The Magic of Tradition

By Nita Chicooree-Mercier

While countries across the world are hard hit by energy crisis, climate change and a wave of recession drowning the most vulnerable economies amid geo-political tensions sparked by major powers and the threat of a nuclear war, September 19th had more than four billion people, half of humanity on planet Earth, glued to their television screen to watch the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch in history. How do we explain such an extraordinary phenomenon?

Tradition and symbols matter to the British, and probably, to the world for that matter. The funeral marked the end of an era which Queen Elizabeth II stood. Pic – New York Times

Why the British monarchy? They are the only royal family and queen who galvanize world attention on the occasion of major events, weddings, births and deaths occurring within the precincts of their palaces. Partly due to the personality of the queen herself, to what she stands for in her country that endears her to lots of people. She was, probably, the last representative of the royal family who fitted into the role of monarch as per tradition, a virgin princess married to a member of the aristocracy she fell in love with on a first meeting at the age of thirteen, and presenting the face of a life-long loving and stable couple to the people of Britain. Her unwavering sense of duty she carried out on a daily basis with honour and dignity for decades despite the various scandals that rocked her family over the last three decades was widely appreciated.

In an age of distorted sense of freedom which opens the gate to unlimited expression of speech, personal emotions are splashed randomly like cheap rings and flood the internet to feed the basic instinct of voyeurism with futile and shallow private stories that had better be kept behind the scenes, the capacity of a monarch to show restraint in laconic public statements with measured words, and not to let emotions overweigh her sense of duty was highly valued. The symbolic value of a newly-wed young prince agreeing to the protocol and walking a few steps behind a freshly anointed queen sent a powerful message to the emancipation of women in the world and has unconsciously left a lasting imprint on minds and influenced a progressive view of women’s role in politics over decades. Before the changes that started altering Britain’s economic landscape around fifteen years ago, the Queen’s soft power drew investments into England on every travel she undertook abroad to represent her country on the international stage.

Have we fully answered the question: Why the Queen of England? Not yet. The legacy of once a powerful empire and the international status of the English language? Certainly. You may as well wonder how millions of teenagers labelled as lazy readers in the early years of the millennium suddenly took to reading J.K Rowlings’ Harry Potter books across the world. Or you may ask yourself how come four young men hailing from the working class in Liverpool created such psychedelic music that electrified crowds of people, sent audiences into raptures, made women swoon and made the Beatles the first musical prodigy to be broadcast at international level in the 1960s.

Go back to the 19th century and witness the significant breakthrough in science, technology and industrialization that propelled Britain to the forefront of progress. See where most sports originated from – football, volleyball, basketball, hockey, golf etc. – you name it. Travel back to the 16th and early 17th centuries and you find the genius of a monarch Queen Elizabeth I, how she survived several assassination attempts by hostile Catholic opponents from Scotland, England and neighbouring countries, galvanized troops despite bankruptcy and lack of funds to defeat the Spanish Armada in 1588 and set her country on the road of military and naval supremacy for centuries ahead. Rule Britannia was the motto. It lifted the spirits of the country, inspired great works of art, plays and poetry. Shakespeare reigned over Europe. And what about the Habeas Corpus? – the cradle of human rights.

What we mean is that all these factors contributed to the prestige of Britain and maintained its soft power in the minds of folks worldwide even after the end of the empire, decolonization and changing status of economic and political power over the last 50 years. There is a time to put things in context and see them as they are without the prism of Marxism, democracy, meritocracy, and all. And by the same token, add a pinch of objectivity by putting ideological indoctrination to rest. The relevance or not of the monarchy today is an internal matter which mainly concerns the population of Britain. Read More… Become a Subscriber

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 23 September 2022

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