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Thursday, 27 June, 2002, 09:28 GMT 10:28 UK
Fifty years of Elizabeth: Your thoughts
This weekend the UK sees four days of celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee, 50 years as head of state.
During those years, the UK has lost an empire but gained a Commonwealth
It has grown closer to Europe and seen sweeping social changes that have changed the nature of much of British society.
What do you think of her 50 years?
What has the Queen given to the United Kingdom as monarch, as head of state and as an individual?
Send us your thoughts using the form below.
This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
If our politicians had give a fraction of the service that Her Majesty has given, this country and its institutions would not be in the terrible condition they are today.
Mary Robinson served as President of the Republic of Ireland for seven years with grace, dignity and a strong sense of justice. She is a qualified barrister, has always been engaged with human rights issues and was much admired around the world in her presidential role. Best of all - the Irish people got to choose her as their President. Britain needs someone with experience of life in the real world for their Head of State - not someone who is there because of who their parents were.
The Jubilee looked good, but amounted to little more than a huge PR exercise. Many people have commented on what a difficult year the poor Queen has had. It seems to elude these individuals' attention that many thousands of people lose loved ones every year and are far less well equipped to deal with the problems bereavement can cause, emotionally and financially. I find it very hard to muster up any support or sympathy for someone who has it all already.
The majority of royalists always miss the point. What republicans are concerned about is what they represent. The class structures where only a select few get preferential treatment and jobs are not open to all is underpinned by their existence. We should have the confidence of France and the US and do away with them now.
Great Britain over the past two hundred years or more, has proved itself to be the one of the most politically stable countries in the world. One reason for this appears to be that a hereditary monarch has continuously occupied the top job of "Head of State". Once this position becomes vacant then all sorts of undesirable power hungry individuals will be fighting for that position. They could come from political, religious or military backgrounds wherever they can drum up enough support for themselves.
Our constitutional monarch has no real power. What she has is loyalty to the people and to the Country. She occupies a position that protects us from many would be short term leaders who could be far worse as seen in many other parts of the world.
Long may she reign.
I had never professed royalist or anti-establishment tendencies before the Jubilee Celebrations. Looking back on it now, I felt a surge of pride when I saw the Queen and wanted to scream my support from the top of my lungs. I saw the Mall full to the brim with people coming together to celebrate 50 glorious years for Her Majesty and it made me feel special, like I belonged. I think that the Monarchy do not give us a National identity, but that they represent our national identity. I can't wait to celebrate 60 years on the throne - God Save the Queen!!
Face up to it guys -
Monarchy 1 Republicanism 0
I am a Parliamentarian not a Royalist. However in my opinion Elizabeth has performed very well in the role of Queen, better than her predecessors. She has held the family together and they will be much less co-ordinated when she has gone. I don't see any of the others having the same leadership qualities.
Britain can never be a true democracy like he United States or India where even the lowliest of the low can aspire and do reach the highest position. Take Bill Clinton as one of the most recent examples.
If the hereditary principle is right for one family why is it not for the rest of society? Imagine the consequences if it were applied throughout the land
It's not Buckingham Palace that's full of overpaid, spinning idlers but the Palace of Westminster. I would take more notice of the overly vocal republicans whether British (Mark, Dwayne and Maggie) or provincial (Brian) if they showed more even-handed honesty and less petty jealousy. The majority are whinging hypocrites who would soon change their tune about "riches" if they suddenly inherited some. At least the Queen has an admirable sense of duty, of responsibility and of compassion to go with her money - show me a footballer, film star or financier who has a fraction of her integrity!
The Queen has throughout her life been waited on hand, foot and finger and had the best money could buy of everything (including healthcare, while her subjects have to put up with second class public services). She owns or has the use of several magnificent stately homes all fully staffed to meet her every whim. A little charity work is the very least she could do.
P Timothy, England (in Italy)
As an American whose ancestry fought in the American revolution to expel tyranny, I would never allow my government to spend billions of dollars on a particular family. The criticisms against the monarchy which originate outside of the United Kingdom are entirely irrelevant, because if the people of Britain choose to support a monarchy and feel that it is beneficial to the preservation of both their culture and heritage, then it is their sovereign right to do so. Now, to those Americans who wish to have a monarchy - be proud of the fact that we have never had one, for that is our heritage, which should be as tightly guarded as Britain guards its monarchy.
Prior to this weekend I was a non-royalist. I have now changed my mind. The way people have all come together to celebrate the Golden Jubilee is wonderful. God bless the Queen. Long may she reign!
Brian Kearney, Ireland
The party at the palace was fantastic - particularly the Queen and friends. It was a bit disappointing that the Queen herself wasn't there for the whole show though. Imagine not turning up for your own party, especially one that everyone had gone to so much trouble to organise.
