Monarchy carries an undeniable magic and mystique. Even the seriously-minded Victorian essayist Walter Bagheot acknowledged this. Psychologists have proven that a “happiness effect" accompanies occasions graced by royalty – this is of course not because of the royals themselves but relates to the atmosphere created by the occasion and generated by their presence. Much the same effect will be felt in a crowd gathered to meet the Pope, the Dalai Llama or another figure of global stature (in earlier years we would have mentioned Mother Teresa and some undoubtedly would have cited Diana, Princess of Wales). This phenomenon does not relate to the political and constitutional Monarchy – this is the personal and emotional face of Monarchy – but it is no less important.
We saw the power of the magic of monarchy a few months ago when The Queen addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations. The atmosphere was electric and many of the cynical and seasoned diplomats turned into giddy school children beaming with smiles as they jostled to get a good view; some even took their mobile phones out to snap a photograph of this slight old lady who had come to address them as the world’s only trans-national monarch, Head of State of 16 Nations, Head of a Commonwealth of 54 Nations and Sovereign for almost as long as the UN has been in existence. No other world figure would have been accorded such a spectacular reception.
A healthy and productive society requires role models and icons. Their function is manifold but they ultimately serve to motivate, inspire and guide both the society as well as its constituent parts. Our era, for whatever reason, suffers from a paucity of true role models. By committing her life to personal self sacrifice, dedication to duty and service to the nation, The Queen has come to epitomise much that is truly noble in the human spirit. Can we say the same of elected politicians?