Happy Birthday to the Queen! Not really. The (current) Queen’s actual birthday falls on the 21st of April but various Commonwealth countries have an official day of celebration, the date of which varies from country to country. The official website of the British Monarchy says that her official birthday is on a Saturday in June…without being specific as to which. In Australia we just had a public holiday this Monday, but to be honest that’s probably more to do with the fact that we really like long weekends, so much so that if a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, we generally still have the day off on the Monday. But that is getting a little bit off track.
Why do we celebrate this day anyway? With Britain being a democracy with a parliament, and the former British colonies being quite former, why do we even need a Queen? Britain is actually what is called a constitutional monarchy; parliaments are elected democratically and exercise the real power, while the monarchs give up their actual power, but remain as ceremonial figureheads. Technically the Queen has the right to rule; the people of Britain are subjects of the monarch, not citizens. Her individual powers are being able to call an election and she also has the right to dump an existing prime minister and chose one herself. Although all hell would probably break loose if she actually attempted to exercise such powers.
Perhaps the reason why there continues to be a Queen that people feel is worth celebrating is simply her symbolic existence. A link to the past, something for the people to feel patriotic about (because lets be honest, government is not that exciting), something for people to pin their hopes to. Perhaps the British continue to love her for the tourism and money she brings. Branding expert David Haigh has estimated the value of the British Royal Family as a brand to be about £44 billion. (http://business.blogs.cnn.com/2012/05/29/does-the-monarchy-pay-its-way/). According to Sarah Modlock from MSN Money, the “British pub
lic is easily gaining in excess of 100 million (pounds) a year because of Her Majesty”. Not only that, but she is also patron of 620 charities. At a cost of 52p per British
citizen subject, that’s a whole lot of good.
Or maybe it’s much more complex, and we need to keep the Queen happy with birthday celebrations, lest she rise up with her secret army of highly trained corgis to take over the world.
~ Darcie Rae
image source: http://kristenlourie.com/tag/the-queens-corgis/