One of my guilty pleasures when I am on Lates is to have the Radio wake me up, and the Radio channel I will listen to is Radio 4. I am Lates this week and of course this set me up for the revelation that the Queen had asked if Abu Hamza had broken any laws and she was a bit miffed that he was scrounging of the State he wanted to overthrow. As a responsable Head of State I think that was a perfectly reasonable comment to her Home Secretary – the problem was that no-one quotes the Queen, as soon as I heard it thought ‘theres going to be trouble!
It is reasonable – isn’t it – that some conversations need to be kept private, the conversations about doubts over the direction of policy, the ‘what ifs’, the warnings, and also concerns. How would the State function, if for instance, it was public knowledge that the Queen disagreed on a direction of a certain policy, or she had concerns about a war, or such like? Some conversations need to be kept quite.
The Queen has been doing her job for 60 years, she has never expressed any favouritism in public, she has accepted, wined and dined, her Prime Ministers without favour and she has shaken the hand of the President of the country that murdered her Cousin, and she does not have any views, save what Parliament gives her. That is the job of our Head of State, and it has worked well. The fact that the Queen does not have views is the official line, I am sure she has plenty of views, but those views are kept private, even if expressed at Dinner.
Republicans fail to see the position the Queen occupies, she is doing a job, a job that is 24/7 and she needs some to know that she can ‘be herself’ sometimes without it making the front pages. It was public knowledge that her pride and joy was the Royal Yacht Britannia but apart from shedding a tear as it sailed into history in 1997 she never expressed her hurt. Whilst having a Yacht is a little bit of a luxury, it was a place where she could let her hair down, away from the press, and take time off. Her job is really unglamorous, we see the regal trapping but it is just a gilded cage, and a cage is a cage.
The shock of hearing the Queen’s view was a shock, no matter that it expressed what most people were feeling. Her views are always ‘off the record’ and for a Journalist who, by his very line of work, should be aware of protecting his sources to glibly quote the Queen is reckless to say the least – can we trust a person who will not protect his sources when it gives him some cache? There was actually no point in qouting that the Queen asked if Abu Hamza was breaking any law, it did not add to the story or the discussion in anway – it was literally thrown in as an after thought.
Then the witch-hunt started for the Home Secretary she talked to (she will often to talk to her Ministers, Prime Minster and Home Secretaries included), each one said that discussions of the Privy Council are that, privy.
It raises some questions about the rights of the Queen and the Royal Family. Over the past three weeks we have seen Prince Harry photographed naked, a ranking Officer in frontline duty, because he is a ‘royal’ and the photographs of Kate published by the gutter press of France and Italy, surely the Royal Family is entitled to the same rights we expect for ourselves, or else it is society that is becoming a privileged class?