In Loyal Service to The Firm

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II speaks with her subjects Sunday in Windsor during a walkabout after a service of thanksgiving for her Golden Jubilee Sunday, June 2, 2002. The Queen is celebrating 50 years as the British Monarch.(AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
They are known, even among themselves, as “The Firm.” It’s a nickname that conjures up the image of a long established highly successful, very old fashioned British family business – with, for the last fifty years, a lady running it. Her Majesty the Queen.

The Firm could be seen as a kind of high-class mafia without the extortion. It’s quite accurate to call it a business, because when the Firm organises anything – a Royal Wedding, funeral, or a celebration of fifty years of smiling and waving which is what we’re in the midst of in Britain right now, it sure draws the crowds. Britain’s tourist industry is absolutely booming, simply because of the pulling power of The Firm. We love them. If that sounds corny, sorry we’re corny. And we’re proving it out on the streets. Every one-horse town in this country has the flags flying today. The kids will be in Red White and Blue. And the Queen herself will be tapping her foot at a huge concert at Buckingham Palace tonight. It is widely expected that when Sir Paul McCartney sings “she loves you”, Her Majesty will join in the chorus: “Yeah, yeah, yeah!”.

Of course there is a school of thought that the Royal Family has got to change. One of the Prime Minister’s think tanks has just suggested that the Queen quit the job, hand it over to her son Charles, and let him spend his reign travelling the world apologising for the past sins of the British Empire. OK, so they are disgustingly rich, even by the standards of Bill Gates and John Paul Getty, and they hardly pay a bean to the IRS either.

Yes they’re a complete anachronism. They don’t rule anything. They’re not allowed to raise armies or make the law. They very, very rarely express a view on anything controversial. They’re just there. Beautifully dressed, well scrubbed, everything we want to believe about Britain in one most peculiar family.