“The genius of Elizabeth II is that she never said anything and we have no idea what she is thinking”, explained Monday, May 30 on franceinfo Marc Roche, journalist, author of the book “Les Borgia à Buckingham” published by Albin Michel. The British will celebrate from June 2 to 5 the 70 years of reign of their queen “immutable” and still popular.
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“It’s truly incomparable. It’s an extraordinary event”he assures. “She is legendary. She is the last great character of our time and at the same time, she is totally absent”he points out.
franceinfo: What French event could the Queen’s Jubilee compare to?
Mark Roche: It is incomparable. The only great French event with which we can compare is the great parades, the great ceremonies of the revolution of the Napoleonic era which moreover inspired the jubilee of King George III in 1809. Otherwise it is truly incomparable . It’s an extraordinary event.
What relationship do the British have with their queen today?
Most of them only knew her. It also symbolizes duty. She sacrificed everything, especially her family life, her personal life in charge, because she was not prepared to reign when she ascended the throne. She was 25 years old and today she symbolizes the unity of the country, while there are centrifugal forces which are multiplying in Scotland, in Northern Ireland, but also in the Commonwealth, the great family across sea.
It symbolizes the fixed point in the turmoil. We saw it during the crises and the Brexit and the pandemic where it raised the morale of the population. It has no power and yet it plays a key role in national life.
Is she more popular than the rest of the British royal family?
By far more popular. The latest poll gives him 90% approval. Next is Prince William, not Prince Charles, with 65%. Prince Charles is still at 50%. Many politicians, including Boris Johnson, would love to have that popularity rating. You should know that the three key figures today, the hard core of royalty, are all very popular. As for the monarchical institution, it is not disputed and the republican movement is extremely minority and confined to certain intellectual elites.
How to summarize in one word the reign of Elizabeth II?
Immutable. The genius of Elizabeth II is that she never said anything. And so, we have no idea what she’s thinking. She is above the partisan fray and therefore it is a great factor of cohesion, precisely because no one has been able to decipher what she is thinking. She is elusive. This is exactly what the British want.
And yet everyone is talking about her…
She is legendary. It is the last great character of our time and at the same time, it is totally absent. I met her several times. In 30 years of England, she always asked me the same questions. “How long have you been here, Mr. Roche. Do you like it there? Doesn’t the weather bother you that much?” I could never discern the slightest political thought.
“The only time was in 2002, she said to me, ‘Mr. Roche, I hope the French are going to vote well’. I was on the newspaper ‘Le Monde’ at the time and we made the front page. : ‘The queen chooses Jacques Chirac’.”
Are the British worried about his health?
She has mobility issues. But we are not in regency of the kingdom. Because although most representative duties have been transferred to Charles and Wiliam, regency is only expected if she loses her mind. We are far from there. She is very alert. She has kept two prerogatives despite her back problems, namely the audience with the Prime Minister, every week, when there is no one else, and the signing of all official documents.