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A debt of gratitude

The late Queen Elizabeth II (File photograph by Alastair Grant/AP)

Queen Elizabeth II passed away as the longest living monarch. Her funeral was perhaps the most viewed funeral, making it another milestone for the records. It could be said also that since the conquest of England by William of Normandy at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, excluding the ancient orient dynasties, the British monarchy also represents the longest continuous monarchy but for a few years during the period of Oliver Cromwell and the “levellers” who wanted Britain as a republic. A healthy proportion of Bermudians’ genealogies are descendants and are linked to that battle in 1066.

The idea of God’s will has been always implicit in the establishment and continuation of its heritage of the monarchy. It is just par for the course that the national anthem, God Save the Queen, and the famous words “long may she reign over us” inform of her title as the head of the congregation and the one that holds the emblem of respect for which the country lives or dies. Like the Pope, the title of the British crown was once held as God’s anointed.

For that reason, that title has held rigid standards and protocol to be a social and human model. The political role of the monarchy has changed from its former days when it occupied nearly 90 per cent of the planet. In the days gone by, the monarchs led wars and were heavily invested in political affairs both local and foreign, which were not all benign or humanistic.

There was a time when the only persons who were educated were the wealthy, the elite, the military, and the Church hand-in-hand churned out the community leaders — beginning with the suppressed movement of the levellers back in the 17th century that came to life in the 18th century with the French and then the American revolutions. Briton regained its monarchy over attempts to make it a republic, but over the centuries ideas of human freedom began to put checks on monarchies to the extent that today, aside from tradition, the monarch represents more a celebrity than an authority higher than oneself. The glow of the monarchy, though, still remains popular — almost cultish — among millions of fans but has grown dimmer in the intellectual world of politics with some now questioning its continuance.

It is to her tremendous credit that the Queen carried her office and sacrificed for her country in a role thrust upon her at the tender age of 25. For 70 years, when there was plenty of scandal among the Royal Family, she seemed to have avoided any deep issues that shrouded her own reputation. Seventy years is a long time and there is no coincidence there were two rainbows shining over her palace when she died.

This indeed may be the end of an era for the role the monarchy played. King Charles III is a bit more political and has a distinct world view of the economy and the environment. While he cannot attend sessions in the Houses of Parliament, rest assured that his ears will be tuned in more so because he is more of a determinist. He does not stand out as the epitome of virtue, but is nevertheless a genuine environmentalist.

Bermuda is Britain’s oldest colony, has followed Britain through all of its nuances and has a constitutional status like none other. The Premier in a BBC News interview when asked about Bermuda said that our next step will be sovereignty. That comment may have been just a logical sequence if the country decided to pursue it. However, if it was a declaration, one should ask the question, “Upon whose authority would Bermuda achieve sovereignty?” It’s a great way of finding out through him announcing to the world that “he” is taking the country towards sovereignty without asking the people.

I share with others my gratitude for the Queen’s life and do recognise the value of her wisdom. One should never discount the wisdom of countless generations of experience, which is wrapped up in the children of the monarchs. May God grant her peace.

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Published September 22, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated September 21, 2022 at 2:46 pm)

A debt of gratitude

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