Thoroughly Modem Monarchy

Letter From England

The pace of cultural redefinition in Britain is steady and strong. Since the day in 1991 when Prime Minister John Major refused to veto the Maastricht treaty, a new picture has emerged. To put it crudely, the Tories and the monarchy are looking unprecedentedly vulnerable. The only good argument for their continued survival is that they have been so strong for so long that a difficult period should be seen as normal, not terminal.

Perhaps so, but there is a new mood. The general election landslide for the Labour Party was an explosion of distaste—a grand alliance of resentments—much broader than the narrow issue of who governs. The anti-Tory fury has not relented yet, but the monarchy and the Act of Union stand not much higher in public affection. There is little doctrinaire opposition to the monarchy, but the public mood is highly susceptible. We are still going through a moment when the country looks round to be told how to modernize itself Mr. Blair and the Queen can do what they want with the constitution.

Mr. Blair is not proving very strong on ideas. Whether he is professionally hyper-cautious or just conventionally empty-headed, the effect is the same. He is a second-order personality who expects to be told what is going on. But once he senses an instruction, there is the chance he will do something. The Queen is a conservative but not a reactionary, and her advisors were badly shaken by the malice of...

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