OPINION: 90 retorts to those who would see end of Monarchy
The records keep on tumbling for Her Majesty. The longest serving Monarch, the oldest serving Monarch and now the first King or Queen of England to reach the big 9-0. During a reign lasting 64 years, she has seen 12 prime ministers come and go along with 11 presidents.
Her’s is a record of dedicated and broken public service that is unparalleled – and is unlikely to be overtaken. So much so that even avowed Republicans happily put aside their reservations about the institution provided mazeltov messages as part of our 90 for 90 initiative with the Board of Deputies.
We didn’t of course need six pages of messages from the great and good of Anglo-Jewry to show the affection in which our Queen is held by British Jewry – for that you need do no more than pop into shul services up and down the country every Shabbat and you’ll hear prayers for the Royal Family’s wellbeing.
But the 90 messages from leading lights in the world of politics, business, the arts and charity are a reminder of her impact on so many facets of British life, as well as of the wide-ranging contribution of British Jewry during her reign; ironically, they are at the same time a reminder of the huge changes she has overseen and a powerful retort to those who argue for an end to royalty. Yes, her impact and contribution are about her but they are also in part about the institution she has been such an affective figurehead for.
On charity, the Queen’s former assistant press secretary Zaki Cooper offers a reminder of the more than 600 patronages she has given to charities, included Norwood, whose profiles are boosted in a way that few others endorsements could. Others point to the impact on Holocaust remembrance of her recent visit to Belsen and support for Holocaust Memorial Day.
On tourism, Nicky Gavron points to how the Royals attract tens of thousands of visitors to Britain each year; the fact you couldn’t walk into many central London hotels today without a reminder of the special occasion says everything.
Some of our well-wishers stressed Her Majesty’s words about the duty of the Church to protect the practise of all faiths, while the Young Vic’s David Lan said she is one of few kings and Queens in history not to do “a single thing to harm in Jews”.
Then there’s the unique ability of this institution to unite the country in celebration; to provide moments of sheer jubilation amid the incessant flow of doom and gloom in the news, as broadcaster Samantha Simmonds says.
And our Queen shows little sign of slowing down. As Nikki van der Zyl, who provided the voice of the Bond Girls, put it in her message: “She is too young to be 90.”
What more could we possibly have asked for during her reign? Well, an official Royal visit to the Middle East’s only democracy is long overdue.
But there is still so much to celebrate today and we hope thousands will join our call to mark Royal Shabbat at the time of the main national celebrations in June.