England

When I think of England, I see lush greenmountains, majestic rustic castles, and shining city lights; it is truly abeautiful and calm place. England is the main country in the United Kingdom alongwith Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. It is the birthplace of many greatthings such as Shakespeare and The Beatles. According to a 2013 estimate,England’s population is roughly 53 million people (World Atlas).

Home to many gorgeoushistoric sites such as the Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Stonehenge, and St.Paul’s Cathedral, this country has a unique and thriving culture that leadsback to deep British history and a strong connection to Christianity. England’shistorical government and monarchy, impactful literature, and important currentissues are a large part of what makes England such a unique country.Animportant part of England’s history is their government and monarchy. Theonline article, “How government works” on GOV.UKrecognizes that, “Britain has one of theoldest governments in the world.” The British Broadcasting Corporationstates: Today,people in the United Kingdom live in a democracy, with laws made by aParliament 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 Parliamentwas just beginning. In the 17th century, war broke out between king andParliament, ending in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. This established aconstitutional monarchy, which is a “king-controlled-by-parliament”. The 19thcentury saw a reform of Parliament in 1832, and a number of acts of Parliamentgiving the vote to a greater number of people.

However, Britain did not becomea democracy until the Representation of the People Acts of 1918 and 1928 gavethe vote to all men and women over the age of 21.At that time, King George V was the reigning monarch. Hewas married to Queen Mary and hiseldest son, Prince Edward would be his successor. Accordingto the book Majesty: Elizabeth II and theHouse of Windsor written by Robert Lacey:George V was the first British monarch to exemplify themajesty of the ordinary man. His grandmother Victoria had had ambitions toexert political influence in the tradition of Elizabeth I, his father EdwardVII to sway the destiny of nations. George V was more humble. He personifiedall that his people felt most comfortable with, and he set the style of Britishmonarchy that has been followed zealously ever since, most notably by hisgranddaughter Elizabeth.

As the last wisps of actual royal power waft await,twentieth-century monarchy has reverted closer and closer to its origins – asymbolic office more important for its social than for its political or evenconstitutional 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’sfootsteps would be Queen Elizabeth II. Robert Lacey claimed that on April 21, 1926:The future Queen Elizabeth II had, in fact, come into theworld feet first by Caesarean section. The newspapers next day were dutifullydelighted, but there was no reason why the birth of the daughter to the Dukeand Duchess of York should have any special significance. She was not in thedirect line of succession… It seemed farfetched in 1926 to link this new babyPrincess with the throne (3).However, Laceystates, “Friday, 11 December 1936, was the day when Princess Elizabeth formallybecame heir to the throne, for her father became King the moment Parliamentratified the instrument of abdication which Edward had signed the previous day”(74).

Edward VIII became the first English monarch tovoluntarily abdicate the throne due to the British government, public, and theChurch of England condemning his decision to marry the American divorcée WallisWarfield Simpson. To the Church of England and most of the British public, anAmerican woman twice divorced was unacceptable as a British queen (History.com). Therefore,George VI was reigning sovereign.Sadly, according to Lacey, on “… 6February 1952 the heart of George VI stopped beating” (149).            The current reigning monarch, QueenElizabeth II, is a large part of British history and continues to have alasting impact on the community today.

The author, John Sentamu states in thearticle “So Much Has Changed during QueenElizabeth II’s Long Reign”:It was in February 1952, that the newly married PrincessElizabeth, on honeymoon in Kenya with the Duke of Edinburgh, heard the news ofthe death of her beloved father, King George VI. A princess was now the queen.QueenElizabeth, now 91 years old, is the longest-reigning British head of state. Accordingto The Independent, “She is moreexperienced than any politician, yet in her weekly audiences for twelvedifferent Prime Ministers, is renowned for her attentiveness and openness.”  In the online article “QueenElizabeth’s Reign: Her Real Cultural Influence”, Time says:Hercurrent Majesty is very likely the most portrayed woman on the planet. Herhead, by law, has been on every British stamp since she ascended the throne.

Billions of stamps, millions of coinsand notes, and hundreds of thousands of postcards bear her likeness. Her face,especially, in profile, is recognized in every English speaking land and isubiquitous in several. It is the face of distinct authority, a literalfigurehead, having no real power but oodles of symbolic supremacy.TheQueen’s impact on British society today is undeniable.

She has revolutionizedthe face of the monarchy. John Sentamu states:Thechanges during the queen’s 62-year reign have been immense. An empire hasbecome a Commonwealth. Deference to aristocracy has been displaced by the adulationof celebrity. Formality has given way to familiarity.

The focus of morality hasshifted from personal ethics to corporate responsibility. And if you are under30, the ubiquitous smartphone and social media have replaced mass media. Thatgraphically illustrates a generational change, since it was the queen’scoronation in 1953 which introduced the general public to what was thenregarded as the magic of television… The monarchy itself continues to develop.

At one time, for instance, the emotions and opinions of the monarchy were neverdisclosed. And then, in 1992, on the 40th anniversary of her accession, theQueen allowed us to glimpse her private feelings by describing her year as an‘annus horribilis’. 

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