The Corner

The Queen Stops Tyranny

Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her 90th birthday tomorrow. Inspired by the occasion, Andrew Gimson penned an essay with the following interesting argument.

The monarchy is one of the greatest, though least observed, checks on arbitrary power. It occupies the space a dictator would need to occupy.

Because it is unthinkable in Britain to push the monarch aside, tyranny itself becomes unthinkable. In countries where for understandable reasons the monarchy was overthrown — France in 1789, Russia in 1917, Germany in 1918 — tyranny was not unthinkable. […]

In modern times, our monarchs have served the public by going above politics, and becoming instead a kind of hereditary umpire.

The Queen plays this role with exceptional and unwearying conscientiousness. She does not have to declare any Prime Minister out: the public elect MPs who do that for her.

But she stops the politicians, few if any of whom remain popular for long, from getting above themselves, and obliges even a convinced republican such as Jeremy Corbyn to play by the rules.

The Queen, Mr. Gimson writes of the U.K., “upholds our constitution.”

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