggest one was the death of Princess Diana in 1997.

I think, what she’s created is a sort of democratic monarchy, without having to go down to a very informal root of some of the continental monarchies. 

It quite clear that she, herself, has managed to make the monarchy something which is an integral part of the Constitution, and is broadly accepted. And, ironically, she is accepted even by Republicans – even by those who would quite like to get rid of the monarchy – but even they tend to say “well, after she’s gone”. I think, what she’s created is a sort of democratic monarchy, without having to go down to a very informal root of some of the continental monarchies. 

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