Opinion

While celebrating her past, the Queen could change the UK's future

Forget all the arguments about the Queen not intervening. We are now living in the post-non-intervention era

the queen

The Queen and the Royal Family have always been supporters of charities like The Big Issue. Photo: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

Seventy years is a long time, for anything. Over the past 70 years, the Queen has seen 14 prime ministers govern. She has watched Britain grow postwar, seen it make pleas for workers from around the Commonwealth to power that growth, then watched as those people and their relatives were shown the door.

She has seen the NHS become one of the pinnacles of national pride and then be allowed to slip and slide as it gropes for a firm future. She has gone from the illustration of absolute wealth to a figure who is no longer in the top 50 richest women in Britain. Posh Spice is richer. 

All through this the Queen has said little. The lack of comment has become a signifier of dignity for many – through the slings and arrows, she retains a stoic silence, like Kate Moss, never apologising, never explaining.  

We are at a moment when she could change all that and an incredible legacy would be built. The Queen has potency in Britain. If she didn’t, this Jubilee would be a much smaller affair. So many people with issues around the monarchy don’t hold animosity towards the Queen.  

Imagine if, as her 70th anniversary gift to the nation, as a genuine gift, the Queen spoke up. The level of fear about the future in Britain is huge, and growing. Foodbanks are emptying because there aren’t enough donations to keep up. We shouldn’t need foodbanks at all.

The privatisation fetish of a large section of Britain’s elected representatives over the last 40 years – more than half the period of the Queen’s reign – has seen such a race to private ownership and profit that the government can’t bring any pressure to bear on energy providers to hold down apocalyptic bills.

The Queen is 96. Many of us hope to be as fierce and focused as her if we’re lucky enough to make 96. But she has enjoyed some of the best healthcare available in the world. Imagine if she decided to make sure older people in Britain could have access to the level of care she enjoyed.  

The shocks to Britain are unlike anything since the end of the Second World War. If on June 2 the Queen said “Enough” then things would change.  

The crisis facing Britain is no longer party political, and nor does it hit just a siloed demographic. If the Queen said get it together and fix things, which political leaders would be able to refuse? And the public would not forget that message. If she said, find proper ways to stop millions falling into destitution, offer real financial support and build a coherent plan, then that would be a good time to sing Sweet Caroline at a street party.

If she added that she was throwing in a load of crown land for housing developments, that she wanted proper long-term investment in social care so many could live as long and comfortably as her, who would deny her? 

Forget all the arguments about the Queen not intervening. We are now living in the post-non-intervention era. Dark storms of uncertain futures are gathering. At this key moment in her long reign, the Queen could change everything.

Paul McNamee is editor of The Big IssueRead more of his columns here.

@PauldMcNamee

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income. To support our work buy a copy!

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