The Monarchy with David Starkey

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ladies and gentlemen it's a great pleasure to be back again talking about something serious as opposed to the University of Cambridge but name of the monarchy my current work in both media terms that's to say television and my academic work is looking at the institution of monarchy now that seems in a sense a contradiction in terms least on this side of the Atlantic monarchy and the British monarchy in particular tends to be seen as merely gossip column material you know fuller for Princess Diana's studies which I know is taken very seriously in some universities but not Cambridge now what I want to do is something very different in the television series I'm looking at the history of the monarchy of England subsequently Britain from the beginning and I was going to say it till the end but that would slightly anticipate things in other words from the anglo-saxons right up to the present day and the strange good to down the ruling of the House of Windsor the reason I do this is twofold particularly the monarchy is the only English institution which is actually continuous with the possible exception of the Church of England but as I shall describe later the Church of England has achieved the nearly impossible and eradicated Christianity from the church so it's a very it's a very strange thing and really in its present tortured avatar doesn't really have much resemblance to anything like the medieval church or still less the anglo-saxon Church so the monarchy is the one continuous lens through which you can actually look at the history of England and the history of Britain and that seems to me to be very important the other way around turning as it were the telescope round in the other direction is that monarchy I think is also a universal this is a very dangerous thing to say in a republic and I apologize for it but human beings seem essentially to be hardwired for monarchy almost all institutions are Menaka chol starting very obviously with the University of Cambridge we live we live under the reign of a kind of benign Catherine the Great and two enlightened despotism it hasn't yet turned into despotism modified by riot or by epigram all the sorts of things that it was in the in the 18th century but Allison beware we are a rebellious lot so but he extends much further than that if one looks for example at America what you have is a monarchy full stop you have an elective monarchy but then so does the Roman Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic Church to say nothing of America is the world's only surviving genuine absolute monarchy in which whatever a pope in whatever condition of physical health gets up and thinks his doctrine is doctrine if you're foolish enough to believe him so now the American presidency is a more complex animal I was used to say when I was trying to explain the American Constitution to my students and incidentally the monarchy is not the only borrowing the whole structure of American federal government is closely modeled not on that of Rome whose fancy dress it worse and you know whose architecture it invokes and whose Eagles rather improbably it floats it is instead based on obviously England of the 18th century systematized rationalized and crucially eventually democratized because y-your history has gone in such a wildly different direction from that of England and Britain herself but if you look for example at the Senate the Senate is merely an elective House of Lords to begin with you were indirectly elected remember the Constitution amendment providing for direct election to the Senate is only post first world war but if you actually look at the senators each one of them rejoices in a quasi noble status to state the kind of duke of minnesota or you know they vie the Earl of Oregon and do not they have like effectively life ten years mm-hmm they have like the British peerage access to loot and pillage and reward and the world their followers occasionally one or two of them get found out and there's a process sort of person well what is that eventually there are processes of course going right up to the president itself of impeachment which is taken straight from the medieval English Constitution the process that that Clinton narrowly escaped of trial before the Senate with the House of Representatives acting as prosecutors what are the House of Representatives they are simply the Commons that presiding officer is called the speaker what is even more bizarre to American ears the administrative officer is a person whom you cannot pronounce the sergeant-at-arms now nobody has any idea on Capitol Hill why the house is run by the sergeant-at-arms it's simply because the sergeant-at-arms is the representative official of the comma ISM as I is the is the administrative official the Disciplinary official of the Commons in England so the president is a monarch I used to say until Reagan was elected he was simply draw to the third without a wig but then Reagan came along and the joke the joke felt almost as flat as his hair was bouffant you also have a court as all monarchs have courts America is ruled by a cabinet chosen purely by the president and the key officers do not sit in the cabinet the key officers are genuine quarters the rolls of the night those dark things that wander around in the back stairs of power just as they do in Downing Street in London where we of course have two monarchs we have Queen