This is an immediate reaction, with all the risks that entails, but I aim to make it one based on reason as well as emotion, and on candour as well as affection. I have no reason to believe that this represents the view of my colleagues at UK Column News, although I hope they—and you, the reader—may be persuaded by what follows; or, at the very least, will reflect on it in the difficult times ahead.
Queen Elizabeth the Second (and First of Scots) has been my monarch for the whole of my life, as she has been for most of the British population. As a small boy, I waved to her as her car passed my parents’ business in the down-to-earth Scottish town of Airdrie. I have greeted the news of her death with sadness, and my thoughts of her are ones of affection and warmth. I will miss the Queen.
Some time ago, I wrote to her, concerning the threats our nation faces. My letter broadly covered the type of issues that the UK Column records in its news broadcasts. The neutral response from the Palace follows below. I have no idea whether the Queen ever saw my letter or whether she was made aware of its contents.
In my files, there are also copies of multiple letters sent by Brian Docherty asking the Queen for help and protection and listing the threats facing his family, naming names. At least one of those named was an individual known to the Queen; he was brother-in-law to her nephew. I have no records of any replies.
Robert Green also wrote to the Queen about some aspects of the Hollie Greig case, or more specifically about the conduct of Alex Salmond and of Dame Elish Angiolini concerning that case. The replies were again neutral acknowledgements of the correspondence, nothing more.
Given the number of letters to the Queen that I have on file, it seems likely that she received a steady and substantial flow of correspondence from those of her subjects in trouble due to overreach by the state or due to corruption by the powerful, preying on the weak, or simply raising the alarm concerning betrayal of our people by the corrupt holders of authority. How much of this she ever saw, I do not know, but the Palace must be in a unique position to assess spiritual wickedness in high places, as it surely receives a steady flow of desperate appeals for help.
I cannot but conclude that the Queen’s failure to speak up publicly about the corruption in our nation represents an elemental error on her part.
On the political front, the Queen has likewise refrained from making her views known, even if occasionally a loose-lipped politician revealed the tone of carefully-chosen words. This applied even when political developments represented a full-frontal attack on the family, on marriage, on Christianity or on anything else the Queen personally held dear.
When our armed forces were reduced, our manufacturing independence compromised or our men sent to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, she remained neutral and said nothing publicly. I understand why—it is the modern interpretation of her constitutional role—but I cannot think this right. The apogee of this silence was her granting of Royal Assent to The European Communities Act 1972 (it being understood that Royal Assent has actually been allowed to be managed by a committee of Lords on the Sovereign's supposed behalf since the days of Queen Victoria, and this was pseudo-formalised by statute just in time for Britain to join the EEC). This Act was the piece of legislation that brought the UK into the European Economic Community, which later became the European Union that promptly proclaimed her to be its citizen: it gave EU law supremacy over UK law and hence was a breach of her Coronation Oath.
She let it pass without raising the conflict as a matter for the whole of the British people to consider. And this was against a background of propaganda and deception which successfully hid the truth from those same people. What she knew at that moment and what advice she received, I do not know. But this pivotal moment, in which she could have acted or raised the alarm, passed without her public utterance as to the dangers, implications and consequences of the step the nation was taking. It was more than a generation that passed before the nation started repairing the damage with the Brexit vote.
Hence, my sadness at her passing is mixed with another sadness; that she was not more. Not a bigger part of my life; not a rallying point for truth in an age of lies; not a leader; never quite the symbol she should have been.
That said, she did try. Look at her 1957 Queen's Speech, the first to be televised:
But it’s not the new inventions which are the difficulty. The trouble is caused by unthinking people who carelessly throw away ageless ideals as if they were old and outworn machinery. They would have religion thrown aside, morality and personal and public life made meaningless, honesty counted as foolishness and self-interest set up in place of self-restraint. […]
Today, we need a special kind of courage, not the kind needed in battle, but a kind which makes us stand up for everything that we know is right, everything that is true and honest. We need the kind of courage that can withstand the subtle corruption of the cynics so that we can show the world that we are not afraid of the future. It has always been easier to hate and destroy. To build and to cherish is much more difficult.
