Republicans, such as me, have long had to acknowledge that making a case for the overthrow of the monarchy has been broken on the rock that is Elizabeth II.
Although public support for the Queen has wavered occasionally she has usually been able to enjoy the full-hearted backing of some 75% of the British population.
As the adulatory newspaper coverage of her record-breaking 63-plus years in office illustrates yet again she remains enormously popular.
There is nothing new left to be said about the woman who ascended the throne in 1952, but editors managed to pull together supplements anyway.
Leaving aside the video of the young princess appearing to give a Nazi salute, as revealed by the Sun in July, there appear to be no skeletons in her cupboard.
The Sun survived the resulting criticism and bent its knee loyally on Thursday with a spread and a leading article, Reign & shine, in which it saluted “her milestone as Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.”
It referred to the Queen’s decision to take part in the 2012 Olympics film stunt with James Bond actor Daniel Craig in which she appeared to join him in a parachute jump. “Even the hardest of republican hearts softened that night”, said the Sun. Hmmm.
Over the past couple of days, most national newspapers, especially the popular titles, have taken the opportunity to fawn.
The Daily Mail’s Wednesday editorial praised the Queen for having done her “job” so “supremely well”, having “performed her duty with uncomplaining dignity through seven tumultuous decades” and “remained a potent symbol of continuity.”
The Daily Express said it was “typical” of the Queen “not to allow a personal milestone to impinge on the royals going about their business as usual.” It added: “Such modesty is what we have come to expect from our wonderful Queen.”
The Daily Mirror thought it “remarkable” that she has “retained such widespread respect and affection” over so many years. “As she celebrates her historic milestone… we say: Congratulations, Ma’am. And thank you.”
The Daily Telegraph, in praising “the most dutiful of monarchs” believed “even ardent republicans cannot fault her selfless dedication to the country and its people.”
(I think we republicans,despite being on the back foot, can take heart from these references – they suggest our rebellious arguments have weight).
Anyway, the Telegraph contended that although “in this democratic age, it is easy to be cynical about hereditary rule” the monarch, being above politics, “is free from the taint that can attach to presidents.”
For the Times, in a leader headlined Vivat Regina, “the monarchy has not merely survived but thrived in [an] era of breakneck change” which “is testament to the remarkable ethic of public service demonstrated by the Queen.”
Her “greatest achievement has been to prove the value of a constitutional monarchy… a unifying force for a society that might otherwise have pulled apart.”
The Independent be praised. It restricted its coverage to a news story about the Queen travelling on the reopened railway through the Scottish Borders.
And the Guardian? It used the opportunity “to look beyond the record-breaking reign” to wonder whether the next monarch will enjoy similar public support.
It charts the anachronisms of monarchy, such as the class structure that persists and its religious role. Can a King Charles do as well as his mother? The paper argued:
“Beyond the theatrics, huge questions hang over the constitution. The uncertain fate of the union is one of very few issues of the last 63 years on which Elizabeth’s personal views could not be disguised…
It cannot be assumed that her eldest son, who lacks his mother’s talent for keeping one’s mouth shut, will make the same contribution to keeping the kingdom united.
The publication of Charles’s ‘black spider memos’ revealed a man who blends the cranky with the conservative and the compassionately concerned. They were, however, consistent in expressing strong views. This is a man who will struggle to allow disparate citizens of a diverse country to project whatever values they like on to him.
Republican voices, and this newspaper is one, would prefer that the next head of state should be chosen on grounds of suitability, not settled by blood.”
Yes, yes, yes. But it won’t happen right away, of course. Charles will be crowned. But will William? Now there’s a disloyal question for you.