Elizabeth the second this artificial frail monarch and the real monarch King turned you the first weather add much darker creatures of the night like Mandelson and Alastair Campbell who would do credit to the Thomas cromwell's to the the thugs of the late Middle Ages and exercised power in that same dark concealed fashion and of course these elective monarchs have consorts we have Queen Sherri the last time she appeared in public in Britain her dress was described because it's now the material of of not simply couturiers but-but-but-but serious political analysis the dress that this evening reception was described as a striking confection off the shoulders without sleeves worn with long bejeweled gloves with the tight high bodice two flared skirt and the whole modeled on the costume of ladies of the French aristocracy in the 18th century nobody of course explained to her what happened to the French aristocracy in the 18th century but still still you get the idea so monarchy is in other words what I'm trying to say and monarchy is a universal it's something that series it's there virtually every organization be it a state be it a company be at a university be it - school is run essentially monopoly and one of the reasons we so misunderstand our politics is that we take seriously the decent veil of constitutionality that hangs over this brute fact so the study of monarchy which has been completely neglected academically is one that is really seriously worth making it's worth making even if you're looking in terms for example a business history business history has of course a very brief life the continuous documentation of the corporation is less than a hundred years old the documentation of monarchy which I would argue is a strictly analogous form of government is about 2,000 years old and if you look at some of the other monarchies like virology Drik stretches way way back it the mirth the analysis of power power control power distribution by replication looking that this much broader pattern but what I want to do with you this afternoon is to come down from these Aryan realizations and look in particular at the history of what becomes the British monarchy that's another decent constitutional fiction the monarchy is the monarchy of England the ordinal numbers of sovereigns are the ordinal numbers of the sovereigns of England for example when Queen Elizabeth the second succeeded in 1952 there was the most terrific who are in Scotland because they'd never been equivalent Queen Elizabeth the first of Scotland so pillar boxes were blown up because e2 appeared on them which Scots didn't recognize the coronation is the English coronation the Earl's of the English oaths the relationship with Parliament is the relationship with the English Parliament so the lineage then is it's very very long lineage but what I want to do is to look at it at exactly the moment when all the conventional text books tell you it becomes unimportant I am a great believer that you stand things on their head one of the key things in academic study is to look at things hard and to try shaking them around a bit you know looking at them from odd perspectives taking nothing for granted and this applies just as much in our subjects as in the Natural Sciences so what I really want to do is rather than having some complacent analysis of the residual constitutional importance of the British monarchy which I would argue is negligible none of any significance whatever I want instead to look at why we still have a monarchy why the thing survives at all because of course Britain in the last century or so the last 100 and 120 years since the 1880s 1890's has undergone arguably the most radical social transformation in Europe it is certainly undergone a quite extraordinary process of social transformation so has the monarchy survived at all to put the question the other way around what does it actually do many people have asked few have answered and you will this afternoon here that were something unique you will hear and attempt at giving a serious answer to that question now the issue of survival of the monarchy loomed very very large in the minds of those advising the sovereign in the last two decades a Victoria's reign in the 19th century traditional accounts of British history of course stress Victoria's popularity they stress the middle-class nature of the monarchy of Victorian dollar but its respectability and so on they gloss over completely the fact that the high-water mark of English republicanism is the 1870s when you actually had at least one over Republican sitting in the cabinet mm-hmm something never repeated in the 20th century and the advisors of Victoria were desperately concerned that her invisibility her withdrawal from public view to say nothing of gossip which turns out almost certainly to be true about her relationship with John Brown was besmirching the public reputation of the monarchy and the group of people arise I've talked about these dark figures at court Backstairs intriguers but intriguers for once with intelligence arise who recognize that the monarchy is in danger in the late 18th century in the late 19th century the late 1800s it is at risk and what they do is to come up with a quite extraordinary series of reinventions we talked this morning about the University of Cambridge and transformation and change and how change happens as one looks at very big causes and very small causes now obviously the background to the changes the background to the