To be clear, those words would not look out of place being spoken on UK Column News today, and she said it in 1957! But was anyone listening? In the same speech, she said:
In the old days, the monarch led his soldiers on the battlefield, and his leadership at all times was close and personal.
Today, things are very different. I cannot lead you into battle. I do not give you laws or administer justice, but I can do something else. I can give you my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations.
I believe in our qualities and in our strength. I believe that together, we can set an example to the world, which will encourage upright people everywhere.
Let us again be clear: we have not, as a nation, set that example to the world. Not during the cultural upheaval of the sixties; not during the economic turmoil of the seventies; not during the sexual depravity high and low in the eighties; not during the intellectual surrender to postmodernism in the nineties and to globalism in the new millennium which has installed folly and prejudice in place of reason and wisdom in every institution in the land; not during the surrender to fear over Covid in our own day.
But while UK Column viewers and listeners in the twenty-first century might appreciate the Queen's 1957 address, how was it received closer to the time it was made? Not so well. John Grigg, also known as Lord Altrincham, was a British writer and politician who will go down in history as the man who said of Queen Elizabeth's public remarks that:
The personality conveyed by the utterances which are put into her mouth is that of a priggish schoolgirl, captain of the hockey team, a prefect, and a recent candidate for Confirmation.
It was clear that the Queen, at least as advised by those around her, could not lead the country away from the pit it was headed towards. Nevertheless, on a personal level, she maintained a consistent, gentle and by all appearances genuine faith. She spoke of it often. For example, in the 1950s she asked for the nation's prayers to help her keep her promises to the nation:
Pray for me, […] that God may give me wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises I shall be making, and that I may faithfully serve Him and you, all the days of my life.
And her view of personal accountability before God was central to her life:
To many of us, our beliefs are of fundamental importance. For me, the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life. I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ’s words and example.
Although by 2014, this declaration of faith had perhaps developed just the merest postmodern tinge, in which right and wrong seemed no longer to matter quite so much:
For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life. A role model of reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretched out his hands in love, acceptance and healing. Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people of whatever faith or none.
My strong impression is that as much knowledge of the Lord as Elizabeth had, she held to and did not abandon. She was, I would suggest, a faithful servant.
In the reaction to her passing, the two most significant speeches have been those given by Boris Johnson, the recently ousted Prime Minister, and by the new King Charles III. They are worth considering in some detail. Let us start with the speech in the House of Commons by the former Prime Minister:
Think what we asked of her in that moment: not just to be the living embodiment—in her DNA—of the history and continuity and unity of this country, but to be the figurehead of our entire system, the keystone in the vast arch of the British state.
And here, Boris reveals perhaps the whole reason that I find this farewell so difficult to write. For the vast arch of the British state is corrupt and rotten. Lies abound. Falsehood is built upon falsehood. Reason has been jettisoned and prejudice substituted for it. Strength, integrity and courage are not to be found, and in fact are actively eliminated. The Queen, whether she wished it or not, has been made a figurehead for a system that, at its core, is in rebellion against truth and justice.
The Queen, from a Scottish point of view at any rate, was the Queen of the people, not the keystone of the state. That is why she was styled Queen of Scots here, not Queen of Scotland. Perhaps the view from England is different, but I hope not. We could feel love for her, despite what the state is, because she was a human being, not a corporate entity or leviathan. As a human being, she could be weak, she could err, she could fail. But she could also love, and the state cannot do that. She could also choose to be faithful to God, and no state or corporate entity can do that either.
No, the reason we loved the Queen is exactly because she was not the keystone of the state. It was because she was Elizabeth: a girl, a woman, a mother, a grandmother, and a frail old lady with sparkling eyes. We loved her because of her humanity, her warmth and her modesty. Boris is lying to us.
