THE QUEEN’S BEST SPEECH
by Anton Wills-Eve
Why have the power of speech and never use it?
THE QUEEN’S BEST SPEECH
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
This is a quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt. It is probably the most inaccurate remark on human beings that has ever been made by a prominent public figure. I only have to look at my own life and think of the many occasions on which I felt inferior to others around me when it was the last thing I wanted to do but had no choice. But then I wasn’t married to the President of the United States, and unless Hilary gets her skates on I never will be. But to return to a serious note, why do you suppose I have cited and discussed this remark?
Well, in Berlin the other night the Queen of England came closer than at any other time in her reign to making a very clear public statement about where she stood on a matter of extremely important significance to the future of the States that currently make up the European Union. At a state banquet she basically said that that Britons were naturally part of the peoples of Europe and had played a major role in making Europe the cultural and economic power block that it is today.
Obviously many European leaders didn’t like this idea, but with mild references to winning two world wars, the bi-centenary of the battle of Waterloo etc she made it clear that Britain was as much part of Europe as any other European country. But British monarchs are nor supposed to make their political opinions known to the public. Well, Elizabeth 2nd knew this, but she also knew she was eighty five years old, still in full possession of her facutlies and, for her age, remarkably articulate. One must assume she thought ‘why not say what I think? My country needs somebody to do so, and as no one else seems bothered I shall do so myself.’ And so she told both her own government and the other governments of Europe that basically as long as she was queen Britain was staying firmly in the centre of the European continent.
Another constitutional problem recently has been whether Scotland should remain part of the United Kingdom. She hinted that that was what she wanted, and a referendum on the matter supported her voting 55-45 in favour of Scotland staying in the UK.
The importance of this tacit intervention is that it is no use holding high office if one never uses it to bring about what one believes to be right. Could you imagine the US President doing this? Saying it, yes. But doing it? I doubt it.