at-risk nature of the monarchy the late 19th century was the fundamental shift in British politics which follows 1867 the second reform act and the beginning of mass democracy a popularly elected House of Commons rather than a selection process within the political elite which America of course with its voting turnout dropping towards the 50% is rapidly replicating you know they'll eat simple squabbles amongst itself leaving the poor and dispossessed outside exactly as the unreformed House of Commons did in Britain but anyway all that aside but the great threat to the monarchy is the advent of genuine popular rule because the monarchy is the aristocratic institution par excellence and what you're doing throughout the 19th century is shifting away from narrowly at aristocratic government how is monarchy actually to survive this change well the answer is is not to adapt there's got to change it itself has got to transform but how on earth do you have the paradox of a democratic monarchy happen it is an extraordinary paradox and yet Britain England is the first country to bring about this formula with extraordinary success which is why the monarchy despite the disasters than is handlings the folly of the last 30 years is still there let's look a at how the process is conceived and to be at how it's done and see who did it the key figure as I said one of these preachers of the night is an extraordinary man called Reginald Brett Viscount YCJA Isha's entry in DnB is quite astonishing it lists all the offices that he refused beginning with the Viceroy of India the Secretary of State for war the position of effective chief of the General Staff is a staggering list he was the supreme operator but he preferred the dark issue is very unusual for other reasons he is of course an Etonian various strange creature kings and whatever he's also half French his mother is French which makes him even stranger and in the world of late Victorian England he is bisexual with an extraordinary passion for Eton sixth formers including allegedly his own second son with whom he was passionately in love all of this in Victorian England these separate lives these parallel lives so he is a man peculiarly aware of the theatre of human existence his entire life is theatre is a show is a performance like monarchy itself and he is brilliant at handling this he is in fact seriously interested in the theatre and he is a his an aficionado of the stage door to actress is you know whatever we needn't investigate too much but he's also widely read highly literate and deeply aware of French history and he knows they're about to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the French Revolution only whatever it is two years 1889 will be the hundredth anniversary two years after Victoria's Golden Jubilee when she actually celebrates her anniversary of coming to the throne he is determined that England will not have a French Revolution that there will not be tumbrils and England now you may think I exaggerate read his papers this is the concern it is how do you damn what he sees as an irresistible type remember we think of democracy is a nice word actually many of the world's nastiest regimes of being democracies in other words what we like is liberal democracy democracy travelled by rules by the rule of law by the rule of property most democracies aren't like that if you look at the Greeks if you look at the Aristotle and more particularly Plato democracy there is a defective form of government is essentially the rule of the pour-over the rich the majority over the minority and Risha is determined as somebody who is rich the minority powerful not to suffer and the key role of monarchy is going to be the management of the process of transformation from an aristocratic society to a Democratic Society that's the polite way of looking at it it could also be argued it is about the subversion of democracy the management of democracy the substitution if you like to go back to the Greeks again a Plato's cave of satisfying pretty pictures which keep the common people happy if you like monarchy is the opium of British democracy so let's look at how issue goes about doing this I've already mentioned the key events the key events are the celebrations of Victoria's accession the building Jubilee and of 1887 the Diamond Jubilee of 1897 these are stage managed by Asia like an impresario they are planned they're designed they have a purpose they have scripts they have rehearsals but the key thing about them is they're utterly different from preceding Royal ceremony I mentioned England being aristocratic you all in this room most of you the overwhelming majority of you having spent time at Cambridge are actually familiar though you don't know it with what aristocratic ceremony looks like it's just like academic ceremony its shambolic I do know well I don't know what your degree day was like my degree day the only memory that I have when I took my BA is the fact and this of course as a male vice-chancellor possibly happen but Allison but my my only memory is the size of the hole in the Vice Chancellors sock it was rather ill washed matted greywool with this thought of you know bluish white flesh protruding frisky his name was grave it was very appropriate I mean it was nicknamed tough wasps or all the classicists here and anyway that in other words unless you look at typical possessions too high table ground the gowns that are milled you that are tattered that a worn conspicuously