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Other View: As the crown became a curiosity, Queen Elizabeth did the British people proud

Will the House of Windsor and royalty survive her passing?

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(L-R) Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Louis of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Charlotte of Cambridge watch the RAF flypast on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during the Trooping the Colour parade on June 2, 2022 in London, England.
Chris Jackson/Getty Images/TNS
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The death of the queen (there’s only one queen) might have come as “a shock,” as new British Prime Minister Liz Truss said outside No. 10 Downing St., but it was certainly not a surprise. When Elizabeth ascended the throne in 1952, the cry was “Long live the Queen.” That she did, with dignity and decency, all the way to 96. Having been the United Kingdom’s monarch for 70 years, Elizabeth was the constant ever since Winston Churchill was PM and Harry Truman president.

Churchill led the government at Elizabeth’s request, just as Truss was asked to serve the other day, with seven decades of politicians in between. Of course, the PM is the leader of the largest party in the House of Commons, but the figurehead sovereign remains part of their constitution. Though British government isn’t built on the foundation of a written document (apart from the Magna Carta), it does rest on powerful unwritten traditions that have given the U.K. stable government for centuries, no small thing.

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In 1776, people around here and in Boston and Philadelphia and down South rightly rebelled against England and won our independence, breaking with his majesty King George’s long train of abuses and usurpations. As happy as we are to have disposed of the divine right of kings and queens, the king’s language and legal system, or pieces of them anyway, have well endured.

The monarchy’s real power has long faded. Elizabeth’s reign has been mainly a tourist attraction, not to mention a £100 million-per-year drain on the taxpayers. The lucky clan is peopled with decidedly mediocre individuals who were great for gossip sheets but not much else. But Elizabeth Windsor was no mediocrity. From the German Blitz of London to the tumultuous present, she led a life of duty and represented Britain well.

Will the House of Windsor and royalty survive her passing? For now, yes, although after 73 years of being Prince Charles, history’s longest understudy, getting used to King Charles will take a while. That’s if it ever sticks.

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