Cyrus Knight, England
Cyrus Knight says he is a non-royalist and signs off with God Save the Queen. There are a number of people below who have written from abroad about what a wonderful institution the monarchy is. You are not the people who have to fork out for this mindless institution whilst walking past homeless people on the street. I am quite sure the people of the US would never revert to lauding a non elected sectarian establishment.
My thoughts on Queen Elizabeth and all the Royal Family are tremendous and I can hardly pinpoint one thing to say. The Royal Family has been the backbone of England and Britons are proud
people to have such
a democracy. Queen Elizabeth has given love, power, support, respect wherever it was
needed and led the
and still gives of herself. Congratulations Elizabeth.
I'd be struggling to tell you how the Queen has served me over the last 50 years but I can tell you how I've served her: by going to work and paying my taxes!
Susan Rourke Kinnie, Canada
How fitting for the UK that its citizens celebrate 50 years of a Royal Family that has a huge financial debt, are adulterous and have the cheek to act as if they are wealthy. Most of the Queen's subjects mimic these traits too.
I thank my lucky stars that I left the UK in the early 80s and have never looked back!
My life is as long as her rule. I believe her strength is what she perceives as her weakness, i.e. the problems of her family, both social and medical. They have been the growing problems of all our society and I have many time gained strength from "It has happened to them to so I am not alone." Her grace and strength in the face of family crises have been a good example.
Mark Cordell, England
Queen Elizabeth II has done an incredible job for the last 50 years. Our monarchy and history is the envy of countries all over the world... long may she reign! We should be proud of the Royal family and maintain our traditions and heritage...
Would I be wrong in assuming that these celebrations were paid for by my money, which I work to earn? What about the nurses, soldiers and others who put their life on the line to earn their keep? Surely it would be more appropriate to celebrate their contribution to society as I know that they bring a lot more to the UK than the royal family do?
Mrs Joy Brice, Great Britain
Why does this hideous display of false consciousness always surface during a royal event? Royalists consider themselves to have some sort of affinity with the Queen but just how much can you have in common with an ignorant multi-millionairess who has absolutely no concept of social awareness?
The Queen works hard, and has set a fine individual example, but is the job worth doing? As a management system, royalty had passed its use-by date centuries ago. Her role seems now to have shrunk to being mere celebrity magazine fodder, the top ride attraction in theme-park Britain.
I would like to congratulate the Queen on her 50 years as our monarch.
I find it hard to believe that on this message board there aren't many negative feelings towards the Queen. The whole institution reeks of pre-democratic Britain. Like the inheritence tax, why should she be exempt from it? She is a resident of this country and so should be subject to ALL its laws just like everyone else. I hope she doesn't want us to pay for the latest fire in the palace like the last time.
June Simpson , USA temporary UK ex-pat
Just reading through the comments about the Jubilee and the Queen, I am interested to note that there are a lot of ex-pats who think the institution is great and a rather high number of people in the UK who seem to think less of the monarchy. Is there, I wonder, a message here for us?
What a wonderful Jubilee weekend.
Thank you to the Palace and the BBC for putting together such a wonderful series of events. It shows what can be done when politicians are kept out of the way.
This is the people's millennium celebrations and the Queen's Jubilee rolled into one.
I was 13 when the Queen had her Silver Jubilee. I remember the sense of camaraderie of all the neighbours in the street. The mood was one of happiness and the community spirit was high for quite a while afterwards. England needs the monarchy to help us have a sense of national pride. Nothing much else helps with that, these days. Every four years we rest our hope on the England football team to try to raise out spirits. The Royal Family are present 24/7 and are a credit to our nation's historic past. I think they are one tradition this country should keep.
Lynn Stroud, USA
Nick Griffen, Wales
I strongly believe in her symbolic significance. The monarchy represents an important part of our history and what defines us as a people. As an ex-pat in the US it always amazes me how we, unlike any other nation, denigrate our history, culture and institutions - not least the monarchy. A political head of state would be awful. While avoiding blind nationalism, we should get some perspective and be proud of our Queen and the unique socio-economic and political history from which the constitutional monarchy evolved. The continuity she represents and the timeless values of dedication and the sense of duty the Queen has demonstrated are surely more important than ever in such a volatile world.
The Queen's job involves a lot more than living in the lap of luxury and giving a speech now and then. Whether you respect the Queen or not you should at least respect the long years of commitment and service she has given to your nation in the midst of seemingly unbearable public scrutiny and criticism. The Queen is hardly the only individual born to wealth and privilege and I think people that like to harp on the fact that life isn't fair need to get a reality check. The British monarchy lends an immeasurable depth and prestige to Great Britain that it should be loath to lose. Listen to your cousins across the pond and stick with the freedom and opportunity a democratic system brings, while appreciating a rich national heritage that has the capacity for such good.