off-the-shoulder gowns all over leather jackets over denim over everything that's not appropriate isn't it true right now Alistair tragic ceremony is just like that because it's carried out within a group who know but it's carried out amongst the cognoscenti and the archetypical example a raster graphic ceremony and the last undiluted example of it was victoria's own coronation the thing which was being celebrated in 1837 and is very very extraordinary the ceremony after all lasts at least three hours it involves complex movements by an elderly gentleman wearing long robes and they did it without any rehearsal the Archbishop of Canterbury was as blind as a bat forgot his spectacles and started off with the prayer book upside down he then continued to what was all the most sacred moments of the coronation where the coronation ring is placed on the Queen's fore finger he did manage to see the hand II got the right thing he had the ring in the other hand and he started to put it on then he encountered resistance and with this blind and stupid absence continued pushing bushing booking and Queen Victoria describes in her wonderful Diaries and letters it was as much as she could do not to scream at this moment of solemn ceremony as the ring was first of all one joint in the net the next what had happened was they married they had measured her little finger rather than her fourth finger and he took some hours of soaking in ice water and the combine tugging other ladies of in waiting to get the thing off afterwards but that wasn't the culmination of absurdity it was at the moment of homage when the period in strict order of rank beginning with the Royal Dukes and ending with mere barons bill up the multitudinous steps of the throne in these long heavy velvet fur line robes balancing you know all the whole caboodle of Coronets and whole thing to kneel in front of the monarch place their hands exactly what you do when you take your degree at Cambridge you do realize you're performing feudal homage when you go down on your knees you raise your hands and the vise transferring closes your hands in his or hers that is feudal homage anyway you're the peerage does this came finally to the last group of the peerage and one of the least important members of the peerage a baron called Lord Rahl ro ll and he was very old and probably rather drunken certainly blind and as he came to mount the steps he got to the penultimate step and then fell roll down the steps of the throne not to be defeated he got up again Rast up and to immense cheer slipped again and rolled back by this time the honeymoon of the congregation is not quite right the word the audience was was wild with enthusiasm and he made a third attempt and was about to fall back when the Queen leaned forward and the mayor's leaned forward and everybody else caught him he just about got through it and boom used foreigners were told afterwards that this was in fact an ancient ritual that the scroll the invention of tradition but the the barony of role was held by the service of rolling down the throne do you think I'm inventing it it's not is it is absolutely true now you could why can you get away with this in the same way you can get away with dongs and mildewed and tattered gowns because everyone's in the know but what happens when the great unwashed are admitted when you turn royal ceremony inside out so instead of it taking part place within the Abbey which was sealed off to which it was entry only by ticket holders to which the common folk will not admit it you turn ceremony round and you deliberately make it a performance for the new masters of the nation the common people suddenly you can't have mistakes these people are used to performance these are the days of the late Victorian the Edwardian theatres of varieties the direct ancestor of Hollywood spectacular they know what a good show looks like so you've got to put on a good show and if you look at Victoria's Jubilees to a lesser extent the first in 1887 but dramatically for the second the Diamond Jubilee of 1897 these are modern British ceremony so suddenly this is the ceremony that we brits do so well there are lots of soldiers and impossibly tight jackets by the way the regiment's competed to how tight their bottoms were and how much they stuck out going to all marching up and down beautiful at a time perfectly played music everybody doing the right thing if it looks like retainer it's because it is it looks like a sessile bead Emile spectacular it is because it did direct ancestor it is a popular performance and it works brilliantly it makes a monarchy a public show a spectacle but in the 1920s when they'd actually got used to holy wood spectacular led to the fight that the British Royals were labeled the only true film stars that we've got it's performance its stardom its celebrity now that represented a huge shift in the public perception of a monarchy and you can see the sequence you have first of all the beginnings of democracy then you've actually got to alter the monarchy as performance no longer to an aristocratic coterie but to a much much wider a much wider audience and a less understanding and an infinitely less tolerant one but in fact democracy the beginning of the mass electorate was something that was relatively easily semantics there came a few years later a much more radical challenge the great year of transformation we were talking about actual years this morning the great hero of actual transformation of the British