The Queen at 80

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is 80 today. This loyal subject and ardent monarchist would like to wish Her Majesty many happy returns.

I am a big fan of the constitutional monarch, the symbolic, apolitical head of state. To those republicans in the UK who want a president I have two words: Jacques Chirac. Something about the fact that Tony Blair has to bow before the monarch every week is pleasing to me. That, and the reminder he receives that there are things more permanent than him (the Queen has been receiving Prime Ministers since Churchill).

But in a real sense, Elizabeth R is not just the monarch, she's the monarchy. The British monarchy will survive under Kings Charles and William, but I suspect that the Commonwealth will struggle to find relevance after Elizabeth. The Queen has been the warm face of imperial transition; once she has gone, I think the Empire, and any of its residual institutions will finally be dead. No bad thing maybe. In the meantime, God save the Queen.