United Kingdom: The Windsors forever
28 April 2011
The Daily Telegraph
Irrational, sentimental absurd – and natural. Not only has the British monarchy has survived the 20th century, but it is still the cement of the nation, marvels the very traditionalist Daily Telegraph on the eve of the future King's wedding.
Almost exactly 100 years ago, the crowned heads of Europe gathered in London for the Coronation of George V, grandfather to the Queen. Magnificent though the occasion was, many astute observers believed the system of rule on display stood no chance of lasting out the 20th century.
The playwright George Bernard Shaw dismissed monarchy as a “universal hallucination” of the people that would soon pass away. H G Wells, the radical novelist, warned that monarchy had as much chance of survival “as the Lama of Tibet has of becoming Emperor of this earth”.
These predictions seemed perfectly reasonable. At the dawn of the last century, the ancient monarchies of Europe were feudal, absurd and hopelessly out of touch with the democratic spirit of the age. Furthermore, the critics were soon to be proved brutally right. Within a very few years of George V’s coronation, many of the great dynasties had been destroyed. Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the Austrian heir apparent, was shot dead in Sarajevo alongside his wife Sophie just three years later. The King’s cousin, Kaiser Wilhelm II, was forced into exile at the end of the First World War. The Romanovs in Russia were slaughtered.
Amid the carnage, however, the British Royal Family survived. There have been moments of difficulty, of which the abdication crisis in 1936 and the popular convulsion which followed the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997 have proved the most threatening. But the monarchy has pulled through – and it has rarely looked stronger than this week, as we approach the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.
So it is important to address the glaring question: what explains the survival of what appears at first sight to be such an anachronism? Read full article in the Daily Telegraph.