Gracie was generous to make some kind remarks about our Queen on Mickeys' blog the other day so I thought i'd post this. It's two sets of comments I'd made on a blog some years ago when I was trying to explain our system of governance. I hope it's helpful.........and the video is great fun.
People from outside our shores often don't seem to understand us, our laws or our system of governance. We consider ourslves a tribe and the Queen is our Head. Our military, police, judiciary and all senior members of the civil service swear their oath to the Queen and not to our government. No law may be passed in Britain nor Act of Parliament without Royal Assent. As Head of Gods' Church in England the Queen works closely with the General Synod. And if I may brag for a moment, as Queen of her Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth she is Head of State for over two billion people.
When you swear your oath to the Queen it's entirely voluntary and lasts until death (in most cases), we swear to support her in all her aims. In return she renews her oath each year in Parliament to serve and protect her people for her own lifetime. When she passes away I am free to swear an oath to the new Crown or I can just walk away. Walking away isn't something I fancy though.
I spoke to her once (very briefly). I'd been stationed at Sandringham to recover from some injuries I'd received. Apparently she'd inquired who the young officer was with the badly scarred face and who walked with the aid of a stick. Then she spoke to the colonel of my regiment about my background.
So, one morning I'd sloped off around the back of the house for a smoke after breakfast (no smoking allowed in the house). Suddenly she comes steaming 'round the corner. "Good morning." says she. Fixing my eyes the regulation twenty degrees above the horizon, at attention and thumbs in line with the seams of my blues I replied "Good morning ma'am".
Not much of a conversation eh?
The next morning there was an envelope in my in-tray. It was a pass allowing me to leave the estate 'when not required for duty'. Marked 'By Order of the Queen HRHII, and signed in her own hand. This meant that I was free to stroll down the lane in civvies, hop a bus into town, sit in the pub with a pint and a cigarette and read the newspaper. It was a tremendous healing process to my soul. Afterwards I'd get the bus back or just walk back through the fields, hands in pockets and enjoying the air."
And there's this one:
"Sigurd and Lucija, you've both made such kind comments about our Queen.
As you've remarked, some people (both foreign and domestic) don't seem to understand at all. And this is more embarrassing for the ignorant in my own Country than those from abroad. These people see her as some sort of figurehead who just pops out once a month to open a supermarket or something. I suppose in the US that would equate to somebody who not only doesn't understand your Constitution but may not be aware that a Constitution even exists.
Every morning after breakfast (except for Christmas Day and sometimes her birthday) her Principal Private Secretary brings her 'red box'. This contains all the information she needs to rule her Country, what's happened with her armed forces, new laws passed by Parliament which need Royal Assent, letters from her subjects which are considered by her PPS to require her attention. Things of that nature.
I'm rather pleased (and so big headed) that once, one of my communications would have been in her 'red box'. This was after my tour at Sandringham and I'd been temporarily assigned to one of her majesty's warships. After the successful completion of operations our captain was kind enough to allow me to send the message confirming our task. This took the usual form for naval communications. I trotted off to the radio room.
Bernie........"Make to Admiralty House, in code and immediate" (there followed the usual gobbledygook about ships, map references, course and so forth).
Bernie........"Message begins........Be pleased to inform her majesty...........".....Then the message.
You see how this goes? First the Admiralty is informed and they tell the Queen. The politicians will find out in due time. Well, if it affects them they will...........:)
People don't understand the sheer power our Queen possesses. No law binds her. While she will take the advice of her ministers she is not bound by precedent. If she doesn't like her ministers advice then she'll just set a new precedent. No squabbling over the minutaea of the law for her, her word is final. But, to the best of my knowledge she has always acted in her Country's best interests. That's why we trust her.
While constitutionally she may not take sides in politics and, she must keep her opinions to herself, she has sometimes acted. Back in the 1970's she considered that her Prime Minister wasn't doing a good enough job of running the Country. One morning the PM gets a 'phone call from the Chief of Staff of the Army telling him that he'll resign and call for new elections. He was told that he had until 2pm, after that the army would arrive and he'd be dragged out of Downing Street by force. Needless to say he stepped down.
Of course we always love our pomp and ceremony. Every year at the State opening of Parliament the basements of the Palace of Westminster are searched for barrels of gunpowder just in case Guy Fawlkes has come back. A hostage is sent from Parliament against the Queens' safety. They'll be held at Buckingham Palace until the Queen's safe return.
The Queen approaches the doors to the Lower House and they're closed in her face. Twice Black Rod beats on the door and is refused. On the third assault they're admitted. The Queen then reads a speech written by her ministers (and given Royal Assent) describing their path for the next twelve months. Then she returns to Buckingham and the hostage is released.
Last year Prince Charles (Heir to the Throne) accompanied her and stood behind her as she made her speech. There'll be no nonsense about a 'change of succession' and she makes sure Parliament understands that. Also, one of the few laws of treason we have left is calling for a republic in Parliament. Try that one on and you'll find yourself in the Tower in short order.
I saw in a poll last year that 85% of the people support the monarchy and only 13% are against it. Let's see some politician come up with such support especially after sixty years in power.
Here's a little link:
And a couple of quotes from it:
"In fact, the Queen isn’t scared to take on politicians when she believes they’re interfering with her personally. When the British government urged her not to visit Canada in 1964 because of separatist unrest, she ignored her ministers and went.
In 1961, she came close to causing a constitutional crisis by disregarding Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s advice to cancel a visit to Ghana just days after an outbreak of bombs and civil unrest. Her own safety, the Queen believes, is largely a matter for her own judgment.
Indeed, when anyone proposes saturation security, she’s been heard to retort: ‘I have to be seen to be believed.’
And for royal sang-froid, it’s hard to match her remark after a concrete block was dropped on her car from a Belfast tower block. Shrugging her shoulders, she observed: ‘It’s a strong car.’"
"But while the Queen enjoys the occasional unscripted glitch, she is also sensitive to the embarrassment of others. If someone makes an innocent mistake, she’d rather press on than dwell on it.
There was an excruciating moment in May this year when President Barack Obama raised a toast to the Queen at the end of his state banquet speech, but carried on speaking. The orchestra of the Scots Guards had already started playing the National Anthem and it was too late for either of them to stop.
When both had finished, the Queen simply turned to her guest and said sweetly: ‘That was very kind.’
Once, on an engagement in Lanarkshire, she noticed that her then Lord-Lieutenant, Lord Clydesmuir, was having considerable trouble extracting both himself and his sword from the official car.
Meanwhile, an embarrassed line of people were waiting for him to introduce them.
Taking in the scene, the Queen marched up to the greeting line, with her hand outstretched.
‘My Lord-Lieutenant appears to be having difficulty in getting out of the car,’ she said. ‘So I’d better introduce myself............. I’m the Queen.’"