Queen sets 'gold standard' during 60 years on the throne
Posted on 27/11/2012
King’s-Ipsos MORI hosted a debate on Friday which examined Queen Elizabeth’s contribution to public life during her 60 years on the throne and the changing role of the Monarchy during this period.
As the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year draws to a close, the Chapel at King’s Strand Campus hosted an expert panel including Professor Robert Blackburn, Professor Vernon Bogdanor and Professor Roger Mortimore, Director of Political Analysis at Ipsos MORI and Professor of Public Opinion and Political Analysis at King's, all from the Institute of Contemporary British History at King’s.
Friday’s event began with an introduction from the Principal, Professor Rick Trainor. The panel members each gave their perspective on the Monarchy before fielding questions from the audience.
Professor Blackburn described the Monarchy as ‘the most enigmatic of our political institutions’, before explaining some of the ‘complex inter-related roles’ it performs, including those of Head of State and Head of the Commonwealth. He said the Queen had an ‘enormous range of responsibilities in terms of fostering goodwill and international relations across the globe.’ Paying tribute to the ‘gold standard’ set by Queen Elizabeth during her time on the throne, Professor Blackburn acknowledged that the Monarchy would require ‘careful nurturing if it is to survive long into the 21st Century’, describing it as a ‘fragile flower.’
Considering some of the alternatives to a Monarchy, Professor Blackburn suggested: 'a temporary, non-executive president would be far less able to play the unifying, social and religious roles at home and the social diplomatic functions abroad that rely heavily on constructing personal relationships.’
Professor Bogdanor later added that an elected Head of State would not come with the political neutrality of the Queen, who has ‘no political past.’ Professor Blackburn did, however, acknowledge that a ‘principled case can be made for republicanism.’
The panel addressed current support for the Monarchy, drawing on results from a recent poll by King’s and Ipsos MORI, which showed that nine in 10 people in Britain were satisfied with the way the Queen was carrying out her duties as Monarch. Presenting the poll results, Professor Mortimore indicated that 79 per cent of respondents favoured the Monarchy, with 16 per cent voting for a republic. He said: ‘After a rocky period in the 1990s, public support now looks as strong as it has been for many years.’ However, he added that, despite this support, the importance people place on it has diminished since the Coronation in 1953.
Examining the history of monarchies across the world, Professor Bogdanor highlighted that they were now far from the norm, with only eight remaining in Europe. Pointing to the example set by the likes of Sweden and Norway, he said: 'The Monarchy provides legitimacy at the top of government and does not glorify deference and hierarchy as some argue.' Professor Bogdanor also recognised the current strength of the Monarchy, asserting that there was no ‘immediate or distant’ threat because ‘Britons have the Monarchy in their blood.’
King's College London and Ipsos MORI, one of the country’s best-known and longest-established research companies, have formed a partnership to bring together researchers from both institutions to develop new opportunities and enhance the excellence and impact of the work that both do.