Friday, March 09, 2012

The Queen calls at Market Harborough

Yesterday the Queen began her Diamond Jubilee tour by visiting Leicester. Eschewing the Royal Train, she caught a scheduled service: the 10:15 from St Pancras.

This showed good judgement. The Nottingham trains that leave St Pancras at 15 minutes past the hour run non-stop until they reach Market Harborough. And there is usually plenty of room, though the Queen made sure of this by travelling first class.

Her majesty's good judgement did not extend as getting off at the first stop, but you can't have everything. So it was to Leicester that she went.

My view on the monarchy is pretty close to that of the Dowager Lady Bonkers, who recently said: "I wouldn't cross the street to see them, but I wouldn't vote to get rid of them."

There was at time when the Royal Family was at its most embarrassing when it was possible to think that a retired politician would make a more dignified job of it. It was difficult to imagine Willie Whitelaw, for instance, being on the front pages for having his toes sucked.

But in retrospect the low standing of the Royal Family was partly the result of the approach of the tabloid press, and Whitelaw was revealed to have been a bit of a lad after her died.

On Liberal Conspiracy today Mark Thompson complains that the monarchy is incompatible with a meritocracy. Maybe it is: certainly, it is a powerful symbol of the role that inherited wealth and position play in or society.

But I am not sure that a perfect meritocracy is so very desirable: it is easy to see such a society having no compassion for those who lack the ability to get on. And is Mark suggesting that we find the most talented person in Britain and make him or her head of state instead?

To me the great virtues of having a monarchy are that it separates the office of head of state from party politics and makes it possible to have as little reverence for the position as I do.


Anonymous said...

If Lady Bonkers is a Dowager then your Lordship must surely be deceased?

Jonathan Calder said...

I have taken medical advice and can confirm that I am still alive.

The Dowager must the the widow of the previous Lord Bonkers.