With news of Elizabeth II’s hospitalization this week, millions of her subjects and admirers, in Britain and abroad in her vast realm, were compelled to acknowledge a sobering reality. The Queen’s reign is inexorably coming to a close.
Even Palace staff, it seems, are hard pressed to come to terms with Elizabeth’s eventual passing. Fleet Street was initially left in the dark about the Queen’s overnight stay at King Edward VII’s Hospital until unearthed by reporters at the London Sun. The initial implication was that she was admitted for “preliminary investigations” and that same day returned to Windsor Castle.
Buckingham Palace had hoped her admittance to hospital would remain a secret, claiming that the failure of officials to disclose the information was due to privacy concerns. “Practical concerns” alone dictated that she remain at King Edward VII, to avert a late 26-mile trip back to Windsor Castle — “around a 55-minute drive in good traffic conditions.”
Caught up in inconsistencies, the Palace issued a press statement on Thursday. “Following medical advice to rest for a few days, the Queen attended hospital on Wednesday afternoon for some preliminary investigations, returning to Windsor Castle at lunchtime today, and remains in good spirits.”
That last bit, royal watchers ruefully remark, is Buck House bafflegab. A later statement that same afternoon announced that the Queen was back at her desk and undertaking “light duties.”
Celebrating a 69-year reign that began in 1952 at the death of her father, George VI, Elizabeth is noted for her dedication to duty. The memory of her uncle’s abdication in 1936, along with the young Queen’s vow to dedicate to her people her whole life, whether it be short or long, keeps her in harness. Confidantes also surmise how loneliness following the death of Elizabeth’s husband, Prince Philip, after 73 years of married life, contributes to the nonagenarian’s relentless schedule.
On this head, her putative heirs, Prince Charles and his son Prince William, cannot be faulted. What distinguishes the Queen from her successors, however, is a deft touch and public awareness. Neither has emerged among her heirs. Each instead pursues the popular acclaim of the moment, a pursuit she has long eschewed.
The secret of the British crown’s success, Benjamin Disraeli avowed, was its sympathy with the average Briton against “cosmopolitan” elitism. Elizabeth’s faith in the goodness of the people served her well from the start. Her eventual successors, rather, court the causes of the day — whether on climate change or Britain’s “systemic injustice” — a courting that will serve only to erode the monarchy’s bedrock.
Nor can it be expected that the next monarch will inherit Elizabeth’s intimates who have guided her unfailing steps. Instead, Prince Charles or Prince William will assume the throne with his own retinue, neither of which has demonstrated either the will or wisdom to restrain their boss.
The New York Sun, a republican paper, urges your diarist to keep an eye on the third-in-line, Prince George. News that his grandfather is teaching him climate change bias is discouraging. Yet we take heart that, just as Prince Charles learnt little of the common sense verities from his own father, so George will take a pass on the progressive “woke” politics of his immediate family.
Already there are hints that the generation now arising takes a dim view of the radical “cultural Marxism” now rampant. How much indoctrination with the idea that they themselves are inherently oppressive can young boys and men — or women, for that matter — submit to before they rebel?
With luck, Prince George will come of age with more understanding and humility than either Charles or William, and take after his great-grandfather, Prince Philip. Meantime, your diarist wishes Queen Elizabeth well in her twilight years — though she is to celebrate in eight months the platinum jubilee of her years on the throne, to which your diarist says, ad multos annos.