Behind the headlines
Reports of Britain’s demise are greatly exaggerated
The Queen’s lifelong task – “did she ever quite realise it?” – was to preside over a country in decline, says AN Wilson in The Spectator, and create the illusion “that the nightmare was not happening”. When she was born in 1926, Britain commanded “the mightiest, richest empire in the history of the world”. By the time she died, it had ceased to be even what Gore Vidal once called it: “an American aircraft-carrier”. It was simply a “muddle of a place”, which had lost “most of its manufacturing industrial wealth”, all its political influence in the world, and “any sense of national identity”.