She showed the world not just how to reign over a people, she showed the world how to give, how to love and how to serve.
Give? Well, she gave her whole life to her duty, so I would say yes, she gave.
Love? She certainly had that capacity, but in her elevated position, does love not mean taking personal risk for others; does it not mean telling the truth when it will be resisted, even when it will almost certainly be rejected? Does it not entail sacrifice? There is surely a lack here.
Serve? Yes, I believe she did; her life was service.
And it was that indomitability, that humour, that work ethic, that sense of history which together made her Elizabeth the Great.
Indomitability, humour, work ethic and sense of history were all there, to be sure; but Great? I don’t know about that. Which of us can be called great? The Great Presidents of the USA are always the blood-soaked ones. Greatness and body count seem to go together in this world. Greatness in the eyes of God is a gentler thing. It requires humility, and perseverance and sacrifice and a love of the truth.
I cannot say. Perhaps our Lord, who will judge the heart, will decide this was a life that was great. I cannot see the spiritual decline of my people and the silence of their queen as greatness—but I am, after all, sitting on the sidelines, not carrying the burden; so I am not qualified to say.
That is why we mourn her so deeply, and it is in the depths of our grief that we understand why we loved her so much.
I’m not sure about this one, either. The fondness and affection I feel for the departed Queen, the respect and admiration I feel for her, the faith I share with her, are all significant, but they are nevertheless tinged with regret that she did not do more to defend my people from their own folly.
I think Boris may be deceiving us again.
The speech by Charles, his first as King, was a different matter, and there is not much to question in his choice of words:
In 1947, on her twenty-first birthday, she pledged in a broadcast from Cape Town to the Commonwealth to devote her life, whether it be short or long, to the service of her peoples.
That was more than a promise: it was a profound personal commitment which defined her whole life. She made sacrifices for duty.
In her life of service, we saw that abiding love of tradition, together with that fearless embrace of progress, which make us great as nations. The affection, admiration and respect she inspired became the hallmark of her reign.
And, as every member of my family can testify, she combined these qualities with warmth, humour and an unerring ability always to see the best in people.
Thank you for your love and devotion to our family and to the family of nations you have served so diligently all these years.
May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
And those promises she made are worth recalling:
I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service.
So what, then, do I conclude is the legacy of Queen Elizabeth?
She presided over the decline of Britain as a great nation. That decline was unstoppable by the time she ascended to the throne. By then, a century of error, intellectual and moral decline and the burden of two world wars had left the nation exhausted. What followed was moral decay and economic decline, misrule and wavering. She presided over all this, but did not cause it. When she spoke out, she was called a “priggish schoolgirl”; and she spoke out too seldom.
She seldom tried to lead—and when she did, it was with a gentleness that, in rough times, could easily be ignored. She was neither our leader nor a risk-taker. But she was faithful to our people, she was a servant of our nation, and she did endure until the end in faith and in duty; and for that I am very grateful.
So Elizabeth was our servant, but not our leader; our companion, but not a warrior fighting our battles. We must face the fact that the decline we bemoan in our nation is one that we have brought about. We need to repent of our weakness; of our willingness to compromise with corruption, with evil, with lies and with deceit. If these failings were sometimes visible in our Sovereign, I suggest that is a reflection in her of the nation as a whole rather than her unique deficiency.
And as we lay Her Late Majesty to rest, let us also lay to rest those weaknesses that have too long characterised us as people. As we remember her service, let us also remember the absence of strength in the nation which accompanied her reign. Let us, each and every one, resolve to be weak no more and instead to be warriors for the truth.
Let us resolve to be like the character Mr Valiant-for-Truth in Pilgrim's Progress, which the Queen quoted in 1957—so that, at the end, we can say:
My marks and scars I carry with me to be a witness for me that I have fought his battles who now will be my rewarder.
Listen to Alex Thomson read this farewell on his Eastern Approaches YouTube channel: