“IN England you see,” wrote the famous playwright Alan Bennett, “age wipes the slate clean…If you live to be 90 in England and can still eat a boiled egg they think you deserve the Nobel Prize.”
Now that Queen Elizabeth has become a fully fledged nonagenarian, her acolytes will be keen to reflect on Her Majesty’s fine performance as Monarch in the tragicomedy that is parliamentary affairs.
Her family, however, has its detractors, with republicans disgracefully roaming the streets with their traitorous limbs still attached to their treasonous torsos.
Republicans used to have cojones. Throughout the 19th century democrats, socialists, anarchists and anti-monarchists waged violent and brave campaigns against feudal institutions and families across Europe.
Some royals, such as the Romanovs in Russia, fell before the onslaught, while others in Britain, Holland and Spain saw a seismic shift in their role and influence with the emergence of the constitutional monarchy.
In the second half of the 20th century a different kind of republican waged war against the British state, but did so with a similar ferocity and vision of freedom. In 1984 the Brighton Hotel bombing was aimed at taking down a symbol of oppression with an audacious finality.
Today’s republicans are a pale, lifeless reflection of the movement’s past glory, a gutless bunch that have now announced they are waiting for the Queen to die before calling a referendum on the monarchy.
An organisation very cleverly named ‘Republic’ has come out of the woodwork to claim that, with Liz turning 90, we should begin the debate as to what happens after her death.
Chief executive Graham Smith, who has been photographed wearing a blazer, has released a statement to mark Her Majesty’s birthday stating:
“In a hereditary monarchy the Queen’s age becomes a political issue. Long before the Queen dies the country will need to debate what happens next.
“When the Queen dies, the moment she is declared dead, Charles is king. So there is no gap. And there is certainly no official plan for a referendum. He is king immediately. The coronation would be about six months later.
“So that will be an opportunity, after the funeral and before the coronation, for us to do some campaigning and say, ‘Hang on a minute, this is the 21st century, if we are going to have a new head of state then perhaps we want to have a vote.’ Then if we have that vote, it can’t just be, ‘Do you want Charles?’ It has to be ‘Which person do you want?’ and it has to be a free and fair election.”
Republic is clearly an organisation comprised of twee herbal tea drinkers who cultivate the illusion that they are at the forefront of a revolt against tyranny, when in fact they represent everything that is wrong with modern democracy.
Many English people like the Queen precisely because she is a complete anachronism in contemporary society. Basic human nature shows that people are far more likely to be infuriated by blazer-wearing, tofu-eating men telling them what they should think, than by a corrupt political system using a doddering old lady and her descendents as shiny objects to distract them.
Anyway, the Republic movement is entirely misguided. With the advent of modern technology the Queen is highly unlikely to die anytime soon. If she manages to hang on for another few years then various genetic manipulations, nanotechnologies and mind-downloading devices will help us truly immortalise her.
It is, after all, our duty. The outpouring of grief, faux grief, banality and bad documentaries that would plague the news for weeks, if not months, after she died would be absolutely intolerable.
Long live the Queen.