By Matthew Groves, BMS Blogger in Residence:
With the sad passing of HRH Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh and the imminent anniversary of Her Majesty’s accession to the Throne, much attention has rightly been paid to the life of duty and leadership our reigning Queen has given our country over the past 69 years. As a people we clearly value and honour the long and demanding vocation our Monarch has given with dedication, good humour and good judgement. Nonetheless, the institution of Monarchy is about the links between past, present and future. References to Her Majesty’s long reign remind us of the state of the realm when she inherited the Throne.
The United Kingdom had emerged from the Second World War and was in the process of beginning its dismantling of Empire. The Queen oversaw this difficult process as a young and bright example of stability, continuity and patriotism in this new age for our United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. Yet as we pay attention to our Royal Family, inevitably we also think of our country’s future. We see Prince Charles, well prepared for the role of King after many years of close interest, involvement and work in our country’s matters. We also look to the younger Royals. Prince William has faced recent difficulties with a dignified attitude of integrity. At his side is his beautiful and equally dignified wife, Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge.
There has been much media focus on the troubled and disruptive character of Prince Harry’s new spouse and the damage her introduction to the Royal Family has caused. Nonetheless, we should not be overly dismayed, for in the Duchess of Cambridge we have a shining light of a future Queen Consort. We see in Catherine, commitment rather than any shirking, we see loyalty rather than betrayal and we see hard work rather than self-aggrandisement. Catherine is evidence that the Royal Family can marry beyond the European Royal families and bring in a person from a different background with great success.
When Catherine becomes Queen-Consort, in support of her husband as our country’s Head of State there will be many demands upon her. Already this lady from Berkshire has faced many pressures. It has no doubt been difficult for the Duchess to adjust to the wide range of aspects to being a member of the Royal Family, in particular the pressure of the media spotlight and even sniping from spiteful and envious historians. Catherine has though been able to handle this with grace, charm and decorum. This speaks volumes of our future Queen. Catherine has understood her role and has clearly been ready to learn from other Royals with humility. It has not been her character to demand the institution fit her expectations; rather, Catherine has lived up to the demands of the role, always supporting Prince William while taking on the many duties she fulfils in her own capacity, from her work on early years to mental health as well as her many other Royal duties. The lesson here is one of character and stoicism. And of course who might Catherine be looking to as an exemplar? It seems it must be Her Majesty the Queen.
This all shows that the Duchess of Cambridge is following in the tradition and spirit of Royal character. As we approach next year, when we will look back upon Queen Elizabeth’s reign, both we and the Queen herself can look forward with assurance to the Monarchy’s future. In Prince William and his wife we can be confident. In support of the future King the role Catherine will have will make great demands upon her, but she has already so clearly demonstrated that she has the character and values so needed.