monarchy is 1917 right the year of the Russian Revolution it is the year when monarchy throughout Europe tottered and most of them began an inevitable fall that swept away the three great empires of Russia Germany of Austria and cut a swathe through the remaining crowned heads but not the British the British reaction to 1917 is fascinating the first thing is that it was the king not the radical liberal Prime Minister Lloyd George who refused the Czar and his family refuge in Britain that despite the fact that they were his first cousins because George exactly like YCJA was terrified terrified of revolution terrified at this time not of democracy but actual red revolution there are repeated mutineers most of them relatively minor in the army some very significant in the Navy at this time there is of course a huge war being fought with gigantic casualties the monarchy is frightened and the response is not simply fear the refusal to admit and Nicholas and Alexandra it is also really surprisingly reinvention now George the fifth is the least likely candidate for thinking new thoughts you could imagine ladies and gentlemen he collected stamps now of all forms of human activity philately seems to me to hit the absolute basement if there any philatelists in this room cover yourselves in shame go out your collections and give the proceeds to Cambridge unit and and you will be enter the human race but he not only george v melinda collects stamps he is obsessed with meteorology he the first thing he does every morning is to measure the temperature and the wind direction in this monstrously tedious diary of his written on lined paper and and in a stormy round hand but George is in fact extraordinarily shrewd not clever shrewd and he realizes the two things that have to be done the first is of course that as part of this transformation we haven't yet quite had to go so far at Cambridge you change the name if anything the name of the royal house of Britain at this point was something like Saxa Kohlberg Goethe which is kind of inconvenient if you're fighting the Germans and so what you do is you the repackage the thing you rename it and they did it in a completely modern fashion their market tested alternatives and the one they come up with of course finally Windsor is just so good it's a little touch of Shakespeare you know Merry Wives of Windsor and all the rest of it it's a very large touch of medieval myth room and chivalry with the Garter whose headquarters are at Windsor and then finally I think it was already associated with you know sort of woods of Windsor sweet smells touches of lavender you know that that faint sense of the indus countryside all carefully packaged up for americans and so it is a brilliant choice of name and that's the thing that people traditionally focus on are the changes of 1917 but they seem to mediate that seems to me to be although it's important it's only as it were the outer wrapping the change at the core the thing which is so crucial and it will not surprise any anthropologists in the room is in marriage customs marriage customs are absolutely central to understanding strange tribes like royals and up to that point the rules of the marriage of the British monarchy had been governed by two factors the first following the Glorious Revolution of 1688 89 and which have been another extraordinary change up to that point from the Reformation every in other words from Henry the eighth - and to William and Mary every new monarch that changed the religion of the country until finally people got a bit fed up with this and thought will be much more logical if instead the monarch had to change his religion the suit laughs of the country would make things much easier so you introduce the rule but no Roman Catholic can be either sovereign or indeed Kamaria sovereign of Britain and and that means then the first rule the first rule is a kind of endogamous rule you've got to marry within the group of European Protestants the second rule is also in bigamous but comes from a different culture from the beginning of the 18th century hence the sacs Accord got our business the British monarch is in fact a German Prince and German arrastre aristocracy had much much stricter rules than the English aristocracy they practiced what the French call dhole Jean's that is to say if you marry outside your own social rank it is not a full marriage it's a morganatic marriage and your children cannot inherit so not only does a British monarch have to marry a Protestant you have to marry a serene Highness the trouble is because while the few German princely families are Protestant you will find yourself usually that you've got one and a half women that a royal prince can marry and half of them are mad and it is very very difficult which is why certain odds deeply obscure dynasties like tech constantly crop up in the marriage pattern now the problem of these marriages is of course that they are effectively arranged marriages as a much arranged as Indian or Pakistani typical marriages nowadays you can't pretend that they're love affairs sometimes they change into a love affair like Victoria and Albert but you can't really present them like that what in fact George does in 1917 is something staggering he says from this moment he actually notes it in his diary in that strange schoolboy round handwriting between the stamps and the weather and the temperature and and and and the fact that weather was on seasonably cold and all of it's there on