Tag Archives: Queen Elizabeth

WHO IS THE WORLD’S MOST POWERFUL WOMAN?

This morning, two of the world’s most famous females met.

Queen and MUlala

Malala Yousafzais the 16-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban for encouraging girls to attend school.  She now lives in Britain where she received life- saving surgery after being shot in the head.  Today, she met the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace.

Women have been in the news a lot this week.

After the temporary resolution of the debt crisis in Washington, news channels pointed out that the resolution owed a great deal to conciliatory efforts by women in Washington.

Janet Yellen was nominated by the president October 9th, as the new chairman of the Federal Reserve.  If approved, she will be the first woman ever appointed to the post.

There is, of course, increased talk of Hilary Clinton running for president in 2016.

Meanwhile, Germany’s Angela Merkel has won another term as Chancellor of Germany.   Since the 2008 financial crisis, she has led Germany to the top position in Europe.  As one British paper pointed out recently she has achieved in five years what the Kaiser and Hitler failed to do – raise her nation to a position of dominance in Europe.

What is interesting about the above is that I’ve heard each of the above adult ladies at different times described as “the most powerful woman in the world.”  That was a label often given Mrs. Clinton when she was Secretary of State.

Now, they can’t all be the most powerful woman in the world.

So, who is?

Queen Elizabeth is the Head of State of 16 different countries and Head of the 53-nation Commonwealth, an organization of mostly former British colonies.  In 2002, on the 50th anniversary of becoming queen, an American writer observed that she had done more than any other person in the world to advance democracy.  This was written at a time when the US and allies had invaded Afghanistan and were about to invade Iraq, partly to spread democracy to these countries.  The article pointed out that the queen did a great deal behind the scenes to ensure all Commonwealth countries stuck to democracy and she did it without firing a shot.

However, this does not mean she is the world’s most powerful woman.

What about Janet Yellen?  Is she going to be number one?

Certainly, as Chairman of the Federal Reserve, she will be very powerful.  But will she be more powerful than Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, another woman I seem to remember hailed as “the most powerful woman in the world?”

Presumably, if Hilary Clinton does become president after the 2016 election, she will be the most powerful?  Maybe.  But that will depend on US standing at that time.  A report in USA Today this morning says that the US could not even handle one war right now due to military cut-backs.  If the growing perception that the US is well past its “sell-by” date gathers more steam, then the international power of the presidency will also be diminished.

Which leaves Frau Merkel, the head of the German government.  As Germany is now the fourth greatest economic power (after the US, China and Japan), she is very powerful.  But when we consider that Germany is at the helm of the European Union, the world’s greatest single market, she is even more powerful.  She has also been instrumental in resolving (some would say dictating) the financial crisis of a number of European countries, putting her ahead of both the Director of the IMF and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

I for one will not get drawn into this debate.  I just find it tiresome hearing so many powerful and accomplished ladies all described as “the most powerful woman in the world.”  They clearly can’t all be.

I will say one thing, though.  Margaret Thatcher was the best British prime minister in my lifetime and is the only one since Winston Churchill to leave an international legacy.

As David Ben-Gurion once said of Golda Meir – “she is the best man in my cabinet!”

Some of the ladies above have got more guts than the average male leader.

That goes for Malala, too, daily risking her life to encourage other girls her age to go to school.

ROYAL BABY DUE ANY TIME

Queen and Kate at Royal Garden Party

Crowds are already gathering outside of the London hospital where the former Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge and wife of Prince William, is expected to deliver her baby in the next few days.  The due date is tomorrow, Saturday, July 13th. The baby will be third in line to the throne and is expected to lead the Commonwealth realms into the 22nd century.  For the first time, the sex of the child will not matter. The announcement will not be made outside the hospital.  By tradition, a courier will first take the news to the Queen.  It will then be shared with the Governors General of the Commonwealth Realms, nations over which the baby will one day be monarch.  The prime ministers will also be told.  Only then can it be announced to the public on a notice board in the courtyard in front of Buckingham Palace.  At that point, the world will learn the sex of the baby. As it’s unlikely the Queen will be awakened in the middle of the night to be given the news, the world may have to wait a few hours. It’s been over a century since there were four generations of monarchs alive at the same time.  A photograph remains of Queen Victoria (died January 1901) with the future King Edward VII (her son), George V (grandson) and Edward VIII (great grandson). We can expect the current monarch to be similarly photographed with Prince Charles (son), Prince William (grandson) and the new baby (great grandchild), all of whom will, in turn, be future monarchs, barring some unforeseen calamity. The throne is secure.  The birth of the new baby precedes by only one year the tercentenary of the dynasty, established by George I in 1714.  The royal household took the name Windsor in 1917.  The royal house should be given much of the credit for giving Great Britain and the other realms the longest period of political stability in modern history.

