Ma’am’s The Word

Harry ‘Monarchist’ McCarthy offers his view on The Queen’s upcoming visit.

Britain Exeter forum National Pride Queen

I can think of no more fitting person to open the Forum than The Queen.


The £48 million centrepiece to the University’s £350 million investment across its three campuses represents all that is great about Exeter: chiefly, an unparalleled commitment to excellence that is recognised the world over.


The University of Exeter’s prestige, and indeed Britain’s unquestionably high standards of Higher Education in general, forms an integral part of the nation’s representation overseas. So too, of course, does Her Majesty.

Before proceeding any further, allow me to establish exactly where I stand in this debate. Although I was not exactly raised a staunch monarchist, my family certainly couldn’t be described as Republicans; we were the first in the street to roll out the bunting on April 29th of last year.


In spite of my parents’ ambivalence towards the Royal Family, I have long been an avid supporter, believing them to be the symbol of ‘Britishness’ that we as a nation are so desperately in need of. Imagine the laughing stock that we would become were our country to be exclusively represented by David Cameron.

Even today, when presidential republics as the USA and France are the norm, there still appears to be a distinct interest and sense of pride in our sovereign state, both at home and abroad.


One only has to look at the international viewing figures (a far-from-modest 2 billion) from the appropriately dubbed ‘wedding of the century’ last year to realise that the British belief in the monarchy is as strong as it ever was, and rightly so. What better representative of this blessed plot, so steeped in history and tradition, could there possibly be?

I accept, of course, that Britain should not be exclusively defined by the age-old traditions that Her Majesty and all who spring from her represent. We are also undoubtedly a nation of great progress and innovation.


But the idea that the sovereign, whose entire life and purpose is dedicated to the success and advancement of their country, should undermine such a reputation is preposterous.

The Queen is not merely an aristocrat. While Parliament now dictates the way in which the country is run from day to day, Her Majesty retains a vital role in its identity and representation.


According to the official website of the British Monarchy, the role of The Sovereign as ‘Head of the Nation’ includes ‘providing a focus for national identity, unity and pride; giving a sense of stability and continuity; recognising success, achievement and excellence; and supporting service to others, particularly through public service and the voluntary sector.’ We would be hard pushed, I would argue, to find a figure that does this with more grace, poise, and affability than Elizabeth Windsor.

The increasingly popular argument that the monarchy is an expensive waste of time and resources is quite simply invalid. While the activities of the Royal Family are indeed expensive and are, in part, provided for by the taxpayer, expenditure is carefully monitored and disclosed with startling transparency at


More to the point, the Royal Family’s activities remain vitally important to Britain’s identity and international reputation – it’s a small price to pay to retain our status as one of the greatest nations on earth.

Those who bemoan the Royal Household’s predicted annual cost to taxpayers of around £40 million (less than the cost of the Forum, incidentally) ought to first bear in mind the other expensive drains on our hard-earned cash.


It was recently revealed, for instance, that one British single mother could cost the UK taxpayer up to £5 million. I know which I’d rather have representing me in the global arena. And I certainly know which I’d rather be cheering on the Forum piazza as she cuts the red ribbon on the 2nd May.