When I think of England, I see lush green
mountains, majestic rustic castles, and shining city lights; it is truly a
beautiful and calm place. England is the main country in the United Kingdom along
with Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. It is the birthplace of many great
things such as Shakespeare and The Beatles. According to a 2013 estimate,
England’s population is roughly 53 million people (World Atlas). Home to many gorgeous
historic sites such as the Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Stonehenge, and St.
Paul’s Cathedral, this country has a unique and thriving culture that leads
back to deep British history and a strong connection to Christianity. England’s
historical government and monarchy, impactful literature, and important current
issues are a large part of what makes England such a unique country.
important part of England’s history is their government and monarchy. The
online article, “How government works” on GOV.UK
recognizes that, “Britain has one of the
oldest governments in the world.” The British Broadcasting Corporation
people in the United Kingdom live in a democracy, with laws made by a
Parliament that they have elected. This has not always been the case. At the start of the Middle Ages,
England was ruled by a king. The institution which came to be called Parliament
was just beginning. In the 17th century, war broke out between king and
Parliament, ending in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. This established a
constitutional monarchy, which is a “king-controlled-by-parliament”. The 19th
century saw a reform of Parliament in 1832, and a number of acts of Parliament
giving the vote to a greater number of people. However, Britain did not become
a democracy until the Representation of the People Acts of 1918 and 1928 gave
the vote to all men and women over the age of 21.
At that time, King George V was the reigning monarch. He
was married to Queen Mary and his
eldest son, Prince Edward would be his successor. According
to the book Majesty: Elizabeth II and the
House of Windsor written by Robert Lacey:
George V was the first British monarch to exemplify the
majesty of the ordinary man. His grandmother Victoria had had ambitions to
exert political influence in the tradition of Elizabeth I, his father Edward
VII to sway the destiny of nations. George V was more humble. He personified
all that his people felt most comfortable with, and he set the style of British
monarchy that has been followed zealously ever since, most notably by his
granddaughter Elizabeth. As the last wisps of actual royal power waft await,
twentieth-century monarchy has reverted closer and closer to its origins – a
symbolic office more important for its social than for its political or even
constitutional function – and George V fulfilled this new role to perfection.
He discovered a new job for modern kings and queens to do – representation (6).
The one who would follow aimlessly in this late king’s
footsteps would be Queen Elizabeth II. Robert Lacey claimed that on April 21, 1926:
The future Queen Elizabeth II had, in fact, come into the
world feet first by Caesarean section. The newspapers next day were dutifully
delighted, but there was no reason why the birth of the daughter to the Duke
and Duchess of York should have any special significance. She was not in the
direct line of succession… It seemed farfetched in 1926 to link this new baby
Princess with the throne (3).
states, “Friday, 11 December 1936, was the day when Princess Elizabeth formally
became heir to the throne, for her father became King the moment Parliament
ratified the instrument of abdication which Edward had signed the previous day”
(74). Edward VIII became the first English monarch to
voluntarily abdicate the throne due to the British government, public, and the
Church of England condemning his decision to marry the American divorcée Wallis
Warfield Simpson. To the Church of England and most of the British public, an
American woman twice divorced was unacceptable as a British queen (History.com). Therefore,
George VI was reigning sovereign.
Sadly, according to Lacey, on “… 6
February 1952 the heart of George VI stopped beating” (149).
The current reigning monarch, Queen
Elizabeth II, is a large part of British history and continues to have a
lasting impact on the community today. The author, John Sentamu states in the
article “So Much Has Changed during Queen
Elizabeth II’s Long Reign”:
It was in February 1952, that the newly married Princess
Elizabeth, on honeymoon in Kenya with the Duke of Edinburgh, heard the news of
the death of her beloved father, King George VI. A princess was now the queen.
Elizabeth, now 91 years old, is the longest-reigning British head of state. According
to The Independent, “She is more
experienced than any politician, yet in her weekly audiences for twelve
different Prime Ministers, is renowned for her attentiveness and openness.” In the online article “Queen
Elizabeth’s Reign: Her Real Cultural Influence”, Time says:
current Majesty is very likely the most portrayed woman on the planet. Her
head, by law, has been on every British stamp since she ascended the throne.
Billions of stamps, millions of coins
and notes, and hundreds of thousands of postcards bear her likeness. Her face,
especially, in profile, is recognized in every English speaking land and is
ubiquitous in several. It is the face of distinct authority, a literal
figurehead, having no real power but oodles of symbolic supremacy.
Queen’s impact on British society today is undeniable. She has revolutionized
the face of the monarchy. John Sentamu states:
changes during the queen’s 62-year reign have been immense. An empire has
become a Commonwealth. Deference to aristocracy has been displaced by the adulation
of celebrity. Formality has given way to familiarity. The focus of morality has
shifted from personal ethics to corporate responsibility. And if you are under
30, the ubiquitous smartphone and social media have replaced mass media. That
graphically illustrates a generational change, since it was the queen’s
coronation in 1953 which introduced the general public to what was then
regarded as the magic of television… The monarchy itself continues to develop.
At one time, for instance, the emotions and opinions of the monarchy were never
disclosed. And then, in 1992, on the 40th anniversary of her accession, the
Queen allowed us to glimpse her private feelings by describing her year as an