In our “democratic and egalitarian age”, says Adrian Wooldridge in Bloomberg, it is a miracle that monarchy has endured. Everything it stands for – “inheritance rather than merit” – is the antithesis of our proclaimed values. Yet our royal family has not only survived, it has thrived. For this, we must thank “the Queen’s genius”. She proved adaptable, and willing to endorse changes that were “profoundly alien to her class”. From abolishing the hereditary principle in the House of Lords to transforming the Empire into a Commonwealth of self-governing nations, the Queen understood and accepted our changing world.
Yet she also understood that “the more the world changes, the more we crave points of continuity”. Liberal capitalism has led to “the constant reordering of daily life”, from the creation and destruction of companies to ever-evolving mobile apps we can barely use. With her “unfailing air of dignity”, the Queen was a “counterbalance”. We indulge the pomp of “fairy-tale marriages” and new royal babies photographed outside St Mary’s hospital, because even in our “multicultural and demotic” age we still cherish the things that make us British – from afternoon tea to “sheep-flecked hills in the pouring rain”. The Queen was the living incarnation of those traditional elements. As Robert Hardman once put it, she is a “red double-decker bus on two legs”. By defying the “bicycle-riding, down-marketing” of European royalty, she ensured her “staunchly bourgeois yet mesmerising dynasty” would survive.