A number of books are coming out about The Queen in time for the Diamond Jubilee, which is understandable. One was reviewed in the Weekend Australian (11 – 12/2) by Nick Bryant. He was until recently the BBC correspondent in Australia. He has stayed on and occasionally contributes to The Australian. He has written a book, Adventures in Correspondentland.
This book is The Diamond Queen: Elizabeth II and Her People by Andrew Marr, who interestingly, used to be a republican. It is not surprising that so many people – everywhere- are abandoning their flirtation with some vague undefined republicanism and coming back to the monarchy.
As a leading Canadian monarchist Robert Finch says, republicanism has been and gone in Australia; it never came to Canada.
Nick Bryant says that duty, convention ritual and family are the recurring themes in this book. Andrew Marr sketches a portrait of the monarch that her admirers will find pleasingly familiar. Elizabeth is presented as a woman of extraordinary stamina, decency, kindest bravery – a hard-working servant of the loyal subjects.
A naturally shy and quiet person, she has a wry wit, a talent for mimicry, shrewd intelligence and a keen appreciation of the enormous privilege of her position and also that many constraints.
Andrew Marr says "with only one significant exception, the marriage to Prince Philip, she has done nothing against the grain of what was expected. She has uttered not a single shocking phrase in public.”
Mr Marr’s conversion from republicanism is fascinating. Nick Bryant says that he not only does he avoid any impropriety, his portrait often borders on the fawning. This is surprising given that he used to edit The Independent, Britain's most fiercely anti-monarchist broadsheet.
But he long ago “jettisoned the elitism of antimonarchism in a profoundly pro-monarchist country.” How well Mr. Bryant captures that.
At times he writes with the ardour of a convert. He says the more you see her in action, the more impressed you become.
I am reminded of the conversion of those who wrote the script of the film The Queen. This book should be interesting.