LONDON — Many of her subjects would like Queen Elizabeth to live forever. During her 62 years on the throne she has managed to carry the monarchy from a time when it seemed increasingly an anachronism to being an object of wide adulation. And not only on the sceptered isle. Recently the French treated her virtually as their own monarch while simultaneously jeering their own president. This is almost wholly due to her. While the rest of the royal family frequently resembles a fractious and wayward clan, the Queen remains serenely above them, every inch Her Gracious Majesty.
Suddenly, though, like an unwelcome chill seeping into a warm, parlor, people are talking about the future of the throne after the Queen has gone. This discussion was precipitated as part of the panic that has swept the land on realizing that the Scottish people might actually vote to leave the kingdom.
In a desperate search to find someone—anyone—with the stature to reverse the ominous opinion polls, some eyes turned to Balmoral, the Scottish estate where the Queen is at present (even though it’s part of her sworn duty to remain politically neutral). Nonetheless she was overheard as she left church advising a small group of her subjects to “think very carefully about the future”—apparently an impromptu remark but one that on examination seemed to combine both neutrality and inclination in a way that the most supple of diplomats would envy. In a 1977 speech marking her silver jubilee, the Queen did overtly and explicitly make clear her belief in the importance of the union—but it was said as part of a wider description of her responsibilities, not as a piece of partisan advocacy.