Despite the fact that she could not comment on politics, Elizabeth II always showed very marked positions

Elizabeth II during an official reception at Buckingham Palace for the then South African president, Nelson Mandela. The queen detested the apartheid system and always supported the black leader. Buckingham Palace

His political destiny was already marked when he chose the name with which he was going to reign: Elizabeth II. She was referring directly to her predecessor Elizabeth I who founded an Era with her reign between 1558 and 1603. However, the time difference between the two reigns is brutal, when Elizabeth II came to the throne the queens no longer ruled, they were hardly more than a figurehead. But he managed to have the political influence and reach the limits.

The daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn became the monarch who consolidated British power globally. During her reign, England vigorously asserted itself as a great European power in politics, commerce, and the arts.. Elizabeth’s combination of cunning and courage helped to unify the English against her internal and external enemies and to establish her as a Protestant nation. Known as the Virgin Queen, she was the pride of the English, the scourge of the Spanish Armada, and the founder of the Church of England. She refused to marry and have children so as not to depend on men. William Shakespeare and Francis Bacon shone in his time.

Elizabeth II reigned in the turbulent years of the European post war, the confrontation with the Soviet Union, the nuclear threat, the end of the Welfare State, the Cold War and even the exit from the European Union. The power of the government was in the hands of the Prime Minister in power, but she always knew where to appear as a present force or when to disappear into the scenery. Above all, his reign will be recognized by discretion, constancy and decency. A brand that also had its political translation.

Queen Elizabeth with Kohl, Reagan and Thatcher.
Queen Elizabeth with Kohl, Reagan and Thatcher during the conservative wave of the 80s/90s. Buckingham Palace

As Head of State, the queen has to be strictly neutral regarding political matters. Although she is a constitutional monarch who stands on the sidelines, the queen herself retains the ability to grant a weekly audience to the Prime Minister in which You have the right and the duty to express your opinion on government affairs.. All this remains strictly secret between both people, but more than once their points of view were leaked or expressed in careful messages and gestures.

In 2014, for example, several times he expressed his vision of the setbacks that were taking place in social coexistence and his inclination to seek consensus, but they also had to do with his position against Brexit. He was clearly against Britain leaving the European Union.. Addressing the Sandringham Institute for Women at an event to celebrate the group’s centenary, the monarch said “the emphasis on patience, friendship, a strong community focus and consideration of the needs of others they are as important today as they were when the group was founded a century ago. Of course, each generation faces new challenges and opportunities. As we search for new answers in the modern age, I prefer proven recipes, like speaking well of others and respecting different points of view; come together to seek common ground; and never lose sight of the big picture. For me, these approaches are timeless, and I recommend them to everyone.”

Around the same time, in the run-up to the referendum on Scottish independence, the queen told a supporter at her Balmoral estate in Scotland: “I hope people think very highly of the future.”. An anodyne phrase but that in his mouth had a specific weight. “The fact that the queen wanted Scotland to remain in Britain was an open secret,” according to The Independent. This was practically confirmed when then-Prime Minister David Cameron was heard telling New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg that the queen had “purred down the line” when he phoned him to tell him the result of the vote. Cameron later apologized for breaching royal protocol, which requires all details of talks with the monarch to be kept private, and said he was deeply embarrassed.

Isabel II reviewing the documents that she had to sign as Head of State.
Elizabeth II reviewing the documents she had to sign as Head of State in the 1990s. (Buckingham Palace)

In 2016, an unusual comment from Elizabeth II caused a headache for the monarchy and the British government, when was caught criticizing top Chinese officials as “very rude.” At a Buckingham Palace garden party, Elizabeth was heard to say “oh, tough luck” after Metropolitan Police Commander Lucy D’Orsi mentioned that she had managed security for the first visit to the UK. Chinese minister Xi Jinping. When D’Orsi spoke of the difficulties of dealing with Chinese officials, the Queen sympathized, saying: “They were very rude to the ambassador.” The comments were received with “extreme displeasure” in Beijing, according to The Irish Times.

His bad relationship with the first woman prime minister he had to work with, Margaret Thatcher, was epic. Although neither of them ever made a specific mention publicly, claims that he disapproved of the then prime minister’s policies come from an unbeatable source, the then royal press secretary, Michael Shea. In 1986, Shea told The Sunday Times that “Her Majesty” thought Thatcher had not gone far enough with sanctions on apartheid-era South Africa, and considered her policy as prime minister “indifferent, confrontational and socially divisive”. Beyond the fact that the queen made it known that she had not used those words and that she called Thatcher to apologize, it is known that no Buckingham Palace press secretary speaks without superior consent.

