I don't believe this story to be true in fact but that doesn't stop it being true in essence. The story, published in a British newspaper of dubious repute, is that the Queen, on doctor's orders, at the age of 95, has gone on the wagon. She's given up the sauce.
The queen is interesting. I have only to write her name and we all have an immediate image of her along with the rest of her family, the four children all flawed in one way or another, as all of us are, but with their flaws exposed and magnified and publicised, universally known. It's tough at the top.
The point of the Queen, the reason we know of her, the source of her interest, is her office. Take that away and she's just a nice old lady. And the interest of her office is that it represents power.
Power is the biggest thing we have. It's the problem we've never solved. It's the drug of drugs. It's what people kill for. It's the thing beyond money. It's the endless tempter and the great corrupter. And it cannot be abolished. It has to exist and it has to be handled. But who can we trust with it? Who can we give it to without bringing ruin on both them and us?
The answer throughout most of history has been a monarch. The name changes - king, tsar, pharaoh, emperor - but the idea doesn't. Just as bees or wolves do, we confer supreme power on just one member of our society. That person's will becomes synonymous with the law or god.
The consequence, in devious human society, is that the monarch is forever flattered, oiled up to, lied to, manipulated and misled by people who seek a sniff of the forbidden stuff for themselves. It takes a rare monarch to resist all this. Hence injustice, tyranny, misery.
The democratic answer is to let the people choose their leader, with elections at regular intervals to ensure he doesn't get used to it. Such a leader is known as the president and oh what trouble there has been with presidents.
Hundreds around the world have found power too addictive and have taken to rigging elections, changing the rules or simply killing their opponents just to stay at the top and get rich. In most places the words president and corrupt are synonyms.
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A third way to handle this terrible stuff called power is a combination of both of the above, a constitutional monarchy, which is what we have with dear old Liz.
She reigns over a democratic state, which operates ostensibly at her pleasure, but though she may take an interest she does not interfere. In other words, the dangerous stuff is put into her hands for safekeeping on the unstated condition that she doesn't use it. She has it only to thwart others from getting it. So having been given what people throughout history have most sought, she doesn't get to enjoy what they sought it for.
All she gets for her abstinence are the grim accoutrements, the dressing up, the saluting and the curtseying, the yes ma'am, no ma'am, the limitless superficiality of court, the conversation so dull and dishonest it can kill.
That's what the queen signed up to and she's stuck to it. At 95 years old and widowed she's still doing engagements, still cramming her sore old feet into tight and shiny shoes, still having her hair done every day, still hearing vacuous blather on all sides.
And now, we are told, to extend her misery, the doctors have ordered her, for the sake of her health, to relinquish her nightly martini or whatever it is that helps her through those long and friendless nights within the palace. And she has agreed.
It is effectively a summary of her life. For 70 years the most powerful person in her society has been its least free and its most obedient. While you and I have at least deluded ourselves that we steered our own ships she has had hers steered for her. She'd done what she had to and little else, the least free member of a free society. Your heart goes out to her.
But it can't be true, can it, the boozelessness? Surely, I mean surely. Footman, bring me the scotch and soda and toddle off to bed. From here I'll need no leading.