Are we disillusioned by democracy? Brits mourning Queen Elizabeth II betray nostalgia for the monarchy

The scenes being witnessed in Britain following the death of Elizabeth II mean that people feel nostalgic towards the monarchy, argues Jan Maciejewski in daily Rzeczpospolita

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: Jan Maciejewski
A tribute to the Queen is displayed on a giant screen at Piccadilly Circus in London, Sept. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue, File)

Many years ago when still a prince, Charles was asked by an inquisitive journalist why we still need the monarchy. His reply was: “Dear lady, monarchy is the only form of government that contains some semblance of holiness.”

That was of course not an answer to the question. A question often asked, as on the surface of it, what could be less contemporary than the monarchy? But what better argument for it than that provided by the new British king? 

It would be interesting to put this question to the tens of thousands standing in line throughout the night to pay their homage to Queen Elizabeth II. Why are they there? Skeptics and republicans will rush to argue that this is merely nostalgia.

But nostalgia is nothing more than the desire to return home, that is the original meaning of the word in Greek, and returning home implies that home is some place where we are no longer at. 

The ceremony and the procedures surrounding the handover of the Crown may seem archaic, but in fact, they are natural. “The Queen is dead, long live the King,” a statement that brings continuity and certainty. Our election campaigns are full of scorn, positioning by candidates, and infighting. Where’s the semblance of any holiness in that?

Of course, there is also the nostalgia.

The moment in which the monarch takes the oath of office for the glory of God and the good of his people, there is the holiness of the crown, a crown derived from deity. That was the natural state we used to be in and from which we have departed. No democrat should demean nostalgia, for it is not a torch lit on the graves of lost causes, but rather a guiding light leading us home. 

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