The Malta Independent 9 December 2023, Saturday
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Life and other distractions: To rule or not to rule

Sunday, 25 September 2022, 09:52 Last update: about 2 years ago

Louis Gatt

Last Monday morning the Brits buried their Queen. So, you may ask, what's that got to do with us? Well, quite a lot actually. Up until 13 December 1974 she was also Malta's queen. Some people wish this was still the case, but it isn't. These days we have as our head of state an unelected Maltese president.

But back to the queen: Since she died (not passed... what a dreadful expression that is) on 8 September - the day on which we ironically celebrate the defeat of the Turks in 1565 - the world's media have been inundated with memories of the longest serving monarch in history. You don't need me to remind you of her protracted association and enduring love for Malta and the Maltese. She often described her two years living here, when first married to Prince Phillip, as the happiest in her entire very long life.


I personally never met the lady, but many of my friends and colleagues did. But when I say met, what actually happened was that they stood in line out here to be presented to her. I understand that those who came into contact with Queen Elisabeth in her younger years found her somewhat distant and... well wooden. However, in old age she seemed to mellow considerably. Who can forget her fairly recent turn with a computer-generated Paddington Bear or pacing the corridors of Buck House with Daniel Craig in his guise as James Bond... just before her body-double parachuted into the opening ceremony of the London Olympics. A good sport? Of course, she was, a bloody good sport... especially at the age of 86, I think that was how old she was in 2012.

To be clear: I am not a royalist, equally I am not anti royalist. I suppose I'm a don't care. I really have no strong feelings for or against the house of Windsor and all who sail in her. There are voices among young Britons for change. But if they do decide to get rid of the Royals, who do they put in their place? I'll grant you the family have had a fairly chequered recent past. Randy Andy has been a very naughty boy and not a lot of people have been enamoured with Harry's choice of wife. And some of the comments from vox pops at various events pre the old queen's funeral concerning her son and successor have been somewhat ambivalent. The general view of King Charles III seems to be: "The jury's still out."

So, what's the alternative... an elected or unelected president? Perhaps... it is the option we chose in 1974... with somewhat mixed results. There's no doubt that our very first president, Sir Anthony Mamo, a former chief justice, did an excellent job. But one or two of his successors were decidedly iffy. So, for the UK, at least for the time being, it's to be the royals who rule, albeit constitutionally and somewhat tenuously. Well at least it does no harm whatsoever to that country's tourism.

A rather bizarre footnote to the recent demise of the UK's queen. I read, in some online scandal site that all those folks filing past the queen's casket were processing past an empty box. The website contended that, in fact, the queen's remains had been popped into a body bag and then into cold storage until her funeral on Monday. I've no idea if it's true, but at least it would ensure she stayed fresh in the event of a sudden heatwave.


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