the page he said this is so much like the die of Adrian Mole this was an historic day he says because today I published an order-in-council that my children could marry English men and English women now that changes everything in other words they can marry subjects they can meet people in reasonably natural social intercourse in the London scene and fall in love with them and marry them and they don't just that and the most important of these marriages which takes place within the following five years is the marriage of the Kings second son the future George the sixth to the future Elizabeth bowes-lyon Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and that wedding is presented just like Diana's there are the new popular press with the new easy availability of photography new women's magazines you have shots of the interior of the house in Piccadilly you've got shots of the house in which you were brought up you've got interviews with her nanny you've got reports on what the trousseau will be like you've got gossip from a friends and the whole thing is blown up into a national love affair and this also has the other crucial effect it transforms the monarchy from this rather remote institution into an object of popular fascination especially it has to be said with women and and also it means that the royal family becomes the key thing the British monarchy becomes the royal family and the royal becomes the great British royal family the symbol of unity now why do I say that because remember these are Dimond distant days divorce which our return to in a moment wasn't heard of it was Ethan at the rare and the one thing that everybody have what ever class particularly not the upper class who had a bad record even then and got a four they immensely elaborate processes of divorce but what the monarchy the middle class and the modest working class could agree on was the importance of marriage it was a cement it was a unifier and the British monarchy survives and thrives now not as the apex of the social pyramid not as a glittering aristocratic institution but as a representative sort of lsaps middle-class family it is brilliant is also achieved at quite enormous cost it's achieved at the enormous cost of the suppression of the movement for divorce more reform there is a completely new history of 20th century England to be written in terms of resistance to divorce law reform the necessity for divorce law reform was recognized right at the beginning of the 20th century by the Liberal government and you set up a divorce law Commission which was blocked and you'll all be pleased to know that the blocking was done by Oxford it was done it was done by phalanx and of clergy and Canon lawyers from all souls centering around Anson who was the who was the working of all souls and the future Archbishop of Canterbury Cosmo Gordon Lang and they block divorced law reform and the key thing to understand is that the monarchy not only becomes a representative of the great British family it becomes the centre of a new kind of national religion the national religion is of course centred on the Church of England now I made abusive remarks about the absence of Christianity in the Church of England but if you go into an old-fashioned Church of England you up towards the altar indeed if there is an altar you will be struck by the almost complete absence of Christian symbols and the only presence of Union jacks and regimental flags what the English are doing there is worshipping themselves and nasha Westminster Abbey of course is the national shrine but it's not filled with saints heaven's sake Isaac Newton's there and and it's it's it's full with the great it's filled with the secular great in other words this Shinto this is worship of the national spirit English into the worship of national spirits through the King Emperor who is the centerpiece of this but it also has a single article of faith it's not you know love the Lord thy God than a love thy neighbor as thyself it is thou shalt not get divorced there is a single moral test which is avoiding divorce and the monarchy is deployed struggling ly effectively as the institution that keeps this together and a whole series of other features of national life the Church of England is one of them the new BBC is another wreath is the key figure along with copper with Cosmo Gordon Lang and fascinating enough that both and resize Scots the most dangerous breed that exists and as we as we see from our present government and Reeth imposes this test virtually within the BBC the chief engineer is forced to resign because he gets divorced and of course well known is the fact you can't be presented at court if you're divorced you can't enter the Royal Enclosure ascot if you're divorced you can't enter into society if you're divorced and line deploys this absolutely brutally the fascinating thing of course is that lying is gay there are the official lives have changed there's being this transformation in our understanding of sexuality since the 1960s but if we look at Lange's official life published and in shortly after his death in 1946 it describes two scenes that I'd like to have in your mind of this great bastion of family morality the first is the moment when he is inculcated into the Church of England the custom the oxford training variant all goes back to it and the Oxford Training College the Church of England clergy coming from a background of the Scottish man's he wasn't of course used to seeing clergy in