Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Family visit

Cicero is visiting the Baltic States again this week.

It is a good week to be going- as H.M. The Queen has been showing. Her speech to the Lithuanian Seimas had just the right balance- and reminded both Lithuanians and Brits how much we have in common.

Like many people in Britain I have slightly mixed feelings about the idea of monarchy. However when I see the wonderful response of the peoples of the Baltic to Queen Elizabeth I find it hard not to be moved.

The Queen represents a bloodline traceable to Kenneth MacAlpin of Scotland and Cerdic the West Saxon- who first arrived on these shores just after the fall of the Roman Empire. The fact that the Lithuanians have also discovered that the Queen is a direct descendent of the mediaeval ruler of Lithuania, Mindaugas, has reminded me that sometimes the Queen has a truly personal relationship with History.

I am moved too, because the visit of Queen Elizabeth would have seemed like a fantasy only a few years ago. After everything- the brutal occupation, the murder, the oppression- after the refusal of Britain to recognise the legitimacy of the Soviet claim on the free peoples of the Baltic, at last there is a truly tangible symbol of all that was steadfast, but above all of all that has changed.

I write this, to my surprise, with tears in my eyes.

3 comments: said...

Maybe you were moved by the triumph of democracy and civil society in the Baltic states - rather than the persistence of anachronistic and hierachical forms of heriditary privilege.

I am sure that the Queen has charisma. But I would prefer the people to be sovereign.

Anonymous said...

"I am sure that the Queen has charisma. But I would prefer the people to be sovereign."

In Scotland, the people are sovereign. In England, parliament is sovereign. The Windors are like last year's Xmas decorations, faded populist baubles, tolerated, condemned or indulged according to taste.

Cicero said...

Gentlemen- of course the people are sovereign, Cicero does not forget what he stands for.

However, whoever the Head of State is the fact is that the Head of State is here serving a very particular and very symbolic function.

As of now and under the law, the Head of State is Queen Elizabeth- whoever else it might be. I am emotional because the Head of my State is paying a particular tribute to the suffering and occupation of the Baltics.

When a non political Head of State says the words "tyranny" and "brutality" it means something.

If, after Queen Elizabeth were to cease to be Head of State, we change the system, then fair enough, but this sourness is not going to convince anybody to do so.

I already said that my feeling about monarchy is ambivalent- however I have no strong feelings about it either way- but whoever our Head of State is, I am glad that this tour has been a success.

It s not just some kind of fuehrerkontakt that makes me think that The Queen is remarkable. Although, frankly I think that the connections of such a long reign help to make her a remarkably effective Head of State. We should celebrate and enjoy her, even if we would not necessarily wish to repeat her.