APOLOGY, EMPIRE AND THE QUEEN

Diamond Jubilee - Carriage Procession And Balcony Appearance

A Service of Thanksgiving was held in Britain’s Westminster Abbey on Tuesday, June 4th, in commemoration of the Queen’s coronation, held sixty years earlier on June 2nd, 1953.  That wasn’t when she became queen – she ascended to the throne on the death of her father, King George VI, sixteen months earlier, on February 6th, 1952.

Interestingly, she was in Kenya Colony at the time she received the news of her father’s death.  From that very moment she was Queen over what was still the biggest empire in the world.

Kenya played a role again during the week of the sixtieth anniversary.  The same year that Queen Elizabeth II became the British monarch, the Mau Mau uprising began in the colony.  It was largely suppressed by British and Kenyan troops by 1956 but didn’t fully end until 1960.

The Mau Mau was a Kikuyu rebellion.  In other words, one tribe rebelled.  Even then, not all Kikuyu supported the uprising, as anti-Mau Mau elements amongst the Kikuyu helped the British suppress the revolt, a revolt that failed to gain popular support.

Almost sixty years later, when few people alive remember the events of the 1950’s, the British government has decided to apologize for British actions at the time and is to give 20 million pounds compensation to former Mau Mau fighters.  It’s highly likely that most of this money will be diverted by Kenyan government officials, as is usually the case in Kenya.

So, what next?  Should the British apologize for killing members of the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War?

There’s an American connection in the apology made last week – President Obama’s father was a Kenyan and also a member of the Mau Mau.  Apparently, pressure was applied from the other side of the Atlantic.

It’s amazing how our leaders are so ignorant of history, even fairly recent history.  In case one of them may stumble across this blog, let me make it clear – this was not a popular uprising.  There was no great suppression of freedom and there have been far worse abuses of human rights since independence in 1963.  It should be noted that the new President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, has been charged with human rights abuses by the International Court at The Hague.  This is Africa we’re talking about, not the English Home Counties!

This comes down to white guilt, the never-ending left-wing apologia for empire that goes back to the sixties.  Whereas Britons from previous generations lauded the accomplishments of the British Empire, the opposite has been the case since the advent of political correctness in the 1960’s.

I was thinking about this on Thursday evening, just two days after the Thanksgiving service was held.  My wife and I were watching a British movie on television called “Zarak,” made in 1957.  It was an awful movie, badly made, with a predictable plot.  But it was interesting from an historical perspective.  The movie was about a revolt against British colonial rule in India in the late 1800’s.  The movie was made ten years after India’s independence but it was still pro-British.  The rebels were the bad guys!

So, when did perceptions of Empire change?

At the Queen’s coronation, she was crowned as Queen of each of her dominions, the independent nations within the Empire – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, Ceylon and Pakistan.  She was also given the title “Head of the Commonwealth” which included all the above nations and the Republic of India (India had become a republic three years earlier).  The rest of the empire was still ruled from London.  Her title to cover all those 50+ territories was “her other realms and territories,” almost all of which are now fully independent.

It was in the 1960’s that attitudes to Empire changed, though not amongst the ordinary people.  It became fashionable amongst academics and other intellectuals to bash the Empire, to make fun of it, to equate it with the crueler empires in history, even to boldly state the Empire was a bad thing.  After the death of Sir Winston Churchill, a great Empire loyalist, in 1965, there was no restraint.  Churchill and the Empire both played major roles in winning the Second World War, without which there would be no freedom for these people to even debate these issues.

In a brief televised debate after the decision to apologize to the Mau Mau, Sir Max Hastings, a prominent British military historian, pointed out the pitfalls of trying to determine anything after sixty years.  His Empire-bashing opponent on the program (whose name was unfamiliar) kept on rudely interrupting everything he said but, when asked what other “atrocities” Britain could be charged with, found it difficult to come up with anything specific, mumbling something about Aden and Diego Garcia.

This is not to say that Britain did not make mistakes but, compared to other nations, her record was a very good one.

Remembering the Mau Mau is also a reminder that Britain was once a great military power.  In fact, at the time of the Queen’s ascension, it was more than ten times the military power it is today.  Successive British governments have chosen to cut defense expenditure while increasing spending on public health care.  The present Conservative led coalition cut military expenditure by 8% in its recent austerity plan, while leaving healthcare and foreign aid alone.  This is a continuation of a policy that emphasizes “soft power” over military power.

Apologizing to Kenya and sending 20 million pounds ($30 million) their way is an example of this.  No doubt others will now start demanding apologies for perceived mistakes of the past.

It’s difficult to see how later generations can be held responsible for the supposed mistakes of their ancestors.  Perhaps the British can demand reparations from Rome? After all, they ruled England for almost 400 years, longer than Britain ruled any of her colonies!  But you can’t expect politicians to know that!