Kasich's and he enters dinner to run the dining room where the assembled and the assembled pestilence and the man in charge the Bishop of Lincoln are all seated at dinner in castles he's clearly very nervous he is seated next to the Bishop of Lincoln in charge of all of this and the Bishop of Lincoln has a kindly so recognizes the young man's anxiety and I am now quoting from the official life firmly grasping his thigh the bishop said to the young lang that young man I see you are disturbed by the company but don't worry these young men are not as holy as they look and I squeezing harder am the naughtiest of them all the ceilings at the back of the arcus Keable rolls which were again quite extraordinary as the archbishop after a major speech or major sermon would settle it is described giggling and relaxing in the company of his two favorite chaplains on the back seats extraordinaire but this man is the orchestrator of the family monarchy he creates the coronation particularly the coronation of George the sixth as the grandest most formal show in comparison with the coronation of Victoria it has 11 rehearsals it is infinitely polished but why is George the sixth the second son on the throne at all because of divorce that is to say his elder brother Prince David the man who briefly reigns as Edward the eighth wanted to marry the twice-divorced American the only sin that was worse than being American was being divorced and they understand that was worth and those two with being twice divorced mrs. Simpson now everybody thinks that there is some rule which says that a British monarch cannot be divorced or marry a divorcee there is no such rule it was simply this tremendous orchestration of the morale of the monarchy into the defense of middle-class morality that's the only reason that the abdication crisis happens and of course the result of the abdication crisis is that you put on the throne the most model model couple of all George the sixth and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother it works brilliantly it works brilliantly when they're succeeded by queen elizabeth ii who begins her reign by saying is interesting she doesn't say she wants to continue this 1500 year tradition of the British monarchy she's no interest in history at all when I took around an exhibition of her great ancestor Queen Elizabeth the first the only things you could do when she stood in front of a picture of Queen Elizabeth was to summon Philip and say isn't that mine it was like half the things in the exhibition but still and say it's a housekeeping viewed of history in this in this view of history was simple she said she wanted to be like her father George the sixth and her grandfather George the fifth and she was until the disaster of Diana until the moment at which the idea of the monarchy is the defense against divorce the monarchy as the protector of the family exploded but of course the British family had already gone we embraced the American ideal of divorce - we have this problem then the monarchy which survived and thrived adapting itself to democracy and becoming the representative institution through representing the British family suddenly at the end of the 20th century found itself Robert of a role nothing to do nothing for it to stand for and the only reason that it survives now is arguably the most important force in human nature in the same way as the most important force in physics inertia ladies and gentlemen thank you very much we have about ten minutes for questions if you'd wait and we have microphones available if those with microphones could stand up and and and come forward although the microphones at the side there are they if you could come to the microphones are on either side of the auditorium there and ask your question and then everybody will be able to hear it first question please stun silence right so the microphone is just by you my understanding was the most important principle in physics is entropy which is constant change it shows that I'm a historian on ISS right but in general what do you see for the monarchy in the next 20 years I think it's impossible to predict the future because I am a historian and historians are not very good at doing that and the monarchy survives at the moment because all alternatives are even worse if you look at the prospect of president Tony Blair you know the most ardent Republican him in Britain instantly is converted to you know a brown-noser of the House of Windsor and if if New Labour had retained the kind of popularity which it had in 97 I think the future of the monarchy would look very dim but at the moment I mean even Charles you know published survived it'll be difficult I mean for it genuinely to survive what you will have to do is to find a new purpose but remember and again this is something I think that Americans don't often register more than half European countries Western European countries are monarchies including many of the most democratic and prosperous France of course is a republic and a catastrophic one and then we just remember French coast this is this is going back to a point about constant change and five Republic's and two molecules and two empires extraordinary argue of the three monarchies because Charles attempts is so different from lure the 18th and then the monarchy de gea and Louis Philippe and but the really successful European countries the Netherlands Sweden now Spain and so on there are all monarchies but in all of those countries it's