Sunday, September 11, 2022


The United Kingdom is a small island nation which has

had an outsized influence on much of civilization for

more than a thousand years, impacting forms of law and

government, language, literature and culture, first as a

conquerer and colonizer with an imperial reach across

the globe, and finally, at a dark hour in 1940, as brave

and gritty last-ditch defender of freedom and democracy

against a malevolent totalitarian threat. 

For the past 70 years, the once global superpower has

settled into a more normal pattern for a nation its size,

still an influence in diplomacy and trade, but superseded

by much larger and powerful nations. Its one-time colony,

the United States of America, inherited its role as global

military and economic power, and vied first with Soviet 

Russia, and now with mainland China, for global military,

economic and cultural influence and dominance.

Without political power any longer, the royal family of

Great Britain, has presided over the recent transition

under a single figure known popularly as the queen of

England — and named Elizabeth II.

Unlike many preceding European monarchs, ranging

from several English forbears to Empress Catherine

of Russia to Emperor Napoleon of France, she had no

outsized ambitions which precipitated conflict. She was

thus the ideal figure to accompany the natural transition

from supremacy to normalcy these past seven decades.

One story tells it best. Soon after becoming queen

after the death of her father, King George VI, she was

visiting her rural Scottish residence, and decided to drive

her car alone into the local hills without her security detail.

When she didn’t return after a few hours, there was  a

frantic search made to find her - which they did on a 

deserted road, under the car trying to fix it after it had

broken down. Before she had become queen, and during

World War II, she had served as an auto and truck

mechanic in the military — and now with the auto 

breakdown on an isolated road, she simply rolled up her

sleeves and set about to fix the problem herself. There

no cell phones in those days, but she didn’t panic or feel


Many members of her royal family, including her children,

were often controversial or dysfunctional, but through it

all, Elizabeth II remained outwardly calm and solidly

traditional, and fulfilled her public duties tirelessly as she

had promised she would on taking the throne 70 years ago.

There will now be many words written about her in eulogy,

many ceremonies culminating in an elaborate state funeral

and interment. She has been succeeded by her eldest son,

King Charles III. Following a millennium of tradition, her

grandson and great-grandson now await their turns as

monarchs. As the oldest and one of very few monarchies

remaining in a politically changing world, it isn’t certain they

will become king, but the British royal family endures for

now — thanks in great part to its just departed queen.


Copyright (c) 2022 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved. 

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