Remembering Queen Elizabeth II
Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Queen Elizabeth II, the longest serving monarch in UK history and virtually in world history, is no longer with us. Queen Elizabeth has reigned under 15 prime ministers, starting with Churchill. And in this time, the United Kingdom went from global power and industrial powerhouse to a post-European middle power. She's lived through and reigned through the legacy of colonialism, the end of British Empire, and now of course the end of the UK in Europe. The death of the Queen and her succession will dominate the news, certainly across the UK and the Commonwealth for some time. It's going to overshadow the arrival of Liz Truss as prime minister and all of her major economic announcements.
There's a lot to say here. Queen Elizabeth has long been seen as the single most popular figure in Britain, and her death will undoubtedly be received with enormous sadness by a public that's been battered by two years of COVID crisis, on top of shambolic Brexit process, massive domestic political scandals, independence movements, particularly in Scotland. And on top of that, now an enormous cost of living crisis that's worse than any other G7 economy. So, it's not hit the UK at an opportune time at all. And the impact of her death really on the public mood should not be underestimated, given that the Queen has long been seen as a beacon of stability in the United Kingdom in an uncertain and very volatile world.
The prime minister and the leader of the opposition were told of the news of the Queen's failing health during exchanges in the Commons on this energy package that they're passing to try to take some of the weight of massive inflation off of the British public. And when the news spread, Westminster became unusually somber, with MPs talking of nothing else and speculating on the implications of her death. And I would say that the monarchy has remained popular in the UK largely because of the Queen and the extraordinary way that she has performed her duties.
Under the British Constitution, the Queen is Head of State, but without any critical role in government other than formally appointing her prime minister, which she had just done, and accepting their resignation, which she also just done, also giving her assent to pieces of legislation. But through the Privy Council, the monarch is kept informed of all government activities, but does not in any way influence them. So it's really a titular and a symbolic rule.
But as Head of State over 70 years, from Churchill now to Truss having served under her, Queen Elizabeth has remained utterly impartial. And I say that in particular because Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth's son and heir to the throne, has been far less cautious about allowing his opinions to reach the public's ear. And if the monarchy is to continue to succeed in the UK, he'll certainly need to exercise significantly greater restraint.
Affection for the Queen has been a critical factor in keeping the Commonwealth together and holding off calls in many countries for complete independence. And indeed, I would expect that Republican movements in countries with constitutional parliamentary monarchies will likely now grow. For example, in Australia, Republicanism is the official stance of the Labor Party. We'll see a lot more of that, I think, across the Commonwealth.
It's an odd thing for an American, this idea that you have a king or a queen with hereditary rule, however symbolic it is. And yes, it's certainly true that a lot of Brits complain about the lavish living of the royals and the scandals. But we should also be clear that the Queen and the monarchy are huge tourist attractions in Britain, and it's impossible to quantify the revenue that they've brought in from tourism. It certainly will have paid for much, if not well over, the cost of maintaining the monarchy.
But finally, Queen Elizabeth is loved across the world in an extraordinary and singular way. And in that regard, I just want to close by saying that we'll miss her.