Few other western-European nations have been able to cope with the kind of economic and political stresses the past half-century has brought without damaging state instability. The multiple republics of France, the dictatorships of Spain and Greece, the relentless democratic crises of Italy stand in contrast to the relative ease of rule by Queen Elizabeth II. Of course, it is all pomp and no power these days and the House of Windsor has become ever more adept at the flummery of monarchy. But it does the left no favours to dismiss the stability and affection in which the Queen is held as a simple display of false consciousness.
Her reign has encompassed the demise of Britain as a great global power, the transformation of culture and class, the lobotomy of the British economy, the end of deference and a distinctive sense of Britishness, and yet has also maintained a strong sense of national pride and self-belief in which she herself is bound up.