The Public Interest

Thoughts on the Presidency

Henry Fairlie

Fall 1967

I have never understood why radicals in England object to the banal clichés which the Queen normally utters to her subjects. The English, after all, fought a civil war, executed one king and sent another king packing, precisely to be sure that monarchs in the future would not say anything which had any meaning. They then made doubly sure of this by giving the crown to a Hanoverian who could speak barely a word of English. When the Queen’s consort to-day, a man of continental upbringing and notions, accentuated by an education at Gordonstoun, does say something in public which appears to carry some meaning, both Parliament and the press call for the executioner: only a 20th-century half-heartedness prevents the Duke of Edinburgh’s head from rolling. It could, indeed, be said that the reason why the English fought their passionate, but still rather scholarly, civil war, and laboriously carried through what deserves to be known as the Inglorious Revolution, was primarily to make certain that those on the throne, and those near the throne, would not communicate intelligently with their subjects, but only with pedigree cattle, horses, and gun dogs.

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