Cal Thomas: The Queen’s Litter
London – Watching the BBC and Sky News cover the death of Queen Elizabeth II, one is struck by the adjectives used by reporters, commentators and interviewees outside Balmoral Castle and Buckingham Palace: sense of duty, virtue, integrity, service. What is amazing is that these and other traits that the late queen exhibited were once considered normal and worth teaching to children, but today they stand in stark contrast to what is modeled and accepted.
One commentator said the Queen’s death was the symbolic end of the greatest generation. We honor the virtues that made the greatest generation great, but we no longer promote them, whether in public schools, social media or the wider culture.
I saw her once. It was in the early 1950s, shortly after his accession to the throne. This was her first visit to the United States as sovereign. My dad took me to a University of Maryland football game. She drove around the football stadium track in an open car in front of a cheering crowd.
So little is known of Elizabeth, the person. This is one of the reasons why the Netflix series “The Crown” has attracted so many viewers. Claire Foy, who played young Elizabeth, displays the doubt she must have felt as one of six female monarchs over the past thousand years, beginning with Elizabeth I and Mary I.
Perhaps his only misstep was his failure to initially appreciate the public’s adoration for Diana, Princess of Wales. After Diana’s death, it took days for public pressure to compel her to make a video statement about her admiration for Diana and visit a large pile of flowers leaning against the gates of Buckingham Palace.
In their book “Elizabeth II: An Oral History” (Penguin Press), authors Deborah and Jerry Strober interview dozens of people who knew or worked with the Queen, or had unique insights from relatives who knew her during his seven decades on the throne. Their book provides information (and, yes, delicious gossip) probably available nowhere else about the Queen, Charles, Diana and the rest of the Royal Family.
In an afterword they write: “As long as Charles occupies the throne, the future will belong to (his son) William. Now 40, he watched the way his grandparents, Queen Elizabeth and the late Philip, behaved. Moreover, he will have the advantage of seeing his father as a monarch…”
There have been and have been for many years criticism of the monarchy and the idea that blood alone should determine a head of state. But Elizabeth II has reignited the faith of many in the institution and if it is to survive for another generation or more, the credit will clearly and rightly go. Much will initially depend on his son, now known as Charles III (Charles I was beheaded in 1649 for alleged treason). Due to his age (74 in November), this modern Charles will be a transitional figure who will likely continue to push his liberal environmental and cultural agendas. Whether this will pass with the public and their own evolving attitudes will be known soon enough.
It’s hard to imagine a world without the Queen. Even for non-UK citizens, it has been so present in the lives of people of a certain age.
Liz Truss, Britain’s new Prime Minister, said the Queen was “the rock on which modern Britain was built”. It’s not exaggerated.
Cal Thomas is a columnist and syndicated author. Readers can email him at [email protected].