Letter From British Heritage – March 2008

12/20/2007 • BH Issues

Happy and Glorious for 60 Years

Those of you who follow such things have been doubtless aware that Britain and her constituent peoples are in the midst of what many good folk are taking as a national identity crisis. The changes taking place in British society and the subcultures that have taken root in its midst have sent a tremor of self-doubt through people who have thought of themselves as grounded in a continuity with their past.

Ranks of perfectly legal economic migrants from Eastern Europe have flooded the labor market, and added new languages and social enclaves to large existing ethnic communities. Housing, education and health services present significant long-term social needs. Village post offices are closing and the major supermarket chains are fighting off antimonopoly actions. There’s a general feeling of dread lest the new EU Treaty undermines the nation’s sovereignty, and a leading Labour think tank has now recommended that Britain scale back its Christmas celebrations out of fairness to other religions. That’s not going down well.

Meanwhile, the strength of the British pound has prompted airliners full of Brits to fly to our East Coast to do their Christmas shopping this year. It seems like a crazy world.

Change is constant, of course, and has come dramatically to Great Britain throughout its long and colorful history. Those successive invasions of Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans were not exactly subtle. Britain survived as well the Reformation, the Commonwealth, the Union and World War II GIs. Despite the jeremiads of today, Britain has proved as adaptable as it is stolid.

Speaking of adaptable and stolid, in November, Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary to much public acclaim and a service of thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral. When they were married, London was still digging out from under the ashes of World War II and living on its ration book. Throughout the 60 years since, despite the traumas the Royal Family has suffered, the Queen and Prince Philip have served as a refreshing beacon of continuity within change. They are a reminder that devotion to each other and to country count and that, flawed as the monarchy might be, as long as that continuity exists, there’ll always be an England.

Congratulations, Your Majesty. Despite the periodic intrusions of real life, your reign has indeed been happy and glorious. Like British Heritage, you remind us that what is of true value is time-tested and timeless.