James H. Bartley, Canada
The thought that we still have such a high rate of child poverty and that many other countries are struggling with huge amounts of debt make me only more disgusted at the amount of praise and worship that my country gives a figurehead ruler who remains one of the richest women in the world. She is just another citizen, and I know plenty of citizens who have achieved much more for the benefit of others at that age. It is an embarrassing concept that we still have a royal family in 2002.
Richard Pearce, UK
It never ceases to amaze me how many people in the UK have the misguided idea that if they did away with the monarchy and distributed all the money spent on it, they would be rich!! The British Royal Family more than pays for itself, when you consider the trade and tourism it encourages, through the publicity it receives overseas. If I had one criticism of the Monarch it would be that she probably is not tough enough on her government. I would be calling Tony Blair to the palace every day until he assured me that he was solving the problems of transport and the health care system!
In a world sadly bereft of people who put duty above personal aims, Her Majesty is a wonderful reminder that we can all be better than we are. I do not understand those who find fault with the Queen or with constitutional monarchy. Would that the US had a head of state above politics and one who represented our history as well as the Queen has done for the people of the UK and the Commonwealth. The Queen helps me to believe that goodness may still triumph in a world fractured and wounded by materialism and self-interest. God Save the Queen.
She has been born into extravagant wealth, which people like myself who live on council estates have to subside. Her hereditary nature completely contradicts the one thing I thought that this country was based on: meritocracy.
We live in a CONSTITUTIONAL monarchy, not an absolute one! The Queen's constitutional role is to deny other people power - she is commander in chief of the police and armed forces, so a military coup is all but impossible. She is head of state, so a prime minister cannot declare themself absolute despot. Besides this, in the ultimate extremity, she has the power, the right, and the duty, to remove a general or prime minister who tries to set himself up as a dictator. She is the best guarantee of democracy this country has! To those who think the taxpayer subsidises the Royal Family - the revenue comes directly from land owned by the Windsor family, not the crown.
Certainly the monarchy is technically an outdated anachronism. But firstly, it's hardly a major expense or problem (like transport or the NHS) and secondly, do you know what Britain is without it? A consumerist, hedonistic, meaningless nothing, drifting in aimless, squalid misery on the fringes of Europe. It's a shame these glassy-eyed republicans can't see that. They're probably the same self-important twits who would ban meat and Christmas.
Her Majesty has been the personification of dignity, duty, and a sense of decency. For 50 years she has served Great Britain and it is a hope of mine that she will succeed Victoria as the longest reigning British monarch. In ten years I hope to be celebrating her Diamond Jubilee.
I'm neither a monarchist nor a republican, but what depresses me is the forelock-tugging reverence shown by supporters towards the Queen, and other royals, as if she is some kind of deity. The pageantry that much of Britain likes to wallow reminds me of those sad old ladies, whose glory days are behind them but who cake their faces in make-up. I'm struggling hard to think what the Queen has given Britain.. nope... still can't come up with anything.
Philip Shorter, England
What exactly does the Queen's "duty" involve? What does she do that couldn't be done by anyone else?
The Queen has spent her life surrounded by sycophants, and anyone who disagrees with the whole principle of monarchy is dismissed as a sneerer.
A lot has happened in the past 50 years in this country, some good, some bad. The Queen has played no significant part in any of these changes. Like the whole concept of monarchy, the Queen, with all her absurdly titled courtiers is an anachronism, whose time has long since gone. I want to live in a real country, not a Ruritanian theme park.
To Allan Forrester, UK: the Queen's 'duty' involves spending (and hoarding) money from the civil list - which is part of the State's income from our taxes - on her lifestyle and the upkeep of the palaces which she does not own but resides in simply because she was born to be Queen... and yes, once in a blue moon coming out to deliver a speech about her opinions - which is not even written by herself. Well, what important duty that is and I wish I had her 'job'!
William Smith, US
William Smith, why is it that Americans think the British system of government is so wonderful? There is nothing wonderful about having an unaccountable, unelected head of state. And before anyone tells me that the monarch does not have any real power think about who chooses the prime minister in the event of a hung parliament and what would happen if suddenly the Queen decided that she was not going to give royal ascent to something? How would we remove a corrupt government from power against the wishes of the Queen if we needed to?
Even most republicans in this country have immense respect for the Queen herself. She's always said and done the right things by us, regardless of the vitriol she is sometimes unfairly subjected to.
There are constant references to how much she has done for the country, but no substance as to what. The reason for this is that actually her work in the last 50 years has all been about preservation of the family. That is what any Royal Family's priority will always be, as even a cursory glance at history would tell you. Appearing to align this interest with that of the country is then a good way of deluding the support of that part of the country that learns its current affairs from Hello magazine.
Her Majesty has given her life in devotion to her country and her people. She has never swerved from her duty and has kept the vow she made at 21 to serve all her life. She is admirable in an age where most people think of self before duty.
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