The name of those who met the Queen is legion. However brief the meeting, they would remember it for the rest of their lives. Those who met her more often received, if possible, a more profound impression. Ministers, from her Prime Ministers down, were struck by her mastery of the brief and the acuteness of her critical powers. She was formidably well-informed and had a knack of spotting the weakness in an argument. Out of the public eye, her sense of fun and quiet modesty gave one the sense that her balanced personality was what enabled her to be so good at her job. As a hereditary monarch, she presented the eternal question that bedevils the lives of political theorists everywhere: as the French philosopher asked, “It works in practice, but does it work in theory?” Indeed, to the bien pensant 21st century mind, the idea of hereditary office is so offensive as to border on the incomprehensible: it reeks of privilege and stands as a constant reminder of an outdated social order. Yet in this country, popular opinion still seems stubbornly to resist the abolition of the ultimate hereditary office: the monarchy. Why?
As pundits rush to defy economic gravity and create an alternative reality, there is no shortage of scapegoats for the fiscal earthquake.