House of Windsor can claim a role in UK’s future

20110429-121432.jpgInteresting commentary on the political and
constitutional context for the British Royal Wedding in Westminster from Philip Stephens:

“Once she [the Queen] has gone, though, the institution’s long-term survival will depend on whether it manages to adapt to straitened circumstance. Even as they cheer the newlyweds, the monarch’s subjects are contemplating the prospect of many years of economic austerity. George Osborne, the chancellor, says Britain has “maxed out on the national credit card”. It’s a silly, and economically illiterate, phrase. Yet people know what he means. The royals will have to pay heed.”

If the monarchy needs to adapt, so must Britain. Back in the 1960s Dean Acheson, the US secretary of state, alluded to Britain’s painful search for a post-imperial role. He was not the first. As the allied powers advanced into Germany in 1944, Edward Stettinius wrote to Franklin Roosevelt suggesting the US president consider in his postwar planning: “The emotional difficulty which anyone, particularly an Englishman, has in adjusting himself to a secondary role after always having accepted a leading role as a national right.””

“The Brits are still adjusting. To the extent the House of Windsor can claim a role, it is as the thread through an expansive past to a constrained present. Britain’s future lies in staying interested in the world. The monarchy’s best hope is to remain interesting to the world.”

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