Starting with the Civil War in England, there was great turmoil for 76 years. The War claimed 13% of the population. Charles II was restored and took control. A multi-faceted and talented King, he could well have saved England and much more. By 1715 after much political struggle we arrived at a Constitutional Monarchy. Robert Walpole was the first Prime Minister and encouraged the people to trade. There was a succession of some of the greatest statesmen the world has ever seen.
Our great rival France, failed to change and reform until 1789. By then it came too quick and they had Revolutions. They continued to have them in 1830, 1848, 1871 and 1968. Whenever the French Government tries to reform the Common Agricultural Policy, farmers invade Paris with their tractors and they win the day. The Spanish have had innumerable changes between Monarchy and Republic, especially in the 19th Century. The Spanish Civil War was brutal and claimed 1 million lives. The Americans had a reasonably smooth transition to Republic and we can all admire their courage in electing an amateur to the White House. Changing the Constitution dramatically is traumatic. There is no perfect system, but we must make ours work for the best.
A crucial moment came when George V became King. The brilliant Liberal Peoples Government could not push their radical reforms through the House of Lords. George, all be it reluctantly, had to curtail the power of the Lords in favour of the Commons. He chose the people over the peers and his family have continued to do so ever since. Instead of leading an aristocratic and superior life, the House of Windsor has served and protected this country, and many throughout the world, with its very lives.
At this moment when the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are slowing down in their nineties, it is worth reflecting on what they have done. The Queen started fixing trucks in the War while she was still a teenager. It seems that every minute of every day she has served the people. One of her only personal joys was the Royal Yacht Britannia and we took it from her. The Duke was a brilliant Naval Commander with a glittering career ahead of him, who had to retire in 1952. Ceremonial duties for a Warrior King must grate. I wonder if he has spent his time fanaticising about naval battles ever since. Who can blame him?
I suppose there are some who resent the privilege that comes to the Royal Family. I have never found anyone who could criticise the Queen. I suspect her family cannot do her role better. But since they have money and power, they must appreciate that it is a responsibility. With no need to hunger for money and power they know how to put it to good use, and they do. They are both aristocratic and they are the people. They are the only one nation politicians in the country. Do they really need to prove themselves to us anymore? They dedicate their lives to charitable work with little recognition.
But what is the future for the monarchy. Some say it should be scaled down as the expense is not justified, after all we have a democracy and the politicians are there to serve and protect us.
But surely there needs to be checks and balances on the real powers that run the country. Who monitors the democratic process, the media, regulates business and protects the financial markets. The House of Windsor has money, contacts, experience, integrity, commitment, self-sacrifice and have literally put their lives on the line for us in many ways.
While this country is failing across the board, would it not be better to extend the power of this family rather than reduce it. As a counterpoint to those driven by self-interest, money and powerz. They may have limited constitutional powers, but by God they can lead. They could step forward and make a difference to the people who suffer where the divide between rich and poor is growing ever greater. They could be an effective opposition to the establishment as Owen Jones defines it in his book.
And quite frankly, we have not got anything else.