He is also known to have commented on the treatment of the extremist Muslim cleric, Abu Hamza, who was preaching at a London mosque. In 2012, thanks to the indiscretion of BBC Security correspondent Frank Gardner, it emerged that the queen had discussed the case with the acting Home Secretary. Although Gardner took pains to clarify that “The queen was not pressing, but simply expressing the opinions that many have”, it was clear how Elizabeth went far beyond a few private talks with the prime minister on duty and was able to call on other ministers and officials to put pressure on them.

Elizabeth II at the Chinese wall.
Elizabeth II at the Chinese wall. The queen regarded the Chinese as “too rude” in treating her personally. Buckingham Palace

Tuesday meetings in the official drawing room at Buckinham Palace weren’t so sloppy either. There was always an agenda and even a glance let the visitor know what the queen was thinking. Harold Wilson commented that attending the weekly hearing unprepared “It was as if they caught you at school without having done your homework.”

Obviously he enjoyed the meetings at Winston Churchill between 1951 and 1955. “It was a lot of fun,” he said. He was the first of the 15 premiers he had to deal with and the relationship had a lot of “the old fox and the young queen” in which Elizabeth had much to learn, but Churchill slipped more than once that the young woman was very intelligent and asked direct questions no matter how uncomfortable they were. Conservative Anthony Eden had almost daily conversations with her on political issues. The next, Harold Macmillan, said that she had been the only confidential confidant in his political career. Laborers Wilson and Callaghan also had a close relationship with the queen. They were economic progressives but social conservatives regarding the monarchy. John Major shared the “annus horribilis” of the queen and the policy began to have components of divorces and palace scandals.

Tony Blair was the first prime minister born during the reign of Elizabeth II. He was not very popular in the palace because he had sided with Lady D. She said in an interview that she had “saved” the royal family’s reputation during the controversy over Lady Diana’s shocking death in 1997. The queen also didn’t like that Blair considered the monarchy as something “old-fashioned”. In his memoirs, Blair described weekend meals at Balmoral as “surreal and totally strange”.

Elizabeth II-Margaret Thatcher
The queen got on very badly with then Prime Minister Margareth Thatcher. She considered Churchill the most agreeable premier she had ever dealt with. Buckingham Palace

Like his predecessor, David Cameron, Boris Johnson was educated at elitist Eton, but proved not to have the necessary drive to relate to royalty. He had to publicly apologize twice to the queen. The first occasion was after his decision to prolong Parliament was deemed illegal by the High Court, and the second because of illegal parties by Tory members who broke Covid-19 rules on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral. . With Elizabeth Truss he had just a formal meeting for the photo, but the press was already talking about the new premier had spoken many times about the possibility of abolishing the monarchy.

Isabel II was aware that she held a position that was hated by the republicans of the planet. She privately justified everything by saying that, without the crown, Britain would be a collection of lost islands in the North Sea. He spent much of the early part of his reign bidding farewell to the British Empire amassed under his ancestors, from Kenya to Hong Kong. Barbados was the last country to do without her as head of state in November 2021. However, remained the monarch of 15 countries and head of the Commonwealth. In 1992, the queen responded to criticism of royal wealth by offering to pay income tax and reducing the number of her family members on the state payroll. The Royal Household’s latest 2021 report indicates that the state, taxpayers, they deliver 96.2 million dollars a year for the protocol expenses of the queen and her family. This, without counting the hundreds of millions that they collect for their properties.

The queen and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, repeatedly expressed their opposition to what they considered a political use of his figures. In 1978 they did not like that then Foreign Secretary David Owen forced them to receive the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife as guests at Buckingham Palace. The same thing happened with some envoys from the then Apartheid South Africa. The queen had a friendly relationship with Nelson Mandela. They were on a first-name basis and called each other by his name. There were never any protocols between them.

Elizabeth II with Boris Johnson.
Elizabeth II with Boris Johnson. The queen publicly expressed herself against Brexit, leaving the European Union (Buckingham Palace)

He established rapport with a number of American presidents, notably Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama, and had a successful trip to the Republic of Ireland in 2011, in which he surprised his hosts by addressing them in Gaelic, it remains a “model of the positive impact” that a state visit can have. He even put aside his personal feelings about the murder of his cousin, Lord Mountbatten, in 1979, to salute former IRA commander Martin McGuinness when he took office in 2007 as Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland.

During his formal visits, he asked the political leaders some questions that left them disconcerted. In 2008, after the economic collapse, he questioned the directors of the London Stock Exchange “how is it possible that no one saw it coming?”. In 2014 when the Scots went to the polls for the independence referendum, he launched a “are you sure that the people know what they are voting for?”. And in Glasgow, during the Climate Change Summit, where she had to withdraw early for medical reasons, she was heard ranting against politicians’ inaction on climate change: “How is it possible that they don’t realize the disaster they are causing?” he said.

For not being able to comment on politics, Elizabeth II used the privilege of free expression extensively.


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