Queen Elizabeth II died and, despite not being British, it felt like a significant moment. Evidently, it has moved a great many people around the world. Conversely, many feel that this is no significant event at all. So what does all this tell us?
Monarchies symbolise tradition, establishment, the familiar and a not-to-be-underestimated sense of stability. Significant forces that many, openly or secretly, hang onto. But for others, the monarchy equals an outdated and superfluous institution with no place in modern times.
In the UK there seems to be a real feeling that ‘the great mother has died’, and that a great deal of stability, leadership and certainty has gone with her.
This is not without significance as such a level of mourning would simply not be possible for a person whose role was merely outdated and superfluous. Whether one is a royalist or not, the British monarchy is clearly a symbol of reliable steadfastness for millions of people.
Current trends see various nations increasingly seeking their independence with a desire to reclaim what they believe is their true identity, shaking the ground on which many monarchies are built. Realms that were previously great are potentially about to get smaller. After many years of creating large realms and unions, a movement of detachment seems to be sweeping the globe. Nations are breaking up with one another.
The future will happen regardless, and it looks like the monarchies of the world are under real threat of annihilation. However, in a world where rapid change has become commonplace, one could ponder what will constitute an anchor of stability if the old ways and the old institutions are all to be demolished, however outdated they may appear?
Historically, people have always required something stable and unchanging to hold onto in order to feel peace and safety in their lives. That’s why traditions are largely upheld. The massive changes and subsequent demands for adaptability brought about by COVID-19 sweeping the Earth, have been, to say the least, stressful and destabilising for a great many people.
The ‘gig economy’ – fast and fixed-term job projects replacing longer-term employment – has grown exponentially in recent years. This has created huge opportunities for flexibility and movement, yet stability and protection seem to have taken a downturn.
Steadiness over shiftiness
The British Queen represented a constant, neutral and reliable leadership, which unlike many political leaders seemed to provide people with a sense of identity, stability and comfort. Despite some change being natural, too much and too rapid change can unsettle people, and people have always needed a leader.
The steep global rise in mental health disorders gives away the apparent fact that millions of people are struggling in our current world. Change and stability are two opposing powers. Anyone who has tried will know the impossibility of achieving both at the same time.
Whether you’re a fan of monarchies or not, ask yourself how easy it is to stay balanced when institutions symbolising steadiness and stability are torn down in the name of change, leaving us with no other leaders to lean on than shifty politicians with forever wobbly viewpoints?
Maybe monarchies are outdated. Maybe they provide an unrecognised level of grounding. Maybe we needed Queen Elizabeth more than we knew, and only time will tell.