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Culture Friday: A unique British monarch

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WORLD Radio - Culture Friday: A unique British monarch

Queen Elizabeth II leaves behind a legacy after 70 years on the throne


In this June 24, 2015 file photo Britain's Queen Elizabeth II arrives for an official state dinner, in front of Germany's President Joachim Gauck's residence Bellevue Palace in Berlin. Associated Press Photo/Markus Schreiber

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It's the 9th day of September, 2022.

Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Myrna Brown.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. It’s Culture Friday!

Given the sad news yesterday afternoon of the death of Queen Elizabeth II, we are turning today to Albert Mohler. He is editor of WORLD Opinions and a true Anglophile. He wrote a tribute to Queen Elizabeth that we published online yesterday and we’ll talk about her life and place in history.

Good morning!

ALBERT MOHLER, GUEST: Good morning to you, Nick. It's great to be with you and Myrna and the listeners to The World and Everything in It.

BROWN: Excellent column yesterday afternoon, thank you for it. You wrote: “There will not be another like her, at least for a long time.”

Would you talk about what made Elizabeth the Second a unique British monarch?

MOHLER: Well, in so many ways, she established the monarchy once again in in the 20th century in the way that that the monarchy had to be reset at various times. You know, the the thing I want to remind people of because Americans often don't think about this, is that the question of what grounds legitimacy and government is a huge question. It was a consuming question for the American colonists and the revolutionaries. And there very few answers to that question. And actually, biblically, it was a problem that vexed Israel, even when Israel demanded a king, which was not God's intention for them. A monarchy a hereditary monarchy is a way of grounding legitimacy of government. And history is just recorded that in a fallen world, there are a few ways to do that successfully. And and Monarchs are not always successful, and monarchies don't always survive. But the survival the British Monarchy for about 1000 years is one of the rarest of human achievements. Its civilizational. in its in its achieving significance, and and yet, in the modern age, which is particularly inhospitable to the idea of something like a hereditary monarch, Elizabeth in her person, Elizabeth the Second, Her Majesty embodied the state in a way that that meant that even as in the early 20th century, the emperor of the Austro Hungarian empire, that monarchy was destroyed, the German monarchy destroyed, you can just go down the list not to mention the Russian monarchy destroyed, the British Monarchy actually got stronger and stronger and stronger. And it really is largely due to three people in the 20th century George, the fifth, George the sixth, and Elizabeth the Second, and the longest reigning of them, the only one of them to rain for very long, such that you can name an age after her was Elizabeth the second she was 10 years old. When her father unexpectedly became king, she instantly became the first in a line of succession. The weight of an entire nation during one of the most tumultuous centuries of all human existence fell on the shoulders of a 10 year old girl who literally grew up to be a queen. And as I say, in the article at World opinions, we rightly speak now of a second Elizabeth, an age in British history. And those of us who are alive now need to know we should mark this day for it's the end of an epoch.

EICHER: You noted that Elizabeth reigned through a revolution in morality and culture that she could hardly have appreciated when her reign began in 1952.

One of our colleagues here at WORLD noted the irony that a king’s philandering is what placed Elizabeth into the line of succession and with her death we now in essence have a philandering king, her son, King Charles III. So it wasn’t just a moral and cultural revolution that cut through the world over 70 years; it cut through her family as well, didn’t it?

MOHLER: Well, it did. And I would correct what you said in only one sense, and that is that it wasn't technically the philandering, the gut did monarchy into trouble. It was the question of divorce. And the question of marrying a divorced woman whether the king could marry an American, by the way twice divorced woman and, and so it was the question of divorce the Church of England I mean, unfortunately, there have been a lot of philandering kings and princes, but a divorced King was inconceivable in 1936 and that brought about the abdication crisis. And you know, there are multiple ironies here just because Queen Elizabeth the Second sister, it was embroiled in a massive scandal and Queen Elizabeth did not allow her to marry a divorced man and and then you just fast forward as you indicate, she had four children clean it was Queen Elizabeth the Second and only one of them did not divorce or has not yet we hope not. And so you're right this just cut all the way through it. Elizabeth would not be queen if divorce had been socially acceptable and acceptable to the Church of England in 1936, she would have been probably a forgotten princess. But she became queen precisely because of divorce. And now her divorced and, yes, philandering son becomes, we think King Charles the third, he has become king, we need to make that clear he became king immediately upon the last breath of his mother. But he has not yet announced his throne name, which is likely to be either Charles the third or George the seventh.

EICHER: We’ve read hundreds of times already “the end of an era.” No doubt that’s true. But I wonder how far that end-of-an-era idea goes. We’ve seen monarchies collapse. Do you wonder whether this is more than the end of the reign of this Queen but also the end of Britain’s monarchy itself?

MOHLER: You know, I would not bet against the British Monarchy for a couple of reasons. Number one, it really is the grounding of legitimacy for the British government. And the British government is based around that so comprehensively, that Parliament can only meet in the sovereigns name, the prime minister can only serve by the by the monarchs invitation, government can only exist by the monarchs current authority exercised, even by the monarch signature, it's virtually impossible to have England or Great Britain or the United Kingdom, which is technically the first thing we should say it's impossible to have the United Kingdom without a king, or a queen, as a reigning sovereign. Now you could have another nation, but it would actually have to reinvent itself. And by the way, there's another reason, less perhaps estimable why the British Crown is going to continue. And that is, it is now the huge draw for international attention. And so in a celebrity age, the royal family becomes the great tourist attraction when people do not go to Germany, or to Paris very often to see, you know, the palaces of former kings and queens, they want to go see the palace of a king, or a queen. And so the there's a commercial reason why. And also, just in terms of royal warrants, if you just consider the legal authority by which banks operate, and schools operate, and, you know, nonprofit organizations, NGOs, as we would call them operate, they all operate and buy some kind of warrant that eventually is traceable back to the crown. So I'll just predict that, that barring something like a Bolshevik revolution, you're not likely to see the Fall of the House. But to make your point, Nick, the bigger concern is whether the royal family will maintain moral credibility, because it's possible to conceive of them as nothing more than salacious celebrities. And I would just argue that that will mean the fall of the monarchy over time, because you can replace celebrities, you can't replace a monarch in terms of authority and integrity and credibility. That's what made Elizabeth so special is that Elizabeth was a woman who embodied duty service love for her country. I mean, imagine that falling on the shoulders of a 10 year old girl, and then it was in the midst of economic depression. And then comes World War Two, where her own nation is in grave danger of just disappearing against the Nazi onslaught. And you just look and you recognize the legitimacy of the British government has has been on her shoulders now for 70 years personally and for longer than that anticipation. And there's just nothing in American life that compares which is another reason why we just need to say as Americans, our government is we just have to admit derivative of the British government, our political traditions are a continuation of the Anglo American political traditions. And so that's the reason why, even after a revolution, established relations between and by the way, you had another war in 1812, that by the time you get to the end of the 19th century, it's clear that Winston Churchill will put it best when he said the English speaking peoples belong together and were indivisible. Even if we were a one people, two nations separated by a common language as he put it.

BROWN: Albert Mohler is editor of WORLD Opinions. It’s been a busy week, thanks for squeezing this in!

MOHLER: Oh, absolutely. This is such an important time. I just hope that Christians listeners to the world and everything in it, just understand the gravity of this moment. This is a this is a kind of time when parents and children, grandparents and family just need to say you know, this is just one of those major historical milestones that we will and should remember for a very long time you need to remember where you were. When the death of Queen Elizabeth the Second was announced, nothing like this almost by definition is going to happen in our lifetimes.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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