Malta will soon welcome HM The Queen and her three heirs to the British Throne for CHOGM, but what is their real purpose? Aren’t they just for decoration? Er… No.
For some, she is a symbol of the old regime, of a time when feudal lords owned lands and serfs worked them, and the head of a money-grabbing family that does nothing but hold parties and wander in vast palaces. To others, she symbolises tradition and brings hope to the nation whenever its people need it.
But, either way, is there much need for the monarchy?
Well, the long and short of it is… Yes!
The British monarchy is an institution that has been there for almost a 1,000 years and its contribution to the world – sometimes imposed, sometimes by accident, and sometimes benevolently – is incalculable.
Today, however, many assume that the monarchy, with the Queen at its helm, is all about symbolism and tradition. ‘What do they have to do?’ you’ll hear some say.
A lot, but let’s start with the obvious.
The Queen is not a normal citizen. She was born privileged and, following the abdication of her uncle, was raised in the full knowledge that she would one day be Queen. She doesn’t need a driving licence or a passport, nor does she carry money – after all, all those are issued in her name. She is also, metaphorically, of course, the embodiment of Great Britain. However, she is different to other Heads of State, because she is neither appointed nor elected into Office; she is born into the role and she executes it accordingly.
Image: Queen Elizabeth at a young age
But what does this mean to the normal person on the street? Well, the fact that she has been there for over 60 years means that the Queen has been a valuable source of knowledge for all incoming prime ministers and other members of parliament. Moreover, the Queen is the nation’s focal point, uniting the country under one ruler. It doesn’t matter if you’re Lib Dem, Conservative or Labour; if you’re a British citizen, you’re the Queen’s subject.
Yet, her role isn’t all perks and no responsibility. As ‘the Nation’s Grandmother’, the Queen travels high and low to visit her people, to meet children, the elderly, single parents, and everyone under the sun who lives within her realm. This brings much business to the area, but it also makes people feel appreciated and highlights the injustices some may be suffering or the achievements others may have realised.
The Queen’s husband, children and grandchildren often travel to represent the Queen at events. Prince William, for example, was in Malta last year for the 50th anniversary celebrations of Maltese Independence. His presence, on behalf of his grandmother, gave Malta column inches around the globe and reaffirmed the island’s strong relationship with Britain.
Image: Prince William
These visits, in fact, help forge stronger ties between Britain and the world, and the monarchy is responsible for a great deal of wealth that enters Britain’s coffers: from the USA, Australia, the Middle East and everywhere else. The Queen never does business deals herself, obviously, but her mere presence is enough to get people interested and investing.
So much so, that a 2007 study by Harry van Dalen, an economist at the Dutch University of Tilburg, estimated that the Dutch crown is responsible for a 0.8 to 1.0 per cent of the economic growth of the Netherlands – and let’s be honest here, not everyone knows that the Netherlands are a monarchy, so can you imagine the clout the British monarchy has?
The reason for this is simple. Stability in power makes people and corporations feel safer and that, coupled with the global media’s attention on everything and anything they do, makes the monarchy an invaluable asset to England’s and many other countries’ GDP.
Ultimately, what we all should keep in mind – whether, like myself, you are a subject of Her Majesty, or not – is to remember that royals are not special because they were born privileged, nor do they get paid for doing nothing. Monarchy works because it gives the country stability without that stability being imposed, as opposed to dictatorships.
This is what makes the British monarchy relevant, because in an ever changing world, where US presidents come and go, regimes conquer and are conquered, company CEOs are appointed and given the boot, the kings and queens of England have offered a continuity rarely experienced in any other part of the world.
Incidentally, Queen Elizabeth II has just become the longest reigning monarch of Britain, a reign which has lasted ‘23,226 days, 16 hours and approximately 30 minutes’.
Maybe it’s time we appointed our first king and queen here in Malta. Any takers?
Do you think the British Monarchy is still relevant? Do you think Malta should have its own King and Queen?
Let us know in the comment section below.