This week the Queen provided comfort to millions worldwide. Her address, only the fifth of its kind, spoke of gratitude, reflection and unity in our constrained and difficult times.
In addition to politicians and medical experts, notes the British writer Douglas Murray, many of us also “wanted to hear from the Queen, who remains the person best placed in our national life — or any nation’s life — to put in context what will hopefully soon recede in the national memory into one of those ugly things that just sometimes happens (italics mine).”
Her speech, drawing from her other sparing and infrequent addresses, prompted us to recall a different kind of leadership – contrasting to the kind of unsparing and ‘do something’ actions that we endure from not all but many of our politicians today.
Granted, as we look to our political leaders in this time of crisis, they appear incredibly popular. Prime Minister Morrison’s approval rating is, supposedly, the highest of any prime minister since a post-GFC Kevin Rudd. But, as post-crisis prime ministers and presidents learn, there’s only one way to eventually emerge from such surreal heights.
The Queen, of course, is not subject to political rhythms in this way. Future and current monarchs should take note. It is not just her majesty’s infrequent addresses, as I wrote recently, that explain such longevity. It is her commitment to the common good, and matching public service with change, that have global and timeless appeal.
In her address the Queen closed noting that “we will meet again”.
Certainly, if economic destitution outbalances public health concerns, this will be sooner rather than later – it’ll provide political leaders some basis to scale back current lockdown measures. The emergence of other non-punitive solutions – such as Sweden’s – are further illustrating how competing approaches could be adopted, injecting some much-needed debate into how we deal with a global pandemic. The additional demands placed on more effective government, especially the swifter delivery of services, will also emerge in the post-lockdown world.
While these will be matters for politics it was, if only brief, refreshing to recess from our governments – or at least look to something higher – and give thanks, leverage pause and remind ourselves of a genuine unity in these shared difficult times.
Image source: BBC/Express