very easy to identify what the monarchy does in exactly the same way that it was easy to identify what the British monarchy did for most of the 20th century in Spain the monarchy is the emblem of renewed democracy in the Netherlands it is the key emblem of and passionate small nation nationalism if you look at the Dutch football team it does not wear the national colours it was orange the colours of the house of orange exactly the same is true in Sweden where it looked as though the monarchy was going to disappear in the 1970 of the monarchy and the Swedish Constitution survives by a single word there's one word in the Swedish Constitution it was deliberately designed so that the monarchy could be amputated with the least problem the most interesting example is Belgium where apart from Catholicism chocolates and child abuse the only true Belgian institution is the monarchy and otherwise the country is totally split down the middle between the van all the French speakers and the Fleming's and the Mott so the monarchy is Belgium now none of this was true before 1946-47 so that's the period where you get you in a funk of Egypt saying soon there will only be five kings of the world four in a pack of cars on the King of England the moment the British monarchy you reach in this process of adaptation now it's been taken over and unfortunately there's nobody in Buckingham Palace with the brains of Reginald Brett or Cosmo Gordon lang there really isn't sir pretty go to the microphone was the Princess Diana assassinated and if not why not maybe that's the best question I've ever had yes shall we just applaud well maybe that maybe the British Secret Service sensibly felt she was doing such a good job of self-destruction they would have you know given her a little bit of rope to hang herself instead an alternative method occurred but no of course she wasn't the thing is I mean like so many historical events what you see is what you get but her behavior of course was was completely destroying her popularity least on on the other side of the Atlantic the extraordinary affair with with our fired son and so on the increasing erratic nosov her general behavior no there's no need there was no need in fact if she hadn't died can you imagine Princess Diana 45 and showing the signs of substance abuse which is undoubtedly what we would have seen she wouldn't have been a pretty sight though she has a great dane Young is a huge advantage it's a really smart career move you know and not it doesn't begin with James Dean at the one of Henry the eighth's Queens was most successful is Jane Seymour she does what none of the others were able to do she produces a son and then she dies 13 days later and you know at which point she becomes the perfect wife if you look at this you see look in the Victorian novel The Good Wife is the dead wife you know you go to heaven you wear white your husband and children pray to you every night and you can never put your foot wrong so dire it was a very smart career move Willie smart career move she probably planned it that's right but don't sue diana is again a phenomenon that really is worth taking seriously not in the kind of Neal feminist approaches of many American Historians it's what happens when modern celebrity a monarchy collide with each other there's always been an element of celebrity in monarchy going right back to talk a little bit about it this morning Erasmus is reaction to Henry the eighth he describes him in recognizable terms of celebrity Henry the eighth's himself as I hope to show in my new biography published by HarperCollins in 2009 at some vast cost I trust and Henry himself is obsessed with the idea of Fame but the problem is modern celebrity is something very different modern celebrity is about a kind of intestinal exposure a turning of the human being inside out and its natural conclusion is death or flirt ignorant like Elizabeth Taylor a long-delayed flirtation with death and and and it's very sick and that's not what you want from the public institution I think we've time for just one last question um yes certainly the gentleman is actually about to hog the microphone yes sir it said where did Harry get that disgusting shirt and should he have been allowed to go to Sandhurst under those circumstances without some sort of delay at least we're referring of course to the to the knot of the Nazi fence address that the young prince was stupid enough to wear and into something very important to remember Harry is a second son second son's are expected to behave badly they have no other function they're there to provide they're there to provide a kind of entertainment it was monstrous that he bore it it showed it reflected no good whatever I'm eatin that a young man would be so idiotic to do that but he's a not very bright 18 year old subject to this hideous light of publicity a future artillery officer no doubt I think you'll do very well in the Army the army the army they all may unlike Cambridge is very good at taking really bad material and knocking it into shape and it does it very successful they didn't dental man thank you very much [Applause] you
Channel: Cambridge University
Views: 151,024
Rating: undefined out of 5
Keywords: Cambridge University, Dr. David Sparkey, The Monarchy, English, History, King, Queen, England, Examination, Rich Heritage
Id: TzSQsQwHoxA
Channel Id: undefined
Length: 52min 7sec (3127 seconds)
Published: Tue Sep 29 2009
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